In the February 7, 2013 edition of The Capitol Hill Times, columnist Gina Biber wrote an opinion titled, “My Case Against Abortion.” Contributing writer Michael Sarko did not agree with much of Ms. Biber’s argument. He writes:
The piece claims, “At eight weeks, a baby’s brain functions, its heart pumps. It has fingerprints, it sucks its thumb, it responds to music and is distressed by pain.” Some of these things are true and some are not. Basic organ function and other physiological features do appear in fetuses around eight weeks into gestation, but any perceived response to stimuli or other motions are involuntary. As stated in a 2004 study by Dr. Julie-Claire Becher of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, at 18 weeks of gestation fetal movement was observed closely and determined to originate not from the brain, but reflexively from the newly formed nervous system. The study specifically says, “Even when seemingly purposeful, early movements are due to reflexes occurring at spinal cord level.”
“My Argument Against Abortion” is also sloppy with its analysis of fetal homicide law. It is true that most states have some sort of law about the intentional or accidental destruction of a fetus outside of the context of abortion, but the matter is more complicated than Mrs. Biber’s article suggests. The hypothetical example she gave made the death of a fetus in a car wreck a case of involuntary manslaughter while the abortion of the same fetus would be legal. In Washington and many other states, this is not true. In such states, a fetus that is protected by fetal homicide law would be too far along in gestation for legal abortion. There are a number of states where a fetus or embryo at any stage of development is protected, but those laws are far from ubiquitous in the United States.
Lastly, I would like to confront Mrs. Biber’s reference to the Holocaust and the number of lives it claimed. She puts the death toll at “nearly six million people.” This number would be accurate if she were describing the number of Jews killed by the Nazi effort between 1933 and 1944. If one accounts for the number of Poles, Russian prisoners of war, homosexuals, Romani, physically disabled, and other groups killed in the Holocaust, that number doubles. I also take issue with the comparison of the systematic extermination of several peoples based solely on physical or cultural status to the choice of individual women to end their pregnancies. Regardless of what one believes about the starting point for life, there is a clear difference between a reproductive health clinic and a gas chamber.