The rain fell steadily and the city was almost completely dark. The only visible light came from the street lamp on the corner which only partially clawed out a cone of light that was consumed by the night before it reached the ground.
A nondescript sedan appeared and claimed a parking space. Two men climbed out, adjusted their coats and turned their collars up, then strode purposefully towards a house at the corner. As they neared the corner they became more visible in the dim light. They were dressed alike in police uniforms, sidearms and yellow rain slickers with the word “POLICE” written across the back.
They passed through the gate leading up the walk through a muddied front yard and up the steps to a plain door.
One of the men knocked, the kind of knock that was the internationally-known calling card of the police.
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Fantastical, farcical fables of fetal fatality freedoms
This post was once just a twinkle in my eye. Then I conceived a subject, a germane approach fertilized, and, long story short, this post was birthed nine minutes later.
WordPress was the midwife.
Of course, in my dictionary, “fertilize” generally means “throw poop on it,” but hopefully you still get the idea.
“Daddy, where do babies come from?”
“Good question. But, technically speaking, there is no such thing as a ‘baby.’ You see, son, the North Carolina House of Representatives tells us that at the exact moment of fertilization a ‘human being’ has been created.”
[laughing] “Yes, son. Fertilization. That’s just a fancy word for mommy and daddy getting together, each of them adding a special ingredient, and making a new person. Like you! You know how chocolate and peanut butter got together to make a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup? It’s a lot like that.”
Indeed, Timmy. Indeed.
Freedom. In America, seemingly above all else, we prize our cherished freedom. And rightly so. But probably at the very moment pilgrims landed in this country, they did something peculiar. They started making laws to control the freedoms of each other.
“There are nine of us and one of you. We voted and decided that thing you do is now prohibited.” Ah, democracy.
Our history is replete with this sort of thing. Freedoms legislated away like oral sex, anal sex, “sodomy,” adultery, nudity, women owning property, women being allowed to vote, black people being free persons, black people being allowed to vote, black people owning guns, etc.
A quintessential example of this? In the original version of the Constitution of the United States, you only had to read four short paragraphs before encountering racism.
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.
Thankfully that sentence was modified by the 14th Amendment.
So anyway, this sort of thing is nothing new.
On my morning commute, I sometimes like to listen to religious programming. There’s a morning talk show, I don’t know the name, where I’ll sometimes pause. (That same station at night is more fire and brimstone and doesn’t hold the same sway.)
This week they were talking about how “life begins at conception” and the fight they hope to bring to the Supreme Court. They talked about how an effort was underway in North Carolina to legally say that a human being exists at the moment of conception. They also said that if you had an opinion different than that you were “anti-life.”
You know, some people don’t like to be called “homophobes” just because they take a position against homosexuality. Yet here we have religious folk flinging the “anti-life” label simply because you disagree with them on what is, in all actuality, a very very fine point. I find that a skosh hypocritical.
The proposed North Carolina law that was passed by their House of Representatives takes a quite reasonable position. It would criminalize “death or injury” of a “fetus” at “any” stage of development. Take the morning after pill? You’re guilty of murder, pal. You just killed a “human being.”
That’s not farcical at all, is it?
Kill a sperm? That’s okay. Kill an ovum? Still okay. But at the very moment those two things are joined to form a zygote a “human being” now exists and “killing” is off the table.
Curious, and being a fan of Texas Holdem, I invited a few zygotes to my house the other night for a poker game. Aside from a weird tendency to go “all-in” too often, I found them decent human beings, although, to be honest, they were extremely boring and completely lacking in personality and the social graces.
I understand abortion is a serious issue. In fact, my opinion on the issue has changed somewhat radically over the years. It has become much more conservative over time. When I was young and stupid I was pretty cavalier about it. Now that I’m old and stupid, my standards have changed dramatically.
I can’t define my position exactly, but let’s just say that I support a woman’s right to choose. It’s her body and her choice. But, in my opinion, that moment of choice is extremely narrow.
Clearly it is wrong to kill a newborn baby. Just as clearly, in my view, a “human being” is not created at the moment of conception.
Somewhere, between those two extremes, lies the real moment when a human life comes into being. I have no idea when that moment might be. Perhaps it’s a heart beat. Perhaps it’s brainwaves. Perhaps it’s a fingerprint. I really don’t know, nor do I know if anyone really knows.
Something tells me it might have something to do with the ability to feel and, perhaps, experience pain. Not hurting others is a big part of my philosophy so that resonates with me. A zygote can’t feel pain. But somewhere in the development of a fetus that ability does exist.
That’s why I believe we should err on the side of caution. Make abortion laws have a tight window. Very tight. But criminalizing abortion all the way to the moment of conception? I believe that is wrong. It impinges on the freedom of the individual in favor of a human being that doesn’t yet exist.
Debate on fiercely contested issues isn’t always a logical thing. You ask for the moon. I’ll ask for the stars. Neither side will get what they ask, so invariably we end up somewhere in the middle. I believe that trying to criminalize abortion all the way to the moment of conception is a tactic. One that is designed to move where that eventual compromise will exist.
We should intelligently debate this issue. And we should fight to make reasonable laws that are based on common sense. Not go after illogical extremes as political strategies.
This is my “F” post for the April 2011 “A to Z Blogging Challenge.”