Yes everyone, I’m going to get controversial again. And yes, this is inspired by a lovely thread I got involved with on one of the news sites I follow. The beginning of the thread went like this:
Don’t support abortion? Don’t have one. Don’t support gay marriage? Don’t send a wedding gift to your gay friends.
The ensuing outcry was immense against this person. Arguments such as, “Don’t forget rape, extortion, armed robbery and assault, to name a few. If you don’t like them, don’t do them!” and the like were rolling like stones over the original poster. I couldn’t help but include my two cents, and got me into a couple conversations, some very informed, kind, and respectful, and some not so much. I’d like to share my views from this thread and see what everyone else thinks.
What is an abortion?
Let’s start with the basics, the definition of abortion. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an abortion is, “the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus.” From here, we must also deduce the definition of embryo: “a vertebrate at any stage of development prior to birth or hatching,” and fetus: “an unborn or unhatched vertebrate especially after attaining the basic structural plan of its kind.” Basically, an embryo becomes a fetus around the beginning of the third trimester of pregnancy. This also leads to the need to define birth: “brought forth by or as if by birth.”
When is an embryo a baby?
The reason I want to get these definitions out here is that these four words are interpreted very differently by each individual person. Namely, there are many who include the word human in the definitions of embryo and fetus, and who either draw a line or completely ignore the stage of birth as a measuring point of when a developing human can be considered a human. Bringing these definitions together in their current state does not explain where the line of embryo to human being lies (if any), and so people interpret the definitions to support their individual claims.
Instead of doing this, I’d like to point out a characteristic of an embryo or fetus on which I base my personal view on the subject. And no, I’m not going to go into what stage the embryo can feel pain or when it develops fingers and toes or all that nonsense. I want to talk about how the embryo survives as an embryo and not as a human. Embryos are protected within the womb of the mother, and cannot survive during most development stages outside of this environment. Additionally, the embryo feeds off of the nutrition the mother intakes. Now, I’m going to take some time to focus on these two attributes. Looking at the embryo as a collection of cells which are in development into a specifically designed creature, and those cells being protected during development within the confines of a protective area which stimulates that development, one can make the comparison that an embryo is like a pupa within a cocoon: “an intermediate usually quiescent stage of an insect that occurs between the larva and the imago in forms (as a bee, moth, or beetle) which undergo complete metamorphosis and that is characterized by internal changes by which larval structures are replaced by those typical of the imago.” The main difference being that the protective outer casing for an embryo is another living creature. Keeping this in mind and looking at the second attribute of an embryo, the fact that the embryo must feed off of the nourishment of the mother, I see another parallel; a parasite.
Yes, I said it. Embryos are parasites: “An organism that lives in or on another organism (its host [aka the mother]) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the host’s expense.” Biologically speaking, I see no argument against this concept. Combine the idea of the parasite and the pupa, and you have an embryo. So the question then becomes when does the parasitic pupa (embryo) become a human? Well, looking at the pupa aspect, it can be suggested that the moment that stage of the creature loses the attributes which make it that particular stage, it becomes the next stage. This means that the embryo remains an embryo until it sheds the attributes of an embryo. If it can be agreed that an embryo requires the safety of the womb to complete development, and also requires the nourishment of the mother to develop and survive, then it is safe to say that the embryo is no longer an embryo when it no longer needs the protection of the womb nor the nourishment of the mother. Basically, the embryo becomes human at the point of birth and the severing of the umbilical cord.
Now, keep in mind that there are situations where the mother cannot carry the embryo into what we would consider full development. It is usually the case, however, that in these situations the need for protection due to bodily development is completed, and the creature is in a stage of growth (aka the third trimester). In this case, the creature could be considered a human child, I believe, where it must only be assisted in feeding, and can exist off of nourishment not from the mother.
Is abortion murder?
So, to summarize, an embryo can be considered a parasite in a pupal stage of development, feeding off the mother and developing into a new creature, a human. Once that embryo no longer needs to feed off the mother and is fully developed, it becomes a human, just as a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Through this deduction, I do not consider abortion to be murder. It is the same as getting dewormed, at least on a biological level. This does not take into account the emotional implications behind an abortion, nor do I claim that I know what I would do if I became pregnant and was not in the position to raise a child.
What this means for everyone else…
All of the above, as with all of my rant/commentaries, is simply my personal view on what abortion means. It is up to the individual to decide how to deal with this situation if they are faced with this kind of decision. There are those who will not agree with my deduction, and therefore with my conclusion, and that’s fine. There are some who will find my conclusion as immoral, just as there are some who believe that contraceptives are immoral as well. Well guess what? If you consider abortion to be the murder of a child, provide me with a scientific rebuttal that refutes my claims above. I am open to your discussion.
Your response, however, is reserved to your own view and how you would react in such a situation. I will listen to your argument, and you may be able to change my mind. Who knows? Just as with gay marriage, however, the morality of abortion is up to the judgment of the individual. Your opinion on the morality of this issue does not make an embryo a living human being. In other words…