Open Froum: Willful ignorance on abortion

Posted: February 26, 2013

Yet another letter from Kevin Kennedy (Open Forum, Feb. 22) serves to showcase, in regards to the abortion issue, the clash between morality founded on facts vs. morality founded on willfully ignorant opinion.

The latter moral foundation can be seen in Kennedy’s statement that “not everyone regards a fertilized egg as a fully formed ‘person’.”

This reveals willful ignorance on three levels. First, it suggests that abortions only involve the elimination of fertilized eggs. Second, it substitutes that vaguely defined “person” for the factually defined “human life.” Third, it assumes that the earlier a given stage of human development, the less that human life is worth.

In the first case, simply Googling “abortion procedures” would open Mr. Kennedy’s eyes to a list of truly horrific procedures that destroy unborn humans at all stages, including well after the baby is “fully formed.” To refer only to the fertilized egg to justify abortion rights is a deliberate oversimplification, and completely ignores the driving force behind the pro-life movement — the protection of the unborn from wholesale slaughter in the name of “reproductive rights.”

In the second case, biology has no definition of the term “person,” but it clearly defines human life. We all belong to the species Homo sapiens, and each human life begins when all 46 chromosomes come together at conception. At that point, human DNA works continuously to build the human organism — a process that does not cease until death.

In the list of terms for stages assigned to that growth process, the term “person” is missing, for obvious reasons. Those who seek real truth in forming their views of the abortion issue will look for the facts that define human life. Those who want to keep the abortion issue only on the level of opinion will use the world “person” precisely because there is no set definition. Vagueness, like a thick fog, will always keep debate about “life” from the clear sunshine of truth.

On the third level of willful ignorance, pro-choicers will take medical terms for human stages of development, and insert the words “only,” “simply,” or “merely” to set a lower value on the unborn, because they are not “fully formed.”

Science uses terms such as “embryo” and “fetus” to identify particular stages of a given human life. No human life actually pauses at any of these stages — the DNA is at work every microsecond of a human’s entire life. If, however, we say that a developing baby is “only” an embryo, or “merely” a fetus — something pure science never does — we can justify the killing of it, because, hey, it’s not really a “person,” such as a “baby” or a “toddler.”

However, by that twisted argument, a “newborn” is not as much of a “person” as a toddler, and a teenager is far more of a “person” than a kindergartner. So to cause the death of a newborn child should not be considered as serious a tragedy as causing the death of a teenager, because the teen is at a far more “fully formed” stage.

Carried to the extreme, then, only humans at the adult stage should be considered “fully formed persons,” right? Thankfully, the law (as it currently exists, anyway) protects us all at every visible stage. Pro-lifers are simply looking to protect the invisible stages as being of no less true human life than the visible ones. In fact, if a person kills a pregnant woman, he can be charged with two murders. Would Mr. Kennedy oppose that law on the basis of his definition of “personhood”?

Funny thing about Mr. Kennedy’s letter. He calls us all to “feel passion for the downtrodden” and “work against injustice.” But he apparently thinks that passion for the unborn, and working for justice on their behalf, does not qualify as doing any real good in his world.

He also calls upon us all to be “peacemakers” while, in all of his many editorials, he insults and belittles those whose political views oppose his.

Next time you sit down to compose another Open Forum, Mr. Kennedy, consider these points: You cannot exhort your readers to “respect one another” by belittling people of opposing views. You cannot be a “peacemaker” by promoting division. And no opinion is “fully formed” until it is “fully informed.”

Mitchell Hubbard is a resident of Winchester.