The latest winner of our Jonathan Swift Award for most ridiculous pro-abortion argument of the week goes to David Barash. He argues in an LA Times Op-ed that since conception is a gradual process, it is impossible to pinpoint a moment when a human soul might be implanted. Therefore, since we don’t know if or when a baby might receive their soul, it is OK to kill them.
Let’s flesh out this logic a bit: We don’t know if there is actually a "person" in the womb, so it is fine to do away with whatever might be there. In a similar situation, if a 3 year old boy was missing and we thought that he might be playing in the haystack but we were not entirely sure, it wold be OK to burn the haystack down. After all, if one is unsure, it is legitimate to err on the side of destruction.
This is a silly argument made by someone who most likely does not believe in the existence of a soul, anyway. He should have tried to argue that case instead. Indeed, he was reprimanded in a letter to the editor for even allowing the notion that humans might have souls:
By tracing the conversion and evolution of an ovum and a sperm through
various stages, Barash’s claim that it is impossible to determine the
moment of "ensoulment" indulges those who believe in the existence of
something that has no scientific validity.
Humans believe in
a spirit that survives the body for the same reason they believe in
gods and an afterlife: because they want to. It enables them to
rationalize the finality of death. Technical explanations of when
neurons form will not change that.
Opponents of abortion and
stem cell research are free to believe whatever they want, but they are
not free to impose their religious beliefs on everyone else.
Of course this writer has it exactly wrong as well. It is not usually religious people who choose to believe something in order to rationalize their psychological position; it is the irreligious. It is atheists and agnostics who are forced to ignore the evidence in order to hold on to (by sheer force of will, in an incredible act of blind faith) their position. Generally, they do this in order to rationalize an immoral lifestyle and not have to face the possible consequences of life after death.
And I would add that non-religious people are also free to believe whatever they want, but what exactly gives them the right to impose their views on everyone else, particularly the most weak and defenseless among us, the pre-born?