I’ve written about it before, and I thought that was all I could say on the topic, but leave it to recent events to tweak my logic receptors off the charts. There are several logical fallacies on either side, granted, but the ones that irritate me the most are pro-choice.
From an article in the Washington Post (online) on why this soon-to-be doctor would be performing abortions in her practice (go ahead and read it, I’ll wait):
I was 14 years old when that clinic was bombed, killing a police officer and spraying Emily’s body full of hot nails and shrapnel. Back then, I lived in a small Alabama town, went to church every Sunday and was adamantly opposed to abortion…
"That’s horrible," I reply, "Such a tragedy for that poor woman who was a victim of an abortion clinic bombing. There are certainly some wackos out there. I hope they rot in jail for their crimes. But I have to ask, why does this make you think performing abortions is a good thing? So some wacko bombed an abortion clinic, and you said to yourself, "I’m convinced, let’s do some abortions." I ask for rationality’s sake, because I’m not following your argument."
I read the entire article. Ms. Love seems to be a thoughtful person, a decent person. I’m not knocking her intentions, nor her conscience. I’m kickin’ it to her logic. Here’s another gem:
One friend begged me to help her concoct a legitimate-sounding excuse — painful or irregular periods, say — for why she needed to be on birth control. No one could know the real reason: She was sexually active and didn’t want to get pregnant.
Her point, using the ever helpful friend scenario, was that people were kept ignorant by the bible thumping masses, that they didn’t know about their own biological reproductive systems, that they couldn’t get the pill or condoms. First, I don’t think in this day and age, that these anecdotal stories should be the basis of public policy, but again I’d like to know what this has to do with abortion?
It wasn’t until I spent time in ultrasound rooms during a research job in graduate school that I began to see late-trimester abortions in a very different light. In one case, the patient’s baby had just been diagnosed with a lethal congenital anomaly. The high likelihood was that it wouldn’t survive after birth for more than a few minutes. As long as the baby remained in her mother’s womb, however, she would live. I asked the physician what this woman’s options were. The answer was, not many. She could choose to continue the pregnancy, but then she might be waiting for almost 20 more weeks to give birth to a baby that would never take more than a few breaths on its own. She was past the point where she could legally terminate the pregnancy in Alabama.
Instead of evaluating these issues on a case by case basis, she’d be more willing to say that now she favors late term abortions. I’d wager that late term abortions are rare and heart wrenching in any scenario, but here we have another logical fallacy, or at least a conclusion being made with a very small data set, and it leaves out something very important.
The little baby was forgotten, malformed or not, wanted or not, imperfect or not. That little baby was everything it was going to be at the moment of conception. You hear that? Conception. It’s not magic, breath of God, type stuff. It’s simple biology.
When my children were born (all four of them), they were locked in at the moment of conception. Jaimito became Jaimito at the point. Olaia became Olaia. Javier, loud as he is, was Javier. And little sweet Asier was nothing more and nothing less than Asier at the moment of conception. What else could they have been? Somebody show me how that little embryo could have turned out to be something other than what it was unless someone intervened?
I have the benefit of hindsight, of course. I didn’t know what my children would be like until they were born, but that doesn’t change their history. Just because I was not privy to their uniqueness in utero, doesn’t mean they weren’t unique and special. I can step their biological development back to that point, start it up again, and they would still be them. Before conception? They didn’t exist in a fixed format. There is no beginning point. Statistics and probability govern their futures before conception. No one can say what would have happened if conception had occurred an instant before or an instant after.
No, it is at the moment of conception, that their being, their essence was fixed. I can’t and won’t debate souls, or magic pixie dust, or legalities, because I find no value in proving the existence of a soul, nor am I a lawyer. All I can say is what I know – that at the moment the sperm fertilized the egg, each of their little lives was on a irrevocable march through life and onward to natural death.
In our society, a society that cares about whales, stray dogs, and trees, I find it hard to reconcile the absolute rights of a woman with a basic right to live, to breathe. If a gestating human is not a person, what is it? At what point does it become something other than what it is? Is it magic when it passes the birth canal? If it is a person today, what was it yesterday?
If a doctor’s first duty is to do no harm, how do we reconcile human rights with what a mother wants?