Somebody isn’t happy about the looming abortion debate in April. Mercedes Allen, writing for rabble.ca makes a series of interesting but erroneous arguments concerning the abortion issue and when life begins. I imagine it would be difficult to try to defend a position that holds that a child is not a human being “until it has proceeded in a living state from the body of its mother.” But she does give it a good shake.
One of her more interesting positions is that spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) somehow justifies abortion, because it means that the life was only potential. In other words, because some embryos don’t make it past the one month mark, that seems to raise the question as to whether or not all life begins at conception.
But miscarriage is simply an anomaly of a natural (human) process. It says nothing about “what it is to be human.” We seem to lack the ability to know the “essence” of things and end up judging them according to accidental, irrelevant criteria. Just because an embryo does not continue through all the phases of human life, does not in any way negate the fact that it was, for a brief time, human. Similarly, if a toddler dies before reaching adolescence, this in no way negates the humanity of that child.
The crux of her argument rests on the fact that determining when human life begins is something that not even pro-lifers can say with certainty (huh?), so we must resign ourselves to calling early human life, “life potential.”
“The question then becomes whether people are or are not justified in making the decision as to whether that life potential does indeed become life. Should every fertilized egg be made to develop into a human, or are we sometimes justified in stopping that process?”
First of all, the embryo is not a “life potential” but an actual life with lots of potential. All things stand in potency to some act. That potency does not negate their essence, their “what it is to be that thing.” The question “should every life be made to develop into a human?” is pure semantics. Every life, that has a human father and a human mother, is human, and will follow a natural, predetermined course of development, unless it is interrupted, through natural impediments (miscarriage) or through a deliberate and purposeful killing (abortion).
The question, “are we sometimes justified in stopping that process?” is better put in these terms: when in doubt, do no harm. The “do no harm” principle, (and this case, the harm is absolute [ie. death], which is why abortion is such a travesty) has always been the bulwark of civil society. That is until medicine, corrupted by abortion, threw it out. “Kill now and ask questions later” is the new “golden rule.”
But there is one thing we can all agree on. In Ms. Allen’s words,
“Like it or not, Canada, the debate has been reopened.”