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Not sure how I feel about being the first to comment on this, I feel a bit, like i am hanging myself out to dry but..... I can't say at which point "life" begins. As a bio major in college my gut feeling is at the point of viability. It makes it sense to me that if a child could live outside the womb that it should have the opportunity. From a political stand point I can see how this is relevant, but from the point of view of a women who's had an abortion it had nothing to do with my decision. I knew during my pregnancy what exactly was going on and the potential. I had to choose what kind of life I wanted for my child ( father, economical and support issues) I, personally, wasn't willing to subject a child to all of that. This subject has so many levels it's difficult to separate them all. Basically I believe that the viability argument is some what important for keeping abortion legal, but for a women contemplating an abortion, you can either go through it or you can't and you find a way to justify either option.

I'm never going to explain this right, but I'll try because I love you so.
I had a miscarriage (still so hard to type a year and a half later) at 8 weeks. We had been trying (though not for long) so I knew I was pregnant for 4 weeks and had thought (was sure) I was for 6. 6 weeks is a long time. And since I had wanted that baby so very badly I was compleatly in love her and therefore devistated when she died. Because I loved and wanted her and was at a point in my life where a baby would have fit so perfectly she was a baby to me at only 8 weeks.
A couple of months later my friend J. found herself pregnant with a baby that she knew she couldn't keep. I agreed with her but won't go into details here about her situation. I drove her to the clinic and held her while she cried and held her hand while they preformed the abortion and held her afterwards while she cried some more. I have never thought of that situation as having takin a life even though she was about as far along as I had been.
The only difference of course is that having a baby would have been a good thing for me and a bad thing for her.
I am not at all religious so there is no issue of an afterlife for me. This would be easier for me to talk about if you had asked strait-up about our veiws on abortion. I am 100% pro-choice no matter what. Even if I don't personaly beleive there is a good reason for an abortion I feel that every woman everywhere should have the right to make her own choices about her body. I also feel that we (meaning humans) need to work harder at making this a world where abortion becomes less necessary to begin with.
Now if you really want to know when life begins? That would be the day one discovers the blogosphere my freind.

Life begins at conception, be it within the woman's body or in a lab. Those are MY beliefs about when life begins.

That said, I cannot say with 100% certainty that I would NEVER have an abortion. If I became pg from rape, if my unborn child was diagnosed with something horrific prior to viability, or if I had become pg with more than quads come to mind right away as situations that I just don't know with great certainty what I would have done.

I also believe in a woman's right to choose what happens to her body and unborn child prior to viability. I may not agree with another woman's choice, but it isn't MINE to make, nor do I have to live with the consequences of her choice.

I also believe viability is the point at which life outside the womb is a POSSIBILITY. At this point in medical history, I believe I would say viability is somewhere between 22-24 weeks.

I think, for me, life begins when the heart starts beating. That was when my son felt real to me.

But I do have a double standard, because I don't believe that anyone having an abortion is doing anything wrong, or "taking a life" as such. I really mean that. Such a terrible decision to have to make, but I think every woman has the right to make it according to her circumstances.

Thanks Tertia for a thought-provoking question.

Oh brave, brave you!

At the moment of conception.

I lost a little boy at 16 weeks, he was tiny and to young to breathe but he was perfect, 10 toes, ten fingers, the dearest little face and it was a little life lost and mourned.

My view on abortion is - if there is something wrong with bub (not talking minor) then I would have an abortion and probably in the case of a pregnancy due to rape, I do not agree with abortion becuase of an oops.

Here you have gone & done it again - a taboo subject; a subject that is divisive; a topic that can make friendly folk become bitter opponents.

I have my own opinions, and I too (zygote) am loath to out myself. Not because I don't have an opinion that I feel matters, but more because I feel that too many people JUDGE so quickly without walking in my shoes. In fact, I came here a few times to see what was written, and it was 0 comments for a while. And then I though, I must write something.

My choices are not necessarily what someone else would agree to, but that is where I am passionate. My opinions and choices should be private and mine alone. And those of someone who disagrees with me should belong to them alone. No matter if the opinions are pro-life or pro-choice. I feel a doctor's decision on whether to perform abortions should be the doctor's alone. I feel that if you have taken an oath to practice medicine, and have seen life come into the world, and leave the world, and choose your life's work to be a part of that process, then you should be considered able enough to judge for yourself whether you can take part in the procedure.

So I have these opinions about privacy, choice, and life, and then I think, how pitiful that we've finally come to a point in history where I'd be more comfortable proclaiming my sexual orientation, if it were not the "norm," in a public forum than I would my opinions on abortion. Such a sad statement. So, I'm not going to shy away, because - frankly - I think that a vocal group is over-shadowing a lot of us who don't want to hear the fury of their wrath. So here it is:

I am pro-choice. I believe that I have the right to know what is best for my body and my life. This extends to the greater continuum of life, as I also believe that I should be able to decide when my life has come to a point where it is time to die. I also believe that if you don't believe this, that is ok. I choose to disagree with you, but you have the right to your opinion.

How can I be an IVF veteran, with multiple miscarriages, and believe in the sanctitiy of choice? Because, when you use science to create the potential for life, you value it immensely, and you understand the precarious nature of it intimately. At every step along the way, every few days, you know that the potential life you want to bring into the world is the next blood test or ultrasound away from not being there any more. And if I were in the position to make the decision to have an abortion, then it would be with heavy heart and life long personal implications that I would walk into doctor's to have the procedure.

So, when does "life" begin?

I haven't the slighest clue, particularly when I review the thoughts that you've posted. With the flicker and doppler sound that you see & hear at 6 weeks, it is hard to dismiss that heartbeat. But remove it from my uterus, and it has no chance at living.

I've lost pregnancies at so many stages along the way, it seems. 8 weeks, 10 weeks, 4 months. With each passing week the potential for life is more tangible, and the loss is more painful because a relationship is established and growing.

I don't think that there is an arbitrary line that can be drawn in the sand about when "life" happens. Especially in the later stages of pregnancy, when the balance between life and death is so tenuous. With regards to IF treatments, my convictions are that it will never be "at all/any costs," so if the treatment is that way, the pregnancy would be too. In fact, I have made a promise to my husband that potential life ≠ actual life. If that battle were to play out in our lives, my actual life would be the deciding factor. I've felt the same thing in talks with my surrogate to be. Her actual life is more important than the potential life of our child(ren).

Sorry for the extremely long post....

Hi. :)

I went to Catholic School, and we were shown a really horrific movie called 'The silent Scream' from year 9. (I was 14, they showed it twice a year until year 12.) I dont think they would be allowed to do that now (It was the 80's) because it was really indoctrination. I think that all the girls left our school with huge hang-ups attatched to their opinions of abortion, and those who may have had to have one would have been so damaged by guilt.

I believe that an embryo is a life and soul from the moment of conception. I doubt I would ever be able to have an abortion, regardless of rape, or damage to the child. I dont have any major tests done when Im pregnant, because I dont know what I'd do if they found anything.

I do, though, believe that every woman, and couple for that matter, has/have a right to make the decision for themselves. I would like to think that the decisions are 100% in the best interests of the child. I would never judge anyone who decided to have an abortion, and have stood by a few friends sides when they made the decision to abort babies. None of them even know that I would never have an abortion myself, having never asked, and me having never offered the info!

I like to believe that souls return to Families they are meant to be with, and who they love. Maybe just a fanciful notion, Im not sure, but it seems nice to think that if a baby were miscarried, or aborted, its soul would return at the right time, because it was meant to be the child of that Family.

:) Felicity.

Tertia, you are so evil for making us talk about these things without coming forward yourself. You WILL once we're done here, right?

I think life begins with a heartbeat, the little cells and miniature organs showing that they have what it takes to function, a will of their own instead of just a biological fact of cellular existence. When I found I was pregnant and went to the doctor (just under 6 weeks), this baby's heart (now 33 weeks and doing great) was already beating. It meant something to me that just seing the yolk sac and little budding body never could have meant. It meant LIFE.

Now, as regards abortion... I honestly feel that it is the wrong choice in almost every circumstance, and yet I don't feel it should be illegal because I fully recognize that what I believe is not necessarily "correct" or believed unanimously.

As some other posts have mentioned, if a foetus is found to have a terrible malformation or disease (a friend of mine just went through a Trisomy 18 scare, for instance; I work for a foundation that does research on a terrible and fatal genetic childhood disease called SMA, and I know of women who simply do not have the strength to carry ANOTHER child to term who will only grow weaker and sicker and likely die before the age of 2), I can see ending that little life before its suffering begins.

If a mother's life is in danger, yes, it's harrowing as hell, but I can see how that situation would warrant a sad goodbye.

But for the life of me -- and I don't mean this to be judgemental, I really don't -- I do not understand the "for the child" argument. Unmarried, poor, bad situation with the baby's father, still in school, too young, etc -- the idea that this situation would be too hard for the child and so abortion is the right decision: this blows my mind. Adoption. Adoption adoption adoption. Adoption! Yes, it could be painful or humiliating or inconvenient or downright terrible to go through pregnancy with a child you don't intend to keep, but you can give something tremendous to people who want nothing more from you than to release your child from the burdens that were so present in your thoughts.

I worked at an abortion clinic in a major hospital, one where they did the latest term abortions in that part of the U.S. It was horrifying to me to see a) repeat patients; b) extreme late-term abortions where the doctors actually told the woman we can anesthetize you and deliver this (living) baby and you will never have to see it again and the woman refusing; c) the pain and responsibility that is transferrred onto abortion providers -- even the most pro-choice OB/GYN, a man or woman absolutely committed to women's health and women's reproductive rights, is a wreck by the end of the day in the clinic. Even when you are performing abortions for all the "right" reasons, it is difficult, difficult work.

And with all that said, and the rawness of my feelings on the line -- again, this is how I FEEL only, I would not support legislation to ban abortion -- I must say that I have very good friends who have had abortions, some repeatedly, some as recently as last year. I did not support their decisions, but I absolutely support them. They simply made a decision that I probably couldn't make (and thankfully I never was in a situation to make it, partly through responsible sex but mostly through luck) and have a difficult time understanding because it is too emotionally charged for me.

Tertia, you asshole. You'd better come clean when all this is over.

From conception. A fertilized egg can move, divide, grow, metabolize, and reproduce (by dividing). Just because it doesn't always implant, or just because it isn't able to do these things with great success doesn't mean it's not alive. Not every living human on the earth can move, grow, metabolize or reproduce without massive intervention, if at all, but that doesn't make these people any less alive or worthwhile.

I personally cannot support abortion any more than I can support murder. It might really improve the lives of some mothers to leave a day-old baby somewhere because the mom's life is a mess. If I can't support that, I can't support abortion either. This is why I pour so much money and time into crisis pregnancy centers that stay with the mom and dad from day 1 all the way through the child's childhood, providing them help with parenting classes, money, donations of food/clothing/formula/diapers, etc.

On the same note, though, I would never judge someone who had an abortion. Meaning, I am not an asshole who would call someone a baby killer or exclude them from an organization of ANY kind or try to make them feel guilty or shoot abortion doctors or picket outside a clinic or whatever. What's done already is done already, and I keep quiet about it. I'd rather try to reduce the number of abortions by supporting women, esp. pregnant women in bad situations.

But at the same time, I don't think I'd be able to hold somone's hand while they had an abortion, no matter how much I loved them. Just as I couldn't hold someone's hand while they abused drugs or whatever, especially if I loved them.

Geez, Louise, Tertia! Bringing out the big guns I see! And on a weekend, too!

Seriously - your post brings up some thoughts that I hadn't had in quite a while.

My personal view is every woman's body is her own and she can choose to do with it what she wants - I may not like it or agree with what she does, but it isn't my place to say what she can and cannot do with it.

And others may say, "What about the right of that unborn child?" Well, I believe it is that mother's duty to take care of that child as best as she can before, during and after the birth. However, I cannot MAKE the drug user stop using, the alcoholic stop drinking, the smoker stop puffing or the abusive boyfriend/spouse/so stop beating. I can educate, I can speak my piece...I can lead that horse to water, but I can't make him drink.

That being said, I do have to say that in Judy-world, life begins with that heartbeat. After going through everything that I did with all my pregnancies, the miscarriage in which I never heard a heartbeat is probably the easiest to take. Still not easy because I was sooooo ready for that baby, but easier to say that there was no heartbeat so there was no baby. Just the way my mind handles it, I suppose.

I was faced with the possibility of a very sick baby with my last pregancy...strong possibility that the baby would be born and not make it past the first couple of days. We found this out very early in my pregnancy (sometimes I think the medical field knows TOO much!!!) and my doctor wanted to do further genetic testing. I refused. My thought was that I had this baby in me for a reason, whatever it may be, and whatever the result, I would accept it and love this baby forever, no matter how short our time together on Earth was. I didn't need a bunch of tests to tell me what to expect. I readied myself for whatever could be, and spent the next 6.5 months of my pregnancy in a fog of emotions. Had I birthed my child and then had to say goodbye, as you and so many others have had to do, I would have been devastated, crumbling like a mighty fortress that was defeated by a single blow. But, I think it would have been worse on me to NOT have that moment, to take it away by aborting the pregnancy, to never look upon the face of my child and say my goodbyes.

I respect women and their decisions to do what they feel they need to do, but I don't believe I could have an abortion. I can't say NEVER - I'll be some freak of a case who ends up preggers when I am 70 or something and I may have a different opinion about abortions then! But for now, I'll enjoy my pregnancies if/as they come, for however long and with whatever result.

I've voted for "at birth", however I've kind of expanded this to mean any number of things. A premie babie, born at 23 weeks, is born, and is therefore as much of a child as a 40 week infant. However, if there were genetic defects incompatible with life, or severe illness in the mother, I do not think that it's impossible to conceive of an abortion at that stage. It's the individual choice of the pregnant individual.
Now, just because to me a fetus isn't a child, isn't "alive" until it's born, doesn't mean that the entire pregnancy isn't a potential, on-its-way, person. Losing a fetus/child in utero (no matter what the mchanism) is losing a potential member of your family, and should hurt as such. It's possible to separate yourself from this if it hurts to much or if you have different views, and I think that's the only way people can survive abortions and miscarraiges.
All that said, I cannot stand the idea of any late-term abortion for myself, it's too close to being a real baby, even if it isn't "alive" yet to me. And I suspect that if I were put in a situation where an early term abortion was the only solution, it would hurt more than I can say.

When I was 16 I lead a debate where I was anti-abortion ... many many years later my how I've grown and realised that nothing is clear cut and we all have a right to have double standards, to change our opinions and so on but never to judge. I agree with many comments here and possibly believe that "life" begins when you heart is ready for it. And let's face it nothing much in this life makes too much sense no matter how much we understand scientifically.

I don't know exactly when the biological process becomes a sacred human life. Even my religious denomination is a little unclear on it. I'm comfortable with the ambiguity and don't have any need to parse it out. I guess I'd say sometime AFTER implantation and BEFORE viability outside the womb. How's that for fuzzy?!!!!!

I'm not easy with abortion. It's never a good thing, always, at best, the lessor of several evils. But it must, it MUST, be kept legal and made more accessible, along with birth control.

To me, the moral discomfort with abortion increases with the length of the pregnancy. A gamete that doesn't implant due to the morning after pill doesn't strike me as much different than a gamete that doesn't implant by chance, while a 6 week embryo is vastly different from one at 20 weeks or so, on the brink of viability. This is why I wish birth control were more effective and easily available, why I support easy access to the morning after pill, and then easy access to early abortion.

At the same time, I am sympathetic to people who would restrict late-term (post-viability) abortions, even while I question whether that policy is workable without placing an undue burden on women who discover fetal abnormalities late in the pregnancy. Aborting a viable fetus seems no different from infanticide to me.

So to me it's a loaded issue. I envy, in a way, my two friends who are very comfortable and matter-of-fact about the abortion each had as a married woman who could not manage a third child. I don't know, I was raised to think it was a mortal sin, and while I reject that simplistic point of view, I can't embrace the opposite view either.

I have no idea when life begins. And even if I thought I did, I wouldn't seek to impose that belief on someone else. I am 100% pro choice because I think that there are reasons when an abortion is called for (for instance, when the mother will die) and to eliminate the possibility of a woman being able to have an abortion when it is necessary seems wrong to me. Plus, I was sexually abused as a child by a family member. If I had gotten pregnant, I know I would not have wanted to be forced to carry that baby. If I could think of a circumstance in my own life that might lead itself to an abortion, then I feel like I should be willing to let others make that choice too.

When we are facing the ultimately death of an elderly one it becomes easier to understand that a group of cells, a fertilized egg, a product of conception and even a beating heart does not necessarily mean life. People understand the concept of BRAIN DEATH and commonly accept the end of life as when somebody is declared "brain dead".

By analogy, I consider that life begins when the brain is fully formed (that being around 12 weeks - and that's why the 12w mark is so important).

As to the other question, I am pro-choice and I don't think it is life at all costs.

I really don't know when life begins. However, I must not really think it begins before 12 weeks, I have no problem with abortion during the first trimester. After the first trimester it makes me wince, but I still don't believe it's my business. I am completely pro-choice.

I started to read other comments first but then realized I didn't want other opinions to affect what I write. Not that it would change my views necessarily just that I may be afraid that I would fear writing my beliefs. I believe that life begins at the moment of conception. Sure there is lots of technology but I believe that God is the creator of life. Like you said, they can do lots of things but that still doesn't mean you are going to end up with a baby. I have 2 living children and have had 3 (early) miscarriages. I firmly believe that there are 3 children of mine in heaven. I can't go as far as saying that I think there should be no abortion whatsoever. HOWEVER, I think that (at least) 95% of abortions are wrong and most definetely murder. I realize that most people do not agree and would be offended by my belief but you asked for our own opinions so there it is.


Something I've always wondered about, and now your poll gives me an opportunity to ask: has the experience of infertility changed your (and other infertiles') opinion about abortion?

Just being a reader has made me value pregnancy so much more. I would never advocate forcing any woman to go through pregnancy, but I do think that along with the woman's right to choose should come the responsibility to choose in a timely manner--say the first 14 weeks or so. My personal experience with pregnancy, along with my understanding of other women's struggles to adopt, and my concern for pain a fetus might feel (some say at around 26 weeks, they can cry), has made me realize that I wouldn't be able to check a box that declares myself one or the other: Pro-choice or pro-life. I'm somewhere in a nebuluous middle, asking for a "Pro-adoption" box or "Pro-choice but only in the first 3 or 4 months." Unfortunately, this is an issue that does not lend itself to any sort of middle ground, so I have a hard time finding leaders on the left or the right who represent my position.

Interesting question you've asked.

"The baby" wasn't "a baby" to me, personally, until I saw her on the 20 week ultrasound, which was done as part of "genetic testing," to see if she was healthy and "normal." I was told that if I decided to terminate the pregnancy, I'd have to hike across state lines, because it wouldn't be legal in Minnesota, where I was living at the time.

It felt like a bit of a setup.

Anyway, that aside, I think that the reason it's so hard to articulate or pin down with complete assurance, concensus, etc. exactly when life begins is directly parallel to the difficulty in deciding when it is that life ends.

I think "life" means different things to different people, and legislation dealing with these issues is never going to please everyone. There will always be passionate disagreement and debate over these concepts, and my hope is that humans, especially in the U.S., can learn to accept the "gray areas" and get along, making life easier for women.

Technology makes these areas more and more and more gray every day. Before IVF, ICSI, CVS, ultrasound, amniocentisis, and doppler, there was "the quickening." I'm doubting that many women had to struggle with as much inner conflict about ending a pregnancy before they could feel a baby moving, or hear a baby's heartbeat through a stethoscope, even though that "baby" had been "alive" before then, with a heartbeat, and movement. We were all kind of "in the dark" about what was going on in there on a cellular level between the missed period and the belly bumps, which is when most abortions take place these days.

Technology breeds many things, not just humans. I'm no luddite, but I think a lot of things were simpler back in the old days. More deadly, too.

Abortion should always be legal, and always be between a woman and her care provider. In order to make that true, I'd argue for abortion to be legal throughout a pregnancy, up until birth.

Once a baby takes its first breaths outside the womb, whether assisted or not, that child is alive. And even then, if technology alone is prolonging life, I think the parents should be able to decide to separate the baby from the apparatus and let death occur.

What a heartbreaking subject. Life and death really freak us out, don't they?

I am of the opinion that life begins at conception AND (for the IVF stuff) when the embryo is implanted and has everything it needs to develop into a full human being. Of course things go wrong naturally sometimes, at which the embryo/fetus can no longer has the potential to develop into a complete human being and therefore dies.
NOW, if you want to talk about issues... why not do a poll (w/lots of answers!) regarding the issue of "if you find out your child has Down Syndrome, mental retardation (small or great), etc., before they are born... would you abort and under what circumstances?

I personally believe life begins at conception. Sure its open for debate as to the exact moment but I choose to error on the side of utmost sanctity of life because really once your right to live is gone what right is truly safe?

Whats sad, is that in the majority* of cases, the deciding factor comes down to a women's own perception of her pregnancy. If its wanted, its a baby and cherished. If its not wanted, its a fetus and disposable. So really, I don't believe our culture cares about when life begins because it might put a kink in our "if it feels right to me, its right" mentality.

*I realize there are very much wanted pregnancys that are terminated for conditions not compatible with life.

I believe life begins at birth. Just my personal opinion. I'm an atheist, so I don't have any strong religious convictions. I personally never say "unborn child," I always say "fetus."

I had an abortion when I was 18. I was about 8 weeks. I never felt bad or anything. That may make me sound callous, but I never considered it "killin a baby."

However, I've never been pro-abortion. I don't think anyone is pro-abortion, choice is different. If a 17-year-old gets pregnant and decides to continue the pregnancy, I will wish her luck and hope for the best, and if she wants an abortion, I will wish her luck and hope for the best.

I never believe abortion is murder. Never.

I'm leaning toward life beginning when the heartbeat starts. I've had two miscarriages. The first one was the "blighted ovum" type - an empty sac on ultrasound at 9 weeks. While I was devestated, I never felt like I had lost a child. It was a potential conception that went wrong. The second one (after I already had a healthy daughter) was different. I saw the heartbeat at 7 weeks, I felt very pregnant, but the heartbeat stopped somewhere between 8 and 10 weeks. I saw what I thought of as my baby drop into the toilet. I even think of it as a her, and have a name for her.
However, that doesn't change my pro-choice stand. While there are very limited circumstances when I myself would have an abortion at this point in my life (defects incompatable with life, my life in danger . . .), I can't make that decision for others. And even though I think a fetus with a heartbeat is a "life", there are many different circumstances when all of us think that taking a life is acceptable. War, the death penalty, self defense, defense of others are a few examples. I doubt there is one person who would say that killing another is NEVER acceptable. Abortion, to me, can be a form of self-defense. And while I certainly think it is morally wrong in many circumstances, that is something that the woman will have to deal with herself - it is not the government's place to be involved.

On a biological level, I don't think there is one moment where life begins. I think becoming a living human being is a journey in the same way that becoming an adult is a journey. Trying to determine biologically when life begins is like trying to determine if you become an adult when women get their periods the first time or when men's voice changes or when a person turns 18 or 21. I believe it's a process that you work towards over time and for everyone it occurs at a different pace.

I don't think saying the circumstances when it is ok to have an abortion (whether it's never or before 12 weeks or only when it is due to rape or genetic defect) should be tied to when life begins. I think it is a decision a woman should be able to make for herself not by someone who has no idea of her circumstances or beliefs.

I don't think abortion has much to do with the question of when does "life" begin. In America, we do not force people to save other people's lives. We do not force people to give blood, or donate bone marrow, or give organs...hell, we don't even force people to donate their organs after they are already dead, even though many lives would be saved that way.

A baby cannot live outside the ute until, at minimum, 22 weeks. A woman should not be forced to carry a baby in her ute if she doesn't want to--for whatever reason. That is her right, now matter how "alive" the baby is.

Maybe someday, we will figure out a way to take the baby out of her ute, and put it in a special incubator, and that way, the woman can have her body back and the fetus can grow into a viable baby. But until then, the choice of the woman must come first. She must have the right to control what happens to her body.

And to all the people who say she should be forced to carry the baby to term, I ask: When was the last time you gave blood? Have you registered for bone marrow donation? Have you filled out an organ donor card? Cause all those things are easy ways to save a life, cause minor inconvenience, and have no chance of killing you. Unlike pregnancy.

I gave a baby up for adoption. I was twenty-one at the time. For me, that was the best decision I could make.

Carrying a child to term means everyone knows you're pregnant. It means explaining to your landlord, to your mother, to your boss and your coworkers, to everyone you know that there isn't going to be a baby coming home at the end of this.

That's a really public way to invite everyone into your business when you're trying to do the best you can under really difficult circumstances. People will tell you what they think, and it won't always be "What a wonderful thing you're doing."

And that's not even bringing up the issue of then having a child in the world who is and is not yours forever. It is NOT what's best for everyone who is pregnant and not prepared to be a parent. I don't regret my choice, but in some ways it is a life sentence, and I don't think it's one that every woman could live with.

I am pro choice. I think that abortion is sometimes the best answer, and I think that's a decision that only a pregnant woman can make.

When does life begin? It's such an abstract thing that I think it's really only a question that each pregnant woman can answer for her own fetus.

'Life' has become an awfully loaded word for many different reasons. It should be interpreted as distinct from "potential for independent living" as far as I am concerned, in any debate.

'Life', meaning moving, operating under own steam etc, begins to happen from conception in my book. However, en embryonic being (for want of a better word), is utterly dependent on its mother for a significant part of the pregnancy. At 12 weeks, it it not capable of independent living. It has only hormone-manipulation as a means of assuring its survival in its defined environment.

Should the 'life' of an utterly dependent 12 week- foetus take precedence over the autonomous one of its mother? In the main, mother nature will see to that, by infusing the mother with so many hormones that she no longer wants to engage in risky behaviour likely to harm the foetus. Most women will change their patterns of activity in response to their child's needs, completely sub-consciously. That is one aspect.

More difficult become deliberate actions that potentially or actually harm the foetus, for example drug-taking, abortion or undergoing medical treatment. Should a mother sacrifice herself, for example if she is sick, for the sake of her unborn child? I believe that is for her to decide. Should she be forced to carry to term an unwanted child and bring it up? I do not believe that is for anyone but her to decide. Should she be forced to give up drugs? Tricky one, and somewhat allied with the question about medical treatment. Ideally, she would want to give up, and take all the help offered to assist her. We do not live in a ideal world.

The question of abortion above the age of viability is an enormous one. Is is tantamount to murder? Not as the law stands in the UK, since 'viable' foetuses are killed in-utero to prevent them from being born alive. I hope to any deity that might be out there that only women in absolutely desperate situations use this option, and believe that given the hormones etc, all steering the woman towards behaviours designed to protect her baby, that only women in desperate places do it. It is not an ideal solution, but maybe going to term would be worse for all concerned.

'Life' I think is a grey area. It is a trade-off for the infant even after birth. Only our love for the child protects it from certain death for many months after it is born. It is utterly dependent, as much as if it were still in utero. Although it is 'alive', it has to be tended 24/7.

Society does not force women who are completely unable to look after their babies to do so, in the main- in modern societies there are fostering organisations, in less modern ones there is usually family to step into the breach. Why then should a woman be forced to incubate a child she is psychologically incapable of looking after?

It is all such a grey subject. I think that many organisations and individuals treat it as far too black and white. Life is not, and never should be confused with potential for being an independent being. A 12-week old foetus is only a potential person by my book. It still has a long way to go.

I do not personally feel that abortion should be possible after 26 weeks, either on a psychological level for the woman, nor on ethical grounds. However, since I also think that no woman should be forced to be pregnant if she is not able to look after the foetus, I am left with an insoluble dilemma about mid-term abortions. Should one be allowed to terminate by induction from 26 weeks anyway, on the understanding that the resulting child may be both damaged and unwanted?

I prefer to view potential for independent living as a process, starting at conception and petering out around 3 (or 18! or 37 in some people's case) , when the child gains some autonomy. A range of options are available for women unable to cope at any of the different stages, but mother nature in many cases has a solution. For all the rest, there's dilemma and ambiguity.

I believe conception is the beginning of life. However, I think the abortion issue - especially legalising it or not - is a very sticky one. I am married and pregnant with my fourth child, have had four miscarriages, and cannot not fathom a situation in which I would have an abortion. However, I have had friends/acquaintances have abortions because of fetal abnormality. I do not think their choices were wrong - just wrong for me. I believe there are circumstances where abortion -like someone said above - is the lesser of evils (incest, rape, situation not compatible with life for the baby, or risk to the mother). I know that this is not the popular stance, but I believe that more 'choice' should come into play before the conception is even possible. I am trying to tread carefully here so as not to offend, but I have had 3 conceptions while on the pill/patch and one because of condom breakage so I probably know at least as well as some that preventing, or attempting to prevent pregnancy, isn't always successful. However, I have always looked at sex as an adult choice and understood the possible results of such choices - and while these are my choices for me and me alone - I do not think any potential children, babies, fetuses - should bear consequences for my choice.

It's a luxury for me to even take the time to post right now (busy day!) so I haven't read every comment, but am pleased by the calm, rational tone taken by the ones I was able to read. (just a disclaimer in case I totally echo what someone else says).

I tend to go around and around on abortion. I gave it very little real thought, was reflexively pro-choice, through my 20s, until a single friend of mine had an unexpected pregnancy, and told me that she was keeping the baby, that she didn't believe in abortion. It was the first time I'd ever seen anyone not merely affirm a belief about it but actually make a decision about what they would do. I was about 26 and knew about a dozen pregnant women, and seeing all their sonograms brought me to the conclusion that hey, that IS life, and abortion DOES end a life.

In the past 10 years, I've grown only more certain that life does begin at conception - especially as I've experienced IF and learned to much about ART. But, I've found the observation that LOTS of embryos are discarded naturally, all the time, to be pretty compelling. Another key comment comes from my mother, who also struggles with this: Who are you going to arrest, if you make abortion illegal? I'm still figuring out where I stand on this - especially now, as we prepare to adopt an older child and am considering going back on the Pill (I am sick unto death of the allegedly fertile mucus and my heavy periods). But for now, I'll stick with the group Feminists For Life, whose goal is to make it more possible for women to continue unintended pregnancies by giving them the support they need.

Okay, I fear I've been completely incoherent, so I'll stop now... Kudos to brave, brave Tertia.

After my abortion at age 24, I campaigned actively as a volunteer, worker and committee member for the Uk's largest pro-choice group. It was my life for about 10 years. It was my main topic of conversation for all this time. I wrote pamphlets, articles leaftlets, briefings for MPs, lawyers, vicars, doctor, organised rallies, appeared on TV and radio, took part in debates...And I can tell you categorically that what my opinion became on the thorny question of 'When does life begin" -

When each individual woman decides it begins. For one woman, a life. For another woman, at exactly the same stage of pregnancy and maybe in the same cirmcumstances but feeling very different - something very different - a potential, a problem, a buch of cells without sentience, whatever.

Makes sense of the sorrow I felt 15 years later when I miscarried twice.

well you see this is such a tough issue....

IMO it begins at implantation. I had a chemical pregnancy this last cycle, complete with pregnancy symptoms. To me it was a baby. But that could also be because that is probably the closest i will ever get to having a biological child.

damn...you are brave to hit on this subject.

Although perhaps my belief has shifted on this subject since I began IF treatments, I still believe life begins at viability. If I am ever blessed with a heartbeat, I am sure that will change, but for now until the child can survive on its own, life begins at birth.

I am 100% pro-choice. Even when I wish they would give their child to me to adopt, every woman should have the choice.Just as I should have the choice to go through IF treatments without being judged (or put in the poorhouse, but that's another story).

As we prepared to undergo IVF, my husband and I discussed this very question. We agreed that "life" begins when the embryo implants and grows in the womb, as we hoped and prayed ours would. But it is clear to me that there is a continuum of potential life and non-viable life, (as "summer" says) and it's a bit arbitrary to choose one stage as the most significant milestone.

I am pro-choice, however I am very uncomfortable considering abortion or "selective reduction" in most circumstances. Our infertility experience, and high-risk multiple pregnancy experience, intensified my emotions and ethical concerns around these issues.

I find it much more difficult to have a firm opinion on abortion, more than when I was in my teens or 20s, when these were only theoretical questions for me. I have great sympathy for women with an unwanted pregnancy or medical issues with the pregnancy, even while I have intense sympathy for women experiencing infertility or longing to adopt.

I try not to judge the choices of others. And I wish that crisis pregnancy and planned parenthood agencies could offer more support to women who want to avoid pregnancy, or who have unwanted pregnancies.

Looking forward to more opinions, including Tertia's!

Perhaps the better question for debate is: when does personhood or humanness begin?

Because, harkening back to Biology 101, we know a single cell is a basic living thing. Obviously, life begins far sooner than when we can see it with our own eyes or when a gestational age is assigned to it. But when does that life take on its human being status?

To many, the question of whether life begins as Week A or Week B is arbitrary and beside the point. To many, life begins at the moment of conception and life, whether it's a person or not, is what is important and must be protected. But for others it is the point at which that life takes on its humanness -- and with that its vulnerability to suffering and feeling -- that is important.

I think that distinction is necessary in a discussion such as this.

Such a hard question to answer. I think....life begins...I said at 12 weeks in th poll, b/c that's when the organs are fully formed- a baby is fully formed. But that's wrong. I'm 32 years old, and I had an abortion 6 months ago, at 5 weeks. I thought of it as a life. I'd been reading this blog, and several others, for months. I knew the value of that life, and how much some people wanted it, how hard they were willing to work to have what I did. I guess what helped me make my decision was the fact that so many forces- my body, chance, god- still had yet to "vote" on whether or not it would actually be a baby at the end of the day. And if all these other "factors" got a vote, we did too. And my bf and I decided that we weren't ready.
I'd always been intellectually pro choice. Still am. When does life begin? When you accept it. When either you accpet the responsibility to carry, or the baby no longer requires your acceptance to survive. But I think it's a decision that needs to be made early on.

I don't mean to hog by commenting again, but mary ann's comment made me think of something. She wrote, in regard to choosing to carry a baby and place it for adoption:

"That's a really public way to invite everyone into your business when you're trying to do the best you can under really difficult circumstances. People will tell you what they think, and it won't always be "What a wonderful thing you're doing."

This made me think of my very good friend who is pro-choice in general but wouldn't consider abortion for herself. She found herself accidentally pregnant by a boyfriend who left her, all while she was still in school. She chose to carry the baby and to place it for adoption.

Wouldn't you think most people in the world would be so supportive? Wouldn't most people say something like, "It's such a sacrifice to carry that child and give it a full life with a family that will love it and provide for it! What a wonderful thing you are doing! You are so brave." Because it is a huge sacrifice to carry a child and place it for adoption. And I think it's pretty admirable to give a perfectly healthy fetus a chance at a long and happy life.

But that's not what the vast majority of people said to her. Nope, they told her she was cold-hearted to give up her baby. How could anyone "give up" their baby? They told her she ought to keep that baby and love it. (Because I suppose placing it with a loving family was not loving it...)

Most of these same people, as they were known to be pro-choice, would have supported her or at least said nothing negative if she'd ended that child's life by abortion. And other people never would have known.

To this day, my friend is pleased with her birthchild's family and is in contact with her birthchild. She's happy that she was able to give her a happy life. She doesn't regret placing her for adoption.

But she still hurts inside about all the things people said to her about "giving up" her baby. And even today, if people find out, they sometimes say those hurtful things.

It boggles the mind. Perhaps more women would choose against abortion if society at large supported them and supported adoption as a good thing, rather than as a horrible, cold-hearted monster mother thing?

I voted for implantation.. because i've always felt that this bundle of possibilities that is created with conception then starts its journey to become a baby.

This doesn't change my pro choice feelings but strangely I do feel that if I say life starts at conception it would fuel the anti ivf lobby..

Just to clarify my post above:

I don't think the beginning of life is subjective (i.e. up to the mother or the doctor or government). I think we have the technological means to determine almost exactly when life begins. It's the VALUE that we place upon that life that causes such passionate debate.

I believe that life begins at conception. I do not believe in abortion for myself for reasons I will not go into here. However, I do believe that every woman should be able to make that decision for herself - completely without anyone interfering.

Tertia, you are very brave for bringing up this topic!

I have had three miscarriages in the last year and a half. My belief has stayed the same that life begins at viability. My miscarriages were at 11 weeks, 7 weeks, and 7 weeks. I mourned each one, but a large part of the mourning was for the loss of the hopes and dreams I had for the baby after it was born.

I am pro-choice. I believe the decision to terminate a pregnancy is not one that any woman enters into lightly. I also believe that I cannot ever fully understand another woman's circumstances. I empathize with women in the difficult situation of trying to decide what to do.

T, in your poll last night, i voted 'life begins at birth'.
then i read your actual entry, and now i'm not so sure! i think i'm mostly feeling that life begins at... hm... let's say age of viability.

i sound so aloof about this, but i assure you i am taking this very seriously. i just don't have the personal experience to feel as strongly as women with the experience do.

as for the idea of 'whose life first?' i must say, the life of the mother comes first. absolutely.
and, abortion, the choice is the woman's. that i'm 100% sure about.

thanks for the thought-provoking entry to go with my afternoon cup of coffee =)

Wow--what a topic.

I feel that life begins at birth. In my own experience, I didn't believe my son was real until he was born. Maybe that's the influence of infertility or miscarriage talking, but a switch in me flipped when he was born, and I heard him cry.

I definitely grieved the pregnancies I lost (all very early), but I didn't feel the same connection to them, which is why I didn't feel right about naming them--they weren't people, "just" collections of cells.

At the same time, with the pregnancy that resulted in my son, I didn't go ahead with amnio or CVS because of the risks I believed those procedures posed to this particular collection of cells and because, though I would take to the streets to defend any woman's right to terminate her pregnancy, I didn't think I could do so--there was something precious to me there, though I'm not sure I'd call it life.

(I hope the generous use of "I" in this comment makes clear that this is an intensely personal belief--not something I'd attempt to persuade anyone else of.)

So, uh, a fetus undergoes some sort of miraculous conversion to babyhood in the birth canal? And, at birth, is suddenly "real"? How is that possible?

Well, I'm just all about the heavy topics lately.
I voted for at conception. However, I have an open mind. I am leery at saying "I would never"...but I can't imagine any situation in which I would personally have an abortion. That's just me. And while I don't judge other women, I'm saddened at stories like Shanna's, where women terminate pregnancies just because it's not "convenient" or "it was a mistake" and then turn around and make the same mistake again. But it's just one part of many things wrong with our society. Sigh.


For anyone who considers late-term abortions okay, the above article may be thought-provoking.

I believe that biological life and spiritual/soul life are two separate things. That's why I think it's okay to "help" on the terminally ill and about to die folks, as well as the brain dead folks. I think the soul is immortal and separate from the body. When I visited my brain-dead uncle it was clear that "he" was no longer in the room, that "he" was gone. What remained was simply the flesh of his earthly body.

I believe that children choose their parents before conception, and I believe in the sanctity of human life, hence I believe that abortion is wrong. I felt my children were alive within me before I even had a positive pregnancy test. If one is not of a religious persuasion then I understand how my beliefs would seem ridiculous.

Before my descent into the hell that is infertility I had no notion of how the human body developed within the womb. Once I finally became pregnant and tracked the development of my babies, well, I just don't know how anyone could know how fully formed a baby is in utero and still think it's okay to perform an abortion. Until I became pregnant and learned the truth for myself, at 40-years old, I still bought the party line that a developing baby is simply a blob of cells until some certain point in the pregnancy, and that would be a fairly late point in the pregnancy. Ignorance was bliss.

I am ignorant no more, and cannot justify abortion in my mind. Just my opinion, since you asked...

Life starts at different times depending on the person you ask to. To someone, it can start at the moment they realize they are pregnant or until birth. And my opinion is to each their own.

Regarding abortion, I think every woman knows what is capable of being raising a child alone or with a partner or being able to give a kid for adoption. And it's cooky assuming that you know better than the woman going thru a pregnancy. So, pro-choice.

I haven't read through the comments yet, as I wanted to just write my thoughts first, without "polluting" (for lack of a better word) them.
I had an abortion when I was 19. It was an unplanned pregnancy with a boyfriend I had been dating for several years. Normally we used condoms, but sometimes we risked it. (stupid teenagers). The abortion was a dificult experience, but it is not one I regret in the least. In fact, I am so relieved and glad to this day that I was able to make that decision, that I did not bring an unwanted child into the world. Even while I was struggling through miscarriages and sub-fertility before my son was born, I did not regret my choice.
That being said, I certainly can understand why people do not support abortion, or why they think it is wrong. I do not, however, understand how anyone can lobby for laws to make it illegal. If you don't believe in abortion, don't have one.
As for the beginning of life, to me it begins when the baby is born. I realize that when the fetus is developing, it has potentional life--beleive me, I know how devastating it is when that potential is lost--but I don't personally consider life beginning until birth.

Sorry this is CRAZY long ... normally I think that's rude in comments, but this is the sort of question that gets long comments!

I won't answer the "when does life begin" question, because I don't know. How could I know? I do feel that the question comes from our need to draw lines. We think in such concrete terms that we are unwilling to accept the idea that a fetus is a little more babyish today than it was yesterday, and will be yet even more babyish tomorrow. I don't think our minds accept those types of spectrums very well--we want to know: is it a baby or isn't it, and when does that change occur? I think that concrete thinking creates false boundaries. I think it's interesting that the question of "when does life begin" is always posed with the firm implication that there IS an answer, even if none of us know for sure what that answer is. What if there simply isn't an answer to that question?

As far as being pro-choice vs. pro-life, I used to think I would never, ever get an abortion. I was and am pro-choice, because I don't pretend to have all the answers of the universe, and me establishing and enforcing abortion policy for someone else would really be the blind leading the blind.

I WILL say that my stance of "I will NEVER get an abortion" changed the minute I got married. I looked around and realized that as a wife, I would endure unbelievable stigma and pressure from relatives (especially my mother-in-law, as we are her only chance at grandchildren) to keep a baby, even though as a young married couple we were no more ready or able to raise children than we had been when we were dating. I began imagining Christmas with a big pregnant belly as everyone stared mournfully at me because I was GIVING AWAY THE NEW FAMILY BABY. I realized that I would be very likely to abort rather than face the grief of grandparents and the speeches from my married friends with children who could not believe that as a married woman with a decent income, I was giving away the thing that they found most precious in their lives. The fact that I felt unready and very very unhappy at the idea of being a mother would get lost in the emotional needs of so many friends and family members. Maybe it's weak, maybe it's cowardice, but I really feel that if I got pregnant accidentally within my marriage during those early years, I would have aborted. This is both a sad indication of a previously unknown weakness in my character and a sad indication of the fact that relatives and friends often lack the ability to respect the parenting choices of others, putting their own needs before the needs of the mother and child (who would of course not be happy living with a mother who did not want him or her).

And the last thing: I must respectfully dissent with the idea that babies made from rape are somehow different from other babies. It seems morally inconsistent to me when someone will say that abortion is wrong wrong wrong no matter what--unless the fetus was the result of rape. I can't imagine how painful and horrible rape must be, and how unbelievably awful it would be for the mother to have to deal with that pregnancy, but I still do not understand what that has to do with whether a baby is being killed. Pregnancies are often difficult and terrible, especially when the mother is broke and desperate and the baby is unwanted, the father is abusive and is threatening the mother if she doesn't get rid of it, etc etc. Why are rape victims exempt from the idea that it's not right to kill an innocent human being? Many people suffer in life in many different ways. It seems we judge them harshly for deciding to end a pregnancy ... unless they were raped, and then it's OK. Not OK if you have the misfortune of being impoverished, abused, or any of the other awful situations so many women face each day. No, just raped. This is a weird little facet of the abortion argument, and I am surprised that so many people embrace it wholeheartedly. Even if the pregnancy is horrible, even if the emotional trauma is extreme, how is that fetus any less deserving of life than all the others?

I'm not saying the rape exception is bad. It's just strange that it's the only one of its kind. I'm saying that maybe we need to take our automatic rape exception and run with it ... and begin acknowledging that life is indeed awful and difficult for many women, not just rape victims, and maybe we should keep from judging those women just as we have restrained from judging the rape victims, and widen that circle of understanding and support.

The question that begs to be asked, is, what is your own personal basis for deciding what is right and wrong? There are many ways to do this: tradition (my family does it / doesn't do it this way), feelings (I just "know" what is right and wrong), or you can base your decisions on what God thinks. For me, I believe that the Bible is true and that the God of the Bible (not made-up gods) is real. Therefore, it really doesn't matter what I "think." It comes down, for me, to what I know to be true because God said it is true. The Bible says, Psalm 139:13 "For you created my inmost being: you knit me together in my mother's womb..." So, for me, abortion is wrong. It is taking another's life.

I have to add that before I had my son Andrew (who has Down Syndrome), that I felt that if something was wrong with the baby, that I might have an abortion. That is hard to write now because I wouldn't trade him for a "chromosonally perfect" child if you paid me to. But it is important to write "I felt." It backs up the notion that your basis of life and what is true has to be based on SOMETHING. Because feelings change.

So, I would say that the Bible says that God knows us in the womb. I wouldn't mess with that. If you don't believe that the Bible is true, then you can make up any belief system you want and any answer you want.

I think I felt a lot more sure about when life begins before my pregnancies. It has been clear to me in my pregnancies that there was life (or the potential of it?) from the beginning, but that was largely about emotional experience, not biological - so would that life have existed if I hadn't wanted and anticipated the babies?
With that said, I have come to believe that the question of abortion needs to be separated from the question of life, because it seems like a false dichotomy. Do we have to deny the reality of the potential life in order to acknowledge that abortion is sometimes the right choice? It seems like too much pro-choice rhetoric tries to dehumanize the embryo/fetus. I think it is possible, theologically and ethically to acknowledge the life present while seeing that there are times when, with deep sadness, it is ok for that life to end. God clearly did not create us in such a way that every pregnancy ends with a baby. And at the same time, I have to believe that God's love and grace are for every baby - born or unborn.
I hope this rambling post makes some kind of sense.

In my opinion life begins when a child is no longer dependent on its mother. This is not to say that parents cannot love their child before it is actually alive.

As far as abortion I am completely pro choice even if I would not choose abortion for myself. I know many people use rape as a reason to have an abortion but I was raped when I was 15 and carried my pregnancy to term. Sometimes I question my decision... I love my daughter dearly but I feel like I miss so much of being a teenager since I am taking care of a 17 month old child. I can understand why abortion is the right choice for some women. It is their choice to make.

Hmmm interesting question. The answer for me has changed since we started this IVF process.
Life. Single cell organisms.. like amoeba, are alive. They are 'life'. The 13 eight cell clumps I have growing in a petrie dish on the other side of town. Are the alive? Are they life? I don't know.
If they are...I wouldn't consider them babies. They are potential human beings, but are just clumps of cells trying to become people.
Am I emotionally attached to them? yes. Do I wish all 13 of those clumps to become living human babies? um... not in my uterus, I don't. Do I think putting the clumps that aren't used into the refuse is murder, of course not.
I have been and will always be prochoice. No matter what. I hope it is never a choice I'll have to make, I'm lucky it never has been. But I will fight to the day I die to protect a womans right to choose.
So.. When does a clump of cells become a person? That's a question i just can't answer. maybe some day I will be able to.... but for now, i can say, I just don't know. And, honestly I'm glad I don't. Cause I wouldn't want to be wrong.
Brave you for bringing this up... but then again, you're not one to shy away from controversy are you. ;)

I worked on a high-risk abortion unit for 1 year, and performed countless abortions. I also got pregnant with my first child my first week on the unit. After I had my daughter, I returned to work and decided on my first day back that I just couldn't kill any more babies. And that was exactly the way I felt.

However, I still believe that abortion needs to be legal, safe, available and affordable for all women, of all races, socio-economic classes and in all countries. Because, damnit, that option just has to be there. For me, it has nothing to do with when "life" does or does not begin.

EJ--Why is a conversion to life in the birth canal any more (or less) miraculous than a conversion to life at fertilization, implantation, viability, etc.? That's the heart of the question being debated here.

I am pro-choice. And I always thought that if I got pregnant young i would have an abortion--until it happened to me, at 20, and I realized I could not do it (I miscarried). I don't think that has to effect whether or not you are pro-choice--I, personally, could not have an abortion, but I support the right of women to make their own decisions in such situations. I cannot deny that late term abortions in the absence of genetic defects, etc. make me uncomfortable, but I do not feel it is my business, as it would not be me who would have to bear said child and live with the knowledge of him/her. And as a victim of sexual assault, I know that having the child of my assailant would have been...I don't even know how to express the complicated emotions.

Brooklyn Girl --

To clarify:

I believe that "real" things can exist outside of the realm of my perception -- that is, without my seeing them. For example, I believe that the inside of the house will not disappear when I shut the front door behind me. With that logic, it is likely that a fetus grows continuously throughout its time spent in the uterus, increasingly resembling a baby -- even if it is not seen by me -- until it nears the 9-month mark, at which (according to logic AND ultrasound) it is near-identical or identical to a newborn baby. Is the 39-week-old UNSEEN baby in the womb less real than the newborn? I don't think so. Can the 39-week-old unseen baby in the womb respond to stimulus, excrete, suck its thumb, move its limbs -- basically, do what a newborn can do? You bet. So the only difference, then, doesn't have anything to do with development -- it's what we're able to see with our own eyes, and THAT'S a fairly limited determination of reality.

I really love all of the responses and opinions so far, even the ones I don`t share.
I`m pro-choice (number 3 on Tertia poll #2 -- don`t like it, but it should be legal). And of being in favor of choice is realizing some women are going to make choices I don`t like, or wouldn`t make in their situations.

I have 3 kids and I`ve never had an abortion, and my only very unwanted pregnancy early in our marriage ended in a 7-week miscarriage, but would likely not have been aborted because even though I didn`t want it at the time, my husband did. I felt no sorrow for losing it, and never considered it a baby -- what I lost was an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy, and I mostly felt overwhelming relief. But my husband mourned it deeply, blamed me for it (by somehow causing the miscarriage by not wanting it enough --gee, if it worked that way, there would be no need for any abortions!) and our marriage came close to ending over it.

Fast forward more than 10 years -- I had a very rare false positive on a pregnancy test when our youngest child was a few months old. My husband was adamant that I would have an abortion -- we had a horrible screaming fight over it, and I remember saying, "Fine, I`ll raise all 4 of them alone!" We did five more tests the next day -- all clear negatives. I wasn`t pregnant. In the meantime, I told a few of my girl friends, and their opinion was that "you have no right to have a baby if your husband doesn`t want it. He`s right -- an abortion would be the best thing to do right now. Having another baby would be selfish, and could even deprive your existing kids of their father!" So much for my "choice!"

When did "choice" come to equal "duty?" Planned Parenthood`s research institute did a study on why women have abortions:


Women were allowed to pick more than one reason. The reasons they selsected most were that having a child would interfere with a woman’s education, work or ability to care for dependents (74%) and/or that she could not afford a baby now (73%). How many wanted babies are aborted because women feel as if it`s their "duty" to abort them? I can`t help but feel that society has failed these women. In addition to supporting Planned Parenthood, I now also support crisis pregnancy centers, but since I don`t want any of my money going toward anti-abortion law lobbying, I pick them very carefully and donate baby goods instead of money.

Lots of people say they want abortion to remain "safe, legal and rare," but no one seems concerned about the "rare" part. Just as every child should be a wanted one, every abortion should be a wanted one, too.

A day late here, my view on abortion from teenage to 40 changed and bounced from one end to the other but I have always remained pro-choice. In my teens and 20's I drove friends to abortion clinics, passed the picket lines, held their hand and felt 100% like it was the right decision. They were NOT ready to be a mother mentally or financially. One of my friends at 5 months had an abortion, she asked me to go with her, it had to be in a city about an hour away at a hospital. I couldn't do that, she was obviously pregnant and something in me couldn't go,her mother took her but I still supported her and we are still friends today. I also do not judge her for her decision. I lost a baby at 5 1/2 months and that was a "life" to me. Every loss has been a "life" to me because I have loved and wanted every one of those babies. Where does life begin? Today I'd say at conception, I remain pro-choice but I also do not take abortion as lightly or see it as I used to at all. It is on a whole other end of the spectrum now and today I don't think I could drive someone 20 yrs old who had an oops baby to an abortion clinic. It's just not as easy to see it in the same light. I don't judge others decisions but I also don't have to be a part of them and I still remain pro-choice, a part of me says that with sadness.

Talk about a hot topic.

To me life begins at conception. There is life in that petrie dish when the sperm meets the egg. Sometimes it ends prematurely, by accident or design. I'm still pro-choice, though. That has nothing to do with my thoughts on when life begins. To me the crux of the abortion issue is that no one has the right to dictate to a woman what she must or must not do with her body. She is sovereign over her own being. When that baby comes into the world (at whatever stage of gestation) it is entitled to the same privilege.

My opinion has changed somewhat since I have undergone IVF.

First let me say I am, have always been and always will be Pro-Choice.

I got pregnant by accident (stupid kids for not using protection) at age 17 with my first boyfriend. I had an abortion at 8 weeks b/c I still had many things to accomplish in my life and at that age a baby was not part of the plan.

I got pregnant on purpose (stupid me for waiting so long) at age 43 with twins using my eggs, donor sperm and doing one IVF cycle having finally accomplished everything in my life that i set out to do at age 17.

I always think the moment of conception is completely up to the woman who is pregnant.

In my case, i used to believe it was when a fetus could survive outside the womb and we would just have to take our chances and live with it on that one since no one really knows for sure since each case is different.

Having done IVF, I now believe it is when the sperm hits the egg (in my case thru ICSI), but, still believe in abortion for all who want or need it and, in fact, I would do it again if posed with the same circumstances.

Here's an interesting story:
I had my teenage abortion at a clinic run by a man named Bill Baird who was an infamous pro-abortion activist in the USA in the 60' and 70's. When i was in my 30's i bumped into him and actually thanked him profusely for providing the venue for me to have an abortion and for giving me back my future. We got into a conversation about the issue and his opinion, ironically, was that although he clearly is Pro-Choice, he was disappointed that in the end, so many women who had abortions as a result of the Women's Movement went on to "power" careers abandoning the traditional roles of the best and brightest women... that of becoming SAHM's, Teachers and Nurses. Therefore, he argued, an entire generation of children were bereft of the education and care given by these women in the past. He was sad that a a by-product of helping women to break free of the traditional roles they were relegated to before abortions were legalized was that the best and the brightest now were becoming doctors, lawyers and investment bankers rather than teachers of our most precious resource.

It was, without a doubt, the most interesting conversation i have ever had in my life.

Food for thought.

Great topic - and many very thoughtful and personal comments. It's mindboggling to me that such a complex issue is so often boiled down to two words "pro choice" or "pro life" I belive a fetus with a heartbeat is alive - but believe that a fetus isn't a "person" with legal rights of their own until viable outside the womb. That being said, I hope I never face circumstances that would cause me to consider an abortion myself. To me, whatever one's personal feelings on abortion, it is an very different issue that should be discussed separately whether the Government can/should dictate to women what they can and cannot do with their bodies.

Suzie-Q, did Bill Baird just blame the Women`s Movement, or did he also cite men, who failed to pick up the nuturing slack when women entered the traditionally male professions? It takes two parents to abandon a child.

Good point, but, Bill Baird was not blaming, just remarking on the by-product of the Women's Movement and legalization of Abortion.
What we saw beginning at that point in time was women moving into traditionally male roles, but, not the reverse, which, in his opinion, resulted in not the "best and brightest" beginning to become our children't teachers which accounts for part of the compromised education of our children since the 70's.

Hi all,

Suzie-Q and L.: I think what the women's movement did was start to break down the notion that there is such a thing as "traditionally male" anything or "traditionally female" anything. It sounds like Bill Baird is simplistically saying that the level of education and caretaking for children has gone down since the 70s and that it's due to the women's rights movement and the accessibility of abortion?!?

a.) how do you prove that the level of education and caretaking has overall gone down since the 70s?

b.) If you could (i don't think it has), how could you prove it's because more moms aren't at home and not due to many, complicated socio-economic factors?

Suzie--I realize you didn't say these things, Bill Baird did, so don't take this as an attack at all. My initial reaction to your anecdote about him, though, was "what an ass."

Anywhoo: I am 100% in favor of keeping abortion legal. I've had an abortion, I would do it again in a heartbeat. No regrets. I believe that some version of life starts at conception, the same way I feel that amoebas and other clumps of cells are scientifically "alive". I do not thing that fetuses (though alive) are persons and they do not have rights. I do not think women who have abortions enter that decision lightly and I can certainly understand that women have differing opinions from me. That's the beauty of choice. It leaves us all the *choice* to believe what we want.

Good discussion. I'm impressed that it hasn't devolved into a screaming match by now! :)


I have been pondering this for the last few days. I feel compelled to respond, but I struggle for brevity with this enormous topic.

As an adoptee, I have had many conversations w/my birthmom about this. She made a comment to me that I have always held close to my heart: Whenever a woman becomes pregnant, her life changes, no matter the outcome.
She was right.

I was an adamant pro-lifer as a teen. I felt that my birthmother gave me an opportunity at life and that other unexpected babies deserved the same chance.

I was so naive that life packages situations in only a black or white picture. There are so many shades of gray.

So, when does life begin? I'm not sure. But I think one's rights begin when he/she is a viable human being.

Now, I am firmly pro-choice. I am frightened at what might happen to Roe v. Wade now that 2 Supreme Court Justices will be replace by our ultra-conservative president.

I hope my ramblings have made some sense. You are a brave, brave woman to broach such a touchy topic, Tertia! And, look at that! We all played so nicely.

Take care, you G&D, lady, you,

Ah, that's why I like you, Tertia: you always keep things light and frivolous!

Such a loaded question does not get just a single answer. When we did our first (so far, only) IVF/ICSI cycle and got one embryo for transfer, I was so attached to that little bugger. I talked to during the transfer, I talked to it everyday until I got my period. I was crushed when I started to bleed. Did I think the embryo qualified as "life"? No. I believe that Life begins when the baby is born (whether born naturally, on time or preemie, or G-d forbid, as a result of trauma, etc). And yes, I capitalized "life" for a reason - there is no argument that when a woman is pregnant, and she feels the baby move, and respond to stimuli, that fetus is of course, alive (a 'life').

I am also rabidly pro-choice. While I cannot imagine myself having an abortion, I have been a part of rallies, and have volunteered as a clinic escort to women when even womens' health clinics were being attacked/bombed (great - some of those women WANTED their babies and the clinics were the only place they could afford prenatal care). A woman is in control of her own body, and absolutely has the right to decide what happens to it, no matter how we may agree or disagree.

That said, I also believe that once a fetus could be viable outside the womb, abortions should not be performed except as a life-saving measure.

Before and during my first pregnancy, I'd said live begins at birth. Honestly, the fetus was for me a potential being but not a real one. Maybe it was an unconscious way to deal with fear of losing it.

After having a healthy daughter whom I love dearly, I've changed my views and I do stick for the 'viability' timepoint, whatever it is. Now it would seem wrong to me to consider my daughter alive at birth (41.5 weeks) but not some days or weeks before, when she had already a chance of surviving outside the womb.

Nevertheless, I am 100% pro-choice, even for very late-term abortions. I would be pissed off with people having abortions irresponsibly as their primary anticonceptive method (if these people exist and it's not an urban legend), but I would still support/accept it.

Wow. Okay – I believe life begins at conception. I think that’s when the egg starts dividing and growing, yes? I’m even MORE sure that life is definitely evident once the heart starts beating. I’m not sure how a growing being with a beating heart, one whose heartbeat is different than mine, whose blood type can be different than mine, who moves independent of me and unfelt by me, is not a living thing “separate from my body”. What then, is the definition of life? I don’t agree with people who say that they have the right to choose what to do with their body, because to me it someone else’s body you’re choosing what to do with. That’s not to say I don’t understand why some women would choose abortion. I completely disagree with abortion as birth control. I disagree with (but again, can understand) abortion because of birth defects. I disagree with abortion due to rape or incest. My main issues are these: 1) it’s not the baby’s fault you were raped. You’re killing the innocent one in the equation. 2) I believe it’s God’s choice when someone should die. In this same vein, I disagree with the death penalty. 3) In the case of “birth control” it’s not the baby’s fault you weren’t ready to be a parent.
I understand I seem really harsh and unforgiving here, but I truly believe you’re taking a life for reasons that aren’t compelling enough. And in the case of saving the mother’s life, I think the baby should be “delivered” and every measure taken to try to save the life instead of just routinely chalking it up as a loss. I know this can be pointless before viability is established, but what does it hurt to try?
If the baby’s going to die anyway, as in the case of severe birth defects, I think you should let nature take its course. Just because we have the ability to do something, doesn’t mean we should do it. I fear that leaving abortion legal is a slippery slope, and for those cases of saving the mother’s life, if you tried everything to save the baby’s life I don’t think that would be considered the same thing. I think specific wording should be written into law about that kind of thing in order to keep the mother’s life safe. Having said this all – I want to reiterate that I can understand why someone would want to end their child’s suffering in the case of extreme birth defects…I can understand how an unwanted child can be very scary. I’m not a monster. It’s just that to me, you’re doing nothing different than taking a newborn and ending its life. Wow – again. What a weighty topic. I’m going to read the other’s now. Hope I haven’t offended anyone.

Oh, and I guess I should also say that I disagree with the reasoning that a baby cannot support himself outside the womb without intervention, so therefore he's not "alive". A newborn cannot survive outside the womb on his own, either. He needs someone to feed him, clothe him, and care for him or he will die. He's still dependent on the mother or father for life. If you leave him in a crib alone, he will die.

Saying life begins at implantation is like saying, "Life begins when I get home." Nothing has changed about the baby after he/she implants except location. The life has been growing (dead things don't grow) and because he/she now has nourishment to continue living doesn't change what he/she is. The only difference is nourishment. The embryo will grow into a fetus with nourishment like an infant will grow into a toddler with nourishment. If I stopped getting nourishment, do I cease being a 'life'?

Viability isn't an actuality either. Viability changes based on technology and has nothing to do with a baby. A child in 1960 that was 28 weeks is born and dies, whereas a child in 1990 is born at 28 weeks and lives- are those babies essentially different? But to some, one is a life and the other is not.

Life begins at birth? What has been happening for nine months? Did the child magically appear while traveling through the birth canal? This makes absolutely no sense.

To say life begins at anything other than conception is a thought you have to do logical gymnastics to defend- and a position that is only created to defend abortion, because it's easier to destroy a non-life. If abortion were a non-issue, people would undoubtably agree with a majority of scientists that state that at conception, you have everything you'll ever have-your eye color, personality traits, everything. The only difference is nourishment. The embryo will grow into a fetus with nourishment like an infant will grow into a toddler with nourishment.

Pro-life people say "Abortion is wrong". Pro-choice says "Abortion is".
I found that when I find someone who is encouriging me to help make abortion illegal, saying these words often makes them pipe down and leave.
"If you make abortion illegal, It won't stop them from happening. It will only keep them from being safe. How can you live with yourself knowing that you helped endanger the mother's life as well as the one you sought to protect?"
I will always be pro-choice. I love life and I love babies but it is not my right to enforce people to do something against theiir will.

I know I'm v v v late in getting to this post, it's one I've skipped over in the past but today I'm being brave on a lot of levels.

Background first then my opinion.
I had a pregnancy when I was 15 I gave birth at barely 16 for none of those pg months did I ever feel the baby was alive a living being, perhaps because from making the decision (together with my mum) that I would deliver and give it (not him not her i didn't know what I was having) over to parents who could provide what I couldnt. I had a vaginal birth still not real, I heard the baby cry still not real I treasure the memories of having done that I treasure the thought of her but none of that came until years later. ... callous arn't I.

One trauma induced full term birth later no living child during that pg while I loved it (again I didn't know him or her so was always a beanie) a much wanted much loved idea of what may come it was not a life force of its own...

We my dh and I use ICSI now, we need too to stand a chance at ever having a child together,

now my opinion....

I can not agree with life beginning at conception, or I'd be (for me and me alone this is my take remember) a nutcase mourning the loss of dozens and dozens of lives created from my eggs and his sperm, the chem pg I just went thru was not a life it was hormone induced fubar'd event. I mourn for what could have been of course I do, but not for the life snuffed out by the womb of jagged edges.

will I think of a pg as being life when I see a heartbeat (fingers crossed one day i will) I don't know,because I know how easily things go wrong but I will live for that dream of what could be.

Abortion is something every woman in my not humble opinion has the right to have, I had that option too, I chose not to take it, not because there was a "life" growing within me but because out of a hideous event I could find something right within it, I could and did make someone elses world brighter.

I would do selective reduction not happily not with an easy heart but I would, I have the idea that I would terminate a fetus if that was what scans/tests showed to be required. I've losts babies at full term I refuse to go thru that hell again by choice.

long winded way of saying, for me life begins when we believe it to "be"

So many poeple on earth long to have babies, but cannot. They are stricken with deep sadness over the matter. Then there are those who can get pregnant so easily and maybe do not want a child. Sometimes women get pregnant and do not want the baby, or just cannot take care of it for some reason or another...in my opinion, I say, "Why abort the baby? When you can give it up for adoption, so that couples who will love the baby can have a child they could never have without adoption!" I do not agree with abortion. I feel the baby is helpless and that should not give anyone the right to take advantage of that for ANY reason. So many long to have a child. Give them that chance.

I am a 37 year old woman who has just found out 2 days ago that she is pregnant. On March 29th I had an abortion because of my life circumstances. They include still being married and having a 13 and 11 year old daughters. My husband drove me to the clinic and picked me up afterwards. He (understandably)hates my guts. He does not love me anymore and didn't love me before my extramarital affair. Now, I find myself pregnant again and I have no support. My husband told me the 1st time that he would take my kids from me and that he wanted me out of the house. I haven't worked since I was 23 years old and have no skills. How can I have this child when I will loose my daughters and have no place to live? I need to find a job to support myself. The father of my child says he will help, but, he has never had a child and does not realize the complexity of the situation. I cannot marry him because I do not trust him. He is friends with all his ex-girlfriends and expects me to accept this no questions asked. My baby would be born into a cruel world with no family and going to daycare for the rest of his/her childhood (in addition to school). What would you do? I have to decide fast. My last menstrual cycle was on July 5th, 2006. Any uncruel opinions? I already know I was wrong to have an affair, but, what's best for my baby? Should I let my baby go back to the Lord?

I am a 37 year old woman who has just found out 2 days ago that she is pregnant. On March 29th I had an abortion because of my life circumstances. They include still being married and having a 13 and 11 year old daughters. My husband drove me to the clinic and picked me up afterwards. He (understandably)hates my guts. He does not love me anymore and didn't love me before my extramarital affair. Now, I find myself pregnant again and I have no support. My husband told me the 1st time that he would take my kids from me and that he wanted me out of the house. I haven't worked since I was 23 years old and have no skills. How can I have this child when I will loose my daughters and have no place to live? I need to find a job to support myself. The father of my child says he will help, but, he has never had a child and does not realize the complexity of the situation. I cannot marry him because I do not trust him. He is friends with all his ex-girlfriends and expects me to accept this no questions asked. My baby would be born into a cruel world with no family and going to daycare for the rest of his/her childhood (in addition to school). What would you do? I have to decide fast. My last menstrual cycle was on July 5th, 2006. Any uncruel opinions? I already know I was wrong to have an affair, but, what's best for my baby? Should I let my baby go back to the Lord?

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