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Pennsylvania “Abortion Mill”

Here is a story about a so called “abortion mill” in Pennsylvania where the doctor stands accused of aborting babies in the 6th, 7th and 8th month of pregnancy in a pretty gruesome way.

Irregardless of what your beliefs are on abortion, aborting babies that late (when they are almost irrefutably babies) is a tragedy.

I’m against abortion as a rule. Even in cases of rape the mother almost never decides to abort the baby, I can see it being allowed as a choice in that circumstance but its really seldom done and causes me very little concern. I think that both morally and economically it’s a poor practice. But this case brings up the age old question:

When is a fetus a human?

This ties in with some comments I recently made over at For the Sake of Science. The blogger, at least initially, was making the case that science could answer this question for us. A fetus, in the early stages, has no nervous system capable of human thought or expression and the mass of cells “bears no resemblance to anything we could study under the banner of psychology or any other science that is dependent upon human consciousness”. The conclusion drawn form that was that the fetus does not count as a human and is unwanted and therefore abortion is hunky dory.

I obviously didn’t disagree with those points as they are all true. I stuck with the idea that none of that information answers the question “at what point is a fetus a human life?”.

For me, as soon as it looks like a human it is one. There are no experiments needed, no tests of human consciousness, no evaluations of any kind. It has the general appearance of a human and so I think it is one. This stage is reached extremely quickly, arms, legs, head all develop pretty soon after conception. I wouldn’t endorse elective abortion before that point either but that’s not really the question here.

My whole point is that it’s a misapplication of science to try to use it to answer questions like this. It can certainly give you data from which you can make a determination but science cannot give us a list of requirements to determine what is human and what is not.

Scientific truths are meant to be applied uniformly. If a fully functioning nervous system is required to be human than there are a whole bunch of non humans walking around out there. If its permissible to end the lives of those non-humans than, well you get the idea.

That’s the problem with the “science says” argument when it come to the matter of abortion. You might say “the fetus is a parasite and the mother should have the right to get rid of it, your scenario is missing that.” But my scenario is not missing that. What of the severely disabled people my scenario encompasses? Are they not parasites? When they will have to live with their parents for their whole life, not being able to basically function on their own, should those parents have the ability to have them “removed”?

If science can answer the question of what is human and requires a fully functional nervous system than that has to be a uniform truth or it isn’t true. In my scenario its a mere “geography problem”.

In any case what re-started me on this was this case of the doctor aborting babies in the 3rd trimester, in this specific case by cutting their spinal cords with scissors after inducing labor. We would mostly all agree that that is heinous and in a perfect world he would get the death penalty for murder. Though some abortion proponents support allowing abortions up until the moment of birth.

I can only wonder how many great minds have been aborted since 1973. Was there a person who might have cured cancer in there?

The opposite is also true. Might a future Hitler or Stalin have been aborted?

The problem is futures were lost, we’ll never know what would have been if all those aborted had been allowed to be born, in many cases not allowed because of inconvenience. As if life could ever be considered inconvenient.

Humanity cannot be quantified in a lab, your priest is as qualified as a biologist is to say where humanity begins. The guy that sold you your coffee, equally qualified. So is each and every person to make that determination as in individual and hopefully, eventually as a country and society.

(I’m sure Michael will inform me if I have inadvertently misrepresented his thoughts here, thanks and sorry in advance if I have Michael!)

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. 2011/01/22 at 18:14

    The reality is that once we abandon an idea that life has inherent worth, all lines drawn to define when personhood begins are inherently arbitrary. The secular left cannot even begin to define when a person begins to exist, as PZ Myers demonstrates with theis response:

    Nope, birth is also arbitrary, and it has not been even a cultural universal that newborns are regarded as fully human.

    I’ve had a few. They weren’t.

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/12/rebuked_by_michael_egnor.php

    This is the reason doctors are sticking scissors in the spines of living babies outside the womb.

  2. 2011/01/22 at 18:20

    The reality is the secular left has no basis to determine when personhood begins, since as they themselves admit there view of it is neccesarily arbitrary. As PZ Myers admitted, Secular Leftists don’t even have a basis for calling newborns as fully human:

    Nope, birth is also arbitrary, and it has not been even a cultural universal that newborns are regarded as fully human.

    I’ve had a few. They weren’t.

    That is the reason doctors are sticking scissors in the spines of babies that are outside the womb.

  3. 2011/01/22 at 18:50

    There is never going to be a consensus on what defines a human. I wonder when PZ Myers would put the line 4 years, 5 years? 10? Only when they become atheists?

    I think it would be better for society to bolster the adoption system rather than have abortions.

  4. 2011/01/22 at 20:09

    I think there was a consensus on what defines a human but I think unfortunately as our society becomes more materialistic in it’s outlook and philosophy, the basis for that consensus erodes.

  5. 2011/01/23 at 01:40

    We set up the criteria that we consider a mass of cells needs to meet before being deemed human. Science is all that can inform of when that criteria is met. (Unless we’re positing a soul, in which case religion is silent on the issue as it has no methodology to add. To anything.)

  6. 2011/01/23 at 02:28

    We can set the physical criteria sure, but there’s a lot more than physical attributes to being human, ones that science can’t give us any data on.

  1. 2011/01/22 at 20:07

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