Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Is the Pro-Life View Connected to Racism? [Serge]

Quite a charge leveled by Pejar in the comments here and his accompanying post here. Here's his summary, followed by the fisking it deserves:

Both the white supremacist and pro-life view require that a genetic fact (respectively being white and being human) is crucial for deciding who should be protected. On the other hand both the anti-racist and pro-choice positions say that genetic facts are irrelevant and that what is important is the characteristics of beings as beings, ie that they have some kind of consciousness to violate. This does not include very early zygotes.

To argue otherwise asserts that the mere genetic fact of humanity is determinative, and this is exactly what white supremacists argued (and argue) about the genetic fact of being white.
First, Pejar asserts that pro-lifers require a "genetic" fact to decide who should be protected. I believe he is repeating the oft-repeated straw man that we believe human value is based on an entity that possesses human DNA. This is simply wrong. In fact, I just removed 4 wisdom teeth that had the "genetic fact" of human DNA. One can argue that the human DNA in those wisdom teeth is more "human" than a child with Down syndrome, which has an extra chromosome. However, pro-lifers do not value the tooth more than the child. It is not the "genetic fact" of humanity that matters, but the biologic certainty that comes with a living organism of the species homo sapiens that gives us value.

Second, Pejar asserts that white supremacists also depend on the "genetic fact" of race for their discrimination. This is simply wrong. White supremacists base their discrimination on physical appearance, not on genetic content. Just like those who look at an early human embryo and claim that it isn't human because it does not "look like us", they practice their foul discrimination based on appearance.

Third, from his post on the topic, look at the things that Pejar believe are more better determinants of human worth than membership in our species:
People recognised that protection was needed because of the ability to suffer and feel pain or to grow and flourish. This is common to all colours and unifies our conception of those worthy of moral consideration.
Maybe they didn't mention this at Oxford Law School, but aren't the characteristics of being able to feel pain also genetically determined? There is DNA that codes for the whole complex in our nervous system which allows us to experience and feel pain, and the development of each and every one is controlled by human DNA. By his own criteria, the characteristics he asserts are important are just as genetically determined as skin color. They are just as much a "genetic fact", using his vocabulary.

Fourth, I know a bit about this because right now there are 6 human beings walking around not feeling pain from surgery because I have temporarily changed their ability to feel pain by the use of local anesthetic. By Pejar's criterion, I have somehow changed their human worth and deservedness for protection as a result. Furthermore, I have earlier today effected their humanness even more by rendering them unconscious during the surgery. This makes no sense, but is inevitable using his criteria for human value.

Lastly, the pro-abortion choice view uses arbitrary criteria to decide which human beings live and which die. The truth of the matter is that the brain of a newborn is far more similar to the brain of a third trimester fetus than an adult. It is more similar in appearance, size, and function. Yet Pejar asserts that it is OK to kill the fetus but (I assume) not OK to kill the newborn. This is discriminatory.

The pro-life view is open to all. All human beings, as beings, are worthy of protection and should not be killed because they do not fit into an arbitrary criterion that gives then value. That is the true liberal, non-discriminatory position.

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