In the guest column in the May 23 Herald Democrat, Martha Burk, the author, committed some basic errors in her writing.
In debate, the use of incendiary words such as “rabid right,” “right-wing lynch mob,” “conservative hijack,” “ultra-conservative,” are seldom properly used. Robert’s Rules of Order discusses the decorum of language used in debate, using the term “disorderly words,” which seems apt. Written debate should also use non-inflammatory language to encourage dialog.
Ms. Burk uses hyperbole to attempt to make a point. “In Georgia, some speculate that the state’s new anti-abortion law leaves open the possibility for women obtaining an abortion after six weeks, or even miscarrying, to be charged with murder.” The statute reads. “(a) A person commits the offense of criminal abortion when, in violation of Code Section 16-12-141, he or she administers any medicine, drugs, or other substance whatever to any woman or when he or she uses any instrument or other means whatever upon any woman with intent to produce a miscarriage or abortion.” The tragedy of a miscarriage is not illegal, according to the statute, only using artificial means to cause such a miscarriage.
In debate, ad hominem attacks, such as referring to Justice Brett Kavanaugh as “an abortion foe, alleged sexual assailant, and mean drunk to boot,” add nothing to the substance of the argument.
This is very disrespectful of Justice Kavanaugh, and the Senate who confirmed him.
Ms. Burk makes assertions that are not substantiated within her article. For example she wrote, “At least a third have successfully passed 20-week abortion bans based on the unfounded assertion that a fetus can feel pain 20 weeks after fertilization.” A quick review of fetal development and various articles disagree with her assertion. She should give the source of her data, point us to accepted research. Her assertion contradicts other articles concerning fetal pain, such as published by the Charlotte Lozier Institute and referenced in the Institute’s “Fact Sheet: Science of Fetal Pain.” The American Academy of Neurology, in “Neurology Today,” called into question the primary study on fetal pain because of both empirical evidence, and researcher bias. The original journal article on fetal pain was published in the “Journal of the American Medical Association.” Both the “Neurology Today” and the “Journal of the American Medical Association” articles are 14 years old, but Ms. Burk does not present any newer research.
She insists an unborn baby be referred to as a fetus rather than“unborn life.” However she admits within five or six weeks after conception the baby shows signs of life, a heartbeat. Does killing a living being, even one who is in urtero, constitute murder? The Florida Statues (Title XLVI, Chapter 782) says, under other circumstances, killing an unborn child is murder.
“The unlawful killing of an unborn child, by any injury to the mother of such child which would be murder if it resulted in the death of such mother, shall be deemed murder in the same degree as that which would have been committed against the mother.” The statues Ms. Burk opposed certainly are consistent with at least the legislative actions of Florida.
Finally, Ms. Burk did not discuss why women seek an abortion.
There are two major sources of abortion statistics, the National Institute of Health and the Guttmacher Institute. A 2005 study on reasons for an abortion, from the Guttmacher Institute, says that less than one percent are because of incest or rape.
Economics and personal choice are cited in 74 percent of abortions.
Just like Ms. Burk, I have an opinion about abortion. I am diametrically opposed to her stand, but I hope that the journals and sources cited give part of the secular reason I am opposed.
Certainly as a conservative Lutheran pastor, I uphold the Biblical principles of life. Most importantly, I believe that each life is precious, so precious that our heavenly Father sent His only-begotten Son to redeem us from sin and everlasting death. But approaching this topic in this setting to say each life is worthy to be lived because of God’s grace would be dismissed out of hand. Such is a pity, and I continue to pray for those who do not know the comfort of God’s mercy.
Based on a common definition of life (an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction) an unborn child is still fully human, although incapable of existing outside the womb. In the same way someone on life support is alive though incapable of unaided existence, so is the unborn infant. Thus, abortion is wrong.
There are times, to preserve the life of the mother, it may be necessary, but that is a tragedy with no good solution.
That being said, can we take the woman who is experiencing an undesired pregnancy and throw her into the cold, snow-covered streets? Certainly not. Though in well over 90 percent of the cases she exercised her reproductive rights, she is not willing to live with the consequences of her actions. But is the death of an unborn child appropriate? Should we not rather embrace this mother and support her through the pregnancy, ensuring her health and the health of her child? Can we not assist by adopting the otherwise unwanted child?
The abortion debate should be made with facts, with gentle language, and respect. In my opinion, Ms. Burk did not approach her argument with such restraint.
A copy of this article with footnotes is available at http://goodshepherdleadville.org under “Publications /Papers.”
Editor’s note: Williams provided a letter to the editor last week that was well in excess of the words allowed for a letter to the editor. He was invited, instead, to respond in a guest column using the same number of words as the original guest column by Martha Burk.