… Follow-up Commentary
‘Passion Rarely Asks Reason’ is an short essay I wrote which was inspired by the contemporary debate on a women’s unabridged right to choose an abortion which is commonly presented as an inalienable right to choose. The counter debate is over consideration that post-conception, as early as the zygote stage, another life has been created and is in the custodial care of the mother who carries a duty to protect this innocent entity which has an inalienable right to life.
At one end of the debate are folks who could care less when science determines the distinct point at which zygote becomes human. These formal world-wide movements are pushing for a mother’s right to terminate life even after birth should the post-birth child be certified as flawed and unable to have a meaningful life. At the other end of the debate are folks who protect the sperm and the egg and in doing so find even contraception immoral (to be clear many of these would deny the mother’s right to preserve her own life when zygote or human is killing her). When I speak to reason and passion, I’m pointing out that humanity must address both of these driving forces that compete to define who we are as individuals. Regardless of your philosophical leanings or determinations, the balance of these two dramatically inform who you are. Balance begets a sustainable peace in my view and provides a place where even the most controversial issues of community and individual governance can be resolved to the mutual benefit of us all.
I await science: (1) to definitively determine when a zygote becomes human, and (2) to construct a failsafe test to ascertain this trigger point. No human is clairvoyant. No human knows the exact point of conception. No human knows the exact gestational points for each zygote/human. Days, weeks, months are meaningless and arbitrary points of discernment. Absent the two items addressed above, it is most proper to conclude that a mother is taking a life post-conception. Is doing so anytime before viability of birth the concern of any community member? No! Is the mother’s decision immoral? No! Like all matters of conscience these are internal conversations between passion and reason. Some of us choose the constructs or filters of specific religious beliefs, others choose medical or scientific explanations. None of us have any duty to monitor these conversations or police the outcomes. If you believe in a personal God, then let that guide you personally. If you believe in medicine and science then let it guide you. In either case, know that your choices will not only inform you but also haunt you, as passion and reason have no permanent anchors and these restlessly seek new equilibriums throughout our lives. In short, think and feel freely to the exclusion of neither. Give your conclusions time to ripen, as patience will likely provide sustainable peace within your human consciousness.
Curious as to the counsel I give myself on abortion, it would be best to ask as science, medicine, passion and reason are not matters of stone, mountain or free flowing rivers. I will hint that we know what we don’t know and what we know is very little and scientifically inconclusive. I will also concede that as a child who today might have been diagnosed intrauterine with a very difficult medical syndrome you can expect that my sympathies don’t include even the mother’s right to speculate about my quality of life or her or the state’s financial burden. To be blunt, if the product of passion or reason is me and you don’t like what you bought, there is a no return policy and relegating me to the trash heap of life is immoral. That said, I’m deeply sympathetic to all mothers and the burdens of pregnancy, birth, and rearing children. I would make the decision to abort a life when that life threatens the mother’s life and physical health. Life has it’s heroes and many of these are kids who life interrupted. Short of a mother’s health we have far to many options that do no unknown harm and provide all life a chance to realize its karma with the chance to change the world, albeit even if only for one other person in their life.