Clara loved children and up to this point they had ten children and discovered she was pregnant again. The mood was one of great anticipation and excitement filled the air. She scheduled her doctor’s appointment and underwent the necessary examination. The results were encouraging, mother and baby were progressing well. In June, she became ill and had to go to hospital. After the examination the doctor, with solemn face, gave the heart wrenching news, it was either the baby or her life. Clara was resolute; she was not going to give up her child irrespective of how much it threatened her own life. With every passing moment, her condition worsened. Teetering on the edge of death, she gave birth to a baby boy weighing one pound seven ounces. They both survived.
In the aforementioned story, a woman made a choice—a choice of not having an abortion although it would have been perfectly justifiable. If that woman and her husband, who had ten other children, made a different choice, I would not be here recounting the events surrounding the beginning of my life. At the time of my birth, I easily fit in the palm of my father’s hand. Today, I stand 1.8976 meters tall. I am not a superstar or a highly recognized icon neither am I the president of the free world, I am simply alive.
Debate. Controversy. Argument. Conflict. Struggle. Clash. Battle. War. All of these terms have been used to describe the status of the abortion issue in the American society and politics, and it has been this way for nearly a half century. The conflict affects our legislatures, political parties, courts, churches, school, hospitals—and even our foreign policy.
Irrespective of the word used to define the nature of the abortion debacle, the fundamental issue regarding life. Therefore, the question of when does human life begins and the viability of a fetus will be discussed.
Dr. Maureen L. Condic, Senior Fellow of Westchester Institute for Ethics & the Human Person postulates:
Resolving the question of when human life begins is critical for advancing a reasoned public policy debate over abortion and human embryo research. The current scientific evidence in human embryology addresses two central questions concerning the beginning of life: 1) in the course of sperm-egg interaction, when is a new cell formed that is distinct from either sperm or egg? And 2) is this new cell a new human organism—i.e., a new human being? Based on universally accepted scientific criteria, a new cell, the human zygote, comes into existence at the moment of sperm-egg fusion, an event that occurs in less than a second. Upon formation, the zygote immediately initiates a complex sequence of events that establish the molecular conditions required for continued embryonic development. The behavior of the zygote is radically unlike that of either sperm or egg separately and is characteristic of a human organism. Thus, the scientific evidence supports the conclusion that a zygote is a human organism and that the life of a new human being commences at a scientifically well-defined “moment of conception”. This conclusion is objective, consistent with the factual evidence, and independent of any specific ethical, moral, political, or religious view of human life or of human embryos.
This leads me to question the notion of the viability of an embryo. Life begins at fertilization. Therefore, the embryo is viable. In recent years, the American culture has become adept in art of smoke and mirrors. How can we justify our position although the answers we seek are before us? In the case of abortion is has been clouded by the fallacy of a woman’s right to choose. Sarah Weddington in her oral arguments before the Supreme Court in Rove v. Wade said, “This certainly is a matter which is of such fundamental and basic concern to the woman involved that she should be allowed to make the choice as to whether to continue or to terminate her pregnancy” (Collier-Hillstrom 2008, p. 35). In the Rove v. Wade ruling, the Courts were blinded by the seismic shift in our cultural mores. Cristina Page in her book How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America, wrote, “Given the opportunity to delay marriage and childbearing women entered the workforce and never left”. She continued, “in 1965, 25 million women were in the workforce, by 1984, 46 million were—slightly more than half of all American women at the time” (Page 2006, p. 41). Women in the work force for the most part are beneficial. This is true, however, the cost to children both born and unborn is tremendous. Many exercise the option to delay motherhood through the “medical procedure” of abortion, while others choose to live promiscuously.
It may appear that our conversation have take gone off on a tangent, know this the underlying freedom of choice is born from this way of thinking. Abortion is not seen as the heinous crime against an unborn baby, it is seen as providing an option for his or her mother. Does the child have a say in the conversation? This leads to the question of the viability of the fetus. If the fetus can appear inanimate then the decision to abort is more palatable. Therefore, it is important to present the as a living human being—I certainly was and still is.
The embryo is not something that is being passively built by the process of development, with some unspecified, external “builder” controlling the assembly of embryonic components. Rather, the embryo is manufacturing itself. The organized pattern of development doesnot produce the embryo; it is produced by the embryo as a consequence of the zygote’s internal, self-organizing power (Condic 2008).
Based on this understanding, I will conclude and concur with the following statement, “For developing humans, the behavior and structures associated with adult stages of life are not yet fully manifest (embryos neither look like nor act like mature human beings). However, developing human beings are composed of characteristic human parts and they exhibit a human pattern of developmental behavior” (Condic 2008). Whether it is a zygote, embryo, a baby, or an adult, he or she possesses the greatest gift—the gift of life.
In my reflection, I look at this as a wonderful opportunity to celebrate my life. Given the odds, my heart is overwhelmed with joy to speak of my mother’s love—a selfless love. The complexity of the defining the moral, social, political, and spiritual nature of abortion come down to a choice—a choice to love another above one’s self. There are no easy answers to the debate, the conflict, the never ceasing war, the clashing of ideas and ideals; but one fact remains there is no price that can be placed on a human life and no sacrifice too great because life is priceless. I am beyond words. My parents could have easily said, we have ten other children, but the choice was clear, the zygote, or the viable embryo has a face and a name—Mark Charles Hamilton.
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Collier-Hillstrom, Laurie. Roe v. Wade. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics Inc, 2008. Print.
Condic, Maureen L. "When Does Human Life Begin?A Scientific Perspective." Westchester Institute For Ethics & the Human Person 1.1 (2008): 32. Web. 12 Feb 2011.
McBride, Dorothy. Abortion in the United States: a reference handbook. Santa Barbara, CA: Abc-clio, 2008. Print.
Page, Cristina. How the pro-choice movement saved America: freedom, politics, and the war on sex. New York, NY: 2006. Print.