If zygotes are fully human beings as the Catholic Church teaches and many people believe, then what’s the moral significance of the fact that most zygotes perish in the womb? If these “natural abortions” are very common, this changes how we see the origins of human life and how we compare natural abortions to the human-performed kind. Here’s a quote:
But we can securely say that a clear majority of human beings die before they are even a few weeks’ old. We’re talking about millions of deaths annually in the United States – a human toll unknown in any other environment. Natural abortions, in other words, far exceed the number of procured abortions. Comparing the scale of what humans do to the unborn with what nature does is like comparing a high tide with a tsunami.
Sullivan backs down from the high tide/tsunami analogy a bit later, but the post offers some fascinating facts.
In this Time magazine piece, David van Biema notes the link between the Catholic Church’s pro-life stand (every zygote is sacred) and the rejection of the doctrine of limbo. Limbo used to be the place where newborns go to in the event they died before baptism, “a cheery yet inaccessible outer parking lot.” As the Church is becoming more aggressive in its pro-life activism, the doctrine of limbo seemed to inappropriately downplay the full humanity of the zygotes and fetuses, or unborn children as they say.
P.S.: On the zygote topic, do read Julian Sanchez’s response to Ross here. Excellent example of integral-level critique of a sort of rationalism. This includes a brief though sensitive take on pre-rational (Julian calls it “a raw, pre-reflective intuition”), rational (“rule-circular or coherentist,” he calls it), and trans-rational intuition (“our intuition reconditioned by a bit of reflection and abstraction”), without using the lingo. Nice. I like how Julian thinks. Adding his blog to my watch list.