Saturday, April 17, 2010


Personal revelation this morning.

The answer to the question about when a life begins may not be a fixed point in time. In other words, sperm + egg, blastocyst, zygote, fetus, breathing baby, these terms are shades on the gradient of the transition from not life to life. Maybe a person isn't instantly a life or not a life.

Can't we die slowly? Medicine has created specific criteria to determine whether or not someone is alive, and we may pass from 'passing' to 'failing' instantly, but that doesn't mean that our life didn't end sooner or will end later. For years, life was determined by the presence of breath or a heartbeat, but as it turns out those criteria weren't good indicators of life. Maybe in ten years we'll feel the same about the presence or absence of brain activity. Maybe these principles apply to the beginning of life as well.

Could the question about life be answered by something that isn't life vs. not life? Could life begin slowly? Or simply be outside our capacity to define?

A friend raised this issue with me while I was debating the morality of birth control. She's a smart woman.

The conversation went like this:
Me:So if abortion is wrong because it takes away a potential life (or a present life, depending on your definition), wouldn't birth control be wrong because it takes away the potential for life? If God has a plan for sperm+egg, who's to say He didn't have a plan for the sperm, or the egg? Who am I to decide that God's plans start when the two meet and not when they implant in the uterus or when the neurons begin firing or at any other arbitrarily appointed time? How can I take birth control when I have these thoughts bouncing around in there?
Her: You're missing the point. It's not about life vs. not life. It's about using ALL of the body God gave you to do what glorifies Him. Including your brain to manage your uterus. Disregarding birth control completely isn't evidence of faith, it's just naive. [I'm not sure I paraphrased that very well. Somebody remind me to message her on Monday and get the text of our conversation.]
Me: Touche. Just because I am capable of eating all day every day does not mean it's God's plan for me. Just because I can continue to walk does not mean I keep walking until God sits me down. I can and should make judicious decisions about how (and when) to use what I've been given.

So there's that. I guess I'm less open to QF, and more confident about using birth control. No hormonal options, because I'm still breastfeeding (and even the mini-pill creeps me out while I'm breastfeeding), we have condoms but don't use them because they SUCK, IUD's weird me out because they're stuck in there for so long (plus we plan on another one soon - why bother with getting it put in, etc.) so I guess a diaphragm would be the way to go. But, that too would require me to go in and be fitted and pay for it, plus get spermicide, plus put it in every time.

I've been spoiled with sex without consequence. And blessed with the revelation that my husband and I have been trusted with our fertility, and we wouldn't have been trusted with it if we weren't capable of handling it. I'm not saying our (my) conclusions are absolutely right, or that we can't make wrong decisions, only that it's ok for me to keep thinking and be acting while I think.


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