Friday, December 17, 2004

"Amber Alert for the missing fetus."

Apart from the obvious horror of this situation, the story is a fascinating read. A pregnant mother was killed and her unborn child appears to have been cut from her womb. Police believe the child could still be alive, so they have issued an “Amber Alert”-the alert system reserved for kidnapped and missing children. You don’t read a pair of sentences like this every day, “The sheriff issued an Amber Alert for the missing fetus. Police are searching for an 8-month-old white, female fetus.”

I have blogged on this from time to time in large part because I am fascinated by the cognitive dissonance in our culture. If the mother had been in an abortion clinic the day before, no one would be referring to this human infant as a child. What if this murder/abduction scene happened on the abortionist’s chair? Is it a human worthy of our time and effort, or isn’t it?

Here are a couple of my earlier thoughts on conferred verses innate personhood, and some of the possible consequences:

To the contrary, human personhood is not conferred, it is innate. The argument for conferred personhood rests on a very postmodern and, might I add, Darwinistic metaphysic. If human dignity, value and morality are constructed by culture, then there are no innate values that come with being a particular kind of organism. Instead, a culture can determine among themselves what is and what is not worthy of their attention as special and protected creatures. This is not that different from extreme forms of xenophobia and slavery. In those cases one ethnic culture has decided that another ethnic culture is less human than they are and are not endued with the same value. In some of the more radical cases like that (think Rwanda, Sudan, etc.), human value is conferred based on the shapes of noses. In our case, value is conferred on the basis of things like matriarchal emotion, physical visibility, or economic viability.

As Christians, we see personhood as something much more inviolable and divine than this. Although personhood is still in many respects a mystery (and it will remain that way until the Beatification), it remains rooted in the work and will of ourCreator. It is a property we have qua humans. There is nothing in this world which can either confer or remove our humanity or the humanity of an unborn child, especially something as protean and unreliable as the emotion of desire. We are humans by divine decree.

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