I appreciated Kathleen Parker’s commentary “Bats in the belfry” (opinion page of the May 21, Star Herald).
In it, Ms. Parker tries to give voice to a silent majority who believe, as I do, that the current Alabama and Georgia laws, which restrict abortion to the point where it is not possible, will simply further polarize the issue.
America is neither comfortable with abortion nor comfortable with removing a woman’s rights to her body (Parker notes that “69% of Americans opposed overturning Roe vs. Wade. But most people are comfortable with limitations.”). This is also evident in Parker’s statement that “only about 1.4% of abortions occur at or after 21 weeks.”
We as a nation already seem to not condone later-term abortions, those done later than the time at which medicine has been able to sustain life if the child were born.
However, Ms. Parker is incorrect when she states that “A fetus is not part of a woman’s body except as it is umbilically necessary to sustain its life.” The fact is a fetus is not viable before approximately 23 weeks at best, so if it were removed from a woman’s body it could not sustain life apart from her body. I also took issue with Ms. Parker where she states that “Biologically, life begins at conception.”
Life did not “start at conception.” A basic tenet of biology is that the property of life is not recreated with each cell division but that the property of life is passed on to progeny cells. This is no small point. Life “began” with the first cell that existed. We don’t need to look at the absence of life on other planets to gain the perspective that life is precious. And we need only look around us to realize that life is not only the property of human cells but is also a property of the cells that co-descended then gave rise to all the living organisms of this planet.
We value human life because we are human. Respect for all the forms of life is part of how we demonstrate that we value life. In this sense, I’d have to say that humans could do a little better about valuing all life, or we would not be in danger of losing some one million species from the planet.