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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Abortion protestors use false arguments

Justice For All, a radical anti-abortion group, made its annual appearance on the UA Mall on Thursday. This year, in addition to the usual cohort of volunteers that preach extremism and ignorance under the guise of “life-saving dialogue,” JFA brought a large sign depicting human embryonic development. Written above the pictures of a growing fetus were the words, “Where do you draw the line?” Targeted at unwary students and faculty, the sign ostensibly asked passersby to identify the developmental stage at which a fertilized egg becomes a human.

Last year, JFA arrived on campus with a graphic display of aborted fetuses and genocide victims. 

The group constructed a massive, elaborate display of posters that compared abortion to the American Indian Genocide and to the Holocaust. It erected signs informing us that aborting fetuses is as immoral as executing citizens under the death penalty or testing products on animals. Aside from being uninformed and disgustingly offensive, JFA’s display created an irritating roadblock for pedestrians on their way to work and class.

Compared to last year’s presentation, this year’s singular sign almost seemed modest. It tried to lend JFA the credibility it does not deserve, and tried to make us forget JFA only has one goal: to criminalize abortion.

Although JFA presented its message as a question, in reality, the question was rhetorical. According to JFA, there is no “line” that separates an embryo from a living, breathing human. The organization contends that abortion should be outlawed under all circumstances, because life begins at conception.

In addition to “engaging students in conversation,” JFA volunteers spent their time on campus passing out informational packets filled with provocative statements such as, “When fertilization is complete, a unique genetic human entity exists,” and, “Science has a very simple conception of man; as soon as he has been conceived, a man is man.”

The first statement is frightfully misleading, and the second is blatantly false.

True, a fertilized egg has a complete set of genetic information. So do skin cells and liver cells. In fact, practically every cell in our bodies contains exactly the same DNA. Gene expression, as opposed to genetic differences, differentiates muscle cells from brain cells. Possessing a full genome is a necessary but insufficient condition for a living organism to be considered “human.” Just because my liver is a “unique genetic human entity” compared to your liver, it doesn’t make my liver a viable human person.

Moreover, science does not have a “simple conception of man,” and it probably never will. The question “When does a fetus become a human?” has no objective answer; rather, it prompts a debate guided by emotion and subjectivity. Neither of these things should be used to determine the legality of abortion.

In an effort to counter JFA’s anti-choice propaganda, UA VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood set up a table to educate students about sexual health.

“Obviously, we don’t agree with their stance on abortion,” said Georgia Behrend, VOX secretary and treasurer. “However, they have a right to be there, so we wanted to have a presence as well in order to explain the necessity of keeping abortion safe and legal. Our table was all about explaining why we should trust women to be able to make their own decisions about their bodies.”

Behrend noted that by teaching women about safe sex and contraception, we can prevent them from having to choose abortion in the first place.

JFA and other pro-life extremists ignore a critical fact in their crusade against women’s choice: the legal status of abortion does not affect its continued existence. Abortion has existed as long as women have been giving birth, and it will continue to exist regardless of whether the U.S. government deems it “legal.”

Illegal abortion roughly translates to unsafe abortion. In 2006, the World Health Organization estimated that nearly 70,000 women across the globe die each year from either self-inflicted abortions or abortions carried out under dangerous, unsanitary conditions. Most of these deaths occur in developing countries with highly restrictive abortion laws.

In a perfect world, all pregnancies would be planned, mothers would never experience medical complications and women would never get raped.

But we don’t live in a perfect world.

No woman wakes up in the morning hoping to terminate a pregnancy. Unfortunately, circumstances sometimes make that the best option, and propaganda from groups such as JFA should not be allowed to endanger the lives of women who are forced to seek out abortions.


Elizabeth Hannah is biochemistry sophomore. Follow her on Twitter.

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