Fetal Life and Abortion:
Human Personhood at Conception
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Reader Questions

A question for discussion:

Within several states of the Union, in the heat of discussing whether the offspring of human parents are human beings from the
 time of conception (fertilization,) no one is asking why the offspring have to be declared to be human beings. Is it not sufficiently self evident that
 they are human beings? The geneticist tells us that the first inherited characteristic in reproduction is species status, that the offspring are
of the same species as their parents.

The question now is whether this species identification is accomplished at conception, or at some time later. The subject of discussion here is
reproduction, which brings us to the question of what marks the end point of reproduction. Is it not the moment when the parent becomes
"reproduced" in its offspring , so that we now have, in the case of humans, a new human being and the essential objectiive of reproduction
will have been completed. Any further develpment of the new individual will be supplied by the parents over the prescribed course of gestation,
but nothing of that will add anything to the offspring's humanity.

We invite our readers to review this subject in our Sections of text material on this question. And we would wecome readers' comments and
questions for discussion. E.R. (Posted 12 Dec 11)

We welcome you to reply at:

Question:  In this web page you speak of morality and even, sometimes, of God.  I have found no mention of religion.  Wouldn't religion be a strong defense against abortion?

Reply:  Many thanks for your thoughtful observation!  I readily agree with your suggestion that religion could be called upon to oppose abortion and, on the positive side of the coin, to promote respect for human life.

Religion, as commonly perceived, finds its persuasive force in revelation, truths revealed by God and accepted, through faith, by the believer.  Our page is an attempt to show, not by revelation, but by human thinking, that respect for human life is reasonable in itself, and is good for us as individuals and as a society, whereas abortion is unreasonable in itself and affects us hurtfully.

Perhaps we have not expressed ourselves in these very words, but using them now might help you to understand why we are concerned with morality, rather than with religion.  The human being's right-to-life pertains to justice, and we speak of justice as pertaining to morality.  But the norm of moral conduct we propose here is that which is imposed upon us by our human intelligence, rather than by revelation.  There is no conflict here, since truth, whether naturally acquired by the human intellect or supernaturally revealed, cannot contradict itself.  We are speaking of two levels of reality which, though different, complement one another.

At this point, you might insist that justice and morality belong to the practice of religion.  I would agree that they do!  But they also belong to the exercise of good, old-fashioned commonsense, the process of reasoning, which all humans have in common, even those who are non-believers.  

We do not speak of abortion as a religious problem, needing revelation for its solution.  Yet, we do speak of God, because morality is the measure of human activity in terms of God's perspective, judging it conformable or non-conformable to the design imposed upon us by our Creator.  We speak of "natural law," which is nothing other than that design presented to us through our human intelligence.

To add further light on this reply to your question, I leave you with an insight given us by Aristotle.  I paraphrase his thought:  The purpose of our intellect is to enable us to perceive the order which  exists in the world of nature and, once we have perceived it, enables us to introduce order into our own lives. 

Question:  How do you respond to someone who says there are no absolutes, especially in the moral realm?  The presumption is that everything is relative.  This is a philosophical question, not a medical question.  Can you demonstrate that moral absolutes exist?

Reply:  We appreciate your question and its significance in a society confused and short-changed by the assumption that there are no absolutes.  If someone proclaims that there are no absolutes, he or she proclaims a contradiction, because the proclamation is itself an absolute.  It says, without equivocation or exception, that there are no absolutes.  What could be more absolute than that!

It is strange that the proclaimer would insist on putting gasoline into the gas-tank of his automobile, whereas water might be what others would prefer.  Would it be idle conversation to ask what the engine requires, according to the design of its builder?   

G. K. Chesterton, in his thoughtful book, Orthodoxy, speaks to an art student who had assumed that the drawing of a giraffe with a short neck would constitute a denial of the absolute.  Chesterton replied, simply: "If, in your bold creative way, you hold yourself free to draw a giraffe with a short neck, you will really find that you are not free to draw a giraffe.  The moment you step into the world of facts, you step into a world of limits.  You can free things from alien or accidental laws, but not from the laws of their own nature.  You may, if you like, free a tiger from his bars; but do not free him from his stripes.  Do not free a camel of the burden of his hump; you may free him from being a camel."  (Chap. 3 - The Suicide of Thought)

The denial of moral absolutes is equally ridiculous.  If "right" and "wrong" are to have any meaning, they would have to mean two different things.  They could not be used interchangeably.  Each, then, must be something unique, something "in itself" and "of itself," in other words, something absolute.

The correct application of the concepts, "right" and "wrong," to human behavior is the subject matter of Ethics. Ethics is the product of intellectual intuition and human reasoning, both of which must be assumed to be reliable sources of truth.  To possess truth, said simply, is to know things as they are.  So, those who deny absolutes also deny truth or, at least, the ability to possess it.

If I may suggest something for your further thinking, you might ask yourself why do some persons discard the absolutes.  They seem to be content with saying that the circumstances surrounding the human act are what totally determine its morality, the proponents of "Situation Ethics, for example. They are partly right in their in their assumption, since circumstances must be weighed during process of making moral judgments.  However circumstances can never make "right" something which is intrinsically (by its very nature) "wrong."  It is here that the absolute must be reckoned with.

What if someone were to say that telling a lie, under some urgent circumstances, is not "wrong?"  You might ask that person whether telling a lie is ever "wrong" and, if so, why. Eventually it will be seen that a lie is driven by the intention of one person to deceive another, which by its nature is contrary to justice and, therefore, "wrong."  A lie deprives another person of what is due to him, an honest statement.  Without the expectation of honesty in one another, a society could not function, and would soon collapse.  The legal "taking an oath" (calling on God to witness to the truth of a statement) is a solemn "back-up" to implement the necessity of honest communication.  So important is the need for truth, the lie-detector, despite its debatable reliability, is sometimes thought necessary for the maintenance of justice.

Pertinent  to this web site, abortion is never "right" under any circumstances, because it is a deliberate, direct attack against the life of an innocent human person, which is always "wrong" by its very nature.  Circumstances often influence one's judgment, by way of one's emotions, but morality does not rest on circumstances alone.  If you note carefully you will observe that the double-effect principle, which is applied only under specified circumstances, does not, itself, resort to circumstances for its ethical justification. E.R.   reply@unbornperson.org

Question:  I am confused about stem cells.  I would appreciate knowing why there are contradictory claims favoring one kind over another.

Reply:  The name "stem" has been given to a cell from which a line of differentiated cells can be started.  Its name, by analogy, is taken from the trunk, or branch, with reference to that which grows outward from the trunk or branch, such as leaves, flowers and fruit.  In this discussion let us use the relationship of stem and flower, the flower being that which grows out of the stem.  The stem seems to give rise to a diversity of structures, principally reproductive, in the flower.  The relationship of stem to flower indicates that the flower, in some away, is present in the stem, even before it makes its appearance outside of the stem.

This, of course, is a simplification of a complex process of structure and function, attributable not to the stem, but to the entire plant of which the stem is only a part.  The concept helps us to understand that some of the cells which are part of the stem will divide, not to increase the size of the stem, but to produce new cells, different from themselves.  This is called differentiation. These new cells, in their turn, also differentiate as they divide, eventually producing cells which are petal cells, pollen and ova, or cells of pollen tubes and of other structures which form the flower.

I speak of my definition and example as a simplification because they do not explain how some cells constitute the stem and others, seemingly of the same kind, go on to produce the flower.  It might help here to suggest some items for further thought:  Cells come from cells.  This raises the question of whether, in any given line of cells, the initial cell possessed everything which the end of the line possesses.  The problem here is to have a sufficient cause to explain the effect, remembering that a thing cannot give what it hasn't got.

This production of flowers is but one example of how a cell can, in some manner, contain the "stuff" of cells more complicated than itself.  The most radical example is seen in the single-celled stage (zygote) of any organism produced by sexual reproduction.  It is both a stem-cell and an organism.  During its very early development the cells which the organism produces have been designated as embryonic stem-cells, about which we center this present discussion. 

In a very real sense, the zygote contains all of the "stuff" needed to bring itself to maturity.  However, it proceeds toward maturity by producing, sequentially, the next round of cells, as required by its genetic information.  In each succeeding "generation" of cells, the new cell will possess whatever is necessary for doing  its own job and for equipping the next "generation" to do likewise.  In this way the organism develops itself, through the production and proper use of its cells.  The organism, of course, "fleshes-out" its original "stuff" by using the material of its environment, as needed, in its progress toward maturity.

It is important to note that the total process is not only under the control of the organism, directed by its genetic "blueprint," but that it is always influenced by the immediate environment in which the process occurs.  Those environmental factors may be as simple as optimum temperature, adequate solvents for the reacting substances, electrical and magnetic, even gravitational, fields of force, along with the more complex factors, such as stimulus of neighboring cells, and the presence of compatible enzymes to act as catalysts for the chemical reactions. 

The claim of capability to develop organs from embryonic stem-cells, such as heart, is even more unfounded.  You may have seen a picture of muscle tissue "beating," but a functioning heart is more than its muscle.

If I may say, briefly, the living organism is not a machine, whose parts can be welded or bolted together, but rather a continuous whole whose "parts" are so interwoven, both in structure and in function, that none is independent of the others.  The action of the "parts," whether cells or organs, is sequentially "programmed," so that what a cell can do in its embryonic environment, should not be expected from that cell when transplanted elsewhere.  You must keep in mind that it is not the cell which is doing the acting.  The actor is the organism which possesses, and function through, the cell.  This might help you to understand why stem-cells of adult organisms are better than embryonic ones, when they are asked to serve mature tissues.  

From our discussion, you can see that stem-cells are not limited to organisms in their embryonic stage of existence, called embryonic stem-cells.  Even in your adult body there are stem-cells, just as in the flowering plant which may be several years of age.  The red blood cells, active in your circulatory system, are the end product of a line of less-differentiated cells resident in the marrow of your bones.  In older terminology the beginning of the line was called a "mast- cell."  This example is not far different from that of the cells in the stem and flower of the plant.  

Another source of adult stem-cells is body fat.  It is also amazing that most organs of the body contain stem cells, which nature provides for regeneration and repair of their damaged tissues.  Recent research shows that the "islands of Langerhans," cells scattered around in the pancreas (which produce insulin for metabolizing sugars) can be replaced by the action of pancreatic stem-cells, after the "destroyer" of those "islands" has been vanquished.

Although embryonic stem-cells have been thought to be superior to adult stem-cells for the purpose of "repair or replacement," there is not sufficient evidence to support the claim.  In fact, embryonic stem-cells inserted into ailing, adult brain tissue have sometimes worsened the disability.  Adult stem-cells, on the other hand, do show promise which is upheld by ample evidence. (See: displayed responses October 21, 2004)

In a previous Reply I have stated clearly that the use of human, embryonic stem-cells, even if they were of utility to others, would be unethical to "harvest," since that would involve killing the embryonic human who possesses them.  This brief, overly-simplified glimpse into the biology of embryonic stem-cells adds a pragmatic reinforcement to that moral prohibition.  Adult stem-cells, on the other hand, can be obtained without injury to the volunteer donor, and could be used ethically for research and healing.  E.R  reply@unbornperson.org

Question:  Do you think that our human society could destroy itself by disregarding the limits of beneficial research? (12 Sep 01)

Reply:  I am presuming that you refer to biological experimentation on human individuals.  Your question prompts a wide range of thoughts.  The world is becoming smaller, because of facilitated communication and transportation.  It is also becoming more unified, in the sense of abandoning traditional criteria of human culture.  If one country legalizes abortion, others will strain to follow.  And experimentation in human reproduction has become universal.

Already, in this early stage of mass media, a large part of a nation (world population?) can be "hypnotized" simultaneously.  Orson Wells' hoax about the invasion from Mars, is an early example in our own country.  The volume of electronic stock-trading, in our day, shows instantaneous response to the merest hint of almost any rumor.

It is not necessary to mention the declining condition of our physical environment and the poised nuclear missiles, since these are conditions subject to change, even change for the better.  The moral environment, however, should be mentioned.  It's effects are more lasting, and more influential on the totality of mankind.

"Do your own thing!" and "Me, first!" are anti-social directives.  They lead to senseless killing, sometimes mass-murders, not only on the streets, but within the home.  Individuals who had never been trained in social responsibility are not likely to see the preservation of the human race as their objective.

Fatal modifications of the concept of what it is to be human are already underway, often with public approval.  Attempts at cloning humans is only one expression.  Family has degenerated to include same-sex association.  Gender, and its social significance, has recapitulated to sexual-preference, with emphasis on self, rather than on society. 

Among examples in history, Hitler's ruthless campaign to change the society by world conquest is evidence that the maintenance of what we are, and have been, is a fragile thing.  How he could have accomplished it with all the world looking on is best illustrated by the Holocaust, a destruction of society, piece by piece, behind the blinding rhetoric of euphemisms. 

It should not be thought that something like Hitler's program of eugenics will never happen again, simply because we are aware of such possibilities. What about legalized abortion, a world-wide holocaust in our time!  Add to that the further "elimination" of embryonic human beings through the groundless expectations  of embryonic stem-cell research!

I will not attempt to say whether genetic and other cellular modifications are  capable of destroying the human race.  Isolated genetic modifications resulting from mutations occurring without man's intervention tend to be eliminated by nature over a course of time, as are recessive inheritable characteristics.  Large-scale, man-made modifications might well be beyond the ability of nature to handle.  The English legalization of cloning humans for research stipulates that the human clones must be killed before 14 days of life.  Does this not indicate a very real fear that meddling with the structure of human beings could irreversibly "contaminate" the entire human race, or destroy it altogether?

In response to your question, may I suggest that unless there is reasoned restraint in the current "feeding-frenzy" over embryonic stem-cells, and if genetic engineering can destroy the human race, it probably will. E.R.  reply@unbornperson.org

Question:  I was just wondering what your stance is on the idea of the soul.  Do you believe that at conception a fetus and a soul are created at the same time, or does a soul follow conception, or a fetus follow a soul? (24 Sep 01)

Reply:  The reality of the human soul, in reference to the human being, is the principal focus of our entire web site.  We carefully examine the beginning of the human person in the very terms which you are using: When does the human soul begin to vitalize the human body?  For a definition of "soul" and its function, may I suggest that you read a portion of Section 2 on this site.  You will find special, historical interest in the discussion of Aristotle's opinion on "ensoulment," in Section 3.  For a more complete answer to your question you may wish to study all of Sections: #2, 3and 4, along with the Additional Readings which follow them.  For now, I will attempt only a simplified reply.

Your question, in part: "Do you believe that at conception a fetus and a soul are created at the same time?"  People often use the term "fetus" in reference to the unborn at any stage of development, as you are doing here.  So, you are asking about that moment when the human being's soul begins to vitalize the material furnished by his or her parents, and which, then, becomes the body of their offspring.

A human being comes into existence when the two reproductive cells, sperm and ovum of the parents, combine to produce the single-cell stage of their offspring. That which causes the parental cells to combine into one, functioning human being is the soul of that offspring. This happening is called conception.

This does not mean that the soul was created before the human began to exist.  It does mean, though, that the soul was existing and functioning at that time.  There would be no reason for it to have existed prior to that time.  The Creator would have no problem in creating that particular soul for that individual at the moment when it was first needed, that is, at conception.

It goes without saying that there could not be a human individual without a human soul, and that would be true at any stage of his or her development. E.R. reply@unbornperson.org 


Question:  In the course of 20 years I desperately tried to become pregnant.  I was told, over and over that, indeed, I was producing viable eggs and my husband was producing viable sperm.  Therefore, fertilization was occurring - but somewhere after fertilization, my body failed.  In other words, when zygotes entered into my uterus, either they did not implant properly, or if they did implant, they could not hold on (for lack of better words).  In my understanding, these zygotes, fully coded with all the genetic material needed to become full grown, possessing of a soul, simply were not implanted.  This does not mean that they were not humans, they simply never passed this stage. (17 Oct 01)

Given that leap of faith, then these zygotes, possessing a soul. returned to their Creator, unborn, unimplanted. but equally loved by God as if they had been born.  So it is my belief that when and if I do meet God in Glory, I will have many (who knows how many?) children, whom I will meet for the first time.  Life on earth is but a moment; in heaven it is forever.  I may never have had the big family on earth that I yearned for, but I pray that I will in heaven.

Is this totally wacky? Or do I have a partly true thesis?  This is a very comforting theory.

Reply:  I see no problem in your conclusions.  Your case is clearly presented, and your conclusions are logical.  Each new human being comes into existence at conception.  Regardless of his or her circumstances after that moment, he or she will continue to live forever. This is not only a matter of belief, but demonstrable to reason. Aristotle says, simply, that the human soul, being a non-material substance, cannot cease to exist.  Only material things, because they are made of parts, can cease to exist, by coming apart.  Non-material substances have no parts.  

That some human beings die before birth, even in their earliest days of gestation, is conformable to the ordinary workings of nature, as presented in the biology of organisms  In some instances there is a deficiency in the parentage, sometimes in the offspring, and sometimes the cause is environmental.  This cannot be construed as being outside of the Creator's plan for the individual destiny of all human beings, since God works through the nature which He created.  Because nature is highly purposive, I would be inclined to think that the number of those who die before implantation is small in comparison with those who accomplish it successfully.  Your individual experience would be an exception to that of the majority.

May I hasten to say that I admire your outlook in the face of present disappointment.  Although you are reinforced by faith in the supernatural, it is not beyond reason for you to plan a reunion with your children.  Our social nature prompts all of us to desire that such familial relationships would last forever.  And our nature does not deceive us, since the Author of our nature cannot lie.  E.R. reply@unbornperson.org

Question:  Did the Roe v. Wade Court want us to think that what we were before birth and what we are after birth is like apples and oranges?  Two different things, I mean, so that the mother may kill one but not the other? (5 July 02)

Reply:  If the Court said that we are non-human before birth and human only after birth, your apples and oranges would explain why one may be killed but not the other.  If the Court did make such a statement, they provided no proof to back up their position.  In fact, there is no proof for such a statement.  What the Court said, in my opinion, is that we are purple-humans (unborn) before birth and green-humans (born) after birth. On this basis the Court should have had no claim to legitimize our killing  before birth, anymore than after birth, since humans are not to be killed in either instance.  It is pertinent here to note, clearly, that the Court did not prove that we are not human beings before our birth. 

Recently I commented on the caption of the Reuters' news story: "French court rules foeus not living human."   A court does not take it upon itself to affirm or deny whether a fetus is or is not a living human being.  Such a declaration could be made only by a biologist in conjunction with a philosopher or, perhaps, by the majority of the people from the beginning of human history until now.  Neither the Roe court nor the French court offered evidence of having undertaken any serious consultation with these two specialists in science, nor had they fairly considered the estimation of the entire society in its time-honored respect for its unborn members.

The news story itself says: "An unborn foetus does not have the legal status of a living person."  By "living person" do they infer that a fetus in not a living person, or do they merely mean a person already born? 

What the courts said is that the human being, before birth, being purple (unborn) is not protected by the law of the land.  Only green-human beings (born) are protected.  And who made the rule upon which the declaration is founded?  The courts, themselves, fabricated the rule!

This is the point of my recent writing: The Roe court and the French court have arbitrarily consigned the unborn segment of our society to their deaths, relinquishing the prime responsibility of a government, that of protecting the lives of all persons living within its boundaries.

In an attempt to explain my harsh judgment of the Roe v. Wade court, let me add this comment:  Although it is in the nature of a court to build upon precedent, this court failed to find in our Constitution an explicit reference to the humanity-status of the unborn.  As a consequence it should have been their responsibility either to locate an implicit precedent in the Constitution or to ask the federal legislature to formulate an explicit one.  Lacking these, the Court should have employed the ethical principle of "non-action in the face of uncertainty" and recognized, in practice, the unborn's right to life.

Whether the Court fulfilled this responsibility with regard to the second option, (ask the legislature) the answer is in the negative.  In fact they obstructed the federal and state legislatures' right to decide on such issues, even to the present day.  As for the first option (locate a legitimate, implicit reading of the Constitution) many competent Constitutional experts agree that the Court's "fringes of the shadows of the Constitution" do not fulfill the requirements of a valid, implied interpretation of the Founding Fathers' intention.  As to the third alternative (do not act in doubt) there is no evidence that the Court gave it any consideration.

Instead of facing their designated responsibility, the Court took upon themselves the role of "legislating" the Constitution, rather than the role of interpreting it.  Justice White, a member of the Court, in his dissenting opinion, spoke of the Court's action as "an exercise in raw, judicial power."  In denying Constitutional protection for the unborn, the Court misrepresented the U.S. Constitution.

The absence of reference to the unborn in the Constitution is not a "green-light" for their extermination.  When the Founding Fathers wrote that document, it was a time when every human being was treasured as a valuable resource for a pioneering nation.  Those men, many of them fathers with children, could never have foreseen a need to put into writing the obvious fact that parents should not kill their unborn children. 

For more on Roe v. Wade see Section 9.

 E.R.  reply@unbornperson.org

Question:  Considering the entire person, what do you feel is the relationship between the body and the soul, and the soul and the spirit? How does this relate to us and to the unborn? (25 Oct 01)

Reply:  The human being is an individual having a material body vitalized by a non-material principle of life called his/her soul.  He/she is a person, an individual having a rational nature.  You may refer to Section 2 for a detailed explanation of this definition.

As to your question concerning the relationship between soul and spirit, I have usually found that these terms refer to the same reality, and are used interchangeably.  In a few instances I have seen "spirit" identified with "human nature."  Also, "spirit" (from the Latin word for "breath") is sometimes identified with "life."  As you ponder these usages you will see that they are inter-related, emphasizing different aspects of the same reality, the human person.  While engaging in that thought process, you will help yourself by remembering that the terms "spiritual" and non-material are synonymous.

These concepts refer to us and to the unborn in exactly the same way.  The unborn are human beings; we are human beings.  The unborn are persons, just as we are.  They are our brothers and sisters. E.R.  reply@unbornperson.org

Question:  In your posting of June 29th, you suggested that our present culture is not very well tuned to the promptings of our human nature.  I'm wondering whether that might be due to the artificialities which have replaced much of our original human nature? (8 Jul 01)

Reply:  Many thanks for your perceptive question!  I would help me if you had included some examples of the artificial modification of our humanity.  If I were to guess at what you have in mind, I might generalize one area of mischief: the confusion of good and evil.  Legalized abortion would provide us with an example.

My Reply to which you refer is linked to a small verse called "The Now Generation."  I was suggesting that our full human nature might not be at work in us because we are not giving it an opportunity to function totally.  Because of our preoccupation with our five external senses, whose objects rivet us to their material presence, we limit our time-awareness to the present moment.  There is insufficient awareness of the past and, as a result, no practical awareness of the future.  To whatever extent this appraisal is correct, we neglect the inner-senses of memory and imagination and, more seriously, the process of thought.

For this discussion, permit me to add a corresponding problem, with respect to the use of free-will and the consequent reality of responsibility.  I would suggest here the questions: Are we always free to "do our own thing?" and are we not our "brother's keeper?"

Your question prompts an additional consideration, one which goes beyond human speculation.  It is a faith-based insight to explain the lessened beneficial influence of our human nature.  For those who believe that the first humans were gifted at creation with a level of life above their human nature, but subsequently forfeited that gift, a reasonable explanation can be offered:  Without the help of the supernatural, our nature, however perfect in itself, is not sufficient to accomplish our original destiny of always being at our best, within ourselves and in our relationships with others.  E.R.  reply@unbornperson.org

Question:  In the case of Roe v. Wade, do you think that the courts were constrained to  make significant public policy or not?  Were the courts constrained doctrinally, institutionally, or culturally? (28 Nov 05)

Reply:  It is my opinion that the "Roe" court aimed at establishing a change in public policy, in response to what they perceived to be a change in the nation's culture. 

In reading what follows, you should keep in mind that the Supreme Court prides itself on being the living Constitution, not merely a Constitution frozen in time. 

"We, the people," during the past century had given protection to the unborn by having criminalized abortion.  Now, "We, the people," in the eyes of the Court, were clamoring to remove that protection.  The Court, seeing the Constitution as the will of the people, seems to have disregarded the original Constitution, in favor of the articulated will of the current generation.  In their haste to up-date the Constitution, the Court failed to see that the clamor arose, not from the majority of the people, but from a mere handful of opportunistic revolutionaries.

In the years immediately prior to Roe v. Wade, we had become a permissive society.  "Do your own thing!" had been the rebellious norm of individual behavior, progressing into institutional behavior and, possibly, influencing the behavior of the Court.

I cite here, from among many, peculiarities of the Court, a few examples:  In ample time before the 1973 decision was handed down by the Court, the plaintiff, Jane Roe was no longer seeking an abortion.  She had carried her child to term and entrusted her to others, by adoption.  Under normal circumstances, the Court would have terminated the case, as moot, since there was no longer a cause for complaint.  But the "Roe" court did not desist in pursuing their action.  Did the Court have a mission to fulfill?  They continued the case, it would seem, to favor all women in the country who might, forever, be seeking abortions.  They accomplished this by prohibiting the states from interfering with the mother's choice to abort her baby.

Equally revealing is the Court's disregard of a fundamental principle of ethics:  After admitting their ignorance about the beginning of a human being's life, they proceeded to sanction the killing of what they knew could be human beings.  They covered this breach of ethics by speaking of "potential human beings," an expression which has no correspondence to anything in the real world of nature.

By an inexcusable error in reasoning, the "marital privacy" of a previous case, called "Griswold," was illogically tailored by the Court into a "right to privacy."  It is this fabrication in "Roe" which protects the maternal parent's choice of killing her unborn baby.  The two cases have nothing substantial in common.  Nor is there any Constitutional basis for the newly contrived "right to privacy."  The Court themselves admit that.  The closest they could approach the Constitution to locate such a "right" was in the "fringes of the shadows" of that otherwise revered document.

And something must be said about the Court's total disregard of the paternal parent's right to fulfill his natural obligation to defend his baby's life, in the face of the mother's "right" to dispose of their baby.  Does this not indicate the single-mindedness of the Court? The unborn "potential human," as they termed the baby, and the father were given no serious consideration by the Court.

Did the Court's preoccupation with the mother leave women, and the rest of the nation, better off because of Roe v. Wade?  Has it improved our culture?  Does it even reflect our culture?  I suggest giving the full membership of  "We, the people" an opportunity to answer those and similar questions, without interference from the Court.

You may read Roe v. Wade  verbatim, here.  If you wish to consider our commentary, read Section 9, from our text material.  E.R  

Some questions for E.R.:  First of all, allow me to say that I find your website interesting because it attempts to answer the significant questions: When does human life begin?  What is a human person? What is legal personhood?  What are rights and obligations?  These are terms necessary for our government’s discussion of “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness,” the core of our nation’s Declaration of Independence.

I hesitate to compare Roe v. Wade and its progeny as a cancerous growth, with progeny developing from the primary abnormality, which is the decision of 1973.  So, then, let this be my first question: Are the decisions of the courts, insofar as they are following an erroneous model, namely, Roe v, Wade, aptly characterized as cancerous development?  As a biologist, maybe you can answer that one.  To advance this analogy further, a person might suspect that the juridical system’s dependence on precedents would be an avenue for the transfer of malignancy, from one decision to another.

Secondly, your website is a kind of inspiration to defeatists like me, because I never thought there would be a chance of reversal or annulment, given the finality of a Supreme Court decision.  I must say that the Pro Lifers have distinguished themselves for their perseverance in this matter. In the fall of this year, a review of the partial-birth abortion ban, requested by the U.S. Justice Department has been scheduled. Might this signal an opening of the court’s exclusive judgment, at least on some radically profound subject matter, such as the right to life of the unborn?

My third question:  Since the FDA is toying with release of the “morning after pill” for over-the-counter distribution, and various other substances already available, will chemical abortions make Roe v. Wade unnecessary to protect those seeking abortions?

All of the above can point to an ominous direction.  You said once in response to a young person ( September 30, 2001) “In growing up you may learn that all of us have faults, along with our good points.  Even governments can have faults.  In a democracy, such as we are, these faults reflect the imperfections of the people of the nation.  Legalized abortion is an example of such a fault in our own country.”  Is this not a serious defect, that a government and people supposedly in charge of it, have cooperated in, or have ignored, the destruction of human life? 

In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson does not only proclaim the “inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.“  He continues, with this firm statement of an obligation of the citizenry to uphold those rights: “….whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right, it is the duty, of the people to alter or abolish it.”  Although all of the colonists did not agree on the immediate application of this principle to their case at hand, the Founding Fathers risked their lives and their fortunes to apply it to the founding of a great nation, the United States of America.

I am aware of Abe Lincoln’s saying that you can fool all of the people some of the time but, once again, with reference to the right to life of the unborn, some of the people were not fooled any of the time, namely, those under the Pro Life banner.  A person might speculate about the consequences, if Mr. Jefferson were wrong about people, or if Mr. Lincoln’s “some of them who can be fooled all of the time” should be the majority.  Where would we go from there?

Reply: Many thanks for your favorable remarks concerning out web site!  As to your first question, comparing Roe v. Wade to a cancerous growth on the political body of the U. S. government, I can see some merit in your analogy.  A cancerous growth is a development within an organism, but not controlled by the organism.  It is a development not in conformity with the natural plan of the organism’s structure or function but, rather, in opposition to its nature. The Supreme Court’s sanction of legalized abortion in 1973 and the consequent development of that malignancy until the present day, are not compatible with the American spirit of “justice and liberty for all.”

The interesting analogy you offer could be extended by noting that it was not the body politic, the American people, who initiated the legalized destruction of our brothers and sisters who are waiting to be born.  It was only one organ of the body, the Supreme Court, whose revolt against the time honored institutions of that body, which brought down the healthy process of good government in the United States.

In reply to your second question, I think it quite likely that, sometime soon, any reference to Roe that comes before the Supreme Court will finally demand an examination of Roe v. Wade, and that decision will be found wanting.  This October’s examination of the federal law banning partial-birth abortion could demand a review of the 1992’s Casey’s “undue burden” phrase, and other similar gratuitous expressions generated by the Court, beginning with the mysterious invention of “right to privacy.”

In answer to your third question, the chemical abortion is not completely a hidden process, nor one completely divorced from the assistance of pharmaceutical and medical professionals.  Nor is the process totally without biological pitfalls, and it is not emotionally palatable for mothers to dispose of the dead bodies of their own offspring.  And its end purpose is the same as the surgical abortion, an act of killing. No, there will still be a need for laws opposing abortion, and those laws, for the most part, would be enforceable.  After all, it is the primary obligation of a government, to protect the lives of its members.  Those laws will teach the people to respect one another’s rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  We would not long be a nation, unless we had laws against killing one another

Your quotation from President Lincoln is thought provoking.  What people do when they learn that they have been fooled or, even more so, when they learn that they have fooled themselves, is not always pleasant to witness. There is considerable resentment on the part of many early converts to the Women’s Liberation Movement, now that their childbearing days are over. Currently, a women’s group favoring abortion, is gathering names of women who will have their names published in a magazine under the title of having had an abortion.  This strategy could backfire, by reminding a person of Shakespeare’s observation that “the woman doth protest too much.” 

More recently, perhaps, the legislatures of South Dakota and Louisiana could be used to exemplify a reaction, however problematic, to having been fooled long enough already.  Sometimes it takes the bottom of the barrel to remind us that there is no other way than up.  E.R.    reply@unbornperson.org

Question: In a recent posting, you said that abortion is not natural.  Do you get that from  the ratio of those who abort and those who don’t?

Reply: Nature, as a measure of reality, goes deeper than the mathematical analysis of what people do.  Nature is an expression of what people are.  In this sense, abortion contradicts the definition of the human being.  It is in the nature of parents, even among the lesser animals and, especially among humans, to nurture their offspring.  Abortion is in direct opposition to this dictate of nature, regardless of how many abort, or don’t abort, their offspring at any moment in human history.

To touch the extensive significance of nature, consider nature as the measure of reality.  The term “measure” is used here as the identity or meaning or definition of a thing, the true knowledge of what the thing is. (To possess true knowledge, is to know things as they are.)

It is within our everyday experience to affirm that some material things are natural and some material things are artificial.  A natural, material thing is always an integrated whole, both in structure and function, such as an organism, an atom and a molecule.  A natural thing is characterized by its one-ness of being.  An artificial material thing is an aggregate of natural things each of which has its own being and its own nature.  An electric motor, for example, has an iron frame, copper wire, and some have carbon brushes.

Natural things are so called because they have natures.  The nature of the thing is the source of its integrity and of its being a unique kind of thing. We speak of the nature of gold, or the nature of an amoeba.  And we speak of human nature. The word “nature” comes to us from the Latin natus sum, the past participle of the verb “to be born.”  The concept expressed by the word “nature” connotes the completeness of the thing, in its having a specific purpose and capability of attaining that purpose.  When the term “nature” was coined, it was attributed only to living things, called “organisms” to emphasize their integrated completeness.  Later, certain non-living things, the elements and compounds, were seen to be “things of nature,” as distinguished from artificial things.

A “completely packaged” thing, such as an organism, is said to have a nature, the source of its organization and the cause of its being the kind of thing that it is.  Human beings are individual persons, but all have the same nature, namely, human nature.

It is necessary here to note that nature is not limited to material things, as generally implied in the expression “world of nature.”  It is natural for a human being to think and, therefore, thoughts are realities and are natural.  Nature, itself, is a reality, a source of unique being and of acting, as we see in our human nature.

This raises the problem of tracing the source of the natures which “things of nature,” or natural things, possess.   Here we must not be content to say that their natures have been passed on to them by their progenitors. A clue to this quest is found in the integration of all things having natures, namely, “the world of nature.”  The fitness of any part into “the world of nature” leads us to a completeness of the whole.  Nature, then, is an over-all, organizing principle not only of individual things, but also of all reality resident within “the world of nature.”  It is interesting that nature has been personified under the title “Mother Nature.” 

The word “reality” is taken from the Latin: res, realis, which means “a thing.”  Reality encompasses any individual thing and it encompasses all things.  The essential connotations of reality are specificity and existence. Reality is sometimes extended to mean “things as they are.”  A companion term “realism,” is used in Philosophy to say that universals have objectivity, as opposed to nominalism, and that material objects exist in themselves, as opposed to idealism.  “Reality” is also used to express actualized potentialities, to distinguish between the existence of something and the mere capability of existing, such as the redness of a green apple before it ripens and becomes red. 

One of Webster’s definitions of reality: is: “fidelity to nature.”  This may correspond to the title of our discussion: Abortion, in light of Nature as the Measure of Reality.  The word “measure” is used here as the identity or meaning or definition of a thing, the true knowledge of what the thing is. (To possess true knowledge is to know things as they are.) 

Questions: Are thoughts always faithful to nature?  Could an expressed thought be judged true or false by its conformity or lack of conformity to nature? 

Question: Actions could conform to nature, or could lack that conformity.  What is the practical advantage in using nature as a criterion, or measure, of truth and error, of good and evil? 

Questions: Is nature the measure of reality?  In the physical sciences, is there any criterion beyond nature?  (Laws of Nature)   In the part of Philosophy called Ethics, is there any criterion of human behavior beyond nature? (Natural Law)

Proposal: Just as the architect’s blueprint is the measure of the completed structure, so is nature the measure of reality.  If reality were limited to things having natures, and if those natures are a participation in “the world of nature,” the question should be answered in the affirmative.  If artificial things are included in reality, as they should be, nature would still have a role in their measurement, for three reasons: they are composed of natural things; they interact with natural things; they are brought into existence by natural agencies.

In testing this proposal, consider this question: Would ground glass and nitric acid be a suitable substitute for breakfast cereal and orange juice?  The negative answer would be upheld by noting the incompatibility between the proposed diet and the ingesting organism.  What necessitates this negative answer?  Is it not the nature of things!

It should be noted that artificial things are not always “man-made,” but also occur in the normal workings of nature. A geode could serve as an example, a composite of stone, an amorphous substance, and of something else, a crystalline substance.  It might be asked why these substances interacted without becoming one substance, as sodium and chlorine would have become under the same circumstances. 

It might be concluded that some things act and react in predictable manners, because of their natures.  This conclusion is an axiom of the physical sciences, not only of Biology and Chemistry, but also of Physics.  In the first two sciences, the qualitative characteristics of things pertain to nature, with respect to their unique manner of being.  In the latter, qualitative characteristics pertain also, but in different way, namely in their action, rather than in their being.  (Qualities, in Physics, may be expressed in quantitative terms, as when a piece of iron is more or less magnetized, still retaining its nature as iron.)  The kinetic theory underlying physical qualities, such as temperature, pressure and volume, could relate equally to vaporized substances having different natures, if allowance were made for incidental factors, such as the presence or absence of electrical charges on the vapor particles.

Question: What would be the hurtful consequences of neglecting nature in our attempt to understand reality and to manipulate the things of nature?

Question: What would be the consequences of denying nature, in terms of technology and social order?

Question: What are some of the possible consequences of discarding the natural and embracing man-made substitutes in technology and in the social order?

Proposal: There are some persons who assert that nature and the “things of nature” as we know them today, are the mid-product of an ever-changing reality.  Other persons hold that nature is the changeless design imposed upon reality by an Intelligent Creator, to safeguard its beneficial operation.  Some persons strive to reconcile both of these positions, to show reality as a harmonious system, where there is room for change, man-made or natural, within the system, so long as the changes are not contradictory to the system. 

With the above guidelines in place, it should not be too difficult to understand that legalized abortion is contrary to nature and that hurtful consequences will follow in its path.   In the physical order of reality, there is evidence showing an incidence of breast cancer accompanying abortion.  In the area of the psychological, “post-abortion syndrome,” the problems of guilt and remorse, are frequently encountered as a result of abortion.  These, and similar consequences, might well be the voice of nature asking for the discontinuation of legalized abortion.  Are we wise enough to heed the warning!  E.R

Questions:  The Court overstepped its jurisdiction with Roe v. Wade.  No, I do not have a Law degree, nor a license to practice. But I do have some questions:

Does the Supreme Court have jurisdiction over the life and death of innocent human beings?  Does any human being or group of humans have dominion over the lives of other human beings?  Properly constituted governments can, with sufficient cause, demand the death of a criminal. This court did not make that claim against the unborn, as though they would ever be deserving of capital punishment.  But the Court approved of their deaths, one and all, by mandating non-interference with their killing.  I do not understand this.

And did not the Court, as a function of government, fail the primary purpose of government, which is to protect the lives of its people?  The Court has made itself a willing accomplice to the deaths of all the human beings deliberately killed as a result of their decision.

Reply:  Your questions, thoughtfully considered, contain their own answers.  However, I invite persons with legal proficiency to comment on them for your need and for the interest of all our viewers.

On this 29th Anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision, I would like to reflect on one of the points you are making.  It should not be a surprise to anyone that human beings have been killed, and are being killed, because of the Court's decision.  Apart from anyone's position on the beginning of human personhood, there can doubt that each one of was a person at some time before birth.  The Court's decision, in practice, prevails until the moment of natural birth.  Would you not agree, then, that some human beings have been, and are being, killed by abortion?

As for whether these abortions would have occurred had the Court not made its decision, I merely refer you to the statistics accounting the yearly number of abortions in this country before and after 1973.  Or look at your phone book, before and after 1973, to compare the numbers of advertisements selling abortions.  Even without statistics, it would not be unreasonable to assume that, because abortion became legal, its numbers increased.  From being prosecuted by law to being protected by law is a big transition, big enough to falsify the nature of abortion, even to the extent of making it acceptable as part of the culture.

It would be interesting to enquire whether the Court were aware that they were authorizing the killing of their fellow human beings.  If so, to echo your question, did the Court pretend to have dominion over the lives of the unborn, so that those lives could be bartered to satisfy the demands of their parents?  If not, shouldn't the Court be held accountable for their ignorance of something so fundamental to their decision? 

The Assistant Attorney General of Texas had argued that "life begins at conception and is present throughout pregnancy."  In the context of the verbal exchange with the Court, the Texan was speaking of human life, not merely of  life in general.  The Court responded with: "We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins.  When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer." 

The Court went on to say: "In view of all this, we do not agree that, by adopting one theory of life, Texas may override the rights of the pregnant woman that are at stake."

The Court, as seen above, professed doubt concerning the beginning of human life.  Then they proceeded to authorize the killing of the unborn, even though some or all of them, by the Court's own judgment, might be human beings.  Is this good Ethics?  Further, after denying the right of Texas to define the beginning of human life, as being  "only one theory of life," the Court proceeded to "legislate" their own "definition."  Is this good Logic?  Justice White, in his dissent, spoke of the decision as "an exercise of raw judicial power."

I must agree with you here; there is no rational justification for the unethical behavior of the Court.  After 29 years of having imposed injustice upon millions of individuals and upon a nation mutilated by those many deaths, Roe must go! These very words: "Roe must go!" were spoken by Justice Scalia in his dissent against the "Nebraska" decision of two years ago.

On this 29th Anniversary we have reason to hope that Roe v. Wade will go.  The decision, flawed from the beginning, displayed its tattered fabric in the "Casey" decision of ten years ago, when the Court arrogantly attempted to protect its shaky foundation.  Unwilling to examine the decision on its own merits, the Court took refuge in stating their inability to reverse the decision lest the country would lose confidence in its justice system, and that a reversal would be unfair to women who had become accustomed to having abortion as a necessary element of their lifestyle.

Further revelation of Roe's lack of authenticity came in the Court's decision, "Nebraska," when the "undue burden" clause proclaimed by "Casey" removed the ban against partial-birth abortion.

You may wish to read  Roe v. Wade, verbatim, and/or our further comments on it, in Section 9.  E.R  reply@unbornperson.org

Question: The challenge against the inclusion of God in our Pledge of Allegiance raises questions about religion and politics in the U.S.  How do you handle such questions in your work against legal abortion, especially when you speak about morality?

Reply: The United States is a nation in which Church and State are two separate domains, each an area of activity distinct from the other.  But this does not mean that religion and politics may not intermingle in the lives of its citizens and of the nation.  It means, simply, that one specific religious denomination, or church, may not be incorporated into the state as the established state religion.

It should be emphasized that the citizens of the United States and their government are not irreligious.  “In God we trust.” is found on their coins; prayer is offered at the daily opening of their federal legislature; a day of thanksgiving to God is a national holiday.  In practice, then, the First Amendment of the Constitution, the occasion of the unnecessary confusion mentioned in the question above, does not prohibit religious expression in the political life of the nation.

Atheists, who deny the existence of God, question whether the state should be permitted to give recognition of God’s existence.  A careful reading of the First Amendment does not encourage their questioning..  The Constitution does not concern itself with whether religion or irreligion is to be favored by the government of the nation.  It merely states that no one of the religious denominations may be preferred in public life, to the exclusion of the others.  In the Declaration of Independence the “inalienable rights” are proclaimed as having been “endowed by our Creator.”  Other documented policies of the nation have consistently reflected a belief in God, which was characteristic of the Founding Fathers and of the nation’s majority since their time.

Examine this statement: “The moral principles of any one religious group may not be forced by government upon the people of the nation.”  True!  However, it would be wise to look at some of the unwarranted suppositions that stem from this statement: that the state must not concern itself with morality, and that certain moral principles must be rejected simply because they are taught and practiced by some or all religious denominations.

A better understanding of the relationships between politics and religion and between politics and morality can be gained by looking at the relationship between religion and morality.

Religion expresses a mutual relationship between an individual human, or a group of humans, and God.  God is accepted by various persons as the ultimate cause of their existence and their continued well being, the designer and giver of their human freedom and, therefore, the one to whom accountability must be rendered.  Morality expresses this accountability.  E.R.  reply@unbornperson.org

Question:  In the case of Roe v. Wade, do you think that the courts were constrained to  make significant public policy or not?  Were the courts constrained doctrinally, institutionally, or culturally?

Reply:  It is my opinion that the "Roe" court aimed at establishing a change in public policy, in response to what they perceived to be a change in the nation's culture. 

In reading what follows, you should keep in mind that the Supreme Court prides itself on being the living Constitution, not merely a Constitution frozen in time. 

"We, the people," during the past century had given protection to the unborn by having criminalized abortion.  Now, "We, the people," in the eyes of the Court, were clamoring to remove that protection.  The Court, seeing the Constitution as the will of the people, seems to have disregarded the original Constitution, in favor of the articulated will of the current generation.  In their haste to up-date the Constitution, the Court failed to see that the clamor arose, not from the majority of the people, but from a mere handful of opportunistic revolutionaries.

In the years immediately prior to Roe v. Wade, we had become a permissive society.  "Do your own thing!" had been the rebellious norm of individual behavior, progressing into institutional behavior and, possibly, influencing the behavior of the Court.

I cite here, from among many, peculiarities of the Court, a few examples:  In ample time before the 1973 decision was handed down by the Court, the plaintiff, Jane Roe was no longer seeking an abortion.  She had carried her child to term and entrusted her to others, by adoption.  Under normal circumstances, the Court would have terminated the case, as moot, since there was no longer a cause for complaint.  But the "Roe" court did not desist in pursuing their action.  Did the Court have a mission to fulfill?  They continued the case, it would seem, to favor all women in the country who might, forever, be seeking abortions.  They accomplished this by prohibiting the states from interfering with the mother's choice to abort her baby.

Equally revealing is the Court's disregard of a fundamental principle of ethics:  After admitting their ignorance about the beginning of a human being's life, they proceeded to sanction the killing of what they knew could be human beings.  They covered this breach of ethics by speaking of "potential human beings," an expression which has no correspondence to anything in the real world of nature.

By an inexcusable error in reasoning, the "marital privacy" of a previous case, called "Griswold," was illogically tailored by the Court into a "right to privacy."  It is this fabrication in "Roe" which protects the maternal parent's choice of killing her unborn baby.  The two cases have nothing substantial in common.  Nor is there any Constitutional basis for the newly contrived "right to privacy." The Court themselves admit that.  The closest they could approach the Constitution to locate such a "right" was in the "fringes of the shadows" of that otherwise revered document.

And something must be said about the Court's total disregard of the paternal parent's right to fulfill his natural obligation to defend his baby's life, in the face of the mother's "right" to dispose of their baby.  Does this not indicate the single-mindedness of the Court?  The unborn "potential human," as they termed the baby, and the father were given no serious consideration by the Court.

Did the Court's preoccupation with the mother leave women, and the rest of the nation, better off because of Roe v. Wade?  Has it improved our culture?  Does it even reflect our culture?  I suggest giving the full membership of  "We, the people" an opportunity to answer those and similar questions, without interference from the Court.

You may read Roe v. Wade verbatim, here.  If you wish to consider our commentary, read Section 9, from our text material.  E.R.   reply@unbornperson.org

Question: How can it be fair for the federal courts to trash the partial-birth abortion ban?  The ban was established by the U.S. Legislature and is endorsed by the majority of the people. (10 Sep 04)

Reply: The federal courts, starting with "Nebraska and ending with the three recent District Court decisions, have given two reasons for their action: The ban imposes “an undue burden” upon women seeking abortion, and it makes no exception for the health of the mother.  The “undue burden” clause is taken from Casey,”

During the enactment of the federal ban, a large volume of medical evidence showed that the partial-birth abortion procedure is never necessary for the bodily health of a pregnant woman, indicating that, when chosen, it is for reasons other than bodily health. Furthermore, in abortion terminology, “health’ was given to mean not only a condition of the body, but emotional and economic conditions as well.  It is for this reason that the federal ban does not use “health” in its vocabulary.  The legislature was anticipating a breach of the ban through the faulty meanings that had been attached to the time-honored definition of health.

With this in mind, I can understand your concern for lack of fairness on the part of the federal judiciary, assuming that Roe v. Wade must be protected at any cost.  However, questions may be raised whether the Court, in 1973, even thought about the manner of aborting the baby.  Would any atrocious means of killing, such as partial-birth abortion, be outside the freedom to kill the baby? Would any kind of butchery, such as partial-birth abortion, be acceptable under that decision of the Court? Another basic question is whether the Supreme Court is competent to decide who is a human being and what things are not human beings.  It was not fair of the Court to sanction the killing of the unborn, while professing ignorance of what it is that is being killed in legalized abortion.  The Court must, eventually, face up to these and similar questions.

One problem with “undue burden” is that it was never clearly defined by the Court.  It can mean anything, differently for different people. The Court failed to propose a minimum “burden” proportionate to the hurt of the barbaric procedure, to prevent frivolous excuses for undertaking it.  A greater unfairness lies in their assumption that any “burden” can be proportionate to the value of a human being’s life.

Your use of the concept “fairness” is well chosen.  Abortion is never “fair.”  The baby has no voice, yet pays with his or her life.  The distressed mother has been given a voice, but unjustly, for which she pays throughout her post-abortion syndrome.  The father has been unnaturally deprived of his voice and conscientious fathers pay for that in the anguish of their legal inability to save the lives of their own children.  The society has a voice, but if not effectively spoken, will pay in the total collapse of their nation.  The Court has a voice, but, if the above-mentioned circumstances are unfair, what must be said of that which is responsible for the existence of those circumstances?

The U.S. Justice System will challenge the recent court decisions that have declared the federal partial-birth abortion ban unconstitutional.  They will, if given an opportunity, ask the questions necessary for fairness. They will want to know the constitutional basis of the Court’s rejection of the partial-birth abortion ban.  How the Supreme Court will respond will be life-giving, on the one hand, and catastrophic, on the other. E.R.  reply@unbornperson.org

Question:  I agree with everything you guys are saying but the fact is women can do it now,  but what do u guys think of the fathers right to chose?

Reply:  Your question is an interesting one.  However I can only speculate on the outcome, if fathers would demand the choice of aborting their unborn babies.  At the outset, I would suggest that men would stand a lesser chance of persuading the Supreme Court to consider their plea than was accorded the women by the Roe v. Wade court.  Men do not have a "Men's Lib." to bend the culture away from commonsense and into the morass of emotional persuasion. Nor would the mistaken gallantry of the Court toward the "disadvantaged" gender likely find equal appeal in the petition of their fellow males.

Although the father is not mentioned in "Roe," the father may not defend his baby's life.  He does not stand out from among those who may not interfere with the mother's decision.  With this in mind, it is not likely that the daring gallantry of approval for the mother's disposal of the baby would ever be extended to the male parent.  It would not make sense, in the context of the Court's unbalanced vision of what is involved in abortion.  They see abortion as something involving only the woman.

If the above observation seems unfair and cynical, let me explain its purpose.  I am not unaware of the reality that childbearing is more of a "burden" to the mother than to the father, at least in the sense of bodily involvement.  I see more in "Roe" than this physical aspect of pregnancy.  I see an attempt on the part of the Court to manipulate difference-of-gender from what is natural, to give it a court-determined status: in this instance, by encouraging antagonism between a mother and her baby and encouraging the abandonment of responsibility by the baby's father.

The price of this maneuver is the deaths of 40 million of our unborn babies and the social disorder rising from the disarranged lives of their parents and other members of their families. Concerned citizens of our nation also suffer from the declining social standard set by their government. The natural concepts of marriage and family, the basis of human society, have been replaced by the ideology of the Court.

In ancient Rome, where men were the lawmakers, the father was privileged by the customs of "Paterfamilias" to kill his offspring; in our day it is the mother.  As the ill-fated cigarette commercial used to say it: "Yes, baby, you've come a long way!"

Let us hope that, sometime soon, the commonsense of both women and men will over-ride the extravagances of the Court.  Then our nation can begin to live again!  E.R. reply@unbornperson.org

Question:  I agree with your conclusion in Section 9, when you say that the Court acted unethically in deciding against the life of the conceptus, while being uncertain whether it is or is not a human being.  Is Ethics a responsibility of courts, or are the courts concerned only with law?

Reply:  Ethics is everyone's responsibility!   We are all accountable for our actions.  A reasonable norm of behavior is necessary for defining acceptable behavior on the part of individuals and society.  Ethics is the rational proclamation of that norm of conduct.

Courts tend to make new decisions based on previously approved decisions (precedents.)  But courts should be expected to examine those precedents ethically and apply them in a reasonable and fair manner.   E.R.

Question:  Why does our nation permit this Roe v. Wade decision to go unchallenged?  When I first heard of it I could not believe that our government said that it is legal for parents to kill their own baby before it is born.  I still think it is wrong to do that.

Reply:  Roe v. Wade has been challenged right from the beginning.  In fact two of the Justices, Rhenquist and White, dissented from the opinion of the other seven members of the Court.  Constitutional lawyers, from the principles of Jurisprudence, have shown it to be a bad decision.  States have tried to offset some of its harmful effects, by enacting laws.  Individuals and groups of citizens have protested the decision and have reduced its effectiveness by aiding parents with distressful pregnancies, helping them to choose life for their offspring.  

You seem to be asking why these efforts have not done away with Roe v. Wade.  It might help you to remember that the nation is us, "We, the People!"  It is likely that we, which means more of us, will have to improve our moral sense of respect for human life, before Roe v. Wade will be done away with. reply@unbornperson.org

Question:  You speak strongly against the Court's use of the expression: "potential human being."  Is it because you see this as a ploy for denying, or at least questioning, human existence at conception?

Reply:  Our first objection to the expression "potential human being" is that it has no corresponding reality in the concrete universe.  For a more detailed explanation, may I refer you to Section 3.

For this moment, keep in mind that a potentiality (capability) has to exist in, and be possessed by, a subject.  This subject must be capable of possessing it.  A doorknob, for example, could not have the capability of reproducing itself, because it is not a living thing.)  To say that something has the capability of doing something, we would have to demonstrate compatibility between that something and the supposed capability.

There are two different situations in which potentialities can be considered.  In the first, the subject having the potentiality continues to exist in its own nature after the potentiality has been actualized.  An embryonic rabbit, for example, has the capability for reproduction.  Time and further physical development will be required for that potentiality to become actualized.  It is the same rabbit, individually and specifically, which in its embryonic condition had only the potentiality to reproduce, that is now actually a parent.

That which is possessed potentially must be rooted in the kind of thing which is capable of possessing its actuality.  If something had the potential for acting, even in the distant future, as a human,  it would already have to have been a human to possess that potentiality.

In the second situation, if it were possible for something to have the "potential for being a human," it would cease to exist as soon as the potential is actualized.  (The something would have been replaced by a human being.) 

But nothing in the natural world has the capability of becoming something of another kind, that is, having a different nature.  Its only capability, in the realm of being, is to continue being what it already is.  The biologist notes that there is no transition from one species to another. Even Darwin's observed changes were always from one variety to another, within the species.  (When he spoke in "Origin of  Species," despite its title, he was speaking of the origin of varieties within the species.)

A special problem enters into this second situation, wherein something of one specific identity (nature) is said to become something which has a different nature.  Examined carefully, it can be seen that there are no examples of such a transition ever having taken place in our natural world.  We must be careful not to assume that we have an example of a transition from the potential to the actual, by saying that "the first something" had a potential for becoming "the other something" (that the potential is in one subject and its actualization is in another.)

If it were said that sodium has the capability of becoming table salt (sodium chloride) we would see no basis for the claim.  Left to itself, sodium never becomes table salt.  It is only when sodium interacts chemically with chlorine that table salt is produced.  In the process, both the sodium and chlorine lose their individual and specific identities in favor of the compound.

It has been suggested that the sperm and the ovum are "potential human beings."  In the same sense as in the chemistry example, neither becomes a human being.  At conception both lose their identities in favor of the new, single individual product, the "conceptus," which has a nature quite different for either of theirs.  

Another problem:  Those who assume that the product resulting from the natural fusion of the sperm and the ovum is "only a potential human being," must embrace the problem of how that potentiality is ever to be actualized.  See how Aristotle-------- attempted to handle this problem.

It is our position that there is nothing in the world of nature which could possess the capability of becoming a human being.  E.R.  reply@unbornperson.org

Question: Is it for real what you said about the Supreme Court’s reason for not junking their abortion decision?  I mean the one in Pennsylvania about having to keep up with women’s abortion lifestyle. (July 6, 2004).   Did I get that right?  If a burglar had been successful for twenty years he should never, after that, be hindered by the police because that would interfere with his lifestyle. (19 Jul 04)

Reply: I am inclined to agree with your observation.  Hurtful conduct should not be tolerated on the excuse that the perpetrator had become accustomed to behaving hurtfully.  For a comment on that, read  (June 11, 2004).

The added irony in the Pennsylvania decision, called Casey , is that it invokes custom as having the force of law.  There the Court demands observance of a custom of only twenty years duration, 1973 -1992, the availability of legalized abortion.  Yet, twenty years earlier the Court, in practice, ignored a custom that had existed since the beginning of recorded history, the presumption that what a pregnant woman carries within her body is a living human being.

Your analogy, as a matter of fact, makes sense.  However, as a matter of law, your analogy fails.  The burglar had been operating contrary to law, whereas the women were operating under the sanction of law.  I say, “as a matter of fact” because, despite Roe v. Wade, the women were doing something hurtful to their babies and to themselves and to the whole society.  This sinister side of Roe may have become evident to the Casey court in 1992, when they almost overturned Roe by a vote of 4 to 5.

Your bewilderment indicates the absurdity of Roe, the protection of evil by law.  The absurdity is made more profound in the professed helplessness of the Court to break out of the obviously absurd position they had gotten themselves into.  Perhaps the other two branches of government might discover some technique to assist the Court back to its purpose of dealing out just and, therefore, reasonable decisions. 

The entire matter of legalized abortion must be reviewed with objective standards of evaluation, the traditional principles of ethics.  Inquiry must be made concerning the limits of competence proper to the Supreme Court on questions pertaining to human life.  With the Roe court bent on legalizing abortion, it was not proper for them to have used their own definition of a human being, especially when it clashes with the wisdom of the ages. Obviously there is a conflict of interest here.

In the act of dehumanizing the unborn, the Court set a pattern of embryonic and fetal abuse, in full bloom at the present time, thirty years later.  The increasing incidence of child abuse, for children already born, was an almost immediate consequence of the Roe decision.  What I suggest here is that all human life is to be respected, not only the human life designated by a prejudiced court. What is your opinion in this matter?  E.R.  reply@unbornperson.org

Question: When church people talk to the Supreme Court about the morality of abortion, would the court people listen?  Or would they hide behind the First Amendment? (22 Jun 04)

Reply: If a church member were to have the attention of the Court, he or she could probably talk with them about morality and, yes, even religion.  The First Amendment would not prohibit that. The Amendment prohibits the establishing of a state religion, such as was had in England, from which the Pilgrims had fled.  In the U.S. there is a freedom to practice religion, with no compulsion or restriction by the state.  It is interesting to remember that each of the fifty states, in the preamble of its Constitution, recognizes God and invokes divine aid for the well being of its citizens.

Perhaps you are assuming that when people ask the government to be attentive to morality they are proposing the establishment of a religion. Taking a look at the relationship between morality and religion could be of help to you here. 

Religion is the mutual relationship between an individual human, or a group of humans, and God.  God is accepted by various persons as the ultimate cause of their existence and their continued well being, the designer and giver of their human freedom and, therefore, the one to whom accountability must be rendered. Morality expresses deliberated conformity or lack of conformity to this perceived plan of God.

Morality is a characteristic of human behavior that constitutes and measures the goodness or evil of specific actions.  Whatever yardstick is used for the measuring, it becomes the standard of good and evil conduct, as when acting reasonably is said to be good and acting irresponsibly is said to be evil.  Underlying the standard is the assumption that there is something objective about right reason and good will, not something arbitrary. Eventually, as history indicates, society generally agrees that humans have in their distinctively human faculties of intellect and free will the ability to know what is reasonable and the corresponding freedom to act accordingly. Criminal law has always been based on this assumption.

Morality and religion are seen as related whenever human accountability terminates in God.  This is true whether God is known by human reasoning as the Author of Nature or believed, through revelation, as a Trinity of Divine Persons.  The noteworthy point here is that revelation, a supernatural element of religion, is not required for establishing the standard of morality. The standard is deduced by reasoning upon God’s handiwork in the world of nature, revealing his will as to its proper operation. Ethics is the science of drawing such conclusions and applying them to the concrete problems of everyday life.

There is a question whether the basic principles of morality are common to all persons, having religious affiliation or not, since the basic moral dictates are promulgated by the reasoning ability that is common to all human beings.  A consensus of the majority, over long periods of time, indicates an affirmative answer.  This is in agreement with the notion that humans have been endowed with intelligence to discern what the Creator wishes for their well being, as an aid to the beneficial exercise of free choice.

In this sense, morality plays a role in government.  Laws are formulated with an eye to conformity with its principles. For establishing and maintaining good order in society it could not be otherwise, since the moral principles are held as being essential, not arbitrary, in a way similar to the directions in the Operations Manual written by the designer of a delicate machine.

In what sense, if any should morality be separated from government?  Surely not the basic moral principles that are common to all human beings, that no religious denomination had invented, yet that all attempt to teach and practice.  Surely not the right to lobby on the basis of morality, for or against issues that clearly involve moral principles!

Legalized abortion in the United States presents a problem that relates politics and morality.  The problem should not involve religion, except in the sense of individual and group accountability to God for all deliberate individual and group choices.  The problem does not require religion in the sense of supernatural revelation.

Protection of the right to life and the right to human dignity pertain to basic morality, the content of which does not require proclamation from any of the churches, a content which, according to a noted churchman, St. Paul, is written on the “fleshy tablets of the human heart.”  Churches, however, have a duty to remind the government of its serious obligation to observe the principles of morality whenever it is failing to do so.

In its failure to protect human life and human dignity, to the best of its ability, the government is acting unethically.  In its strident disregard for the central principle of its own Declaration of Independence, the inalienable right to life, the government should be reminded of its serious duty to remedy its moral deficiency. The churches, then, without being an established political entity, serve the citizenry of the state by coming forward with such reminders.  E.R. reply@unbornperson.org

Question: There is a debate over whether the “morning after pill” should become an over-the-counter drug.  Our local newspaper quotes various sources as saying that the drug is not abortifaciant, that it merely restrains ovulation, and is a contraceptive over a period of 72 hours.  An abortion provider is quoted as saying that the drug may prevent implantation, but that this is not abortion, since conception takes place only with implantation.  I know that this statement is contrary to biology, which places conception at fertilization, the union of the two reproductive cells.  Your site has made this even more certain to me when you point out the fact that the genetic makeup, established at fertilization, does not change at implantation.  To prevent the embryo from implanting, to me, is an act of abortion.  My question is about the probability of the drug acting as an abortifaciant. In what percentage of its use? (1 Jan 04)

Reply: There are three possible actions attributed to this drug: suppression of ovulation, incapacitation of sperm and preventing implantation of the embryo.  The first two are contraceptive; the third is abortificiant.  If the drug’s action is to suppress ovulation, there would be a problem when ovulation had already recently occurred, and a viable ovum is exposed to the sperm. Further, the 72 hour anovulatory action could fall short of expectation since the sperm is capable of fertilization up to 72 hours.  The pills taken, let us say, 50 or 60 hours after intercourse may not have sufficient time to block ovulation to the still waiting sperm. Incapacitation of sperm is problematic, not expected to be a total elimination of viable sperm.

It has long been known that high doses of progestins would have a direct hormonal effect on the uterus to render it an unwilling host to the fertilized egg.  This effect would have several days to do its work since the fertilized egg does not implant in the uterus for approximately 7 days post fertilization.  This in fact would be a direct interference with the normal life cycle of the already created human person.  By definition this is in fact a medically induced abortion.

I would suppose Plan B would be marketed as a contraceptive alternative.  I wonder how many purchases would not happen if women of conscience knew they could abort their children because of the use of these pills. 

It has already been noted and argued elsewhere that promiscuity will be promoted with this readily available abortificiant, marketed as a contraceptive, and we heartily agree.  Without medical supervision, complications could result in many users.  We have heard of no studies directed at the issue of irregular uterine bleeding caused by repeated use of this potent hormone. Periods of late menstruation and of no menstruation will lead to irregular cycles, which have no rhythm.  Many women have problems remembering their regular cycles much less late, early or missed menses.  If a woman uses this drug on a frequent basis she may have at best a vague idea of the “72-hour” window and will take the pill whenever and so abuse it to her detriment.

As an aside, one wonders how many of the 2.4 million women required diagnostic and therapeutic D&C’s for irregular bleeding caused by these potent hormones.  One wonders if 2.4 million women took the pill or if 2.4 million prescriptions were filled by fewer women.  This difference may skew some statistics cited in the debate.

One wonders if the Guttmacher Institute’s testimony was based on “trends of behavior” which is their avowed method of study.  Did they do exhaustive interviews with a goodly sampling of the 2.4 million Plan B users?  Did they speak directly with any of the women involved?  Dangerously erroneous conclusions may be attained if one has a preconceived opinion or agenda and does not have “facts per se”, but rather interprets “trends of behavior.”  

As you can see, I have not attempted to estimate percentages relating usage of the drug with consequent abortions, but you can also see that the drug may be hazardous not only to babies but also to women, whether pregnant or not. The problems of estimating are multiplied by the need for individual, immediate histories, such as date of usage within the monthly cycle and listing of other, proximate intercourse.  I mention the latter in the event of an immediately previous conception, not yet implanted.  M.V.K., M.D.  reply@unbornperson.org

Question:  Your correspondent hit the nail right on the head, because the Supreme Court, just last week, gave the legal okay for the homosexual lifestyle.  That was Lawrence vs Texas.  That decision took away states’ rights, just like the abortion decision did.  Without asking the people the court has changed our culture into something that is not good for us, just like abortion. Do you think government approval of abortion will ever be wiped out, now that the court is stonewalling it with other things of the same kind?  (11 Jul 03)

Reply:  Your concern has a basis in history.  Tyrants have changed cultures, but peoples have survived under suppression and, in some instances, regained their status of human dignity.  In fact, the more radical the change, the greater will be the likelihood that recovery from the tyranny will follow.  That is because sudden and obvious change can awaken a slumbering society.  Since people can stand only so much abuse, they will revolt as soon as the burden becomes too heavy.  Then they are willing to wield pitchforks in the face of cannons, as in the French Revolution.  It is only when people are gradually moved into change, with quiet “stonewalling,” as you call it, and do not rise up to defend their human dignity, that the nation eventually collapses in ruin.  Ancient, pagan Rome could serve as example of an imposed culture, submissively endured, until its own destruction.  

Some of the effects of  “Lawrence” are the same as those of  “Roe,” such as the loss of states’ rights and the degradation of human dignity, as you have noted.   Innocent humans are being deprived of their lives and their right to life, because “Roe” protects this choice of the mother.  In “Lawrence,” society is the victim.  Society is cheapened by the Court’s insensitivity to a standard of social environment instinctively needed by the people.

And there is another similarity. With abortion, the victim is killed.  Nothing is more complete or final than that?  Not quite!  Looking at “Roe” as a victory, the victors immediately demanded that the rest of the society should pay for their abortions, through the use of public funds.  Their demand was posed in the guise of justice: The poor should have the same “health care” as the wealthy.  With approval of homosexual activity, the consequences to society are not finished.  They have just begun to be multiplied.  It will be interesting to see what demands on the public will be made on behalf of those who are celebrating Lawrence v. Texas today.

If I may add something of my own concern, I would suggest that the saddest part of this recent decision is its deceptive promise of happiness for those who subscribe to it, especially for the many who have adopted the homosexual lifestyle as a preference.  “Roe” had promised happiness for those who felt free, because of that decision, to kill their babies.  Post-abortion syndrome has proved the promise to be false and misleading.  

The homosexual lifestyle is not a substitute for marriage.  It is not even the same kind of thing.  It should be kept in mind that self-imposed addiction to the use of an imitation cannot produce the desired effects belonging to the real thing. Pornography is an example of that.  In the course of time there might be an awakening and the imitation will be rejected as deceptive.   The entertaining TV commercial, comparing butter with margarine, fits here: “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!”  E.R.  reply@unbornperson.org

Question:  You guys are spinning your wheels with your campaign against abortion.  Why don't you try to protect kids who get wiped out by their parents after they are born?  There's plenty of that going on.  And I think it would be easier too. (18 May 03)

Reply:  We are already fighting child abuse.  Abortion is the worst kind of child abuse!  I would like to agree with you that it should be easier to save kids who are big enough to be seen and heard, rather than kids which are not yet born.  But it doesn't always work that way.  Parents are free to kill their children before they are born, according to Roe v. Wade.  There would be no less wheel-spinning when we tell them they must not kill their already-born children.  Is there really any difference?

I would suggest that this is only a part of the growing problem  of child abuse.  Problem parents aren't held back from killing their toddlers and pre-teens whom they see and hear.  Just the opposite!  They kill because of seeing and hearing more of them than they are willing to bear.  In some instances, of course, the children are not the primary targets, but rather a  means of one spouse wishing to hurt the other.  Or the children might be the victims of parental drug abuse.

It should be presumed that parents kill their already-born children only after becoming subject to some form of mental derangement.  The question then becomes a search for the causes of their mental breakdown.  In this brief reply I will offer only one generalized observation and one which is more particularized.  These observations might also apply to parents who kill their children by abortion. 

We, as individuals and as a society, have become involved in more activity than most of us can handle.  Sometimes this is by choice, more often by contrived necessity.  We do not have time available for planning, for evaluating and for restructuring our activities.  So we become exhausted, physically, mentally and morally.  Parents, being at the center of many diverse worlds, and feeling the constant weight of their responsibilities, civic and social, sometimes collapse under the stresses of daily living. 

In sharper focus, I suggest the hurtful neglect of cultivating restraint in our lives and in the lives of our children. "Me, first!" and "Do your own thing!" is a explosive mixture.  The home, being flammable, is no place for allowing it to accumulate for storage.  E.R.  reply@unbornperson.org

Question:  I am writing a paper for class on abortion.  I am using what we had in Physiology about reproduction processes.  The professor and all of the references spoke about fertilization as the beginning of the human being same as for the other organisms produced by sexual reproduction.  I just want to say that it is not right to kill human beings anytime -- even before birth.  I don't understand how anyone could have a problem with that. (24 Apr 03)

Reply:  In your brief statement you have said the whole thing: To kill the unborn is to do evil. Your question seems to be asking: "Why, then, do people have abortions?"  You might have noticed on our web site that we go one step further, by asking the Supreme Court of the United States to explain their approval of abortion.

Why people sometimes do what is evil is too large a subject for consideration here.  However, I suggest two possibilities:  Some people might be ignorant of the evil, or even misled away from the truth by propaganda.  Others might be aware of the evil but find excuses to over-ride the prohibition.  In your question, there is a third possibility, namely ignorance or error concerning the facts of reproduction.  From this web site you will notice a fourth possibility: failure to see the need for the philosophical insight on human reproduction.

May I suggest that you continue your interest in the problem of legalized abortion by searching this web site for combinations of terms, such as: conception, soul, Philosophy, human being, human life.  E.R.  reply@unbornperson.org  

Question:  I would like to think that abortion in the United States will soon lose its legal protection.  People are beginning to see that it is hurtful to our sense of decency and that it reduces our moral stature as a nation.  Do you have any idea of how and when we will be able to get back to normal? (13 Apr 03)

Reply:  One step toward getting back to normal (I like your way of putting that!) is to educate the people to see that we are not playing fair with our nation when we kill those who should be its future.  We are killing one-third of the possible newcomers to our society.  And, with their absence, we lose the talents and earning power which is necessary to sustain our nation.  In killing them, we are killing ourselves.

In many countries the unwarranted scare of overpopulation has been replaced by awareness of national decline and the possibility of eventual collapse.  In some western countries immigration has already become necessary for survival.  By simple projection of mathematics the ethnic blood and culture of the immigrants can be perceived as replacing those nations in the course of time. 

As for the "How?" of getting back to normal, step one is to unfasten the grip of Roe v. Wade from the throat of our justice system.  A suitable image here is the recent toppling from its pedestal the immense statue of Saddam Hussein by the people of Iraq.  It should be noted, though, that with the demise of "Roe" there would still remain its hurtful consequences, imprinted on the laws of our land. Abuses against the right to life and human dignity, stemming from "Roe," range from attempts at human cloning to denial of care for comatose, elderly patients.

The final step toward getting back to normal must give legal recognition to the human personhood of the unborn from the time of his or her conception.  Only this could undo the residue of injustice and legalized confusion suffered by the nation during these past thirty years of juridical tyranny by Roe v. Wade.  And it would begin to reverse the shameful decline of our nation.  E.R.  reply@unbornperson.org

Question:  I have heard of no laws against in-vitro fertilization, which is in use around the world.  Why do you oppose it?  I agree with you that cloning humans should not be allowed.  That would affect the whole human race. (3 Apr 03)

Reply:  Your question seems to infer that "in-vitro fertilization" is strictly a private matter and has no social consequences.  From a strict scientific point of view, it may be too early for a final appraisal of the practice.  There are some studies, already under way, which raise questions pertaining to the health of some individuals conceived "in vitro" instead of in the natural, maternal environment.  Whether these could lead to factors capable of influencing the health of other members of the society, it is too early to say. Although the essential biology of reproduction appears to be the same in both instances, "in-vitro fertilization" involves additional handling of the delicate reproductive cells and exposure to a foreign physical environment.  It is reasonable to assume that some physiological factors may be involved also, such as those caused by the chemical stimulation of the ovaries to produce multiple ova for the procedure.  Even the multiple implantations might occasion hostile stress to be encountered by the growing, embryonic humans.

Although we are interested in the biology of "in-vitro fertilization" our principal objection to its use is a moral one.  In practice, several ova are obtained and then fertilized in the petri-dish, some of which are selected for implantation, others either for storage or for discard or, eventually, for experimentation.  At "unbornperson.org" it is our position that the fertilized human ovum is already a human person and must be respected as such.

It must be noted that the procedure has a poor success rate. Several attempts, on average, are made for each live birth.  In many instances it is a total, emotionally exhausting, failure.  Meanwhile, embryonic human beings are subjected to dying, before and after implantation.  In other cases, where several embryos have been implanted, some are selectively chosen to be killed to "make room" for a remaining one or two.  There is no ethical basis to justify such behavior. 

From another perspective, the practice of "in-vitro fertilization" is not limited to the husband-wife relationship.  Selected donors of sperm and of ova are sometimes used, within and outside of the marriage relationship.  And surrogate mothers are sometimes employed.  This tends not only to destroy the maternal-child bonding process of the biological mother and child, but also leads to lawsuits between the two women for "possession" of the child.  Even if there should be no biological harm accruing to the society from "in-vitro fertilization," the practice must be seen as conducive to hurtful ethical and psychological consequences, such as those noted above.

It goes without saying that the child conceived "in-vitro" is subjected to unfair and hazardous risk from the time of life's beginning and, perhaps, for a long time thereafter.  Does the desire to parent a child justify the imposition of that risk upon the human being conceived by "in-vitro fertilization?"

For the benefit of those who wish to consider the morality of "in-vitro fertilization" more thoroughly, may I close this Reply with an additional question:  In very limited circumstances, a single ovum from the wife is fertilized by the husband and implanted in his wife as the only means of initiating their pregnancy.  Incompetent Fallopian tubes might describe such a case.  They will respect the right to life and nurture of their offspring.  Would "in-vitro fertilization," under these conditions, be morally acceptable?  E.R.  reply@unbornperson.org

Question:  I recall many years of open confrontation between the prolife and prochoice people, especially from the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties.  What has happened?  Did the people lose interest or has some sort of compromise developed? (24 Feb 03)

Reply:  On the part of "the people," as you expressed it, there is still interest and there has been no compromise.  Tactics have changed, however.  Confrontation on the streets has lessened, but not in the
legislatures and in the media.  In the federal legislature, abortion and its related attacks on the unborn, such as fetal stem-cell research and attempts at human cloning, have become strategies in party politics.  It seems fair to say that the Republican party favors the unborn's right to
life, whereas the Democrat party opposes the Republican's effort to legalize that protection.  The conflict centers not only on legislation pertaining to the unborn, but also on the appointment of federal judges, who might be in favor of the unborn's right to life. 

The media participates in the on-going conflict with news stories which tend to enhance the dream of curing adult disabilities with fetal stem-cells taken from the "extra" embryos of in-vitro fertilization and
from what the dream envisions as cloned, embryonic humans. The media seems to welcome celebrities who plead for legislation to make such stem-cells available for specific persons of their acquaintance and, therefore, for everyone. 

The pro-life community has shifted from confrontation to a more quiet and more successful form of persuasion.  Their emphasis now is on prayer, education and supportive services for distressful pregnancies.  The pro-choice community, as evidenced from recently published statements of
their leaders, is concentrating on building up their declining membership and in backing legislators who favor their stand on legalized abortion.  They have pledged themselves to undertake a large fund-drive for the latter purpose and for propaganda through the media.  Their rally-cry at the moment is for the rescue of their endangered anchorage, the Roe v. Wade decision.

The general public is moving closer to agreement with the pro-life concern that human life has been rapidly losing respect and value,  and that a change in the moral climate of the society is required to enact laws protecting human life, especially of those waiting to be born.

Yes, the conflict continues.  The newest element, if my observation is correct, is the entrance into the arena of today's youngsters and young-adults.  Many of them understand and incorporate the practice of chastity in their own lives and, without embarrassment, proclaim it to others.  Those of the preceding generation, jaded by the physical extravagances of the so-called "sexual revolution," are beginning to find truth in this newer social revolution.  To the extent of their personal honesty they welcome the breath of fresh air in their stagnating environment.  Such is the tale of History.  The pendulum is swinging again!  E.R.  reply@unbornperson.org

Question:  I just had a discussion with a friend and she told me conception takes place between 7 to 14 days after intercourse.  I guess she was trying to defend the morning after pill, which I don't know too much about.  How long does it take before conception takes place and what about the morning after pill?  Does it just prevent pregnancy or kill whatever life there may be? (5 Feb 03)

Reply:  Conception takes place at the moment when the two reproductive cells, the ovum of the mother and the sperm of the father, unite to form a single cell.  That cell is a new human being, the offspring of the two persons who furnished the two reproductive cells.  This is sound Biology and can be referenced from any reliable textbook.  The time, after intercourse, when conception takes place will vary within a range of several hours, in individual cases.

The claim that conception occurs at the implantation of the embryo into the uterine wall is originally an invention of the abortion-minded.  More recently, in our day of embryonic experimentation, the technicians have borrowed the claim, to make their destruction of embryonic humans appear to be less reprehensible.

In the science of Embryology, it is the embryo which implants itself into the uterine wall, a process called nidation, or "nesting."  The embryo is programmed as an organism to do this, at the proper time, by its genetic information.  If the embryo were not a living organism before implantation, there would be no implantation.  As with another gestational event, the development of the placenta, the embryo is "in charge" of the pregnancy, remaining so until birth.

The effects of the "morning after pill" vary with the presence or absence of an embryo.  If conception had taken place, the pill prevents the embryo from nesting into the specially-prepared, spongy tissue of the uterine wall, which usually occurs at about seven days after conception.  As a result, the embryo will die.  For this reason, that pill is known to be abortifacient.

It should be noted here that the circumstances of the pill's interaction with the delicate process of reproduction, even if not causing immediate death for the embryonic human being, might disable it for the rest of his or her life.  Such effects could result from incomplete or partial nesting.  Also, the British government's Chief Medical Officer has recently claimed that Levonelle, the "morning after pill," is related to a high rate of ectopic pregnancy.  E.R. reply@unbornperson.org

Question:  In my more sober moments, it is still hard for me to believe that any nation, especially our nation, permits parents to kill their babies before they get to be born.  Even apart from the deadly assault against their own flesh and blood, they are damaging their country.  Human reproduction is for the good of the whole society, not just for the parents.  It seems like a contradiction that a nation gives a tax-break to compensate parents for child-bearing and nurture of its young citizens (as it does for religious and charitable institutions that benefit the society) and yet does not prevent parents from killing their offspring. (14 Dec 01)

Why are our people so sensitive to national calamities, such as the World Trade Center attack, and yet are so indifferent toward the legally-protected killing of our unborn?  Is this a form of social schizophrenia?  Could you tell me why our nation, otherwise great in many other social responsibilities, has failed so miserably to protect our unborn against their parents?  I see in our government's legalization of abortion, not only negligence in their duty of protecting one human against the many, but I see actual encouragement for this unsocial behavior.

Reply:  As for other forms of schizophrenia, the moral counterpart shows a lack of objectivity.  Awareness of contradiction is not easily evident to the patient.  As for Roe. v. Wade, the source of your concern, it seems that the Court had removed ethical consideration from its agenda.  One glaring example:  After having professed ignorance as to when human life begins, they proceeded to sanction the killing of human offspring at any and all stages of its development, including those to which human personhood cannot be questioned.  I think it is fair to say that this "moral-blindness," whether in our people or in the Court, is suspiciously more than schizophrenia.  Said, simply, the Court did not pause to consider, seriously, whether their decision would hurt babies or the nation.

I am in sympathy with your bewilderment.  May I suggest that you turn your attention to encouraging whatever consistent logic you can find in our political body.  The logic might eventually extend into those areas pertinent to the rights of the unborn.

With reference to your concern, it is interesting that, at the year's end, we hear such expressions as "This Christmas will be different."  The reference, of course, is to the World Trade Center atrocity and its emotional effects on our future behavior.  In a recent media-feature Mayor Giuliani, an admirable hero of that disaster, is quoted as saying: "We will stay strong if we remain dedicated to our principles as Americans."  Unfortunately we cannot remain dedicated to what we have already lost.  Through Roe v. Wade, at least one of those American principles has been abandoned: "....liberty and justice for all."  For some of our brothers and sisters waiting to be born, this Christmas will not be different from those of the past twenty-eight years.  For many of them, there will be no Christmas at all.  E.R.  reply@unbornperson.com

Question:  In these days of rapid communication, similar cultural changes occur rapidly throughout the world.  What are the chances that the elimination of Roe vs. Wade might start a world-wide limitation of legalized abortion? (14 Jan 03)

Reply:  The demise of Roe v. Wade in the U.S. might start other nations thinking about the role of government and its limitation in the area of human rights.  That would be good, but probably not sufficient to influence, greatly, the action of other nations.  But the possibility must be examined.

The U.S. was not the first to legalize abortion.  Japan and some European countries, such as Russia, led the way by at least twenty years.  It is not clear that the U.S. had been influenced by their action.  It is more likely that the breakdown of morality occurred spontaneously within each country, at whatever time its culture had become degenerate.  This would not deny the possibility that any good example of the United States, at this moment in history, could cause other nations to reconsider their current approval of abortion.  The two time-sectors, in terms of human behavior, are not the same.

I refer here to the gullible acceptance of abortion by a nation as a strike for "equality of the sexes," or for "liberation of women," or to stem "overpopulation," and so forth.  In contrast, the reaction of a people who had experienced the fallacy of those early claims, would be more receptive to facing the truth, whether from others or from their own inward recognition of the reality.

In these matters there is hidden a subtle paradox, which might enable me to answer your question in the affirmative: If the U.S. were to repeal liberalized abortion, some other countries would do likewise.  The paradox is seen, for example, in Japan and Russia. Both countries, for pragmatic reasons, "preach" against abortion, even offering "rewards" for child-bearing, yet have not withdrawn the permissiveness of legalized abortion.

In Japan, it has become a custom for women and men, having experienced abortion, to present a baby-doll, dressed in baby-clothing to a religious shrine, to be cared for on their behalf.  This ceremonial expression of reparation and grieving speaks more truthfully than the permissive enactments of that nation's law. 

If the U.S. were to discard its advocacy of abortion, vested in Roe v. Wade, other countries, even Japan, might look up and listen, and the paradox would vanish.

The U.S. knows the relationship between its laws and the culture of its people, because of their experience with the "great experiment" in the early days of the 20th Century, known as Prohibition.  When the people saw legal prohibition as a farce, disruptive of social order and a source of official corruption, they promptly discarded it.  In our own day, the U.S. and most of the world are experiencing a moral nausea from public, over-exposure to permissive sexual behavior.  If History fulfills its promise, reasonable control will follow.  Until then, the unreasonable paradox will remain.

Should the people of the U.S. not hope for an ending of the most nauseous scandal of our nation's history, the deliberate killing of our brothers and sisters who are waiting to be born!  Whether the world would follow our example of restoring our moral integrity, that remains to be seen.  The time of waiting to see will not be long, because the U.S. has begun to awaken from its moral slumber and is beginning to taste the bitterness of the forbidden fruit.  Then the paradox will become only a sad memory of something never to be repeated in the history of the world.   E.R.   reply@unbornperson.org

Question:  I would like to know more about cloning of human beings, and how it is related to the subject of abortion. (30 Dec 00)

Reply:  At the outset, I must alert you to my prejudice against the probability of cloning human beings, which I stated briefly in the preceding Reply. A quick review of cloning might be of some help to you, so let's begin with that.

Although the early experiments in animal cloning began with primitive organisms, it was not long until the more complex animals, Dolly, the sheep, for example, were cloned.  The process of cloning begins with a mature ovum, from which the nucleus had been extracted.  Into that enucleated, reproductive cell another nucleus is inserted.  This new nucleus had been taken from a somatic (body) cell of an embryonic animal which is of the same species as the donor of the ovum.  The artificially contrived cell is then placed in a maternal environment until it matures and is born, as was Dolly, to continue its otherwise normal life in the barnyard of the family farm.

The first significant feature pertinent to cloning is that the nucleus of an ovum possesses only half the number of chromosomes which are proper to its species.  (In fertilization, the other half are given to the offspring by the male parent.)  The nucleus of the embryonic, somatic cell, on the other hand, contains the full number of chromosomes proper to the species.  The second feature to note is that the genetic parents of the clone, Dolly, for example, are the parents of the embryonic animal from which the implanted nucleus had been taken.

The third feature, which should be obvious, is that the clone is genetically identical to the embryonic animal whose nucleus had been implanted.  The inherited characteristics of the clone are totally rooted in the chromosomes of that nucleus, since the ovum no longer had any genetic information to offer.  This is the explanation of multiple, identical clones.  The implanted, somatic nuclei used in their formation are all taken from the same embryonic animal.

There is a certain element of mystery in the origin of the lesser animal organisms, even when they result from the natural process of fertilization.  Neither the sperm nor the ovum is an organism.  Yet, they combine to produce an organism.  Whence does the unifying, specific principle of the new organism's life (soul) arise?  Neither parent, each having only its own soul, is able to supply a soul for its offspring.  Their offspring's soul must come from the potency of matter, an endowment "built into" nature by its Author.

Speaking of clones, the individual life of the clone arises from the combined matter of the enucleated ovum and the nucleus of the embryonic cell, vitalized by an animal soul, which had been "resident" in the potentiality of the life-related matter contributed by the two cells. It must be noted that neither the embryonic nucleus nor the ovum, of itself, could be the matter of a new organism.  It is only when combined and vitalized by an animal soul that they lose their own identities and become the new organism. 

Finally,  you must keep in mind that the vital activity manifest by the lesser animals is always totally material (physical.)  What they know and what motivates them is always a material object.  This indicates that their souls, the source of these activities, are material principles of life and belong to the natural world of material things.  It is because nothing other than matter is involved in their reproduction that the lesser animals can be cloned, with the help of nature, by the biologist.

Although animal cloning has not been found in the undisturbed workings of nature, its biology and philosophy are not totally different from that of fertilization, wherein an ovum and sperm are combined by an animal soul to be a new individual.  In cloning,  previously organized, life-related matter is also combined and vitalized by an animal soul.  The artificially devised cell contains the nutritive and structure-building materials of the ovum and the complete "genetic blueprint" of the somatic cell.  In this sense, it is biologically the same as a fertilized ovum (zygote,) except that none of the genetic information had come from the ovum.  The world of nature provides a vast variety in modes of reproduction, but Biology does not pretend to know all the possibilities which may yet exist.  A primitive form of cloning might well be present even in the asexual reproduction of bacteria, under the phenomena of transduction and transformation.

May I now offer my reason for opposing the probability of human cloning:  Humans, by contrast with the lesser animals, through actions which are proper to human beings, manifest a non-material principle of life, a uniquely human soul, which cannot be explained by any potentiality of matter.  Human souls, then, must come directly and individually from the Creator of all living things.  You might wish to consider whether the Creator would be inclined to "honor" the ill-advised dream of those who would attempt to clone human beings.  They strive to distort His providential plan for giving life and destiny to all human beings, as He has given to us, each a unique person, born from and loved by his or her own parents.

You ask how attempts at human cloning are related to abortion. There is a physical similarity.  Insofar as the required somatic cell is taken from an embryonic human being, causing his or her death, cloning involves the deliberate killing of a human being, as does abortion.  But, even if the somatic nucleus could be taken from an already-born human, with only injury and not loss of life, there is another atrocity present here, common to cloning and abortion.  It is a moral and psychological one, a wanton disregard for the rights and dignity of the individual human being and of his or her Creator.  E.R.  reply@unbornperson.org

Question:  In our local paper this morning, Nov. 26th, another claim of human cloning has been published. This time the claim is attributed to Advanced Cell Technology, of Worcester, Massachusetts. For me, this claim raises two concerns: 1. the scientifically undemonstrated basis of the claim; 2. In the face of the assumption that human beings have been cloned, their justification on grounds of benefit to others.

As to the second concern, I cite the principle that the end does not justify the means; a human being may not be sacrificed for the benefit of others.  My first concern is more complicated. What proof do they have to back up their claim?  I have seen no proof offered and so, at best, their claim is merely an assumption. (26 Nov 01)

Reply:  Your handling of your second concern is brief, but well stated.  To this ethical problem may I propose an additional area of concern, the misleading ease with which the proposed benefits are promised.  Authentic, beneficial research is being neglected because of unrealistic promises favoring embryonic stem-cells, whose use has already been demonstrated as non-productive. LINK 

Your first concern is one shared by all the scientific community.  Careless claims, in the name of science, should not be tolerated.  In this instance, Advanced Cell Technology has no proof that they have cloned human beings.  Genetic examination of their clump of cells can show nothing but the genotype of the skin cell with which they started their experiment.  And that skin cell, although taken from a human being, was not itself a human being.  Further, a human being is an organism.  They have not demonstrated a self-serving, spontaneously motivated individual striving purposively toward ends compatible with human nature.

Advanced Cell Technology might respond to my objection by saying that human beings, at their four or six cell stage of development, don't look different or act differently from their clump of cells.  I would point out to them that a "clump of cells" resulting from the fusion of a human ovum and a human sperm could be identified as a human being because it is known with certainty that all of us went through that very same stage during our development and proceeded to what we are today.  They have no valid claim to saying that their clump of cells, starting with an enucleated ovum and a skin cell, is on the same path as we were at that stage of our development.  They've never seen one of their clumps of cells develop into an artist or even into a baby.

It may interest you to consider our reason for suggesting that human cloning is not likely ever to be accomplished.  LINK 

  E.R.  reply@unbornperson.org

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