The Debate: What is “Life”?

This is, apparently, life.

This is, apparently, life.

This, apparently, is not life.

This, apparently, is not life.

Science is an interesting thing. Much like math, you can pick and choose how to use it or interpret what it means.

It always amazes me that scientists can define “life” as a microscopic microbe (literally had to use an electron-microscope to see it because it is so tiny) and yet fail to see a fetus in a womb as “life”. The definition of “life” on biology-online.org seems pretty clear to me.

This article, “Critters found in Antarctic ice show how tenacious life is,” has me in a feisty mood today. “Life” as they claim can apparently exist in the most inhospitable environments (including space, maybe) but “life” can’t exist in the most protective and nurturing of places, like a woman’s womb. At least, that is if you are someone that supports abortion.

Here is another one of those weird (not really, but we’ll call it that) things that seems hard to justify. If you are a criminal and happen to kill a woman who was pregnant, you can be charged with murder of the fetus in 38 states in the United States. However, if you are an abortion doctor, you apparently exempt from these laws? What gives?

Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox, for now. Anyone else not understand these obvious inconsistencies?

Wanna join me on the box? Add your two cents below.

7 comments

  1. First off, there’s no such animal as an “abortion doctor”. Doctors and provider-delegates (PAs, NPs) that perform abortions regularly still have to be qualified to perform a hundred other kinds of procedures. They also have to perform a certain number of those other procedures every year to maintain their licenses.

    Secondly, I know of no scientists who don’t call a fetus alive. But that doesn’t mean it’s a “baby”. Perhaps that’s part of the confusion. It MIGHT become a baby, or it might die. It would be accurate to call it a “potential human”. There are multiple kinds of living things that can’t survive outside a host, a fetus below 23-24 weeks being one. (At this point we are pretty close to the absolute limit for survivability as medical technology goes.) Below that age, the lungs aren’t fully formed or functional, and they don’t make heart-lung equipment capable of sustaining a body so small and delicate. The brain and spinal cord aren’t fully differentiated either, so those rare individuals that survive tend to exhibit multiple disabilities.

    I don’t understand the law thing about murders either, but I’m not an attorney. Can’t have expertise in every area I guess.

    1. “Abortion Doctor”…dare I say those who specialize in performing abortions, even abortion.com (http://www.abortion.com/) calls providers by that title.

      Life is life, isn’t it? Regardless if it would survive outside a host, it still meets the definition of life. Yet, many who support abortion won’t recognize that it is a human life that is being extinguished.

      1. In scientific and medical usage, nothing is “human” until it has all the required organs and systems, and can survive. As I said before, everyone knows a fetus is alive, and MIGHT become a human, or might not. There are about 500 conditions that can cause the termination of a pregnancy before or during birth besides abortions.

        There are different kinds and developmental stages of life, which is why professionals use more specific, less ambiguous terms. A tulip, a virus, an amoeba and a fetus are all alive, but using that word alone doesn’t provide enough information.

        I was pointing out that “abortion doctor” is not a professional term, no matter who is using it. It’s slang. If a patient in clinic authorizes an abortion, they don’t call for the “abortion doctor”, they contact the OB/GYN, PA-C or NP.

        Likewise, if you need your tonsils out, they don’t call for the “tonsillectomy doctor”. A patient or non-professional might use a slang term like “foot doctor” for their podiatrist, but no one working in health care would. I think you get what I mean.

      2. The first part of your argument above says nothing is human until it has organs and can survive on its own. Am I correct in making the correlation then that a person (full grown adult) who has no brain function and can only have “life” via the assistance of a machine ceases to be human? Obviously there is no “life” yet we treat the body as if there is. We have laws protecting their “humanity” and “rights”.

      3. Good point. A person with no brain function is not alive (by the medical definition), nor human either, since that status requires being alive. Their bodies can be sometimes be made to continue functioning using machines, which preserves organs and tissues needed to harvest for helping others, but most personnel I have known do not consider the situation as if there’s still a person in there. We always try to allow families some time to accept the person is gone and can’t recover.

        Law doesn’t have to, and often doesn’t regard things the same way science does. A law can define humanity any way people prefer. It need not make sense, or have to be logical. We don’t always base law on any sort of reality besides what we want and choose. It’s a different discipline, with different traditions and methods.

    1. Steve, it is a generalization, which I will admit; however, it isn’t completely off base. The pro-choice side of the debate has (and does) used science and scientists to back up their side of the debate.

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