Tuesday, February 7, 2012

In Response

I recently had a discussion with someone who was pro-abortion-choice. I wish to publish part of my own words in the discussion here because of the highly informative facts contained therein.

Topics touched were of mother and unborn as separate human beings, placenta as a pseudo-organ of the unborn, role of hormones in pregnancy, problems with vague definitions of personhood, conception as the start of a human being's life, and the fact that one should be in favor of making abortion illegal past 6 weeks gestational age if brainwave activity is one's defining moment of personhood.

Separate or Same Human Being?

An unborn baby is an entirely separate human being than his or her mother. This is scientific fact. The two organisms (mother and unborn) have a mutualistic symbiotic relationship (it has been documented that bother mother and unborn benefit from the natural state of pregnancy). This means that the unborn do not share blood with their mothers. Also, the only hormone provided by the mother that is essential for an unborn child's survival is progesterone. The placenta also produces progesterone on it's own which signals the mother to continue progesterone production. It is progesterone levels that tell a woman's body to go into menses (a "period"). Indeed, the progesterone levels drop in late pregnancy to help labor begin (I sometimes refer to labor as a massive period). The other hormones, such as HCG and HPL, are also created by the placenta (SOURCE)

The placenta is a pseudo organ that is made by one layer of the unborn embryo and one layer of the mother's uterus. Indeed, it is an organ of BOTH the mother and the unborn. Thus, the great majority of hormones are made by an organ that could be considered belonging primarily to the fetus.


Science clearly shows that a human being's life begins at conception. "[The Zygote] results from the union of an oocyte and a sperm. A zygote is the beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm … unites with a female gamete or oocyte … to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual." The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 6th ed. 1998, pg. 2-18.

The mother does provide nourishment that sustains an unborn child's life. So does a mother provide nourishment that sustains a born child's life. Nature provided breasts to allow a newborn to survive. Much like a marsupial is born and must fully depend upon it's mother in her pouch, so does a newborn human being fully depend upon the breast. This has only recently changed due to the advent of man-made formula that mimics breast milk (thank goodness for the human race's intelligence) and that of human milk banks.

Further Proof that Life Starts at Conception

"Biologically speaking, human development begins at fertilization."
The Biology of Prenatal Develpment, National Geographic, 2006. [A video documentary] The start of human development means that a human being exists. How can a person's development start before he/she exists? For example, science doesn't consider spermatogenesis or the development of oocytes in an unborn girl's ovaries to be the beginning of human development. Rather, conception is the starting point of human development for the very reason that a new human being exists.

"Almost all higher animals start their lives from a single cell, the fertilized ovum (zygote). ... The time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life history, or ontogeny, of the individual." Carlson, Bruce M., Patten's Foundations of Embryology, 6th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996, p.3.

"The development of a human being begins with fertilization, a process by which two highly specialized cells, the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female, unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote." Langman, Jan. Medical Embryology. 3rd edition. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1975, p. 3 ... do understand that we born people are also single organisms just the same as a conceptus or zygote is.

"Fertilization is a sequence of events that begins with the contact of a sperm (spermatozoon) with a secondary oocyte (ovum) and ends with the fusion of their pronuclei (the haploid nuclei of the sperm and ovum) and the mingling of their chromosomes to form a new cell. This fertilized ovum, known as a zygote, is a large diploid cell that is the beginning, or primordium, of a human being." Moore, Keith L. Essentials of Human Embryology. Toronto: B.C. Decker Inc, 1988, p.2. Emphasis on the word "new" in "to form a new cell." It is different and separate than the two originating gametes (spermatozoon and oocyte).

It is through this process that a new human being comes into existence. There are two other way a new human being can come into existence, that is, through asexual reproduction to produce identical twins and through in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Even human development classes that my wife has taken also state the a new human life begins at conception.

Problem with Vague Philosophies

[This person subscribed to a philosophy that human beings must meet a list of 5 special criteria to obtain "Full Moral Status (FMS)" to then be considered a human being or person. He got these criteria from a philosophy class and they are as follows: 1: Sophisticated Cognitive Capacities, 2: Capacity to Develop Sophisticated Cognitive Capacities, 3: Rudimentary Cognitive Capacities, 4: Member of a Cognitively Sophisticated Species, 5: Special Relationships. He also argued that no animal was capable of "Full Moral Status (FMS)" and are thus agents considered to be capable only of "Partial Moral Status(PMS)"]

The problem with your argument is that you subscribe to a vague and undefinable definition of personhood. Your five tenants to define a moral being has no basis in reality or truth. Are human beings suppose to protect the lives of other human beings? Then we must not use subjective definitions made by man. Rather, we should use the objective and verifiable reality that science provides. Science proves without a doubt that a human being's life starts at conception. It does not, however, provide some other marker for the start of our lives. When my first baby Adam was discovered to exist, he was a "clump of cells" (all of us are clumps of cells, really, and an unborn clump of cells is just as organized a clump as we adults are). Yet, even at that very early stage, we loved our son the same then as we do now.

You see, those who are pro-abortion-choice use emotional arguments. However, a human being can be loved at one time and then not at another. Some human being's lives are lost yet are not mourned. Other human being's lives are lost yet are mourned. What attributes these persons' values? Other people. Those who are pro-abortion-choice use definitions with vague and undefinable meanings to discriminate an unrecognized portion of the human race. Just the same as slave owners used subjective definitions to dehumanize blacks! If we truly want to have a equal society, our society needs to unite together and defend all people from conception until natural death based upon the facts that science provides.

"Although my five tenants which I learned in my class are man made, we still must go by the definitions..." I truly dislike man made things like this. The reason is that all men are imperfect. Using an imperfect system will then lead to imperfect decisions. Why does a newborn child (which cannot communicate in any complex way nor be able to have self recognition) be classified as FMS and full protection under the law whilst a much smarter 10 year old dolphin (which amazingly communicates through a complex language) can only have PMS and not have the full protections under the law? African Grey parrots can have a vocabulary of hundreds of words and has been classified as being just as smart as a human toddler yet cannot be classified as FMS as a human neonate or disabled human adult can? The contradictions are aplenty and illustrate the fallacy of your Full Moral Status system.

There are days that I wish that I could believe the same as you. You know why? Because if I did believe like you then I would be able reason away and make insignificant the million babies that are slaughtered every year in this country. I very badly wish that the truth was not the truth! I really wish I could say "it's her body, her choice." It brings tears to my eyes that I cannot truly believe that. I cannot ignore the truth. I cannot ignore science. I cannot ignore how abortion has ravaged our nation. I also cannot sit idly by while fellow human beings are discriminated against and slaughtered. I must be a voice for the voiceless! I must defend the defenseless! It is for this reason that I am a nurse today.

Start of Brain Acitivity

One last thing. You said "And if the brain activity begins fairly quickly, then I believe this also supports my belief of having an abortion quickly." According to ehd.org, "the embryo has brainwaves by 6 weeks, 2 days!" This is scientifically true! Thus, according to the CDC, you would oppose over 37% of all abortions! 37% of all abortions are done past 8 weeks gestation, which is over 450,000 abortions annually according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute. Would you be willing to make illegal over 450,000 of the surgical elective abortions that happen annually in this country today? [He never answered this question]

Unborn and Neonates Must Rely on their Mothers for Survival

Fetuses that are born become neonates. This nomenclature only changes with the change of a human being's environment. As demonstrated by this story (which is one among many), fetuses are surviving earlier and earlier. This one story shows a 22 week fetus surviving at being born at such an early gestational age. Science has been helping prematurely born neonates survive earlier and earlier.

To answer your contention that without the advances of science then these prematurely born would otherwise die: the same can be said of term children who are unable or unwilling to breastfeed. Prior to the advent of scientifically discovered and created formula and human milk banks, many more babies died than do today. Breastfeeding is the natural means of mother providing 100% sustenance to the neonate and who would die without it. You argue that the 100% sustenance from the mother is one reason support killing the unborn. Could it, then, also be a reason to kill the born?

To be Pro-Life is to be Feminist

"I'm a huge feminist and I will always be. Women get the short end of the stick and quite frankly it pisses me off." I'm a huge feminist too. I also get pissed off when I think of all of the times that women were discriminated against throughout human history. Christians throughout history have also been guilty of discrimination. So have Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Shintoists, and practically many other other groups of people throughout the years of history.

I have protested in front of abortion clinics off and on for some years now. Guess which gender I see protesting and/or sidewalk counseling the most? I see women a whole lot more often fighting against abortion than men. In fact, I run into more men who are adamantly pro-abortion-choice than I do women.

I support equal wages for equal work, gender protection laws in hiring practices, and everything that truly allows women and men to be equals in our society. A ton more unborn GIRLS get aborted than do boys. That is an abomination!

Being a father, a nurse, and a human being all direct me to be pro-life and to stand for the lives of women and children whenever I possibly can.

By the way, I really do think that dolphins would be able to achieve "full moral status" as this person has described it. Dolphins are awesome! :)