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Reflections on Ethics 8
Signs of Liars

Who are you going to believe?

by JT

The UCTAA takes no official position on abortion. As with other ethical issues, it believes people should make up their own minds based on available information. The Patriarch of the Church, author of this article, takes the position "If you don't believe in abortion, don't have one."

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While leaving a supermarket parking lot,(1) I noticed a bumper sticker on a car “Abortion kills 400 babies every minute worldwide.” And I was truly shocked. Shocked at the baldfaced lie. Not at the standard falsehood that abortion kills babies rather than fetuses; but rather at the obviously inflated statistic. 400 a minute. That’s 24,000 every hour; 576,000 every day; or about 210 million in a statistically average 365.25 day year. Or put another way, to claim that there are 400 abortions every minute is to claim that one sixth of the women of capable of bearing a child undergo an abortion each year.

I did some research to try to determine the validity of this information. But, there in fact there is no worldwide gathering of abortion information. If you visit the anti-abortion discussion groups, you will find the estimate 100 million to 500 million thrown out without any source attributed. When challenged, the response will be that this number does not just include surgical abortion, but also birth control pills and morning-after pills. It would seem the anti-abortion activists include prevention of conception as a form of abortion.

The only truly researched statistics on worldwide abortion I could find are published by the Alan Guttmacher Institute. (The paper is titled Induced Abortion Worldwide .) This identifies the total number of pregnancies annually as 210 million (3) of which 63% end up as live births, 22% as abortions, and 15% as miscarriages or stillbirths. That means about 46 million abortions a year; still a large number but considerably less than the original claim.

So, why was it necessary to publish a falsehood on the bumper sticker?

Five minutes after seeing that bumper sticker, I noticed a billboard along the highway. (2) It stated “Abortion stops a beating heart.” Another lie - unless the anti-abortion movement has redefined abortion to exclude early term procedures. Because initially, a fertilized ovum has no heart, and the heart does not start to beat until approximately four weeks after conception.

But the anti-abortionists have to make the procedure seem more terrible than it is. Just as they will claim that fetuses are babies, and even claim that morning after pills (which block fertilization, and thus do not affect an actual fetus) are a form of abortion, they also make the false claim about the “beating heart” for all abortions. Their arguments are not internally consistent.

So, why do they lie?

Less than a week later, travelling on I-80 through Nebraska, I saw a billboard from an organization called Care Net asking "Pregnant and scared? You have options." I decided to visit their web site (www.pregnantandscared.com) for the other side of the story assuming this would be a pro-abortion operation. I was certainly wrong there, because in spite of the billboard and the web site mentioning options - as far as this organization is concerned - abortion is simply not an available option. Their reason for existence is to prevent women from terminating their pregnancies. They have the facade of a pregnancy counselling service, but their claim of offering options falls short.

So, why do they lie?

If abortion is as morally repugnant as the anti-abortion movement claims, why do they lie? Is it perhaps that they do not have a case?

The anti-abortion groups, in my experience, consistently lie to advance their position. Those who would allow women to make their own decision seem to stick to the facts.

Who are YOU going to believe?



  1. Zehr's - Simcoe, Ontario, Canada
  2. Highway 3 - East of Simcoe, Ontario
  3. Is the study's 210 million pregnancies annually and the claim of 210 million abortions annually just coincidence? Or did someone just deliberately misinterpret the study's findings when they ripped off the statistic?