Thursday, April 12, 2007

Poor-choicers won’t answer this: what is a fetus?

It is a common belief among poor-choice activists that since there is no consensus on the nature of the fetus, abortion should never be illegal. The lack of consensus would mean that the state would impose beliefs on some segment of the population—as if that isn’t done already.

In my debates with poor-choicers, I often notice that they do not argue about the fetus. They take advantage on the public’s ambiguity of the fetus to simply by-pass the question of fetal rights and simply assert that it’s a woman’s body, ergo, a woman trumps the rights of the fetus.

And that publicly-accepted assumption seems to make that statement acceptable.

Based on my online discussions, I would say that the vast majority of the public, and poor-choicers do not know what the fetus is (and as an aside—who the fetus is). To some feminists it doesn’t matter—because even if the fetus were a human being, the rule is that society must accept feminist supremacy, even if it means killing an equal human being for it. After all, how else can women be empowered? If humanity’s smallest members have to die for it, tough luck!

The argument they say should centre on the mother-fetus conflict, in which case the mom wins because the fetus is an ambiguous entity and anything but an equal human being.

But the question remains: what is a fetus?

I’ve seen people say: it’s just a fetus.

Kind of circular, don’t you think?

When you define something biologically, you have to use biological categories. Just about no one has any idea what they’re supposed to do that. Some say the fetus is human the way that a skin cell is human, but that’s using an adjective—a descriptive—it’s not saying what thing it is.

And when I say that poor-choicers won’t define the fetus, I am not talking about saying what value he has. Two people can agree on what a thing is, but not on its value.

But the fact that poor-choicers won’t come to terms with what a fetus is—not even in a general sense—says a lot.

In their heads, though, they’re concerned about the so-called medical operation that they think leads to women’s empowerment. That is how they frame the question. They cannot frame it any other way because if they do, it might lead to the horrific conclusion that they sanction the killing of a human being—which even if they condone, they don’t want that to be the main PR talking point to the masses.

And defining what a fetus is does not require any specific religious or philosophical background. It’s an empirical question: what thing is it? What category does it belong to?

The fact they evade this question means they are evading the crux of the debate. They may say the abortion debate is about women’s rights—but the real source of the conflict is the value of the fetus. If the fetus had no value, there would be no debate. Many poor-choicers can’t even understand that rudimentary idea. They need to make it about EVERYTHING except the fetus.

Really, we pro-lifers should keep their feet to the fire and demand of them to answer: what is a fetus?

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