Posts Tagged ‘Right to Life’

Building on the quotes from medical and biological texts posted below yesterday, there is a need to answer some common mischaracterizations of exactly what a human embryo and fetus is, and what it is not. Some fundamental biology will clear up the confusion.

A commenter on the post No Handicapped Allowed has this to say,

“If I were married, and my wife were pregnant, I would want to get the amnio test, but ultimately I would have to respect her choice if she declined. I would fully support her decision to abort if there were clear (not maybe 1%) evidence of Down’s syndrome, or particularly of anancephaly. I don’t think of that as killing a baby. I think of it as removing tissue that will grow into a baby with severe disabilities, or even with no brain at all. Again, if she declined, I would have to respect her decision. The body often spontaneous miscarries such tissue — I have no problem with human intervention if the body doesn’t recognize the problem in time.”

It’s an understandable position until one sees the developmental stages.

The commenter mentions amniocentesis and the baby at that stage being mere tissue that has potential to become a baby in the future.

Typically, amniocentesis is performed between 16-20 weeks of development. By then the baby has developed substantially with all of its organ systems in place. When the term ’tissue’ is tossed around, it is almost universally used incorrectly.

16 Weeks Photo: MedicineNet.com

A Primer On the Hierarchy of the Human Body’s Organizational Levels:

Cells. There are approximately 200 distinctly different types of cells that comprise the human body.

Tissues. Different types of cells aggregate to form specialized functions and are called tissues. The human body is comprised of four main tissue types: Epithelial, Connective, Muscle, Nerve.

Organs. These are composed of two or more tissue types to perform special functions. Examples: Stomach, intestines, pancreas, liver, heart, etc.

Organ Systems. These are two or more organs that act in a coordinated fashion to perform a common function. For example the digestive system is composed of several organs, including the stomach, pancreas, sall and large intestines, etc., whose coordinate function is the digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Organism. This is the whole and complete animal, made up of all the organ systems functioning as a coordinated whole.

See these video and 4-D ultrasounds of developing embryos and fetuses at The Endowment for Human Development.

20 Weeks Photo: MedicineNet.com

It must be stressed, however, that even in the single-celled stage of development, the zygotic stage, there exists a brand new human organism, whole and complete in form and function for that developmental stage.

The same holds true for every stage thereafter. That’s because even at the single-celled stage, the zygote is intrinsically ordered toward mature organismal development and is proceeding along that trajectory. At birth, the baby lacks full maturational development, and will not attain such until adulthood. This developmental reality renders all argument to the contrary an expression of whim, of personal desire, with no bearing on the biological reality of organismal development.


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A commenter in the comboxes believes Margaret Sanger to be misunderstood, and that we would all do well to follow the lead of her disciples at New York University.

Mike Wallace interviewed Margaret Sanger 9/21/57. Watch the video here.

Sanger really starts fidgeting, ducking and weaving, telling lies and conveniently forgetting in the second half of the interview.

She outright lies in the first half, when speaking of the opposition of the Christian Churches to Birth Control in the beginning of her movement.

“At that time (1920’s) there was no opposition as far as the Church was concerned- any Church. It was mainly the law-federal law and state laws that one had to think of.”

In reality, all mainline churches opposed contraception until the Anglicans broke with tradition at the Lambeth Conference of 1930. Only then did others follow suit.

Surely Sanger must have remembered how Pope Pius XI wrote the famous Encyclical Castii Connubii (On Christian Marriage) four months after the Lambeth Conference of 1930, wherein he states that the teaching against contraception was “uninterrupted Christian tradition” (see paragraph 56 in the document).

After watching Sanger’s sanitized, Disney version of her motives for pushing birth control, consider what she didn’t say:

“Our failure to segregate morons who are increasing and multiplying
… demonstrates our foolhardy and extravagant sentimentalism …
[Philanthropists] encourage the healthier and more normal sections of the
world to shoulder the burden of unthinking and indiscriminate fecundity of
others; which brings with it, as I think the reader must agree, a dead
weight of human waste. Instead of decreasing and aiming to eliminate the
stocks that are most detrimental to the future of the race and the world,
it tends to render them to a menacing degree dominant … We are paying
for, and even submitting to, the dictates of an ever-increasing,
unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born
at all.”

— Margaret Sanger. The Pivot of Civilization , 1922. Chapter on “The
Cruelty of Charity,” pages 116, 122, and 189. Swarthmore College Library

“Today eugenics is suggested by the most diverse minds as the most
adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political and
social problems.
“I think you must agree … that the campaign for birth control is not
merely of eugenic value, but is practically identical with the final aims
of eugenics … Birth control propaganda is thus the entering wedge for the
eugenic educator.
“As an advocate of birth control I wish … to point out that the
unbalance between the birth rate of the ‘unfit’ and the ‘fit,’ admittedly
the greatest present menace to civilization, can never be rectified by the
inauguration of a cradle competition between these two classes. In this
matter, the example of the inferior classes, the fertility of the feeble-
minded, the mentally defective, the poverty-stricken classes, should not be
held up for emulation.
“On the contrary, the most urgent problem today is how to limit and
discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective.”

— Margaret Sanger. “The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda.”
Birth Control Review , October 1921, page 5.

“The third group [of society] are those irresponsible and reckless
ones having little regard for the consequences of their acts, or whose
religious scruples prevent their exercising control over their numbers.
Many of this group are diseased, feeble-minded, and are of the pauper
element dependent upon the normal and fit members of society for their
support. There is no doubt in the minds of all thinking people that the
procreation of this group should be stopped.”

— Margaret Sanger. Speech quoted in Birth Control: What It Is, How It
Works, What It Will Do. The Proceedings of the First American Birth
Control Conference . Held at the Hotel Plaza, New York City, November 11-
12, 1921. Published by the Birth Control Review , Gothic Press, pages 172
and 174.

“In passing, we should here recognize the difficulties presented by the
idea of ‘fit’ and ‘unfit.’ Who is to decide this question? The grosser,
the more obvious, the undeniably feeble-minded should, indeed, not only be
discouraged but prevented from propagating their kind. But among the
writings of the representative Eugenists [sic], one cannot ignore the
distinct middle-class bias that prevails.”

— Margaret Sanger, quoted in Charles Valenza. “Was Margaret Sanger a
Racist?” Family Planning Perspectives , January-February 1985, page 44.

In fairness to Sanger, Idiot, Imbicile, and Moron were medical diagnostic categories in their day. Also to be fair to Sanger, she dripped with contempt for these people. She had no appreciation for their humanity, and in her hardened heart, could not imagine that the poor might enjoy meaning in the midst of poverty. Nor could she imagine that the children of the poor might rise above the poverty. My parents grew up in tenements in grinding poverty during the great depression. I lived in those same tenements until age 13. Of five children in my family four went to college and graduate school. All live lives of productive contribution to society.

But even the most handicapped among us has great individual value and moral worth. In the most bitter of ironies, it was Margaret Sanger herself who added to societal misery on the same scale she imagined it in other quarters. If as she suggested the handicapped had little to offer, it is all the more certain that Sanger wasted much. A terrible epitaph.

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Sano di Pietro, The Massacre of the Innocents

Julie Schmit-Albin of NE Right to Life comments over on Jill Stanek’s blog that abortion was used by Senator Ben Nelson as a “pawn” in the healthcare debate. She and Stanek assert that when he loaded up on enough pork and perks for the folks back home, he betrayed the unborn. All true enough, except the part about abortion being used as a “pawn”.

It’s probably more accurate to say that abortion was used as a smokescreen and NE RTL and the USCCB were used as pawns. Look at the media attention for the past several weeks. It’s been all about the abortion language in the bill. In getting everyone to argue the abortion language, the Democrats got everyone to tacitly accept that this entire immoral bill was a foregone conclusion. In so doing, we took our eye off of the larger immorality of medicare cuts and the inevitability of euthanasia down the road.

That’s how we got screwed. The Washington Two-Step.

There is still hope that the firebrands in the House may cause the process to implode and that the legislation will not survive in conference. No small amount of pressure will be brought to bear on Stupak’s allies. Going forward, we need to understand that there is a larger immorality involved in this legislation.

We need now more than ever to be Pro-Life and not merely anti-abortion. This entire piece of legislation stinks. If we focus too narrowly on abortion again, I fear another betrayal will come to pass. There are far more vulnerable members of the House up for re-election this year. They need to be blistered this week by all who care for life at both ends of the spectrum and in between.

Meanwhile, Nelson has lined his pockets as he guaranteed the Slaughter of the Innocents will proceed apace. That free Medicare will avail his Nebraskans little when their treatments are denied along with the rest of us. Well done thou good-for-nothing servant.

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