Monday, July 25, 2005

Worse than the Holocaust, famine, AIDS, and the gulags

Brad Plumer points out that anti-abortion activists are actually quite tame given the oft-stated view that legalized abortion is worse than the Holocaust:
Obviously there are a few clinic-bombers here and there, but we never see social disobedience on a very broad scale. Judging by their actions, the Civil Rights protesters in the 1950s and 1960s seem to have felt far more strongly about their cause than pro-lifers do about theirs. Again, whatever, people can do what they want, but you'd think something worse than the Holocaust would incite a bit more in the way of drastic action. [Emphasis original]
The "revealed preferences" of anti-abortion activists come out in other ways too. Consider: if human life begins at conception and a one-cell zygote has all the moral value of an adult human being, then we are currently facing a natural disaster of massive proportions. Why? A very large proportion of fertilized eggs die very early - most before the woman even knows she's pregnant - often due to chromosomal abnormalities due to meiotic nondisjunction (chromosomes fail to separate properly during meiosis and the egg or sperm ends up with an extra copy of a chromosome, or none at all). Many never even make it past a few cell divisions.

To be consistent, an extreme pro-lifer should view this as a horrendous unnoticed natural disaster, as tragic as babies born with lethal birth defects, and on the scale of the high rates of infant mortality that exist in areas without sufficient health care. In fact, one would have a moral obligation to stop this immense loss of life.

Pro-life activists should be agitating to increase funding for medical research that would either prevent chromosomal abnormalities or allow such embryos to survive for longer. Even if such a therapy did not allow the fetus to survive to birth or even to viability outside the womb, it would still be desirable to help it survive perhaps to week 20 rather than week 1 of pregnancy.

Then again, if all they're willing to do to fight something worse than the Holocaust is write letters to the editor, vote for Republicans, and give money to "pregnancy crisis" centers, then I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that they're keeping silent on a humanitarian tragedy worse than all the famines and AIDS deaths the world over.


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