Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Smallest of All

I'll just have to save him. Because, after all,
A person's a person, no matter how small.

---Horton the Elephant in "Horton Hears a Who!" by Dr. Seuss

Bedtime at a pro-choice house:

"All that late afternoon and far into the night
That black-bottomed bird flapped his wings in fast flight,
While Horton chased after, with groans, over stones
That tattered his toenails and battered his bones,
And begged, 'Please don't harm all my little folks, who
Have as much right to live as us bigger folks do!' "

Child: Is that true, Mommy?

Mother: Yes, of course.

Child: Then why do people talk about killing babies before they're born? Don't the babies also have a right to live?

Mother: Oh, sweetie, they're not really babies. They're only embryos, or maybe fetuses. They're not really human.

Child: Huh? If they're not human, then what are they? Aliens?

Mother: Well, what I mean is that they're not human in the sense that they're not a person, yet. Of course they're human in the sense that they have human and not animal DNA.

Child: When do they become human, then?

Mother: We don't know for sure, dear. But we do know that they're not human in the first trimester, so no one is killing any babies. Just embryos.

Child: But why isn't an embryo a human, if it has human DNA? "After all, a person's a person, no matter how small!"

Mother: Now, Junior, don't go mixing up Dr. Seuss with reality. It's only a pretend story.

Child: You just said it was true, though.

Mother: I know, but Dr. Seuss wasn't writing about abortion, for heavens' sake. It's just a nice little story.

Child: If an embryo isn't a person, then when does it become a person? What happens to make a non-person embryo with human DNA a human baby person? The minute it transitions from one form to the other - what is the crucial difference between the before and after? In other words, what does the human baby person have that it lacked only a second earlier, when it was just a non-person embryo with human DNA?

Mother: Uh, Junior, I think we've had enough bedtime stories for tonight....

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