The Corner

A Logical Riposte to Robert P. George’s Proposal

The logical problem with the idea that “life begins at conception” is this: Since 25 percent of all pregnancies end in natural miscarriage, can it therefore be said — without reference to religion — that “life begins at conception” when so much of it is snuffed out by nature itself? Does that not suggest a kind of vicious brutality in nature — Hobbes at his most Hobbesian — that in turn leads us to a social Darwinism in which literally only the strong survive even to be born?

I am not a scientist and not fit to examine the evidence that says “life begins at conception.” I will presume that the texts Professor George mentions buttress that conclusion. But if indeed that is what the science texts he assigns do say, then “human life” must have a broader meaning than the one we assign it now, because otherwise nature is committing Holocausts every day.

Obviously, human life “begins” at conception, in the sense that we were all conceived and developed from that conception. Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, and 40 weeks later we emerged from the womb. But what does this tell us, other than that those who act as though no creature is alive until it breathes on its own are horrifyingly cavalier about this greatest and most basic of miraculous mysteries?

My wife and I had a miscarriage two years ago after 9 weeks of pregnancy. Should we be mourning that miscarriage as though a child had lived 9 weeks and died?

I bring these questions up in this way because I think that this debate can never be resolved to anyone’s satisfaction through science alone. Technology has done extraordinary things over the past 30 years to make people conscious of the essential humanity of the unborn fetus, largely through the application of ultrasound and intrauterine photography. But it cannot resolve, or solve, the mystery of the progress beyond the moment of conception — when that embryo, fertilized inside the womb or in a laboratory, becomes a life that must be granted all the protections due all human life.

Most Popular

PC Culture

‘White Women’ Becomes a Disparaging Term

Using “white men” as a putdown is no longer extreme enough for the Left. Now it is moving on to doing the same for “white women.” How rapidly this transpired. It was less than two years ago that the approximately 98.7 percent of white women working in media who were openly rooting for Hillary Clinton ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The World Keeps Not Ending

We were not supposed to have made it this far. George Orwell saw night descending on us in 1984. Orwell was, on paper, a radical, but in his heart he was an old-fashioned English liberal. He dreamed of socialism but feared socialists. He feared them because he knew them. I was in the sixth grade in 1984, but I ... Read More
Culture

A Free People Must Be Virtuous

Dear Reader (Even those of you who didn’t seem to notice or care that I failed to file this “news”letter on Friday), So I’m sitting here at Gate C6 at O’Hare waiting for my flight home. I am weary, pressed for time, in desperate need of a shower, and filled with a great sense of dread for the work ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Beatification of Beto

The media’s treatment of Texas Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke wasn’t the most egregiously unfair coverage of the past year -- that would be the treatment of Brett Kavanaugh -- but it ranks among 2018’s most annoying. The endless glowing profiles of O’Rourke in every publication from Vanity Fair to ... Read More