Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Are Fetuses part of a woman?

JT of Between Two Worlds is linking to blogger Andrew Coulson of Gantelope. In his first post about this subject , Coulson talks about an e-mail he sent James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal and Taranto's response. Coulson without any evidence from science, logic or reasoning (besides his assumptions about how women feel about their unborn children) seems to conclude that fetuses are part of a woman's body.

He also mentions that abortion is a "sad business?" I'm wondering why Coulson thinks abortion is a "sad business" if the unborn are merely part of the woman's body. It makes absolutely no sense logically. If the unborn are merely part of a woman's body as Coulson asserts then abortion should have the same moral relevance and feelings attached to it as a tooth removal or appendectomy. It wasn't "sad business" when my unwanted wisdom teeth were removed so why should it be "sad business" when an unwanted fetus is removed/destroyed?

In his second post on this subject, Coulson attempts to take on those that have e-mailed him (his comment section doesn't allow commments longer than a line). He interestingly doesn't provide quotes from any of his commenters but summarizes their arguments. If he posted JT's response, Coulson's readers would easily recognize who was in the right. I thought that I had seen JT leave a trackback (I'm probably mistaken) but there unfortunately isn't a trackback from JT at this point.

He says, "Virtually all of the commenters asserted that fetuses are not part of the pregnant woman's body. This, I should point out, would be considered a preposterous notion by most women. I'll address it anyway."

For one, what does a pregnant woman's opinion have to do with it? If a pregnant woman thought that a banana was part of her body would that mean that the banana was part of her body? The obvious answer is no.

Secondly, I would guess that most women who are pregnant have the good sense to realize that the child they see on the ultrasound and feel kicking them is not a part of their body but a different living human being that happens to be attached to them and located inside of them.

Instead of using science to back up his opinions, Coulson is forced to attempt to use logic to prove his completely unscientific position. But he again, doesn't seem to provide his reasoning as to why the unborn are part of a woman's body. He simply asserts it and expects others to prove him wrong instead of trying to prove himself right.

Coulson then goes on to fight off a weak argument. My guess is he ignored most of the good arguments and went with one he could beat.

He says, "In any event, the medical community is unanimous in describing the placenta as an organ of the mother, and the placenta is tightly contiguous with the umbilical cord which is tightly contiguous with the fetus. So, using the definitions of the medical community, the fetus is logically part of the mother."

Umm.. Is that logic or connections by leaps and bounds? Coulson, though willing to take the medical communitiy's description of the placenta as an organ of the mother is seemingly unwilling to accept their description of the umbilical cord as an organ of the fetus. Or their description of the fetus as an organism unto itself. Why doesn't he just provide the definition of the medical community with regards to umbilical cord and fetus instead of attempting to use logic to find out what they are?

He continues with another argument, "What about the third argument, that the fetus could, under certain circumstances, survive outside of the mother's body and hence is not a part of the mother? This is a non-sequitor. My sister is a micro-biologist. If she wanted to, she could extract a variety of soft tissues from your body and culture them in a Petri dish, allowing them to survive apart from your body. Does that mean they weren't part of your body to begin with? No. Q.E.D.: this is not a proper criteria for determining whether or not something is a part of a human body."

I would point out that there is a large difference between a child (a separate organism) being born/deattached from his or her mother and surviving and a micro-biologist keeping a part of woman (such as a skin cell) alive in a petri dish. The skin cell will never become an organism unto itself. It will always be part of the woman because that is what it is. A fetus, however, even according to Coulson must at some time becomes an organism unto itself or we're all still part of our mothers.

This takes me to another point. When does the fetus become an organism unto itself according to Coulson? He hasn't provided his reasoning as to why the fetus is part of the mother so I'll have to guess. Maybe it is when the child is born. But the problem with this criteria is newly born children are still attached to their mother via the child's umbilical cord. They are outside their mother but still attached and therefore possibly still part of the woman. Maybe then it is when the doctor clamps the umbilical cord and prevents blood from transfering to the child? Or maybe it is when the doctor finally cuts the umbilical cord and the separation is made permanent? How does birth or cord cutting create a new organism? Is their any evidence from science to back up this position? How can a part of a human organism become another human organism? Are there any other times when this happens?

Coulson concludes with this, "Finally, a number of commenters suggested that the fetus has its own DNA and hence is a distinct biological entity, and hence is not part of a woman's body. This is a non-sequitor. There is nothing about the distinctness of the fetus's DNA that automatically separates it from the woman's body. It is both genetically distinct AND a part of the woman's body (as demonstrated in the preceding discussion)."

How is it a non-sequitor? Coulson is simply supplying a weak assertion to cover up his other weak assertion. He provides nothing from science or logic. He is simply stating his opinion based in basically nothing but his previous opinion.

1 comment:

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