Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Solidarity

Nothing else you will read today will be as powerful as this post by Katrina Fernandez, aka: The Crescat is:

Abortion advocates will never admit a post-abortive woman is a Mother because to admit that would acknowledge the existence that there was once a child. Not a clump of cells, but a very real living child. When girls begin menstruating they are not called mothers to a clump of cells, yet so many people really believe an abortion is just like having a heavy period or passing a large menstrual clot. This was how it was described to me when I found myself in their clinic fifteen years ago. Two years later when I returned to have a second abortion the lie had not changed.

For fifteen long years I’ve lived with the pain, shame and guilt associated with my past. In that time I’ve experienced denial, anger, and depression. It wasn’t till my conversion to Catholicism that I finally sought the reconciliation my soul needed. Once I received the grace of forgiveness I was charged with the next most important task of my life… to tell as many women as I can how horrible, evil and despicable abortion is.

However, it has taken me another six years to find my courage. In order to honestly talk about the truth I needed to admit to my past and in this one area my words failed me. Today I write this past so that I may finally own up to what it is I have done and make the necessary reparations for my crimes so that others will know just how fundamentally soul-destroying abortion is.

I am choosing this day to find my voice.

Here is the truth I spent so many years denying and keeping from the public – I killed two of my children, robbed my parents of grand-children, and murdered my son’s siblings. These abortions directly caused a medical condition known as incompetent cervix which resulted in the premature birth of another son who died after a week long struggle in the NICU in 2001. The suffering I’ve endured and caused others is immeasurable and the guilt almost drove me suicidal. I am a coward in every way. [...]

I refuse to be a coward anymore. In these times, no one can afford to be a coward. The price of our silence is paid in the blood of millions of innocent aborted babies. This is a deplorable evil and it must end now.

There is no pro-life voice more courageous and truthful than that of the woman who can say to her sisters: I have been there. I had an abortion, and I regret that choice that ended the life of my child. It was an evil choice, and I want to spare you the evil and pain of that sinful choice. Those of us who have been, by God's grace, spared the anguish of that experience should not go around pridefully congratulating ourselves for that: it is His grace, His mercy alone, that has permitted some of us to avoid such a dreadful experience. We should be firm in standing in solidarity with our post-abortive sisters--and brothers, too, for men too suffer greatly when their unborn child is put to death--and in giving them the love, support, encouragement, and place of healing and peace that they so greatly need.

The Crescat's post today resonates with the power of her faith and with great courage. So often, a woman chooses abortion out of fear: fear of unplanned or unwed pregnancy, fear of what people will say or think, fear of the material and social consequences of letting the pregnancy continue, fear of single motherhood on the one hand, or giving the child up for adoption on the other. Society encourages that fear, because it encourages women to think that we are too weak, too helpless, too vulnerable to handle a child in a less-than-perfect situation or scenario. In some senses, abortion is the ultimate degradation of women, because society acts as though it's normal and fine for a woman to be punished by the loss of her reputation, her job or career potential, her educational opportunities, or of her home or boyfriend etc. as the price she must pay for failing to avoid pregnancy--and that if a woman is sexually active, she must be inundated with free contraception, lest she be punished with a baby for her sexual habits.

And as The Crescat says, we can't end the sin and evil of abortion, we can't end the suffering and tears of far too many women, we can't make a dent in our society's ugly misogyny that pits women against their unborn children who are their natural loves, not their natural enemies, unless we first conquer this great fear. It will take real acts of solidarity for our neighbors who are struggling with a crisis pregnancy for us to reach out to women at these moments and say with sincerity and love, "You are not alone. We are here for you and for your baby."

The people who can best help spread that message of hope and courage are the ones who have suffered as no others have, the ones who know what it is to be post-abortive, the ones who still struggle with their often-secret anguish over this terrible thing in their pasts. In my mind's eye I see these brave women as standing together against the darkness of the sin of abortion, and slowly, individually, and courageously lighting candles of truth. Today Katrina Fernandez has ignited the wick of such a candle, and one day soon these bright lights held aloft by the surviving victims of abortion will pierce through the dark veil of lies, euphemisms, and fear-mongering pushed by the abortion industry. Someday soon the outcry from these women's voices will drown out the harpies selling the misery and pain of abortion to yet another generation of young women; someday soon, the mothers mourning their lost beloved children will overwhelm the cynical rhetoric of "choice" that does not account for maternal hearts and the strength of maternal love which endures even beyond so painful and difficult a reality. In our solidarity with these women let us rejoice that the truth is setting them free, even while we listen attentively to what they have to tell us, and help them continue along the path of reconciliation and healing toward that peace that passes all understanding.

43 comments:

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Well, you know half of what I'm going to say, but every time someone offers a personal witness as if it is The Truth For All Women, I have to consider, and respond to it. The day I cannot honestly disagree, is the day I should fully commit to your side of the question. But that day has not arrived.

Nobody except the woman who says she regrets her abortion can speak for her. All the shame and regret she describes is real. There are many women like her. Actually, I hope that pro-life organizations reach such women before they abort. They need what you have to offer. But their experience is not universal. I look for the pro-life activists to acquire the humility to recognize that your message is not for every pregnant woman -- not for all those who intend to carry their pregnancy to term, nor for all those contemplating abortion.

"Abortion advocates will never admit a post-abortive woman is a Mother..." That is because she isn't. Indeed, menstruating women are NOT called mothers to a clump of cells, and women who have first trimester abortions definitely are not mothers either. I've always thought that the logical conclusion of such thinking would be that no woman should ever let a single egg leave her fallopian tube unfertilized. Cry for all the children lost because some women remain chaste for years!

Some women felt nothing but relief after an abortion, even happiness. Most, I infer, fall somewhere in between, but many have no regrets. They don't go public with such pathos.

The bottom line for me is that Roe v. Wade properly sets the constitutional boundaries between the exercise of the police powers of the state, and the liberties of the individual. On that basis, we can all earnestly discuss the fine points of moral consideration, reach out to each other, talk to each other, and respect each other's decisions.

I know there are some in the Planned Parenthood orbit who consider it an afront every time a woman declines to abort, or makes a confession like this woman has. That is unfortunate, because this woman has a right to choose to regret her abortion, and women like her have a right to choose not to have one.

On that basis, however, I stand firmly for individual choice. And no, a woman who has had an abortion is not a mother.

Red Cardigan said...

Siarlys, the ignorance you display of basic reproductive biology is absolutely breathtaking. Seriously, have you ever even tried to read or learn about human embryology? Ripping the arms or legs off of a ten-week-old fetus is certainly different from the female body's monthly shedding of an unfertilized egg cell which will never, on its own (that is, not joined to a sperm cell) become a human being. But the only difference between you and a fetus is a few years and a few meals.

Honestly. You're such a pro-abort zealot that you can't even recognize the basic biological fact that a woman who aborts her child is not merely shedding the menstrual lining or some similar thing. I've always believed that the most zealously pro-abortion people can't handle the biological reality of human reproduction, and every time you post on this subject you confirm me in my belief that you are clinging to willful ignorance and superstition instead of science.

And, to be perfectly honest, I think the only sort of woman who can emerge from the abortion experience without suffering psychological damage is the sort of woman who could put a loaded handgun in an infant's face and pull the trigger without experiencing any remorse whatsoever after the bullet rips through the baby's brain. Whether that is, in itself, a psychologically healthy place for a woman to be depends on whether you agree with Peter Singer that human infants ought to be disposable...

L. said...

"I've always believed that the most zealously pro-abortion people can't handle the biological reality of human reproduction."

I think this is where I have to remind you that I flushed a dead 7-week old embryo down the toilet, giddy with relief I was no longer pregnant -- that was the reality, staring me right in the face. However, it is difficult to imagine circumstance under which I would take a gun blow a baby's brains out, so there goes your theory.

I think Katrina Fernandez is courageous to share her story, and noble in her desire to prevent others like her from feeling the same pain. But as Siarlys eloquently notes above, individual experiences vary.

And a post-abortive woman is not a mother. If, god forbid, my three children were to perish, I would no longer be a mother, either. If I chose to abandon them, I would not be one, either. It takes more than conception to make a mother. It's about a bond, not biology -- otherwise, adoptive mothers wouldn't be mothers because they didn't physically reproduce.

freddy said...

Siarlys Jenkins:

I have had three early term (first trimester) miscarriages.

My doctor never implied that I was experiencing a "heavier than normal" period or losing "a clump of cells."

In fact, he gave me strict instructions on monitering blood flow, pain, and, well, I'm not comfortable getting into details here. But my doctor told me that I had lost a baby, and that I needed to grieve as well as heal.

Those three miscarriages were the most excruciatingly painful and heartbreaking experiences of my life.

I pity you. You have neither science, logic nor compassion on your side.

You really have no freaking idea.

Rebecca in ID said...

Siarlys, you say you want to respect every woman's viewpoint, yet you cannot respect this woman's viewpoint that she killed her children and regrets it. She's allowed to regret it, but not to call them her children. Or, she can call them her children but she's wrong? Where do you get this insight, the certainty that before x point in pregnancy there is no human being there? I recently lost my baby at ten weeks. Her name is Frances. She is buried in a cemetery. I'm her mama and I grieved for her. Your tolerant point of view leaves no room for that; my grief for my child is simply mistaken.

Red Cardigan said...

L., I think your idea that a woman who has lost her children is not a mother is pretty bizarre. I also think, to be perfectly honest, that you may need professional help--and I don't mean that in a snarky way at all. You've recounted your miscarriage story before, and you keep equating it with abortion. Unless you actually attempted to cause the miscarriage, there is no moral equivalence, even if you did feel relief at not having to raise another child just then, or a kind of ambivalence, etc. Your continued insistence at this having been a great experience for you, almost as great as if you'd actually paid someone to kill the seven-week-old embryo you miscarried, makes me worry a bit about your mental health, and again, I mean this kindly, so if I've formed an incorrect impression based simply on your words and your repeated need to tell everyone in my comboxes how happy your miscarriage made you, please feel free to ignore my concern.

L. said...

Red, when you insist that "most zealously pro-abortion people can't handle the biological reality of human reproduction," I am going to bring up my miscarriage example because it clearly shows that yes, some of zealously pro-abortion people are in fact well aware of this "biological reality."

Because my pregnancy was unwanted (I had no other children when I miscarried), the experience really help shape my views on abortion -- which I had considered at the time, believe me. But I decided not to abort - I would likely have continued the pregnancy because my husband wanted a family, but I wanted to wait. I am not fond of babies and I wasn't ready for one. My reaction to the miscarriage clearly shows that.

I am truly sorry for people who feel sadness/loss when they lose a baby -- as I am for people who regret their abortions -- but happiness at losing an unwanted pregnancy is not a reason to seek professional help. Your suggestion, though likely well meant, is a little strange -- what would I say? "I had a miscarriage years ago and felt only happy relief, but other people insist the only correct emotion I was supposed to feel is sadness."

You can argue that there are correct and incorrect actions, but there are no correct/incorrect feelings, and people are going to feel differently about even very similar events. And, as I like to say, one woman's blessing is another woman's curse.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Erin, you usually offer something considerably higher quality than the ad hominem brush off above. Not only have I studied the human life cycle, including the development from zygote to blastocyst to embryo to fetus to baby, you already know that, because we have had rather detailed discussions of it over the years.

freddy, you are right, I have no freaking idea. First, I'm not and have never been a woman, nor do I ever expect to be one. Second, your experience is YOUR experience. There are no doubt some women who have had experiences similar to yours, but YOU have no freakin idea what the experience of a woman who sought an abortion and was satisfied with having done so might have been.

There is something very subjective about how you view a fetus that did not grow to term, whether due to spontaneous abortion or induced abortion. Any woman, or couple, who was looking forward to the birth of their baby, picturing what it would be like, carressing the roundness of the expanded abdomen, looking for every sound and sign, would OF COURSE grive their loss. Others, who really didn't want a baby, would not.

Again, don't project YOUR very real and genuine pain onto EVERY pregnant woman in the world.

Rebecca, I have and I expressed every respect for this woman's viewpoint -- regarding herself. It is only her desire to cast her viewpoint upon every pregnant woman in the world that I object to.

And Erin, I can take Singer's nonsense apart better than you can. I have, on this site -- check your archives. If not here, Dreher or Nadal. You need Singer, because he provides you a convenient talking point. I don't need him at all. I love babies.

Red Cardigan said...

L., I never said the only correct emotion to feel at a miscarriage was sadness. I said that it's a little weird to crop up in every discussion about abortion and say, "Well, I was happy when my baby died in utero, so therefore other women should be allowed to kill theirs." It's almost like you regret that nature took its course so you couldn't prove your feminist bona fides by aborting, or something. Whatever it is, it seems weird and unhealthy to me.

Siarlys, circa 1830: "Freddy, you are right, I have no freaking idea. First, I'm not and have never been a [slave owner], nor do I ever expect to be one. Second, your experience is YOUR experience. There are no doubt some [abolitionists] who have had experiences similar to yours, but YOU have no freakin idea what the experience of a [slave owner] who [b]ought a [slave] and was satisfied with having done so might have been..."

Keep on denying the humanity of the unborn child, Siarlys. It makes you look so classy.

Rebecca in ID said...

The slavery analogy is definitely analogous and it makes me think...again, how freaking weird of a time we live in. During the time of slavery, you either considered black people fully human, or not. There was no one going around saying, "Oh, I think it's great for slaveowners who want to enslave people, to go ahead and do that without shame, yet I also think it's good and true for those who want to help slaves escape and regret having enslaved people, to do so." No one talked that way. But Siarlys and others in our time speak as though a woman's elation in aborting her child is just as good as my valid grief over the loss of my child. But finally even that kind of talk has behind it a view, always, that it is a "child", not a child; it is truly, truly just a clump of cells not a person, and therefore, my grief is *not* equally valid; or it is only valid to the extent that I was looking forward to having a future child. My grief for the tiny human-shaped thing I held in my hand, with recognizable head and limbs, at the loss of life, was wrong-headed. No matter how people try to straddle the fence, it does come down to whether the fetus is a human being, and people like Siarlys have amazing insight that even scientists don't have, that for absolute certain this is an entirely different kind of being than the being that comes out of the birth canal. This being can, if the host-person-not-mother and the fertilizer-not-father feel like it, be shrugged off, tossed, burned and torn to pieces casually, whereas the one that comes out of the birth canal is a person, to be treated with great care and solicitude.

L. said...

Rebeccas, your baby was three weeks older than mine, and I am sure she was human and that your grief was real (and I am sorry for it). Your experience does not negate the validity of mine, and vice versa -- whether a baby is human or not is not the question, but whether it was wanted or not. And mine was not. I am hardly unique in this regard.

Erin, I'm sorry you find it "a little weird" for me to discuss my personal experience -- I'm sorry if it makes you uncomfortable. But yes, when you say things like, "the most zealously pro-abortion people can't handle the biological reality of human reproduction," I do feel compelled to say that some of us zealots do know what we're talking about in this department. And I do have a VERY strong opinion on the subject, reinforced by my personal experience.

You insist you "never said the only correct emotion to feel at a miscarriage was sadness," and yet you say my view "seems weird and unhealthy." Sorry, that seems like another way of saying "incorrect" to me.

And why would I "regret that nature took its course," when I said I was happy and relieved?

I can only assume you're being sarcastic with you "couldn't prove your feminist bona fides by aborting" remark, because if that were in fact the way to prove one's "feminist bona fides," I could easily have gotten knocked up, just to get my card stamped, so to speak. But I perhaps think even you realize that fervently wanting to keep the option of abortion open is very different from actually desiring to have one.

The undesirability for anyone to be in the position to consider an abortion is something upon which I believe we can all agree.

Anonymous said...

I think we should stop talking about slavery as if it only happened in the past, with black people, and in this country. It's as old as humanity, is happening at this very minute, and with all races of people.

Guess what else has existed a long time? Abortion. It's not a "funny" time we live in. Women have been swallowing poison, throwing themselves down stairs and shoving things into their vaginas to rid themselves of pregnancies for eons,

Siarlys has written that the government doesn't get to tell women what to do with their bodies, but the Church and other anti choice people can try, and he even goes on to say that he wishes them success in preventing abortions. Siarlys is very far from an abortion zealot.

Bathilda

Siarlys Jenkins said...

The slavery analogy makes about as much sense as gay marriage advocates comparing themselves to the Civil Rights movement, or citing Loving v. Virginia as supporting their claim. (See, we can all put shoes on other feet).

If slaves had inhabited the interior of the bodies of their masters, I might be impressed with the argument that the master had the right to control them, as, indeed, I have the right to take antibiotics, killing natural life within my own body, or accept the presence of those organisms that aid my own digestion.

If fetuses had been kidnapped by their mothers, squirreling them away inside their wombs, I might consider that those poor kidnapped fetuses were entitled to their freedom.

But then, the natural result of uninterrupted pregnancy is that fetuses (which were not intentionally kidnapped) WILL emerge FROM their mother's body. The question is whether the mother should be REQUIRED by the police powers of the state to carry the pregnancy inside her body, whether she will or no.

Have you considered an "Underground Railroad" that would spirit endangered fetuses out of their mother's womb while the woman slept, transporting them to some safe haven where they could grow independently to term?

Analogies can illustrate, but the prove nothing, and are easily manipulated (as our friends in the gay marriage movement have amply demonstrated). Their analogies and yours can copy the syntax, but not the real context of each half of the analogy. The facts are entirely different. Each cause should stand on its own merits, not retreat into the subterfuge of wrapping itself in the cloak of some other cause, long since accepted and honored.

Red Cardigan said...

Siarlys, human beings in the fetal state have no responsibility for ending up in their mothers' wombs. That choice was made by their mothers and fathers when those people engaged in sex. Essentially you are fine with the killing of innocent humans for the crime of inconvenient conception.

Bathilda, are you anti-life? If not, please refrain from using the stupid "anti-choice" terminology on this website. I'm all in favor of choices, for things like ice cream flavors and careers and shoe purchases. I think that choosing to kill someone is ugly and evil.

L., let me try one more time. Suppose that both you and another woman lost a newborn baby in the NICU. The other woman is devastated. You're glad and happy, just like you were when you flushed your seven-week-old fetus. Does that mean that you suddenly become a crusader for a woman's right to choose to kill her newborn, if she's ambivalent about motherhood? What's getting lost in your constant drumbeat of "Oh, I happily and excitedly flushed my dead seven-week-old, so abortion is GREAT!" is the fact that in an abortion a woman actively participates in the decision to kill her child. Your celebratory attitude about your miscarriage is fine and dandy, but how exactly does it relate to a woman deciding to kill her unborn child, and then realizing that she's done a terrible and evil thing? My answer: not at all. So your constant intrusion into these discussions with your miscarriage story is puzzling, to say the least.

c matt said...

whether a baby is human or not is not the question, but whether it was wanted or not

If you believe desire on the part of third parties determines in law whether a human being should live or die, well, there is not much point in arguing with you.

L. said...

C Matt, I do indeed that whether a person is wanted determines whether he/she gets to live or die -- inside my body. Outside is a different story. That's why Erin's example above, "Suppose that both you and another woman lost a newborn baby in the NICU..." is not applicable. Losing a first trimester fetus is different from losing a child after birth.

That said, I do in fact know of mothers whose severely disabled babies died soon after birth -- and while the mothers mourned, the deaths brought them relief, and some of them are in fact advocates for euthenasia based on their experiences. So in that way, the example may have been apt.

Sorry for my "constant intrusion," Erin. You seem to always welcome comments from women who mourn their miscarriages as being relevant to the subject of pregnancy loss and abortion, so it's a mystery to me that you find my comments totally irrelevant.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

We all know that the bottom line is the question, whether a zygote, a blastocyst, and embryo, a fetus, or some or all of the above, are "a human being" morally, or wether they are a "person" legally.

At whatever point you say yes, destroying such a being becomes homicide.

The emotional intensity of the argument derives from the fact that some are saying it is a human being, a person, from the moment of conception, while others say, no it isn't.

http://www.aleksandreia.com/2010/01/12/seeking-agreement-is-futile-but-we-must-try-anyway-after-all-it-is-the-meaning-of-life/

http://www.aleksandreia.com/2010/04/27/embryo-3-whats-in-a-name-or-any-other-name/

In the absence of an overwhelming consensus on that point, and given that the four stages under discussion grow within a woman's body, not running around in a forest or clinging to a leaf somewhere, plus the fact that until about the 20th week, they are not cognitively self-aware, I continue to favor keeping the criminal law out of it, and let people make what moral case they can or will to any pregnant woman who will listen.

Barbara C. said...

"C Matt, I do indeed that whether a person is wanted determines whether he/she gets to live or die -- inside my body. Outside is a different story."

Why? Because the law is your one and only moral code. Or because you say so. It must be nice to be God.

I could totally understand that someone might be relieved to an extent if nature "took it's course". What I can't understand is a person flushing their dead child's body down the toilet like a piece of excrement and then being proud of it. But I guess as long as you "feel fine" about it that makes it all ok.

Because in the end all that really matters is what "I" want, how "I" feel about it...right and wrong are just subjective terms...except for "judging"..."judging" other people's actions according to a standard other than the law...well, that's just wrong!

L. said...

"It must be nice to be God." --> No, it's quite tough, actually.

Seriously, I don't understand your last point, about judging. And why would you think I believe the law is the standard I uphold? I have broken many laws in my lifetime -- things like, serving alcohol to minors, leaving young kids unattended, etc. Why would you think the law would be my "one and only moral code," and that I don't think it's okay to "judge" people?

I understand that people might find my views objectionable, but I don't understand the extrapolations above.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Barbara, the law, as expounded in Roe v. Wade, dealt with a jurisdictional question: "who has the power to decide?"

It is silent, and neutral, as to the equally important, but distinct question, "which choice is the right choice?"

This debate becomes hopelessly muddled when these two questions are conflated. Statutory law, the police, the district attorney, attorneys general, have been denied the authority to make this decision. The pregnant woman has that authority.

Now, feel free to make your case to her as to what is the right choice, morally, ethically, practically, whatever grounds are important to you. But in the end, it is her decision.

On the Manhattan Declaration blog, it is reported that someone told a woman who declined to abort a badly deformed fetus she is a terrible mother for bringing a child into the world with so much missing. I don't believe it is anyone's business to tell the mother that. It was her choice -- read Roe v. Wade. Nobody has the right to second guess her decision.

Rebecca in ID said...

So...L says, sure it's a human, but so what, you can't force me to keep a human alive if my body is involved. Siarlys says, if it were a human it would be murder, but since we're not sure if it's a human, we'll assume it's not a human and say it's not murder. It seems like, more and more, people in the pro-abortion camp are going from the Siarlys view to the L view. The L view is colder and harder but more logical. I read an article recently by a pro-abortion ob/gyn, who was aborting a fetus who was as far along as the fetus in her own body--around 20 weeks, I think? And she was talking about grappling with that fact, but she finally concluded that yes, the baby she was aborting was indeed a human being, but she finally thinks that's just the way it has to be; women just *have* to have that right, or else where would we be.

L. said...

Rebecca -- yes, that is in fact what I believe.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

It seems like more and more, people in the pro-life camp are parading the L view, because its politically convenient to ignore that there might be another.

I did not say I'm not sure it is human. It is quite obviously a human zygote, not a chimpanzee zygote. Nor did I say I'm not sure if it is a person -- a distinct, independent, autonomous human being entitled to full legal protection.

Unlike you and L, I am quite certain that a zygote, a blastocyst, an embryo are NOT. A fetus covers a long period of development. At the beginning, I'm quite sure it is not a baby. I have no uncertainty in saying that. It is a dependent growth within the mother, which will, if not interrupted, eventually become a human being.

Suppose we reproduced by budding, like a hydra? Would the first faint bulge be a distinct person? How big would the bulge have to be?

Now if you would stop propagandizing about first trimester abortions as if they were scientifically and morally equivalent to crushing the skull of a fully developed baby within days of delivery, we might have some common ground, and I'd be arguing furiously with L.

Rebecca in ID said...

Siarlys there are photos of babies sucking their thumbs at twelve weeks. Don't tell me that's not a baby. I'm not the one with the propaganda, any five-year-old knows that a baby-shaped person sucking its thumb is a baby and a person. And it's not likely that it was totally not a person before exactly the twelve-week mark, at which point it suddenly became a person and started sucking its thumb.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

That's not a baby, unless you are talking about twelve weeks after delivery.

Twelve weeks after conception, a tiny growth a few inches long, lacking the slightest pretense to a brain, may have a proto-digit inside a little orifice where a mouth will one day form, but it certainly isn't doing that consciously. A tadpole has more developed reflexes.

It takes more than a cute photo to make it a baby. The in utero photos I've seen weren't even all that cute. Now a four day old baby in a cute little frock looking into my face with her unmylenated eyes trying to take in this strange new world... THAT is a baby!

Red Cardigan said...

Siarlys, I posted your latest though I hesitated to publish it, because your total ignorance of human development is again so utterly stunning. Here are a few links you might check out:

http://www.ehd.org/movies.php?mov_id=70

http://www.ehd.org/movies.php?mov_id=225

The one directly above shows a 10 week, four day old fetus sucking his thumb--so, a good week and a half earlier than you think that some "tiny growth" places a "proto digit" in an "orifice" that may one day be a mouth. Nope. That's a human being sucking an actual thumb in an actual mouth, at ten weeks and four days past conception.

You can deny the truth all you like, but you're also denying science when you do. But for you, ideology is more important than truth, when it comes to killing unborn humans.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Erin, I appreciate that you don't indulge in the cowardice of suppressing opposing viewpoints. It would not violate the First Amendment --this is your private space, not the public square -- but it would make for a boring and pointless mutual admiration society. That's what many liberal sites are, which is one reason I don't waste time on them.

Your insinuation of "total ignorance" does you little credit, especially since you refrained from giving any direct, factual response to what I specifically said. I've looked at every web site on fetal development, with extensive series of full color photos, you've ever posted. Such images promote familiar shapes, without ever showing what, if anything, is inside. Also, they tend to blow up images to suggest something the SIZE of a baby, when it is often only and inch or three or five long.

Until there is a central nervous system directing the thumb to the mouth, what we see is not a baby. Reflexes do not define a human being. For me, the bottom line remains that as long as the growth is INSIDE a woman's body, it is no business of the police to dictate what she is to do about it. Unlike some who consider that an absolute, I believe, as did Justice Blackmun, that once a fetus has developed to the point that it can live outside the womb, if delivered, there is a legitimate state interest in protecting it, as long as the mother's life is not in danger.

Red Cardigan said...

Um, Siarlys, the embryo's central nervous system is already in development by four weeks after conception. By ten-twelve weeks, things like the "rooting" reflex (in which both unborn and born babies will turn the head toward a stimulus near the mouth) are already visible.

And I've never heard that being "baby-sized" is a prerequisite for humanity. Seems--oh, what's the word?--a bit non-scientific, to say the least.

Red Cardigan said...

Oh, and as far as what is meant by "reflex"--you do realize that by your definition the nursing newborn isn't a person, either, because he/she is not making a deliberate, conscious choice to turn toward the source of nutrition. Reflex is reflex, after all.

Rebecca in ID said...

Wait, Siarlys--I don't get it now. Are you saying that for sure it's not a human being until it's outside the womb? Because you said before that if it is a human being, abortion would be homocide, right? And now you're saying you think that abortion should be legal up to the point of birth. So I thought you had been saying before that it might be a person after 12 weeks, but now you're saying it's for sure not a person until it's out of the birth canal? I'm just trying to get straight what you think, I believe I understand what L thinks.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

"You can deny the truth all you like, but you're also denying science when you do. But for you, ideology is more important than truth, when it comes to" finding a rationale to send women to prison if they don't want what is growing inside their abdomen.

Yes, Rebecca, L is very consistent. It would be so easy if I could just draw a bright line and say "Until it actually pops out of the mother, its her property and she can do whatever she wants with it, even if it is a baby."

But I know what a PROCESS is. I know that what exists at the beginning of a process is VERY DIFFERENT from what exists at the end. I know that because an eighteen year old can vote, does not mean a five year old should vote, although the distinction between 17 and 18 is a bit arbitrary, as was the distinction between 18 and 21.

Here, we all agree, we are talking about life, so getting it right is a bit more significant than exactly what year we each get to cast our first vote.

I start with what to me seems quite obvious scientifically, although it many find this metaphysically unacceptable: a zygote is not a baby, not even close, nothing to hem and haw about, worry about, think twice about.

Next, I recognize that what is inside a woman the day before delivery isn't much different than what pops out the day of delivery. Indeed, delivery could be induced five days earlier to accommodate the doctor's golf schedule, and it would still be just as healthy a baby.

Then the question is, where DO we draw the line? I consider two factors relevant:

1) Is there sufficient cognition and a sufficiently developed central nervous system that the developing complex of protoplasmic cells is self-aware?

2) Could this new life survive outside the mother if "from its mother's womb untimely torn"? (The possibilities of hooking it up to a heart lung machine for a month or three don't count in figuring whether its the pregnant woman's decision or the district attorney's).

To err on the safe side, I would say week 20 would be about right. That's a little earlier than the end of the second trimester.

The overwhelming majority of abortions are performed during the first trimester. I have no sympathy for the "It's not a choice, it is a child" argument during that period.

I believe there are some legitimate questions about third trimester abortions -- abuse of the "life or health of the mother" standard. Generally, if the baby CAN be delivered without harm to the mother, it should be delivered, live. If the best way to SAVE the mother from death or serious risk of death or disability is to partially deliver and kill the baby, the law should not require her to sacrifice her own life to save the baby. But at that point, it is a baby. We shouldn't pretend otherwise.

Erin, your argument about reflex twists back upon itself: because a reflex is not sufficient to establish a human person, it does not follow that human persons are devoid of reflex. The presence of reflex does not disprove humanity, any more than it establishes humanity.

Red Cardigan said...

"If the best way to SAVE the mother from death or serious risk of death or disability is to partially deliver and kill the baby, the law should not require her to sacrifice her own life to save the baby. But at that point, it is a baby. We shouldn't pretend otherwise."

And thus, Siarlys Jenkins openly argues in favor of infanticide.

You know, SJ, I'm seriously considering "aborting" you from this blog. You haven't displayed all that much personhood or humanity--how do I know you're not just a bunch of unaware protoplasmic cells?

L. said...

"If the best way to SAVE the mother from death or serious risk of death or disability is to partially deliver and kill the baby, the law should not require her to sacrifice her own life to save the baby."

So basically, if you disagree with this, you are saying that there is never any reason to kill the baby, even if means death for the mother? That sometimes, a mother is simply required to die, and that this should be codified into law?

Red Cardigan said...

What I am saying, L., is this: it is always wrong directly and intentionally to take the life of an innocent human being.

Would you shoot a three-year-old in the head to keep a gunman from shooting adult hostages? If not, then you're being inconsistent--and if so, you're being inhuman.

L. said...

Erin, your situation is not analogous because the three-year old is outside the woman's body. I would not shoot a three-year old in the head.

I would, however, abort a baby if my life were hanging in the balance. I realize not everyone would make this choice, even in situations in which both mother and child perish. A college friend of mine left a two-year old daughter when she died of pregnancy complications with twin 5-month old boys (who also died with her). But how can you possibly argue a woman should be required, by law, to sacrifice her life for her baby's, in all circumstances?

That's not a sacrifice. It's something else entirely.

Red Cardigan said...

I'm sorry about your friend, L. At five months gestation most twins weigh at least a pound and have a shot at survival outside the womb, so I'm not sure that killing them would have been any harder on your friend than delivering them alive, even if they did not make it.

I think the law should generally say that it is not permissible directly and intentionally to take the life of an innocent human being. If a pregnant woman's life is in crisis, I think the direction and attempt should be to save both her and her baby. The principle of double-effect may come into play if treating the woman's health problem involves the child's death, but only if that death is neither direct or intentional (e.g., some drugs may harm an unborn child, but killing the child on purpose is not the goal or the intention). But direct abortion is always gravely morally evil.

Red Cardigan said...

And let's be honest: more than 97% of abortions are done for reasons of convenience. Hard cases make bad law, and laws which permit abortions simply because the woman has already planned a ski vacation or would be embarrassed to have to attend her college classes while visibly pregnant cheapen not only the lives of the unborn, but the lives of all human beings.

L. said...

I admit, I myself would have an abortion of convenience, in even a perfectly healthy pregnancy, and I have already spoken about my use of abortifacient contraception. And yes, I do completely understand why some people seek to criminalize what I consider to be basic preventive healthcare.

But I confess I will never understand people who don't make a "life-of-the-mother" exception. I understand why some people would never have an abortion themselves, even in this situation, and woukld prefer to die, on the tiny chance that their babies might somehow live. But I don't understand how, when it's possible to save the mother in tough cases, people still support laws criminalizing the abortion in all circumstances.

There is the personal, which I understand -- and the legal, which I do not.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

"I'm not sure that killing them would have been any harder on your friend than delivering them alive"

This is a valid consideration. But if the woman concerned is staring potential death in the face, I wouldn't support a law which says she MUST take the risk.

Neither of us are doctors. In orthodox Jewish law, which generally prohibits abortion, in those instances where the pregnancy does threaten the mother's life, the new life is called a destroyer, and abortion is mandatory.

If I had an opportunity to put a bullet through the brain of the man who opened fire on Gabrielle Gifford's constituent meet and greet, BEFORE he could get a round off, would I have done it? You bet I would have.

Ever read Leon Uris's novel Trinity?. It's a novel but a well researched one. Irish Catholic priests used to REQUIRE doctors who would take their direction to take steps likely to kill the mother, if that was necessary to save the baby. It's on page 233 of the Aug 1977 Bantam paperback.

Unaware protoplasmic cells can't type - it takes at least a room full of monkeys. I've noticed that when pro-life people consider banishing my comments, it is generally preceded by a rising level of irrationality, leaving me with the impression that my arguments are starting to make sense, and they can't deal with that.

We're never going to agree, but unless we're going to fight a war of extermination with each other, we still have to be able to live next door to each other, and not by pretending there's no divergence in viewpoints. The world doesn't fit into neat little convenient talking points. There are times when it really is a choice between mother and baby. There are times when "I'm felling suicidal" really is used as a pretext for an illegal abortion. (In the third trimester it IS illegal, unless the mother's life IS in danger. Why do you pretend its not so?)

Rebecca in ID said...

I don't get the thing about self-awareness. Could you explain that more, Siarlys? It sure doesn't seem to me that a newborn baby is at all self-aware. They seem to me just to be bundles of sensation; they sense the world around them. I don't see any evidence of any idea of a "self" at all; that kind of stuff doesn't appear to show up until a few weeks to months, and even then, it is not so much self-awareness at first as awareness of that foot or hand which always seems to be there...and I don't see it fully developed until they start to say "no". So are you talking about something different than what I'm talking about, or do you have some scientific insight I'm not aware of?

Red Cardigan said...

Siarlys, Doe v. Bolton makes abortion legal right up to the delivery room table, so long as the baby's head hasn't emerged. Look it up.

And I don't think you're being somehow brilliant and rational--you're pretty full of yourself, aren't you? You would commit murder; you've said so in your example. So why should I take your views about morality or the sanctity of human life as having any weight at all? Answer: I shouldn't. And I don't.

Red Cardigan said...

Siarlys, I rejected your latest. You are no longer attempting to argue in good faith. I am seriously wondering, given your rabid anti-Catholicism on display elsewhere, why I even permit you to post here. Do not attempt to post on this thread again--it will not be published. I am not interested in the opinions of moral midgets.

eulogos said...

I reject the idea that we own our own bodies absolutely. Our bodies are not our possessions but part of ourselves, and as selves we have many duties and obligations which we must fulfill with our bodies. We have obligations to our parents, to our spouses, to our children, to our communities, and to our country. If a woman is a nurse and her income is required for her family, then it is her obligation to her family to keep that job, which may mean being on her feet for eight or twelve hours, with no time for a sit down meal and hardly time to go to the bathroom. She will be standing by that med cart with aching feet, carefully opening Mr. Jones' medications as she checks the med book. If Mr. Jones has soiled himself, she will be cleaning him up and changing his bed, worrying about whether meds for the next patient will be late, still with aching feet and needing to pee. Her body is clearly involved in fulfulling her duty to her family. She isn't free to take it out of the hospital stopping in the bathroom on the way out, until her shift is over, report given, and all the charting is done. This same story could be told of any worker whose duty to his family requires his income. Think of a miner bending over all day and breathing dust which may be harming his lungs. Or think of soldiers, whose duty to their country may require that they expose their bodies to bullets and bombs as well as cold or heat,mud, insects, lack of sleep, and sometimes starvation; and often this is not something they have volunteered for;their country has the right to draft them. So if people can have the duty to use their bodies in onerous ways, sometimes even painful and life threatening ways, because of their obligations to family or country, why would people not have obligations to their unborn children? Once the child exists, doesn't the mother have a duty to it? If she engaged voluntarily in sex, she implicity consented to that duty. But even if she was raped, the child is still her child, and is still a child, and we have many duties we do not consent to, to our families and even to other people in general. A positive duty to carry a child to term is really much less onerous than the positive duty to endure combat for your country, or even than the duty of people working hard,dirty, dangerous jobs for their families, or the duty of a child caring for a sick and confused elderly parent. A pregnant woman has that kind of duty to carry her own child to term.
Of course if one believes in God at all then it is even more clear. We are not our own; we are God's. He created us, He entrusted us with a child. If we are Christians of any sort, we know that we are "bought with a price"-the price of the cross, and so are "doulos Christi", not our own at all.
Susan Peterson