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Is the unborn child a person?

What do the experts think?


Published: 9 May 2013 (GMT+10)

An article in Obstetrics and Gynecology in September 2011 entitled ‘Abortion Provision Among Practicing Obstetrician–Gynecologists’ reveals some interesting trends, and encouraging for people who are pro-life.1

The authors surveyed ob-gyns from across the United States to see how many of them provided abortions to their patients. The questions were “1) in your practice, do you ever encounter patients seeking an abortion? (yes or no); and 2) do you provide abortion services? (yes or no).” The results were as follows:

Variable Percent who offer abortions
Male 10.6
Female 18.6
No religion 26.5
Hindu 20.0
Jewish 40.2
Muslim 15.6
Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox 9.0
Evangelical Protestant 1.2
Non-Evangelical Protestant 18.7
High religious motivation 7.8
Medium religious motivation 16.1
Low religious motivation 25.9

In all, while 97% of ob-gyns encountered women seeking abortions, only 14.4% of them provide abortions. Furthermore, the survey did not differentiate between providing a medical procedure like removing an ectopic pregnancy or other unviable pregnancy (one where continuing the pregnancy would threaten the life of the mother with no chance of the baby’s survival2), and abortions for no medical reason. So it is reasonable to assume that many of those who do provide abortions do not provide in all circumstances.

Atheist and pro-life?

One of the more interesting numbers in the table above is that only about 1 in 4 atheist ob-gyns provides abortions (and this is any abortion). Some of this may be due to specialization—they may refer to other ob-gyns who do abortions, but still, 1 in 4 is a low number. What is not commonly known is there is a strong non-religious pro-life movement. This argument is laid out well by Nat Hentoff.3 That is, they accept the Judeo-Christian premise that murder—killing of innocent humans—is wrong, and also accept the scientific fact that the unborn baby is human. From that, it logically follows that abortion is wrong.

We would argue that this sort of argument isn’t terribly consistent, as the reason human life has more value than animal life is because of the image of God in mankind. It is acceptable to kill an animal, but not a human, because the human is in the image of God.4 However, this may be one case where we should applaud the inconsistency of the atheist! This contrasts with the more consistent atheists such as Peter Singer5 who agree that the prenatal baby is just as human as a post-natal baby, but see nothing wrong with killing either of them.

Since the Roe v. Wade6 decision, technological progress means that we can see the baby in far more detail in the womb than was possible 40 years ago. Innovations in fetal surgery and care of very premature babies means more babies can be saved than could be 40 years ago. This means that in one case, a baby may be treated as a second patient along with the mother, but in other cases, the baby is treated as a malignancy to be removed from the mother (although in this case, the abortion-defenders claim that she isn’t a mother).7


We shouldn’t be surprised that over 85% of ob-gyns do not provide abortions—more than anyone, these doctors would know that abortion is killing a baby, and few ob-gyns would go into practice with the goal of killing these babies. However, a minority still live with the gruesome inconsistency, e.g. abortionist Benjamin Kalish admitted:

So you can see a miniature person so to speak, and even now I occasionally feel a little peculiar about it because as a physician I’m trained to conserve life and here I am destroying life.8

However, the scarcity of doctors willing to perform abortions is something pro-life people can celebrate.


  1. Stulberg, D.B., Dude, A.M., Dahlquist, I., Farr, A.C, ‘Abortion Provision Among Practicing Obstetrician –Gynecologists’, Obstetrics and Gynecology 118(3):609–614, 2011. Return to text.
  2. See Sarfati, J., What about abortion to save the mother’s life? creation.com/mother-life, 22 February 2005. Return to text.
  3. Hentoff, N., The Indivisible Fight for Life, AUL Forum, 19 October 1986, groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/users/rauch/nvp/consistent/indivisible.html. Return to text.
  4. Cosner, L., Broken Images, Creation 34(4):46–48, 2012. Return to text.
  5. Cosner, L., Blurring the line between abortion and infanticide? creation.com/obama, 2 July 2008. Return to text.
  6. The 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion at any stage for any reason. Return to text.
  7. See some admissions of this inconsistency in Enriquez, L., 10 surprising quotes from abortionists, liveactionnews.org, 5 January 2013. Return to text.
  8. Cited in Freiburger, C., Pro-Abortion Columnist Says Philadelphia’s Dr. Death Thrived Because Abortions Aren’t Available Enough, American Thinker, 9 January 2013. Return to text.

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Readers’ comments

John B.
AT the moment of our conception, every-one knows a human baby is being formed, right? So unless and until a woman births a litter of pups, conception means a human being is under construction, period!
Josef L.
I think it is ironic that Jewish doctors offer abortion the most. Especially when we consider that Jews were killed by the millions by the type of thinking that is used to justify abortion.
Alison S.
Thank you for making this available to me.
John E.
Please may I begin by thanking CMI for their unnumbered blessings to my faith and others I know in their work. It must be hard in today's aggressively hostile world but your work is so edifying and significant that I pray it will continue and strengthen as people seek truth.

In the UK we have a lot of blood on our hands regarding this issue. Your article is very enlightening and encouraging. An article in the Daily Telegraph (A RELATIVELY respectful UK Broadsheet newspaper that appears almost pro-life) discusses the view point of two Ethics academics on the issue of abortion who argue that according to their logic that babies even post birth could be killed by the same logic that babies less than 24 weeks are (current UK law, although older in some cases). This was in a paper to the Journal of Medical Ethics.

In my view this despicable viewpoint/reasoning is actually consistent with a Darwinian world view. The frighting outcome brings to the fore the importance of fighting this world view and its horrific outcomes. Although their was (rightly) a general outcry from the public at large (well Telegraph readers at least) we should not be surprised by its appearance. Lita is correct, I believe, that we should celebrate the inconsistency of Atheists described in the article, but we should be stirred to action against the outcomes of the consistent atheistic/survival of the fittest/Darwinian world view.

Thanks Lita for another excellent article.
Francis R.
I am quite surprised that the percentage of FEMALE ob-gyns who offer abortions is almost double that of their male counterparts. Quite the opposite of what I might expected.

From my day-to-day experience and observations of general human behaviour, women have always come across as having a higher degree of affinity and concern for children in general and babies in particular than men. I have always put this down to the fact that women have a more natural bent to babies probably due to their maternal instincts being stronger than the paternal instincts of men.

Am I missing something here or is there some explanation for this?
Marc A.
How tragic that the highest is for Jewish doctors, the very religion that gave us God's Word that tells us who we truly are. One wonders at the dynamics behind that? Political correctness, a high rate of atheism and money come to mind.

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