Monday, 30 March 2015

The Biology of Abortion

Let us clarify what we’re talking about when we discuss abortion.  Let’s remove politics, religion, and ideology, and let’s talk about biology.  I myself am a biologist and am surprised by the various ludicrous claims that some pro-abortionists make.  There is a biological reality, and indeed certainty, to the reproductive process that cannot be altered in light of accepted science.  Parts of the discussion are simply not debatable.  My intent is not to be patronizing, for many people are simply ignorant and in need of enlightenment.  And ignorance is not something to be ashamed of; it is simply a reflection of one’s education.  And it does not denote a lesser intelligence, for we are all ignorant on a multitude of subjects.  Not everyone has chosen to study biology at an higher level, just as I have not chosen to study American literature … and am truly ignorant concerning its content.

A lot of discussion, and resulting dissent, emanates from the principle of new life:  and when it begins.  People can play with philosophical constructs and try to perceive reality around them through some school of thought’s lens.  Yet, this does not interest us here.  Here we are discussing concrete reality, and any philosophical system that disagrees with it is irrational (of which there are schools of thought).  But I digress and teeter on losing focus and discussing philosophy.  And this is not my intent.  Here we are focused on objective scientifically proven facts; Facts that, when applied to abortion, are muddled and misconstrued for a multitude of reasons.  If we wish to focus on a truly meaningful exchange of ideas, we must solidify and adhere to the objective reality of the world around us.  And we must not allow dissenters to dissuade from this reality.  In order for the progression of the conversation beyond this infantile state to continue, both parties must concede the empirically verified point of new life.  Or, be forced to admit that they disbelieve the scientifically proven principles of it and instead view the world through a philosophically irrational lens.

Depending on the pro-abortionist you talk to, you will have varying interpretations of when this new life begins.  Some maintain, and this is a legal reality in many counties, that new human life begins upon complete egression of the baby from the mother (I will use the term baby, even if you disagree with this usage, it is semantics at this point and you likely understand what I am referring too.  The principle is paramount).  In my country, the baby is not considered a legally separate entity from the mother even if half of it is within the mother, and half has emerged.  I think it is safe to state that the vast majority would consider this odd:  that a baby that is half birthed is in fact a baby.  Yet this is what happens when we focus on politics instead of biology, and when a biological reality is obfuscated for political purposes.  Sadly, it may be indicative of what can occur when an university arts degree is used to interpret scientific principles beyond its educational parameters.  Political science, law, philosophy, or woman’s studies are art’s degrees that have superficial understandings of biology.  These graduates may have never even taken biology at the high school level.  This is not to disparage them, but to merely point out that as our educational system progresses, we are forced to focus more and more on our preferred subject matter.  This is necessary, for it is impossible to study the vast amounts of accumulated knowledge that is contained in every field.  I myself, have a superficial understanding of law (as is evident from my simplistic `legalese’ referred to above).

So, when is a baby a baby?  When is a new organism created?  When is a mass of tissue an homo sapien?  Some contend it depends on the trimester.  Some might contend that a particular month or a developmental feature is important.   Is a fetus human?  Is an embryo human?  How about a blastocyst?  Surely a zygote isn’t human?  Is it?  Is a sperm human?  Is the egg/ovum human?  This is what muddles the waters of an intelligent discussion: when the biologically illiterate try and teach biology.  Bill Maher, a self-described comedian (?), epitomizes this for us by stating that he aborts a baby whenever he masturbates.  If the source and extent of your understanding of biology comes from Bill Maher, or the likes, perhaps you’re purposely deluded (?); but what is particularly interesting is that he garnishes a lot of audience applause for his inaccurate and biologically untrue rhetoric.  It seems many agree with him.  So when is new life created?

New life is formed when the sperm fertilizes the egg.  This is a new organism, which is genetically distinct from the mother and father.  Sperm only contains DNA from the male that created it:  it is part of his tissue.  Every cell making up his body contains his DNA and no one else’s.  If something in his body contains different DNA, it is a different organism.  Bacteria in his gut do not contain his DNA and are not part of his body or tissue.  They are a separate organism living within him.  The same is true in regards to the mother and her egg.  Her egg contains her DNA and no one else’s.  If she has a strep throat (caused by streptococcal bacteria), she has a different living creature(s) residing in her.  One with a different genetic structure than she has.  Bill Maher is ignorant in this regard, as is anyone else that perpetuates this fallacy.

Given this inescapable fact, we can see that many of the statements used to justify abortion are flawed.  Justifications that state that a fetus is simply another organ within the mother or that the fetus is merely a collection of the mother’s tissue are simply not true.  It is a new life form, distinct from the parents.  Even at the earliest stage.  It is not a pimple and it is not a tumor.  It has different DNA.  As it ages, it may even have a different blood type.

We have determined that the merging of a male and female gamete produces something incredible:  a distinctly new living creature.  But what is this creature?  What species is it?  How would it be biologically classified?  Based on its genetic structure, it is an homo sapien:  A living, metabolically active, feeding homo sapien.  This is the scientific reality of this new life.  And an homo sapien, in the common vernacular, is an human being.  Only now can we exfoliate all the rubbish garnishing this issue to have a clear vantage point of the ethics regarding it.

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