Fri 31st Oct 2014 | Last updated: Fri 31st Oct 2014 at 16:19pm

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo

Comment & Blogs

The nature of women is to give and nurture life, not destroy it

Arguments over women fighting in the armed forces and the legalisation of abortion are linked

By on Monday, 5 September 2011

In Britain the jury is still out on whether women should serve in close combat units (PA photo)

In Britain the jury is still out on whether women should serve in close combat units (PA photo)

Two items not unrelated to the current abortion debate caught my eye over the weekend. The first was an article in the August 2011 issue of Chronicles concerning the inappropriateness of women serving in the front line in the armed forces. Although the article referred to the US marines, it is relevant over here too. The author of the article believes that “the central reason women have no business in combat is [because] bearing arms is a violation of the nature of women, which is to give and nurture life…”

In the UK, although women are allowed to perform almost every role in the services, I understand the jury is still out on whether the last taboo should be lifted: to allow them to serve in close combat units where they would have to kill the enemy face to face. I daresay equal rights will eventually force the issue in women’s favour. Yet it struck me that it is not a coincidence that this debate crops up only 40-odd years after the Abortion Act of 1967. Once it has been conceded that the nature of women is no longer simply to give and nurture life, and that, through legal abortion, they have the right to choose to destroy it, why should they not serve and be prepared to kill alongside men in close combat units?

The second item, from CF News, concerns a new study conducted in the US and just published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. Entitled “Abortion and mental health: quantitative synthesis and analysis of research published 1995-2008”, it found that women who underwent an abortion experienced an 81 per cent increased risk of mental health problems. The study also found that almost 10 per cent of all women’s mental health problems were directly linked to abortion. According to the report: “This study, more comprehensive than any other to date, contradicts the recent, biased and less systematic review by the American Psychological Association which failed to find a relationship between mental health problems and abortion.”

Perhaps the nature of women hasn’t changed so much after all: when they do something directly in violation of their nature, the evidence suggests that it will cause mental anguish and suffering.

  • Brian A Cook

    I wish to issue a warning about Chronicles.  The Rockford Institute is a highbrow far-right group.  The Southern Poverty Law Center has published expose’s.  You can see them within these links.  I would advise using Chronicles as a source.,1,1

    As for the article at hand, the last time I checked, military service is very different from abortion.  Abortion kills an unborn child.  Armed conflict tries to restrict its violence to armed belligerents.  I am not suggesting that everyone go to war–I myself would not be able to stand to kill or be killed. 

  • Anonymous

    They only suffer mental problems because people will tell them idiotic things like ‘you killed a child’ etc. after they aborted only a couple of months in. 

    The irrational arguments from both pro-life and pro-choice camps do not help anyone try and understand the true moral questions behind abortion. Women are left without knowing whether what they did was right, or wrong. 

  • Joss

    “… the nature of women, which is to give and nurture life… ”
    Does this imply that the nature of men, who are allowed to fight, is to destroy life?
    I think not, given the huge number of suicides, and the incidence of psychiatric disorders, among ex-combatants in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Neither women nor men are, by nature, made to be soldiers.

  • Emma

    message for paulsays and anyone else ineteresed: abortion is murder. Life begins at conception and all the stages: zygote, blastocyst, embryo, foetus are just terms for the unborn baby’s developed just as baby, toddler, teen, adult are the stages of development after birth. Pro-life counsellors are the most effective in stopping women from aborting their babies because not only do they save the life of the unborn child, but they save the woman from trauma, guilt, regret and life-long mental problems.Once you see an ultrasound, you realise just how alive the unborn baby is. It is a greater crime to kill innocent babies than it is to kill an adult. Babies in the womb have no way of defending themselves, whereas adults do.

  • Jeannine

    If the Rockford Institute is a far-right group then SPLI is a far-left group. One can be on either side of the spectrum & can still offer factual analysis. For instance, I read an article co-authored by a pro-choice professor who concludes from his analysis that abortion in young women may increase their risk of having mental health problems. Google David Fergusson & “Abortion in young women and subsequent mental health.”

    The Rockford Institute’s abortion analysis is only corroborating the many yrs of research correlating abortion to subsequent mental health problems of the women affected. This is not new news & hasn’t been for over 20 yrs.

  • Lindsey

     ‘pro-life’ ‘counselors’ are the most effective at stopping abortions because they’re liars and emotional terrorists. If your position was a good one, you wouldn’t need lies (ie, 81% of women have mental issues after abortions) to sell it. Do research. Check Guttmacher, WHO, APA, reputable, real organizations that don’t rely on biases and bad research to push their position.

  • Ejelk

    The Southern Poverty Law Center is a far-left smear group. Among other groups they attempt to brand ideologically dangerous are the mainstream conservative American Enterprise Institute, the libertarian think-tank the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and Republican candidate and MSNBC commentator Pat Buchanan’s traditional conservative American Cause movement. Their views are as valuable as those of the Socialist Workers’ Party.

  • Kate

    I’m so sick of the idiotic ‘life begins at conception’ argument, as if the moment a child is conceived it becomes a fully-formed, conscious, feeling organism which simply grows larger over time, instead of a small mass of cells simply residing inside the body of someone who is conscious and feeling and has her own aspirations. Also, none of those aspirations, I can assure you, involve being forced to give birth to a child she may not want or be emotionally, physically or financially ready to raise or even to bare.
    Now how about some news for you: forced pregnancy and childbirth is a form of torture, and can certainly lead to more psychological issues than making a choice for yourself and being able to have control of your own body. If you bother to do any research at all, you would see that the author of the cited article, Priscilla Coleman, has been widely discredited and proven to be biased against the practice of abortion, making a significant part of this article, in turn, inaccurate.
    In any case, being pro-life is a more murderous stance to take, since it implies that the rights of a mass of cells are somehow greater than those of the person bearing it, that a woman is no more than a uterus and deserves to be left to the whim of the general public and have force imposed upon it by those who she does not know, who do not truly care about her, her emotions or her mental health but rather in some idyllic concept of a woman as some pure, nurturing being with no convictions whose sole purpose is to populate the Earth (as this article seems so intent on making me believe).
    Would you rather a woman dies from a pregnancy in which there is a serious health risk? Or that a woman endure the overwhelming shame and emotional torture of being forced to bare the child of her rapist? That she be forced into poverty or die from a back-alley abortion because your policies would not allow her to get rid of a burden for which she was not prepared? Or that the child endures any amount of abuse because it was not wanted in the first place or because it was thrown into the foster care system at birth? Does any of that sound like pro-life to you?

  • Anonymous

    And what would be the ‘true moral questions’? Give me a couple of examples and help me understand.

  • Anonymous

    In don’t deny that at all stages the foetus is ‘alive’.
    I think though, that being alive, and what people refer to as ‘life’ are two different things.

    If I get my head taken off in a car accident, then technically my useless body can be kept ‘alive’ in a hospital. The biological machine of my body can be kept ticking over. I cannot value this state as what people think of as ‘life’.

    ‘Aliveness’ does not begin at conception, because both the sperm and egg are alive anyway. So are our skin and hair cells, which we go to no trouble to protect.
    Aliveness is therefore a poor criteria for arguing that something has gained a right to stay alive.

    What you can argue for, considering your mindset, is protection of ‘a potential human’ which is a fair point of view to hold. Pope Innocent III referred to this idea as terminating a ‘potential human life’, which he saw as wrong, but not as wrong as killing a real human life.
    The Church fails to make this distinction today.

    Other criteria to consider as basis for our judgements on abortion are things such as – viability, gestation, foetal pain (or lack of), brain development, state of consciousness.

  • Anonymous

    ‘small mass of cells’?

    “Sometimes we lied. A girl might ask what her baby was like at a certain point in the pregnancy: Was it a baby yet? Even as early as 12 weeks a baby is totally formed, he has fingerprints, turns his head, fans his toes, feels pain. But we would say ‘It’s not a baby yet. It’s just tissue, like a clot.” 
    ‘The Conversion of Kathy Sparks’ by Gloria Williamson

  • Jonathan West

    I took a look at the abstract. It stated “Women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81% increased risk of mental health problems, and nearly 10% of the incidence
    of mental health problems was shown to be attributable to abortion.”

    But a relative risk increase of 81% is meaningless unless you say what it is relative to. To give a hypothetical example, if one person in a million were to have a mental health problem, and among those who have had abortions the rate is 1.81 per million, that’s an 81% relative risk increase, but I don’t think that the increase would give you much cause to worry.

    The mere fact that the abstract states the numbers in terms of relative risk increase rather than in terms of natural frequencies immediately starts ringing alarm bells. It looks like the researcher is actively trolling for sensationalist headlines.

    I’m also suspicious of that phrase “shown to be attributable to abortion”. Shown to be arttributable? Does that mean that the abortion is definitely the sole cause of the mental health problem (something it would be hard to demonstrate), or is merely that is reasonably to infer that the abortion might be a contributory factor? The numbers are going to be very different depending on which statndard you select, and it is not stated in the abstract.

    Then there is the question of the seriousness of the “mental health problems” that would be regarded as sufficient to count within the survey. This is also not stated.

  • Anonymous

    The foetus is completely different from an adult in a vegetative state, or hair cell. Not just in the sense that it has the innate potential to become a fully-formed human being, but because it is made up of a unique (unless we’re talking about identical twins/multiples) recombination of genetic material from the mother and father.

    The foetus is an individual (with it’s own blood supply and blood type), ready for the chance to live.

  • Kate

    That’s an adorable sentiment, but in fact most abortions are performed much earlier than that, when the ‘baby’ is still just beginning to develop and looks more like an amorphous blob than a small human being. Also, the point at which a fetus is able to feel pain is debated, and in fact in a study much more recent than the 1986 article you cited, it is stated that a fetus does not, in fact, feel pain until twenty-four weeks, and even after that exist in “continuous sleep-like unconsciousness or sedation,’ much unlike the woman who is carrying it. Try to keep in mind that scientific developments are happening constantly and that citing material that is nearly thirty years old does little for your argument but make you look foolish. It really doesn’t take very long to update your research.

  • Jeannine

    “Try to keep in mind that scientific developments are happening constantly and that citing material that is nearly thirty years old does little for your argument but make you look foolish.”
    Fair enough.

    How about these sources published after 2000?
    1)Rooney, Brent and Calhoun, M.D.,
    Byron C. “Induced Abortion and Risk of Later

    Premature Births.” Journal of American Physicians
    and Surgeons Vol. 8:2(Summer 2003): 46-49. 
    2)Report of The South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion. December 2005. 

    3)Reardon, David C. 
    “Abortion Decisions and the Duty to Screen: Clinical, Ethical, and

    Legal Implications of
    Predictive Risk Factors of Post-Abortion Maladjustment.” Journal of Contemporary
    Health Law and Policy. Vol. 20:33
    (2003):33-114. 7 
    5)Fergusson, David M., et al. “Abortion in Young Women and Subsequent Mental Health.”

     Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry. Vol. 47:1 (2006): 16-24. 1 April 2008.

  • Oconnordamien

    60-70% of fertilised eggs are potential lives but are not embedded in the uterus wall. Of them less than 50% result in actual pregnancy. In my country it’s known as bad luck to mention pregnancy until 3 mths  because it might go wrong.

    So really isn’t nature most to blame for ending unborn lives,

  • Oconnordamien

    Can’t wait to tell the wife she’s gonna be barefoot, pregnant and chained to the sink.

  • Anonymous

    Nature is good at rejecting eggs, zygotes and embryos that, for whatever reason, would not be successfully carried to term:

    “Almost 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, with the majority occurring during the first 12 weeks.There is a 75% chance of miscarriage in weeks 1-2 of pregnancy, when you do not know you are pregnant.There is a 10% chance of miscarriage in weeks 3-6 and this number drops to 5% during weeks 6-12.During the second trimester the chance of miscarriage drops again to 3%. After you’ve reached 20 weeks gestation, it is no longer considered a miscarriage.”

    I’m not sure I understand your argument: are you justifying abortion because there’s a chance that a pregnancy might be unsuccessful?

  • Anonymous

    ‘The point at which a foetus is able to feel pain is debated’. Maybe, just maybe, we should be careful, then? As an aside, I’ve read that the issue of pain could be quite cleverly circumvented by abortion providers by the use of foetal anaesthetics. 

    The quotation, as you know, is not from a scientific paper. I think what it clearly expresses (and putting aside what the foetus may or may not feel) is what abortion does to us, what it says about us.

  • Hannah

    The study you cite shows no inherent tendency in the nature of abortion to cause mental health problems. Correlation does not equal causation, as any A level philosophy student could tell you.

    A much more likely explanation of any increased risk of mental health problems in women who have undergone an abortion would be the culture of shame, silence and secrecy surrounding abortion in our society. Articles like yours which claim on no stated grounds that ‘the nature of women’ (you can honestly say this with a straight face..?) is to make babies and look after people exacerbate the pressure on women to stay silent, increasing their risk of developing mental health problems.

    Please don’t use science disingenuously.