Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Why is Abortion Wrong?

The following is a written version/adaptation of Trent Horn’s short 6-minute video “When Does Life Begin?” on Catholic Answers. (There is an even shorter version HERE.) I have attempted to maintain the integrity of that video, presenting it here in written form for those who like to have the text available. While this may not be a word-for-word reproduction, it’s fairly close.

The question of why abortion is wrong is tied directly to the question of when human life begins. When asked when life begins, abortion advocates will give any number of answers: “Once the baby has fully formed organs”; “…when it has a heartbeat”; “…when it’s identifiable as a human”; “…the moment a baby can breathe”; “we can’t really know when life begins”, etc. (In fact, I have even heard similar answers from pro-life advocates.)

‘Because we can’t really pin-point when life begins’, so they say, or ‘because it begins at [some random point selected by any given person]’, the imposition of pro-life views about life beginning at conception is seen as a religious imposition. But it’s not.

It is a scientific fact that life begins at conception/fertilization. At the very moment of fertilization, the result is something that is 1) alive, 2) human, and 3) a whole organism.

It’s alive! The unborn take up nutrients and grow via cellular reproduction. These are signs of life.

It’s human! The unborn organism is the offspring of human parents and has human DNA. Left alone to grow, it can become nothing other than a grown human with the same potential as any other human to become a mature member of its species.

It’s a whole organism! Just like you and me, the new life is a whole organism with human tissue. It is not “tissue”, itself, like a sperm cell or egg cell, but is comprised of tissue, just like us. Just like adults and infants, the unborn are human organisms with an intrinsic capacity to develop as human organisms. Body cells (sperm, egg, or other body cells) do not have that capacity.

These facts are true even if we die before becoming mature members of our species. No matter how much time and nutrition is given to body cells, they can never develop into a mature member of the human species. That’s because they aren’t organisms. Rather, they are body parts which belong to a larger human organism. It is the human organism which, provided nutrition and time, has the capacity to develop into a mature member of its species. And it is this human organism that deserves the right to life. From adult, to child, to zygote, humans in every stage of development deserve to be treated equally, because they are all human beings, regardless of the developmental milestone they have reached.

Experts, including those who believe in a right to abortion, agree that life begins at conception/fertilization:

The standard text, Human Embryology and Teratology, states, “Although human life is a continuous process, fertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed”.

Keith Moore and T.V.N. Persaud’s textbook, The Developing Human, states, “Human life begins at fertilization”.

Development begins with fertilization” according to Langman’s Medical Embryology.

Chapter 4 of Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology is simply titled, “Fertilization: Beginning of a New Organism”.

In A Defense of Abortion, Philosopher David Boonin states that “the most straightforward relation between you and me on the one hand and every human fetus from conception onward on the other is this: All are living members of the same species, homo sapiens. A human fetus, after all, is simply a human being at a very early stage in his or her development”.

It is possible to give ‘human being’ a precise meaning. We can use it as equivalent to ‘member of the species Homo sapiens’. Whether a being is a member of a given species is something that can be determined scientifically, by an examination of the nature of the chromosomes in the cells of living organisms. In this sense there is no doubt that from the first moments of its existence an embryo conceived from human sperm and eggs is a human being” according to pro-choice philosopher Peter Singer’s Practical Ethics.

When does life begin? For humans, it begins at fertilization/conception. After fertilization, body parts (sperm and egg) cease to be, and in their place is a new whole body/human organism. This raises the question:

Should ALL human organisms, regardless of how able-bodied they are, or how mentally developed they are, regardless of their age, race, sex, or any other factor, be treated equally and have a basic right to live?

The reason abortion is wrong is because it violates the right to life of these very small human beings who are simply waiting to be born.

Many thanks to Trent Horn and to Catholic Answers for their hard work in protecting the right to life of all humans. For more information, resources, or help with your own struggle, visit Arizona Right to Life's resources or visit the Brazos Valley Coalition for Life at http://www.coalitionforlife.com/

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Child Sexual Abuse - Where Should Our Focus Be?

I once read a comment from a combox in a discussion about clerical abuse that read something very similar to this: “When Catholics are attacked about the sex-abuse scandal, we should only focus on the Church, not other organizations, because it only comes across as ‘making excuses’ or trying to draw the focus off of ourselves. It doesn’t help the cause.”

I could not disagree more. I think we should focus on ALL areas where child sexual abuse is occurring. Anything less would be hypocrisy.  We should absolutely hold the Church accountable and keep a watchful eye. But ONLY focusing on the Church will only harm the cause, because we otherwise neglect over 62,000 other victims each year.

There are an average of 8 reported sex abuse cases each year at the hands of Catholic Priests (see item #3 in that link), according to the CARA report. That’s obviously 8 too many, and we need to continue to do something about it. But in ONLY focusing on the Church here, we are doing two things wrong: 1) we are ONLY focusing on the ONLY organization, religious or otherwise, who has taken the degree of proactive action against child abuse that the Church has taken and 2) we are ignoring the other 62,000+ victims that are sexually abused each year in our schools, in our communities, even in our homes. HOMES? Yes, homes. Over 80% of child sexual abuse happens in the home.
How many of you, as children growing up, had that family member, parent's "significant other", friend-of-the-family, or neighbor that just gave you a weird feeling…an unsafe feeling? How many of you were abused by that person, or suspect that someone else was, or know someone who was? How many of you allow such a person to be around your own children just because you think “they’re safe as long as they’re in the house” or “surely not him/her”? Maybe that person really is/was safe, but this isn’t the area of life that you want to say “oops”. Better to err on the side of safety when your gut is speaking to you and the red warning flags are waving; and if they are truly offended by your caution, then chances are they weren’t safe to begin with.
Heck, how many of you reading this actually know the warning signs to watch for? Guess which organization actually teaches volunteers, parents and children, students and teachers, clergy and lay ministers to recognize the warning signs? (If you guessed “the Catholic Church”, you are correct. Fortunately, the Church isn’t the ONLY organization teaching these things.)

We aren’t “making excuses” by focusing our attention on where sexual abuse is actually taking place. No one (with any rational thought) is trying to “draw the focus off the Church”. In fact, the Church has actually drawn the focus onto itself SO THAT sexual abuse can be stamped out within it. On the contrary, failing to shine the light on the other places where sexual abuse is still happening and NOT being addressed serves to excuse people/organizations for their lack of action. It serves to accommodate the behavior because, hey, no one seems to care if a teacher molests a student these days*…as long as they aren’t Catholic teachers in Catholic schools. No one seems to care if a child is sexually abused by a parent or legal guardian in their own home. (Does it ever make you wonder if this country’s infatuation with pornography has something to do with this? I have a strong hunch that it does.)
*(There are exceptions to this of course. I have a friend who is a vehement watchdog against pedophile day-care workers, and the like, who abuse children and make child pornography with those tiny victims.)

For folks who want to ONLY focus on the Church and give a free pass to (or otherwise ignore) other organizations, I like to put things in perspective (while still focusing on the Church):

Given the fact that over 62,000 children are sexually abused in the US each year, and only 8 of those are reported to be from Catholic Priests, and in the face of all that the Church HAS done and continues to do to protect our children and punish abusive Priests; what has YOUR community (religious or otherwise) done to protect children from child abuse? Has your faith community (or secular community if you are a-religious) hired outside law firms to conduct internal studies on sexual abuse in your own group/community? Has your community begun educating children on the signs of abuse and how to report it? Has your community, religious or otherwise, sought to hold sexually abusive teachers and neighbors accountable? 
Or have you bought into accommodation, only chiding the Catholic Church while you give everyone else a free pass in the name of "gray areas" like USA Today did? Or is this too uncomfortable a topic to bring up in your schools, churches, and neighborhoods, so you just hope that focusing on the Catholic Church will magically make other religious communities, your schools, and your public communities fix their own problems as well?  (Guess what, they haven't been addressing it like they should...so your silence there isn't working.)  Or have you outright accepted it as normal like the Man-Boy Love Association has, or do you support the NAMBLA's "rights" to their own opinions?

Aside from chiding the ONLY organization who has so actively sought to stamp out the sexual abuse of children (the Church), what have YOU done to protect our children?

Where should our focus be? Our focus should be anywhere and everywhere...where child abuse is happening.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

United in Christ: What Can I Do?!? (Michael Henderson)

United in Christ: What Can I Do?!?: When I look around I feel like we are losing the fight. Yes, we are in a fight. Evil seems to be winning. There is division everywhere. Our...[click link to continue reading].

Michael Henderson is a husband and father to six beautiful children of God (one of whom is still enjoying the comforts of her mommy's womb at the moment). The Henderson family has recently accepted the call of God to become Catholic Missionaries, and you can find out more about them HERE on their Family Missions Company portfolio page.  Donations to support the Hendersons as they do God's work are welcome, and can be given on that page.