A few years ago I heard one of my 8th-grade students refer to the unborn as a parasite when as a class, we were discussing the abortion issue.
If you were to look up the definition of a parasitic relationship, you would see that a parasite lives off another organism which we call the host, this results in harm or even death of the host. Examples of parasites are tapeworms, fleas, and lice.
A harsh term for the unborn don’t you think?
My class was split on this issue and actually wanted a debate on this divisive subject, but it ended up being rather one-sided because on the day we were to hold the debate the two students on the pro-choice side did not show up. The two students on the pro-life side were given the floor and they both read an essay on the topic each of them had written.
Would be nice if all discussions on this issue were so one-sided, but unfortunately, we have people, (often passionate) on both sides of the aisle. So we are left with having to discuss this issue rationally, thoughtfully. Check your emotive language and colorful metaphors at the door and sit down to thoughtfully look at this issue.
A few weeks ago my daughter Sarah shared with me a talk by Stephanie Gray who lectures on the abortion issue. Stephanie was invited to give a lecture at Google on that very topic. In her address she focused on three main points:
1. People who put others ahead of themselves.
2. People who have a perspective.
3. People who do the right thing even when it is hard.
I will focus on her first point.
Stephanie shared how she likes to ask people questions, and one of her favorites is, “Who inspires you?” She points out the responses to the first question varies every time. Different people in various walks of life inspire others, some may be friends, family, or some public figure. Then she follows up with “Why do they inspire you?”1 She then shared that the responses to the 2nd question were essentially the same. People would share how someone behaved under great trials or suffering in a selfless act. Almost all are people who put others before themselves.
She shared the story that many of you may remember, Captain Chesley Sullenberger. The US Airways Captain who landed his jet on the Hudson River in 2009 saving all 155 people aboard. The aircraft was disabled after striking a flock of Canadian geese shortly after takeoff. Fearing he could not make it back to LaGuardia Airport Captain Sullenberger opted to ditch in the Hudson.
Nose up and tail down, “The aft end of the fuselage sliced into the water first and was severely torn and damaged, shoving structure from the cargo compartment up through the cabin floor, gashing a flight attendant’s leg, and rupturing the cabin’s aft pressure bulkhead, through which water soon began to pour.”2 One passenger did try to open an aft exit, but when water came in from that door the idea was abandoned. Captain Sullenberger walked the isles not once, but twice, to make sure everyone was out, and he was the last one to exit the plane. He became a national hero because he put others before himself.
Contrast that story with the Italian captain of the Costa Concordia cruise liner that in 2012 ran aground, capsized and 32 people lost their lives. He abandoned ship despite the local Coast Guard officials efforts to get him back on the ship. In May of 2017, he finally started serving his time in prison for his actions.
Do you admire the actions of one captain over the other? What specifically was done that you admired? We admire people who are willing to sacrifice themselves for others. As Stephanie put it, “Love is universally attractive.”3
I have been asking the question lately of people I know and have been hearing the typical responses. Several months back I asked this of Russ Peters and he shared the story of Walter with me. Then just the other day another friend shared the story of someone he knows that suffered a terrible accident and for the past 20 years has been confined to a wheelchair unable to speak yet despite this lifelong trial has maintained a positive outlook on life and continues to encourage others.
I would ask what is heroic about abortion? Where is the self-sacrifice? Where in that process is someone putting others ahead of themselves? Having an abortion does not only takes the life of another but tragically attempts to erase the consequences of sex as if nothing ever happened.
Stephanie points out that questions raised in favor of abortion that have to do with a woman’s choice, financial hardship, rape, incest, all skirt the real issue of what exactly is being aborted? Is the unborn human?
If the unborn is human then we should rightfully admire those who choose to do the actions of placing others, (the unborn) before themselves. If the unborn is human then we should feel obligated to protect persons so helpless. Throughout history, we have admired and aspired to be like those who protect the innocent, the helpless, the weak or powerless. Proverbs 31:8-9
Some may say the unborn is not alive before brain activity, (about 25 weeks) or before the heart begins to beat, (roughly 3 to 4 weeks after conception). But then we can ask if the fetus is not alive, why do we need to abort it? It is amusing, those who work professionally in the field In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) have no question as to when life begins. Their success is based on the fertilization of the egg by the sperm and cell division begins. At no point after that do the professionals claim success.
The word fetus does not tell us what something it, but rather how old something is. We have words like embryo, infant, toddler, teen, and adult which all describe stages of human life, not if something is human. The value of a baby is determined by what it is, not how old it is.
Peter Singer a professor of Bioethics at Princeton University says to be a person you must be rational, conscious, and self-aware. Singer who also supports infanticide, (murdering of infants after they are born) said, “Newborn human babies have no sense of their own existence over time. So killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person…”4 So we should ask the question why is the unborn not rational, conscious, and self-aware? It has nothing to do with their lack of humanity, but rather having insufficient time to develop. Why is an amoeba not rational, conscious, and self-aware? Because it is not human. Even given time the amoeba will never become rational, conscious or self-aware.
Our inherent value as humans has nothing to do with our size, level of development, environment, or degree of dependency. You can use the acronym SLED Test.
S Equating the value of a person on how large or small they are is silly. Would anyone dispute this? Are football players more valuable due to their size? Are parents more valuable than their children? Height or size has nothing to do with the value of a person. Picture a 600-pound sumo, and tell me the sumo wrestler has greater a value than a child he may be holding.
L Does the value of a human being lessen because of their level of development? Is a 13 year old 8th-grade boy more valuable than a 5 year old kindergarten girl? If the level of development matters, then anyone prior to puberty would have less value than someone past puberty. Same would be true from an infant to a toddler, or a newborn to an infant. Does a fetus in the first trimester have less value than one in the 2nd trimester? Some might argue that point, but if that is true, then we should be able to apply that to everyone. Obviously, we can’t, so the level of development cannot determine the value of a human being.
E Does your value increase or decrease depending on your environment or location? Do you have more value because you are at work rather than at home? Does your value change from one room to another? Do those in another county have a different worth? Do astronauts have greater or lesser value when they orbit the earth or walk on the moon? Does your value change when you have traveled from mother’s uterus, through the birth canal, to the hands of a waiting physician or parent? Value cannot be placed on a person depending on where they are found.
D Finally, as a child grows and matures, do they have greater value as the months pass and they become less and less dependent? Do those that collect welfare have less value than those contributing to our tax base and have full time work? Do those working full time have more value than those working part-time? Does someone in a coma have less value than their family member at their bedside? If a toddler falls into a swimming pool, and they are dependent on us to save them, are they less valuable? How about those who need dialysis or heart medication on a weekly basis; is their merit lessened due to the medication they need? The degree of dependency does not alter the value of a human life.
The Soviet Union first legalized abortion just after World War I under the guidance of Lenin. Nazi Germany followed in 1935 and then the United States in 1973. China aborts about 13 million a year due to their one-child policy and many of those abortions are forced. This does not include the millions of doses of abortion pills consumed each year in that country.5
I am pleased we have people like Stephanie Gray whose message resonates with secular audiences. She uses stories, science, and facts to deliver a compelling argument against abortion.
The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, and if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? – Mother Teresa
1. Talks at Google. “Stephanie Gray: “Abortion: From Controversy to Civility.” Online video clip. Youtube. 19 June 2017. Web. 2 Feb. 2018
2. Langewiesche, William. “Anatomy of a Miracle.” Vanity Fair Vanityfair.com June 2009. www.vanityfair.com/culture/2009/06/us_airways200906
3. Talks at Google. “Stephanie Gray: “Abortion: From Controversy to Civility.” Online video clip. Youtube. 19 June 2017. Web. 2 Feb. 2018
4. Chasmar, Jessica. “Princeton bioethics professor faces calls for resignation over infanticide support.” The Washington Times. washingtontimes.com 16 June 2015. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jun/16/peter-singer-princeton-bioethics-professor-faces-c/
5. Smith, Warren, Stonestreet, John. “This will stop in our lifetime.” Restoring All Things, Baker Books 2015, pgs. 67-69
A parasitic relationship by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.