Of Eagles and Embryos

Eagles And Embryos

I was going to start by saying that if you want to have a rational debate on abortion, you cannot open by drawing bizarre connections between unrelated issues, but then I realized that very few people actually want to have rational debates. Rational debates are hard. They force you to closely examine your beliefs and to answer some very hard questions, and who wants that? It’s much easier to become emotionally invested in a narrowly-defined set of beliefs and to refuse to budge no matter what. That’s why the abortion problem has been so intractable, and why the only way for either side to gain ground is to wield political power.

So what is the purpose of this meme? It certainly won’t convince anybody who believes that a woman should have the right to control her own reproductive organs. I think this meme – and others like it – are really about stroking the self-confidence of anybody who already agrees. Preaching to the choir, if you will. You just know that a Pro-Lifer will see this meme, get a good chuckle out of it, then use it in his next online tirade against the uninformed Pro-Choice horde. Well, in case any Pro-Lifers are reading this, allow me to explain exactly why you shouldn’t use this meme as part of a debate.

First let’s examine the facts of the matter. Under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, it is illegal to kill, disturb, harass, solicit, or make prank phone calls to a Bald or Golden Eagle without special permission from Uncle Sam. The same goes for their nests, eggs, droppings, and any clouds they happen to fly through. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but not by much. You don’t want to mess with the eagles, lord no. Failure to respect the eagles carries a stiff civil penalty of $5000 or $10,000 with a year or two in the clink. A felony conviction can net an even higher fine: up to $250,000. If you happen to be part of an organization (the Eco-Villains from Captain Planet and the Planeteers, for example), you can be fined up to $500,000.

So that part is true. The second part starts to blur the lines between objective truth, personal opinions, and outright lies.

First: I examined a few pictures of embryos at the seven-week mark, and none of them appeared quite this developed. The picture in this meme is more reminiscent of an embryo at the nine-week mark, but I’m not going to argue for long because I’m not a doctor.

Second: One of the major focal points of the whole abortion debate has been whether a first-trimester fetus counts as a human being at all. By labeling it as human, you’re committing a logical fallacy called begging the question. Begging the question is when you assume that the conclusion of an argument is true and use it as one of your premises. It’s somewhat similar to circular reasoning.

Third: FactCheck.org explains that by law, neither federal Title X money nor federal Medicaid money can be used to fund abortions. Each state decides whether its own Medicaid money can be used to cover abortions, and under what conditions. Look here to find a list of states that provide Medicaid funds to cover abortions: if you disagree with your state’s position, feel free to move someplace more conservative. But know this: It is at best ignorant and at worst dishonest to claim that “taxpayer money funds abortion providers”, as if every woman who cannot support a baby can apply for and receive government assistance to pay for the abortion.

There’s one more point to make in this case: when a human destroys an eagle’s eggs, the eagle has no choice in the matter. An adult woman does. That’s what Pro-Choicers are fighting to protect.

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11 thoughts on “Of Eagles and Embryos

  1. While I agree that the analogy is definitely a stretch, I think there’s a deeper message to think about. It seems to be the case (but this might be a mistake) that some people place more value on non-human embryos than on human embryos. That would seem to be a bizarre moral preference. Maybe the appearance of that concern only comes out of a concern for the mother’s choice, that’s possible, but the relatively callous language used with respect to human fetuses/embryos makes abortion supporters come across indifferent to their actual existence, while some of them at least express some sympathy at the idea of destroyed animal eggs or embryos.

    • The problem is, any “deeper” message comes across as extremely mixed and muddled. The same people who place value on eagle embryos likely consume factory farmed chicken; the same people who advocate for abortion restrictions also don’t seem to care about the life of the mother (see the current issue in Texas, where a pregnant, brain-dead woman is on life support, or in Ireland, where woman are denied life-saving abortions.)

      It’s easy to be give lip-service sympathy to unborn critters. It’s much harder to make laws and morals that actually value life, at any stage.

  2. Funny, my first thought on seeing this was that humans are FAR from an endangered species, whereas, bald eagles were considered such until 2007. I do believe that the fines/protection for them is a carryover from the fact that we nearly ran them off the planet with our constant grab for resources because, ya know, we keep multiplying.

  3. The author states “One of the major focal points of the whole abortion debate has been whether a first-trimester fetus counts as a human being at all. By labeling it as human, you’re committing a logical fallacy called begging the question. Begging the question is when you assume that the conclusion of an argument is true and use it as one of your premises. It’s somewhat similar to circular reasoning.” While trying to sound intellectual, the author is the one who is begging the question.
    I ask this of the author, “Is this not a human being at 7 weeks (or 9 weeks, etc.)?” The fact is this IS a human being at this particular state of development – there is absolutely no question about it! So why would you think this an example of a logical fallacy? Are you unable to grasp the simple biology here – that this is an unborn human who has complete and unique human DNA, and that once you were in the same situation in the womb? Humans beget humans – nothing else. So how is this in anyway “begging the question” or “circular reasoning” on the part people who see this for what it is – that this IS an unborn human person? The only question that is actually being begged here is the question to the pro-abortion crowd who thinks this embryo something other than a human being (and the subsequent question regarding the intelligence of the person accepting the pro-abortion arguments).
    It is plain to see that you are the one who is actually having difficulty with basic concepts, twisting your logic into a pretzel to avoid the problem of the law of non-contradiction. This embryo, fetus, or whatever you call it is indeed an innocent unborn human child at a certain stage of development. It cannot be anything else but a human. To think otherwise is entirely idiotic. People who claim this is NOT a human being are violating the law of excluded middle and its correlation to the law of identity.
    So undoubtedly it is the pro-abortion crowd who are actually in a state of confusion, and yet these people persist in this confusion because they have their own selfish reasons for wanting unborn children to die.
    Look, if you are okay with a legalized industry that allows for killing of more than a million unborn children every year, then you are the one who is lacking a moral compass in this matter. Remember each one of you reading this post had a mother who decided to not kill you because you were an inconvenience to her.

    • Well, thank you for so beautifully demonstrating my thesis. I mean, I can try to describe what “begging the question” means, but until one actually sees this logical fallacy in action, one doesn’t really appreciate it. Thank you, contributor, for making my post more complete.

      • Actually, the contributor just pointed out your own logical fallacy and false premise.
        “The question” in your second point is NOT a factual or scientific question. There is NO scientifically vague issue or missing factual information about any human fetus. It is a human being, period. We may not, perhaps, have known this with 100% certainty back when the Supreme Court first heard the case that set the current legal precedent for excusing abortion, but we do now.
        “The question” then, must be a LEGAL question.
        That is: “Is the unborn human being in question to be legally considered to be a ‘person’, with all of the Constitutional/Civil protections to be enforced as they would for any other Citizen of the United States?”
        Your wording is the problem, as you have chosen fraudulent semantics, which is typical of any straw-man argument.
        There is not, nor has there been since the discovery of DNA and the development of in-vitro microscopic video cameras, any question that the embryonic HUMAN BEING might somehow accidentally develop into a blob of tissue, or a frog, or anything else but a human.

    • Yormom, You WERE begging the question. And here is how:
      The abortion debate, at it’s core is, or should be, really about how one defines humanness. The problem with your simple biological “scientific” implicit definition of what a human is, is that what we pragmatically/logically morally value most in a human being (and therefore in logically defining a human being for moral/legal purposes) is human consciousness. There are many examples of this, but here are two common ones:
      1. If an individual “human” body (fully grown, with unique DNA, etc.) happens for some reason to be demonstrably irrevocably brain-dead, then most people wouldn’t think its that big of a deal if that body goes ahead and dies, get’s unplugged, etc. The real “death” had already occurred.
      2. If a woman happens to have a fertilized egg, that she is unaware of, and it doesn’t take, and she menstruates it, I can virtually guarantee you, that (if she came to find out about that) it wouldn’t be as traumatic for her as, if her, say, 5 year old child was suddenly killed.
      Get it? The biological definition of a human just isn’t that important. In example one that biological “human”, alive and with a unique set of human DNA, has irrevocably lost the essence of what, most realize, it means to be human: human consciousness. In example two (the more relevant one), that biological “human”, alive and with a unique set of human DNA, had not yet ever gained anything like human consciousness. I hadn’t yet had even a single brain cell, and it surely takes more than a few brain cells for biologists or scientists to say that it likely has consciousness.

      • By that logic, a man in a temporary coma has no rights, because he is not currently conscious. Now, a child who was developing with a defect which would leave it forever a mindless vegetable – THAT would be a fair analogy to the brain dead adult. But a healthy growing child in the womb is not.

  4. We are missing the point

    The real question is when does life begin

    I agree you can’t really compare the eagle egg to a human embryo or fetus or whatever you prefer to call it, I call it a human baby inutero … Unfortunately some abortions aren’t done in the first trimester sooooo

    Feminism has let me down. As a woman I am offended that we are so fucking smug that we feel we have the right to kill a baby … We are women for petes sake and I have higher standards and expectations of my sisters

    Shame on us

    • I would say that feminism has become a joke … but it would be a very sick, very sad, very morbid joke. They disgrace women at this point. Some women are calling themselves ‘Egalitarians’ now, to distance themselves from what the movement’s become while audibly maintaining a complete ‘equality’ position.

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