A few weeks ago, I posted some thoughts on a few arguments in favor of abortion which I considered to be less than successful. My post was directed specifically to an article by a Mr. Babinski. Babinski kindly responded to my post and then sent me a lengthy counter. That counter will be posted in full throughout the present article. I will divide it into short sections and respond to each in turn. As a preemptive note, Mr. Babinski references several times (when he uses numbers) one of my comments on the previous post. To get a full sense of our discussion, see those comments.
Before I begin, I must reiterate what I explicitly stated in my first post: I was not in that post, nor am I in this post, arguing that abortion is wrong. I certainly believe that, but I’m not arguing specifically for it here. Nor am I making a positive pro-life case. The intention of my previous post was merely to argue that certain types of arguments, which I examined in that post, are either poor or irrelevant in relation to a pro-abortion case, because they simply confuse, mistake, or ignore what is the central and fundamental issue in the abortion debate. And it is precisely for this very reason that I am not in these posts either arguing against abortion generally or for a pro-life position positively; it is because the debate requires a sufficient foundation before it can even begin, and I have not yet built such a foundation in my writings. So my entire point is just that in order to even ask the question of the morality or legality of abortion, we have to answer the prior question of the moral status of the unborn. In other words, we have to answer questions such as (but certainly not limited to): What is it about human beings that makes it wrong to kill them, and does this apply to the unborn? Why or why not?
Mr. Babinski in this counter makes several points which are much more relevant and challenging than the previous ones; however, others of his arguments are still caught up in issues which are just beside the point, or else are directed against positions which I am simply not attempting a defense of in these posts (e.g., the existence of souls).
With that having been said, let’s get to it.
Here begins his counter:
1. The zygote is a cell, the blastula is a group of cells, starting to differentiate into a person. The philosophy of things in process and the questions that arise as a result is something that should be kept in mind. There is an undeniable gradation of differences between a brainless zygote or brainless blastula, and what develops later. For example, if you dig up a young seed that could grow into a tree if left in the soil have you destroyed a tree? If you collect thousands of tree seeds from the forest floor (say but picking up bags of pine cones) and toss them into a garbage disposal have you decimated a forest? If you combine all the ingredients for a cake into a bowl but don’t put it in the oven, or take it out of the oven in a minute (when you know the ingredients need to cook for 30 minutes), have you baked a cake? And if you have a refrigerated suitcase filled with hundreds of frozen human embryos, and you trip and it spills open and they die in some sweltering summer heat, did you just murder the equivalent of three classrooms full of kids? Should you get the electric chair? Is it murder with a capital M?
One of the central points of Mr. Babinski’s whole counter is summed up in this statement: “There is an undeniable gradation of differences between a brainless zygote or brainless blastula, and what develops later.” With which I have really no problem in agreeing. There is indeed an undeniable gradation of difference between a zygote and a fully mature adult human. One is a single cell, the other is probably the single most complex entity we’re aware of in the entire universe, containing literally trillions of cells which in their incomprehensible arrangements make up a synthesis of incredible organs and organ systems, the height of which is the human brain. Between the zygote and the adult human there are obviously various stages of incremental development. So there’s no controversy here. The question, however, and the question which I’ve suggested is the central issue in the entire abortion debate, is not really about where or at what stage in the process of that development an organism suddenly gains “the right to life”, but rather the fundamental question is what precisely is it that gives something a “right to life”, or, as I prefer, “human dignity”. The question of where/when the organism acquires this “human dignity” is important, but I think it is secondary, insofar as in order to answer it we first must know what this dignity is in the first place–what it consists of, what it’s grounded in, what gives it, etc. So whereas I agree that there is an undeniable gradation of difference between a zygote and an adult human, I do not agree that this gradation of difference in itself justifies the conclusion that the zygote does not possess human dignity. After all, there’s also an undeniable gradation of difference between a newborn and an adult, and between a toddler and an adult, etc. Perhaps not nearly as vast a gulf, but a gulf nonetheless. In short, I fully agree that there is a difference in degree between the unborn and an adult; but I very much disagree that there is a difference in quality between them.
The analogy of the seeds and the tree is interesting, but not, I don’t think, especially revealing. He asks whether if one digs up a seed which could potentially grow into a tree, we have thus destroyed a tree; his point presumably being that just as destroying a seed is not equivalent to destroying a tree, so destroying an unborn human is not equivalent to destroying an adult human. The problem is that neither a seed nor a fully developed tree have any sort of intrinsic moral status comparable to human dignity. So actually, in terms of moral standings, the analogy might even serve to work against Babinski’s point: since neither seeds nor trees have any intrinsic moral status, the moral standing of destroying either is in fact arguably the same. If you combine all the ingredients of a cake but don’t bake them, have you baked a cake? No, by definition. But so what? Again, neither have any sort of intrinsic moral status, so the analogy just doesn’t tell us anything. Is a zygote different from an adult human? Yes, absolutely. But the question is still whether this difference amounts to a difference in moral status, and that question is left unanswered by these analogies.
And when you speak of morality what about questions of relative morality? Should women be resigned to a position of mere host or incubator whenever a sperm contacts an egg inside their bodies? An analogy might suffice: If a person is going to die unless they are receive another person’s blood or blood-based nutrients must someone else resign their bodies to having their blood collected or connected to the first person who would die unless they found a likely host source of blood or blood-based nutrients? We don’t force people to give blood, not even when the person whose life they are saving is undoubtedly a person, an adult. We may encourage others to donate blood, but there is no law forcing such donations, nor any that force one to lie down and have their blood connected to another person for say nine months to preserve that person’s life, let alone the life of a zygote.
First things first: to say that conception/pregnancy “resigns” women “to a position of mere host or incubator” is an astoundingly reductive view of the process of pregnancy and the relationship between mother and child. Mr. Babinski wants to argue that my anti-abortion position results in this; but the exact opposite is the case. For the question itself assumes that to force pregnant women to carry out their pregnancy is so resigning them, whereas allowing them the freedom to abort liberates them from being a “mere incubator”, the implication being that pregnancy itself is merely a process of incubation. My position, on the other hands, affirms pregnancy as something deeply meaningful and valuable in its own right, which abortion drastically degrades and destroys. (More on this later).
Concerning his analogy of blood-donation, I responded to this general idea in a comment on the previous post. I’ll quote what I said there:
“Do we legally force someone to donate blood or kidneys? No, even though I’d argue someone can be in a situation where they are *morally* obligated to do such. But, for illustrative purposes, let’s suppose someone is undergoing kidney failure and will die without a donated kidney. In this case, the direct cause of their dying is the kidney failure. The lack of a donated kidney may be a *contributing* factor, but it is not the direct cause, since not having a donated kidney is not what causes the underlying need for such a kidney in the first place. Is this comparable with a mother aborting her child? Not at all. For in this cause, the mother is not just “ceasing” to provide her nutrients; she is actively, directly, and purposefully killing the unborn. She is here the direct cause. And if the unborn has human dignity, then her directly causing its death is equivalent to murder. So the analogy, I think fails.”
The problem is our radically different understanding of ethics. Modern rights based systems so emphasize the autonomy of the self and its “rights” above all else that legality and morality are reduced to limited negative prescription. In your example, for instance, the situation is set up with the intention of showing that a person’s “right to life” means that they ought to have no legal requirement to “resign their bodies” by donating blood even to someone who would die without it. My belief, on the contrary, is that regardless of legal requirements, that person has a positive moral duty to help save the life of the other, even if it imposes on his own bodily autonomy. In other words, I think there are certain situations which impose duties upon us which can supersede autonomies and rights we possess, perhaps even of life itself–and pregnancy, I’d argue, is one such situation. Consider a child post birth. Here even by law parents have legal responsibilities to that child which require an extraordinary amount of time, effort, and sacrifice. Here almost everyone admits there can be duties imposed which restrict autonomies, as seen in our child neglect laws. Here the parent may not literally be sacrificing blood or bodily nutrients, but they are sacrificing greatly nonetheless, and we all accept that this is required of them, and that failure in these regards is serious and worthy of punishment. So here there is precedent for thinking that certain relationships/situations can in fact result in someone being “forced” to sacrifice autonomies. In the case of a child, we admit 1) that the child possesses human dignity, but 2) that the child is not fully developed and not capable of survival on its own, so therefore 3) that the parents have duties to provide for the child. So once more the question comes down to human dignity. Does the unborn possess it? If so, the fact that it requires such immense sacrifice from the mother does not just from that justify termination.
I will add here a response to a point you raised in 5. Refusing to give someone the necessary life saving blood or blood nutrients results in cutting off the continuum of life just as surely as taking a “morning after pill” which prevents fertilized eggs from attaching to the woman’s uterus and allow the egg to pass out of the woman same as unfertilized eggs do each month. The zygote in such cases is denied the woman’s blood nutrients.
This is in reference to my comment on direct causation which I quoted above. Babinski is correct that refusing to donate life saving blood to someone “results in cutting off the continuum of life”, but is wrong that this is exactly equivalent to taking a morning after pill. A morning after pill does result in a ceasing of provision for life; but in this case taking the morning after pill is the direct cause of the termination, whereas refusing to give blood is not the direct cause of whatever it is which results in the necessity of that blood. For example, suppose someone gets shot with a gun and loses a large amount of blood. In this case, it is the gunshot which is the direct cause of the destruction of life, while refusing to give blood is a secondary contributing factor, since if there were no gunshot, there would be no need for donated blood in the first case.
Furthermore, even without taking a birth control pill or a morning after pill, estimates of the percentages of zygotes that die spontaneously before implantation in the uterus range from between 80% percent to 45%. (More than 30% percent of those that do implant later die spontaneously on the vine.) Which means that even couples striving to have children produce zygotes that die more than 50% of the time. Which raises the question, who has aborted the greatest number of zygotes/fertilized eggs? Perhaps couples like the Duggars with their infrequent use of birth control and 19 kids. They strove to have more kids, kids they wanted, but based on current data and estimates they produced more dead zygotes than children: https://valerietarico.com/2015/01/09/who-aborts-the-most-fertilized-eggs-families-like-the-duggars/
The main idea here seems to be that termination of zygotes isn’t wrong, because we often terminate zygotes naturally and automatically just as a result of the biological and reproductive process itself. This, however, is about as compelling as arguing that murdering a child isn’t wrong, because children die naturally anyways just as a result of being born. In fact, by my calculations, somewhere around 100% of every child ever born has or will at some point die. And this death is indeed an effect of the act of the parents in bringing that child into existence. In other words, just by conceiving a child the parents guarantee its inevitable and eventual death. Should we then conclude that the parents are guilty of the murdering their children, if the children grow up and die of natural causes? Hardly. The obvious difference is in purposeful and intentional agency. A parent who conceives a child doesn’t intend to kill them, whereas a man who thrusts a knife into another man’s chest does. The latter is clearly murder. The former is clearly not. In the same way, the fact that zygotes conceived by parents very often die naturally by no means justifies parents purposefully and intentionally bringing about the termination of a zygote. The Duggars may have produced more dead zygotes than children, but are about as guilty of “abortion” proper as any of my deceased ancestors will be guilty of “murder” when I someday die.
2. “Abstinence” is your answer to human population growth aborting civilization and/or the planet? Abstinence only works to reduce population growth if both unmarried and married couples abstain from sex. How many married couples do you know who abstain from sex?
See also this article, “The Christian Who Jumpstarted the Purity Movement Admits He May Have Done More Harm Than Good”http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2016/07/28/the-christian-who-jumpstarted-the-purity-movement-admits-he-may-have-done-more-harm-than-good/
Furthermore, efficacy research reveals that those who engage in purity pledges will likely delay having sex (usually no more than year or two compared with their non-pledging peers), but when they do have intercourse they are less likely to use protection (Bruckner , H., & Bearman , P. S., 2005 ). And see, “After the promise: The STD consequences of adolescent virginity pledges,” and, “Promising to wait: Virginity pledges and adolescent sexual behavior” (both articles from Journal of Adolescent Health, 36, 2004). But in most cases purity pledges do not have any significant or long-term effects on abstinence (Rosenbaum , J. E., 2009 ). “Patient teenagers? A comparison of the sexual behavior of virginity pledgers and matched nonpledgers” (Pediatrics, 123).
My point about abstinence was that if one concluded a) that environmental woes are so pressing that we need a drastic reduction in population size, but also b) that abortion is wrong, then abstinence seems like a simple and morally dignified solution. Practical? Perhaps not, as your statistics indicate. But oftentimes moral duties are very impractical, and their impracticality in no way removes their moral demand upon us. It is only impractical because of the weakness of will in many people. But since when has weakness of will justified wrongdoing?
You also asked whether I think killing adult humans is valid to save the environment? My reply is that there is an undeniable gradation of differences between a brainless zygote or brainless blastula, and what develops later. See point 1. for further comments.
So here is again my question, which so far has gone entirely unanswered: What is it about human beings that gives them dignity/a “right to life”, and at what point do human organisms come to “possess” this? I’ve already argued that the gradation of differences between zygotes and adult humans is not sufficient to conclude that the former do not possess human dignity. So until this question is answered, there’s really no way to reach a determination either way.
3. You wrote, “At the zygote stage, the ‘body’ is just a single cell, but is still a living organism and hence necessarily has a form, or soul… I’m an Aristotelian hylomorphic dualist.” That is your view? It merely equivocates on the use of the word “form, or soul,” which by virtue of mere definition now refers to both a physical body and an eternal soul, which is now something that can also be frozen, yet eternal. This is a philosophy by virtue of dual vague overlapping definitions that merely skirts obvious questions as to how such a thing could be so. Asserting that a single fertilized egg cell has a “form, or soul” that exists eternally is to merely make an assertion.
1) Yes, that is my view, 2) No, it does not “merely equivocate on the use of the word ‘form, or soul'”. Nor does it refer “to both a physical body and an eternal soul”. On my Aristotelian view, the soul is the form of the body (where form refers to Aristotelian forms), not identical to the body itself. Nor does this view necessarily require the soul to be eternal; Aristotle himself left this somewhat open. To the assertion that “this is a philosophy by virtue of dual vague overlapping definitions that merely skirts obvious questions as to how such a thing could be so”, all I can say in response is that there is roughly three thousand years worth of philosophical material which deals with answering the “obvious question as to how such a thing could be so.” I hardly see that as “skirting” the question. I definitely did not merely assert that a fertilized egg has a form or soul that exists eternally (in fact, I never even mentioned “eternity” at all). I was asked what my view of the soul was, and I stated it. I did not offer an explanation or defense of my view because, as I also stated in the comment, I think the issue of souls is somewhat irrelevant to at least the primary question in the abortion debate. I explicitly stated that “I think abortion would amount to murder even if souls do not exist”. If you would like an in depth defense of my position on souls, I can suggest no better than starting with the work of Aristotle himself.
And speaking of cells and their “form, or soul,” whatever that means, did you know that every cell in the human body could with proper technique be cloned into another human being? Using a few cheek cells one could bring lots of new “souls” into the world that have the same basic genetic material or body as the zygote that later became you.
There are also HeLa cells from Hennrietta Lacks, a cancer patient who died decades ago, but whose cancer cells still have all of her individual DNA and keep reproducing in petri dishes, even outproducing bacteria in the same petri dish. HeLa cells are found in cancer research labs all over the world today. These are human cells able to keep reproducing on their own given the same basic nutrients that bacteria thrive on in petri dishes. Is her “soul” still around?
And consider the vanishing twin syndrome whereby fertilized egg cells split or a break off from the blastula and start developing on their own into a twin, another “form, or soul,” but later get reabsorbed by the remaining twin (or by the uterus), a “reunion of form, or soul” with one’s twin (or with the woman)? Death without a body to bury.
Also, what of split-brain patients whose hemispheres are no longer directly connected, and which can answer different questions simultaneously, and which are sometimes at odds with one another, one hand opening, another closing a door, one pulling up pants, the other pulling them down, one hand trying to slap another hand away from a puzzle that the other half of the brain knows how to solve? How many “forms, or souls?” And what of two young girls in Canada connected by their brain’s temporal lobes who can see out of each other’s eyes, and it is suspected via anecdotal evidence, share some feelings and thoughts as well (one of them underwent a seizure and the other girl said she could no longer “sense” her connected twin)–a case of overlapping “forms, souls?”
These cases are interesting and presumably are intended to challenge the existence of souls. The challenges associated with them, however, misunderstand the Aristotelian conception of souls; and since, as I’ve explained above, I think this issue is irrelevant to our current conversation, I won’t offer any responses here.
You added that you “don’t see the abortion question as necessarily dependent on the issue of souls. In other words, I think abortion would amount to murder even if souls do not exist.” My reply is that there is an undeniable gradation of differences between a brainless zygote or brainless blastula, and what develops later. See point 1. for further comments.
See my own replies to the “gradation of differences” argument.
4. I disagree that there is an “important distinction” between contraception and aborting a zygote. In one case the sperm and egg have not yet met, but the sperm are moving and pointed in the right direction for a potential meeting (though stopped by a condom), to meet with an egg that has moved out of the ova and already moving or about to move down the fallopian tubes. It is merely a matter of motion and time, halting either ends the continuum of life, and assures no birth takes place. While in the case of a zygote, it will naturally pass out of the woman and perish unless it attaches to the uterine wall and begins to absorb nutrients moving through the woman’s bloodstream, nutrients that have to meet up with the attached zygote so it can grow. In either case we are talking about molecules in motion that must reach their destination over time and space so that the continuum of life may proceed. Halt the continuum at any point, no birth takes place.
Your further assertion regarding “hylomorphic dualism” is commented on in 3. above.
First, I should remind that I believe both abortion and contraception are immoral, so even if there is no important distinction, this would have no effect on my stance. But in fact there is an important position, as I argued in the previous post, which argument is left completely unaddressed here. The distinction between contraception and abortion is simply that the former prevents the creation of a new living organism while the latter destroys a newly created living organism. The language Babinski uses of “continuum of life” seems a bit vague. After all, the zygote is a completely new organism, distinct from either just the sperm or the egg. Since they are separate organisms, it seems strange to talk of a single “continuum” of life. Contraception may halt the continuum of the sperm, and abortion halt (or rather destroy) the continuum of the zygote/embryo/fetus, but these appear to be two different continuums, and hence my distinction between abortion and contraception stands.
5. Your analogy of someone buying a dog is not accurate. A woman seeking to buy a dog is like a woman already seeking to have a baby and not contemplating abortion. Second, not all women who seek to have sexual relations are also seeking to have a baby. Agreeing to have sexual relations with someone is not the same as agreeing to give birth and start a family should conception occur.
Please see point 1. for further responses so some points you raised.
This takes us back to the previous issue of the mother as “incubator”. My analogy of the dog was that a person who buys a dog commits himself to caring for/providing for the dog; and in the same way, I suggested, anyone who willingly participates in sexual intercourse commits him/herself to caring/providing for a child if one is thereby conceived. In other words, I argued that engaging in sexual relations automatically imposes certain duties/commitments on someone. Mr. Babinski is correct, however that “not all women who seek to have sexual relations are also seeking to have a baby”. But the fact that certain people behave as such in no way affects whether or not their intentions are morally right. The assertion that “agreeing to have sexual relations with someone is not the same as agreeing to give birth and start a family should conception occur” just begs the question against my position, which is that agreeing to have sexual relations with someone is the same as submitting and committing to the possibility of conception.
6. My point about prioritizing care for the already born is similar to my point about prioritizing care for civilization (and the planet) over care for zygotes. By continuing to stress the zygote question and all the care we must have for them, to bring more and more zygotes, blastulas, early embryos, and first term fetuses all the way to fruition, you are prioritizing things that make it that more difficult to concentrate care on the countless children already born, and concentrate care on keeping civilization and the planetary ecosystem afloat. Humanity cannot and must not simply concentrate on how to “be fruitful and multiply” because I think we got that one down pat. We should concentrate far more care at this point on the far more difficult question of how to maintain long term sustainability for civilization, and the species, and species other than our own as well which are dropping out of sight left and right (not a great sign, like the canaries in the cage deep down in a mine starting to die and we are the miners). I would sooner see politicians admitting that the current human population is unsustainable in the long run via our current technology, than see politicians demanding every human zygote is sacred and we must continue to be fruitful and multiply, the same command given to bacteria, with the same catastrophic results after bacteria reach certain levels of population and pollution due to their own their wastes as noted by microbiologists.
I repeat what I said in the comment on the previous post: I see no reason why these are mutually exclusive. It seems entirely possible to care both for zygotes and for long term sustainability. But even if not, my argument is that this utilitarian thinking cannot justify abortion if the unborn have human dignity (because, as I mentioned above, abstinence is a moral possibility). Since Babinski still has not responded to my central question of human dignity, my point stands.
7. Citing “natural law” strikes me as a weak point. Asserting one’s views are based on “natural law” begs the question of which of nature’s variations and diverse ways one is talking about. “Natural law” philosophers pick and choose among nature’s variety and diversity to claim that only certain ways of nature (or certain natural outcomes) are the ones that that philosopher favors–for his own species no less, not other species.
There is no other way to put it: This statement reveals that Mr. Babinski simply does not understand the position and claims of classical natural law theory. It is one thing to disagree with natural law theory, but to attempt a critique without even a basic awareness of its main ideas is simply egregious. So I must make this abundantly clear: natural law theory does not refer to the “laws of nature” studied by modern sciences. All of Babinski’s following critiques are based upon this complete misunderstanding of the elementary tenets of natural law theory:
Speaking of natural law, I mentioned in point 1. that even couples like the Duggars with their infrequent use of birth control and 19 kids probably produced more dead zygotes than children: https://valerietarico.com/2015/01/09/who-aborts-the-most-fertilized-eggs-families-like-the-duggars/ So with nature you can’t even break even. The majority of attempts at having a child result in far more abortions (of zygotes and/or embryos) than children. That’s nature’s way.
But let’s take a grand tour of nature so to speak, starting with the fact that nature is a great winnower of life. Far more eggs are fertilized and far more young hatched than survive to the age of sexual maturity to start the process over once again. If that is natural law then humans parallel it whenever they also choose to winnow life. For instance, nature spews out endless sperm and eggs only to die. A study of nature tell us that men produce enough sperm on a daily basis to repopulate the earth in six months, think of all the sperm winnowed by nature. And nature produces many sperm that are deformed, have two heads, or two tails, or squiggly tails, or heads that are too large or two small, etc., and doesn’t strive to preserve them. Now letʼs talk about eggs. During childhood a girlʼs ovaries absorb almost half of the million immature eggs that she possessed at birth. Of the four hundred thousand eggs present during her first menstrual period, only 300 to 500 of them will develop into mature eggs across her reproductive life span. Her body reabsorbs the rest before they complete development. Nature doesn’t strive to preserve them.
Nature subjects sperm to physical stresses during ejaculation and contractions of the female tract, which means they may either sustain oxidative damage, or encounter the defenses of the female immune system meant for infectious organisms. Also, sperm loss occurs via “flowback” from the vagina following coitus, which occurred in 94% of copulations in one study in which a median of 35% of spermatozoa were lost. While in 12% of copulations almost 100% of the sperm inseminated were eliminated. Nature doesn’t strive to preserve them. This suggests that less than 1% of sperm might be retained in the female reproductive tract and this supports the notion that only a minority of sperm actually enter cervical mucus and ascend higher into the female reproductive tract. [Baker and Bellis, 1993]
Even being the first sperm to reach the egg assures nothing, since the eggʼs wall is too thick at that point and has to be weakened first by a couple thousand sperm attempting to breach it. And on occasion more than a single sperm enters the egg before it begins to reharden, in which case the fertilized egg divides a few times then stops, or it may grow to the point of early implantation, implant on the uterine wall and then result in a miscarriage. Sometimes after the sperm enters the egg it triggers a second set of female chromosomes to be produced, and the fertilized egg dies. Sometimes the sperm enters the egg but does not go on to form a pronucleus, leaving only the eggʼs chromosomes functional, and again the process of development shuts down.
Estimates I have read range from between 50% to 75% for fertilized human eggs that end in spontaneous abortions. Nature doesn’t strive to preserve zygotes very well.
And add to those spontaneous abortions the high percentage of newborns and young children that perished during birth or from infections and childhood illnesses that were rampant throughout most of human history. Consider this chart of child mortality rates prior to the 1800s, which was over 40% for children during the first five years of life. https://ourworldindata.org/child-mortality/ The French naturalist Buffon in the mid 1700s deducted from his own measurements that about half of all children born died before reaching the age of eight. 20th century medicine and obstetrics altered such rates of survival dramatically. Rather than let nature cripple or kill new born children via hungry microbes humans developed the following vaccines: https://www.vaccines.gov/who_and_when/infants_to_teens/ One man in particular developed so many vaccines he may have spared billions from suffering, Maurice Hilleman (b.1919-d.2005), read his remarkable story here: https://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2015/09/they-saved-lives-of-billions-or-donated.html Unfortunately, modern day species of humans have been around for over fifty thousand years (more like over one hundred thousand years), so based on reasonable population growth estimates during that time about 100 BILLION humans suffered nature’s painful ways right up till the 20th century when average mortality rates began to descend. [Yes, 100 BILLION, see articles online that answer the question, “How many people have ever lived on earth?” http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2002/HowManyPeopleHaveEverLivedonEarth.aspx ] Imagine how many dead zygotes from spontaneous abortions that might include. Imagine how many dead mothers and newborn infants and children? That’s nature’s ways.
What did believers in the divine creation of nature and her “natural laws” suggest? Some Protestant and Catholic clergy railed against inoculations and vaccinations as “an encroachment on the prerogatives of Jehovah whose right it is to wound and smite.” While Pope Leo XII (1823-1829) decreed that vaccination against smallpox was “against Godʼs will.” [See Andrew Dickson White, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, Chapter XIII: From Miracles to Medicine Theological Opposition to Inoculation, Vaccination, and the Use of Anæsthetics (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1896)]
And oddly enough, some Protestants rejected early treatments for malaria and syphilis because Catholics were the first to come up with them. [See Diarmaid MacCullochʼs The Reformation: A History]
About all that nature can tell us is that humans and their young are as much a part of the buffet of life (suitable as food for viruses, fungi, bacteria, protozoa, worms and other parasites) as they are suitable as enjoyers of the buffet by eating other animals and plants. And what about morality? What can nature teach us about morality in relation to reproduction? Nature’s spectrum of behaviors appears nearer to libertarianism than authoritarianism. There are hermit species and social species, herbivores and carnivores, animals that mate for life, others that live to mate… and some that eat their mates. In nature thereʼs also mothers that eat their sons and daughters, fathers that kill other fatherʼs children, daughters that eat their mothers, sons that mate with their mothers, and brothers and sisters that kill and/or devour each other IN THE WOMB, or soon after being born. For specific examples from nature see the article at the Talk Origins Archive, “Why We Believe in a Designer” http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/ce/4/part2.html
Abortion Is Part of the Animal Kingdom, Not Unique to Humanity. What do whales, caribou and humans have in common? Abortion as an adaptive response to resource scarcity. http://churchandstate.org.uk/2016/09/abortion-is-part-of-the-animal-kingdom-not-unique-to-humanity/
Statement by Dr. Warren Hern of Boulder Abortion Clinichttps://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/11/18/1601020/-Abortion-Doctor-Writes-Powerful-Response-to-Anti-Abortion-Witch-Hunt-by-Congress
Statement by Christian and abortionist, Dr. Dr Willie Parkerhttp://www.christiantoday.com/article/us.abortion.doctor.defends.work.as.ministry/41247.htm
God is so not ‘pro-life’ https://ffrf.org/publications/freethought-today/item/24698-god-is-so-not-pro-life
In these final remarks, Babinski is talking about what happens “naturally”, meaning by way of/by causal action of “nature” understood as the operative system of physical reality. But this, to repeat, is just not in any way what natural law theory refers to. Mr. Babinski seems to think that natural law theorists hold that whatever happens “naturally” (in the sense just explained) is good; but this is drastically mistaken. I really cannot stress this fact enough.But this is, again, taking us quite off topic, so I’ll simply point Mr. Babinski and any other interested parties to this introductory article as an example of what classical natural law theory actually states.
In conclusion, I repeat my central question, which remains, after all this dialogue, unanswered: what is it about human beings that gives them dignity (i.e. makes it morally wrong to kill them) and why does this not apply to the unborn? Until this question is answered, any abortion debate can go no further. In fact, until this question is answered, no abortion debate can really even begin.
Cover Image: Leonardo da Vinci [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ADa_Vinci_Studies_of_Embryos_Luc_Viatour.jpg>.