Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Do women make children? Or do unborn human beings develop inside of women?

About a month ago, Richard Stith had an interesting post in First Things where he discussed why many pro-choicers find prolife arguments absurd. He noted:
I submit that pro-life arguments seem absurd to any listener who has in the back of the mind a sense that the embryo or fetus is being constructed in the womb.....To someone who conceives of gestation as intrauterine construction, pro-life people sound just this ridiculous. For a thing being constructed is truly not there until it is nearly complete.....

I conclude that pro-choice folks think pro-life claims regarding embryos to be not only wrong but also absurd whenever they think (even unconsciously) that embryos are under construction in the womb. And pro-life folks find pro-choice denials of prized human dignity in embryos to be equally absurd whenever they think that the unborn child develops (indeed, develops itself, unlike the Polaroid photo) from the moment of fertilization.

The two sides are not quite parallel in this, however: Human beings do develop. To think they are constructed is flatly erroneous. This error remains intuitively plausible and has a decent cultural pedigree, so therefore those who make it should not be dismissed as utterly irrational or evil, even though they may seem so from the viewpoint of one who bears in mind the facts of human development. But they are absolutely wrong.

I remembered this post by Stith after reading this comment by Amanda from Pandagon on this post by a blogger named Sharon.

Amanda writes (among other things), "There's a nearly 10 month period between the sexual intercourse and the baby, which is a not-inconsiderable amount of time. Men don't make babies. Women do."

Do women make babies? Or do unborn human beings develop inside the wombs of women? Women certainly play a pivotal and important role in helping unborn human beings develop in-utero (and ex-utero for that matter) but ninth months of gestation doesn't "make" a baby. Providing nutrients and a safe environment for a developing fetus doesn't "make" a newborn anymore than providing nutrients and a safe environment for a newborn "makes" a toddler. The child (and adults for that matter) needs certain things to continue developing but these needs don't mean the child is being made. Nor does it mean that the individual who provides those needs is making the individual who receives those needs.

Now I must assume Amanda has some knowledge of fetal development and that she must understand that over time the unborn child becomes larger and more developed. Yet she still is claiming that women "make babies." Is it because this idea is "intuitively plausible and has a decent cultural pedigree" or could there be other reasons?

Jesurgislac, a blogger who comments on Amanda's blog, leaves me further scratching my head when she writes, "Once a child actually exists - after the baby is born - it is of course illegal to kill it, and your suggestion that anyone wants this to be legal is false."

So the child doesn't "actually exist" until he or she is born? Is the womb some form of alternative reality where things exist but don't "actually exist?" Why would anyone write that the child doesn't "actually exist" (which is more than saying the unborn are "not alive" or "not a person") until birth? If the unborn didn't "actually exist" then why do women have abortions to get rid of something which doesn't "actually exist?" Someone can't actually believe that, can they?

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