Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Does the first breath grant personhood?

[Today's guest post by Beth Kulikov is part of our paid blogging program.]

My husband likes to watch videos of conflict and controversy on YouTube. I recently overheard a speaker addressing a crowd in an open debate at which one young man stated that “the first breath” endows an individual with personhood. Interesting concept; I’d never heard that before. If this is your opinion, there are a few things you should know:

1. The first breath occurs in utero. Preborn children not only have lungs, they use them. They practice taking amniotic fluid into their bodies through their little noses in preparation for the big b-day. The nose on your face as you read this did the same thing when you were in your mother’s womb. Kids in the womb also feed, digest, pass waste material, move, feel, hear, and dream. Close your eyes, cover your ears, abortion proponents. The less you know about the lives of pre-born children, the easier it is to dehumanize them.

2. After birth, many babies require a bit of assistance getting started breathing on their own. Whether it’s a spank on the butt or more involved medical intervention, these babies have already been born, but are not yet breathing. For a few moments, they are alive, outside the womb, the cord has been cut, and their hearts are beating, but that first breath of air has not yet occurred. According to this man’s opinion, they are not yet human beings and therefore have no human rights. If the first breath of air makes us people, then abortion is acceptable, yes, but so is infanticide.

3. Imagine a 24-week old baby, born prematurely, located outside the mother’s body, breathing air. In that young man’s opinion, this child has already “become” a child. Now picture a 36-week old baby, still in utero. The second child, although older and much more developed (relatively speaking), has not yet become a child. Does that make sense?

4. Allowing anyone’s opinion to decide who counts as a person and who doesn’t is dangerous. Ever heard the phrase “life begins at forty”? Not meant to be taken literally, but it goes to show that opinions can be anything and everything. Instead of trying to agree on a subjective opinion, let’s stick to scientific fact. Life begins at conception. A living human being is a living human being, and we all meet that criteria, right from the time we are one second old. Zero room for argument on this one. Whether your body contains one cell or billions, each of those cells contains a unique and complete genetic code that makes up you – a person.

Denying certain groups of living human beings their status as people is nothing new. History has shown again and again that when we allow ourselves the option of stripping certain people of their personhood, genocide and exploitation result. It’s what the Nazis did to the Jews, and what the slave traders did the Africans. In both cases, the line was: “it’s okay because they’re not people.” Sadly, this is going on in our country and our world today, in the form of abortion.

Let’s stop pretending that air is what makes us all the worthy human beings we are. Let’s admit that every single individual on the planet is a human being and a person, deserving of respect and human rights. We must tear the blindfolds off our faces and see every person, regardless of age, size, or location, as a person.

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