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Abortion and the Pro-Life and Christian Perspective

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If your 15 year-old daughter found out she were pregnant, as a parent, would you support an abortion? What if your father had to be keep alive with tubes and machines? Do you want a ?designer baby?? If a criminal took the life of a family member, would you want him to die? All these life issues of abortion, euthanasia, genetic engineering, and capital punishment are very complex and controversial. Before researching, discussing, and debating these life issues in class, I never really took a stance or formed an opinion. I remained neutral because I recognized the pros and cons of the two sides of the argument. After reading chapter 13 (Reverence for Human Life), and the completing the all the life issue activities, I support the virtue of reverence for human life and agree with the ?consistent ethic of life.? We should hold human life as a sacred gift to be cared for by us until physical life reaches its natural end. I also agree with the church, who believes that all human life, from womb to tomb, is scared and therefore deserves protection and care. Lastly, God, not humankind, is responsible for life and death.

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With the complex issue of abortion, I am pro-life. I also feel that life begins with the first signs of brainwaves, usually 6-8 weeks after conception. Although many people argue that life officially begins with conception, studies have shown that up to 50% of all fertilized zygotes may never implant along the walls in the uterus. In the stages of coneption, where the fertilized egg is complete and unique with the genetic entitity of 46 chromosomes, implanation, or when a heartbeat develops, I feel that these embryos have the potential and possibility, or less than 50% of growing into a baby. To support the brainwaves theory, many doctors declare a person dead when no activity occurs in the brain. Doctors can always hook a patient up on a respirator or a pacemaker to prolong his life, but without brain activity, someone cannot survive on their own. Direct abortion after 6-8 weeks is murder and morally wrong.

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe versus Wade declared abortion legal in the first and second trimester, abortion rates have steadily climbed. I support the Roe versus Wade, but I feel that this law should be modified. Abortion should only be legal if the pregnancy affects the mother?s health or jeopardizes her life. In cases of rape and incest, abortion should only be allowed before brainwaves appear because I feel that it was not part of God?s plan for a woman to conceive a baby through such a horrible crime. In cases of wanted pregnancies, I feel that the couple should have considered the consequences before they engaged in sexual intercourse. In such cases, abortion not be allowed because the child should be treated as a gift from God and deserves the right to life. If couples are physically and financially incapable of handling the pressures, they should give their child as a blessing to another able family.

With the controversial issue of euthanasia, I personally feel that we have to treat life with respect. I am strictly against active euthanasia, but support passive euthanasia. I also feel that if patients need to be kept alive by extraordinary means, we should let nature take its course. However, dying people should not be denied ordinary means to save them. For example, each patient is entitled to food and water. However, if we do try to prolong the life of patient by extraordinary means, we are not killing, but letting go. After reading the euthanasia review from Michelle, I found out that the Netherlands became one of the first countries to legalize euthanasia. In this country, euthanasia is only legal if it adheres to all three conditions: patients request must be voluntary and persistent while lucid, the physician must be convinced that a patient is suffering from interminable and unbearable suffering, and physicians must seek a second opinion. If we were to legalize euthanasia, I feel that we should add another clause to these conditions: if medical treatment that is disproportionate to the good that can be done. With all four conditions, we would legalize passive, not active euthanasia.

Currently, scientists have almost completed the Human Genome Project, which maps the 23 pairs of human chromosomes and may reveal the roots and causes of many diseases. Many biologists predict that parents will be able to assess thousands of embryos and decide which one will be their child. They will also be able to profile and rule out serious diseases, select physical attributes, special abilities, and personality traits.

I support genetic engineering in general with the utilitarian argument; the advantages of this technology are much greater than the risks. With the 6 billion and growing population in the world, genetically-engineered crops, that can resist droughts and pests, will increase food production and definitely reduce world hunger. Especially in third-world countries, we can produce cheap edible vaccines or add extra vitamins to their diets. However, these genetically engineered crops must be extensively tested and approved by the FDA before they are sold to the masses.

I also support genetic testing and experimentation on animals only if it will benefit humans. With animals being already tested with new drugs and medicines, they should also be tested to help figure out and use the human genome to our benefit. In humans, I support corrective therapy over perfective enhancement, although there is a very fuzzy distinction between these two. What standards will geneticists use to base if a procedure is for therapy or enhancement since these topics are highly controversial? Do you consider blindness corrective or perfective although it is not life threatening? Do geneticists have the right to give treatment at their own discretion or patients have the ultimate say in proceeding with therapy or enhancement?

I personally feel that trying to cure genetic diseases and potentially life-threatening illnesses are corrective. I am strictly against perfective treatment because people are basically ?playing God? when they are able to handpick the ideal looks, body, intelligence, etc. Many people also fear that genetic engineering will become the ?ultimate consumer playground,? where parents can buy and handpick the ideal genes for their ?perfect? baby. Already evident in cosmetic surgery, men and women are willing to pay thousands of dollars to reshape their faces and bodies. Who knows how much they will pay for the perfect ?designer baby.?

Currently, the two main types of gene therapy are somatic gene therapy and germ line interventions. Somatic gene therapy, though still in the experimental stages, inserts DNA fragments into body cells in an effort to correct a genetic defect. I support this type of treatment because it only affects the individual. Germ line interventions, whether for therapy or physical enhancement, are aimed at germ or reproductive cells. In this process, genetic modifications become permanent. I oppose of this type of treatment because our genes have the potential to affect future generations.

Despite potential problems and abuses, Pope John Paul II also believes that genetic manipulation aimed at healing disease is consistent with the Catholic moral tradition and promotes the personal well-being of man, without harming his integrity or worsening his life conditions. Many Vatican experts also approve to genetic engineering of plants and animals but restated objections to human cloning and other biotechnologies that that modify the human genetic code. I believe that human cloning is immoral because it takes away the human dignity of the individual.

I am against capital punishment because it is a form of violence in response to violence. Since the primary justification of the death penalty is to protect society, we can still keep society safe without resorting to violence, if we sentence these criminals to a lifetime jail, without the possibility of parole. Executing the criminal will not always bring relief to the victims because capital punishment will not erase the grief or bring their loved ones back to life.

Many supporters of capital punishment claim that it deters potential criminals from committing crimes, reinforces law and order, and saves taxpayers years of expenses by keeping them in prison for life. However, statistics show that murder rates are actually lower in the states where the death penalty is illegal. Capital punishment is also more expensive because of court costs and legal appeals. Disproportionately, many of the people on death row are poor and black. Even though almost half of the victims of murder in the U.S. are black, statistics shows that 90 percent of the people on death row are there for killing whites. Lastly, blacks and minorities have been victims of discrimination in the justice sysytem. Reinvestigating old cases, many law students have found that many people, who have been executed, were actually innocent after DNA tests.

The Catholic church?s consistent ethic of life teaches that virtue of reverence for human life spans the whole spectrum of life, including all the many stages of life between its edges. The ?seamless garment? refers to how people should be consistent with their decisions. I personally agree with this statement because if pro-life supporters advocate capital punishment because the mixed ethics definitely clash.

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