Saturday, October 25, 2008

What We're Fighting For

I'm sure by now you've seen Cardinal Egan's letter with the beautiful picture of the unborn baby at twenty weeks gestation:
Have you any doubt that it is a human being?
If you do not have any such doubt, have you any doubt that it is an innocent human being?
If you have no doubt about this either, have you any doubt that the authorities in a civilized society are duty-bound to protect this innocent human being if anyone were to wish to kill it?
If your answer to this last query is negative, that is, if you have no doubt that the authorities in a civilized society would be duty-bound to protect this innocent human being if someone were to wish to kill it, I would suggest—even insist—that there is not a lot more to be said about the issue of abortion in our society. It is wrong, and it cannot—must not—be tolerated. [...]
But what about the being that has been in its mother for only 15 weeks or only 10? Have you photographs of that too? Yes, I do. However, I hardly think it necessary to show them. For if we agree that the being in the photograph printed on this page is an innocent human being, you have no choice but to admit that it may not be legitimately killed even before 20 weeks unless you can indicate with scientific proof the point in the development of the being before which it was other than an innocent human being and, therefore, available to be legitimately killed. Nor have Aristotle, Aquinas or even the most brilliant embryologists of our era or any other era been able to do so. If there is a time when something less than a human being in a mother morphs into a human being, it is not a time that anyone has ever been able to identify, though many have made guesses. However, guesses are of no help. A man with a shotgun who decides to shoot a being that he believes may be a human being is properly hauled before a judge. And hopefully, the judge in question knows what a "human being" is and what the implications of someone's wishing to kill it are. The word "incarceration" comes to mind.
Now, I agree with the cardinal's argument: if it's wrong to kill an unborn human at twenty weeks gestation, then it's also wrong to kill him or her earlier. He or she is human, and deserving of life.
That said, the abortion rights extremists often complain that since most abortions are performed early, many between week six (when mom finds

out she's pregnant in many cases) and week twelve, it's not a bad idea to show the humanity of the unborn child even earlier. Sometimes pictures are worth thousands of words:

Week five or six:

Week eight:
Week ten:
Week twelve:

(Note: Above pictures removed because I couldn't verify that they were not copyrighted.  Thanks for understanding.)

Every one of these photos shows a human being between five or six and twelve weeks gestation. Most abortions occur before week twelve, with over half occurring in the first nine weeks and another 37% taking place between week nine and week twelve. Surgical abortions are not done before six weeks gestation, meaning that these photos show the ages of development at which most unborn babies are killed in utero.
Though so-called "medical" abortions using the vile RU-486 can be done earlier, the reality, as Cardinal Egan points out, is that the humanity of the unborn doesn't depend on how human he or she looks. There is no point from conception onward that the little one in utero deserves to be killed, or should not be protected. These tiny humans deserve the same right to life as the rest of us; when we deny that, we deny our common humanity, and may eventually reap the consequences of that terrible denial.


This_Cross_I_Embrace said...

Now try explaining this to people who use IVF to get pregnant, "discarding" or freezing what they believe to be merely "dividing cells."

It has been one of the hardest things for me to wrap my mind around, as an infertile woman... HOW, just HOW can another infertile woman NOT cherish those little embryos that SHE created as much as I do???

Sarah said...

I hadn't seen Cardinal Egan's letter until now. I am so proud of the way some of the American Bishops have been taking a stronger stand this election. It's comforting to have their leadership in a more confrontational way (confronting society, that is).

Beautiful post.