“It is just unfortunate, that she hasn’t learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters.” – Rick Perry
Rick Perry said that at the National Right to Life Conference (I wonder if the National Right to Life Conference is anti-death penalty?) about Senator Wendy Davis after her marathon 13 hour stall for time (AKA a filibuster) last week.
At the core of this argument is an idea of “What if you never existed? WHAT IF YOU WERE THAT BABY!”
Now this is seen as a “killer question”, a question akin to my “Explain Human Immunity” one to the anti-vaccine quack lobby which is meant to cause anyone subject to it from a pro-choice standpoint to lose.
And that’s because it’s a complex answer. The question is a few words, the answer is an essay.
The reason why it’s hard to answer is because you have to delineate your argument according to different points in your life. The you of today is different from the you of zygote/embryo/foetus.
A zygote/embryo/foetus is a human in potential. It CAN become human if it continues. It has the potential. However it is not that. It is at the time entirely reliant on a mother.
Let us remember that only 30 to 50% of fertilised eggs result in a pregnancy. The rest either fail to implant or miscarry. Now ask yourself the question, what if the egg before yours implanted. What if your egg failed to implant or was miscarried? Want to ask yourself more questions? Out of the 4 to 8 million sperm per mm3 of ejaculate, why did just one make it? You are literally 1 in 10s of millions to begin with, what if another sperm won that first race?
For starters? You wouldn’t notice. The pro-life argument works under the notion that you actually had the consciousness you have now at the time of conception which is blatantly not true considering babies are not born “conscious” and have to develop further in order to even recognise people by sight. It is a bundle of reflexes. It slowly learns and develops and in fact it learns from watching parents. I have written about how nearly every language thinks mum and dad are the first words of a baby when in fact it is the first words we assign to random noises babies make.
In any of these cases, YOU the person you are now would cease to have ever existed. In your place someone else may exist or may not exist. Life would be different for those you know in some small way and people who your life touched will probably never have those experiences.
Sad right? But that could happen due to ANY decision in your life. What if Avicenna went to Uni in the UK? You wouldn’t be reading my blog! What if I wanted to be a priest? You defiinitely won’t be reading my blog!
Let’s take Rick Perry. Rick Perry is of the notion that the precise genetics that make him up matter. In the majority of cases they do not. If we cloned Hitler and raised him to be kind, courteous and to be the best he could be, then he would be nothing like his “evil” genetic source. The person you are is not determined by your foetal time unless you have a genetic issue. Most of us do not and are not affected by issues from this period.
The foetus is a person in potential. If it is aborted, then that foetus didnt’ matter. If it is carried to term it is the framework and foundation of a human being.
Now there is the problem of the focus on an entity that for all intents and purpose is a collection of cells instead of the genuine human being carrying it and this argument relies on the notion that you see all foetuses as humans rather than remember they are human only in potential.
Oh you can listen to anecdotes. I was born to this family and had these terrible circumstances and ended up fine. Never mind the statistics! I beat the statistics! My parents worked 2 jobs to keep me! I am so proud of that.
Why? Why are you proud that your parents had to work to death to keep you in spuds? Surely if you were a foetus with no mind of it’s own and had no future you would want your parents to not have to work to death to keep you? What about people who cannot work more than what they do?
What if you bring a child into suffering? Where you take a human in potential and convert it into a human with no certain future?
It is known that parents who can select and control when they have a child are universally healthier. They tend to be more secure financially and require less state care. In addition the children tend to be better raised.
So what if my mother aborted me?
Well if my mother had waited a year, she would have aborted me. You see my mother contracted Rubella after I was born. German Measles. For those who are unaware? German Measles is a harmless disease unless you are a foetus in which case it causes a variety of congenital disorders. The recommendation is abortion.
I would cease to have existed, my achievements would not have occurred and I would not have made a mark on humanity of any sort. No one would weep or cry for my non-existence because I would NEVER have existed. Just like the millions of futures that cease to exist through every conscious decision in my life. In short? I would not even notice my lack of existence just as the conscious decisions I make with regards to coming to India means that the future of me doing something else in the UK doesn’t exist. That Avicenna is “dead”.
That zygote/embryo/foetus being terminated is like that. The cells are jettisoned, the potential to be a human is lost just as surely as it would if the mother had miscarried. It’s no different from it. There is no hypothetical future for this because a future because we aren’t mind readers. We cannot say that this foetus will grow up to be a Hitler and this will grow up to be a Gandhi.
But through all this we never think of the mother. What is her potential? Why must a potential human hold back the actions of a real one? Surely the potential of a zygote would improve if the mother could control when she wanted to deliver a child. After all, a 16 year old dropping out of school to care for a kid has infinitely worse prospects than a 28 year old with an education and a set career to care for a child. If we are talking about potential? Then why should a mother be forced to raise a zygote with worse future potential than one with a superior potential? Why must she struggle to bring up a child in sub par conditions when a simple termination of the child at a stage when the child is nothing but non-functional cells may result in a future child being born under better conditions?
To claim that abortion robs this hypothetical child of a future and that this hypothetical child may go on to great things is to forget that delivery of this foetus will rob the future of the mother and indeed another child who may have a “better future” and also go on to great things.
There is a fascination with the anecdote of a “poor child from a bad background done good” and this anecdote forgets that for every child that does good there are plenty of other children who simply fall into the cracks of society under the same circumstances.
Let’s put real humans in front of potential ones. Especially if we are discussing potential of a bunch of cells.