This is an emotionally charged and important issue that needs careful consideration from all angles.
Personally, should I find myself with child, I would do anything it took to preserve that life–so in that regard, I consider myself to be pro-life. However, I do recognize that there are terrible circumstances where an abortion may be the best course of action in order to reduce harm, and because of that, abortion needs to be legal. A total ban on abortion is not a reasonable position.
(Yes, I realize that I’ve just made a huge claim here, and what follows can’t be considered a well-thought out article yet. It’s something I’ve given a lot of thought to though, and I intend to come back and write more on the subject, but I find myself distracted at the moment.)
8/26/2016 – Yesterday a friend of mine and I were discussing the issue of abortion. He is a particularly thoughtful person, even keeled, and a carfeful considerer. He’s one of the few people I know that can rationally discussion abortion without appealing to emotion–understandably, on this topic, that is extremely difficult to do.
He asked me, “When does the sperm and egg become a human life?”
I said, “the very second it becomes four cells, it’s a human. You can test the four cells for DNA, and it will be human DNA.”
He counters, “You can swab the inside of your cheek for cells. Are each of those cells a separate human being? Because they contain DNA. How about a human ear grown in a medium? It has human DNA, is a collective of cells, is it therefore a human being with all the rights accorded to it?”
After giving it some thought, here’s what I came up with:
“I heard this metaphorical question once: Say there’s a ship. Over time, if the ship is repaired and every single piece is replaced once, is it still the same ship as it was in the beginning? Usually this question is posed as a metaphor for the human body because our cells are dying off and regenerating all the time. The physical form of “me” that exists now is a completely different “me” than existed 20 years ago.
So to answer your question about the ear, and the cheek cells–If you take a ship that is fully built and you pull a plank off of it, that plank is not considered a “ship”.
- So in the process of building a ship, when is it considered a ship? You’ve got a pile of planks and rope, that’s not a ship yet.
- You’ve got the frame built, but it doesn’t float–that’s not a ship yet either.
- I suppose it’s not a ship until it floats and sails.
- And it can’t sail until it’s being commanded by a brain, and that’s its human owner.
- So it’s not a human life until it has a brain.
In the case of a fetus, we maybe can’t know exactly when it develops a consciousness of it’s surroundings, but we can probably tell when neural activity starts, and that’s a maximum of 8 weeks in.”
We went on from there, but I wanted to share that ship metaphor.
Links for Further Reading:
Image source: galaxies and hurricanes