I happened to tune in to Christian talk radio during the drive home last night, and they were all abuzz about the Royal Baby. Apparently, the British and American press have been referring to it as the Royal Baby since before it was born. And that’s supposed to prove that it’s always been a baby, and not a fetus, or zygote, or fertilized egg.
The call-in guest was a faculty member at some conservative Christian college, and he’d just written a book (go figure, eh?), and he and the talk show host kept circling around and around the same point: that a lot of people called it a baby, and therefore it was a baby. They didn’t seem to have much more to say than that, so they just kept repeating the idea phrased in different ways, interspersed with listing all the people and organizations they could think of who also called it a baby. They did neglect to mention any of the people who referred to it as a baby before Kate was even pregnant.
It made me wonder: how many people would have to call Jesus a pedophile before Jesus actually became a pedophile? If you’re going to buy into the idea that you can change what something is just by changing what you call it, then we could make Jesus be whatever we want, right?
Noticeably absent from the Christian talk radio show was any discussion of what a zygote and fetus really are. They didn’t indulge in even the most trivial examination of what the characteristics of a fertilized egg are, and what the characteristics of a person are, and why it might be more accurate to describe an unformed child as the former rather than the latter. The whole discussion was centered on the contents of people’s minds, where people decide, subjectively, what they want to name things.
And that, in a nutshell, is what’s wrong with the pro-life movement. They ignore the physically-real characteristics that are most relevant to the discussion (including the fact that, hello, there’s a woman here who is a real person with real human rights). They make moral decisions, which they impose on others, on the basis of personal subjective preferences.
In a free society, the rights of the individual person must be given priority over the rights of the subjective preferences of others. Merely deciding to call something by a certain name doesn’t give you the right to treat people as criminals just because they don’t treat your names as infallibly true. If a careful and accurate examination of the facts gives you a basis for your laws, that’s one thing. But to condemn people over an arbitrary name, while ignoring the relevant facts, is bigoted and unjust.