Culture, Science & Faith

(Mis)Conception of Life

Two stories — one humorous, one beautiful — reveal the cultural divide.

Arnold Ahlert · Feb. 15, 2016

A couple of stories published last week reveal quite a bit about the cultural divide, and the disparate understanding of “morality” that engenders it.

Members of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) have manned the pro-abortion Twitter ramparts in response to a Super Bowl Doritos ad featuring a pregnant woman undergoing ultrasound, while her husband munches on Doritos. The unborn baby reacts to the father’s movement with the chips, and when the mother grabs them and throws them away, the ultrasound shows the baby makes a headlong rush toward what one would presume to be the birth canal — much to the dismay of the mother, the father and the attending nurse.

Funny? Not bad. Controversial? Apparently so, if one is heavily invested in a particular worldview. “#NotBuyingIt — that @Doritos ad using #antichoice tactic of humanizing fetuses & sexist tropes of dads as clueless & moms as uptight. #SB50,” NARAL tweeted.

Humanizing fetuses”? As opposed to what? Is there some other species that accrues to an unborn baby in a human mother’s womb? And does the notion of identifying something by its proper name constitute an anti-choice tactic? Moreover, as the end of the commercial implies, the baby is being born. Are we to assume that this is the explicit — and only — moment when a fetus can be deemed sufficiently humanized to satisfy the sensibilities of the abortion-on-demand crowd?

“According to the postmodern worldview … there really is no objective truth,” writes UNC-Wilmington professor Dr. Mike Adams. “Things don’t have essential value because of the kinds of things they are. They have value only if people assign value to them according to some accidental characteristic. For the postmodernist, the abortion debate should not be focused on truth claims. Choosing abortion is simply a matter of preference.”

Preference, as opposed to objective truth, resonates loudly with the pro-abortion crowd, especially those who remained either unmoved, or rose to the defense of Planned Parenthood (PP) when the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) revealed PP’s fetal organ harvesting proclivities. Proclivities that included altering abortion techniques to maximize organ availability and the bone-chillingly jaded attitude of numerous PP bigwigs connected with the effort.

Their attitude emblazons the dehumanization of an unborn child. As the CMP videos indicated, the PP executives were quite comfortable explaining their choices to haggle over pricing, and have discussions about shipping both unborn-baby organs and wholly intact aborted babies to organ harvesting companies — while dining at lunch.

Story two comes from the other side of the cultural divide. E'Layah Faith Pergues went home last week, following a five month stay at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. E'Layah was born a mindboggling 14 weeks early because her mother suffered a difficult pregnancy that included high blood pressure and two strokes. Despite being on bed rest for a month, doctors were forced to perform an emergency Cesarean section on E'Layah’s mother, Megan Smith, when they discovered the baby had stopped breathing.

E'Layah weighed just 10 ounces when she was born, and to say she faced long odds just to survive would be an understatement. Her doctors, who affectionately dubbed her “tater tot,” believe she is the smallest surviving baby ever seen at that institution. “Our goal since her birth was to grow her as quickly and as safely as we could,” said Dr. Andrew Herman, MD, neonatologist and chief medical officer at Levine Children’s Hospital, in a statement.

As a result, E'Layah now weighs in at a healthy 5 pounds and 7 ounces. “I know she will be something special, whether it’s running on the track, ballet lessons or even basketball,” Smith said. “We pray for her strength. E'Layah is our miracle baby girl.”

Why is this story relevant to the other one? Because for the longest time, the abortion-on-demand crowd has been heavily invested in the idea that humanization is directly tied to “viability,” as in a fetus’s ability to survive outside the womb.

In short, no viability, no humanization.

According to WebMD, the average gestation period is 39 weeks, meaning E'Layah was viable enough to be born in what was likely the 25th week of Smith’s pregnancy. In 2013, The New York Times published this list of states and their abortion restrictions. Note that 26 states allow abortions to be performed up to 24-26 weeks, and three states up to 28 weeks. Nine states and the District of Columbia have no specific restrictions at all. Every state and DC offers exceptions to those restrictions based on the mother’s life and physical and/or mental health. Furthermore, as the the Guttmacher Institute explains, “only the physician, in the course of evaluating the specific circumstances of an individual case, can define what constitutes ‘health’ and when a fetus is viable.”

There is little doubt our little “tater tot” and the ensuing medical advances that make her survival and those of countless other babies possible are going to pose big problems for NARAL, PP and their like-minded followers. Followers who use terms like “clump of cells,” or insist that life does not begin at conception, even though a fertilized ovum fully possesses human DNA distinct from the DNA of his or her parents. Yet as their position grows more medically tenuous, they will undoubtedly revert to the oh-so familiar bumper sticker stance that begins and ends with the idea that if one doesn’t like abortion, one should refrain from having one.

Dr. Adams eviscerates the “moral coma” that attends such thinking. “Imagine a similar sticker on a buggy in the 1800s,” he writes, “which read ‘Don’t like slavery? Don’t own one!”

America invested considerable time and energy in that particular act of dehumanization until we came to our senses. How ironic that so many of the same self-righteous ideologues who would demand America maintain its collective guilt over our historical diminution of life, demand a right to terminate it when such termination suits their purposes. It doesn’t get more ironic than that.

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