Here, as promised, is the second part of my discussion on the question of abortion. In the first part I did what I could to answer just the latest of the so-called unanswerable questions posed to those who support the right to life. In this post I would like to make things a little more personal, with a story and a question of my own.
What you are looking at is a picture of my son, Samuel. This picture was taken only an hour or so after he was born prematurely. It was an unexpected surprise for all involved. He decided to come some 5 1/2 weeks early. One evening at home my wife’s said “Uh-oh!” and hurried into the bathroom. Minutes later we were already pulling into emergency. By the time we got her to the hospital things were well underway. The doctor barely got there in time to deliver him. Because the birth was so fast (and early) he had trouble breathing on his own. He needed to be taken to the NICU in a neighbouring city. He spent the first few days of his life hooked up to tubes and wires. It was something straight out of a sci-fi movie. I didn’t get to hold him until he was 6 days old. But he recovered quickly and by two weeks old he was out of the hospital and back home with us.
Now you should also know that I live in Canada, which has a great health care system. I truly believe that. They were there for my wife and my son every step of the way. I have nothing but praise for the doctors and nurses who did so much to help us get through it all. But something else you should know about Canada is that there is absolutely NO restrictions on when or why a woman may have an abortion. The very same morning of the very same day my son would be born, it was well within my wife’s legal rights to have walked into a clinic or a hospital that performs abortions and to have had the pregnancy terminated. In fact, by law she still had upwards of 5 1/2 weeks to have gotten around to it (if he had not come quite so early)! In my country, while abortions this late in pregnancy are not the norm, they are done.
Now MY question … and this is not meant to stump anyone or prove anything … I’m just asking it because I think it is important to ask and answer truthfully, openly and honestly … My question is this:
“What changed in the couple of hours on that fateful day in September when in the morning what you see in the picture above was (to so many) just a lump of cells, a bit of tissue that could be discarded on a whim, and just a few hours later when he was now very obviously a human being that so many dozens of people were going to so much effort to save?”
What happened? What changed? What was the all important difference (legally, and morally speaking)? He had not changed physiologically over the intervening minutes and hours – he had not grown a head or a heart or anything like that. He was not any bigger, not any more developed. In the morning he was disposable flesh, something less than human under the law and in the eyes of so many. In the evening a person, a citizen of Canada with all the rights and privileges thereof. … What changed?
Furthermore, on the day he was born he was not technically looked for or wanted (not right then at any rate, not under those circumstances). He was not able to breathe on his own. He needed machines and tubes and round the clock nursing care. Yet not one person in that delivery room for even one second questioned whether he was a human being or if he was worth saving!
So what changed? He didn’t. His circumstances didn’t (not in any meaningful way). His “viability” didn’t. His need for care and support didn’t. His life looked very much in the evening as it had in the morning, and was lived very much as it had been that morning – completely in the hands of (at the mercy of) someone else. So what changed?
I’m just asking …