Gymnastics, contortions, desperate intellectual flailings… these are the things that Pro-deathers have to go through to justify killing a baby in the womb. The Pro-deathers know, and freely admit, that they’re killing something; they just can’t prove that they’re not killing someone, so they go through all manner of absurd, painfully stupid, complicated and twisted rationalizations to try to support the indefensible: killing babies for convenience.
See this essay, for instance: Abortion: There is no Ethical Dilemma.
The headline is instructive. To claim that “there is no ethical dilemma” in an issue that has sparked huge passions on both sides, is to make a truly audacious claim indeed! The author of the above-linked essay, one John Zande seems to be hinting that in his essay he’s going to cut through all the complex arguments with a simple Alexander-and-The-Gordian-Knot stroke.
Zande merely goes into a long pseudo-intellectual disquisition on when brain activity starts and — in his humble opinion — that’s when you might reasonably conclude that the developing child is, indeed, a child. In other words, Zande arrogates to himself the power to draw the line as to when a person is a person, forgetting the fact that there isn’t a biologist in the world who has been able to arrive at such a conclusion.
We should get a bit of background on Zande. He’s a left-wing atheist, so is much like all the rest of that bovine herd. This group makes one wonder whether people evolved not from apes, but from bees. Or ants.
Zande wrote a book. Sure, we’ll plug it. It’s here. If you want to toss away four of your hard-earned dollars for nothing, and you want to waste a bunch of time, then go ahead and stroke Zande’s already over-inflated ego.
Zande’s book’s premise — and he himself seems to be on the fence as to whether he actually believes it or not — is that the universe is full of suffering — by design! — and that an “omnimalevolent supreme being,” whom he calls the “Owner of all infernal names”, uses that suffering as food, as entertainment and as a kind of source of malevolent sexual gratification.
Sounds as though Zande’s done nothing more than imagine a universe in which Satan comes out on top in the struggle between good and evil.
Probably realizing that he’s left himself open to that accusation, and that, if true, it destroys both his book’s premise and his basic atheism, which is the primary focus of his entire blog (here), Zande says that Satan is nothing more than a “lesser species of this being.” Zande doesn’t bother to explain how he knows this, or why Old Scratch is a “lesser species” of his “omnimalevolent” deity, just that he is. However, Zande’s description of his omnimalevolent being sure makes it look like an imaginary victorious Satan.
Zande throws in some tidbits that, he hopes, will distinguish his invented supreme being from the so-called “lesser species.” Zande’s deity, for example, doesn’t crave the worship of his creations. But, how would Zande know, or even be able to understand, what’s going on in the mind of a malevolent supreme being who has no interest in Zande whatsoever… except that he suffer? Answer: Zande wouldn’t have any possibility whatsoever of knowing that.
Zande’s premise is so riddled with flaws, unresolvable inconsistencies, unsupported assertions and ridiculous sillinesses, that one is left to conclude that a dude who takes himself way too seriously undertook to produce a book that would contain as credible an alternative explanation as possible for suffering in the world. The reason: likely a desire to undermine both Christianity (which Zande abhors) and what he calls “dualism”: the notion that the world is the battlefield for good and evil, which causes suffering.
Then, Zande made up a bunch of reviews — almost all of them 5-stars of course! — that he either placed on Amazon himself, or inveigled others to put there. How do I know this? Easy: every last review, of the 18, takes this entirely silly premise of Zande’s completely seriously. To make the fraud complete, Zande fabricates a 1-star review that suggests only that Zande wasn’t the first one to try to make this case.
It’s all a bunch of slop, and if you want to buy four dollars worth of slop, you can, at Amazon.
Zande’s is the mind that went through the tortured gymnastics to try to justify abortion in the above-linked essay. However, one of the numerous areas in which Zande fails in his goal is in a simple observation: if abortion, indeed, presents no ethical dilemma, then to demonstrate such a thing should be fairly simple. No need to produce milestones in gestation when brain waves appear, no need to decide for everyone else that that marker represents the finish line for personhood. No need for any of the complex, pointless ratiocination through which Zande drags the reader. And (and it’s a big one!), the right to abortion should be simple enough for all times in history to understand! Before, for instance, we were able to measure brain waves and all that.
Let’s examine such an idea. It’s not difficult: “Help the poor.” No problem. No ethical dilemma. It’s in the nitty-gritty of how to help the poor, that we find the ethical dilemmas aplenty. However, there are none in the top-level concept of simply helping the poor.
Similarly, we can all agree that the notion that “Women should have equal rights and opportunities” is a top-level concept that hides no ethical dilemmas.
Abortion, for this concept, like welfare payments for “Helping the poor,” is a second-level concept, absolutely loaded chock-a-block with ethical dilemmas, at least one of which is easily smoked out with the simple question: What if you’re wrong?
That question alone, and the observable fact that no pro-deather has ever included an answer for it in his defense of abortion, prove that abortion has plenty of ethical problems! Not the least of which is: the potential answer to our question.
Ah, yes… that question! What if you’re wrong?
It should go without saying that if you propose to do something irrevocable, something that kills something or someone else, you must answer that question completely satisfactorily. You can’t leave the teeniest, tiniest shred of ambiguity, or doubt… you must answer it, and you must answer it completely. Pro-lifers answer it all the time. The answers can be summed up as follows: If we’re wrong, well, no harm done. A baby’s born, and no one was killed. And no one was harmed.(1)
The answer — and there is one — for the Pro-deather to the question: What if you’re wrong? is devastating. If they’re wrong, then they’re responsible for crimes against humanity of the same magnitude as the Holocaust, the Holodomor, and any other mass murder on an unimaginable scale.
It should be noted that there is another level to the answer to that fundamental question: What do you do in the case of two apparently unpleasant alternatives? One could suggest that abortion falls into this realm. One: the woman wants to have an abortion, but realizes that she’d be murdering a perfectly innocent human being. However, two, If she doesn’t murder that perfectly innocent human being, then she herself has her life changed radically, and, she presumes, not for the better.
Again, the response to such a situation is not all that difficult: which of the two alternatives — murdering the perfectly innocent human being, or allowing him to be born — presents the least bad outcome?
The answer to that is easy too, and it’s why pro-deathers never even acknowledge the question, as Zande predictably failed to do in our interaction (here). The answer to that is: Less bad is obviously: not to kill the perfectly innocent human being, and allow the woman to have her life changed radically.
To this last point: why would anyone presume that he or she is immune to radical, unwanted changes to their lives? Serious question. Women can avoid such radical changes as a baby (generally) quite easily: keep their knees together. Men can do likewise: keep it in their pants.
Men have understood — for millennia — the larger concept of having their lives involuntarily changed radically. It’s called, variously: defending the homefront, keeping the wolves at bay, protecting and providing for the family… war, and others.
I once saw it described this way: Women carry each baby for nine months, then we (men) carry all of them — and the woman! — for the rest of our lives.
Honestly, as crass as it sounds, I find that hard to argue with.
I think it’s that innate understanding on the part of men — that to grow and support a family entails a whole heckuva lot more time, effort… work, from men than from women — that made it so that leftist men were, to their everlasting shame, the prime movers in the early legalize abortion movement.
So, it’s not surprising that the leading figures in the Pro-life movement are… Conservative women. These are often former abortion enthusiasts, who actually did try, unsuccessfully, to answer the question: “What if I’m wrong?” No pro-deather can confront that question honestly and emerge a pro-deather. Simple as that.
Back to the fatuous Zande for a moment. Here’s one of his arguments:
At no stage does life magically appear in a zygote, a blastocyst, an embryo, or a foetus.
Those seventeen words are, Zande hopes, his way of sundering the Gordian Knot. It fails. The thought is correct as far as it goes: Life doesn’t “magically” appear in anything living… because it’s been there all along. Just as in any living thing. Zande agrees with this, and says:
Life began on earth 3.8 billion years ago and has not been interrupted since. There is no ‘divine spark,’ no ensorcelled moment when the inanimate abruptly transforms into the animate. A foetus was never inorganic and suddenly becomes organic. The egg and the sperm are already parts of the living system—a 3.8 billion years old system driven by chemiosmosis, where the rechargeable chemical battery for life, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), is first broken down and then re-formed during respiration to release energy used to power every living reaction.
And, of course, no one on the pro-life side is trying to make the argument that the developing baby was ever inorganic… Nor has anyone ever suggested that “The egg and the sperm are not already parts of the living system.” The rest of the paragraph is more of Zande’s stock-in-trade: irrelevant show-offery. Zande wants you to think he’s intelligent and learned, when he’s really… kinda dim-witted.
Here’s the crux of Zande’s argument:
In as few words as possible (and ignoring the critical issue of the mother’s complete autonomy, and foetal developmental anomalies), defined human life begins the moment its twin, death, also springs into existence. Without death there is no life. The former begets the latter. The latter assigns meaning to the former. One delineates the other, and the definition of human death is not in dispute. Death is the permanent loss of capacity for consciousness and all brainstem functions. Or more simply put: death is when electroencephalography (EEG) activity ceases. That’s it. That’s death, and a 2002 survey published in the journal Neurology comparing worldwide standards and regulations of death found brain death to be the universal legal and medical measure accepted across the globe. In the U.S., laws on brain death vary by state, but all states recognise that death is determined by the irreversible cessation of brain function, or as bluntly stated in the journal, Nature Reviews, Neuroscience: “Brain death means human death”—And for very good reason. Consider this simple fact: Theoretically, I can remove the heart from an adult human being, and for just as long as I keep blood flowing through the body, that person will remain being a living person because their brain is still working naturally. You cannot do the reverse of this experiment.
Zande was not true to his “in as few words as possible” pledge, but we can summarize it for you:
Something is not living if it cannot die. The definition of human death is the cessation of brain function. A fetus has no brain function until about week 25, therefore until then, it’s not actually alive. Therefore abortion is not killing a living human.
There’s so much that’s so stupid in all that, that it’s hard to know where to start. Let’s start with a brief digression to illustrate the fact that Zande is a sloppy thinker, because he’s a dumb writer. What to make, for instance, of this collection of words:
Consider this simple fact: Theoretically, I can…
Ooooookay… So, Zande’s going to give us a “fact” that’s really a theory? The writing is sloppy, because the thinking is sloppy. Zande followed up that howler with this:
Consider this simple fact: Theoretically, I can remove the heart from an adult human being, and for just as long as I keep blood flowing through the body, that person will remain being a living person because their brain is still working naturally. You cannot do the reverse of this experiment.
Okay, so Zande’s “fact” is his conclusion that you can’t perform the reverse of an experiment, that’s supposed to illustrate Zande’s opinion that a human whose brain functions have ceased — or haven’t yet started — is not a human. Zande brings out a bunch of facts that all do nothing to change the actual fact that the very heart of his argument — “a human whose brain functions have ceased — or haven’t yet started — is not a human — is merely an opinion. And a shaky one at that. What, after all, is it?
If Zande were to stop and say that:
a human whose brain functions have ceased is no longer a human…
… he might be on more solid ground. I’d disagree with him, but it’d be a slightly heavier lift for me than at the beginning of life, where an obvious human entity is growing inside a pregnant woman… at all stages of his or her development, from the very moment of conception to birth.
No one disputes this. No one, for example, tries to pretend that the fertilized ovum is actually, or might actually be, or could actually become… an elm tree, or a fish, or a blue whale, or anything but an entirely human entity… a person in full. Nor will that entity develop into an elm tree, or a grown-up fish, or an adult blue whale. In Zande’s opinion, to justify slaughtering babies you must never allow the human entity who’s produced at the moment of conception to be called what it actually is: a human life.
That little teentsy-weentsy distinction — the change of wording from “entity” to “life” is what caused Zande to go through all those ridiculous gyrations in the above-linked essay.
Zande goes all pseudo-intellectual on us by using fancy chemical names, and pretending that everyone in the scientific world (Zande’s gods) agrees with him!(2) We don’t need to do that. I have a real fact for Zande, not one of his Fact-Theories: Of all the 105 billion or so people who have ever existed, if you were to argue about what was inside the woman for, say, nine months or so, every time a human being emerged(3). Every time. No exceptions.
Did “it” magically — to use Zande’s word — become a human being at some point in “its” development inside the woman? Remember: to justify killing “it,” Zande requires a lack of brain waves. But, he says, in our passage above, “At no stage does life magically appear…” Sooooo… apparently humanness does magically appear at some point in the baby! Zande believes in magic. I think it was G.K. Chesterton who said, “The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything.” That’s Zande.
Zande says that some scientists agree with him. I have the agreement of more than 105 billion people — scientists and non-scientists alike! — on my side.
Zande’s opinion is that humanness is inextricably tied to brain waves. He’s wrong. That’s my opinion. And here’s a fact: Zande has no way to debunk my opinion. All he can say is that he and others disagree. Well, goodness! When has that ever happened?!?
Aaaaaand Zande’s painfully stupid thesis is debunked.
Since there, obviously, is a “moral dilemma” shot throughout the notion of abortion, the only decent, humane thing to do is to put an immediate stop to all abortions until that moral dilemma can be resolved to the satisfaction of all.
One last note: Abortion is inherently a matter of life and death. Obviously there’s a moral dilemma. For example: Communist China had a one-child per family policy. And abortion was legal. Put the two together, and you get what? Yep, you guessed it: you get compulsory abortion. How does one justify that, pray tell? Zande? Silence?
So, the official policy of the Communist Chinese régime was to slaughter “extra” babies. Even more, when the Chinese people realized that they could have only one child, and abortion was legal, they set about aggressive sex-selection abortion, slaughtering girl babies as soon as their sex was known, and allowing boy babies to be born. Why? Simple: boys were just more economically worthwhile. This is the extent to which abortion poisons the decency and humanity of an entire people.
But, you and I can both see what else could transpire, based only on what has already transpired.
Want another example? Okay. Remember the “gay gene?” This was the notion that you could determine the sexual preference of a baby before his or her birth by genetics alone. That notion didn’t survive the one person musing something like, “Gee, I wonder what’ll happen if people find out the “fetus” has the ‘gay gene.'”
All of a sudden the “gay gene” disappeared from discussion.
Another example? Sure, let’s do it. Why stop at gay? Why not abort black babies? How about white babies? Why not abort babies based on anything at all? Eye color? Sure. Hair color? Of course! Height? Why not? After all, according to dimwits like Zande, there is no moral dilemma in abortion. Therefore, there can be no moral dilemma in the reasons for committing abortion. Too many people in a certain region? Heck, slaughter all babies there for ten years or so. Why not slaughter babies if they’re going to have birth defects? Oops… Iceland already does that.
How about some more? Sure.
Abortion’s okay? Why stop there? Why settle on the random stage of development known as “birth?” That’s a totally arbitrary point in a “fetus’s” development. Why not allow the woman to “choose” to kill the “fetus” after birth? Yes, that’s a real movement in Europe. Of course only babies with birth defects, or babies who are somehow inconvenient… Yeah, right. Why not kill old people? Oops… we’re already doing that. We used to be irritated with the Nazis when we learned that they killed the handicapped and the infirm. But, really, why are we irritated at that now? These were just really late-term abortions. And, as Zande says, there’s no moral dilemma in abortion.
No moral dilemma in abortion? Lol.
(1) Pro-deathers will insist that the woman was harmed, but she was not. In the vast, vast majority of cases — way more than 99% of them! — the woman controls completely whether or not conception occurs. When a woman engages in sex, to pretend that she’s harmed by pregnancy is to argue the patently absurd.
Furthermore, it’s a deeply contemptuous view of women to suggest that either they can’t control their sexual urges, despite the possible consequences, or to imply that they’re ignorant in the first place of the possible consequences of sex.
(2) By the way, this is a nearly universal dodge of the Left: pointing to all those influential, intelligent, educated people who agree with them. It’s called the “Argument from Authority,” and it’s a fallback for people who have trouble formulating their own beliefs and opinions. It’s also meaningless. After all, all the brilliant, educated people in the past believed that the earth was flat. Most, in fact, scientific beliefs — once held by all the powerful, intellectuals of the time — have been discarded as… well, wrong. My advice to the leftists and others who point to all the scientists on their side: Don’t.
(3) Yes, yes, yes, I know. Some babies were stillborn, others terribly deformed, others horribly handicapped. Still, at the time of the emergence of… whatever was inside the woman, no one disagreed with the notion that “it” was a “human baby.” The parents of the stillborn baby, grieved for their baby son or daughter. The doctors all wrote down that a human baby had been stillborn. At the funeral, if there was one, no one mourned the loss of a potted plant.