Sunday, July 11, 2004

From Today's Star Tribune

There were two items of interest to me in today's Strib. The first (free registration required) is a piece by Jim Boyd about how there should be a compromise on abortion, to wit that elective abortions be banned after five months. What interests me is how he justifies the proposal. First, explains how he is personally pro=life, but:

In my personal life, I am strongly prolife. As I look back on the birth and growth of three sons, and now the efforts of young people to birth my grandchildren (the newest due today, the last arriving a month ago), I can't conceive of a scenario in which I would have embraced optional abortion (optional meaning without the life of a woman hanging in the balance).

Now here's the but:

And yet, it is not my right -- nor the right of any American -- to use the state to impose that prolife value on another during the early months of pregnancy. That's because the belief that life begins at conception is not a belief arising from reason and science, but a belief religious people take from their understanding of God. In a land based on the rights of humankind, such religious beliefs do not have a place in the laws that govern human behavior.

The same test applies to definitions of marriage, to the use of stem cells in scientific research, to most questions of sexual behavior and to many, many other issues that vex the nation because of this latter-day confusion over secular state vs. religious nation.

So, in his view the idea that life could start at conception can only be a religious idea that can have no basis in reason and science. Well. How breathtakingly arrogant, condescending, and patronizing. I don't suppose the fact that conception is the 1st point in the process where all the genetic material that defines the new human being is present (and starting to build the new body) has any scientific meaning, at least not in his view. After making such a definitive statement, it wouldn't be too much to ask to back it up with say, facts, or reason, or some sort of logical argument? Apparently not. (But isn't it his personal belief?-ed Sure, but he's the one claiming that it's based on science and reason, so it behooves him to back up his beliefs with, say, science and reason!) So where does life begin for Mr. Boyd?

And yet reason also tells us that somewhere in about the middle of pregnancy, a unique human life does emerge, a life deserving of the rights of humankind the state is organized to protect. We can't nail down precisely when this new life appears; the closest we can come is the age of "viability," when a fetus has developed the ability, with proper nurturing, to live outside the body of its mother.

So much for reason. All he has demonstrated that he doesn't know when life begins any more than I do. I've chosen a more conservative position, he has specified a moving target. If technology advances to the point where a fertilized egg can be grown to childhood outside of the womb at one week, does that mean that life really begins at conception, then? (Yes,that makes abortion a moot point, but this is a hypothetical question used to make a point, so spare me the nitpicking.) I think his actual criteria is, When is it OK to inconvenience a woman who does not want to be pregnant?

The 2nd item is one concerning my least favorite filmmaker/propagandist/liar/manipulator, Michael Moore. This story describes the way Moore misrepresents Congressman Mark Kennedy in Farenheit 9/11 by omitting his actual answers to questions about family serving in Iraq. I don't have much to add as the article speaks for itself, but I do have one question. If this is the kind of dishonest filmmaking that Moore is known for, why did the Star Tribune endorse his movie?

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