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Abortion and How We Got Sidetracked v4
by Stephen Williamson
1/07/2016 / Politics
When we think about the morality of abortion, most people's instinct is to judge by sight. "Out of sight, out of mind." Then, if we pry deeper and try to get a picture of a fetus, we still judge by sight. "Is it human?" However, judging by inward qualities puts these responses in a different light. Suddenly, "out of sight, out of mind" is unthinkable, because we are looking for a person, and "Is it human?" is a whole different question, because we then have to examine our own humanity. Let us explore a little of what changes when we look on the inside.
We will begin by taking a hard look at the debate. We are trying very hard to answer whether a fetus is of the same class as an adult human; this is a ridiculous approach, thoughwe should be asking what class a human is. Let us look at an example: the acorn. If we asked an equivalent question of this other species, it might sound something like "Is the acorn an oak tree?". If we set aside for a moment how irrational this sounds and take it seriously, we find that we have no way of answering the question, for if it is not an oak tree, we are then tasked with identifying the stage that it truly becomes an oak tree, and this is completely arbitrary. Is it an oak tree when it first breaks out of the acorn with roots? If so, does that mean that anything with roots is an adult plant? Is it an oak tree when a shoot first breaks out of the ground? If so, does this mean something can be a tree without branches? Is it an oak tree when the first leaf grows? If so, then do oak trees stop being oak trees when they lose their leaves in fall? We are being inundated by unanswerable questions because we insist on judging by things on the outside.
However, what does reason tell us? It tells us something that we never hear in the confines of the debate over abortion: that if we want to know whether it is like us, we need to ask not whether it looks or acts like us in some critical way, but rather, whether we used to look like that. We need to ask whether we, at any point in our lives, used to look like a fetus. This leads us to transcend the event of birth and follow the person back as far as we can. Asking whether a fetus is human, that is, whether a fetus looks like us, is a trap.
Additionally, what does science tell us? It tells us another thing that we never hear in the debate over abortion: that when the sperm cell fertilizes the egg cell, a new life is formed. This new life has its own DNA, and self-directing behavior and growth, all independent of the mother, who only provides nutrients. Birth does not create new life, reproduction does.
In conclusion, contrary to what we hear in the convoluted debates, our humanity is actually something on the inside. We often try to ask whether a fetus is human, but we are then tracing our lives in the wrong direction; we need to ask whether we were once a fetus. We also often try to ask whether life begins at birth or conception, but then we are searching through events rather than looking for signs of life. Our humanity is something on the inside; tragically, we forget this in the clever side discussions that defenders of abortion lure us into.
By an ordinary writer who wants people to know the truth.
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