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January 24, 2005

Cell Theory

Here's a question. Suppose you're dining at KFC one day, and afterwards, as you're approaching the trash can with the remnants of your meal, a well-dressed and polite man asks if he can have the bones. In return, he'll throw away the rest of your meal. When asked, he rather shame-facedly admits that his religion believes that a chicken--or whatever parts of a chicken happen to be left over--deserve a decent burial.

Would you let him? After all, you're done with it, and he's promised to take care of the rest of the mess. What do you care what his crazy religion forces him to do?

What if it's not a chicken? What if it's some other collection of cells entirely?

Since 1996, the Sacred Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church has been holding private funeral ceremonies for aborted fetuses, interring the cremated remains in the churchyard near a monument to the souls of lost infants. Many members of the parish knew of the practice, but the broader world, including the abortion clinic that was the source of the remains and the women whose fetuses had been aborted, apparently did not.
Over the last nine years, Sacred Heart has interred perhaps 5,000 fetuses, including some from a local hospital resulting from miscarriages, said Susan LaVelle, a parish leader who has been involved in the ceremonies.

The timing of the announcement, coming as it close as it does to the anniversary of Roe V. Wade, suggests that Sunday's burial was basically a stunt, even though the thousands of previous internments carried out by the church were probably not. If so, it's a masterful one, though one in questionable taste. Burials should never carry overtones of marketing, no matter what the cause.

A while back I argued that the more emotional investment a society makes in its children, the lower the abortion rate ought to be within it. The masterful thing about the burial on Sunday is that it not only reflects that trend--who bothered to bury aborted fetuses 20 years ago?--but serves to increase it. No one bothers to bury toenails, which are naught but collections of cells, but the fact that some see aborted fetuses as dead children in need of burial increases the likelihood that others will.

And, rage at the tactic notwithstanding, the Pro-choice movement will have a hard time countering it. The only logical response to such a practice is "Do what you like with the medical waste, it's no skin off our nose, unless of course it is," but it is bit of a cold and heartless one.

Be that as it may, it's far more effective response than the ones so far provided, such as these, from an article on the burials in the L.A. Times

"They have taken it upon themselves to make a macabre ritual out of this, inflicting pain on everyone," said clinic director Dr. Warren Hern. "I have women calling me who are very upset over this. These fanatics simply cannot leave other people alone with their most intimate sorrow."

"Macabre ritual..." As opposed to what? Burying them without a ritual? Why does the spoken word suddenly change everything?

"their most intimate sorrow.." The more pro-choice forces buy into the "abortion is a tragedy" argument, the stronger pro-life forces will get.

"It's sad the church would take it upon itself to violate the doctor-patient relationship," said Kate Horle, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. "These women went to the doctor in confidence and made a difficult, personal decision. And now it's been dragged all over the media."

It would seem that if no names were named then no doctor-patient relationship has been violated, unless it is now implicit within that relationship that all medical waste resulting from that association has the same right to an expectation of privacy as the person who generated it--hardly an argument the pro-choice movement can be expected to embrace, for if a dead fetus has certain rights, what rights could a live one then expect?

Posted by Bigwig at January 24, 2005 03:02 PM | TrackBack
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If abortion is such an unalloyed social good, why do its proponents insist it should be safe, legal, and *rare*? If it is a good thing, shouldn't it be safe, legal, and as widespread and cheap as weeds?

Just wondering.

Personally, I felt different about it before I had a kid. My thoughts now are a bit more draconian on the topic.

Posted by: Blackavar at January 24, 2005 05:47 PM

If an abortion does not terminate a human life, then why is it such a "difficult, personal decision" and why does this ritual "[inflict] pain on everyone?" If I went to the doctor to get a tumor or wart, or even a damaged or diseased finger removed, it might be a difficult decision, but not an especially emotionally painful one. And, I might be offended if people decided to culture some of the cells from it without my permission, but to bury it? I would imagine that the church doesn't have first dibs on aborted fetuses, but if left unclaimed, then why not? Also, the fact that the clinics aren't simply putting the aborted fetuses in medical waste bags and putting them in the dumpster out back would seem to argue that they realize it's more than just a lump.

Posted by: HokiePundit at January 24, 2005 06:30 PM

I've always maintained that we are rapidly approaching the "tipping point" on the abortion issue. The 60's-era feminist warriors who fought the abortion battles are either dying or retiring from their positions of influence and authority.

The problem for the abortionists is there are some 40 million "missing" pro-choice voters who are unable to take their place, having been aborted by their pro-choice mothers.

It's basic biology, really. Say there are two competing species, A and B, that live in equilibrium. If species B suddenly starts killing its young while species A has the same number of offspring, then it won't take very long for species A to dominate.

Posted by: Captain Holly at January 24, 2005 06:38 PM

The difference is that the guy asked for your chicken bones.

If you found out someone had taken your amputated leg and had a funeral for it, would it bother you? How about if they made a pot of long pork 'n beans? The sorts of things that bother people are not necessarily rational.

If all human waste is creamated, but they give yours to a sect instead of to you, is that right?


Posted by: meg at January 24, 2005 07:00 PM

"If all human waste is creamated, but they give yours to a sect instead of to you, is that right?"

I'm dead. What do I care? Same goes for the long pig--though the diners are just asking to catch something along the lines of kuru. As for the leg, if I don't have to pay for its funeral, more power to them.

But you have a point about the ckicken bones, so let's construct a different metaphor.

Instead of asking for your chicken bones, the guy instead contracts with the KFS to dispose of the KFC's trash. He then seperates out the chicken bones, says a prayer over them, and buries them with the full panoply of his religion.

At this point, what do you care? You threw the bones away to begin with.

Posted by: Bigwig at January 24, 2005 07:58 PM

...Pro-choice movement will have a hard time countering it.

Well, they could say, "That's beautiful, showing reverence for human life they way you do. But those human organisms aren't people any more than cats or chimps are. It's good to value human life so reverently, but it isn't murder if the dead organism had less personhood than a chimp when it was alive. So, we applaud you, but this has nothing to do with the abortion debate." But instead they'll screech hysterically about how "it's my body and I can kill my baby with it if I want to."

Posted by: Jim at January 24, 2005 09:08 PM

I always had a problem with the "it's my body, I'll do what I want" mindset. As far as I can see, it's not JUST your body. It's yours AND a baby's, even if that baby is just in the potentiality stage. Those same people wouldn't argue for killing babies outside of the womb, but have no problem killing babies inside the womb? I don't get it.

Glad to see the pro-life camp is gaining steam. Too many people use abortion as just another form of birth control.

Posted by: Kehaar at January 25, 2005 10:18 AM

Those same people wouldn't argue for killing babies outside of the womb, but have no problem killing babies inside the womb? I don't get it.

I agree. The only cogent argument for abortion rights is Michael Tooley's (the "it's not a person" argument). Tooley flat-out accepts that since abortion is not wrong, killing a newborn is not wrong.

Posted by: Jim at January 25, 2005 10:37 AM
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