Saturday, January 21, 2012

Rand Paul, the National Pro-Life Alliance and the Life at Conception Act

The other day, Rand Paul, Republican Senator from Kentucky, sent me an email. I know it was from Senator Paul because it said so, right there at the top.

"Dear Friend," he writes in the National Pro-Life Alliance's fundraising email pushing the Life at Conception Act.

Well, Dear Rand Paul and National Pro-Life Alliance:

The Life at Conception Act is a simple-minded and sectarian declaration reflecting a simple-minded religious outlook on a complex and divisive subject, and it will be resisted vigorously by those upon whom you pretend to foist it.

The Life at Conception Act says, with brevity matching substance, "... Congress hereby declares that the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being. However, nothing in this Act shall be construed to require the prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child."

A Constitutional guarantee without a requirement for enforcement isn't a guarantee at all. It's a fraud, a lie.

The Act goes on, "For purposes of this Act:
(1) HUMAN PERSON; HUMAN BEING- The terms ‘human person’ and ‘human being’ include each and every member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being."

No. It's not like that. Declaring it so doesn't make it so, and your insistence is alienating.

Don't push your religion on the unwilling. You risk a backlash. Convert the unwilling if you can, but don't use the power of the State in a vacuous power play like the Life at Conception Act. Have some respect!


Anonymous said...

The fact that a human being is conceived at the moment of conception is a biological fact which no scientist refutes. It is not a religious fact.

Steve said...

"Intelligent Design" has nothing to with religion either, right?

You think Terri Schiavo was killed by removal of the feeding tube. Am I right?

Of course it's a religious issue.

Brenda Farley said...

Steve said...

Brenda, the video you linked is an emotional and religious appeal, and it won't sway anyone. In fact, it'll alienate some of your audience.

Nobody is saying you must have an abortion, just that you may not impose your way based on emotions and your religious makeup.

Your and Rand Paul's approach to the problem is divisive and disrespectful. If you discarded the urge to dominance, I'm sure we could get most of the way each of us wants. Not everything, but most of it.

It has to be based on positions we share, though. Divisive tactics like this ridiculous Life at Conception Act don't build bridges, they tear them down.

blacknwhite said...

There is such a twisted perversity in America today. People holler about saving animals and animal abuse (they should be treated well, of course), but turn around and think it is okay to abort a viable human being and pretend it is a-okay. How often do the aborted babies come out crying and writhing while the self-absorbed mother is "relieved" its going to be dead? You say they are not viable? Liar.

Steve said...

blacknwhite, who said anything about aborting viable anything? My post was about the so-called Life at Conception Act, with which I vehemently disagree for the reasons I gave.

Anonymous said...

Steve, this issue is "black and white". Life at conception is the truth, to disagree is the lie. We are all different sizes and in different stages of development from the moment of our conception. Humans do not have the right to kill other humans because they are physically smaller. It IS more clear and simple than you want to believe. You want to make it "complex" because you think that gives you the right to kill, when someone else (the unborn) is inconvenient for you.


Steve said...

No Eric, it is not "black and white".

By your definition, a severed finger is a human being. The severed finger and the blastocyst both contain blueprints for a human being, but that doesn't mean either of them is one.

The only way your definition makes any sense is if you assume the presence of a supernatural soul implanted at conception, and which exists independent of the flesh. That is a religious idea that some find without merit. The so-called life at conception act is religious in nature, and has no place in the law of a secular society.

pso said...

Your reasons for not wanting to support a bill is based purely on religion? Religion is a set of beliefs held by a number of people or sects. By that definition, Atheism itself is a religion. Now, if I were to say I opposed social programs such as Social Security; by your reasoning I could say it is those that believe the government holds the responsibility of making sure they can live without making a contribution to society forcing their religion on me. At least admit you don't really care whether an individual gets to live or die as long as you don't know them and don't have to claim some sort of knowledge of it actually happening.

Steve said...

No. My opposition to the so-called Life at Conception Act is not based purely on religion, but on on the imposition of religion in a secular society.

The definition of religion that allows you to assert that atheism is a religion is wrong. Atheism is not a religion, science is not religion, conservatism is not a religion. The meme of atheism as religion is nonsensical.

"Admitting" that I don't care whether an individual gets to live or die presupposes "individual", which means you don't get it.

pso said...

Maybe I don't get it. Are you saying that a human egg impregnated by a human sperm does not make a human embryo? Or are you saying the embryo isn't alive? That is the quote of the bill that you called false and pushy.

Steve said...

The "it" that I say you don't get lies in the distinction between blastocyst and embryo vs. person. They are not the same.

Transition from the former to the latter is complex. Some complex processes lend themselves to simplifying approximations, but this is not one of those.

A fertilized egg is not a person, no matter what the Life at Conception Act aims to impose.

What is going on here is an underhanded attempt to embed into secular law the religious notion that a supernatural soul is implanted by a deity at the moment of conception.

pso said...

There isn't anything in the section you quoted that implies a soul defines a person. It sounds like you want it to be a religious issue.

The word "person" appears to trigger your argument. How, then, would you define a person? When does that initial blastocyst-turn-embryo form a person in your mind? Is that point also the point you would consider the "person" alive?

I have heard the argument that brain activity would indicate the presence of a human person. Of course, if brain activity is the point of personhood then you would have to change the bill to say sometime between embryogenesis and fetal development. What do you say? Is the only thing that makes a "person" alive the ability to think?

Steve said...

> There isn't anything in the section
> you quoted that implies a soul
> defines a person.

Correct, and that omission is what makes the Life at Conception Act an underhanded attempt to impose religious belief in secular law.

pso said...

I thought by your sarcastic attack on Brenda that you might have an idea what the shared middle ground on the attempt to qualify "human being" might be. I'm sorry to have wasted electrons on your fantasy world of things that aren't said but omitted. Maybe I'll find someone eventually that means what they say. Just so you know, though, I'm looking on both sides.

Steve said...

I made no attack on Brenda, sarcastic or otherwise. She posted a video, I responded civilly.

Fantasy world of things that aren't said but omitted? Come on, you're being disingenuous. Things unsaid are sometimes central. The Life at Conception Act, in a vein similar to the repackaging of Creationism as Intelligent Design or Creation Science, is not only religious but sectarian to the core, which makes it improper content in the secular law of a pluralistic society.

As for meaning what is said, how could I be any clearer in my opposition to this Act?

Brian P. Rabbit said...

I see nothing in the act's definition which references religion. Straw Man much?

Anonymous said...

Here's the science from a Rocket Scientist. If a fertilized human egg were found on Mars, the headline would be "Life Found On Mars!" So scientifically, a fertilized human egg is life. What kind of life? A fertilized human egg is HUMAN LIFE. The taking of a human life is regulated by the Constitution and Federal and State laws. If you want to change the law so that human life can be taken for convenience, you'd better buy body armor.

Steve said...

No. It's not like that.

The headline, "Life Found On Mars!" would be issued, and be just as valid as in your scenario, if a single amoeba, or even some spilled seed, were identified in the soil there.

The change that is proposed in the law is enactment of the so-called Life at Conception Act, so nobody is trying to change the law to allow people's lives to be taken for convenience.

A fertilized human egg is not a person. It might become a person if things work out, but that doesn't happen at a specifically identifiable instant, much less at conception, so the Life at Conception Act is a farse. A religiously motivated farse.

Body armor... Get a grip.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of the motives of the sponsors or opposers of the law, a hole exists in U.S. law for the definition of Human Life. To comment on what you said in your third paragraph, the majority of the time, a fertilized human egg WILL become a "person" soon after attaching itself to the uterine wall. In fact, the heart starts beating in 18 days. So I believe that the best definition of Human Life is at its earliest form, which I believe this law does. I guess I just don't understand why people are opposed to this definition.
The body armor comment came from my experience in Afghanistan in 2009, where I saw first hand how people without regard for human life were eager to kill if they didn't want you around.
-- Rocket Scientist

Steve said...

Rocket Scientist, I assume you served in Afghanistan as a member of the military. If so, thanks for your service, and my apologies for your having been sent there.

U.S. law regarding human life is probably, for the most part, about as good as it's going to get. The hole that you perceive in U.S. law regarding the definition of human life is there because the United States is a secular society composed of people who differ, in good conscience, on what "human life" is and when it begins and ends.

Whatever is the hole you perceive in U.S. law regarding the definition of human life, it probably should NOT be plugged, and certainly not by some wrong-headed, overly simplified farce like the so-called Life at Conception Act.

Anonymous said...

I'm rather confused. If this issue should be dismissed because it is trying to impose religion on a secular society, let's be honest about other laws that legislate morality.

I could go on. These all have their basis in morality. Don't shake your head or roll your eyes; think about it. Yes, they do. We aren't trying to legislate church services here, for crying out loud; we are trying to protect life.

Disagree that life begins at conception if you will, but then answer when it does begin. That is intellectually honest. If you can't, don't feel bad--you are in company with Supreme Court Justices in the 70s! However, why ridicule those who believe life begins at conception? What monsters would we be to believe children are being killed and not try to do something to stop it?


Steve said...

> What monsters would we be to
> believe children are being killed
> and not try to do something to
> stop it?

Trying to convince others of the correctness of your view is perfectly fine, but don't think that forcing your view by embedding it in law is a correct approach to the issue.

Just because you believe in the equivalence of embryos and children does not make them equivalent. An egg is not a chicken, and caviar is not fish. There are plenty of intelligent, respectable people to whom it is crystal clear that this distinction applies equally to humans. I don't wish to be disrespectful but the distinction is correct.

If we can agree to disagree on the equivalence of embryos to children, them we might make some progress on where to draw a line, but putting articles of faith into the law will cause more harm than good.

As for your list of legislated morality above, all of them (except maybe bigamy) involve injury, of one sort or another, of actual persons. Not so with early-enough abortion because an embryo is not a child.

What kind of a milquetoast would one be to recognize the clear distinction between blastocysts and children, and yet acquiesce to contrary dogma being placed into law?

Respectfully back.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your thanks for my service, but no apology is necessary. I went voluntarily to teach the Afghans how to defend themselves so the U.S. can leave as soon as possible. Except for about 0.1% of those serving in Afghanistan, our goal is to permantly leave there as soon as possible, believe me, I don't want to go back.

I also agree that the law should reflect secular, scientific definitions of when life begins. That's why I chose the definition that is in all medical textbooks - that a new human life begins at conception. For example, Medical Embryology. 3rd edition. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1975, p. 3 states; "The development of a human being begins with fertilization, a process by which two highly specialized cells, the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female, unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote.". The textbooks go on to point out that a fertilized human egg has all the DNA it needs to determine everything from eye & hair color to whether he/she will go bald when they're 20 or 80; a unique human being.

To Respectfully: Those who favor abortion can't use science to support their position, but must use the arguement that the unborn child is not a "person", due protection under the Constitution. This was exactly the arguement used in the Dred-Scott decision in 1857 that declared that black slaves were property, not people. As then, when the 14th Amendment was adopted to overrule the Supreme Court, the Life Begins at Conception Act is necessary to overrule the Supreme Court's Roe vs Wade decision.

I recommend that everyone interested in hearing an objective review of Roe vs Wade get the book "Compelling Interest", which is available on some sites free as an audio book.

This is my last posting, so Steve, thanks for the opportunity to voice my opinion about this issue.

Steve said...

Anonymous, I don't mind if you choose for yourself the definition you cite, but please don't choose it for me, and by no means force it on me by bending the law your way. I don't agree in the slightest.

I can go along with the textbook technicality you cite, sure, but the correct test is the one you don't like, the one involving when there is a person.

It's not that the unborn child in not a person, but that the embryo, the blastocyst, is not a person.
An embryo or blastocyst is neither child nor person. How can it be a person when the most important attribute of a person is not present, and may never be?

Dred-Scott has nothing to do with the argument over whether there is a person present at the early stages of pregnancy. Dred-Scott was about fully formed, autonomous people, not blastocysts.

The Life at Conception Act is not needed to overrule Roe v. Wade because Roe v. Wade was a correct decision.

I will have to check out "Compelling Interest". Thanks for the lead. I found it on Christian Audio, free, but didn't manage to get through the process yet.

Anonymous said...

I find your final paragraph most interesting.

You say “Convert the unwilling if you can,” but the unwilling can’t be converted. This whole issue of abortion is rooted in the human will.

You also say “but don’t use the power of the State in a vacuous power play” but if the unwilling can’t be converted the power of the State is fair game. This is a legal matter after all. Of course, to sway people away from the use of the power of the State would be a great way to keep anyone from trying to confront the unwilling who are determined not to convert, but who want their will to be done.

You say “a vacuous power play like the life of Conception Act.” What else can be vacuous “like” this Act? Pro-lifers will say that abortion is vacuous; that killing the unborn shows lack of thought, and is mindless. The great-grandchildren of someone who could have been aborted would very likely agree with that argument. That would include anyone reading this comment.

You close with saying, “Have some respect!” Those who are unwilling to convert to being pro-life want their will to be respected at the expense of the will of pro-lifers. 56,000,000 abortions later we have the proof of that type of vacuous respect. You may say that people can be converted over time. However, time has proven that to be false hope. To wait on any such false hope would be at an expense of countless more lives.

Respect for the billions of unborn victims and obliterated generations that should have followed is worthy cause for allowing some people to feel disrespected for a while. Some day they may actually end up with a family they would have done away with, and be thankful that someone cared enough to resist their self destructive pursuits. If not, maybe one of their descendants will be grateful.

You say, “Don’t push your religion on the unwilling.” As far as I’m concerned, you got it. I won’t push religion on you or anyone else who has chosen, especially on those who have chosen to intentionally dishonor God for who He is.

Nonetheless, you’re going to have to deal with the impossible task of trying to stop me and others like me from having a positive impact on the greater good. God is love! I can’t turn my back on what I know. If anyone doesn’t want to hear it that is fine, but if Christian Americans can’t use the State to promote love through legislature, this nation is left to those who have no such view or concern. I am an American, and yes I am a Christian. I understand pluralism, and I respect every person regardless of religious belief. But no one should conveniently forget that Christians have a voice in pluralistic America, just like everyone else does. So to anyone who wants to discredit what Christians bring to the great American melting pot or tossed salad, I say - Please, have some respect! You might just end up benefitting as a result, because God honors those who honor Him. We honor Him, and we care about this great nation because He does!

Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

No, it's not like that.

Paraphrasing what you've written, if you can't convince (actually you wrote "convert") them, then it's OK to force them. Sounds like you'd feel right at home among the Taliban or the Spanish Conquistadors or any of those my-way-or-else associations.

You've got things backwards when you write

> to sway people away from the use of the power of
> the State would be a great way to keep anyone from
> trying to confront the unwilling who are determined
> not to convert, but who want their will to be done.

The one who wants his will to be done here is you, not me. You're the one who wants to pass this ill-considered legislation, to impose it on me. You're the active one here, the one attempting to impose a pro-lifer's will.

It's not that I'm determined not to convert to your viewpoint, but that your arguments don't sway many people, including me.

> Those who are unwilling to convert to being pro-life
> want their will to be respected at the expense of
> the will of pro-lifers.

No. It's NOT my will at the expense of yours. It's your will at the expense of my liberty. You've tried your arguments, and they've failed, so you want to infringe upon my freedom of conscience. You want to impose your faith-based views in dominance over my naturalistic outlook.

>... unborn victims ...

"Unborn victims" has no meaning outside of a certain religious sense that presupposes a supernatural soul that exists independent of the brain. Whereas it's clear to me that it's the brain that produces the soul experience, an experience you and I undoubtedly have in common, it's apparently clear to you that your soul experience reflects a supernatural soul that's independent of your brain. You have no evidence of the supernatural nature of your
soul, just faith that it's actually supernatural and will go on after your brain stops. Your faith is just that, faith. It's real to you, but that's insufficient to allow you to impose it on others who, in good conscience, don't share it.

> Nonetheless, you’re going to have to deal with the
> impossible task of trying to stop me and others
> like me ...

Yes, I've known that since I was a kid, and I understand it. There's an irreconcilable difference between us. I can live with that, but you apparently cannot.

Look, you claim, without evidence, the existence of this God you say is love. He's real to you, but only by faith, as it has to be because there's no proof to be had. And that's fine.

What's NOT fine is your faith as justification for incorrect law.

We have an irreconcilable difference, but that doesn't mean there's no commonality. If you can back off on the urge to dominance, I'll can agree that we should all work to reduce the need for abortion.