Nature Journal Doubles Down on Abortion
As if needing to justify its earlier pro-abortion piece,
Nature hits back on critics like us.
The timing looked fishy. Right after our critique of Nature‘s pro-abortion political statement (14 Nov 2021), Nature put out another justification for abortion, this time written by Diane Greene Foster, one of the scientists who had written an amicus brief in support of abortion for the upcoming Dobbs decision. We can only assume that many wrote in to Nature about their article, asking, like we did, what abortion has to do with science and why they were taking such a one-sided political position on it. Foster’s title hints at the probability that they received pushback: “Yes, science can weigh in on abortion law,” as if commentators like us took issue with it.
Foster’s piece concentrates on the economic and health harm to mothers who carry their babies to term. She has had contact with many such women, and has conducted demographic studies of women who could not gain access to safe abortion services (using the liberal euphemism “reproductive rights” which, ironically in practice, denies any human rights to the baby).
Most of my evidence is drawn from the Turnaway Study, which I led. My team and I followed almost 1,000 women for five years after they sought an abortion in the United States, comparing the health and socio-economic consequences of receiving an abortion or being denied one. We found serious physical health consequences from continued pregnancy and childbirth, including death. Women and their existing and subsequent children also experienced greater economic and other hardship when abortion was denied. Women were more likely to continue to be exposed to intimate-partner violence, less likely to have an intended pregnancy under better circumstances later, and less likely to achieve their own aspirations.
We realize that any pro-life response to Foster’s article must be compassionate toward women in such circumstances. This, in fact, is the focus of workers in crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). Pro-lifers must be strongly opposed to violence, poverty and poor health (mental and physical) for anyone with the right to life, including the mother. And yet it is possible for debaters on this vital matter of life and liberty to be swept up in the emotions of specific instances in ways that cloud their thinking about the overarching moral and philosophical issues at stake.
Foster argues that science “can weigh in on abortion law.” Here is her summary argument for that:
Restrictions are passed on the basis of ideology or political motives, without considering scientific evidence about their impact. Science might not be able to decide philosophical questions about when life begins or when the rights of a fetus outweigh the agency of the person whose body is necessary for its growth and development. But it can tell us how access to abortion is affected by its legal status, and about the consequences when abortion is inaccessible. Science should weigh in on the often quoted yet seldom tested slogans of the abortion debate, because people’s well-being is at stake.
Accepting her statement that science can weigh in on these questions, then, we should be able to look scientifically at her evidences and arguments. And yet the rest of her article is surprisingly anecdotal, like this paragraph:
A woman in Tunisia remarked that she did not have clothes for a newborn. “Four children, and a fifth one on top! Where are we heading this way? Poverty and tyranny”. An 18-year-old in Colombia who would not be able to continue her studies once she had a baby said: “I will no longer be able to be young”.
Sad stories like these do not help Foster’s case for science, because pro-lifers have plenty of stories, too: stories of women who regret their abortions and have been haunted by guilt, stories of women harmed or killed by abortions, and true stories of abortion survivors like Gianna Jessen who passionately argues that in her vulnerable state she should have had a right to life. If Foster wants to pile on anecdotes, her critics have plenty in their pile. Maybe that would be a scientific study: to see which pile is higher, and which has the best reasoning behind it. But even if the pile were higher on the abortion side, that would not make it right.
The main problem with Foster’s justification of abortion is her logic. Let’s lay out her conclusions in a blunt way:
- A poor mother has four children and a fifth is on the way. So kill it.
- A poor mother will not be able to buy baby clothes. So kill the baby.
- A mother will no longer be “able to be young.” So kill the innocent baby.
- A mother may die from an unsafe abortion. So let’s kill the one with its whole life ahead.
- A mother will suffer socio-economic hardship from carrying a baby to term. So kill it.
- A mother may suffer intimate-partner violence if a baby is born. So kill the one who did nothing wrong.
These illogical rationales for abortion also rest on non-sequiturs and unstudied probabilities. In that last bullet item, for instance, the intimate partner (let’s assume the father) will not always become violent by some “law of nature” that science could state with equations. He may soften and become less violent when he sees his child. Either way, is the only solution to kill the innocent party? What kind of logic is that? Foster also completely ignores the rights of fathers, as do the current laws that never take their concerns into account. How many fathers plead with their wives to let them see their children? But under current law, fathers are voiceless and rights-less in these highly personal matters. Fathers do not bear the burden of pregnancy, true, but there is a time limit on pregnancy (nine months) for the woman, with adoption as an option after that. There is, however, a lifetime of regret for both parents who decide that they really wanted that child they killed.
Another logical flaw is the assumption that because science “might not be able to decide philosophical questions about when life begins,” therefore abortion is the best option. Would it not be more logical to err on the side of life? She says, in effect, “We don’t know when it is a human being, so we can kill it.” That makes no sense. Surely scientific caution would favor the possibility that the unborn baby is its own person. Actually, science does know when life begins! When the gametes unite, creating a unique genome, that zygote begins a programmed path to full adulthood, unless interrupted by disease or accident. At no point in that process is the developing baby just a “thing” that can be discarded at will — certainly not with any “scientific” justification.
Foster decries ideology and sloganeering. “Science should weigh in on the often quoted yet seldom tested slogans of the abortion debate, because people’s well-being is at stake,” she says. Well, then, as a good scientist, she should weigh in on the often quoted yet seldom tested slogans on the placards of the pro-abortion activists marching in the streets: “My body, my choice” and “Keep abortion legal.” A scientific study of the logic in the rhetoric on both sides of the debate would be intriguing, would it not?
As for “ideology or political motives” in the debate, we can be absolutely sure that Ms Foster is as pure as the wind-driven snow as regards neutrality. No politics or ideology whatsoever with her! That’s why she consulted the leading pro-life sites like a good scientist, and considered their arguments and resources before concluding that whenever some women might be inconvenienced by giving birth, society should kill their babies and funnel taxpayer dollars to those willing to do it. <end of satire>
Nature and Ms Foster also completely ignored the dark history of racial eugenics using abortion (Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood), and the immoral issue of sex-selection abortions that usually kill females more than males. They ignore the consequences of policies which alter natural sex ratios and leave men without partners, as happened in China (which is trying to reverse the tragic consequences of its one-child policy). In short, there was nothing but ideology and political motives in both Nature‘s original pro-abortion article and in this follow-up rationalization by Foster.
If they had been scientific about it, they certainly would have fought pro-life’s Goliaths instead of straw men. They would have discarded anecdotal stories and produced unbiased numbers that include women harmed by abortion, success stories of women helped by the services of CPCs, and the forgotten fathers affected by abortion. They would have looked at the horrors of abortion procedures and pondered whether any civilized society should ever burn and dismember a human being who has done nothing wrong. They would have stood aghast at late-term abortions of children who are viable outside the womb, and of laws that allow killing a baby after it is born. They would have interviewed survivors of abortion and evaluated the merit of their stories in light of the Bill of Rights and other declarations of human rights. They would have disclosed conflicts of interest, such as a lust for fetal tissue for experimentation. They would have held debates that include the best rational presenters and ethicists on both sides, rather than hiding behind the skirts of one ideologue like Ms Foster. They would have exposed eugenics and racist abortions and sex-selection abortions and condemned them. They would have told about China’s disastrous policy. They would have remained within the confines of science and kept their political opinions out of amicus briefs. They could have used their influence to help pregnant women buy baby clothes and obtain resources instead of taking the easy way out by killing the innocent child. They could have lobbied for laws that encourage two-parent families and responsible fatherhood, and reward abstinence before marriage. They could have supported laws that favor life instead of padding the pockets of abortionists. They could have honored the disabled who were given a right to life and contributed to society. But they did not. For shame, Nature!
Since Nature and the other spokespersons of Big Science always give only one side of this important debate, you owe it to yourself to hear some of the pro-life advocates answer the claims in their articles. Here are a few to get started.
Abortion procedures: Dr Anthony Levitino, a former abortionist, dispassionately describes what goes on in abortion rooms.
Watch pro-abortion citizens change their minds after watching the “abortion procedures” videos above.
Live Action videos answer common pro-abortion arguments. Watch at least the first one on “My Body, My Choice.”
Life Site News contains current events, news and essays about life issues.
Life Facts at the above link contains resources and information about abortion.
Erika Bachiochi at National Review argues that women do not rely on abortion.
Jennifer Marshall Patterson at World Magazine challenges the arbitrary “viability” standard.
AbortionSurvivors.org tells the stories of living young adults who survived botched abortions.
Listen to abortion survivor Gianna Jessen tell her story and passionately defend her right to life.
Watch this film from Illustra Media: