Abortion put simply

Posted on March 22, 2012

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DoonesburyAbortion

Introduction

[NOTE: This article is also available for download in a relatively attractive, illustrated PDF format: Abortion put simply.]

Recently the abortion debate has reared its unattractive head again, largely inspired by the Texan “House Bill 15″ requiring pregnant women to undergo a sonogram before having an abortion. Sonograms offer extremely detailed images, making the human characteristics of the foetus far more apparent than traditional ultra-sounds. Opponents of the bill, such as Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), claim its purpose “is to traumatize women who are seeking an abortion” (Shahid, “Sonogram abortion requirement passes in Texas Legislature“).

Those who back the bill likely agree with Sen. Davis, since they believe abortion is murder and probably figure that a woman who is about to kill a baby should experience a bit of trauma.

It’s been a field day for liberal satire, helped enormously by the look of the sonogram device — a 10″ rod inserted into the vagina. It has been dubbed “The Wand of Shame,” and in his Doonesbury comic, Gary Trudeau went a step further, likening it to rape.

This, of course, is the perfect opportunity for me to gain Brownie points by following suit, using clever phrases and withering sarcasm to ridicule any and all arguments against abortion, without regard to facts or analysis.

Instead, I’m going to lay out all the issues exactly as they stand, finishing with my opinion on the proper legal status of abortion. This won’t be short, but if you’re looking for sound bites I suggest you listen to Rush Limbaugh or Jon Stewart.

This is grown-up time.

I should warn you, what follows will sound like an attack on the left. That’s  because it is. However, both sides of the abortion issue are guilty of over-simplification and arguing from a predetermined conclusion. The major difference between the left and the right in this, as in pretty well every other issue, is one of articulation. The right is blunt and plain-spoken, making the idiocy of their pronouncements easy targets for satirists and cartoonists. The left, however, expresses itself in multisyllabic words woven into impossibly abstract and ever-shifting arguments. Refuting them is like trying to find and disprove the main thesis of Finnegan’s Wake.

This is a long essay, and I understand if anyone decides not to read it. I do, however, ask that you not read partway through and then argue the conclusion you think I’ll be making. If you’re a regular reader you might keep in mind “Injustice on Trial.” And while I know I don’t have to worry about this with my regular readers, I do ask that comments be relatively civil, that disagreements address what I’ve actually said, and that authorities cited in counter-arguments come from sources other than those of books written by long-dead members of desert tribes. Anything I consider to be inappropriate will be removed.

Although it’s long, I’ve kept it as short as possible, but  a number of technical points need to be explained, and in doing so I have quoted at length from various experts.

The essay is broken down into the following categories:

  • Uncontested facts
    • Does abortion kill foetuses?
    • Are these foetuses human?
  • Debatable points
    • Does a foetus have a soul?
    • Does a foetus feel pain?
    • Is the foetus a person?
    • Is abortion a step towards euthanasia of the unwanted?
  • Conclusion
  • Last words

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Uncontested facts:

Does abortion kill foetuses?

Since there is a difference between a live foetus and a dead foetus, and since the result of abortion is a dead foetus, then obviously, yes. We are killing foetuses.

Are these foetuses human?

DNA would seem to prove conclusively that the foetus is indeed human.

Debatable points

Does a foetus have a soul?

Define soul.

We cannot even agree whether or not an adult human has a soul. Until such times as the new sonograms show a foetus wearing Ray-Bans and playing a piano, the soulfulness of foetuses must be considered unprovable and irrelevant to the discussion. The matter of “soul” is a red herring dragged across the ground by certain pro-lifers to try bewildering the pro-choice hounds (none of whom give it so much as a sniff).

Does the foetus feel pain?

Despite the deceptively simple and straightforward question, this is difficult to answer because there are both biological and  psychological considerations.

Biological

In his 2006 paper in the British Medical Journal, “Can Fetuses Feel Pain?”  Stuart Derbyshire finds that the “minimal necessary anatomical architecture to support pain processing” is in place by the seventh week of gestation. He proposes (backed by a body of consensual evidence) that no real experience of pain is yet possible because “[n]o laminar structure is evident in the thalamus or cortex, a defining feature of maturity.” Furthermore, the outer layer of neurons “has yet to receive any thalamic projections,” without which they “cannot process noxious [painful] information from the periphery.” Derbyshire’s conclusion is that it is only by the 26th week “that the biological system necessary for pain is intact and functional” (Derbyshire, “Can fetuses feel pain?”).

This, however, is only the neurological component — the infrastructure, if you will. “A proper understanding of pain,” says Derbyshire, “must account for the conceptual content that constitutes the pain experience” (ibid). In other words, at 26 weeks we know the trains are running, but have yet to determined whether anyone is actually riding them.

Psychological

Derbyshire quotes The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), which defines pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage” and that “pain is not merely the response to noxious stimuli or disease but is a conscious experience.” The Association further qualifies pain as something that is “always subjective” and learned by each individual “through experiences related to injury in early life” (ibid). On the authority of this definition, Derbyshire argues that foetal neural systems are limited and “cannot support such cognitive, affective, and evaluative experiences, and the limited opportunity for this content to have been introduced also means that it is not possible for a fetus to experience pain” (ibid).

So, can foetuses feel pain? The scientific consensus is that the equipment for feeling pain is fully developed by the 26th week. The rest of the debate hinges upon a definition of pain that some may find questionable.

Is the foetus a “person”?

Define person.

Like “soul,” the definition of a person is exceedingly difficult and vague. Unlike soul, however, the definition of “person” is of great legal and social importance, and the ever-changing nature of this definition has affected various peoples and groups for centuries. One definition even allows it to be applied to corporations, cities, and other congregates, but this is not important to the present discussion

Of more relevance are those definitions relating to the personhood of humans in general, and whether these definitions justify bestowing personhood upon a foetus.

If a foetus is a person, then abortion is murder. The law, and our own intuitions are quite clear on that. If the foetus is a person, then abortion is killing a person, and killing a person, at least in most circumstances, is murder. It is extremely important to keep this in mind. We are not trying to win a trophy in a debate club contest; we are trying to determine whether thousands of human persons are being murdered.

Most definitions of personhood share a set of criteria: “self awareness,” “continuation of consciousness,” and “identity.” A person must be aware of himself as being distinct from the things and people around him, must experience a certain integrity of memory allowing previous moments to be linked to present moments, and must have a sense that this continuum of memory constitutes a personal identity.

A moment’s thought is enough to show that on all levels, a foetus probably fails to meet the criteria.

Unfortunately, so do coma patients, many seniors, and people who are fast asleep.

Since we have a vested interest in being able to take a quick nap in an easy chair after dinner without giving up our right to life, we modify these criteria by including “expectation.” To be a person, the entity in question must either have the qualifying traits at any given moment, or be reasonably expected to have them in the future. So a patient who has been put into a medically-induced coma is still a person, because there is the reasonable expectation that the qualifying traits will reappear upon awakening.

This now tilts the scales in the other direction. If a foetus is allowed to develop without interference, it can also reasonably be expected to assume these qualifying traits.

There is one crucial difference, however. A foetus has not yet experienced these qualifying traits, whereas the coma patient, upon awakening, will simply be picking up where he left off. This “previous experience” now creates a cusp decision on personhood. The pro-life camp, which wants to extend personhood to foetuses (some even trying to extend it to individual spermatozoa) says that previous experience of these criteria is irrelevant, and that the potential to experience them is the crucial point. The pro-choice camp, on the other hand, says that without previous experience of the criteria, there can be no expectation of a right to life.

But just as the definition of personhood before the inclusion of the “expectation clause” had the unintended consequence of making it legal to kill Uncle Jeff while he’s sleeping off his turkey dinner, the new definition with the inclusion of the “previous experience clause” has the unintended consequence of making it legal not only to kill foetuses, but also neonatals.

Or, in plain English, “new borns.”

In other words, if we accept this criterion, not only is abortion acceptable, but so is infanticide, if performed within a few weeks or months following birth.

Mary Anne Warren (1946-2010), whose writings on the subject of abortion have “been required readings in academic courses” and “are frequently cited in major publications” (Mary Anne Warren, Wikipedia) is one of the many who recognize and openly admit to this problem.

One of the most troubling objections to the argument presented in this article is that it may appear to justify not only abortion but infanticide as well. A newborn infant is not a great deal more personlike than a ninemonth fetus, and thus it might seem that if late-term abortion is sometimes justified, then infanticide must also be sometimes justified (Warren, “On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion”).

But — we really, really want to justify abortion, and so Warren valiantly attempts to work around the problem. One of her arguments is that at this stage of our societal development, we simply consider it wrong (ibid) Ironically, this is exactly the same argument used only a few decades ago to ban abortion.

Her strongest argument is hardly more compelling.

Another reason why infanticide is usually wrong, in our society, is that if the newborn’s parents do not want it, or are unable to care for it, there are (in most cases) people who are able and eager to adopt it and to provide a good home for it. Many people wait years for the opportunity to adopt a child, and some are unable to do so even though there is every reason to believe that they would be good parents. The needless destruction of a viable infant inevitably deprives some person or persons of a source of great pleasure and satisfaction, perhaps severely impoverishing their lives. (ibid).

So to clarify: killing a newborn baby is wrong because it might deprive potential adoptive parents of their happiness, but killing a foetus is fine because…because they can’t be adopted until they’re born?

Other pro-lifers, however, are less fastidious. Michael Tooley, professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado and President of the American Philosophical Association (2010-11), arrives at the same conclusion concerning the justification of infanticide, but finds no compelling need to wriggle out of it.

Tooley’s arguments follow those of Warren’s (and others) in denying the characteristics of personhood to both foetuses and new-born babies.

To sum up, my argument has been that having a right to life presupposes that one is capable of desiring to continue existing as a subject of experiences and other mental states. This in turn presupposes both that one has the concept of such a continuing entity and that one believes that one is oneself such an entity. So an entity that lacks such a consciousness of itself as a continuing subject of mental states does not have a right to life (Tooley, “Abortion and Infanticide“).

 Tooley then compares society’s present reluctance towards infanticide to its earlier reluctance towards masturbation and fellatio.

Infanticide is also of interest because of the strong  emotions it arouses. The typical reaction to infanticide is like the reaction to incest or cannibalism, or the reaction of previous generations to masturbation or oral sex. The response, rather than appealing to carefully formulated moral principles, is primarily visceral. When philosophers themselves respond in this way, offering no arguments, and dismissing infanticide out of hand, it is reasonable to suspect that one is dealing with a taboo rather than with a rational prohibition. I shall attempt to show that this is in fact the case (Tooley, “Abortion and Infanticide“).

 Oddly enough, this aspect of the abortion debate seldom finds it way into the main stream media.

[Edited March 13, 2012, to add: Recently this issue has hit the news due to a violent public reaction to a paper written this past February. The original paper, however, was only given cursory coverage. The paper that has created this recent storm was written by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva in the Journal of Medical Ethics. Entitled, “After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live?” it argues that: “The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.” Calling it "after-birth abortion" rather than infanticide, the authors say that killing a newborn would especially be justified if it suffered disabilities not discovered in pre-birth testing, such as Downs Syndrome, which is only detected 64% of the time through such methods. "To bring up such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care" (Adams, "Killing babies no different from abortion, experts say"). I ask you to keep this last statement in mind when reading my conclusion.]

Is abortion a step towards euthanasia of the unwanted?

This is the “Slippery Slope” argument, which many liberals dismiss as a logical fallacy. To do so out-of-hand, however, is to display an amateurish understanding of logic. The slippery slope argument is not a fallacy on its own — it is only fallacious if the events hypothesized are extremely unlikely and never previously observed.

For instance, claiming that exposing a child to Bugs Bunny cartoons is a slippery slope likely leading to later criminal behaviour is fallacious. Not only is the chain of events leading to the proposed outcome extremely unlikely, but several generations of Bugs Bunny fans have grown up to be law-abiding adults. On the other hand, claiming that exposing a child to physical and emotional abuse is a slippery slope likely leading to later criminal behaviour is valid. Not only is the chain of events extremely likely, there is also ample observable evidence backing it up.

So is the slippery slope argument valid in the case of personhood and foetuses? Is it likely that denying personhood to a foetus can lead to denying personhood to other categories of people? And have we observed it in the past?

The answer is an unqualified yes.

Denying personhood to foetuses has already led to justifications for infanticide, and there is no logical reason these same arguments couldn’t be extended to the senile, severely retarded, or a number of other categories of humans.

And there is certainly no question that we’ve witnessed such things in the past — and not all that far in the past.

Eugenics was a 20th century concept denying personhood to a wide range of humans deficient in one or more characteristics. At its height it led to the Holocaust of WWII. Even without such extremes, however, over the past 60 years we’ve seen wide-scale sterilization of the mentally challenged, people of a certain colour relegated to the backs of buses, and the children of aboriginal people taken from their homes.

Conclusion

So, what should the state’s role in this be?

I have tried to lay out the arguments as objectively and fairly as I can, hiding any bias I might have so skillfully that not even the most discerning reader will have picked it up. With that in mind, I believe that the evidence and supporting arguments can lead to only one possible conclusion: We should keep the state’s frackin’ nose out of our lives!

This is an age in which we are obsessed with our rights. We want the right to free birth control, free wi-fi access, and free transportation. We want the right to work at the jobs we want, even if we are physically incapable of performing them without expensive accommodations by our employers. We want the right to make as much money as that guy over there, the right to regular pay increases regardless of economic conditions, and the right to be considered beautiful no matter how many mirrors we’ve broken by looking into them. We want our – we want our – we want our MTV.

We want these rights, we want the state to provide them, and, as the ubiquitous protest chant says, “we want them now!” And if the state refuses us these rights, we’re increasingly willing to sign petitions, organize protests, occupy public property, and even engage in violence. Worse, we are also willing to make a mockery of our claim to be rational beings. Since the acquisition of these rights depends upon convincing the state that our arguments are irrefutable, we torture logic far beyond its breaking point, vilify any sign of opposition, and wrap ourselves in such thick cloaks of self-righteousness that we become immobile.

And in the midst of all this activism for our rights, we forget one very important fact: he who dispenses our rights has the ability to rescind them.

It’s well past the time to change the conversation.

We need government. We need laws. But laws should be few and far between, and the passage of every new law should be marked by a national day of mourning. Let us, then, agree that since birth is a natural transition, recognized for millennia as being the start of a new person, it is illegal to kill a human after birth, and leave anything before that point to the discretion of  those involved. That means that if a woman is pregnant, but unwilling for one reason or another to give birth, she should be able to decide on the basis of her own rationality and morality whether she should have an abortion.

It does not mean, however, that anyone is obliged to provide it. The pro-lifers are just as serious (or boneheaded) in their beliefs and feelings as the pro-choicers, and the state has no right to force doctors who oppose abortion to perform them. It is every woman’s personal right to have an abortion, but it is not any woman’s right to demand it from a particular individual or organization.

But while the state has no business sanctioning or prohibiting such rights, it does have an obligation to protect them where necessary. Whether it’s a strongly conservative community attempting to stop a local doctor or medical centre from performing abortions, or a strongly liberal community attempting to force doctors into performing abortions against their own moral code, the state would have an obligation to step in. Aside from this, however, it has no business meddling in the reproductive matters of its citizens.

An even more sinister aspect of state-controlled abortions is that along with forcing unwilling doctors to perform abortions, it can also force unwilling women to undergo them. Undoubtedly the average person will look upon this possibility as being comfortably remote, but the hysterical nature of the environmental rhetoric is already inspiring such recommendations, and they’re coming from some of the world’s top organizations.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), an organization promoting “the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity,” prepared a report for the UN’s 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference that called for “reducing population in the interest of the environment.” At the conference itself, Zhao Baige, China’s  vice-minister of National Population and Family Planning Commission, pointed to China’s policy of forced abortion as a necessary means of controlling CO2 emissions. “”I’m not saying that what we have done is 100 percent right,” she said, “but I’m sure we are going in the right direction and now 1.3 billion people have benefited” (Xing,  “Population control called key to deal“).

State-sanctioned “rights” trample the personal rights of anyone who disagrees. As we’ve seen, the basic arguments of the pro-choice people are no more sophisticated, logical, or reasonable than those of the pro-life. In some ways they are less so. The pro-choice side is predominantly composed of progressive liberals, committed to universal rights and protection of the “weak.” In fighting for the rights of women to have abortions, they are caught in the unfortunate situation of having to deny the fundamental right of life to the unborn — who are surely the weakest of the weak. As a result, their arguments can become so convoluted that only the most partisanly-poisoned mind can fail to see the glaring inconsistencies.

We’ve already seem how their attempts at justifying abortion without simultaneously justifying infanticide have led to results that would make Ouroboros gag, but in reality, these are among the more logical of the pro-life arguments. One of Mary Anne Warren’s justifications for abortion compares unwanted pregnancy to a “space explorer” who “falls into the hands of an alien culture, whose scientists decide to create a few hundred thousand or more human beings, by breaking his body into its component cells, and using these to create fully developed human beings, with, of course, his genetic code” (Warren, “On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion”). But compare that to Judith Jarvis Thomson’s pro-choice argument involving a dying violinist and a kidnapped citizen.

You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist. A famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist’s circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own. [If he is unplugged from you now, he will die; but] in nine months he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you (“A Defense of Abortion,” Wikipedia).

Having no state mandate one way or the other would go a long way toward creating a saner environment for the abortion debate. Without the need, or even the possibility of bringing the power of the state to bear, arguments would only have to convince the individuals involved. This, of course, wouldn’t guarantee a sudden influx of logic and objective analysis, but at least the need to ignore logic in favour of a partisan stand would be drastically eliminated — and the unintended consequences of illogical and damaging arguments would not pose a threat to the entire population.

Removing the state from the equation would also place reproductive responsibility where it belongs: with the individual. Under state-sanctioned rights, personal responsibility is always undermined. Aside from previously-mentioned infringements, there is also the constant pressure of activists to “educate” society. In order to maintain state-sanctioned rights, they must keep up the pressure on people to take advantage of these rights. Any drop-off of interest in a particular right increases the possibility of turning around one day to find that it has “softly and suddenly vanished away.” If, for instance, there was a sudden movement towards personal reproductive responsibility, resulting in a marked decline in abortions, pro-lifers would unquestionably take the opportunity to ramp up their efforts to have them banned, and the “right” to abortion would be in danger of being lost — as it has been in the past. This, of course, is why “awareness campaigns” are so important.

There is, however, another aspect of this debate that deals neither with state interference nor rights, but with human psychology: we don’t just want the right to do something, we also want the entire world to approve it.

This is often the motivation leading people to demand state control of an issue in the first place, but it is a complete abdication of responsibility. Someone uncomfortable about making a decision without 100% consensual approval is a person uncomfortable about taking responsibility. It is a common phenomenon among teenagers, such as the teenage girl who can’t decide whether she should date  a particular boy without first getting approval from all her friends.

Last words

We are a society that demands the removal of wi-fi from classrooms because science has not yet proven, absolutely and without a shadow of doubt, that the electromagnetic waves do not interfere with brain development. We worry about cellphones causing cancer, despite the small and inconclusive evidence of danger. We worry about noxious fumes from materials that our parents and grandparents apparently survived without harm. We increasingly push for animal rights, and promote vegetarianism to avoid killing animals for food. A growing number of people are embracing the vegan lifestyle, which shuns even eggs and milk out of its high regard for life.

Yet in complete defiance of this, we are not only willing, we are positively anxious to prove that killing a human foetus is of no more consequence than removing a tumour, despite the fact that we know only two things about it with any degree of confidence: the foetus is human and it is being killed. Everything else, all other justifications, are based on conjecture, unknowns, definitions-by-committee, and complex and labyrinthine arguments, any or all of which could be conclusively proved false by advanced instrumentation in 10, 20, or 50 years from now.

Am I pro-choice?

Yes. I am. My reasons are mine, and I have no need to have them justified by any individual or state body. But part of what informs my reasons is a sense of history combined with a natural scientific attitude. My sense of history tells me that abortion has been banned in the past, and the results were catastrophic, not only for women, but for the entire character of society. And my natural scientific attitude tells me that when an experiment returns disastrous results, there is little to be gained from repeating it. In a similar fashion, it was not difficult to deduce from our past experiments with prohibition that our present War on Drugs was doomed from the start — at enormous cost to the nation, both socially and financially.

But while I hold a pro-choice position, I do not indulge in the arrogance of believing that I’m right. I am acutely aware that my great-great grandchildren may well look back upon me with the same horror in which we regard the ancient Aztecs and their thousands of human sacrifices to the Sun God.

Both sides of the debate must stop acting like they have a lock on the truth. At the present stage of our knowledge concerning human consciousness, and what may or may not lie beneath, it is unlikely in the extreme that we have magically determined the bedrock facts of the case. Pro-choice supporters think that the foetus feels no pain, but while there is some evidence for this during the first six months of its gestation, any reasons for believing it to be true after that rest upon a tissue-thin web of assumptions held together with definitions that are mostly a matter of opinion.

It is time to bring back the concept of responsibility. Since the ’60s we’ve had an increasing selection of relatively effective and safe contraceptives. While not everyone can use them, and while they don’t always work, they still provide a means of avoiding pregnancy without resorting to abstinence. The only responsible excuse for unwanted pregnancy these days is failure of one of these methods. Aside from rape, anything other accidental pregnancy is the result of simple carelessness. This doesn’t mean that a moment of carelessness or spontaneous passion should ruin a woman’s (or a man’s) life. We are all careless, and part of being young is exploring new behaviours without thinking them through, especially when filled with a witch’s brew of hormones. It does however, mean we should understand that the consequences of this carelessness can be as serious as those of drinking and driving.

It is also time we really understood that, as Jesus said of the Sabbath, the state was made for man, not man for the state. We need to seriously rethink our increasing tendency to hand over authority for every aspect of our lives to a governing body. The role of the state is to protect our natural rights — not to grant or withdraw them. Relinquishing such matters to the state merely serves to exacerbate the problems. We need more gun control laws because of a rise in gun-related crime, but as we pass more gun control laws, gun-related crime rises. If we were to go solely by statistical correlations, we would have to conclude that gun-related crime is caused by gun control laws. In fact, nowhere is this more apparent than in Britain. In the past, gun ownership was both freely allowed and extremely rare, with gun-related crime being even rarer. Following the 1997 Firearms Act, which essentially banned private ownership of guns, gun-related crime rose 110% — although even today it remains among the lowest in the world (“Gun Politics in the United Kingdom,” Wikipedia).

Michael Moore famously accused America of having a “gun culture.” I have argued elsewhere that this isn’t true: America has a culture with guns. There is a significant difference. If America truly had a gun culture, every child would be raised with an understanding of firearms, and owning a gun would not be a mark of rebellion nor would it raise anyone’s “street cred.” Would gun crime be reduced? I don’t know, but I suspect it might; at least certain types of gun crime could conceivably drop. But whatever the outcome, we would have to face the fact that it is our responsibility, and not the state’s.

When it comes to guns, the “right to bear arms” is not the problem. The problem is a lack of knowledge and responsibility. There is a parallel in abortion. While a woman should expect the right to have an abortion without state interference, and to have the state protect her right were other citizens to interfere, the real issue is her willingness to view the matter in a knowledgeable and responsible fashion.

The constant rallying cry of the pro-choice movement is that women have the right to control their own bodies. In this I agree. But that means taking full control, and in turn that means taking responsibility. Every woman should have the right to an abortion, if she so decides. It is her responsibility. But it is also her responsibility to avoid unwanted pregnancies in the first place, and should one occur, to make her decision for an abortion with full awareness of the seriousness of the consequences.

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References

A Defense of Abortion. (2012, March 14). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 06:06, March 22, 2012

Adams, Stephen. “Killing babies no different from abortion, experts say.”The Telegraph [London] 29 Feb. 2012, sec. Health: Telegraph.co.uk. Web. 23 Mar. 2012

Derbyshire, Stuart. “Can fetuses feel pain?” British Journal of Medicine 332 (2006): 909-912. Academia.edu. Web. 17 Mar. 2012.  [Note: Sluggish load. Click "Play" arrow and wait for document to appear.]

Gun politics in the United Kingdom. (2012, March 15). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 06:35, March 22, 2012.

Mary Anne Warren. (2012, February 22). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:18, March 21, 2012.

Shahid, Aliyah. “Sonogram abortion requirement passes in Texas Legislature.” Featured Articles From The New York Daily News. NY Daily News, 6 May 2011. Web. 21 Mar. 2012.

Tooley, Michael. “Abortion and Infanticide.” Philosophy and Public Affairs Vol. 2, Issue 1 (1972): Rutgers University. Web. 20 Mar. 2012.

Warren, Mary Anne. “The Moral Significance of Birth.” Hypatia 4.3 (1989): 46-65. Google Document. Web. 17 Mar. 2012.

Warren, Mary Anne. “On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion.” Biomedical Ethics. 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1996. 434-440.

Xing, Li. “Population control called key to deal.” China Daily US Edition. China Daily, 12 Oct. 2009. Accessed Web. 21 Mar. 2012.