The Birds and the Bees– and the Zygotes

The more science reveals about the universe to us, the more our Catholic faith is verified.

No one in the junto, indeed no faithful Catholic, will learn anything new about the immorality of abortion from this post.  However, I would like to challenge us to reject even our own inclinations to regard some abortions as worse than others.  Without this, I fear our ability to save millions of human lives is diminished.  Most of us are moved more deeply by what is more tangible, and it might not be surprising that our stomachs turn at the thought of the surgical-suction procedure applied to a fetus but less so when discussing the fate of the earliest single-celled human embryo.

“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception… Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion.  This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable… abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.”  CCC  2170-71

I wonder about the different treatment we often give to the various actors involved in an abortion.  To the abortion doctor belongs vilification; to the spouse or boyfriend we offer the shame of cowardice or cold-heartedness; but to the mother—although we grasp intellectually the abhorrence of what she does—we offer, so it seems, the sympathetic consolation of the quasi-victim.  These may all be perfectly reasonable points of view, but in a supply and demand industry of vice whose fault is truly the greater?

“The real horror of abortion is not that a woman kills an unborn child but that a woman kills her own unborn child… The first step is to get rid of God, because then there is no spirit of the dead child to disturb the conscience, no hell to pay for violating the commandment against the deliberate taking of life. The second step is to define the fetus as not really human.”  Dinesh D’Souza, What’s So Great About Christianity, 2008

We must convince abortion doctors, boyfriends and most especially mothers of the “real horror” that is abortion.  I have hope of convincing others that terminating an innocent life any time after the moment of conception, is murder.  But first we must convince them, as D’Souza points out, that a fetus is really human after all.

To do so, I propose that we solidify the case for all such circumstances to have equal moral weight, by reasoning backward from the generally agreed upon late-term argument, all the way back to the point of conception, where there is most often confusion and disagreement, but where science can reveal the Truth.  Then, once the human biology explains personhood, apply that revealed Truth forward to all stages of human life, from embryo to granny.  Kermit Gosnell’s case may finally be that crystallizing moment when weak nominal “pro-lifers” and staunch “pro-choicers” can agree on something, that those newborns were people with dignity and rights which deserve to “be respected and protected absolutely.”  It’s the starting point from which to ask about these children ten minutes earlier, and ten minutes before that, and a month or two or three before that; until we finally bring the science of genetics and reproduction to the discussion, to show why the people being killed by Gosnell as infants are the same people being killed by Planned Parenthood as fetuses or embryos, and are the same people killed in the first week of life by certain pharmaceuticals.

Steps we can take:

  1. Learn the biology.  Sometimes in our very language we lose the clarity of what is actually happening biologically.  For instance, the term “abortion” can be defined as terminating a pregnancy, but the term “pregnancy” is generally defined as beginning with the implantation of the fertilized egg within the uterine wall, which occurs a week or so after conception.  It’s no wonder why some folks don’t recognize birth control pills or even the “emergency” medical measures such as Plan B, as abortive, that is as murder.  But they are.  We need to understand how and why a new person has come into being, and how his or her life is taken away unjustly.  The Plan B destruction of an embryo is the same as smothering granny with a pillow, morally and biologically.
  2. Teach the biology.  A few years ago a couple of friends and I put on a few sessions to our (at the time) middle school age kids, about various morality topics.  One was on embryonic stem cell research, and I was tasked to explain to them how and why ESTR was morally unacceptable.  I think it worked, to the extent both I and the kids learned some things about the wrongs of genetic manipulation.  We need to find a proper forum to reach uninformed Catholics first, then work outward.
  3. Publish the message.  Develop a concise way to bring the biological reality of conception, embryonic life, the fetus, late term pregnancies, infanthood, and your best friend all together.  Simple, undeniable visual messages that demonstrate the positive truth of human life from conception to natural death.

Contrary to the canard about the faith and science being mutually exclusive, scientific knowledge is a powerful ally to us.  Let’s use it to save lives.

Meet Emily

One comment

  1. Hythloday says:

    I like the idea of trying to shift the argument to one of induction instead of deduction as I think it is more effective with people today. But I fear we are entering an age where the pro-choice crowd has shifted from questioning the validity of the pro-life argument to calling into question the truthfulness of the premises involved. So while they may be willing to agree that a full term baby is just as much human as one a moment after conception, they deny that all life is equally precious.

    Take for example the very troubling piece from Mary Williams titled, “So what if abortion ends life?” In it, she cedes the logic behind many pro-life arguments, and then changes the game by questioning premises that both sides have always agreed upon.

    When we try to act like a pregnancy doesn’t involve human life, we wind up drawing stupid semantic lines in the sand: first trimester abortion vs. second trimester vs. late term, dancing around the issue trying to decide if there’s a single magic moment when a fetus becomes a person … They believe that if we call a fetus a life they can go down the road of making abortion murder … Here’s the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal.

    If by some random fluke I learned today I was pregnant, you bet your ass I’d have an abortion. I’d have the World’s Greatest Abortion.

    My belief that life begins at conception is mine to cling to. And if you believe that it begins at birth, or somewhere around the second trimester, or when the kid finally goes to college, that’s a conversation we can have, one that I hope would be respectful and empathetic and fearless. We can’t have it if those of us who believe that human life exists in utero are afraid we’re somehow going to flub it for the cause.

    Just when you think you’ve got them, they shed their tail and scurry away.

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