Monday, August 22, 2011

Dr. Robert Blake argues poorly about when life begins

Robert Blake, pro-choice doctor and professor at the University of Missouri, is not about to let a prolifer get away with asserting that "most pro-abortion activists … concede human life begins at conception."

Blake thinks women who have abortions have "better long-term psychological adjustment than those who elected to continue the pregnancy" so you might even describe him as pro-abortion.

In a letter to the editor of the Columbian Tribune, Blake makes a number of poor arguments in his attempt to prove the unborn aren't living human beings.
Nonsense! Human life began gradually millions of years ago.
I'm not sure if Blake is being facetious or if he is completely unable to understand the claim being made.

There is no scientific, religious or philosophical consensus about when an individual human life (person) begins. The notion that this occurs at conception is based on the presence of unique DNA in a living cell.
First, there's not a lot of consensus on anything scientific, religious or philosophical. That doesn't mean that nothing in those areas isn't true.

Second, the recognition that the life of an individual human being begins at conception is actually based on much more than what Blake claims it is. Conception is also the time when the human embryo acts as an integrated, unified human organism. The unique DNA simply proves the unborn child isn't a part of her mother (another pro-choice argument). It doesn't prove she's a living organism.

After strawmanning the prolife position, Blake then quickly changes the subject from "Are the unborn living human beings to "Are the unborn ‘living persons?'"
Many scientists reject this as sufficient criteria for a human being. We believe the definitions of when a life begins and when it ends should be consistent. It will be months before the product of conception develops the neurologic function that distinguishes a living person from a dead body.
See Maureen Condic's wonderful First Things piece to see how we can defined life's beginning by how we define it's end.

Next Blake attacks his strawman argument and confuses parts and wholes.
A kidney harvested from an accident victim and transplanted into a renal failure patient contains millions of cells with the donor's DNA, which will hopefully live for many more years. Yet no one considers the donor to be alive as a person.
Of course they don't because a kidney isn't an organized, unified organism like a human embryo is.
The notion that life begins at conception is not endorsed by the National Academy of Sciences, AMA and many other scientific organizations and was refuted in a brief submitted to the Supreme Court by a group of 167 scientists, including 11 Nobel Prize winners.
But what's the position of leading embryologists? Blake argument is a little like saying, "The American Cancer Society hasn't endorsed the belief that moderate drinking of red wine is good for the heart, therefore the claim can't be true." Of the 167 scientists who signed the amici curiae brief in Webster v. Planned Parenthood, supposedly only one was an embryologist.

I wonder why?

1 comment:

  1. I still do not get how people cannot see that taking a kidney and implanting it in a uterus will yield nothing more than a kidney in the wrong place. But implant an embryo, and a fetus, then infant, and child and so on results.