Tuesday, October 19, 2010

40 Days, and the forgotten

Did you hear about the pro-ESCR poetry contest, won by someone who decided to blaspheme against the Eucharist in his "winning" entry? Larry D has the whole story here.

When we tend to think of Democrats as the pro-death party and Republicans as the pro-life one, we aren't remembering that an awful lot of Republicans support ESCR. True, the Democrats as a party tend to slaver ghoulishly over the prospect of killing as many unborn human beings as possible, and would like to use tax dollars for that purpose; but too many Republicans are just sort of vaguely pro-life in most situations--unless the possibility for a huge financial increase to the Medical-Pharmaceutical Complex is possible, in which case, suddenly, human embryos aren't intrinsically worthy of life anymore.

We don't have a pro-life party in America. What we have, instead, is rather like Yeats' famous quote: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity." It is too easy to forget to adhere to pro-life principles when elections come around; it is too easy to brush aside at least some of the unborn and forget them, for the sake of votes and power.

We mustn't forget these little forgotten ones. We should remember them, especially as we prepare to vote in these elections.


Siarlys Jenkins said...

The charge of blasphemy doesn't bother me. The poem is rather moving -- just as Jesus gave his body, so the little embryo gives its body to save at least some poor souls... inasmuch as it has been done by the least of these my brethren, it has been done by me...

...What I find interesting is that the author doesn't seem to have recognized that s/he just conceded your point: the embryo is recognized in this poem as a being with will and consciousness, capable of offering itself as a sacrifice for the world. "Greater love hath no man than this..."

I'm not sure I agree, but that is certainly what this poem is offering.

Red Cardigan said...

Well, Siarlys, except for the fact that, as Larry D points out, the embryo isn't actually consenting to being sacrificed. How do we know she isn't thinking, "Mom, Dad, please don't let them kill me?" instead?

L. said...

Is the embryo thinking at all...?

Seems incapable of either consenting or pleading....

And "...tend to slaver ghoulishly over the prospect of killing as many unborn human beings as possible" is not in the Democrat Party platform, as far as I know. It probably applies to some for-profit abortion clinic owners, who probably vote Democratic, but I really don't think the party as a whole has too many members who want to keep abortion numbers high.

I'm a "pro-abort," and I would like to see them fall.

c matt said...

The poem is moving, in a very distrubing way.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I don't believe the embryo is either consenting or objecting, or has the slightest concept what mom and dad are. But I think I agree with c matt, albeit coming from very different perspectives, that the poem is moving, in a very disturbing way.

IF the embryo has thoughts, it would have to be in a soul, not the physical elements of the embryo. In recent years, the pro-life movement's more prominent thinkers have tried to avoid reference to the soul at all, in an effort to prove their point "scientifically."

I envisioned a soul poised on a cloud, watching the assigned mother of its assigned body debating what to do after a bout of rubella. I picture that soul saying "No mommy, I don't want that ravaged body. Take it out so you and daddy can make me a nice healthy body."

Barbara C. said...


Her point is that the only thing the Democratic Party (not the average Democrats but the leadership) can agree on is being Pro-Choice. It is much harder for a Pro-Life Democrat to get party support than a Pro-Choice Republican.


You like to use rare exceptions as a justification. How many people in this country face that concern, considering that they've been vaccinating for Rubella for at least 33 years?

And that mentality treats people like a commodity. "Well, I really wanted a baby, but I just don't like the packaging that one comes in. I'll just pass on this one and hope I can get a better one later." "This model looks like it's going to be disappointing and too much trouble to deal with. Let's just scrap it, and I'll wait for the next version."

catholic traveller said...

You write a very thought provoking blog, Erin. Think I'll follow it;)

Red Cardigan said...

Thanks, Catholic Traveller!

Rebecca in CA said...

Woah Siarlys, if you're justifying this sort of thing with positing the pre-existence of separated souls, and treating the embryo as a non-ensouled "body", then your argument would apply just as well for any kind of bodily imperfection. It would only be the kindest thing to assign, to the waiting-around souls, the very best bodies only.

It is problematic to speak of the "soul" only because people have become uneducated about the meaning of "soul". It is a word which has been around and has been used among scientists from the most ancient times, and all it means is "the principle of life"--that whereby a living thing is alive. Every living thing has some kind of principle of life, and therefore some kind of soul, though the human soul is the only one which is naturally immortal.

Anonymous said...

The March of Dimes website lists congenital rubella syndrome as affecting up to 10% childbearing women in the US with up to 85% of birth defects in the 1st 12 weeks of pregnancy if is infected, 54% from wks 13-16, and 25% at the end of the 2nd trimester. The types of birth defects are not merely cosmetic, or how the baby appears on the surface, but the virus invading the fetus affects the developing cells (and takes over control of the cell as viruses often do) of cardiac and neurological origing.

Scary numbers.

While admittedly only 4 cases of birth defects due to rubella were 'reported' in the first four years of the decade, during the epidemic in the 1960s of 20,000 born born with, another 10,000 were not born at all as in 'stillbirth' and 'miscarriage'.

This is only one viral syndrome.

This doesn't beg the case of which the main argument seems to be the point of the particular post, however many people who are both 'pro-life' and 'pro-choice' (AND yes! this is a reasonable and moderate stance) find education of growth and development of the human fetus, childcare, birth control, ethics (YES, taking responsibility for choices of how to care for one's own body to care and support the next generation lovingly!) requires an educated society. Educated to make reasonable, thoughtful, enlightened, biologically sound, faithful decisions. And, typically the educated are not the ones that choose to end life after the first trimester. But, the average age of understanding in the US is 8th grade level.

That '8th grade' level has been tossed around for years, now, especially in healthcare. What is the rate of mental illness nowadays? Not merely treated high-functioning level, but 'burn the baby in the frying pan crazy', child prostitution insane and 'shaken baby syndrome' showing up in the ER.

Responsible parenting seems the highest form of stewardship a human can provide. Access to procedures to dissuade those who really cannot care for a developing fetus and newborn might be a policy for some of society as an option. Albeit, a non-Catholic option, but a societal one nevertheless.

c matt said...

Soul- in Latin "anime" meaning to animate - what gives life. If the soul is not present at conception, then there is no life going on, and nothing would develop. It would be inanimate tissue, i.e., dead. As of yet, I have never heard of inanimate tissue spontaneously growing and developing. Only animate - ensouled - tissue does. The nature of that soul varies, of course, depending on whether it is vegetative, sensible or rational. So your hypothetical "soul waiting to check out if a healthy body develops" does not exist.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

c matt, by your narrow definition, you should be a Buddhist, or at least graft Buddhist attitudes toward life onto your RomanCatholicism. I infer you have a Vegan diet? After all, a chicken is "animate." So is a fish. So is an algae cell.

Now if you turned to Talmudic studies, there is a distinction made in the original Hebrew between a nefesh (animation) and a neshama, or nefesh chayyim (c.f. Genesis, "living soul") which only humans have.

c matt and Rebecca, I claim to know nothing of the soul - that being a matter KNOWN only to God. I acknowledged that most pro-life debate tries to stay away from issues of soul. But I introduced it because IF an embryo has ANY self-awareness or thought process, it would HAVE to be taking place in some kind of "soul," because the cells an embryo possesses plainly have no such capacity.

Therefore, the value of an embryo as "human life" is conferred by a human being who SEES the biological potential and demands that the embryo be allowed to reach that potential.

I respect the Church's position against all in vitro fertilization. There is a consistent logic to saying, no embryo should form at all except within a womb where it can embed and be nourished and grow. But, as to those that HAVE been created in the lab, there are not enough pro-life wombs ready to accept them to bring them all to fruition as fully grown humans. Not unless the quantity being produced is vastly curtailed.

Finally, Barbara C., suppose, just suppose, that I am concerned first with the welfare of the CHILD. Perhaps I do not choose to INFLICT a life of agony on a child, when I have the power to prevent it. I am, indeed, saying that what is growing in the womb is NOT YET a child, and I can refrain from allowing a child to grow FROM it. That is very different from a child already born. It is not in your view, but it is in mine. I consider trisomy-21 testing and termination of pregnancy if positive to be a most humane and proper action.

As to those born with trisomy-21, who are already in the world, I know one thing for sure: abortion is not, and never can or will be an issue for such individuals.