Is a Fetus a Full Fledged Member of the Human Community?


Here again, Pastor Hickey (at Voices Carry) and I will disagree, but as he’s called my logic flawed, I’ll call him back. I’m sorry if my discussion here doesn’t match up with Planned Parenthood’s “talking points,” but I haven’t read them, though Hickey accuses me of parroting them.

I’m simply a woman who has lived life and made good choices and bad ones, and I prefer to own my own body, not have it enslaved to the state or religious groups or a partner or husband or anyone else. Initiated Measure 11 is a slave law, and its implication is that women’s bodies are not their own.

As part of his argument that abortion is wrong, Hickey states the following as a basis (borrowed from Francis Beckwith, Professor of Philosophy and Jurisprudence at Baylor):

The unborn entity, from the moment of conception, is a full-fledged member of the human community.

No. In order to be a full-fledged member of the human community, one must function and/or fulfill some role in that community. A fetus does not. A blastocyst most certainly does not.

The eligibility of that fetus to become a full member of the human community, barring unforeseen complications, gets decided by its mother. And that’s been considered the good and natural thing and right thing for thousands of years because she’s the one who has the most responsibility to guide and feed and take care of that member of the human community.

If you want to say that the moment of conception is the moment when a person is formed, why not go back further? Start saving your sperm in the freezer, Hickey–every one is precious! We’d better start monthly mourning sessions, too, for every egg that goes unfertilized in every fourteen-year-old girl who’s not having babies one on top of another, wearing out her body to deliver “God’s Gifts” into the world.

But seriously.

I know it’s hard for some to accept that women have this awesome power of decision making over their own bodies and fertility, but the reason they have that awesome power is that they have that awesome responsibility.

Though Hickey claims there’s no study to prove (as I said in my earlier post) that abortion bans reduce the number of abortions, there is, in fact, a World Health Organization Study that says just that:

“We now have a global picture of induced abortion in the world, covering both countries where it is legal and countries where laws are very restrictive,” Dr. Paul Van Look, director of the W.H.O. Department of Reproductive Health and Research, said in a telephone interview. “What we see is that the law does not influence a woman’s decision to have an abortion. If there’s an unplanned pregnancy, it does not matter if the law is restrictive or liberal.” [Rosenthal New York Times 12 October 2007]

However, if an abortion ban did reduce the numbers of abortions, as Hickey believes, it would simply increase the numbers of unwanted children, as well as poverty rates, need for social services, and a higher tax burden. Sounds like a great society to me….

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21 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by solar1 on August 16, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    I disagree, at the moment of conception a human is created. Check the DNA, it doesn’t change as you get older.

    You say:

    “The eligibility of that fetus to become a full member of the human community, barring unforeseen complications, gets decided by its mother”

    So you have the right to decide whether or not the unborn child has a right to be a member of the community. This statement (unless you wish to amend it) would mean that you can decide that any child under your care is subject to your decision on whether it can be a productive child or not. Spartan women did this too, they left weak newborns out in the hills overnight to die.

    If you really don’t want your child, put it up for adoption.

  2. Posted by flyingtomato on August 16, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    Sperm has DNA too. So does an egg. Better save room in your freezer for all those full fledged members of the human community.

    I do not wish to amend my statement. The fetus’ eligibility to become a full fledged member of the human community gets decided by its mother. Your further statement about determining the eligibility of newborns is, of course, incorrect, and illegal. We also have a lot better medicine now, and ways to determine the health of an infant in the womb.

    I’ll ignore the cheap shot at the end of your comment.

  3. Posted by solar1 on August 16, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Both sperm and egg have DNA, but only half of the DNA a human has.

    Murdering infants like I stated in the above comment was legal in the ancient times and was “…considered the good and natural thing and right thing for thousands of years…”. I have taken that quote out of context, but it works good there, don’t you think?

    By the phrase “If you really don’t want your child, put it up for adoption.” I meant women considering abortions, not you personally. No offense meant, sorry for any you might have taken.

  4. Yes it is.

    From my book, Pray Before You Vote!
    Chapter 2: What issues are important to God?

    Jeremiah 1:4 – 5
    “From a Biblical perspective the book of Jeremiah and the book of Psalms tells us,’ More importantly, God reveals to us in His Word that not only does life begin at conception, but He knows who we are even before then (Jeremiah 1:5). King David said this about God’s role in our conception:’ ‘For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb….Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them’ Psalm 139:13, 16).” 2

    On Bible.com we are given an example of how the law was interpreted in the Word of God. “In Exodus 21:22 God gives a specific law regarding social order for the Israelites. He stated that if two men were fighting and hit a pregnant woman, thus causing her to give birth prematurely; they must be fined according to any damage done to the baby. The fine must be paid in relation to the amount of damage inflicted upon the child. If God would make a law specifically referring to the rights of the unborn, then surely the unborn must mean something to Him!” 3

    The law allows you to have an abortion up to and including three months. The question that arises is when does life begin. Does life begin when the child is born into the world or does life begins when at conception? Science tells us that life begins “A new individual human being begins at fertilization, when the sperm and ovum meet to form a single cell. “4 Also, there are tremendous psychological effects of having an abortion.
    “Clinical research provides a growing body of scientific evidence that having an abortion can cause psychological harm to some women. “Women who report negative after-effects from abortion know exactly what their problem is,” observed psychologist Wanda Franz, Ph.D., in a March 1989 congressional hearing on the impact of abortion. “They report horrible nightmares of children calling them from trash cans, of body parts, and blood,” Franz told the Congressional panel. “When they are reminded of the abortion,” Franz testified, “the women re-experienced it with terrible psychological pain … They feel worthless and victimized because they failed at the most natural of human activities — the role of being a mother.”” Also, “Researchers on the after-effects of abortion have identified a pattern of psychological problems known as Post-Abortion Syndrome (PAS). Women suffering PAS may experience drug and alcohol abuse, personal relationship disorders, sexual dysfunction, repeated abortions, communications difficulties, damaged self-esteem, and even attempt suicide. Post-Abortion Syndrome appears to be a type of pattern of denial which may last for five to ten years before emotional difficulties surface.’4
    These are examples of the psychological issues that can occur when having an abortion. Since God has given us a sound mind and He is not the author of confusion, then this cannot be of God. If you have had an abortion this chapter is not to condemn you but to let you know that God is a forgiving God and the book of Hosea says that my people suffer because of lack of knowledge. We must be educated in the Word. God is a restoring God and He is the God of a second chance. He has given me many. To back it up with scripture, we have to go to the Word of God to determine when life begins.
    The wound of a woman is only an incubator that supports the growth of the child before it is brought into this world. Some seem to think that because a baby has not been fully manifested to the natural world the baby is not a living being with a spirit.2
    What is the motive behind abortion? We are being selfish when we choose to abort our children. God told us to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:22). While America is choosing to kill its babies, other countries are continuing to multiply. Where the United States was once the majority, other countries are continuing to grow. Many use the phrase that God has given us a free will.
    While God gave us a free will, will we use that free will to kill and violate His laws? His laws were put in place so we would prosper and have a long life. Deuteronomy 6:2 “That you may [reverently] fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, and keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.” (Amplified)

    One of the ten commandments is “Thou shalt not kill”. Since life begins at conception then a baby is alive at 1 day, 1 month, 2 months, 3 months and so on. Legislation has allowed us to kill a baby up to and including 3 months old. If legislation permits it, does that mean we should ignore what the word of God says? If the Bible says thou shalt not kill and the law says it’s okay to kill, which do we obey? The law should not override the word of God. The Bible says that we will be judged according to our works. Are we willing to let the earthly law dictate how we should follow God’s law? While we have legislation in place because God allows us to make our own decisions and we have a free will, our will should be to choose the will of God.

  5. I’m aware of the World Health Organization “study” you site. But, remember, Planned Parenthood propaganda isn’t welcome in the conversation over at my blog because it’s impossible for them to be unbiased because they profit from abortion into the hundreds of millions of dollars. And it’s not secret that Planned Parenthood and the World Health Organization are yoked at the hip in a mutual alliance against the unborn. These are the same groups of people with the same ideologies and the same financial benefit. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Planned_Parenthood_Federation

    I remember a number of years ago when my grandmother ceased to fill any role in the human community – just a vegetable for a few years. She’d cease being “human” under your definition. Your ideas have scary consequences and implications if thought through.

    Solar 1 makes an important point about your views. What if the mother doesn’t decide the question of the unborn child’s eligibility until year one or two of the child’s life? Don’t just say it’s illegal and therefore irrelevant. Forget what the law says now, at what point does the mothers opinion no longer matter to you and the child assume a right to life of it’s own under law?

    Your comments about sperm having DNA are bizarre. Unlike 1973 when the question of when life began was only answerable by philosophers and theologians, today molecular biologists know with certainly the very point at which an embryo takes on it’s own unique DNA separate from either parent. In the recent 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Informed Consent ruling the Court (7-4) said Planned Parenthood produced NO evidence (not some unconvincing evidence, but no evidence) contrary to the statement that, biologically speaking, at conception, a separate unique living human being comes into existence. You can talk all day about women’s rights, but they do not trump the rights of another human being, at least under the US Constitution.

  6. Posted by flyingtomato on August 16, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    (These last two are certainly lengthy comments, and would be better as posts on your own blogs. Please try to limit your comments to a concise paragraph or two.)

    I am not interested in whether mention or discussion of Planned Parenthood is welcome or not on your blog–Mr. Hickey, you were the one who brought them up, not me. Wikipedia is not a scholarly research resource.

    In our culture, we generally make the decision to carry or terminate a pregnancy in the first trimester. A mother’s opinion is her own business, not mine, but at year one or two, it would not be an unborn child, unless your people have an unusually long gestation period.

    As far as the law–it seems strange to ask me to forget it and then to again invoke it at the end of the sentence.

    Your ideas also have scary consequences, though you seem to believe that all those problems will magically be resolved if you win your crusade.

    [Addition] Fully-fledged means “having reached full development; mature. An embryo, by definition, is not fully developed or mature. The fully-fledged argument is not mine, it’s Mr. Hickey’s, borrowed from a Baylor University Professor, as his taking-religion-out-of-the-mix-abortion-is-logically-wrong argument. My purpose is simply to refute that particular argument. [definition from the American Heritage Dictionary, 2nd College Edition, 1991.]

    In terms of “Pray Before You Vote,” I think it wiser to think, read, and learn all you can about the issue and its ramifications rather than rely on a book that has gone through innumerable translations, additions, and deletions throughout its history, based on the whims of those in power.

  7. Posted by Claire on August 16, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    To all the people commenting about their deep desire and God-given directive to remove my ability to have a medical procedure and force pregnant women to have unwanted children with the attitude of “choose adoption”, please state for me the number of non-white or disabled children you have adopted thus far. Thanks.

  8. Posted by William Beal on August 16, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    “In order to be a full-fledged member of the human community, one must function and/or fulfill some role in that community”

    I guess my mother wouldn’t have met YOUR personal definition of personhood during the last year of her life. She was certainly limited in her abilities and really didn’t fulfill a role in the “human community” (whatever THAT is…). I’ll agree with Pastor Steve, your logic (what there is of it) is extremely flawed and by your own definition, you must see no difference between abortion or the extermination of any “undesirables” that don’t fulfill a role in your “human community”.

    At least you’re true to your roots. Margaret Sanger certainly had no use for minorities or other “undesirables” and thought forced sterilization and abortions were the “progressive” means to eliminate their propagation.

    If you think through your definition, to it’s logical conclusion, I don’t think you’ll condone the results. At least, I certainly hope you don’t.!

  9. Posted by Claire on August 16, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    Just for fun, I’ll throw in my view on the line for abortion. I think abortion is completely moral up until the point where, if born, the fetus could survive on its own (provided some grown person were available to feed and care for it). At that point, I would consider it to be a living person instead of a potentially living person.

  10. Posted by William Beal on August 17, 2008 at 12:07 am

    So Claire,

    I can only conclude you’re not voting for Obama in the upcoming election.

    “Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) portrays himself as a thoughtful Democrat who carefully considers both sides of controversial issues, but his radical stance on abortion puts him further left on that issue than even NARAL Pro-Choice America.”

    http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=18647

  11. Posted by flyingtomato on August 17, 2008 at 8:24 am

    Mr. Beal–

    The “full-fledged member of the human community” is not my argument, it is Pastor Hickey’s. By definition (full-fledged means mature), a blastocyst, an embryo, and/or a fetus are not full-fledged members of the human community.

    It is not my argument that would should have the choice to exterminate any non-contributing members of society, only that Mr. Hickey’s borrowed “logical argument” that a fetus is a full fledged member of the human community (therefore abortion is wrong) is simply incorrect.

  12. Posted by August on August 17, 2008 at 9:51 am

    Alcoholics, criminals, sadists, gamblers, con-artists, dishonest buinessmen, fumblers mumblers and flying tomatoes …. non of these are full-fledged (mature) members of the human community. Hey, I might not be very mature myself but as a society we should have respect for our fellow human beings and also animals and plants. The weakest and most vulnerable members of our society should have the most protection.

  13. Posted by flyingtomato on August 17, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Might I add to the list people who believe in a mystical, all-powerful man in the sky ? I like fairy tales, too, but do not take them as truth, only metaphor, and certainly don’t believe they should direct our public policy.

    Anyhow, once again, the “full fledged” argument is Hickey’s, not mine.

    But thanks for your comments.

  14. Posted by Claire on August 17, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Wow, it’s getting a little catty in here 🙂 Anyways, so far, no adopters of the minorities or disabled among our anti-abortion posters…

    As far as my vote, if I were to vote for Obama, it would only be because I think 4 to 8 years of an educated black man as President would do more good for the black community at large than anything else anyone could do or has done. It wouldn’t have a thing to do with his policies.

    If I were to vote on the abortion issue when casting a vote for President (which I was never inclinded to do until I saw what a mess Bush has made of the Supreme Court so far), I would vote for McCain. I’m just barely old enough to have voted for him in the Republican Primary in 2000 and he was well on his way to winning. He lost it because he pissed off the anti-abortion folks by saying in an interview (when asked if his daughter wanted an abortion what would he say) that he would discuss it with her and support her decision as it is a personal, private matter/decision. This is a position that I fully agree with. Despite his pro-abortion stance now, it seems to me that the anti-abortion folks remember the same thing I do because they aren’t endorsing him thus far! I believe he gave an honest answer in 2000 but knows it was what ended his candidacy then and is saying what he needs to say now to get elected. Lying to get elected may not be moral, but I’m pretty sure both of them are liars. If I vote on issues this cycle, I’ll vote McCain; if I vote for the long term betterment of race relations and strengthening the black community by showing a generation of young black men that they can be president, not just rappers and athletes or felons, I’ll vote Obama.

  15. Posted by flyingtomato on August 18, 2008 at 7:08 am

    I registered democrat this year–have been independent for most of my voting years.

    I wouldn’t vote for McCain for a lot of reasons–but if all other things were equal, I wouldn’t vote for him simply because he publicly called his wife a “trollop” and a “c*nt.” I don’t think that’s OK privately either, but to do it in public is beyond the pale.

    I find it hard to believe someone like that is the person we want endorsing “family values”–though that phrase has always struck me as code for, “we hate single moms, gays, and lesbians” anyhow.

  16. Posted by Claire on August 18, 2008 at 9:17 am

    Yeah, insulting one’s wife publicly is definitely not good for the family values position. I remember he called asians “gooks” publically in 2000 cycle as well, which I was willing to overlook because of his personal war experiences. It is a weird cycle this year since the Dem is definitely the more religious/family values candidate. Yeah, “family values” definitely means something else. I’ve always wondered why gay marriage is fought against as destabilizing to marriage, but they aren’t out in force trying to outlaw divorce.

  17. Posted by redhatterb on August 18, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    Hickey says PPs words are their own agenda or something——what does he call his? I grew up before Roe v Wade, overheard a lot of conversations about the horrors of back alley abortions. For the pro-.life people whe say carry the fetus to term and put it up for adoption. In a lot of cases people would face a lot of harrassment from family and friends. I also feel that the people that want a family for the sake of having a family should be willing to adopt some of these older children that are waiting to be adopted. But all they are interested in is a cute, cuddly baby. I have a niece that has had two miscarriages and has been approved for adoption but she isn’t willing to adopt an older child, she wants a baby and is going to Siberia to get it. She is also a born again Christian.

  18. Posted by Matt on August 19, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    I always get exasperated at those who say that the other option is to “put your child up for adoption” as if there’s this great holding pen with all these unwanted children and young couples are coming in hordes to pick them up. Both of my sisters are adopted, and while I know my folks are staunchly anti-abortion, I always recall my mother telling me of going to an orphanage in India and seeing the multitudes of children, many of them reaching up to her, wanting somewhere, anywhere to call home and be loved. The reality is that many of these children are never adopted, especially since many who can afford to adopt are set on “a baby”. So many of these children grow up without that family unit we hold up as essential for ideal development. I can’t state with any sureness to their quality of life, but to those who say “forgo the abortion and just put ’em up for adoption,” i ask, have you adopted any of those unwanted children? when you make such sweeping, so-called problem-solved statements, how much do you really know about those children, and would you be willing to be in their place?

  19. Posted by solar1 on August 23, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    In India, what you say about orphanages are true. In America, it is not. Many people are adopting from other nations, like my Aunt and Uncle did, because of the amount of children in the orphanages of other nations versus the amount in our own. And it is always better to be alive in an orphanage than be dead.

    This is not the solution to a problem, but it is alot better than the alternative. The real solution is not to get pregnant as a teen in the first place, through abstinence.

  20. Posted by Matt on August 23, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    abstinence is a suggestion that’s not likely to work, solar1. c’mon. be realistic. teens have sex. always have, always will, even the good christian teens have sex, and all the scare tactics in the world won’t change them from following through on a natural impulse. and some of them will become pregnant and unable to support a child. i’m not saying abortion is always the answer, just as adoption is not always a plausible option. you seem to be pretty sure that it’s “always” better to be alive in an orphanage than to be dead. i’m not convinced that it is, mainly because I have no real frame of reference, much as I suspect you don’t. It’s never pure black or pure white.

  21. Posted by solar1 on August 24, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    I didn’t say the solution was an easy one to enact. I just said it was the solution, which it is. This is the only solution that will really work, the best way to solve these problems.

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