Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Imagine for a moment a hospital patient with a severe heart condition is being treated at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. His treating doctor decides that the facilities are better at the local outpatient speedy clinic and discharges him from Hopkins. Needless to say, the clinic is woefully ill prepared to handle such a severely ill patient and he promptly passes away. The patient's family sues the doctor for malpractice. During the course of that litigation the doctor says that when the patient was at Hopkins, he wasn't really alive anyway and we could only really know if he was alive by whether or not the speedy clinic was able to keep him alive. Since the clinic couldn't do it, obviously the patient was not really alive in the first place, and if he wasn't alive, then the doctor didn't really kill anybody.

Are you going to buy this argument? It seems to me that the whole abortion argument based upon viability (made, among other places, in the pivotal case of Roe v. Wade) is just as preposterous. Nobody denies that the fetus (or whatever else you want to call it) is being sustained perfectly well in the mother's womb. God has designed a brilliant life support system for it. By any standard, man-made life support systems outside the womb are far inferior. Basically, the viability argument gives a doctor permission to rip this entity out of a far superior life-support system (like the facilities at Hopkins in my example), place it in a far inferior one (like the clinic), then declare that it wasn't really a life to begin with since our inferior system couldn't keep it alive. It was doing just fine in God's system. It seems to be the pinnacle of human arrogance to set the measuring rod only so high as our human technology can achieve when God's technology could accomplish far more if only we hadn't torn the fetus out of that system. Why should our life support abilities set the standard instead of God's (or nature's if you want to take a purely naturalistic perspective)?

While in the womb, that child was just as much alive as the patient at Hopkins. It was perfectly viable. The only reason it died was because some person made the decision to take it out of that system. I don't claim that this answers all questions about abortion (or even the viability argument, for that matter). But it does tend to raise the question of why we ignore the life support system inside the womb in favor if man's inferior system when deciding whether a baby is "alive."