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     Value?
       Exploring the topic sans assigned values.

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This article is intended to be completely neutral.  I do not believe abortion or even outright murder is right or wrong... good or bad.  Some individuals may perceive the words below as pro-choice and some may perceive them as pro-life.  But the content itself is intended to be neutral and is written to allow you to view the topic of abortion with a perspective from which you have perhaps not viewed it before.

Premise:  The biological life of any mammal begins at the point of conception.
This statement is widely recognized in the scientific/biological community as being true.  At the point of the sperm fertilizing the egg, the biological processes of a unique individual member of the species begin.  Everything needed for this new entity to grow into an adult member of the species is contained in the newly created zygote -- save oxygen, nourishment, and a safe environment in which to develop.  (Incidentally, these are the same requirements for any adult member of the species to continue to live and develop as well.)

As far as I am aware, the above statement cannot reasonably be argued.  

What can be argued is the definition of 'life'... whether a 'fertilized egg' constitutes 'life' (or 'human life' in the case of homo sapiens)... whether a newly created zygote has any value in our society, and if so, the degree of value that it has.  These and other such questions are full of opinions that are great topics for debate, but they are not the subject of this article.  

The subject of this article, and what cannot be reasonably debated, is that the biological processes that commence at the point of conception indicate the creation of a unique individual member of it's species in it's earliest stage of biological development.  If this new entity is continuously allowed oxygen, nourishment, and a safe environment, then it will grow and develop into a fully grown adult member of it's species unless something causes that development to cease.  

Note that I am not placing any value on this new entity.  It is what it is --> a mammal in it's earliest stage of biological development.  To call it anything other than that doesn't change what it is in reality.

By removing the concept of value from the newly created entity (whatever you wish to call it --> 'fertilized egg,' 'zygote,' 'blob of cells,' 'baby,' 'human being,' etc.) the topic of abortion may be seen from a different light.  Personal opinions on the value of the biological life of a human being at various stages are not allowed to enter the discussion because any individual's perceived value is irrelevant from this perspective.  From this perspective, it doesn't really matter what the Bible says or doesn't say.  It doesn't matter what your personal beliefs or experiences are.  It doesn't matter what your political affiliations may be.  It doesn't matter if you believe the value of a mother's life is greater than the value of a 'potential life.'  It doesn't matter if you believe that murdering an innocent life is right or wrong or good or bad.  All value is removed.  This shift in perspective is difficult for some people to grasp, but I encourage you to try to grasp it.  If the little voice inside your head is telling you that soemthing doesn't feel right about this... or this could be dangerous ground... or you feel yourself getting emotional about your 'rights to choose' or 'defending innocent lives,' then you still have not made the shift into this perspective.  Everyone has the capability to shift to this perspective, but not everyone will allow themselves to do so.

If you're there... great.  If not, reading the rest may evoke some more emotional response from that little voice inside your head, one way or another.

Now...
We have a fertilized mammal egg.  Conception has occurred.  Biological processes have begun.  An individual member of the species has been created that will continue to grow into a fully grown adult if allowed oxygen, nourishment and a safe environment, and assuming that nothing happens to cease it's development.  Nothing need be added to this fertilized egg other than oxygen and nourishment for it's development to continue.  (Remember, for the purpose of this argument, it has no value.  It doesn't matter if it's human or not.)

Let's say this fertilized egg, or zygote, is allowed oxygen, nourishment, and a safe environment and continues to develop.  You could follow the development along a timeline.  At some point, the entity will attach itself to the uterine wall.  At some point in the development, cell reproduction and differentiation allow us to recognize certain parts of the developing entity as organs.  Limbs develop.  At some point, blood begins to flow through the veins of the entity.  What appears to be a heartbeat can be physically recorded.  Some sort of brain activity can be recorded.  (It doesn't really matter what this brain 'activity' means... it has no value.)  At some point in the development, this entity physically responds to stimuli (light, touch, sound, etc.).  Physical growth continues.  The 'primitive' organs continue to develop and become stronger.  The brain activity continues to increase.  Hair may begin to form.  At some point, the entity ceases to obtain oxygen from fluid and instead the still growing lungs begin to extract oxygen from air.  With air in the lungs, the entity may be able to make vocal sounds.  Growth continues.  Senses continue to develop and become more refined.  The entity no longer is nourished via an umbilical cord, but now typically consumes nourishment via it's own mouth.  Provided that is continues to be allowed nourishment and a safe environment, it can continue to grow and develop for weeks, months, or years longer.  At any point, if the entity is denied oxygen, nourishment or is placed in a hostile environment for a length of time, it will cease to show physical and mental signs of life (whether that is defined by a heartbeat, brain activity or in any other manner).  At some point, the entity may be capable of producing an egg or a sperm that has the potential to join with it's counterpart to create a new individual member of the species.  And, of course, at some point during the development of this entity all physical and mental signs of biological life will cease -- for any number of reasons.  It doesn't really matter when or even what this all means.  All that matters from this perspective is that it happens.  

This is a partial snapshot of the biological life of a mammal.  Cell division begins at conception and doesn't stop until biological death.

So, from the perspective that this entity has no value at any point during it's biological life, I'm asking the question:  "Is there any difference between forcibly terminating the development of this entity (by denying it oxygen, nourishment, or a safe environment) at one point of it's biological life versus any other point of it's biological life?"  Remember, this entity has no value at any point during it's development.  'Viability' is a non-issue.  The definition of 'life' is a non-issue.  For humans, 'personhood' is a non-issue.  

From this perspective, I believe the answer is that there is no difference.  No matter when the development of the entity is terminated, the result to the entity is the same.  Growth and development stop.  Cell growth and reproduction ends.  The unique entity that had the potential to become a fully grown unique adult member of the species no longer has that potential.  Period.  (Remember, this is not good or bad or right or wrong... it just is.)

If you are able to view the topic from the perspective I outlined and develop a different conclusion to the question I posed, I welcome you to do so.  I am sincerely interested in hearing your thoughts.

However, if you intend to insist that value cannot be removed from the entity and that makes all the difference, I encourage you to post somewhere else.  In our world, of course we place a value on 'that entity.'  Some individuals may assign 'sacred' value to it, and others assign little or no value to it -- regardless of whether it is human or not.  That's really for every individual to decide for themselves.  It's not likely that you will easily change another's opinion on the value of 'the entity' -- no matter what you wish to call it.

I will communicate one other thought:  Consider what could happen in our society if subjective value is assigned by some 'entities' upon other 'entities' of the same species that are in another stage (physical or otherwise) of development.  

Again, I want to stress that I do not believe abortion is right or wrong or good or bad.  That is up for you to decide if you so choose.  I believe those concepts are made up by individuals and/or institutions to create a sense of order and balance.  If every living thing on this planet ceased to exist tomorrow, it would not be either good nor bad from my perspective.  It simply would be that way.

 


Posts: 0 | Posted: 9:17 PM on January 22, 2004 | IP
    
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