This column is rated PG for creepiness and grossness and for the disgusting thoughts of its author
Conservatives want to have their cake and eat it too, it seems. They loved the story of Susan Torres, the dead woman kept on life-support so her baby can be born. It's a great story for the self-proclaimed "culture of life" crowd. Life Survives Death! What a great headline.
Susan was 21 weeks pregnant when she died. That's almost 5 months out of the normal 9. Typically, viability of the fetus is around 23-24 weeks, sometimes later. Susan's widower, Jason, decided to keep her body hooked up to machines so that the baby could have another month in the womb and have a chance to live. It's a decision that, while immensely creepy, has not met a lot of controversy. And who could really argue, knowing that despite using her body as a mindless tool for baby creation, they are helping to create a life? BTW, I'm using words like "creepy" and "mindless tool", not because I oppose these efforts, which I don't. I use these words because they are true. I think most of us find something unsettling about a baby being born of a dead woman, as miraculous as we think the baby is.
Here's what I find funny. Many of the same people who love Susan Torres' story oppose stem cell research, in vitro fertilization, and abortion. At first glance, these stances don't seem to conflict. But look at their arguments: Abortion at any stage is murder, not because of intelligence (which doesn't exist in a fetus), not because of any identifying human characteristics like arms or a head (which doesn't exist in an embryo), but because of their unique DNA (which was unknown when late-term abortions were banned by the church in the middle ages and all abortions were briefly banned in 1588. They were made legal by the church again in 1591 until 1869.) The unique DNA of an embryo is the reason given by at least one commenter here as the reason why it must be allowed to live in the future, why it must not be used for any purpose, even to help save lives via its stem cells. But did Susan Torres not have unique DNA? It's OK to use her body as a baby factory, but it's not OK to use an embryo the size of the period at the end of this sentence for its stem cells?
Let's take this example to its logical, yet extreme example. Say Jason Torres decides that his wife would have wanted to have 3 children. Presumably her brain cancer did not damage the other eggs in her body. What if he had doctors artificially inseminate Susan so she could have another baby, and another? Are we OK with that morally? What's the difference between the second and third baby and the first one? I can guess one answer - nod if you agree. It's because the first one was already on its way towards life, right? And stopping it would be murder while creating a new life in Susan's dead body would just be unnatural and therefore immoral. So let me throw this crazy idea out. You know all the fertilized eggs left over from in vitro fertilization that are just sitting around waiting to be destroyed? The ones that you say will be murdered if not used? Why not implant them into Susan to be born? And if it can be done in Susan, why not get people to volunteer their bodies to be used as baby factories when they die? Wouldn't that be just as wonderful and miraculous as Susan Torres' baby? No? Hmmmm.