Thoughts from a Forest of Fallen Trees : The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Side of Existence

(If a philosopher falls in the forest who really cares?) Critical Theory, Deconstruction, Ethics, Religion and other such Things.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Womb/Tomb/Fetal Crypt:

The main moral problem of abortion is under what conditions, if any, is abortion morally justifiable? The conservative view holds that abortion is never justifiable or at most, it is justifiable only when it is necessary to save the mother=s life . The liberal view holds that abortion is always morally justifiable regardless of the reasons or the time in fetal development. The moderate view holds that abortion is morally acceptable up to a certain point in fetal development.
At issue is what sort of entities fetuses are and whether such entities have rights. These two questions are known as the ontological and moral status of the fetus. The ontological status of the fetus considers whether the fetus is an individual; whether the fetus is biologically a human being; whether the fetus is psychologically a human being and whether the fetus is a person. Complicating these questions is the meaning of the expression 'human life'. Human life can refer to the biological characteristics that distinguish us from other species for example, a human is not a cat. Human life can also refer to psychological abilities such as the ability to think or to use symbols. Whether one claims that the fetus is an individual organism, a biological human being or a psychological human being or a person, one must specify at what point in its biological development does the fetus attain this status.
The conservative position argues that the fetus has full ontological status from the time of conception. The liberal position holds that the fetus never achieves ontological status while in the womb. The moderate view holds that the ontological statu of the fetus falls somewhere in-between conception and birth. Abortion is simply said to refer to the termination of a pregnancy.
These issues and questions are difficult and complicated. To be ethical we must further complicate the issue and not be content with providing simple answers. Issue will be the word from which we begin our analysis of how to conceive an abortion.
The word issue comes from the Latin exire which means to go out. To issue is to emerge or to exit. Issue is a means or way of going out from something. An issue is a discharge from the body such as blood, tears, sweat, urine, feces. To issue also means to make new currency or money available. That is why money is always dirty even as it is crisp and shines. We wait for the next issue of a magazine. But our waiting for the next issue of a magazine is very different from our waiting for someone to solve the issue or problem. The volcano issues smoke and fire and lava. To issue is to make available. The dead fetus issues forth from the woman's body to be used or thrown away just like a tissue. The issue here is what kind of tissue the fetus is and what is the human?
Human is related to humus which means earth or ground. In this sense all things in the world are human insofar as they are from the earth. Only the human sees itself as being above the ground and so treats other human animals as inferior creatures. What does it mean to be human when the embryo that becomes wrapped in a blue or pink blanket develops through stages that resemble amphibians, fish and mammals until it finally appears as something we name Sally or Johnny? Life is defined as the period from birth to death. With this modern definition anything unborn does not have life. When does life begin?
The issue of the moral status of the fetus asks what rights if any does it have? The conservative view holds that from the moment of conception, the unborn has the same rights that any person has. In this case, abortion denies the unborn not only the right to life but the right to live its life. Liberals would deny the fetus any moral status. According to this view abortion cannot be compared to killing an adult person. In the liberal view abortion is simply the removal or organic material from the body of the woman. Its removal raises no moral problems. Just as no one protests against the removal of an appendix or a gallbladder so too no one should be protesting the removal of fetal tissue. Indeed in this liberal view having an abortion would be similar to blowing one's nose.
We have begun to complicate the issue.
To conceive an abortion- how is this possible? Do not the words conception and abortion disagree with each other like nails upon a chalkboard? To conceive means to become pregnant; to cause, to begin. To conceive always means to think. Many go through their lives without thinking, that is to say without conceiving anything new. The same garbage is recycled in new packaging.
Conception means beginning. In the beginning was the concept. Conception is also related to the word heave which means to rise or to swell. To heave is to struggle. To heave is to vomit. Conception tells us about the struggle involved both in giving birth to tissue and the struggle involved in giving birth to ideas of thought.
Abort means to stop in the early stages. We say the mission to Mars was aborted. The Latin abortus means to disappear. Abortive means to fail to develop completely. Aborticide is the act of destroying a fetus within the uterus. The womb which sustains life also becomes the tomb that can take it away.
An abortion can also refer to something that is misshapen or monstrous. Thus the fascination of birth scenes in science fiction films such as Alien or more recently in the Lord of the Rings where Orcs arise from the womb of the earth. We are fearful of the monster that breaks out of our own bodies. To conceive an abortion- how is this possible? We are abortive. We walking, talking, eating, drinking abortions. We conceive the abortion when we fail to become fully human and not just when we murder what issues forth from the womb, monstrous or otherwise.