By Robert Cohen Executive Director Text Only

Animal Rights and Abortion

What a difficult and controversial issue abortion is! Having
attended many major animal rights (AR) conferences, I have
observed that this is an issue of controversy that few
people in the AR movement wish to look in the face. But they

Many people do not recognize the unborn child as possessing
the same rights as the rest of us, yet, a study published in
the May, 2003 issue of Psychological Science (2003;14:220-
224) reveals that fetal infants are able to recognize the
voice of their own mother.

           "Compassion is the basis of morality."
                 Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

I cry for the cow and the calf, and the bull in the
bullring, and the dog who is euthanized, and the rat who is
burned in the name of science, and the squirrel shot by the
young boy in the name of sport, and the coyote who is anally
electrocuted so that her fur can adorn a parka.

In past presidential and congressional elections, 'abortion'
has often been a defining litmus test separating one
politician's moral and ethical leaning from another.

Scientific studies have demonstrated that the growing human
fetus feels pain and learns about an external environment
while within. The fetus recognizes songs and voices. The
brain works, the heart beats, pain receptors feel. How much
compassion do animal rights activists emote for sentient
human infants, not yet born?

The majority look the other way, avoiding the issue as if it
does not exist.

AR activists protest pain to laboratory rats, but support a
woman's right to an abortion. Some demand that meat eaters
acknowledge the horrors of slaughterhouse films, or
vivisection, or bullfighting. Yet, they turn a deaf ear and
firmly shut a blind eye to the conscious being who grows
within the human mother.

What is the nature of this horror that they support?

The mechanism of abortion-induced death is usually
poisoning, with instant development of painful edema,
congestion, hemorrhage, shock, and then death for the
unfortunate and defenseless human infant.

Some abortions require the live dismemberment of the baby
with surgical pliers which rip apart the living human with
no pain killer for the baby. The doctor inserts the killing
tool into the uterus, grabs an arm or a leg or the skull
and, savagely tears it from the baby's body. No animal
researcher exhibits such cruelty, such lack of compassion to
his or her experimental subject. This methodology is
repeated until all limbs and body parts are removed. The
skull must be crushed, and the spine broken into many pieces
for easy removal.

Each year, one thousand or more animal rights supporters
gather near Washington, D.C. for their annual convention.
The majority of these activists are women. As a matter of
fact, there would be no animal rights movement without the
gentler sex, who seem to possess a spirituality and wisdom
that their male counterparts lack.

Most of these passionate women also support the rights of
women. That's a natural. More than one female author has
paralleled the abuse and struggles of animals to the sexual
politics and multiple indignities suffered by women at the
hands of a male-oriented society.

Is abortion murder? Of course it is. It is more than just
murder. It is death without compassion, for the living
creature, not yet named, possesses pain receptors, and is
aware of his or her own suffering.

In defense of their ignorance, some animal rights activists
argue that the fetus feels no pain, much the same way that
animal abusers use the very same argument to defend
vivisection, sport, or the consumption of sentient farm

As an animal rights activist, I am faced with an enormous
dilemma. Do I call abortion anything else than murder? I
cannot rationalize murder, for that is exactly what it is.
Murder, without regard for the human who will die in great
pain. Abortion is murder. Do I continue to support a woman's
right to murder her own fetus?

That is a question I must ask myself, over and over again,
for that is exactly what I have done for the past 40 years
of my life. I must come to terms with the hypocrite that I
myself have been.

Unlike many others who rationalize that the fetus is still
unborn, and deserves no rights, I must call the act what it
is, and look at death and torture squarely in its most
horrible face. I challenge all animal rights advocates to
come to terms with this controversial issue which
contradicts that spark of compassion which should be
extended to all living creatures.

Robert Cohen, author of:   MILK A-Z
Executive Director (
Dairy Education Board

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