Thursday, June 25, 2009

“Dear Mr. Burns: A Letter for Life” by Brian S.

“Dear Mr. Burns: A Letter for Life” by Brian S.

June 25, 2009

Dear Mr. Burns,

I listened with great interest to your show tonight between 9:00 and 10:00 pm on the topic of selective reduction. If only I had been able to call in and offer my two cents.

If you find that my opinion offered here merits consideration, then please share it with your audience at your next opportunity.

My wife and I brought children into this world with the assistance of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Before doing so, we looked deeply into the issues attached to IVF, established our boundaries, the proceeded deliberately. Today we have four beautiful children: three girls and one boy.

The cardinal principle from which we operated is a moral one: every embryo created should be given the best possible chance at continuing its natural life cycle, i.e. being implanted, brought to term, and delivered to realize its potential. Since we believe that one should not create persons with intention to destroy them (as in selective reduction), we precluded this concern by fertilizing eggs conservatively, and only two embryos at a time were implanted in their mother’s womb. None were “reduced,” thrown away, or otherwise destroyed. When one rolls the dice conservatively, one risks getting nothing for the $16,000 they paid for an IVF cycle. There is a cost to living within boundaries, but, more often than not, a higher cost to living without them.

I must interject here regarding the term “created.” Actually, neither we nor science created anything. Simplified, IVF is just a facilitation of the meeting of the natural ingredients after which the resulting new lives are placed in their natural environment until transition to the next stage of their life cycle. For science truly to create an embryo, scientists would construct the organelles and other sub-cellular structures from scratch, then assemble them into a complete respirating and functioning embryo. Perhaps it is more correct to say that science “facilitates” what usually happens naturally.

The point I kept hearing you make more than any other during the hour on this topic was this: if we’re okay with employing science to “create” life, then shouldn’t we also be okay with employing science to extinguish that same life? (I hope I repeated your thought accurately enough.)

To test your assertion, let me then offer a scenario and a question. Suppose a woman brings sextuplets to term whose genesis had been facilitated by IVF. That is, without the intervention of science, those six children would not exist. Two years go by, and the woman realizes that she has not the means to care for all six of the children, to provide adequate nourishment and otherwise any foreseeable “quality of life” for all of them. Since science helped to bring these children into the world, would you then argue that the woman should be offered a legally-protected prerogative to employ science toward the termination of the lives of any of her toddlers? Why not? …because a toddler is a person, but the unborn is… what?

What is the unborn?

Is the unborn a person?

This then is the crux of the controversial life issues, of the debate over selective reduction, of the debate over abortion.

Given any scenario, given any quandary, if you wouldn’t advocate taking the life of a toddler, then why would you advocate taking the life of the unborn?

It always comes down to this one question: Is the unborn a person?

We agree that at some point along the life cycle of a human, that human becomes a person. Is it at the very beginning? Is it at the end of the first trimester? Is it at birth? Is it, as Peter Singer asserts, when a human becomes aware of her desire to survive (between two and three years old)?

It seems to me that the onus is on the advocate of selective reduction (or abortion) to discover honestly when a human becomes person, and then not to breach a zone of moral safety within which that threshold exists. Otherwise, he becomes guilty of, or at least complicit in, the taking of lives of innocent persons.

Regarding selective reduction, discussion of whether personhood is achieved at conception isn’t really necessary because that’s not when selective reduction is performed. No, selective reduction is often performed at twelve weeks gestation, and is almost always performed between ten and twelve weeks gestation. At this stage, the little person has fingers and toes, and its heart has been pumping since the seventeenth day after conception. Take a look at any human embryology text; what I’m saying is true.

Yes, I said “person.”

Neither size, level of development, environment, nor degree of dependency eliminates or precludes personhood.

My daughters are not non-persons because they are smaller than me.

My son is not a non-person by virtue of being less developed than me.

There is nowhere I can go where I become a non-person by virtue of being in that place.

Dependency upon an insulin pump does not cause one to be a non-person. My young children are dependent upon me or another adult for their survival (remove their caretaker, and see whether they last more than a week), but I doubt you would argue that they are non-persons.

Therefore, I hold that the unborn is a person and that every embryo created should be given the best possible chance at continuing its natural life cycle. Certainly, no human life should be created if the intention from the outset is to destroy it.


Brian S.

PS – I hope that you, an agnostic, will appreciate that I had no need to invoke religion to make the case for the personhood of the unborn. As our Declaration says: These truths are self-evident…

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments:

Post a Comment

Huck-a-Book Carousel

Please Support These Sponsors of 'OK for Huckabee'.

For info about being a sponsor on 'OK for Huckabee', send e-mail to OKforHuckabee (at) yahoo (dot) com