In the previous post, we introduced the setting, describing what’s going on in Georgia. A trio of politicians are pushing for the adoption of new laws governing what people can do with regards to in-vitro fertilization. Today, we’ll begin dissecting the actual meat of this proposed legislation to see if it really is the best way to prevent cases like the octuplets from ever happening again.
I tried to be open-minded. I really did. But, right away, looking at the very name made me fight with every ounce of energy to avoid rolling my eyes. This act is cited as the “Ethical Treatment of Human Embryos Act”. Ethical treatment of a microscopic cell? I do understand that physical size is not the sole criterion of how significant something is, but it does lead to some amusing perspective to imagine cruelty being done against something that can’t even be seen. A human embryo is smaller than the specks of particles that you stir up when you blow on a dusty old countertop. In fact, you can’t even see an embryo with the naked eye. I can visualize images of torture against human beings in North Korea. I can even imagine people being cruel to a kitten. And of course, there is a tiny part of my humanity that mourns for the life of the little ants, right after I blast them with Raid. But my limited imagination falls short when I try to conjure up images of evil scientists in the lab inflicting pain and suffering on macroscopically invisible entities.
OK OK. So size isn’t everything. One can argue that an embryo can become a golden-haired blue-eyed little girl some day. That’s certainly true. But it’s still a huge fallacy to compare the humanity of an embryo with the humanity of a baby. A sperm CAN become a person someday, if it meets the right egg, but most of them don’t. An egg CAN become a person someday, if it meets the right sperm, but most of them don’t. An embryo (union of sperm and egg) CAN become a person someday, if it is normal and encounters the right environment, but most of them don’t. As somebody who works with this day in and day out, I do not think of an embryo as having constitutional rights. And I take issue with the people who scream, “Eggs, sperm and embryos can’t defend their own dignity, so we have to do it for them.”
OK OK. I know. These people are not screaming for the rights of eggs and sperm (gametes) — only for the embryos that form after the two combine. So if you present these esteemed politicians with a culture dish with an egg in it, I understand they’ll just yawn and say “oh that’s just a fleck of biological dust”. If you then show them a droplet of sperm, they’ll likewise agree “move on, move on, nothing to see here”. However……..(drumroll)…..the moment that the droplet of sperm is added to the dish with the egg in it, these politicians begin having heart palpitations and start drooling and dancing around the dish, ranting about preserving the dignity of the contents of that dish.
OK OK. So maybe I should be a little more serious. Again, I work with this day in and day out. I fully agree with the sanctity of family and of human life. People rely on my labor to help them have little babies. This thrills me without end and gives meaning to my existence. I respect that out of the bodies of the husbands and wives we can take tiny tiny biological cells and put things in motion so that maybe, possibly, one of these combinations MIGHT end up causing a baby to start growing inside the womb (or so we hope), which is why, I immediately become protective when someone starts to impede our mission, and for what? For the purpose of preserving the dignity of an embryo.
The utter ludicrousness of this might be more evident when you consider that were this bill to become law, it would be illegal and punishable, for you to put an embryo dish on the counter at room temperature and allow it to sit long enough to become nonviable. But, (now this is just mind-boggling), if the embryo were transferred into a woman’s uterus and it happened to implant (most of them won’t by the way) and if this implanted embryo were to grow and grow to become a moving fetus with heartbeat and everything. OK, THEN, in the state of Georgia, it would be completely legal to terminate it. How can you argue to give rights of embryos that supercede the rights even of successfully implanted fetuses? Whether we agree with it or not, we live in a country where first trimester terminations are not illegal.
OK OK. I am aware it is very likely that the same people who want to make it illegal to treat embryos “unethically” are also in favor of banning abortion, which raises the obvious question of what’s going on here with this bill. Is it to improve the quality of life for people as a whole? Or is it an indirect way to advance a political agenda? You be the judge. Now many of you may be curious as to my view on abortion. I do have a view. There is a 99%+ chance that no matter what I say about it, somebody from either side of the debate will egregiously misinterpret what I say, and twist it around, so I’ll choose my words judiciously in asserting that I am emphatically OPPOSED to abortion, specifically to the concept of aborting a known healthy fetus that is very likely to be born normal, just for the sole purpose of not having it be born. However, there is a difference between being opposed to something and necessarily thinking that it absolutely must be made illegal. The question is will making abortions illegal stop them from happening, or even lessen their occurrence? What is the tradeoff in harm, if any? I am opposed to murder, rape and abortion (as defined earlier in this paragraph). And I agree that murder and rape should be fully punishable, because if we were to make murder and rape no longer criminal, life would suffer greatly as a whole. The laws against murder and rape don’t prevent them 100%. Every day, these horrible crimes occur. BUT, to make it legal is not only silly, but also would result in things being much much worse. This concept is not as clear-cut when it comes to the matter of making abortion illegal. Criminalizing abortion might make the number of abortions go down somewhat, but cases of deaths or reproductive injury to young women would very likely go up from horrid back-alley procedures. This is more than just a theoretical argument. My beliefs about human behavior along with historical observations convince me of this. So before I get too off topic, I would assert that if I were a politician, I would vigorously enact changes that could lead to fewer abortions. But for me, those changes would be targeted at changing the mindsets of people regarding how much risk they are willing to take when subjecting themselves to the chance of an unwanted pregnancy. In other words, I greatly favor doing what we can to prevent abortions, which I feel could best be done at the level of preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place. Now as to what policy changes I think would lead to fewer unwanted pregnancies? That’s a whole other lengthy post, maybe for another day.
So after taking this entire post to address the very title of this proposed bill, I’m guessing this is going to take more than two posts to address. Stay tuned as we dissect this further.