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Newborns less than animals?

SR and Michael have been commenting on Wednesday’s post, “What are human embryos?” Neither one of them are impressed enough with my argument that the protection of all humans is justifiable, simply because the human has human parents. Actually, one of the best markers of what is “human” is that we, alone of all the animals, have this concept.

And the conversation continues. . .

They cant be measured or defined easily, and they fail one vital test – they dont apply to newborns, whose thinking abilities are extremally limited. Below those of many animals, I would estimate. The moral consequences of this problem are clear, and unacceptable. Yet so is an arbitary boundry. No, I think that is the wrong path…

Michael might be on the right track though. It does make an intuitative sense – if you wish to provide a way to measure a continuium, you use a continuous scale.

The continuum? A scale?

Now, this is where I say that the “moral consequences of this problem are clear, and unacceptable.”

Talk about “Who will certify the weights on that scale? Who gets to decide which criteria they’d have any of us meet before we are human enough for them? For how long? And how will the protection be enforced, since it’s negotiable in the first place? All that would leave is the far too prevalentcircumstance in which at one instant a human embryo is not a “human” and the next it is, or the protection appears and disappears when crossing national borders.

The continuum is just one way of saying there is no right not to be killed, putting human ethics back to the personal preference of the powerful.

Of course, no one is measuring any of these criteria in the embryos we are discussing. And none of us get to choose who will be protected and who will not under the current laws, even in the US. Roe v. Wade, Casey, and all the other abortion laws trump consensus and our representative legislatures in the various States. (We may find out that even the Federal Legislature is helpless to affect that definition when the Supreme Court rules on the partial birth abortion ban.)

As I’ve pointed out, that definition of “human” and “person” varies according to the weights on the scale. In Saudi Arabia, I could not be a person no matter what my functional abilities, since I’m a woman. In our own history, persons people who had too much pigment in their skin or with too low an IQ (Carrie Buck, who was sterilized because the judges deemed her an “imbecile”) were deemed non-persons. When we get down to the definitions of “person” written by ethicists of the last century, we move into functions of higher thought that 3 year olds wouldn’t meet, and many that we now consider protected (even in the US) would no longer have the right not to be killed.

We may not be able to measure art, truth, beauty, justice or love, but we – and as far as we know only we – are the only species that even looks for these. We consider them our highest goals. We understand that every one of our children have the capacity for either demonstrating genius in one or more of these qualities, or bringing them out in others.

Take love, for instance. No one would be happy with love that is given if we meet certain measurable criteria. We want to be loved “just for ourselves.” The traditional (Western) marriage vows even say, “for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.” Our society looks down on marriages of convenience or when the assumption is that one person marries for the other’s money.

Who could deny the value – and genius – of a couple that is genuinely in love, or the way that a mother is able to love her child?

In fact, the three of us are demonstrating our own search for truth and justice by this conversation. Who have we killed by destructive research, abortion, and prejudice that leads to murder and genocide? We may have killed as many Ghandis and Mother Teresas as we have killed Machiavelli’s and Ted Bundy’s. Or it could be the other way around. But destruction according to any criteria other than the fact of human origin cannot be the answer to the question of who is human.

About bnuckols

Conservative Christian Family Doctor, promoting conservative news and views. (Hot Air under the right wing!)

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