Month: February 2015
In my last post I began my series of posts about why abortion is wrong. I want to formally apologize for posting a graphic image of an aborted baby; I understand that it was extreme and I need to respect how broad my audience is on the internet. So I apologize. The image has been deleted and you can read the first of this series of posts here.
Right, on to part two:
To ascertain the truth as to whether what is growing in the mother’s womb is a human person, a presentation of scientific facts is needed. Human life must first begin through the unity of a man and a woman. Then: “It is the penetration of the ovum by a spermatozoan and the resultant mingling of the nuclear material each brings to this union that constitutes the culmination of the process of fertilization and marks the initiation of the life of a new individual.” (Patten). As Patten states, life begins when a sperm (spermatozoan) gamete, which is a cell made solely for reproduction, fuses with an egg (ovum) gamete, and by joining their nuclear material, human life is formed.
The new organism possesses a unique genetic code, different from that of the mother (Chacon and Burnham 15). The genes of this new human being are the result of the donation of chromosomes from the father and the mother (George and Tollefsen 30). Chromosomes are packages of DNA (Wile and Durnell 207). Human cells have forty six chromosomes, or twenty three pairs, and a gamete contains half of these chromosomes. Therefore, the sperm cell of the father and the egg cell of the mother contain half of the chromosomes of their parent cells, and this contribution of chromosomes helps form a new human (George and Tollefsen 38). George and Tollefsen state:
Fertilization, as used to describe the transformation of two parts, sperm and egg, into a single entity, the human embryo, is certainly complete by the time the two sets of chromosomes have intermingled. The zygote (the fertilized egg) is now genetically unique and its sex is established. Both features are a result of the haploid nature of the gametes, and their subsequent fusion. This fusion brings about a combination of chromosomes that includes both maternal and paternal DNA….In consequence, the newly formed zygote is genetically distinct from either of its two parents. (George and Tollefsen 37-38)
Once the egg is fertilized, it moves down the oviduct to the uterus (Sandra). Once attached to the uterus, a two layered disc is formed around the new organism by the same cells that will form the embryo (Sandra). Next, the outer ring of cells and the uterine wall form the placenta, through which the infant will receive the nutrition it needs and remove any waste materials (Sandra). For weeks the new human will continue to develop and grow, until it reaches the fetal period, which begins eight weeks after conception (Sandra). By six weeks, the baby will already have a human-shaped body—although disproportional, having mere stubs that will become arms and legs—a brain, and a beating heart (American Baby 12).
The fetal period is when the baby experiences an increasing need for nourishment and will begin to develop and grow at a faster rate than ever before (Sandra). At this point, the only biological difference between the fetus and a fifty-year old man is time for further development, and meals to support this development (Chacon and Burnham). The fetus and the fifty-year old man are the same thing; only a bridge of time and nutrition separates them.
If there is no difference between a fetus and a fifty-year old man, save for that of time and meals, what right is there to kill a fetus any more than a fifty-year old man? The fetus is a person, as we have already discovered. Thus, the only biological differences exist between the fetus and the man. Humans possess an individuality, freedom, and right to life that is owed to them from the time they are conceived, possessing the capacity to be born and live and grow in society. Therefore, a fetus is more than “just a clump of cells”. Because of its capacity to grow and to develop into a full-grown, rational human, separated from this state of being by merely time and the need for nourishment and a stable environment that naturally belong to it, there is no justification that allows an unborn child to be killed by being called a “clump of cells”. I was once a “clump of cells”; those cells are me at a different stage of development (Chacon and Burnham 15).
A common argument for pro-abortion women is: “It’s my body; I have the right to choose” (Chacon and Burnham 15). We can refute because, as we discerned while discussing embryology, it’s not solely the woman’s body we’re dealing with when it comes to abortion. The baby is not a part of the woman. As we determined, the baby is a genetically unique person, separate from his mother. To be a part of his mother, he would have to have the same genetic code. Also, looking back at the words of Alexander Sandra, the baby is merely “attached” to the uterus. The woman is carrying her child, but they are not one and the same thing; they are not of the same body.
Title says it all. I’m going to start explaining why abortion is wrong. And I’m going to use science and philosophy, not theology (although I can use theology too if you’d like). When I refer to people of theological significance (such as St. Thomas Aquinas), I’d like you to remember that wisdom is wisdom, and a fact is a fact, no matter who it comes from. I could just as easily use the wisdom of a Chinese philosopher as a Catholic saint to describe why murder is wrong. Just because I am more familiar with one, doesn’t mean that I’m using theology to prove a point of morality. Please keep that in mind.
Anyway, to prove my point, I’m going to use excerpts from a ten page research paper I wrote concerning the immorality of abortion. Here’s the first part.
A Defense for Unborn Children
Abortion, in spite of what many are led to believe, actually takes the life of a human person and hence is immoral. In today’s society, many cultures and political systems all over the world either know this fact and ignore it, or lack proper scientific and moral reasoning to discern this truth. One of the most common assaults against the unborn, which wrongfully seeks to grant permission for abortion, is the saying that the child, within the first four to twenty-four weeks, is “just a clump of cells”. Abortion clinics and the pro-abortion population would attest that this is the truth, based upon scientific research. However, the same research which pro-abortionists use to defy the human nature of the unborn child actually serves to prove that the creature referred to as the fetus is indeed a human person. Only logical reasoning imbued with a sense of morality—and a desire to uncover the truth in its relation to morality—, is necessary to unveil the reality that from the point of conception an unborn child is a human person.
History of Abortion
Abortion is not a recently discovered method of destroying innocent lives for the sake of controlling the population, aiding the economy, or any other reasons. Rather, abortion dates back to ancient times. Special drugs, herbs and roots, such as the “prostitute’s root”, were taken to kill the infant; there were few restrictions against women regarding their ability to commit abortion (Fox, par. 7 and 8). Nevertheless, most of the drugs or plants that had to be eaten to have an abortion were very dangerous to the mother, and more often than not didn’t even succeed in destroying the baby.
Abortion has been influencing our culture since it was legalized in 1973 in the Supreme Court case of Roe V. Wade. Since that time, the total number of abortions in America has greatly increased, and in the current year of 2014, statistics show that since 1973 over fifty million children have been aborted in America. Is our society, however, responsible for the murder of over fifty million children? Or have we just been disposing of unwanted “clumps of cells” for the sake of convenience? Obviously, such questions are worthy of intense debate, with the goal of discerning the truth.
Before further discussion as to whether or not the life of a person is taken in the act of abortion, we must first answer the question “What exactly is a person?” Finding out what it means to be a person is key to understanding the immorality of abortion. So what is a person?
Saint Thomas Aquinas of the Catholic Church stated that a person is, “an individual substance of a rational nature”. In other words, a person is someone who is a single, distinct being with a nature that enables him to reason.
The term “person” can only be applied to someone who possesses an intellective and volitional nature (Reichmann 208). Personhood comes through being able control how we act through our own choices, which we make freely, and in total awareness that we have this ability to make decisions (208). This corresponds to Aquinas’s definition of a person, for it implies the rational nature of a human. The problem with modern society and our government’s laws, morals, and philosophy, is that they have mistaken “personality” for “person” (213). Reichmann states that personality is what someone does, whereas a person is what someone is. According to Reichmann, “Personality is constituted by what one does; it is the product of one’s free activity”. Personality doesn’t determine what someone is. Personality creates a sort of label or title for a person based on the actions that they perform. Through habits and decisions someone might develop a certain personality; this personality defines who they are, but not what they are.
Our government looks at personhood like it is personality. In the case of abortion, because the child doesn’t perform certain actions or exude certain capabilities, they are labeled as “not a person”. Personhood doesn’t rely on a state of biological capabilities or come into being once certain stages of development have been met; it is not something that can be constituted by our bodies, nor is it not something that can be developed. What we must realize then is that all unborn human beings are of a rational nature. All unborn human beings are capable of making their own decisions, and they are able to be conscious of this fact. These statements may seem like they are easy to refute; do unborn babies reason? Do they make choices for themselves and could they be aware of this capability, should they have it? No, they do not. But we must remember that it is human nature—which sets us apart from the animals—that gives us the ability to rationalize and make choices. An unborn child is merely not exercising his own capacity to perform the functions that a more developed human can. But the capacity is there, as it is the baby’s nature as a human being to have a rational and volitional nature, for is not the creature in the womb of a fertilized woman a human?