Abortion in Different Cultures

This is an important nuance to understand. There is still room for people to believe that abortion is wrong, and conduct their lives accordingly. In a perfect world, I believe abortion would be totally legal, but no one would request it.

I’m my view both sides to be willing to give on the hope of coercing instead of convincing others to agree. The two key questions on the horizon:

  1. Will conscientious objection by physicians be accommodated and to what extent?

  2. Will non-political and non-coercive advocacy that explains why some feel abortion is wrong be embraced as legitimate and welcome expression in the public square?

For those who care about preserving the legality of abortion, offering olive branches here would do much to strengthen their position.


[quote=“swamidass, post:41, topic:1680”]

  1. Will conscientious objection by physicians be accommodated and to to what extent?

Physicians have the duty and responsibility to do what is best for their patients. Saving the life of a dying mother can’t be a matter of conscience. My case was clear cut because we waited to long to terminate. My wife tried with all her might to keep the pregnancy going almost costing her her life. Two days before I told her doctor that I have a three year old son who needs a mother more than a brother. I thought that we waited too long to terminate. By Sunday morning, infection was overwhelming both mother and child, there was no choice as to what to do. Doctor was obligated to preform a live saving termination. I know the doctor and know that he was doing everything he could think of to save mother and child.

  1. Will non - political and non-coercive advocacy that explains why some feel abortion is wrong be embraced as legitimate and welcome expression in the public square?

Abortion should be a private decision. Right now 93% of all abortions are what are called chemical abortion by taking an over the counter medication under doctor supervision (not even doctor care). very few medical complications. This is for abortions under 10 weeks of pregnancy. The other 7% are the surgical abortions and are the heart wrenching cases. These cases the State and Religion must respect the privacy of the woman and her family. Leave politics and religion out it.

Patrick: Your story is incredibly compelling and I understand where you are coming from, though, thankfully, I’ve never had to experience such an event. I completely agree with you, as well, regarding what you have said above.

This is an incredibly emotion-packed topic, for you especially. I want to tread very lightly and respectfully, so please accept my words as they are intended. The doctor should always do whatever he (or she) can do to save both the mother and the child, as with your story above. The mother and child (your son) were both patients, both human, both deserving of medicine’s best efforts. I’m thankful that both were given the utmost of care and that this story turned out the very best that it could.

NO ONE who would prefer to see abortions become rare events would disagree with your sentiments or the decisions you made. Your example is thankfully uncommon and over which any reasonable person would never debate. Where some of us take issue is when one of those babies are aborted for convenience or vanity. This is a situation where we are compelled to look out for the unborn in the same way that you looked out for your wife. You realized the sanctity of her life and her value as a human, and you chose to protect her, because you love her. You chose to protect your other son, because he deserved a mother. These are honorable values.

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This is a troubling one, partly because of personal experience. I do think we should attempt to accomodate this, but only if the woman can be referred to an alternative physician.

My personal experience: My wife’s physician ordered some medication. And I picked it up at the drug store. The pharmacist frowned and warned that this was dangerous. Fortunately he filled the prescription. I should add that this was several years before Roe v. Wade.

The prescription was for ergot and an an antibiotic. I understand this would be seen by the pharmacist as very possibly for an abortion.

In this case, however, the baby had already been born and was healthy. But my wife had a fever and was bleeding. I believe the ergot was to induce contractions that would help stem the bleeding.

When I see “conscientious objection” proposed, I cannot help but think of this case, and how a pharmacist might have jumped to the wrong conclusion and denied important medication.

I am in favor of this. I much prefer this to legislation that attempts to dictate to patient and physician.


TL:dr version of my context (Alt-family, YEC, very strongly conservative Christian background leading to moderate Canadian Christian context and went on to study biology and current teach math and science at a high school level)

The simple positions in my mainstream culture are one of autonomy of women’s body and autonomy of life (usually with caveats when life threatening or rape etc).

What is usually missing in regards to the personhood argument is how fragile and inefficient our reproductive process really is as well as the problems arising from our deeper understanding.

It could be that up to 70 % of fertilized embryos perish (implantation errors, miscarriages and a variety of mechanisms) and that sexual activity for low fertile, older, or simply those without protection actually cause more deaths this way. This leads to ethical implications if it’s simply murder after conception. This is not a simple issue even conceptually let alone considering the personal and societal aspects.

There is some attempt to place restrictions by certain groups within Canada but these have largely failed. The current government implemented a funding requirement to agree to not oppose this and other rights which some claim resulted in denials of student funding for Christian organisations.

Another aspect is the force of certain Christian elements behind pro-life positions. Many see cognitive dissonance when groups claim that God created this world with its brutal conditions and yet demands that certain lives be protected.

I have negotiated and discussed this at length with my non-Christian friends and family and everyone approaches this with a multitude of narratives that shape their perspectives.

Whether its punishment versus harm reduction, control versus autonomy, or rights versus roles, there are many different problems.

I think that the common ground is a reduction and a value of all human life (regardless of gender and ability) but the road is difficult as the power dynamics do not allow for much negotiation. I personally a support evidence-based approaches for reduction but science does not answer the larger surrounding ethical questions and many sides will not settle for such solutions.


I am an atheist and I wish that not one elective abortion ever took place. Of all the atheist friends I have I don’t know of one who is pro-abortion or promotes abortion. As @swamidass has stated several times, the best scenario is one where no women feels the need to seek an elective abortion.

We really have to ask why women are seeking abortions in the first place, and then fix those issues. How can we create programs that allow women to pursue a college degree while raising a child? How can we increase the use of birth control to prevent unplanned pregnancies? We need to help mothers make the right decisions instead of heaping scorn on them.


Wow, thanks to you both for such thoughtful responses!!


A bit of hope:

U.S. Abortion Rate At Lowest Recorded Point

Not only are abortions on the way down, but so too are teenage pregnancies.

We need to build on this momentum, and not go backwards. I know that being a parent in a christian household is really tough these days, but I would still encourage christian parents to at least consider birth control as part of “the talk” they have with their children (this goes for non-christian parents, too). We also need to start having a real conversation in this country about how we can support young mothers instead of using them as a political football. For example, Planned Parenthood supplies cheap or even free birth control and exams to millions of young women across this country. PP prevents way more abortions than they perform. We also need to take a new look at how welfare can help young women instead of vilifying “communism” or other such nonsense.

Outlawing abortion won’t stop them from being performed. This has been true throughout human history. At least to me, the only solution is to limit the pressures that lead women to seek abortions.


I completely agree with everything said here

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To expand on what I said in the last post (and, well, my first post here):

I, like T_aquatis think that it’s extremely necessary to have not only “the talk” with children about sex, std etc. but it’s equally as important for kids to have at least a couple of sex ed. classes where they can learn and ask about these kinds of things. Something that, from what I’ve heard conservatives in USA are fighting tooth and nail against. Well, here’s a newsflash, you can choose between less birth control and less abortion, you can’t have both.

I also agree that outlawing abortion is definitely not the answer, and shouldn’t even be discussed. Women who want abortion will only find it in underground clinics, which are extremely dangerous, considering that most doctors running those clinics are in no way qualified to cure a cough let alone perform an abortion. What should be done is tackling the problems that would make a woman want an abortion.

I should also clarify that I am neither pro-life nor pro-choice, I understand that this issue is much more complicated than that.


2 posts were split to a new topic: The Questions of Serbian Orthodox Variety

Everyone involved on this thread (@Michael_Callen, @Dan_Eastwood, @Patrick, @Ashwin_s, @jongarvey and the rest), I want to thank you for proving me wrong:

I am impressed and thankful for how far we have come. This thread exemplifies something all to rare in our current moment. People with real disagreements engaging with one another to understand and be understood. Thank you for taking this seriously.



Everyone involved on this thread (@Michael_Callen, @Dan_Eastwood, @Patrick, @Ashwin_s, @jongarvey and the rest), I want to thank you for proving me wrong:

Trust us Josh @swamidass ! We’re all 100% committed to proving you wrong!! :rofl: