New abortion poll oversimplifies complex issue, UCSF professor says


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  • Joggle Somewhere In, HI
    Aug. 15, 2013 9:25 p.m.


    I understand your point, but you entirely miss the difference. It seems obvious that at conception the embryo has potential of becoming a full-blown human being yet embryos used in in-vitro fertilization are routinely destroyed. Does that make them human beings or persons? And if so, as human persons, is it murder to “kill” all those embryos? One important fact about embryonic development that is often overlooked is that between two-thirds and four-fifths of all embryos that are generated through standard sexual reproduction are spontaneously aborted. If embryos have the same status as human persons or beings, this is a horrible tragedy and public health crisis that requires immediate and sustained attention. Not only should we abandon stem cell research, but we should reallocate the vast majority of our research dollars from projects such as cancer research into programs to help prevent this staggering loss of human life. Big difference between a man killing a pregnant woman and a woman's right to privacy in abortion.

    As the title says...abortion is a complex issue and it remains legal because it is a private matter. You only "briefly" address only one of many issues.

  • snowman Provo, UT
    Aug. 15, 2013 7:41 p.m.

    Joggle: They are the same thing. If it's growing inside a human it is not a dog, or cat or alien for that matter, it is a human being. I know of atleast two cases where a man has killed a pregnant woman and they have been convicted of 2 murders because that baby is human. Unborn babies do have a physical bodies. An unborn baby has a heartbeat at 21 days gestation.

  • Joggle Somewhere In, HI
    Aug. 15, 2013 12:53 a.m.


    You confuse the adjective "human" and the noun "human being," giving them the same meaning. Common sense actually says fetuses are uniquely different from born human beings in major ways, which casts doubt on the claim that they can be classified as human beings. Another key difference is that a fetus doesn't just depend on a woman's body for survival, it actually (as you said) resides inside her body. Human beings must, by definition, be separate individuals. They do not gain the status of human being by virtue of living inside the body of another human being....the very thought is inherently ridiculous. The normal meaning of human being implies a physical body of a certain size and shape usually with common attributes. Early embryonic forms do not share basic commonalities that define us as human beings. For example, zygotes and blastocysts are barely visible to the naked eye and have no bodies, brains, skeleton, or internal organs. Are they materially substantial enough to count as human beings? Obviously they don't. We are more than our genes, so the fertilized egg cannot represent a "complete" human and neither can a fetus.

  • snowman Provo, UT
    Aug. 14, 2013 8:09 p.m.

    Joggle: If a baby(fetus) is growing inside a human common snese says its a human being.

  • Joggle Somewhere In, HI
    Aug. 14, 2013 5:30 p.m.

    Despite the potential that a fetus has for becoming a human being, and its similarities to a human being, we cannot say that a fetus is a human being. A fetus resides in a legal and social no-man's land, where rights and personhood can have no force or meaning, unless women are kept thoroughly oppressed. Plus, there are many significant differences between a born human being and a fetus, which creates reasonable doubt as to its status. Because there can be no consensus on the matter, the value accorded to a fetus is a subjective, personal matter. Individuals, not society as a whole, must choose what the status of a fetus should be, based on their personal beliefs, morality, conscience, and circumstances. And ultimately, this choice belongs only to pregnant women and other peoples opinions, moral indignation, religious beliefs, and lack of understanding of the issue and attempts to invade women's privacy don't matter.

    Nature does not value humans any more than worms, and in all species, vast numbers of eggs and seeds don't stand a chance of reaching maturity. An acorn isn't an oak tree and the egg isn't a chicken!

  • cval Hyde Park, UT
    Aug. 14, 2013 12:33 p.m.

    While I disagree with the Professor's position on abortion, I actually see and agree with the point she is making in the article.

    We legislate to the extreme cases that represent a very small percentage of the actual abortions. Most of us would agree that abortion for convenience sake is inappropriate/wrong. Most of us would agree that abortion in the extreme cases of saving lives and rape/incest should be at least allowable. (I know there are exceptions to both statements).

    Yet we build our laws and policy around the extreme cases, not the most common ones.

  • VA Saint Chester, VA
    Aug. 13, 2013 8:23 p.m.

    I still do not understand how abortion is political. The baby is a life. It's fascinating that those who are pro-choice state that the fetus is "nothing but tissue" but if a woman was murdered and pregnant, the murderer would be charged with two murders instead of one. Thus, the law defines the fetus as a life.

  • kargirl Sacramento, CA
    Aug. 12, 2013 3:32 p.m.

    Coach Biff, you are a guy, right? If so, you are not likely to ever be pregnant, so please be silent.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Aug. 12, 2013 8:26 a.m.

    Way back to number one, Mr. Maslar. Sir are you aware that we can grow a beating heart in a lab simply by putting stem cells on a dead pig heart? We can also cause and record electrical activity in a single piece of brain tissue attached to an electrical stimulant? None of these things by themselves define life. Life happens when all vital activities come together in a synergistic fashion and consciousness ensues. Pain can't even be felt without that consciousness (ever had surgery)? So heart beats, brain waves, hand movements etc. don't denote life. Consciousness denotes life, and yes fetuses are consciousness at some point in the womb, just not when a sperm winks at an egg.

  • Sutton Cedar City, UT
    Aug. 11, 2013 5:07 p.m.

    I am pro choice because unlike most conservatives I actually believe in small government.

    I don't think politicians should have a say on what goes on in woman’s body. Nor should they have any kind of power to force a woman to carry a child IN HER BODY that she doesn’t want.

    Remember... Any government "big enough" to force a woman to carry full term, is "big enough" to force her to have an abortion she doesn't want.

  • RDJntx Austin, TX
    Aug. 11, 2013 9:30 a.m.

    There is so much disinformation out there. and this whole discussion could take a more positive turn if people would not be so quick to foist their religious beliefs off on people who do not think like they do. and take Roe v. Wade out of the equation. How many of you are aware that Roe v. Wade is NOT about abortion. The decision (yes, I have read it) does not even mention the word "abortion". it is about womens right to determine what happens to their own bodies without having to consult with others who have no business making the decision for them.

    I am anti-abortion I do not think they should be performed except in limited cases. I would not encourage one or willingly participtate in one. that being said, however -

    I am pro-CHOICE, abortion is a religous question not a legal one. the choice for an abortion should be between the Doctor, the woman and whatever God/Gods/Godesses she may or may not pray to. every one else should stay out of her choice as it is no business of theirs.

  • snowman Provo, UT
    Aug. 8, 2013 11:30 p.m.

    Nan BW: The only one who can make the desioion is the mother.

    I dont support abortion for any reason.

  • snowman Provo, UT
    Aug. 8, 2013 11:28 p.m.

    If the parents are married in the temple both an unborn baby and a still-born are already sealed to them

  • Nan BW ELder, CO
    Aug. 8, 2013 9:46 p.m.

    To SlopJ30 I think your reasoning is sloppy. To call someone else's willingness to go to full term in a pregnancy such as you describe "insane" is poor taste and judgmental. I know of baby who was born with a distorted brain stem. Hence doctors said she would never be able to live a normal life, that she would be a "vegetable." However, one member of the medical team (not a doctor or nurse) told the mother she could see intelligence in the baby's eyes. That sounds insane, no doubt. The baby developed into a normal child with intelligence in the normal range. I hope I would have done what the mother of the "doomed" baby did.

  • E.S Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 7, 2013 8:49 p.m.

    A bacteria in Mars and other planets could be consider a form of life. Some scientists even consider a virus as a living being. So why can't a fetus be a living being? Why is it so different?

    As far as I am concerned, unless in cases of risk for the mother's life or rape, an abortion is a crime.

    Do you want to have sex? Go ahead and do it. But be responsible with its consequences. Also I do not see any problem in talking about preventive measures in a LDS home - even Elder M. Russell Ballard advised parents to be as open about sex as they could be, without being vulgar.

    And to SlopJ30: we are all dying. WOuld you kill a family member just because you know they are going to die (for whatever reason)?

  • SlopJ30 St Louis, MO
    Aug. 7, 2013 12:19 p.m.

    Bebyebe - That is the epitome of oversimplification. I can at least understand someone stating that total strangers should have no say in the matter, but your statement implies the father doesn't either. If a pregnant woman wants an abortion but the father doesn't, or vice-versa, who gets the final say? I don't even know the answer to that question, but I'm not comfortable just saying the father's wishes are irrelevant.

  • SlopJ30 St Louis, MO
    Aug. 7, 2013 11:48 a.m.

    Abortion is far from a cut-and-dried issue, and religion/superstition only complicates matters. A few years back my wife's cousin was pregnant with a child who was later diagnosed with a condition that would not allow it to live more than a few minutes outside the womb. So, from maybe week 15 they knew that this child would die. Not "maybe" or "probably"; this was as much of a sure thing as modern medical science can provide.

    Their doctor assumed she was going to abort, which to him (and to me) was the only rational choice. So what did they do? Because of some obscure LDS doctrine about a baby needing to "take a breath" outside the womb, she carried it to term, at which point it was born and died as predicted. I couldn't then and still can't even get my head around that. You'd voluntarily put yourself through months of needless emotional agony knowing the outcome. I'm sure many of you find that admirable, but to me it's a sign of insanity.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Aug. 7, 2013 8:09 a.m.

    There were more than 55,000,000 babies aborted in America since Roe v Wade. That is more than the combined populations of California, Oregon and Washington. 55,000,000 times, one person decided that another person would be destroyed. No reason had to be given. No evidence had to be presented. No counciling was required. The life of the unborn baby could not be given "status". Only the desire of one person had to be accepted. Because of that, 55,000,000 babies were not born.

    What will history say about the world-wide destruction of the unborn? What can history say? What value is life if it can be destroyed without even requiring that that life be considered?

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Aug. 6, 2013 3:15 p.m.

    The reality is that the vast majority of the population supports much stricter laws on abortion than we have. There is no reason why what Gosnell did is illegal, but killing equally developed children entirely before birth is legal.

  • Nan BW ELder, CO
    Aug. 6, 2013 11:20 a.m.

    Except when a doctor deems it necessary to save a mother's life, abortion is wrong, just as it is wrong to kill another person, except in self-defense or to defend another person. Public opinion should not be a factor. There have been cultures in which human life had no value, except when it was useful to someone in power. That did not make it right, nor would it be right if 90 per cent of the population thought abortion should be widely available.

  • Furry1993 Ogden, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 5:29 a.m.


    There are three stages in life -- the pre-mortal existence, mortality, and eternal life. In order to experience mortality, it is necessary to have a "shell" (body) for the spirit to motivate/drive while mortal. Pregnancy is the process by which that shell is constructed. Mortal life begins when the spirit enters into the body at birth and signals acceptance of the body by driving it to take a breath.

    I believe abortion is appropriate only in limited circumstances -- if the life/health of the pregnant woman is severely threatened, if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, or if there is a fatal fetal deformity (circumstances in which abortion is acceptable according to the LDS Church website). Consequently I endured six very difficult and dangerous pregnancies, four of which resulted in second-trimester self-termination (miscarriage), because I felt a responsibility and obligation to live up to my promise to provide shells for spirits that were waiting to enter mortality. I CHOSE to risk my life to do so, and almost paid the price for my choice.

    I have "walked the walk" not just "talked the talk" on this issue. Can you say the same?

  • Bebyebe UUU, UT
    Aug. 5, 2013 9:33 p.m.

    When you can get pregnant you are entitled to an opinion.

  • Coach Biff Lehi, UT
    Aug. 5, 2013 3:01 p.m.

    Tell me why the baby/fetus/growth, or whatever status you have relegated it to has no standing? Is it not alive?

  • Furry1993 Ogden, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 8:14 a.m.

    @LDS Liberal 10:16 p.m. July 31, 2013

    I have been through the scenario you describe only, in my case, I was the one on the delivery table. My OB said the same thing to my husband and me. Your wife's doctor and my doctor were right in their position and choice.

    It's time to get politics out of this issue, and leave the choice to the only person and only life-in-being in the equation -- the pregnant woman. I totally support the anti-abortion advocates' right to speak and pontificate but, when all is said and done, it is not their decision to make.

  • Tolstoy salt lake, UT
    Aug. 1, 2013 3:16 p.m.


    "Albert Maslar did not say when life begins, just that is a life"

    then he saying that life has begun which is an opinion not a fact no matter how hard you wish it to be.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    July 31, 2013 10:16 p.m.

    Having been in a delivery room, with my wife, and her doctor, in an emergency delivery...

    I changed my mind and understood better what the LDS Church statement is regarding abortion - even for late term abortions.

    As the doctor was scrubbed, and the emergency crash cart was rolled in - her doctor turned to us and speaking to my wife said, "I just want you to know, that if there is a choice to be made, I will be saving you 1st, and doing whatever I can to save the baby 2nd. Is that understood?"

    He told me afterward that he was thankful there were no politicians in that room telling us how to play doctor or God.

    Stay out of it.

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    July 31, 2013 7:08 p.m.

    I don't believe that life begins at conception. I respect others' right to believe that it does.

    I do not think that the government should be inserting itself into private medical decisions between a woman and a doctor.

    Having said that, I do not favor late term abortions. I might be agreeable to abortions before two months. If someone is pro-choice, it might help all of us to explain why you have reached the conclusion that a fetus at 20 weeks old is not alive, i.e. it is only a growth like an appendix. Explain your reasoning, it would help us a lot.

  • George New York, NY
    July 31, 2013 4:48 p.m.

    Sorry that was suppose to be at @truth

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    July 31, 2013 4:30 p.m.

    Let us assume that a fetus is not a full human life - that it is something less. The question becomes, how much less and why?

    Viability is an often used standard but there are, of course, fully adults who are not very viable on their own and without machines to shore up their life processes.

    Intelligence? Maybe. But we have full humans who are on the low end of the intelligence scale and we would not consider (at least in today's world) killing them for their lack of intelligence.

    I don't know the answer to what the line should be. But let me say emphatically that we would not allow someone to kill dogs for convenience the way we allow them to terminate a human fetus. There would be a public outcry.

    Should we have abortion that is safe and legal? Yes. But for medical reasons. Not for simple convenience. If it were solely a medically-based decision, there would be far less of it and the resistance to the remaining amount of abortion would be minimal.

  • George New York, NY
    July 31, 2013 3:43 p.m.



  • the truth Holladay, UT
    July 31, 2013 2:17 p.m.


    Albert Maslar did not say when life begins, just that is a life.

    And it is human life and nothing lese.

    That fact remains there is a beating heart and brain activity by the end of the first trimester.

    Within the next two months the baby is fully formed and just maturing, growing bigger and stronger until it is born.

    You can decide what that means.

  • SoCalChris Riverside, CA
    July 31, 2013 12:04 p.m.

    I agree that the abortion debate should not be reduced to bumper stickers and slogans. Having been through 3 pregnancies with my wife, I find the thought of any abortion horrifying, but I see a world of difference between an early abortion and a late term one.

    I can't see making all abortions illegal and that will never happen, but I do favor a ban on late term abortion. I'd like to see more informed consent and notification requirements for any abortion. Many women are wracked with guilt when they come to understand better the nature of abortion after the fact.

  • eman Kaysville, UT
    July 31, 2013 10:58 a.m.

    I don't believe whether or not someone can be sealed is a good indicator of one's belief in whether or not they are alive. There are many that cannot be sealed that are alive, and there are many that are dead that can be sealed.

  • George New York, NY
    July 31, 2013 10:33 a.m.

    @albert masler

    Actuay science makes no claims as to when life begins and in terms of when life ends there is actually little concensious within science.

  • George New York, NY
    July 31, 2013 10:31 a.m.

    the above comments so beautifully support the professors reasoning. The reason polls will never acuratlly be able to gage the publics true attitudes on this issue is that over symblisic hyperbol and not a well examined and reasoned discussion dominates the discourse on this very complex issue. This issue will remain a fire storm as long as people try to boiler plate it down to simple sound bits and propaganda slogans.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    July 31, 2013 10:14 a.m.

    Can you be sealed to an unborn child or still born?
    Than someone must believe life begins with the first breath.

  • 3grandslams Iowa City, IA
    July 31, 2013 9:20 a.m.

    Only the most depraved would support abortion after witnessing one, especially with the knowledge that it was performed for "convenience".

    I cannot support abortion because of promiscuity, I can for rape, incest or fear for a mothers life.

    Supporters need more information and maybe some conscience re-hab.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    July 31, 2013 8:30 a.m.

    I think the parameters used to determine when human life ends should be used to determine when human life begins. If a person has no heartbeat, and the brain waves have flatlined, we have a dead human being. Conversly, when it can be determined that a baby in the womb has a heartbeat and brainwave activity can be detected, that should qualify as a living human being. Simple. Now the question becomes, under what circumstances to we allow human beings to be killed. All the time, only under certain circumstances, or never. That's the not so simple part. But please don't try to claim abortion is not killing a human being. Your tonsils or appendix do not grow into people, a fetus does.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    July 31, 2013 8:27 a.m.

    Let's talk about sex like adults, and recognise that it is fun and natural for people to do. Therefore, we need to make protection and prevention a part of the dialogue, and get it out of the realm of 'dirty'. If you don't like abortion, do what you can to help people not need it.

  • CynicJim Taylorsville, UT
    July 31, 2013 8:24 a.m.

    With the exception of rape or incest abortion is a choice like smoking, drinking, driving, having sex or any other nonessential activities. Soooo, since it is a choice the user should also pay for accidents like a car wreck, a DUI, lung cancer, and so on. I'm not willing to pay for accidents in other choices, I'm also not willing for my taxes to be used for " choice" problems. Maybe an insurance policy can be purchased for such accidents.

  • Larceny Rural Hall, USA, NC
    July 31, 2013 7:03 a.m.

    Why don't we ask all of these children who are being born this year how they feel about Abortion? Let's wait 7-10 years and ask them if they believe we should have allowed more abortions and thinned their class sizes out a bit.

  • Albert Maslar CPA (Retired) Absecon, NJ
    July 31, 2013 6:26 a.m.

    Science has proven the developing baby in the womb is alive, has brain activity, the lack of which is used to determine death. The fetus is in fact a child. An old axiom, "If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck." All the signs prove it is a baby developing in the womb, and all the polls are meaningless in that the issue of abortion, the taking of the most defenseless life is not subject to vote but to the Creator alone. 3D/4D ultrasound shows the baby alive and well and doctors do successful procedures and surgeries on these babies in the womb. Validity of abortion is not dependent upon polls. The brutal fact is that there have been about 55 Million abortions in the US since the 1973 passage of Roe v, Wade. That number plus progeny would be about 100 Million today, one-third of the total population of the US. The economy continues treading precariously along as it has lost 100 Million customers. Abortion kills more than babies.