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Friday, May 02, 2008

Letters: Abortion fuels debate

Editor's note: A story in the Week about student efforts to help end child abuse sparked a thread of letters to the editor regarding the beginnings of life.

Therese McKenzie's letter, below, ran April 20, followed by Bernard Dalsey's response on April 27 (his letter follows).

Post your comment below.

Letter: The unborn can't escape abuse either

Dear Editor,

The article on efforts to prevent child abuse caught my attention (Posters highlight efforts to prevent abuse, The Week, April 6).

I was touched by the posters that some of the area students had created, and I applaud the work of the organizations which are involved.

Seeing the pictures reminded me that there is yet another group of babies who are abused but whose plight is rarely publicized in the media-those unborn babies who are intentionally aborted. I feel compelled to speak up on their behalf.

Surely child abuse and abortion are both complex problems, and those who engage in these behaviors need our compassion.

Yet the complexity does not justify the mistreatment of innocent lives, which is why we speak out about child abuse. For the same reason, I choose to speak out for the sake of fragile unborn children and to remind prospective parents to handle them with care.

Therese McKenzie
April 20, 2008

Letter: Life begins at conception, babies don't


Regarding those concerned about abuse of the unborn (Letters to the editor, The Week, April 20), late in term, I agree with you.

For the first 30 years of my life I agreed with you completely. Having been adopted from birth, I have a natural hatred of abortion.

Early in term, these groups of cells are not "babies." Have you had any babies in your family? You can't freeze babies. The fertility clinics freeze these fertilized eggs.

I've never heard of any so-called "pro-lifers" protesting when the fertility clinics throw out the fertilized eggs.

A mass of cells early in pregnancy is not a "baby." Human life begins at conception. But a baby it isn't, and to call it so is insanity.

For many of us who believe in the soul, our belief is that the soul enters the body later in term. And ironic it is that many fueled with religious dogma and hatred are so afraid of some pre-born human fetus or mass of cells going back to the Creator.

I've also never heard of a single pro-lifer paying to help a poor woman raise her child. When is the last time any of these self-righteous hypocrites anted up 10 grand a year to help some poor woman raise her child?

They want abortion illegal from conception, but once a pregnancy goes to term you're on your own. Or they will talk about adoption as if it were as trivial as dropping off some shirts at the laundry.

I know some righteous anti-abortion folks who are also anti-war. Our nation has killed over 600,000 Iraqi children between the sanctions and the invasion and occupation of that country that did nothing to us. How many pro-lifers are concerned about that?

How many are concerned about our lack of national health care and our high rate of infant mortality?

Bernard Dalsey
April 27, 2008


Blogger Dan Plutchak, editor said...


The Sunday, May 4, 2008 edition of the Week includes three responses, excerpted here.

Josephine Eberhardt of Elkhorn writes that, "it is human at the instant of conception--the genetic DNA proves it to be so." She goes on to say there are other options besides abortion.

Janine Glendenning of Darien writes that she has, "never heard a woman who has missed her menstrual cycle wonder if she is pregnant with a mass of cells, She know that a baby is on the way.

Shari Loback of Delavan asks when, later in term, it becomes a baby. "10 weeks, 20 weeks, 30 weeks? Or only when it looks like baby? Give me a break."

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Bernie Dalsey said...

The point I raised about no protests at the fertility clinics is one of lack of consistency. If someone wants the morning after pill banned because they consider it murder to end a pregnancy in the first few hours or days or weeks, then isn't it also murder when the same stage of incipient human development is discarded by the fertility clinics? It either is or it isn't. There's no consistency in saying that the clinics are fine but the pill should be illegal because it's ending incipient human life. This tells me it's more about control. The same lack of consistency is evident in the attitude of most (not all but most) so-called pro-life folks when it comes to support of war, opposition to national health, etc. To their credit, I know some people are are legitimately "pro-life" in that they are consistent. It is to point out this lack of consistency that was the main point of my letter.

3:11 PM  
Anonymous D.J. Duffy, Delavan said...

Dear Editor:

It looks like it might be time for me to weigh in regarding the contentious debate that has erupted over frozen embryos. Those that think it's time for fertility clinics and other such facilities to stop throwing them away should jump right on board with my proposal for the Baby Mama Endowment Fund.

If somebody were to put a bug in the ear of a member of the Bush-Cheney/McCain/Ryan team, they could quickly get the ball rolling. Anybody in that bunch would be all ears if an opportunity to do some pandering presented itself.

The Baby Mama Endowment Fund would provide government cash subsidies not unlike the Faith Based Initiatives program that keeps people voting "the right way." Any woman or man (I'm not sure how it works, but a guy in Portland or Seattle is with child) could have one or more embryos implanted to make some extra cash.

It would probably be best if a male candidate already had a big gut. Commercial surrogacy has been outsourced to India, but it's one enterprise we can bring home to the U.S.A. even while good paying jobs march out the door.

Since the Veterans Administration is projected to have as many as 800,000 new patients and disability claims from the current conflicts, maybe the frozen embryos should be used for stem-cell research.

New limbs could possibly be grown for all who've lost them but it might put the artificial limb factory (which is probably working three shifts, seven days a week) out of business.

We're in a "slowdown" and not a recession, so there should be little ill effect on the GDP or the almighty stock market from this event.

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Pete Mesner, Whitewater said...


I have several questions for those who responded to the April 27 letter ("Life Begins at Conception, Babies Don't).

1) If the soul is installed at conception, what happens when a zygote/early embryo divides (which can happen up to the 14th day or so in humans) forming twins? Do the twins share a one soul? 2) If "..every zygote cell is specialized and destined to become a unique organ/structure of that baby", then how could twinning happen? Furthermore, how has the entire field of developmental biology, which supplies vast experimental evidence showing cell differentiation to be a protracted process requiring myriad changes in gene activity and cell-cell communication, gotten it so wrong? If stem cell research has taught us anything, it is that many cells in embryos, and even in adults, are totally unspecialized.

In truth, human development is not fully complete until postnatal life.

Finally, to the claim that human embryos are every bit equivalent to people, I propose the following test: Imagine that you and your 5 year-old child are visiting a clinic where you have three frozen embryos stored.

Your child is playing in another room when a fire breaks out.

You can only save your child or your embryos, not both.

Which will you save? If you believe that embryos are equal to children, your choice is clear; you must save the embryos and let the lone child perish.

In light of actual knowledge and reasoning the dogmatic ideas that many people cling to are in fact mistaken, irrational or deeply unethical.

In this age of scientific and intellectual enlightenment, when we could use knowledge, rationality and our innate humanity to tackle difficult questions, it seems positively sinful to continue thoughtlessly deferring to the scriptural teachings of Bronze-age ancestors utterly ignorant of the issues of modernity.


I suggest the title: Blind Faith No Answer

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Buddy Blanford--Delavan said...


While it is true that at times we may wish we had not been born, is it not more true that had we not been born we could never decide for ourselves, pro or con?

Letter writer Pate Mesner (Writer suggests blind faith is no answer, may 11) would removed that option; decide for others. Would they actually have chosen to not have been given the right of full-term and birth?

Women who find themselves with an awkward pregnancy, yet have and care for the baby, are heroes. They made the best of a difficulty.

The Bronze Age is generally understood to have occurred between 3000 and 1200 B.C. The origin of Biblical writing is mostly post-Bronze Age. Modernity, the Age of science and belief that science could bring to man truths with which humanity would perfect life on earth--that era died and gave way to post-modernism, an age revisited with the religions Christianity had once outdone.

The issues of modernity are that it failed us.

Now, post-modern, we're taught that truth is not black and white; that there are no absolutes. Truth became cultural relevance. Yet, "We hold these truths to be self evident," that all "were created equal." Even deists believed this Biblical concept. This truth preceded the era called modernity and outlasted it: its origin was Biblical, not the humanist philosophy of modernism.

Creation is a constant idea during the span of Scripture writing and most of Western history. The Bible is the most important book in history to bring the liberty and justice we have known.

The post-modern, post-Christian world being led by secular progressive humanism is one in which the globe feels a fearful gathering storm. We are being led away by secular education from a time of the brightest dreams of the most people. Humanism ends in despair--that is its history.

9:12 AM  

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