Potential for life does not mean life.
I was listening to a debate on the radio recently on the topic of abortion. One caller who was obviously anti-choice (I utterly refuse to call them “pro-life”) tried to use the argument that he is against abortion on the grounds that every foetus is a “potential human being”, and he argues that as such, abortion is murder.
The caller’s argument is a very dangerous and disturbing stance for anyone to take. Yes, a foetus is a potential human being. But potential and actuality are two very different things. If you are going to argue that a foetus is a potential human being, then it could equally be argued that there is a potential human being at every stage of development, from zygote to blastocyst, from blastocyst to foetus. Basically the commentator is arguing that life potentially exists from the moment of conception. This is of course arrant nonsense. And I am careful to use the above terms to distinguish the stages of development, as it is obvious the caller does not make those distinctions but considers a “potential human being” to be a foetus from the moment of conception, when it most certainly is not. Either that, or he is arguing that the potential for life only begins when the pregnancy enters the foetal stage at the eighth week of gestation, and if he is doing so, then he has defeated his own argument.
Now let us take this argument to its logical conclusion. If it can be strongly argued that every human female egg and every male sperm have the potential to become human beings. If we argue that, then it must logically follow, as our caller friend would have us believe, that to destroy that potential life is murder. Yes friends, we are now into the insane logic of Monty Python, that “Every sperm is sacred”. And what is more, given that overwhelming vast majority of men masturbate (Oh yes you do – you can lie to yourself all you want but don’t try to kid me. And you girls can stop snickering, because you’re hardly innocent in those stakes.), that makes each and every one of them not only guilty of mass murder, but genocide. And even those men who do not masturbate have wet dreams during puberty, and these can continue for some men for many years, sometimes for life.
Let us just consider this for a moment. During the average male ejaculation, 250 million sperm are released ~ and only one of them manages to fertilise the single female egg. So that’s approximately 249,999,999 “potential human” lives destroyed. And isn’t it amazing just how many stupid and ignorant twats came from the strongest and fastest swimmers? And that of course is if pregnancy occurs. Couples can try for weeks, months, some even years, to get pregnant without success. And if the egg is not fertilised, then it will die within 24 hours of the fertile period. So every month, there are men and women right across the world, even right now as you read this, committing genocide. And that is of course only considering procreation and not including masturbation, wet dreams, or other sexual acts for that matter (“When do we reach the fallopian tubes?” asks one sperm. “Quite a while,” replies the other, “we’ve just passed the tonsils.”).
And of course, women, who start out with two million eggs at birth, lose these gradually throughout their lives and it is approximated they have lost 90% of them by age 30 – through no fault of her own. From the start of menstruation, approximately one thousand eggs die each month. Of course, there are times when more than one egg can mature and be fertilised, leading to multiple births. These are however very uncommon, and for a very good biological reason; the female human body is simply not meant to handle more than one pregnancy at a time. So, out of the eggs every female is born with, well over 90% are destined to die. And yet using our caller’s logic, these, and all untold billions of sperm lost, are “potential” human beings.
So, given all those losses, if we add them to the untold number of tragic miscarriages and stillbirths which occur every year, then it must follow that if our caller’s god actually existed, he would not only be the biggest abortionist of all time, but guilty of genocide on a scale which is unimaginable.
And even leaving aside the facetious and the flippant arguments above, let us just consider where else the argument of every pregnancy being a “potential human being” leaves us. Such an argument, coupled with the claim that to take any human life, even if it is only potential life, is murder can only have one logical conclusion; that there should never be any terminations of pregnancies. Not in cases of rape, not in cases of incest, not even in cases where complications may lead to the death of the mother, or for that matter the foetus. To argue to take “potential human life” is basically saying that every pregnancy must be carried full term. So it is that if our caller to the radio station had the power, if he encountered a prepubescent girl made pregnant by rape by a family member, and who has an ectopic pregnancy (where the foetus forms in the fallopian tube), he would force that child to carry that pregnancy full term, even although to do so would guarantee her death, and more than likely that of the foetus as well.
I’m not sorry if the above appears to be emotionally charged. The anti-choice brigade are no slouches when it comes to appealing emotions. I would argue however that I am not doing so; I am merely stating one possible logical outcome of the argument of every pregnancy being a “potential human being” by showing just one potential, possible even, outcome of such insane thinking.
A pregnancy is not a “potential human being”. Indeed, when conception occurs the female body does not consider it a ‘beautiful event’ or ‘miracle of life’; it considers it to be a parasite, an invader, and at first will do its utmost to reject it. I’m not sorry either if that offends anyone. I’m not appealing to emotions now, I am talking solid biological, scientific fact. You can either have emotive language or science. don’t think you can your cake and eat it. The human body, both female and male, will reject any invader or foreign matter which enters it. That’s why we have an immunity system which fights off infection and bacteria. So when sperm enters a woman’s body, and even when it creates a zygote / blastocyst, the immune system is geared up to get rid of it. However, the amazing thing which does happen is that the blastocyst produces an enzyme which suppresses the mother’s T-cells. So basically the immune system demands to know of the blastocyst just what the hell it thinks it’s doing in there, and the blastocyst replies to the T-cells, “Chillax girls. All’s well.”
Don’t think for one moment that’s the mother out of the woods yet, though. If the immune system is not sufficiently suppressed when the fertilised egg attempts to land in the uterine wall, then the T-cells will show this intruder the door, and a natural miscarriage will occur. It is only once the blastocyst is implanted that a “truce” is called by the immune system. Sorry, anti-choice brigade (and anyone else who may be offended) but anyway you look at it, a pregnancy is essentially a parasite in the human body.
All these things are worth considering, because they clearly show that no pregnancy is a “potential human being” until the foetus is fully developed. And that is why most medical experts consider that time to be in the third trimester, and there is no surgeon worth their salt on the face of the planet would ever carry out an abortion past 24 weeks. Any pregnancy before that point no more makes a potential human being than me jumping on my bike to go to shops makes me a potential Tour de France champion.
Most developed countries have abortion for one very good reason; because it has been banned in the past, that didn’t work, and the result was women who went to back-street abortionists, or attempted self-abortion through which a great many women died. Abortion is not murder; abortion prevents murder, and accidental death. It also put an end to women who attempted any of the above, but ended up so badly mutilated that they would never be able to conceive another child when the time was right for them. Abortion therefore also saves a lot of heartache, and in the long run can actually help women, in that it frees them to decide when to have a child.
The latter of course is the bottom line of the whole argument; that yes, it is a woman’s right have control over her own body, and to choose if and when she wants to have a child, if indeed they want one at all. Surprising as it may seem to some, women are not baby vending machines, and some indeed have absolutely no interest in becoming a mother. That’s their choice, which no woman should ever be pressurised either way upon by anyone else. Strange, isn’t it, how if a heterosexual man chooses to stay single and never father a child, he can be considered a “bit of a lad”, a rake, a roué even, and will still retain a great deal of respect. Yet if a woman, of any sexuality, chooses not to have a child, then suddenly people think there must be something wrong with her? Seems to me that the general public need a good dose of “Mind your own fucking business!”, with a healthy smattering of “Shut the fuck up!” thrown in for good measure.
Abortion is of course a highly emotive issue. And it’s not helped by the anti-choice brigade, who all too often portray women who opt for terminations as cold-hearted baby killers and will picket clinics with placards claiming such, using pictures of animal foetuses and claiming they are human, and harass women going into these clinics (and who are so “pro-life” that they are not above bombing clinics and killing those who work in them ~ where’s the fucking sacrity of life there?). Personally, I’m not against it. I don’t see it as in any way tragic or unfortunate, for all the above reasons. But there is one thing I am sure of; I’d sooner terminations were carried out in sterile, clinical conditions, by highly trained professionals, than in some dingy, dusty lounge by some crazy old bat with a coat-hanger, or with some poor woman steeping herself in a scalding hot bath, or throwing herself down the stairs.
Just as I am sure that for a great many women, whether or not to have an abortion is the hardest choice to make in their lives. And of those who choose to terminate, there will be those who will have some regrets and will live all their lives thinking “What if?” These women need our love, our support, our understanding, and above all, our respect. The last thing they need is to be castigated as baby murderers of “potential” human beings.