Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I Feel Your Pain, but Not Mine

An article in The Journal of the American Medical Association is bound to stoke the battle over abortion. In it, researchers conclude that a fetus is unlikely to feel pain before 29 weeks. The conclusion casts doubt on the rationale of a bill authored by U.S. Sen. Sam Browback that would require abortion-seeking women to be offered anesthesia for the fetus because "at this stage of development, an unborn child has the physical structures necessary to experience pain."

Bottom line: Who the hell knows what a four- or five-month-old fetus can or can't feel? Granted, certain hot-button social issues are destined for perpetual debate -- abortion, the death penalty, Yankees v. Red Sox -- since, after all, they are largely matters of one's personal belief system.

But it is particularly galling and disingenuous when the zealots on both sides of the abortion fight try masking their ideological obsession in peripheral pursuits, such as the bogus Browback bill and its conceit that is based on an unknowable.

Hell, I can understand an ardent pro-life legislator pushing for a Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade better than I can understand making shit up and slapping it on to proposed legislation. I can understand an ardent pro-choicer pushing for a Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade better than I can understand the desperate insistence that the Constitution includes an explicit right to privacy (there should be, perhaps, but many liberal-minded legal scholars concede that one does not exist).

But let's stop letting the real debate get clouded by arguments about whether unicorns can fly.


At 12:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Turns out the authors of this "study" had an agenda of their own. Even a researcher at the University of Arkansas said that the "study" would lead to a plethora of other scientists with more knowledge on the subject weighing in...

Seems one of the authors is a medical student who was formerly a lawyer for NARAL. Of course, it would be grand for those who support abortion without quarter if the fetus felt no pain.

Yes, unicorns and rainbows and magic spells, blah, blah, blah, postmodern smirkiness and irony unto the death.

But we all know that even the lowliest organisms on the planet feel pain -- so it should go against the grain of common sense to suggest that a fetus feels none.

And thus we find some of the sickness of our postmodern era: it is likely the same nexus of individuals who crowed about the "study" on fetal pain are also morally superior permaculture vegans who refuse to exploit bees for their slave labor in producing honey for human consumption.

Strange times.

Hey, you know what? Old people are smelly, and I don't like the way they look, all wrinkly and stooped over and what not. They remind me that people die, and they're just a drain on society. Can we go ahead and kill them, too? Pretty please? Oh, come on... it's just a little euthanasia...

Treat humans as raw material, and raw material you shall be....

At 7:30 AM, Blogger Chase McInerney said...

Where did you deduce they had an "agenda"? Because one of five authors worked for NARAL as an attorney once upon a time? I grant you, that is a conflict of interest, but the right-to-life folks make a stretch to suggest that -- along with another of the researchers being the chief administrators of an abortion clinic -- poses an "agenda."

Regardless, I suspect you missed my point, asshole. I don't, and didn't, embrace the findings of the study because there is NO WAY TO DETERMINE THE VALIDITY EITHER WAY. And no, not all simple organisms do feel physical pain. You might want to recheck your biology books on that one. Whether or not fetuses in the earliest stages of development feel pain has not been conclusively determined.

But more than that, I take offense at your suggestion that hesitation to legislate based on unknowables is treating human beings like "raw material." Strange times, indeed, when disagreements and civil discourse are filled with venomous innuendo from punks like you.

At 10:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In terms of strange times and permaculture vegans, I had these folks in mind....

Fish? Fetuses?

I don't know, makes my head hurt.


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