Sunday, December 11, 2011


Human law and human beliefs cannot alter physical systems. No decree can change the motion of the Earth's crustal plates as they slide across the face of our world. No amount of determination can bend the Second Law of Thermodynamics to create unlimited energy. No declaration will place the Earth at the center of our solar system. No force of will can alter the motion of the stars through the heavens. No avarice can force chemical processes to turn lead into gold.

So, it is laughable to think that some in our country believe, wholeheartedly, that they can command the very mechanism of the creation of life through law, by declaring a fertilized egg a "person." At its most elementary level, the idea is farcical, and the stolid determination of those who seek to bring this about would be comical if they were not so earnest, and more importantly, if they were not in positions of power in government. The shame in it, is that ignorance cloaked in belief is being used as a yardstick for legality, and reason is being shoved out of the room. Worse still, is that there is no hue and cry from the vast majority of reasonable American, shouting down this travesty of lawmaking.

Let me, then, light the fire of outrage, as we take a little tour of why this execrable legislation and all its kin need to be consigned to the dustbin of history.

First, let us be clear: the impetus for such legislation is to eliminate abortion by claiming it is the intentional destruction of a life. If a fertilized egg (a zygote) is declared a person, then any attempt to prevent it from developing can be seen as committing a murder. This, naturally, is meant to ensure that abortion could not be performed, because the doctor and the woman having the abortion could be so charged for removing the implanted zygote (a fetus).

Now, clearly, given the number of stages that a zygote must successfully pass through to become an embryo, then a fetus, and finally a fully-developed child, there are many points of failure for the "person" that has been created, and this creates a bit of a problem for advocates of such laws, though they would not deign to admit it.

First, though egg and sperm may meet and fertilization may take place, there is the possibility that no mitosis will take place and begin the process of reproduction. That leaves a fertilized egg eventually drifting from the Fallopian tube with no hope of becoming a child. Should mitosis be successful, and division begin, there may be biochemical issues of viability which may cause the developing embryo to cease division. If division is viable, then comes the formation of the blastocyst, which will allow the embryo to attach to the uterine wall. Should the blastocyst not form properly, should the process of lysis  of the zona pellucida not take place properly, then the embryo cannot attach to the uterine lining, and again, will drift to oblivion.

Even if the embryo has become attached to the uterine wall, development can be derailed at any juncture, where cell viability is questionable, where the integrity of the embryo has been compromised, or where the embryo has been subject to conditions that make its further reproduction difficult or impossible. Many of these happenings are part of the natural cycle of gestation, and lead to miscarriage, where the uterine lining is divested and the embryo removed from the body.

In all these cases, the fertilized egg goes on to die, often through perfectly natural processes, due to circumstances that an expectant mother might never be aware of. So the question is: if that fertilized egg is a "person," do we charge the mother with murder? For the earliest stages of human gestation, it is absurd to think that we can equate a natural process with a crime, as there would be no way to know that fertilization had even occurred. And where a woman is confirmed to be pregnant, but gestation spontaneously aborts due to cellular or biological abnormalities, how, exactly, can that be equated to the commission of a crime?

Let us even assume that there are no abnormalities that will lead to a spontaneous abortion of the embryo or fetus. Now, what happens when a miscarriage is caused by an auto accident, or being thrown down the stairs by an abusive partner, or over-consumption of alcohol? Is the expectant mother, now bereft of child, to be clapped in irons as if she were a heinous criminal? Will her life now be scrutinized in microscopic detail, to pick up the tell-tale clues that indicate she "planned" to murder her child? Is she, not unlike the rape victim, to be told it was her fault, to have her every move and utterance turned into another reason why she is at fault?

What of a pregnancy that occurs without fertilization? Rare though they are, they have been known to happen. What of the ectopic pregnancy, where the embryo develops outside the uterus, in a manner which may slowly kill the woman carrying it?

The fact remains, that human reproduction is a natural system, not subject to human law, any more than physics, chemistry, evolution, etc. There is a great gulf between what does happen and what we want to happen. It would be good if human beings took their sexuality and the potential for reproduction more seriously, though it should be noted that the same people seeking to turn fertilized eggs into people are the same people, generally, carping about the teaching of sexual education in schools and attempting to deny men and women the right to use contraception.

If your personal belief tells you these things are wrong, that can and should be respected, in line with Constitution of the United States and the right to personal freedom and liberty outlined within. However, such rights extend to all persons, and as such, your beliefs cannot be legislated upon others simply because you think they are best, especially where those beliefs are at conflict with the natural order of things. Turning fertilized eggs into "people" and demonizing women who do not wish to -- or cannot -- carry a fetus to full term in order to birth a child is not the answer. It never was. Compassion is a far more powerful persuasion than denigration, and it is time to put such unsupportable notions to rest.

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