Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Abortion Debate (Part 3)


Aside from merely being alive, many additional requirements are often made, to declare one a human. After all, a liver cell has all the DNA of the full human being, but it is not itself human, nor will it ever be, even if it is perfectly alive and growing. Indeed, there is a cornucopia of criteria we generally use, to declare a lifeform as “human”. Let’s pick four essential characteristics (out of the many), that science believes are unique to humans, and show that there are easily humans that do not have any of these, and yet we would be hard-pressed to find anyone who would not call them “human”.

Human beings have (1) distinctive facial features, (2) walk upright, (3) possess a consciousness, and (4) have an intellect far above any other known creature. Now, suppose we see a “person” sleeping in a hospital bed, whose face is severely burned, has had the legs amputated at the waist, and suffers from severe brain damage. And yet, we would still call this person “human”, because he possessed all four required qualities at some time (he will even regain one, consciousness, as soon as he awakes) and still possesses countless other characteristics that unquestioningly categorize him as human. In fact, one may argue that a perfectly healthy fetus is more human than the tragically injured being on that hospital bed.

So, where can you draw the line and say that beyond a certain point, any living thing (even a deformed fetus), whose DNA is decidedly human, is NOT a human being?


Many who support abortion argue that an early-term fetus is not human, because it cannot survive outside the womb at all, or would at least require medical support. They argue that since it is dependent on its maternal host, it does not meet the necessary requirement. This argument falls flat on its face rather quickly. Can a newborn survive on its own? It is entirely dependent on others, for its food, warmth, and security. Or what about people on dialysis, oxygen, or insulin? Or those with pacemakers or transplanted organs? Are any of them any less human, for requiring medical assistance, in order to live? To take the argument to its extreme, the entire human race resides in a planetary womb, outside of which we cannot survive, at least not without serious astronaut gear. So you see, we all require favorable environmental conditions (some more than others), in order to thrive.

To be continued...

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