January 26, 2003
Editor, The Day
Eugene O’Neill Drive
New London, Ct. 06320
The recent letter by Glenn Mazzei (The Day, Jan. 25, 2003) regarding “Pro-Lifers” is so full of errors (to say nothing of the invective) that it requires a reply. In this effort I will try to apply two maxims: “Kindness turneth away wrath”; and “The Truth will make you free”. Indeed, another Uncasville resident, Debra Carlson, published an excellent letter on the same day (“Knowledge Without Morality is Dangerous”) which I hope Mr. Mazzei read.
Actually I must thank Mr. Mazzei for doing the subject of Abortion a two-fold service: He highlighted the central issue of the beginning of human life; and he never brought up the ridiculous term “choice” when used in this context.
And please note that I will not bring up the Bible, the Ten Commandments, the works of St. Thomas Aquinas, Natural Law vs. positivism, or the moral convictions of the vast majority of human beings of many religious persuasions. I will deal only with scientific fact, as evidenced by reference to several scientific sources. The Encyclopedia of Life Sciences reports that “living things in elementary biology are characterized as being able to move, respire, respond to the environment, feed, excrete, grow and reproduce”. (Vol 19, p403). Stedman’s Medical Dictionary defines “Life” as : “Vitality, the essential condition of being alive, the state of existence characterized by such functions as metabolism, growth, reproduction, adaptation, and response to stimuli.” (page 996). It further describes the “Human Genome Project”: “A comprehensive effort by molecular biologists worldwide to map the human genome, which consists of about 100,000 genes, over three billion nucleated base pairs....No two persons except (perhaps) identical twins, have exactly the same genetic makeup.” (page 835). Every one of these 100,000 genes is present in the fertilized ovum at the instant of fertilization of a human uvum by a human sperm. Thus, a human being from the moment of conception. The textbook “Biology, Life On Earth”, fourth edition, describes “Human Development” as beginning with the fertilized egg and extending in unbroken stages to and beyond birth...until death. (page 799). Mr. Mazzei should review his human embryology.
And so, the elimination of that human life, either directly with chemicals or instruments, or indirectly by depriving the embryo of the opportunity to implant normally in the womb to continue its human development, can only be scientifically and honestly described as “the killing of a human being”.
Whether the human being has a legal right to life is another question. Legal rights in a society are determined by the members of that society. That was true in ancient times and throughout history, whether declared by despots (eg. Hitler, in whose Third Reich “Recht ist Recht” was enough to legitimize all manner of abomination), or by the political process in a democratic society (common law and statutory law) which at various times saw fit to legitimize slavery and to “cover” women with the unilateral rights of their husbands. The Law merely reflects the wishes of its society - when its anchor to Justice is let loose. In fact, the Law has a term and principle quite appropriate to the task; “Deem: To treat (something) as if (1) it was really something else, or (2) it has qualities that it doesn’t have....Deem is a useful word when it is necessary to establish a legal fiction either positively by “deeming” something to be something it is not or negatively by “deeming” something not to be something which it is”. (Black’s Law Dictionary, page 425.)
Thus the discordance between scientific fact and societal / legal assertions. How to bring these two foundations of human life into harmony is the challenge. We fought a destructive Civil War to deal with slavery in this country. Indeed, if the 40 million fetuses so far aborted had been as visible in their lifetimes as the American slaves were, we would already have fought a second civil war. Maybe we can avoid that in the future by continued efforts by fair-minded citizens to acknowledge the scientific facts and to bring the protections of our Law to cover these other pre-born citizens. Meanwhile, civil discourse and every other legal effort will be brought to bear by those of us who are not blind or cynical before the facts and who seek only justice for our human - and humane - society. To these efforts we dedicate ourselves - as long as it takes.
George A. Sprecace, M.D. J.D.