A Cold-blooded View of Human Development

On 23 July 2015, The Federalist and Politico announced that the Department of Justice has launched an investigation into the legality of the two videos released by the Center for Medical Progress. The Washington Post reported that two states and one Congressional committee have started their own. I mentioned in an earlier post that this back and forth by the pro-choice and pro-life camps comes as no surprise. There is plenty at stake for all concerned, especially with next year being an election year. Of course, that is a slightly cynical view of things, but it does have warrant. It is also true that the ethical and moral grounds for PP and its affiliates are the shakiest in their history.

Some of PP’s defenders have advanced views that illustrate a mind-numbing inconsistency. The most recent example of this is Dr. Jen Gunter, who is a practicing OB/GYN. She operates her own blog while being a frequent writer for The New Republic, which published one of her pieces on 23 July 2015. The gist of Dr. Gunter’s article is that the videos released by the Center for Medical Progress are medically misleading or false. Here is the good doctor in her own words:

These are not “baby parts.” Whether a woman has a miscarriage or an abortion, the tissue specimen is called “products of conception.” In utero, i.e. during pregnancy, we use the term “embryo” from fertilization to ten weeks gestation and “fetus” from ten weeks to birth. The term baby is medically incorrect as it doesn’t apply until birth. Calling the tissue “baby parts” is a calculated attempt to anthropomorphize an embryo or fetus. It is a false image—a ten to twelve week fetus looks nothing like a term baby—and is medically incorrect.

I want to call our attention to the general tone of this quotation, which is representative of Dr. Gunter’s entire piece. She refers to the developing embryo and fetus as a “tissue specimen” or “product of conception.” To Dr. Gunter’s credit, the latter word phrase is a medical term; however, her carefully chosen words come off cold and dehumanizing toward the embryo and fetus. The impact of Dr. Gunter’s words create the idea that what develops in a woman’s womb for nine months is an inanimate object. Of course, this is all very ironic given the fact that the medical term fetus is a Latin word, which literally means offspring. Another way to say offspring is baby or child. I find this to be a major oversight by Dr. Gunter and The New Republic editor, who approved her piece.

If the previous paragraph illustrates Dr. Gunter’s rational inconsistency, then what I’m about to get into magnifies it to the nth degree. Again, the point behind my current is to demonstrate the importance of word choice in writing. I honestly believe that Dr. Gunter chose her words carefully, but she wields them like a toddler holding a gun. Now, let us examine her use of the word anthropomorphize. According to the English dictionary, anthropomorphize means to ascribe human form or attributes to (an animal, plant, material object, etc.) anything that is not human in nature or character. In the above quote, Dr. Gunter claims that these videos released by the Center for Medical Progress falsely attribute human form to a developing embryo and fetus. Once again, this is a major oversight on her part, but it is an egregious one committed by the editor.

It seems pretty clear to me that Dr. Gunter objects to describing the developing entity in a woman’s womb in human terms. I get the fact that the terms embryo and fetus are medical ones. What she fails to realize is that these prove too much, which defeats her argument. Because of Dr. Gunter’s extensive medical training, she knows that every mammalian species starts out as an embryo of its kind. For example, chickens start out as chicken embyros, and lions begin as lion embryos, and so on and so forth. According to genetics (something Dr. Gunter knows very well), the union of a woman’s egg with a man’s sperm is called a zygote. This “product of conception” or zygote comes into existence because of human DNA uniting as one. In fact, from the point of fertilization (zygote) and onward, this “product of conception” has its own discreet DNA, which exhibits differences from the mother and the father regardless of its gender.

I find it hard to believe that Dr. Gunter fails to realize these facts; although, it is true that her medical credentials have nothing to do whatsoever with being an etymologist. Neither does Dr. Gunter’s medical training equip her to make metaphysical and/or philosophical claims about the unborn. In her zeal to defend PP and its practices, she has revealed herself to be no defender of the defenseless. Dr. Gunter resorts to a cold-blooded view of human development in order to maintain the legal right to end it. I may step on toes with what I am about to say; however, the view expressed by Dr. Gunter is cold and downright evil. May the Lord have mercy on us for the shedding of innocent blood:

“…because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents, and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind–therefore, behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when this place shall no more be called Topheth, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter” (Jeremiah 19:4d-6, ESV).




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