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Don’t Let’em De-Fetus

May 6, 2009

I knew right from the two second mark, that the video above, would NOT be a balanced sober and rational piece, but an emotionally overwrought, bleeding heart appeal to most unreasoned and irrational prejudiced that a mind, can muster. How could I tell? Because the soft melancholic piano in the background, is just the emotive, touchy feely, atmosphere most effective to coerce irrational, reactionary emotions, If you want someone to listen, think and reach an intelligent, unbiased conclusion you don’t plaster a video up to the gills, with syrupy, emotionally manipulative schlock. This really was just the most prime piece of loaded , preordained, melodramatic, navel gazing propaganda, you could ever hope to see.
The problem with the implications of the footage, lies in identifying precisely when life is thought to begin. The least rational will consider a fetus to be valuable life from any age, they might even include an undifferentiated fertilized egg. The absurdity, of the shameless propagandizing is revealed by the reference to those fetuses as babies. The late term pictures were admittedly quite disturbing and I wouldn’t have thought abortions were legal anywhere at that late stage. I can’t help wondering if they slipped in some still borns for dramatic effect of continuation down the slippery slope. Like wise the preoccupation with those tiny little limbs from which you could clearly make out hands with fingers.

We have natural instincts that can also be exploited by this kind of propaganda. we see the tiny hands and feet of a baby as signals which make it lovable and deserving of our affection and nurturing. The feeling that anything which has the tiny body parts of a human even extremely undeveloped, is likely to twinge those emotions as well.

The truth and problem is, that life doesn’t suddenly begin at any point.. And you can’t kill something until it can sensibly be said to have a life of it’s own. A fertilized egg is the basic beginnings of a human being we don’t call that thing a person or a baby, and it doesn’t have a heart, a spinal coulomb or a brain. Of course it doesn’t have a set of cute little hands either. That is more like what the emotional irrational instinct wants to identify as human, even if the other features are far more important as milestones. You could just as easily say the spine, at some particular particular stage it passes, would allow it to look elongated enough to mark the start of life. Or maybe when the first heartbeats can be detected. Others will say a baby does not qualify as living until it is apart from it’s mother and breathing independently.
Back at the earlier stages the appearance of a brain is another tempting milestone to call life. The undeveloped brain though, will have a long way to go and just because it has some brain tissue it certainly doesn’t demand that we attribute cognitive behavior, personality, awareness, and career aspirations.
As far as a rational realist is concerned, the cognitive functionality is the best developmental feature to identify life. I am referring to life as the cognitive experience of our self, rather than life in the other (biological) sense of anything living. Every tissue in the human body is living, that includes the developing fetus in a pregnant woman. The existence of a brain is no justification to herald the start of life. In fact the brain is at this stage, like any other organ being just more living tissue that is part of the whole fetus, a special kind of symbiotic growth that is still nevertheless a part of the woman. When the body develops the cute little hands and feet, the brain is still far from functional. Even if it were it couldn’t assimilate much in the womb.
The start of life for general purpose, is of course the birth itself. Even still, the newborn is a product of delayed development and the retention of infant traits (neoteny) and does much more of it’s developing as an infant after it is born. As a result it is far more dependent on parental care for every need. The baby still develops it’s neurology and cognitive skills for years, before it is really a complete human. Things always develop but, the human baby is much more of an incomplete creature even out of the womb.
There are those who will contend that a child needs to be given experiences and have the fully functioning brain to assimilate them and time to reflect compare and learn. At what age would you say a child achieves self awareness? I would say it is a gradual accomplishment, but by 5 the child is as self aware as some people ever become. Awareness of the world around us is also important. “I am a girl and I will skip” “Daddy is over there we will go to the shop soon'” Once a child has these faculties and awareness of the world as well as self. I would argue that it is a heinous crime to take life away.
But even a newborn child, is cognitively little more than a life support system for all of it’s sense detectors. His chubby little hand floats up in front of it’s own face and what does it think? :”What the hell is that thing?” “Hope it’s not a monster.” He doesn’t know the hand belongs to himself. The newborn baby doesn’t have aspirations or an understanding of anything, it knows some important senses, such as the taste of baby food and the discomfort of a wet nappy perhaps. Yet a bewildering myriad of sight sounds and sensations will for quite a while be an unrelated jumble of disjointed sense events. The baby doesn’t know what to make of it, Till sights and sounds begin to become familiar, in memory and sense data is reflected as reward or warning indicators. there will be no significant pattern built up. For a long time a baby is doing crude inference, that assimilates for familiarity and pleasure.

At this point I would argeue that a baby’s life is worth to itself, the sum of it’s understanding about life, the product of it’s awareness. It can’t value life any more than this. It doesn’t know ther will be a tomorow nor why there was a yesterday. It lives for the present moment. Yes, a baby has the potential of it’s whole life before it, but it doesn’t know that, and nor does it know what it might be missing if that future were taken from it.
What I suspect the baby’s future really represents, is our living vicariously in the future of our child. The child is part of our own legacy and our instincts allow us to sacrifice a lot, to carry the child through to adulthood. Our instincts also prime us to have an inordinate psychological investment in the child to protect it from harm and provide for its needs. As parent’s we must do this (if the child is to survive) because it lacks size strength and knowledge to protect itself or a means to fend. I believe that it is fending for a child and protecting it that places such huge revulsion and stigma on the death of a child. An adult is grieved and missed, but it is seen as practically unbearable misfortune. to loose a child. At the risk of sounding cynical, the angle does exist, that the adult who dies only looses it’s own life, but when the child dies it takes part of the lives of the parent with it, the vicarious part that they wanted to pass along to the child.
Our children don’t owe it to us to carry us vicariously into the future, it’s just human nature for us to see it that way. The behavior of child nurturing, makes plenty of sense for the child we have decided to raise and protect. But not everybody has the luxury or stability of planning to become a parent, so the instinct to rail against the pregnant woman aborting an unborn fetus from an unplanned/unwanted pregnancy of a future life, is somewhat disingenuous.

The problem that the anti-abortionist is failing to acknowledge, at least in this appalling, sensationalist video, is that for some women and couples, there never was a reservation made in their lives too become a parent. Some people consciously choose to go childless believe it or not. At one time a woman who got pregnant would have no choice but to become a parent. So they must have either remained abstinent or accepted the chance of accidental pregnancy and mother hood in the bargain, if it should happen by chance.

What shaming somebody to bare a child is likely to do, is make a woman, who may not be ready, or suitable, for the role of parenting, bound against her will, to a completely different life than she had planed. She may not cope with motherhood. She may resent the burden. Also her child may develop insecurities, lack strong parental influence. There may be many other unfortunate consequences of unplanned parenthood pregnancy, and ultimately the children may end up derelict antisocial and dysfunctional.

There may also be psychological burdens of guilt an shame for the stigma created. if the woman should stick to her guns and terminate the pregnancy. The burden I mention, is not actually her fault, if we refuse to buy into the anti abortion rhetoric. She may instead be worrying herself sick with guilt because the ill conceived anti-abortion lobby is proliferating the idea that a baby she never planed and probably cant cope with, deserves to be given a life.

So a growth without comprehension of it’s own existence, which is human in the same sense that my earlobes are human, gets terminated before it ever gets to be aware of it’s own existence. So consequently the fetus never becomes a baby and never fulfills the life which it was never privy too. There is absolutely no need for people to accept the obligation to become parents if they should accidentally become pregnant.

In the final scenes of this atrocious video the screen captions announce, that “1000000 abortions are performed every year, in the United States alone.” We are then invited to ponder: “What if you were one of those babies?” Bit of a dopey question on two levels really. “If I was one of those babies”? !!WHAT IF!!? What the hell do you think ‘if’? It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion. How many of those 1000000 fetuses, escape from the clinic and find themselves another nice womb to gestate in? Then it asks another question “Would you choose life for yourself?” Huh!!? You mean aborted babies can still choose life themselves? Well let me see now Umm. I’d have to think about it really. I am being invited to take my 43 year old mind, back to before the time I was born, and use it with the full benefit of hindsight, knowing as I do what it means to have a life and decide if I would want to continue as I actually did.

I think we can safely say, that the vast majority of aborted fetuses don’t go contemplaing (more than forty years after the event) whether they might choose to be terminated. The general effect of termination, is that it would prevent such a person from existig as the one doing the post-facto retro. The good news is that they wouldn’t know any better because they never would have existed. Don’t take it from me though. Ask a fetus. The fact that forty three years separates me from my prenatal fetus, is what makes it possible for me to contemplate this dilemma, and find that I would not be in any position to make such a choice. You can’t give a fetus hypothetical hindsight and regard the moral choice as being equivalent.

The opportunity for human lives to be fulfilled, begins with people who decide that for themselves, a child would be a goal of fulfillment. The fulfillment of the child’s life needs to be synchronized with the fulfillment of the parent. The right to life has to be considered from both viewpoints, and then compared against the disadvantages of being a parent with an unplanned child, and a child who is unplanned, possibly unwanted. You can’t expect everybody else to want something, just because you do.

The comparisons of abortion with murder, or even terminating a life that is supposed to have some right to exist are extremely absurd. If the potential life of a human is to be entertained as a right that is being withdrawn by abortion, then the same right is being withdrawn every time we take a birth control pill or use a condom. By that metric, failing to have sex at every possible opportunity, could deprive many unborn children, of a life they have a right to live.

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