Friday, July 11, 2008


Dear America,

It occurs to me yet again that some of my recent posts may give my gentle readers an unduely pessimistic impression of my time here in China. This, if true, I attribute to several factors. Firstly, the acaemic pressure is fairly high here, which is not the most conducive atmosphere to cultivating a happy-go-lucky spirit (sadly, the happy-go-lucky man will have to endure four hours of ill-prepared class with frequent and active participation of all students ensured by the professors).

Perhaps even more importantly, however, is the fact that this medium, in addition to serving as a conduit for you all to vicariously experience my life here in China, also serves as a place for me to complain, reflect, and analyze, without bothering those in my daily life.

Today I finished my final exam and the abortion debate. I was more tense during the debate than I really should have been, and it affected my performance somewhat. While in the midst of preparations for my prepared three-minute statement, I found myself more and more convinced of the simple logic of my position, and I remain confounded by people who apose abortion. It's so simple:

Axiom: just born infants born are human, with a right to life. (nearly everyone, regardless of position on abortion, agrees to this. We can therefore assume it to be an a priori fact, forgetting philosophy for now)

Axiom: human deveopment is gradual. (pysiological, psychological, and neurologicall)

individuals do not have the right kill people.

point 1. the unborn fetus is exactly the same as the infant born two minutes later, in terms of viability and development. Aside from the umbilical cord, etc., the infant is exactly the same. The about-to-be-born and the just-born child are both human, the precent inside or outside the womb makes no differences on the child's viability and development ... and therefore inherent humanity.

(aside: some may argue that the fetus is dependent on the mother to live; they make "viability" a requirement for humanity. This is flawed, as by their requirements people on kidney dialysis, with feeding tubes, etc. are all no longer human, and we all accept that people on kidney dialysis are still human.)

point 2. Given that the unborn fetus and the born child are identical in terms of humanity, and given that change is gradual, it makes sense that the fetus at 9 months minus one day is the same, insofar as his humanity is concerned, as the fetus at nine months, or the born child at nine month. Therefore at all points during development, the fetus is human.

conclusion: since the fetus is human, we must not kill him.

There are many minor points and small scuffles along the way, but the basic logic is that the baby and the fetus are the same, so far as humanity goes, and so logically the fetus is human as far back as conception, since there is no other point at which it is conceivable that humanity suddenly springs forth. (and, prior to conception, the egg and sperm individually do not have a full complement of DNA, and it doesn't make sense to call them human.

Sometimes when presented with this argument, those who support abortion find they cannot deny it. They cannot deny any point of the argument. At this point, I think I've won, I've convinced them, the world is one small step away from our daily massacre of the unborn --- and then they inevitably say, "but what about the mother's rights?"

Let me ask you: when does our right to do whatwe please with our own lives mean we can kill someone else? Never! Even in extreme cases, such as molesting of children, we as individuals have no right to kill the aggressor except in immediate self-defense. And pregnancy, painful and trying as it is, is a far cry from child molestation. Let me reiterate: individuals do not have the right kill people.

This leads to some difficult results. It means that maybe the child will have a hard life, or will be born handicapped, or that a rape victim must endure 9 month's reminder of her assault, but none of these situations, terrible as they are, allow us to kill another human being. The unborn child is human. We may not kill it!

We do not have the right to decide for someone else if he will die. The right to life is most fundamental, superceding the right to privacy (incidentally, a term coined nearly out of thin air, as prior to the Roe vs Wade verdict there was no such legal concept as a "right to privacy." I challenge you to find it in the Constition, the amendments, or anywhere else prior to Roe vs Wade.), the right to liberty, and the right to pursue happiness. My liberty does not extend to killing you, nor does my pursuit of happiness and a comfort-free life grant me the right to kill you.

The argument is simple, the conclusions, while very serious and unfortunate for many people, are also inescapable. Some people say, "what about rape victims who are reminded of their assualter by the fetus?" The proper response to one tragic assualt on an innocent party (a man raping a woman) is not another tragis assault (a woman killing the innocent fetus). But aside from this cold-hearted response, there are some comforting elements: only between 1% and 5% of rapes result in pregnancy. Of those who were pregnant, only approximately 50% carried out an abortion (read more). And of those who did not perform an abortion, many saw the birth not as a terrible reminder, but as creating good from evil, a way to renewal (read more).

But the simplest argument we always return to, is we must not kill humans. And a fetus, no matter what it looks like, is human. And that's the end of the abortion debate.

Otherwise, my life here is good. In spare moments I continue to chat online with various Chinese people with motives ranging from the purely innocent, to the ubiquitous desire for a native English teacher, to the young women of a marrying age interested in a foreigners who seem at least half decent and can speak Chinese. (Though to be fair, I don't blame them: if I were in their shoes -- unattached, lonely, working long hours and earning no pay with no reasonable expectation of advancement -- marrying a nice foreigner who will certainly have a standard of living several times my own wouldn't be something I'd stick my nose up at either!)

Dinner time draws near; this evening we go to see Chinese acrobatics, which I fully intend to enjoy. And tomorrow, perhaps I will succeed in making my American breakfast!


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