Thursday, September 02, 2010

An abortioneer's clumsy attempt to address the issue of the fetus

The fetus. The pro-abort's weak point. If you can prove that a fetus is of no value (or of lesser value) you can make a case for the morality of abortion.

Anti-choice shenaningans attempts just that.

Anti assumes that humanity is synonymous with consciousness. That a human's value lies in his ability to perceive the world.

And so she goes to great lengths to explain that a fetus is not conscious to the 24th week.

Not that that stops them from advocating for abortion past 24 weeks.

As is typical of these people, they get the biology wrong.

Reactions up until a very late stage in fetal development are reflexive.

I believe the appropriate parallel is between a brain dead person and a fetus, not an unconscious person and a fetus. We cannot be sure whether an unconscious person feels pain or other sensations, or perceives their world. That is why doctors often tell family members to talk to and touch comatose patients. On the other hand, part of the definition of brain death is non-reaction to stimuli.


A person may be unconscious, but we do not know if they have sensation or perception. If antis really wanted a legitimate comparison, it would be with a brain dead person,

First she claims to know that a fetus has no consciousness. Which is interesting because we can't be certain. Thirty years ago, people were certain that babies had no pain, and even surgery was performed on them.

Guess we were wrong, huh?

Fetal neurology is a field that is in its infancy. We have hardly begun to study the fetus. We have yet to develop the means to do so on a sophisticated level.

Fetuses are known to react to loud sound. They also learn to recognize the sound of their mother's voice. There is some evidence they are even capable of learning. Some months ago, it was shown that fetuses could recognize the language of their mother through intontation.

Comparing a fetus to a brain-dead person is ridiculous. Brain-dead people never wake up. Fetuses DO develop their consciousness.

There is also a distinction between un- and non-conscious; namely the former person can become conscious at any moment, whereas the latter is incapable of consciousness in its present state.

And that's largely because of the environment rather than ability. The placenta releases chemicals that sedate the fetus. Second trimester fetuses who survive abortion have been known to cry. It's dishonest to compare crying to the reflexive response of an embryo of a few weeks old.

There is a fundamental difference between a fetus, and an unconscious, or even brain dead, person. The key is that the fetus requires one person, that being the pregnant woman, to maintain its potential for life.

Again with the evasive language. The fetus doesn't have "potential" for life. The fetus HAS life. The potential is already actualized.

It is true that the fetus requires another person to remain alive. However, that fetus is the child of that woman. As a human being, that fetus is entitled to the protection of the woman carrying him because that is what he needs to remain alive. A woman is not merely an incubator. A woman is a moral agent. Moral agency is not just a question of freedoms, but of responsibilities. And a responsibility that a woman has is to not do anything to deliberately endanger the life of a fetus.

The only way for the fetus to survive is if she hands over her body to its development and growth

There is "handing over". Who does she give it to? Nobody. She simply does nothing.

Nobody in their right mind would require a family member or hospital employee to hook themselves up to an unconscious/brain dead person to maintain their life;

Except that a pregnant has no "hooking up" to do. Just do nothing! Do nothing, the fetus will stay alive.

The issue is not about keeping someone alive. The issue is deliberately wanting and causing the death of a being who is in one's charge, when the action required to keep this fetus is NOTHING. Just go about your life, the fetus won't die and neither will you.

The problem with this argumentation is that it assumes that humanity is dependent on consciousness and that's what gives each individual their value.

Not at all.

The value of the human being lies in their membership in the human family.

That's it.

Humanity is not and can not be dependent on what we can or cannot do, because that definition is bound to be arbitrary and bound to be redefined according to whatever abilities are useful, and whatever disabilities are seen as a burden (such as unconsciousness, for instance).

What is so special about humanity?

It's our ability to reason. Our ability to empathize. Our capacity for complexity in every field of human endeavour. Our penchant for the transcendant. Our ability to discern meaning.

These are the things that make humanity special.

These things are what humans possess collectively. Individuals may or may not possess these abilities. That does not make them less human if they are completely absent.

All human beings have a human nature, regardless of their stage of development, or their particular disability.Whether they have a chromosomal difficulty, lack higher brain function, are grossly disfigured, they still possess that common anthropological heritage.

That humanity is the core of our moral code. That's the absolute. That absolute is based on God, of course, in whose image we are made. But if we cannot get that right-- that humanity is in and of itself the standard for judging goodness and behaviour, we're lost as a civilization. We have no moral compass.

The zygote is a manifestation of the anthropological heritage. Everything that an individual is, is contained in that two-celled organism EVEN IF his characteristics have not been expressed.

Now you might object that environment has a large influence on a person's development. You're right. But development always begins with biology. It's the substructure of every intangible characteristic. There's no such thing as psychology without a brain or without hormones. All our predispositions are within us at conception.

Ontologically, the being at conception is the same being at birth. But they look different at different stages of their existence. That quality of being of the same nature (i.e. being the "same thing") means that they are all morally equivalent. How do we know they're the same thing? Because individual things don't transform into different things of themselves. Apples don't become lettuce. Fish don't become birds. Any kind of transformation will be operated on by an outside force or operantion of some sort. It's like that principle of physics. Objects at rest remain at rest. Objects that aren't touched or acted on by any force or element, remain what they are.

Everything I'm saying is the basis for the phrase "all humans are created equal", the fundamental underpinning of all human rights. It's the reason why various minorities were granted human rights (even when science supposedly prover "otherwise"!) Because no matter what the "science" says, "science" does not trump our metaphysical reality. I used science in quotation marks because we know that science in the past has been produced to confirm societal prejudices before. Science was used to justify racism and sexism. It's the same case here. Science is used to make it appear that a group of human beings who lack a given set of criteria are not really morally worthy.