Until about five years ago, Dr. Collier was ardently pro-choice – and an anti-theist. Hear her conversion story here:
Enjoy, and feel free to leave a comment. H/t: Jordan Davidson.
Until about five years ago, Dr. Collier was ardently pro-choice – and an anti-theist. Hear her conversion story here:
Enjoy, and feel free to leave a comment. H/t: Jordan Davidson.
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Whereas chimpanzee fetuses are fearlessly and clumsily made …
Jey cool a pro life thing on TSZ.! Just watched a wee bit but she seems a competent thinker and speaker on this. Always its about the soul being sent from God upon conception. Its hard to persuade many people by looking at the bodyplan of the child at early stages. its unintelligent to ever say a child is not within a woman but its not unimntelligent tob question in the early stages.thats the rub.
The contention is not a moral one but a intellectual one for almost all or please all.
We pro lifers must be careful not to say the opposition does not care about babies. they simply don’t believe they are babies and act consistent from that presumption.
Just as we would allow abortion if it did not kill a kid. even demand the freedom of control over reproduction as a innate right. however conceptiuon is the end of reproduction. its done. birth is not reproduction but delivery of the reproduced.
Proi lifers have the better position and do a smarter job intellectually however make mistakes in stessing our prenate l feloow humans. We must persuade that they are kids already at conception. very difficult without a soul belief. The supreme court illegal decisions on these matters mist go first also.
I’m not going to listen to a fourty-five minute video. Is there a written summary?
The surest way to ensure pregnancies are carried to term is to provide the necessary support to pregnant women, above all financial support.
The surest way to prevent unwanted pregnancies is via education and the provision of contraceptive material and advice which requires financial support. Put your money where your mouths are, pro-lifers.
The Catholic Church and babies.
15% death rate?
A female voice!
You requested a written summary of Dr. Collier’s talk. Here’s a five-point summary that Dr. Collier displays, at 4:08 in her talk:
1. The prenatal child, even from the very beginning, is not just a “clump of cells,” but actually a living human human being with organs and functions just like ours!
2. Human development doesn’t happen in a bubble (even though it may look like it with the amniotic sac!) but is actually influenced by her [the prenatal child’s] own mother’s physical, social and mental health, and reflects a beautiful dependency.
3. The prenatal child and her mother are connected through a shared organ – the placenta – which is the only organ in humans that is made and shared by two persons.
4. The benefits of pregnancy to the mother are many and in part are mediated through an amazing process known as fetomaternal microchimerism.
5. Pregnancy is a cooperative venture that reflects a radical mutuality between two persons.
At 42:59 in her talk, Dr. Collier reveals that her change of heart on abortion was influenced by a radical Catholic theologian named Charles Camosy (a bioethicist and Associate Professor at Fordham University), author of Beyond the Abortion Wars: A Way Forward for a New Generation (Eerdmans, 2015; see here for readers’ reviews on Amazon), who also opposes factory farming, is open to the view that “some animals are non-human persons,” and champions the idea that “[t]he same values that commit us to protecting the unborn … should govern our thinking on a range of issues that weigh upon the lives of the most vulnerable—issues like capital punishment, assisted suicide, war and peace, and economic and social inequality.” Incidentally, Camosy identifies as a Democrat.
Although Dr. Collier has spoken at a number of Catholic gatherings, she appears to indicate in her conversion video that she is not herself a Catholic (for instance, she compared the way in which people tell doctors their inmost secrets with what she imagined the Catholic sacrament of confession was like), and in her public statements, she simply identifies as a Christian. Anyway, here’s what Dr. Collier says in her talk about Dr. Camosy’s book, “Beyond the Abortion Wars: A Way Forward for a New Generation” (from 42:37 onwards):
“Well, you know that in the abortion discourse, the word ‘freedom’ is often used, and um, I just brought this one on for something to say that is popular, I haven’t tried it recently, but if we’re honest with ourselves, we agree with this, right, that when our liberation costs innocent lives, it’s merely oppression redistributed. So I have to say to many of you, and to those here who actually know me, that I actually am a very recent pro-life convert, and I spent most of my almost four decades as a very sort of aggressive pro-choice person, and outside of God changing my heart in this way, He also, I think, did it through Charles Camosy, who I happened to invite as speaking professor to my institution, and really engaged in a very complicated discussion with him over a long period of time about abortion, and um, this book is fantastic and really helped also change my mind and I’ve used it at a time when I, like, had to give talks in a very, um, sort of, ah, some complex cases about the apologetics that I have here: it approaches the subject from both sides and sets up the argument. I’ve actually memorized whole sections of his book if I need to, for like, different life cases (?), I mean defending, um, defending life issues.”
(Sorry about the transcription, but Dr. Collier talks very fast and doesn’t always articulate clearly. I did the best I could.)
At a 2019 pro-life feminism panel discussion at the McGrath Institute for Church Life featuring Abigale Favale, Kristin M. Collier and Charlie Camosy, Camosy pointed out that virtually all of the first wave feminists, including Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Alice Paul, were ardently pro-life and viewed abortion as exploiting women. He also attacked what he called “the small-government right” and suggested that the alliance between the pro-life movement and this political faction was something of a historical accident. Dr. Collier mentioned the need for more maternity leave and non-discriminatory hiring practices. She’s certainly no right-winger. For those who are interested, here’s the panel discussion:
I mention these points to make it clear that defending prenatal life does not mean defending the Catholic Church (whose treatment of indigenous and illegitimate children has been at times downright evil), let alone the modern-day Republican Party.
I did try watching after posting my comments and I found her almost completely unintelligible. Maybe it is partly due to recording quality or my phone but thanks for the summary.
Well indeed. It should involve a commitment by both parents and the society around them. Too often, women are left to carry their burden alone.
This is an important and difficult issue and I believe valid arguments can be made for both sides but the arguments above are pretty crap. #1 is incorrect: human embryo’s DO start out as a clump of cells, though admittedly this is a very brief stage. #2-5 are very poetic but largely irrelevant to the decision whether an undesired pregnancy should be allowed to be discontinued.
Also, what is it with you guys and conversion stories? Is it some kind of popular rhetorical device or what?
And we appreciate that, Robert. So we, for our part, will be very careful not to say that you have disregard for women’s right to self-determination and wish to assume control over decisions concerning their own body.
Might I refer you to Associate Professor Maureen L. Condic’s paper, When Does Human Life Begin? The Scientific Evidence and Terminology Revisited (University of St. Thomas Journal of Law and Public Policy, Volume 8, Issue 1, Fall 2013, Article 4, pp. 44-81). The article is very technical; the quotes excerpted merely convey the overall tenor of the author’s conclusions. What is quite clear, however, is that at no stage of its development is the embryo ever a clump of cells. The italics are Condic’s; the bolding is mine:
(Associate Professor Maureen L. Condic is from the University of Utah School of Medicine, Department of Neurobiology. She is also the author of a recent Supreme Court brief on the subject of whether all pre-viability prohibitions on selective abortion are unconstitutional.)
I hope that helps.
I can manage, thank you for your concern.
Does the fact that Associate Professor Maureen L. Condic says that embryos qualify as organisms at all stages (sure, why not) negate the fact that the morula embryo is, in fact, also a clump of totipotent cells? I don’t see why those statements would be mutually exclusive.
More importantly, Dr. Collier’s (and your?) claim was slightly stronger than that:
A morula stage embryo is definitely not “a living human human being with organs and functions just like ours”. None of Associate Professor Maureen L. Condic’s writing will salvage that claim.
Now, instead of trying to bamboozle me with credentials, could you perhaps explain why you believe that the rights of a 16-cell embryo without any distinguishable features should supersede those of its mother?
The brief glance at the well-known is-ought problem should suffice to tell us that no collection of facts about human biological development can settle any of the theological, moral, or political questions surrounding the termination of an unwarranted pregnancy.
The video may produce strong emotional reactions but it is irrelevant to any serious consideration of the principles or norms underlying our virtues, vices, or duties.
I mean, if you want to have a serious discussion about whether the legal permissibility of abortion is consistent with a coherent conception of human flourishing, I’ll all for it.
Only with this caveat: for each minute of my life I have to spend debating the ethics of abortion, I will donate $1.00 to Planned Parenthood.
Well. I agree looking at biology facts ill not settle thier is a soul at conception in the creature. however its a settled point THOU SHALL NOT MURDER.
The only point is whether abortion kills a human kid. Since we don’t kill kids who are born then its essence must matter. the biology is a primitive hint to the essence.
for the pro-life side its not dominant but the other it is. SO the biology equals humanity WHEN is important part of the contention.
Sure it is!
This raises a point that has always bothered me. From where I sit, the issue of the legality of abortion has nothing whatsoever to do with biology. Every moment of pre-natal development, in humans and many other species, is essentially completely understood, no mysteries. And this complete understanding is generally possessed by people on both sides of the legal debate. Biology is simply not part of the debate.
For me, this is a straightforward political issue. There are (and have been) nations where abortion is mandatory, other nations where it’s prohibited. America is supposed to be the land of liberty, where government has no business either prohibiting or mandating inherently personal decisions.
From a legal perspective, there has always been a question of when a fetus becomes a legal person, closely interwoven with questions of exactly HOW legal a person becomes, and when. And generally speaking, these questions have been assigned arbitrary answers. If we define personhood, for example, as starting at birth, there will be edge cases covering periods on both sides of the moment of birth. But even when birth is a clear-cut distinct event, this new legal person has only a subset of the legal rights of an adolescent, or an adult, or someone lost in dementia, or someone in prison.
And of course we have the related issue of the degree of support the virulent anti-abortionists are willing to contribute to the unwilling mother after birth. For a long time there was a distinct negative correlation between abortion rates and adolescent crime rates. Unwanted children of single, working, largely absent mothers find other ways of joining families.
Then, as practical matters, we should consider back-alley butchers (now coming back into vogue in several states), and who can (and can’t) afford the cost of aborting somewhere where abortion is accessible – and the racial distribution of the ability to pay these costs.
My take is that the anti-abortionists are much like the anti-vax and anti-mask people – they have found a Cause that fills them with self-righteousness, with little or no regard for the ramifications. How these people can be redirected to Causes more productive is beyond me.
Exactly so. We know how to reduce abortion rates, because we know why most women want abortions: because they already have at least one kid and they can’t afford another. We know all sorts of policies that would give women more support and lower the financial burden of having another child. But that’s all seen as far too European, possibly socialist, and definitely anti-American.
It doesn’t hurt to repeat this early and often: opposition to abortion has led millions of people to jump the moral shark.
But hey, it keeps the rubes reliably voting for Republicans who want to lower taxes on corporations, and that’s what really matters!
Just going on hazy memory here, I recall several programs of providing free contraceptives to any who wanted them. I vaguely remember one in Colorado which cost about $5 million over several years of the pilot program, and largely eliminated or seriously reduced unwanted pregnancies among those who entered the program – while those who declined had abortion rates as high as ever. I suppose there’s some relationship between not wanting birth control and not wanting a pregnancy? Not something I can quite understand. Apparently those who reject the program think free contraceptives will encourage irresponsible promiscuity or something. And those people perhaps consider themselves responsible, but unlucky?
In any case, I remember at least one of these programs applying for funding to continue, and the state legislature declined. Now, I notice Snopes says claims about Colorado’s program are slightly misleading. The claim is ” Unintended pregnancies down 40% Abortions down 42% Millions in public health costs saved.” Snopes says these statistics apply ONLY to LARCs (long acting reversible contraceptives), not to all birth control. But this and other programs have proven very successful.
All of which may be irrelevant. I see Republican legislatures preferring forced childbirth, to eliminating unwanted pregnancy and reducing abortion to zero. As Adam Serwer wrote, The Cruelty is the Point. We certainly wouldn’t want poor people escaping poverty, now would we? Free birth control programs are impossible in Republican states because they work!
You are correct in saying that a morula does not possess organs. Actually, Dr. Collier acknowledges this point herself in her talk at 11:19, where she states that “the heart is the first functional organ to develop,” and goes on to say that a heartbeat can be detected 21 days after fertilization (11:44), and that the heart is “pretty much fully formed by about the tenth week” (12:04). So let’s agree that the first point in the summary slide of Dr. Collier’s talk was sloppily expressed. She should have simply said: “1. The prenatal child, even from the very beginning, is not just a ‘clump of cells,’ but actually a living human being.” That’s a defensible statement, and it would have been enough. As the quotes above from Dr. Maureen Condic’s article show, the zygote is a human organism, with “globally coordinated functions that promote the health and survival of the individual as a whole.” The term “clump of cells” overlooks the unity of the early embryo, which is why it’s inaccurate.
I would never say that the rights of a 16-cell embryo supersede those of its mother. What I would say is that what makes us matter (morally speaking) is not our capacities as such (such as sentience or sapience) but rather, the genetic program (present in the zygote) that grounds these capacities. Putting it simply: anything that’s directing its own development into a rational adult human being is just as important as one.
It is quite clear that the zygote directs its own development – as Dr. Maureen Condic states in her article (2013, p. 48): “Based on a unique molecular composition that is distinct from an oocyte, the zygote functions immediately to direct its own development. Importantly, the zygote does not act like a human gamete, a human cell or even a collection of human cells, but rather like an organism that is undergoing a self-directed process of maturation.” (The bolding is mine – VJT.) But you may ask: why should that make it matter morally?
The answer is that anything which is added to a being that’s directing its own development is nothing more than information – whether chemical (nutrients) or neurological (learning experiences). The ability to direct one’s own development, however, is something higher: it’s meta-information. To the extent that the former matters at all, it’s only because of the latter, because it’s the meta-information in the early embryo (and later on, the fetus) that processes the incoming information that it receives.
If there is some characteristic (call it X) that makes humans matter morally, it’s obvious that meta-information is a much stronger candidate for being X than mere information, whose importance is merely derivative and conditional. For this reason, I believe that the capacity to direct one’s own development as an organism is the characteristic that confers on us the right to life. No other characteristic could possibly trump it. The only consistent alternative view one could take is that there is no X-characteristic, and that human rights are merely a matter of social convention – which would mean that outside the confines of society, rights automatically disappear. To me, such a view appears absurd: killing a wandering nomad in the desert is obviously just as immoral as killing my neighbor.
I hope that goes some of the way towards answering your question. Let me add that I do not believe that a developing unborn child has the right to put the life of her mother at risk. Cheers.
What exactly does the word “life” encompass here? Unwanted children forced upon unready women can short-circuit their whole lives, truncate their education, and often sentence them to a live of poverty, unskilled labor, single parenthood. Do you think these things count? Or are you only considering death, which might even be better?
Flint, And it is worth repeating that there are practical steps that can be taken that have been demonstrated to largely avoid the need for surgical abortion.
I was recently forced to re-read Roe v Wade & its (original) ruling seemed to be surprisingly reasonable. It allowed abortion without limits up to a stage (of pregnancy)., then restricted access the 2nd stage, then very restricted access for the last stage
It exactly matches the reality that there is a smooth transition of ‘humanness’ from a zygote all the way to a newborn.
Republicans know this. They also know there are easily affordable policies to significantly reduce the need for abortion at all. We need to recognize that the political goal here is forced childbirth, which has nothing to do with preventing pregnancy, or avoiding surgery.
Again, “reasonable” in this context is barking up the wrong tree. The religious goal here is to be UNreasonable, to make sinners suffer, to punish irresponsible fornication and careless promiscuity. And let’s be honest, a secondary but very real goal is to bias the suffering along racial lines, since the ablility to afford the considerable expense of going to where abortion is readily accessible (and staying there a few days) is strongly correlated with skin color.
Came across this news item on another site. I found it shocking for an allegedly civilized country.
No, let’s do no such thing.
Her slide states:
That is (as you admit) WRONG. For someone who claims medical expertise to lead with a statement so obviously wrong and blatantly self-serving, then “sloppy” is not the adjective to use.
This is a very strange argument to try to make. You are saying that using the term “clump of cells” to refer to the morula is “inaccurate” because it overlooks the unity of the early embryo. But the fact of the matter is that that early embryo (remember, you are making these claims about the zygote onwards) lacks unity.
In my personal experience, the week-old “clump of cells” can produce zero, one, two or three human beings. I understand four is also known to occur.
So the term “clump of cells” is a perfectly accurate way of describing the early morula.
Thank you for referencing that article by Condic, by the way. I found it very helpful, although not in the manner you intended, I suspect.
Exactly right. The conservative pro-life position is simply this: every pregnancy must be carried to term, regardless of the women’s interests or desires. There is nothing morally wrong with women being forced to give birth against their will. The conservative pro-life position is basically a pro-rape position — what the woman wants, desires, or needs is simply not relevant.
I think that the criminalization of abortion is a very real financial incentive in the so-called red states that are heavily dependent on mass incarceration for keeping the whole economy afloat. There are counties where prisons and jails are the major employers of guards, janitors, cooks, etc. — not to mention that prisons are hugely profitable, because prisoners can be paid at a fraction of the minimum wage. Prison labor is cheap and plentiful and there’s always going to be a need for producing more prisoners.
The criminalization of abortion will fall all the more heavily on poor women and women of color, of course, because this is the United States, a country built on slavery and slavery never ended. Of course conservatives refuse to accept historical truths at all costs, and their infantile refusal to face reality will doom us all.
I dunno. There aren’t many nations where the culture in power is NOT keen to engineer privileges for themselves, in many ways – higher incomes, more education, more direct political participation, high-paying professions which organize to keep outsiders out, government policies to reward the dominant culture (which makes the laws, enforces the regulations, runs the police, etc.) and keep the undesirable minorities from advancing. As one example among too many to count, look where poor people live and where highways are built that just happen to prevent foot traffic between housing and affordable goods and services.
The historical truths aren’t much different fromn current truths, and not much different from one nation to another. If there is any trend in the US, it’s toward increasing income inequality, which locks in the privileges of the ruling class. Linear projections lead to a nation of 1% oligarchs and 99% peons, who STILL believe the oligarchs when they claim to be working to help the poor. It’s no mystery why Republicans have an aversion to public education.
First, thank you for sharing your personal view. I like your response better then Associate Professor Maureen L. Condic’s disingeneous attempt to abuse her scientific credentials to redefine zygotes into the legal equals of grown-up humans.
Yes, you dislike the term “clump of cells” because it depersonalises the embryo and you like the term “human organism” because it achieves the opposite effect. Most of this discussion is about emotions, not about “scientific evidence”. That is not to say emotions are unimportant; they certainly are, but framing an issue for rhetorical effect is not scientific evidence.
Why on earth would I give a toss about meta-information? To blazes with it. I care about humans.
Let’s not have yet another discussion on objective morality. Let’s focus on your peculiar claim that the right of life of a human depends on its capacity to “direct its own development”. I really don’t care about that, Vincent. Neither do you, I suspect. That’s just you rationalizing your decision to defend the right of life of a fertilized oocyte.
Me, I respect other people’s right of life because I am capable of empathy and recognize myself in them. I recognize my own love, fears, desires and hopes in that of other people. I do NOT see that in a zygote cell. In my view, an embryo gains rights when it gains awareness and starts fulfilling that human potential, not before.
Taken by itself, Roe vs. Wade can be read in a fairly restrictive sense, when applied to second and third trimester abortions. However, what most people don’t know is that another Supreme Court ruling came out on the same day as Roe vs. Wade (January 22, 1973). It was called Doe vs. Bolton. It was this ruling that did all the damage, as it stated that a woman may obtain an abortion even after viability, if it was necessary to protect her health, and it then proceeded to define “health” very broadly:
In plain English, what that means is that according to American federal law, a woman can go to a doctor in the ninth month of pregnancy, announce that she is suffering from severe depression, and request an abortion, and (provided her doctor is sympathetic and she is living in a liberal state, such as New Jersey, that hasn’t enacted any further restrictions on abortion) she can get one. She can then kill a perfectly healthy, sentient, and viable child. There is a name for this: infanticide.
I might add that very few other nations on Earth have such liberal abortion laws as America, at the national level. The Washington Post factchecker Michelle Ye Hee Lee (October 9, 2017) has confirmed as “substantially true” the claim that the United States is one of just seven countries worldwide that “allow elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.” That puts America in morally dubious company, along with nations like China, Vietnam and North Korea.
And what a horrible procedure it is. Here’s a quote from Richard E. Jones PhD, Kristin H. Lopez PhD, in Human Reproductive Biology (Fourth Edition), 2014, writing on the subject of third trimester-induced abortions:
The usual excuses put forward for America’s liberal national abortion laws are that (a) only 1% of pregnancies are terminated in the third trimester anyway (yes, but that still translates into several thousand viable, sentient babies being killed every year) and (b) that most of these pregnancies are terminated because the fetus is abnormal (however, no figures are given to support this claim, and even if it were true, we don’t kill babies simply because they’re severely abnormal).
Let me finish with a Twitter quote from Dr. Omar L. Hamada, MD, MBA:
May we all take Dr. Hamada’s words to heart.
… as well as Canada and the Netherlands.
And UK (24 weeks).
Can happen != does happen.
Presumably you have examples of this? Care to share?
How would you specifically re-write this
What would you add or remove?
Go on, show us all how it should be done.