20 January 2005

When Does Life Begin: Conception or Birth?

I increasingly find this question absurd, very nearly to a comic extent. Here is the irony. The liberal pro-abortion crowd (let's drop the misleading and euphemistic "pro-choice" and "pro-life" titles for now, shall we?) takes the non-scientific, traditional, almost faith-based viewpoint. The anti-abortion crowd has the cold, logical, and scientific viewpoint. Here's why:

The idea that life begins upon exiting the womb is the conclusion an unscientific and ignorant mind would make. It is the conclusion drawn from surface appearances, not underlying scientific fact. Rapidly advancing medical science has put forth a great deal of evidence showing that life is not "switched on" when the baby is pushed more than 50% out of the womb. The baby develops an independent heartbeat, an independent brain that becomes quite active in the womb, and it has distinct DNA. I've used this trite example time and time again...but when a woman is carrying a male foetus (if you will) in her womb, that foetus carries a unique DNA and for that matter, a Y chromosome that the woman does not have ANYWHERE else in her body. So "get your laws off my body" doesn't apply! As I recall from middle school biology a woman's body doesn't have a Y chromosome so logically that IS NOT her body. In her body? Yes, it is...but it is not her body.

Besides that, what of Siamese twins? Are they not two independent beings? Why can't one terminate the other if he or she feels inconvenienced? Surely that would make life easier...and possibly make survival of the first more likely. Why is a Siamese twin denied freedom of choice in that matter?

The supposition that life does not begin until birth is illogical, unsupported by any evidence, and unscientific. The Left is usually enamoured of the world of science, but in this case it is counterproductive and they cling to an outdated and disproven assumption. Remember...as George Will said in a column I linked below, "That a life begins at conception is a biological fact, not a theological tenet". It is not a matter of religion or personal morality. It is science. Examine the question solely from that perspective. Once you reach a conclusion (which I personally am convinced is conception), then is when you can examine questions of morality. Is it moral to end another's life without consent? If so, under what circumstances? Is it moral to kill a baby outside the womb for convenience? Is it moral to kill a foetus/baby inside the womb for convenience?

It is harshly sobering to see the efforts of the pro-abortion lobby to dehumanize the unborn. They are foetuses, or even just tissue to them. Does that bring to mind anything else? Those who justified slavery often felt that the Africans were less than human, like animals, or livestock. The Nazis considered Jews subhuman. See a pattern?


Kevin said...

Normally I avoid these arguments like the plague, but I think you've mis-stated the question. It isn't "Does life begin at conception or birth?" it's "When does a fetus become a person, with all attendant rights?"

The Roe decision drew the line at three months. Before that (admittedly arbitrary) demarcation, the decision to abort was the mother's. Afterwards, there had to be an overarching necessity. Problem was, the Court decided at the same time in Doe v. Bolton they abrogated that "necessity" was pretty much open-ended. The mother's mental health could provide sufficient reason.

Now, as for myself I don't believe that a 12-week fetus is a "person," but I certainly believe that a 24-week fetus is one. Somewhere in the second trimester the rights of that fetus become equal in importance to the rights of the woman bearing it, and termination of the pregnancy is no longer a decision she can make for mere convenience.

So drawing the line at 12 weeks seem, to me, to be a reasonable decision.

Your mileage may vary.

Kevin said...

Damn, that was poorly written.

"Problem was, the Court decided at the same time in Doe v. Bolton that "necessity" was pretty much open-ended."

(Also, in both cases the legal arguments the Court used to reach those conclusions was horribly flawed.)

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Wow, another random comment, oorah for that.

I'm not arguing too much for my words, because they were lazily written to what I thought was a non-existant audience, but I'd stick with my "when does life begin" phrasing, because it is entirely relevant. When does life become independent and seperate? Its a much broader question than when a foetus gains rights, as can be observed from the example of Siamese twins. Their bodies are attached, and often interdependent. Are their lives discrete and separate?

And before we head down the road of absolutism vs. relativism, I'd better catch myself. So somewhere between 12 and 24 weeks of age (from conception) tissue takes on life? There's nothing to back that up...that sort of arbitrary conclusion derives from the individual level of comfort we have for ending a life of a certain development. When a baby/foetus is kicking and bouncing around the womb, it offends one's sensibilities to stick a drill into its brain stem, but when it is much smaller and looks a little more like a shrimp and less like a baby, it doesn't bother us as much. Seems like an emotionally derived decision, not based on much logic. I guess I would cede that it is reasonable, but not logical. Which I know sounds like a huge contradiction, but in my deranged state of mind while I study for MCSA exams, it makes perfect sense.

"Somewhere in the second trimester the rights of that fetus become equal in importance to the rights of the woman bearing it, and termination of the pregnancy is no longer a decision she can make for mere convenience."

Here's the problem with that...you say at some point the baby's rights become equal to that of the mother's...that isn't exactly what you are implying. You have to specify WHAT rights. What it sounds like you are saying is that somewhere, the baby's (sorry, foetus's) rights to not be killed finally supersede the mother's rights to have it killed. Not a question of "equal" rights at all.

But what do I know, I've got Microsoft acronyms rattling around my head. Thanks for dropping by, I appreciated the 2 cents...

And noting the email, a hearty hurrah for gun rights!