Before I segue into tonight’s topic I would like to share with you a statement I found profound. The other night my wife and I were sitting on the couch watching TV. In the show there was a priest talking to an inmate at a prison. The inmate was helping set up for Mass and while the audience knew his intentions were less than admirable, the priest did not. The priest said something like “it is refreshing to see your desire to be more religious”. The inmate responded “ I consider myself to be more spiritual than religious”, to which the priest responded “what is the difference”. With a thoughtful look the inmate said “well Father, a religious person seeks peace…a spiritual person seeks understanding”. Without missing a beat, my wife Kim turned to me and said “and a person with faith, seeks both”. I found that to be very insightful.
Last month I spoke about how logic helps me to understand why I believe what I believe, so this month I’d like to continue that logic thread and apply it to life. Shortly after President Obama took office he was at a press conference or giving a speech, and he made a statement that related to a moral question. His answer in short was “we should let science guide our next course of action”. While this was a political answer in a politically charged environment, I have to say I commonly agree. Furthermore, I would challenge that this be done when it comes to the question of when life begins. Let’s look at the logic. What is the difference between a fetus in the womb and a baby just born besides an inch or so of skin (that being the mother’s belly)? The only other difference I can see is the means through which the baby gets its oxygen, food and dispels waste through the umbilical cord. Within the womb the baby responds to stimuli, has thoughts and dreams, is awake and asleep. Once born, the child takes one step closer to independence when the cord is cut, but nothing else changes, birth is merely a step in the development of a child, a biological progression that does not end until our earthly life ends. Additionally, in our own court system DNA identification is one of the most proven markers for an individual. If our laws recognize that each human individual’s DNA identifies a unique human being, does it not correlate that every individual with unique DNA is a unique human being? When is DNA established? I am not a doctor, nor a scientist but if I am not mistaken DNA is present from conception on. The same DNA that identifies us throughout our life as an individual is present in the womb. Furthermore, DNA is not changed in the process of birth. It is the same before as it is after.
I think we need to be honest with ourselves. There is really not much debate as to whether or not scientifically a fetus is human life, so why do so many vehemently fight against it? It boils down to rationalization. We humans turn to rationalization when we want a behavior that goes against a principal or value to feel like it is “right”. The world knows a fetus is a live human being, but a fetus also happens to be a natural result of sex. When we as a society start to think and act as if sex is entertainment instead of a procreative and bonding act we have to somehow deal with the natural outcome, a baby. So we have started to think and say, well a fetus really isn’t a human. It is easier to get away with this thought and the horror of subsequent action because a fetus is not visible to the naked eye. It is a kind of “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. We must recognize that the first “choice” resides in the act itself, not after an innocent life has been created. Hello, in science it is called a “reproductive” system for a reason, not an “entertainment” system. If it is used there can be no claim of ignorance as to what the outcome may be. The second “choice”, after the fact is whether the child is kept or put up for adoption, not whether the child should live or die.
I recently was watching a documentary about life in the early Roman days. I was aghast to hear it was not uncommon to set an unwanted infant on a roadside where someone may possibly pick it up and care for it…and if not, it died. This practice was called “exposure”. Immediately I wondered could this be the next logical step for us? We have already rationalized an unseen fetus is not human and there begins a slippery slope, humankind taking the definition of life out of science, and into our own whim. Much to my dismay, the following week I read of a “ethnicist”, either from Australia or the Netherlands I don’t exactly recall, who released a paper stating basically that an infant can be terminated from society without creating a loss of value in that society. In other words, a born infant does not hold value in a society and can be “eliminated” without loss. This is unfathomable, and frightening if acceptance spreads. Scientifically, there obviously was no consideration to the propagation of our species and more pointedly to the value of human potential. To that end I always found it ironic during the Casey Anthony trial that many who are “pro-choice” were appalled at the alleged crimes of Casey. Afterall, if the allegations made were true, Casey didn’t want to be a mom, saddled with the “burden” of raising a child. Sound familiar? Isn’t that exactly what the pro-choice movement is all about? A slippery slope indeed.
I rest my case, but more importantly, I offer my prayers today for everyone involved in difficult consequences of rationalized actions. May God, and through Him His science, be our guide.