Friday, January 22, 2010

Pro "choice" is a lie

Do you still believe people when they say they are "pro-choice" on abortion?

For the kind of American who hasn't given much thought to the issue (or to anything except what fast food they're going to scarf in front of the TV tonight), that moniker might still be somewhat believable. But for anyone who understands the reality of abortion, it's morally incoherent to say that abortion does mean killing a very early human--and then saying with conviction that this is a "right" every woman ought to have.

And for the so-called pro-"choice" leadership--well, pro-choice is a blatant lie.


Washington, DC ( -- Abortion advocacy groups had little good to say on the 37th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that has produced more than 52 million abortions. They complained about how pro-life advocates have spent three decades doing everything possible to water down abortion until it can be ended.

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards led the griping and moaning about pro-life advocates and their feverish efforts to protect as many women and children as possible.

"Thirty-seven years ago today, the Roe v. Wade decision solidified the right to choose for American women," she said in a statement obtained.

"However, a women's right to make personal health care decisions is under continuous assault by anti-choice organizations and individuals."

She called pro-life educational and legislative efforts to reduce abortions "harassment and intimidation tactics" that "deter women from seeking health care and doctors from providing it."

Examples of those? Richards cited efforts to help women get abortion counseling, "mandatory waiting periods and targeted restrictions on abortion." [Emphasis added--E.M.] [...]

And Nancy Keenan over at NARAL called her supporters to do more to fund abortions in healthcare.

She said "anti-choice activists are rallying around Rep. Bart Stupak who has said that he will stop at nothing to block the final health-reform package if it doesn't include his ban on abortion coverage. We must triumph over divisive anti-choice politics and protect women's health."

"As this crucial fight goes down to the wire, don't let anti-choice extremists get away with using this historic legislation to roll back" abortion funding, she said.

If the pro-abortion zealots consider such mild measures as waiting periods, counseling efforts, and restrictions usually aimed at minors to be "harassment and intimidation tactics," then clearly the whole idea of choice crumbles into ruin. What person who really favored "choice" would oppose the idea that a woman seeking an abortion ought to be counseled first? You can't "un-kill" your baby, you know; wouldn't it be a good idea to make sure women aren't being coerced by immense psychological pressure into making this so-called "choice" in the first place?

And what person who really favored "choice" would mind a waiting period? The pro-aborts go on and on about what an agonizing decision this is, this decision to pay an abortionist to stop the beating heart of the child in one's womb via his usual methods of poison or dismemberment (well, okay, they don't actually admit to that last part). Shouldn't an agonizing decision take a little time to make? There are states that have "cooling off period" laws governing such things as home sales and auto sales--isn't abortion worth a "cooling off period"? I think so, especially since, again, a house or car contract can be walked away from and the house or car sold to someone else, but a dead baby is kind of an irrevocable "choice."

As for restrictions (again, mostly aimed at minors), what responsible person who really favored choice would be against laws requiring a parent or a judge to step in when the abortion involves a minor child who may already be a victim of sexual abuse, for all anyone knows? Is a scared fourteen-year-old really making a "choice" when her coach or teacher or other adult male drives her to the clinic and tells her this is the only option, possibly threatening her if she doesn't comply?

The leadership of the movement that likes to call itself "pro-choice" has torn off the mask to reveal the ugly face beneath. The only choice they favor is the one that involves a dead baby. To that end they're willing to take the rights of pro-life Americans away and force them to pay for the butchery via our tax dollars. There's no longer any reason to doubt it: "pro-choice" is a lie.


Dean said...

Right to choose...
Without ever saying what the choice is.
Why do we let the Pro-choice (that must not be mentioned) get away with not saying what the choice is?


Siarlys Jenkins said...

I'm pro-choice. I recognize Roe v. Wade as a sound, conservative, application of well established constitutional principles, principles that most Americans expect protection from, although we do differ now and then about what it means that "I want the government out of my life." We all have ideas about what WE should get to decide for ourselves vs, what the government should STOP our neighbors from getting away with.

I don't have strong feelings about government funding. Since I don't consider abortion in the first trimester, or at least parts of the second trimester, to be murder of a human being, I don't oppose funding it as part of a medical plan, but I don't have a big problem with banning funding either. Roe v. Wade said the government may not interpose criminal penalties. It did not say, everyone has a right to abortion at public expense. It is not an affirmative right, it is a right to be left alone to make a decision.

Most of the moaning and groaning Erin knocks here deserves some pointed criticism. It implies that there is some inherent good in abortion, which actually undermines the integrity of a sound constitutional decision. If people offering medical services are not providing full information on the known risks as well as potential benefits, they should be sued for malpractice. But the legal principle that a woman may make her own decision, without the police powers of the state intervening, remains sound.

Magister Christianus said...

Erin, if you have not seen it, you should check out Taylor Marshall's post about explicit pro-life statements in the Church Fathers.

Anonymous said...

Use of of terminology of 'pro-' this or that, or 'anti-' this or that belies the issue of a person's right over their own body, whether or they are to be treated by society as an incubator or an intimately involved parent.

Killing a fetus whose viability could be sustained on its own may seem synonymous with murder, however, the inherent right of a human over their own body seems an matter of public domain, and the point where rapists get to make decisions for their victims, as often seen after wars waged by men, or oppressive societies. If men were able to sustain a fetus, after deliberately impregnated, there is something fundamentally different in the nature of the choice if allowed to terminate pregnancy at the age of 4 weeks or 8 weeks or 24 weeks, notwithstanding the unnatural interference with 'conception'.

When discussing effects on moral and consistent social behaviors, then there's the issue of raising a child mother in a culture or society, and eminent domain vs. parents' decisions in social support for underage pregnant offspring, etc.

These issues must be taken in light of unfair advantage of underage/uneducated/disadvantaged women also victimized by anti-social organizations such as government-funded Planned Parenthood.

It may be a logical argument to conclude that something is a lie or not based on a choice of words, but it seems more more clear that pre-meditated killing is murder, as is abortion as a form of 'birth-control'.


Roseanne T. Sullivan said...

It is always and everywhere wrong to kill a human, inside or outside of its mother's womb, no matter what the circumstances of its conception.

Anonymous said...

Well, there it is folks. The Thing That Used to Be Conservativism freely demonstrating that they are loaded with folks just as consequentialist as Democrats.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I have to disagree with Anonymous. Roe v. Wade is very clear that at some point in pregnancy, there is a quickened, sentient, fully formed, viable human being, and the state has increasing authority and responsibility to preserve this distinct life. The court attempted the difficult task of balancing the rights of the mother to NOT be "part of the public domain" against the obvious fact that at some point prior to actual delivery, there is a life that can be delivered and live outside the mother. Removal of such a life from the womb is not an abortion, it is a delivery, unless live removal would threaten the mother's life.

The real debate arises from the fact that some people, Erin among them, sincerely believe that an independent human life exists from the moment that 23 pairs of chromosomes are lined up inside a fertilized ovum. Some of us believe it takes more than that to sustain that there is an independent human life. It is simple to say a human being exists from the zygote stage, and it is simple to say that the mother can do whatever she wants until the baby actually pops out. However, it is worth attempting the difficult task of recognizing that a continuous process exists in between, at the beginning of which there is no indpendent human person, and at the end of which there certainly is.

Anonymous said...

Roseanne, there is the operative word, 'kill', as plainly stated to Moses, but there is also, 'let die', and 'unsustained' and 'failure to thrive', as well as 'premature birth' and 'missed abortion', 'miscarriage', and 'induced delivery', 'transplacental injection of saline' and 'vaginal suppository or gel administration of prostaglandin E 2' and 'slippery elm bark' and 'coat-hangers' and rape, incest, molestation, removal of the feeding tube, etc. Words are words, and what is used to describe the human condition, and human dilemmas. Generally, killing is wrong, as well as pre-meditated torture. Killing as a form of one's own birth control clearly seems wrong, and pregnancy as a result of forcible rape or rape otherwise is probably a small minority of early-termination pregnancies, but there still is the freedom to choose to continue life similarly as a woman's right over her body, just as a baby has a right to a healthy pregnancy and, too, basic rights as a dependent child to respect, care, and nurturing.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Speaking of rape, if the resulting baby just popped off to the side, I would agree that the baby should not be killed for the sins of the father.

However, when you are asking a recently raped woman to carry the result of that rape inside her, for nine whole months, while it grows from a microscopic size to something that gives her morning sickness to something that makes her abdomen swell, no, The State may not impose that nine-month experience on her. Yes, she may terminate that pregnancy before it really gets started.

A woman who freely CHOOSES to carry the pregnancy to term, who freely loves the baby she is growing and can separate that from what was done to her, may of course do so. Nobody can tell her not to. But many women can't or won't, and it should not be imposed upon them.

Of course there are limits. If she carries it for seven months, then says "I've decided I don't want it," that is just too late. She's already accepted most of the burdens, and the microscopic little cell is NOW a baby capable of living outside her whenever necessary. Most raped women don't wait that long. They want it out, right away, as early as possible. Or so I'm told. I've never been a woman.

LarryD said...

Just because a baby is able to LIVE outside of its mother's womb does not mean that it is able to SURVIVE. Viability is a poor argument to determine a cut-off point for abortion.

And yet there are so-called smart people in the world who think parents should be permitted to kill a born child up to a certain age (Prof. Singer at Princeton comes to mind).

A male human sperm and a female human egg unite to form a human being. Period. It is a human zygote, a human embryo, a human being.

If we are not willing to protect the most vulnerable among us, then why do any of us deserve protection?

And I doubt that aborting a child conceived via rape would somehow help the victimized mother to overcome the trauma any easier. In fact, several women who were conceived via rape have told their stories - and it was thru their birth that their mothers were able to overcome the experience. Life brings with it joy - while abortion only brings about additional emotional trauma.

freddy said...

Siarlys Jenkins:
I have found you a clear, compassionate and civil writer.

It might help you to understand those who acknowledge that life begins at conception to contemplate these words of Dr. Donald DeMarco, writing in the January issue of "Homiletic and Pastoral Review," a Catholic magazine: "The basis of discrimination against human beings is using an *accident* rather than the ontologigal reality of a *being* to define the human. This procedure inevitably divides the human being into two groups, where one is preferred over the other."

I would posit that this understanding, which relies on defining a human being in terms of what he is, rather than when he may be viable is so compelling as to be definitive.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Freddy, you are absolutely correct about "being." But, we have a different understanding of "being." You accept that as long as 23 pairs of incredibly long and complex chemicals are lined up in a cell, there is a human being present. I don't see that. I've been having this discussion on three different sites, and it is good for me even if we don't agree, but I don't want to overwhelm this column with my own lengthy thoughts. I have posted a synthesis at

in the same mutually respectful spirit you have expressed.

LarryD, I don't know what basis Prof. Singer has offered, and I suspect I could cut it into tiny shreds that could never be put back together again. (The thoughts, not Prof. Singer, "it," not "he.") There is a fundamental difference between a baby out of the womb, or even ready to come out, and a fetus not yet able to do so. ANY adult could take, bathe, wrap, clothe, feed, an abandoned baby. No one can take the mother's place for the first eight months of pregnancy.

As to your point about how women have dealt with rape, I already acknowledged that some women may choose to carry the pregnancy to term. You have asserted that many in fact do find that a way to overcome the experience. I don't doubt it for a moment. All I'm saying is, this may not be a universally applicable template for all women. The law should not take the experience of those women you refer to, and impose it upon all raped women, any more than some well meaning social worker should require all raped pregnant women to abort, just because she had some women on her case load who decided that was the best course for themselves.

John Thayer Jensen said...

Siarlys said:

You accept that as long as 23 pairs of incredibly long and complex chemicals are lined up in a cell, there is a human being present. I don't see that.

Siarlys - would you be able just to tell us when you think a human being is present? I have looked at the site you reference and haven't time to engage the complex topic you discuss there. But I think it would help us all here to know not only what you do not think is a human being, but also what you do think is one.

I can tell you simply and objectively what my criterion is: a fertilised human zygote is a human being.

Are you able - for the sake of clarity for us all - to state in equally simple and objective terms what your criterion is?

I am not trying to squeeze you in a corner, but it does seem to me that without that simplicity and objectivity, we are floundering.


Anonymous said...

When we get too nit-picky about a definition of 'life', 'conception',
fertilization of zygotes, etc. as based on a specific biological event we begin to enter grey zone. If we use 'science' to base a definition, thinking there's a simple explanation based on fact, then 'science' uniformly MUST be applied to other issues e.g. transubstantiation, and those mysteries that have been established for a divine reason.

We, as humans, don't get to pick and choose which basis we apply our religious beliefs. One would conjecture that as living and thinking beings our brains had evolved to encompass the expanse of neural networking for a reaason? (Recall from the Baltimore Catechism, that the reason we're here is to love and serve the Lord; 'to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world'--this doesn't rationally translate to mindless adulation.)

However, if we are to understand rationale for understanding natural phenomena as to mean whenever the Pope blesses an idea, consider the famous example of whether or not the sun revolves around the planet or the geocentric model, or how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

As a healthcare worker working within realm of scientific evidence every day, I'm hard put to simply look at life beginning with the 'explosion' of events occurring on fertilization or formation of the blastula.

It's much simpler and more to the point to realize God created man from dust and 'breathed life into him', and then go on about ones' business in protecting, nurturing, and growing the sanctity of God's creation, then to belabor the point as to when 'soul and life was breathed into man wrought in His divine image'. Truly, we save judgment for God, as we attempt to do the greatest good for our society in supporting life of ALL members.

The major benefit to civilized society in highly controversial issues in an open and free society on topics such as Right-to-Life campaigns have proved a boon to increased educational levels as well as the aspect of defining acceptable mores, and honing individial personal morality for which a culture benefits as a whole.


Siarlys Jenkins said...

Jenkins to Jensen:

That's a fair and relevant question, and I am happy to answer it. It is of course simple to say that a zygote is a human being. Once that anchor is abandoned, there is an obvious tension between the libertarian concern that the state not interfere in a woman's personal decisions, and the equally libertarian concern that a child is not the property of his or her parents, to be used or destroyed at will. It is also simple, but also wrong, to say that until the new life comes out of its mother, no matter how well developed it may be, it is hers to destroy at will.

In 1973, Justice Blackmun used the common medical concept of quickening, the understanding that a physical growth which had been relatively inert became more self-motivated, aware, functional, gave signs of independent, self-conscious existence. People who identify as pro-life have been quick to say that this concept is incomplete and inaccurate in light of more recent understanding. I think that may be true.

I would employ two criteria, and preferably both should be considered:

1) Does the genetically distinct uterine growth show measurable cognitive function? Does it feel what is happening around and to it, is it aware of its own existence? For a zygote, a blastocyst, an embryo, the answer is unambiguously no. For a fetus, at some point the answer is unambiguously yes. Some have suggested relying on the presence of EEG waves, which makes sense to me, since the absence of EEG is a valid measure of death in an adult, even if the heart is still beating.

2) Is the new life metabolically independent of the mother? By this I mean, could it be removed, and without massive intervention of heart-lung machines and IV tubes, could it nurse, drink, breath, without requiring the placenta, the mother's bloodstream, the protection of the womb, to survive? Another way to think of this: could another adult physically take responsibility for it, if the mother is not able or willing to do so?

Most certainly, any fetus for which both answers are affirmative is a baby, whether in or out of the mother, and at that point, removal from the mother is a delivery, not an abortion. Only necessity to save the mother's life, or avoid severe physical disability, justifies deliberate destruction beyond that point.

That is how I would define when a fetus is LEGALLY a person, entitled to protection of the law. AFTER that point, a woman who personally deems abortion acceptable may be restrained from acting upon that impulse. PRIOR to that time, a woman who believes, as Erin and many others do, that a human being exists from the moment as zygote forms, has a legally protected right to act accordingly, and may not be coerced to treat what she fully believes is a child as anything else.

John Thayer Jensen said...

Thanks, Siarlys - that is at least reasonably clear.

It of course raises the question about the status of a person without measurable brain function but whose heart is beating.

Interesting to me is that in both cases, what you are identifying as the person is something related to cognition. For if the heart is beating, then at least some brain function is still there.

This does strike me as god-in-the-machine stuff dualism.

But that's another story :-)

Anonymous said...

'If the the heart is beating, then at least some brain function is still there' doesn't necessarily there is cognition, as in different types of congenital birth defects related to chromosomal abnormalities, or interrupted or altered fetal development such as might occur on exposure to carcinogens, teratogens, viruses.

Consider, the incidence of 'natural' miscarriage is ~ 10-20 % and nearly half occur to women in their 40's due to problematic ova, improper implantation, chromosome damages.

With so many factors involved a safe, healthy delivery, the impetus should be to provide education and preparation for adequate prenatal care.

John Thayer Jensen said...

Anonymous at 26 Jan 11:58PM:

'If the the heart is beating, then at least some brain function is still there' doesn't necessarily there is cognition, as in different types of congenital birth defects related to chromosomal abnormalities, or interrupted or altered fetal development such as might occur on exposure to carcinogens, teratogens, viruses.

Yes, exactly my point. The fundamental underlying question, that affects all of our attitudes toward abortion, euthanasia, many forms of organ transplant (when the source of the organ is 'brain-dead'), in vitro fertilisation (which normally results in the death of unwanted foetuses), and many other matters is whether we think that the real person is the thinking that goes on, or whether God has created man as an incarnate spirit, or as enspirited flesh.

It is precisely because man is not just the flesh on the one hand, nor just the spirit on the other, that we treat both the body and the spiritual thing with dignity and honour.

Until the flesh is certainly dead - no heartbeat, no breathing, no functions - we have no business killing it on our own. This goes for zygotes as well as the supposedly brain-dead person whose body is still able to live. And, indeed, we have no right to deprive that person of external helps of the ordinary sort, meaning water and nutrition, protection from the environment, etc.

The ancient world appears to have considered exposing the new-born but unwanted baby as ok. Naturally the person who did this did not directly kill the child. And - Siarlys to the contrary notwithstanding - I cannot think there is much cognition there. But we owe that baby nutrition and water and protection from the heat.

We owe the newly-conceived foetus the same.

Anonymous said...


Therein, is the heart of the issue.

Merely 'living' flesh does not connote life from God, whether or not it has cognitive abilities. Perhaps, at one time the 'flesh' may have been part of a living being, or results from a cloning process, or an anencephaly (1:10,000 births). Depending on the level of brainstem integrity, basic human functions may allow independent respiratory or cardiac functions of the baby born without a large portion of its brain and cognitive abilities to survive a few days.

Being alive requires cognition of an inalienable right to one's own empiric living beingness (to separate its difference--soul, if you will, from that of any other living entity).

I choose to believe a fetus at a certain 'developmental stage' has no rights, or that its rights are subordinate to its mother/father, that at some point in its development in which there's no evidence of cognitive abilities and presence in a womb or fallopian tube is not a separate 'life' independent of its parent, and for which its fate can legally depend on parental decision-making whether consciously, or unconsciously. Practically, a fetus has differing degrees of rights related to timed periods in its stage of development.

Many people try to make fetal viability issue simplified, saying a zygote is 'alive', and God has designated a 'new life' and its rights to life are equal to that of any other living human at that stage. A zygote is incapable of living as a sentient being at very early stages after fertilization, still early enough to doubt a fully cognizant being's 'life' is taken in a murderous fashion through an abortion procedure; the point at which the parent bearing the fetus might so choose to continue pregnancy to deliver a fully-developed human being, or deliver a non-sentient fetus early on.

The point of sentiency would not easily be defined, with even using biological markers such as lab tests of hormone levels however it would establish a precedent in determining whether a person was killed in the decision to eliminate fetal conception products whether from rape, incest, imperiled health of the mother.


John Thayer Jensen said...

Zircon - I quite understand your point. Certainly an anencephalic baby has no cognitive faculties. The point I am making is that living (with or without scare quotes) human flesh is life from God - I mean, this is Catholic and Biblical anthropology. Cognition is what living human flesh does when it is operating properly. When cognition is impossible, certainly something is dreadfully wrong - just as when a person has had an accident to the spinal cord and is a tetraplegic, something is dreadfully wrong.

The question is, why is cognition that which differentiates a human being from - well, I don't know what you would call, say, an anencephalic baby, if not a human being.

And deliberately killing an innocent human being is wrong. That right belongs to God only.

To reiterate my point: I do not see why cognition ought to be the differentium. Is it cognition that makes us human? Then is Einstein, say, more human than someone dumb, like me - or like a person with Down's Syndrome?


Siarlys Jenkins said...

OK, I'm going to try to respond. No, Einstein is not more human than you. When it comes to that kind of measurement, my IQ tests at somewhere between 70 and 140. I am a lifelong opponent of special programs for children segregated as "talented and gifted." I also sympathize with the parents of cognitively impaired children who sought a private school specializing the needs of their children, because the kids did so much better. What is the difference? There is an objective medical condition which requires a qualitatively different social environment, not an ephemeral quantitative difference. On the whole, we are all skilled at something. When the drain pipes break, a Ph.D needs a plumber, a SKILLED plumber, and should be prepared to pay them well for it.

Why is cognition that which differentiates a human being? Well, what makes a human being different from a boulder lying in the field? We can reproduce, we can grow, we can heal when damaged, we are ambulatory, we can manipulate things in our environment, and we can think and make decisions about when, how and where to move, when how and where to manipulate what. The first three do not require cognition, nor are they unique to human beings. The rest of them, although somewhat shared in common with other mammals, are what make us human beings. Most of them require a human level of cognition.

Beyond that, if the new growth is not yet aware of itself and what is happening to it, there is no cruelty in terminating the growth process. Once there is self-awareness, then all the issues which adhere to torture and death are unambiguously present.

John Thayer Jensen said...

Siarlys said:

Why is cognition that which differentiates a human being?

There is a fundamental difference here between what I take your view to be (that humans are human because of their characteristics), and mine (that humans are human because God made them in His Image).

I oppose destruction even of human zygotes, not because it is cruel to the zygote - of course it is not - but because it is an offence against God. It is lèse majesté - strictly sacrilege - injuring that which is God's property. It has a sign on it: "Do not touch; trespassers will be prosecuted."

This difference appears to me fundamental. And, indeed, on your ground, I would see no problem with abortion. I am not even certain why I shouldn't be cruel. But certainly, if that human life is not made in the Image of God, or if that fact does not mean I cannot destroy it if it is in my way, or use it for my own purposes (e.g. therapeutic foetal stem cell creation, supposing that would actually have healing properties, which I doubt) - then I would have no difficulty in doing so.

It seems to me that the 'cruelty' condition applies more to my feelings, in fact, than to my reason.

Maybe that's as far as we can go. I thank you for your clarity!


Siarlys Jenkins said...

Jenkins to Jensen:

I too appreciate the clarity we have achieved in understanding each other's thinking. We disagree profoundly, but there is no confusion between us as to what my premises are, or what yours are. It is not always so in talking to pro-life individuals. Some get so wrapped up in words and phrases they cannot define, that conversation becomes almost impossible. We have never been tempted to put words in each other's mouths.

I agree with you that humans are humans because God made them in his image. There is something that qualitatively distinguishes humans from other mammals. In saying this, I have no need to set aside the well developed facts of evolutionary biology -- nor, to the best of my knowledge, does the Roman Catholic Church. Gerard Nadal, who is a very accomplished biologist, appears to be perfectly comfortable with the facts of biological evolution, and finds it no contradiction to his faith at all.

My reading of genesis, and biology, is that the image of God is male AND female, not either one alone. That doesn't directly contradict what you have said here, but it is important to recognize. In fact, one of the most compassionate lines of thought I've seen on why gay marriage might not be entirely acceptable to God is James Watkins's essay on the subject.

Which is background to a line of questions I pursued after reading your comment above. What exactly is it that constitutes being "made in God's image"? Is it the presence of living cells? I'm not a professional biologist, but my understanding is that the inner workings of individual cells vary remarkably little, and most common cell types can be found in any mammalian body. Is it unique genetic structure? Atheists of the up-in-your-face variety are fond of spouting that we share 27% of our genes with a banana. The genetic difference between us and a chimpanzee is around 1%. Yet somehow, that 1% makes us a wholly different quality of being. It you took a baby chimpanzee, removed its body hair with a depilatory, wrapped it in a nightgown, placed it in a crib, hugged it, fed it from a baby bottle, put educational toys all around it... it could never ever ever grow up to be human.

I suppose I'm looking for something analogous to the concept of "ensoulment" which used to be debated by learned doctors in and out of the church. Its certainly not a tangible thing, and it doesn't arrive with a bang. It may be safer to adhere to your position, simply out of caution. But it still seems to me that a certain complex diversification and interaction of a wide variety of cell structures, as they develop, create the physical component of "made in God's image." Biology in itself is a numbers game. Hundreds of ova, millions of sperm, each capable of contributing to innumerable genetic combinations which would each be unique persons, are wasted. A fair number of fertilized zygotes naturally fail to imbed in the uterine lining, or grow to a point and then spontaneously abort -- often linked to some defect in the way it is growing. I just don't see the "Do Not Touch" sign quite as early as you do. A zygote isn't functionally much better at channelling God than a paramecium, although it can grow into so much more.

It is never a decision to make lightly, callously, or coldly, but there are situations which, in my view, justify a decision, as early in the process as possible, to terminate and start over. I suppose one way to discern the warning "trespassers will be prosecuted" -- unfortunately with 20/20 hindsight -- is that some women feel depression and remorse, and other women do not. But even in the latter group, some are no doubt judging wrongly. It is a difficult question, but not one easily solved by criminal penalties.

John Thayer Jensen said...

Jensen to Jenkins (Ground Control to Major Tom? :-))

Not sure how evolution got into this. I have no difficulty with evolution whatever. I don't know that ensoulment is what I am talking about.

It you took a baby chimpanzee, removed its body hair with a depilatory, wrapped it in a nightgown, placed it in a crib, hugged it, fed it from a baby bottle, put educational toys all around it... it could never ever ever grow up to be human.\

Exactly. And that zygote will, given the right conditions.

Conditions are not what makes it human, though. I am 67 years old, and I will grow to be 68 - given the right conditions.

The thing that zygote is - it's 'essence' in the Aristotelian/Thomistic sense - is a human being. There is no distinct point along its development at which it becomes human. It isn't the functioning of individual cells. Its form is human.

And as it is human, it is in the image of God.

Or so I understand it. We have probably thrashed this enough :-)