To preface my comments below, I remind the reader that this site is about changing cultural understandings, concentrating on underlying assumptions, and not so much about changing particular legislation as the primary focus. I am neither lawyer nor political partisan, as my clumsy terminology below will no doubt reveal. I am not speaking of a woman’s legitimate need for an abortion as commonly recognized by reasonable and prudent persons, while simultaneously condemning unrestricted no-questions-asked abortion as the barbaric practice of a dying civilization.

It is by now common knowledge that the Supreme Court of the United States will again examine the Roe vs. Wade abortion decision and its challenges since 1973. The case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization presents a challenge to Mississippi’s 2018 law banning most abortions after 15 weeks.

And again, we are called upon to reexamine the factors regulating how this society deals with the termination of an unborn child. Please note that I as the author of this piece eschew the use of the term ‘fetus’.  Many assume that  ‘fetus’ is simply another way to refer to an unborn child. Rather, that term describes the stage of pregnancy following the embryonic stage of development. So does the embryonic stage then describe or allow for a ‘blob-of-cells’ assumption prior to developing to the fetal stage? What follows is my take on those primary factors that will be before the court in the Autumn session this year.

Life? Does it begin at conception? We know that, or ought to know it. Perhaps the hotbed that has characterized the abortion controversies thus far has been due to the variety of arbitrary lines drawn since lawyers and judges assumed the right to decide that for themselves. The problem with the lines is that the humans who draw them are not determining when life begins at all, but when it matters, when a particular and defenseless life is worth protecting and preserving. The lines are measured temporally and seem gatherable into two groups, viability apart from the mother’s womb, and certain developmental characteristics within her womb.

The solution derived from Roe vs. Wade is that of viability, sufficient development of the child in the womb to live and to grow apart from the mother’s womb, usually 24-28 weeks. The interests of the state toward protecting the life of the child are greater after viability is apparent. The ‘trimester’ structure imposed on natal development has prevented states from enacting additional restrictions before the third trimester. But in the months to come, the entire framework is now called into question. And the crucial affecting issue is viability.

Other restrictions have been enacted by states as well. The ability of the unborn child to feel pain is one of these. As far as when the threshold of pain is reached and determined? The answers are varied according to one or another of the research centers and seemingly according to their biases. Another is the laudable effort of some states to prevent against the stretching of “fetal abnormality” to include such as Downs Syndrome cases or other ‘undesirables’, tantamount to genetic engineering after the fact. Fetal movement detection is another, usually occurring 15-20 weeks.

The one that intrigues me most and has my attention is the ‘heartbeat law’ prohibiting elective abortion at 6 weeks or upon detection of a heartbeat. Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed one of these laws last week.

Humans, governments, politicians… determining not when life begins, but when it is worth anything. There is the problem that I cannot get around.

So my question seems to be that if life begins at conception, then why is it not worth anything until it is “viable”? How can it be that life has no intrinsic worth until humans impose a limit saying that it does only when it does?

I noted just above that I am intrigued by heartbeat laws. For after all, what is the function of a heart? It pumps blood… Simple…

But I know what happens when a pump runs dry, so I checked on the time when blood appears in the embryo. Blood appears at 18-21 days. That is 2 ½ to 3 weeks, and cuts the heartbeat laws by half.

Follow that out…

For the life of the flesh is in the blood. More, much more on that later…

Father David+

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