Friday, May 8, 2009

ask, and ye may receive...

In the ongoing debate over abortion, my cousin Billiam asked me a question regarding my friend's freshly-arrived son. You see, little Brody has this interesting tendency to throw the "Black Power" fist in the photos from his first week on this earth. Personally, I think that's just gangsta as hell, but that's beside the point.

As this debate rages on, my cousin is convinced that because a fetus has been known to do so (as clearly seen in sonograms), they also are in possession of at least the minimal amount of cognitive self-awareness...essentially, the ability to recognize the basic fact of "I am". Not "I am in pain", "I am hungry", "I am bored", "I am cold", but merely, "I am".

So he asks me, after a few rather asinine and intentionally sarcastic comments raged back and forth between us, "And you're going to show me scientific proof that shows a baby in the womb doesn't ball up his fist of his own accord. Or, rather, that a baby outside the womb does? I mean. I want completely, irrefutable scientific proof that it's a FACT that baby did that through thought."

In response to this, I will say "No". Very clearly, and very simply, NO. I cannot do this. Why? Because every person on this planet is DIFFERENT. Now, pay attention here Billiam, because you might actually learn something. It happens to all of us, every day. Even today, I learned something new. You might learn something new here, if you pay attention.

I cannot provide you with "completely, irrefutable scientific proof" that my sister from another mister's kid can ball up his fist and hoist it in the air, and do so AS A RESULT OF HIS OWN VOLITION. I can't. Why? Because I A) don't have access to the machinery required to do so, and B) seriously doubt that my friend would loan her baby to a drunken jackass like myself, merely for the purposes of proving a point and providing a boost to my already over-inflated ego.

There are several facts we must look at here, however:
  1. The Human forebrain (the portion of the brain responsible for all cognitive function) does not develop to the point of even the most BASIC functionality until around the eighth month of gestation. The reason for this is not known, but is theorized that it is due to being the least MECHANICALLY necessary portion of the brain required for other words, we know it "is" but do not know "why it is".
  2. Prior to this, all muscular movement (and there is quite a bit of it, as modern science allows us to see via the sonograms Billiam mentioned) is the result of muscular spasm, nervous system interaction with the muscular systems, et cetera, while the portion of the brain responsible for muscular movement is in its development stages.
  3. With regard to the debate over abortion (the debate that originally spurred this question), 99% of all abortions (in America, by licensed medical personnel) are performed prior to the 20th week of gestation. That doesn't even bring us into the third trimester, let alone the middle of the third trimester, where basic cognitive self-awareness is beginning to form.
Without being able to perform a brain scan, at the precise moment of muscular activity, there is no way of knowing that a particular baby (or fetus, depending on whether birth has occurred or not) is consciously thinking about the movements he is making. Because the human forebrain (as well as the rest of the brain) is still in the basic developmental stages AFTER a normal 9-month gestation period and standard human birth, there is a very distinct possibility that Baby Brody's fist-pumping denouncation of oppression may be the mere result of a non-cognitive muscular action. A newborn baby, after a normal 9-month pregnancy, is able to make basic muscular movements of his own volition (as his still-developing tiny little body will allow, while his still-developing tiny little brain is discovering how to make such basic muscular movements).

So no, I can't say without a doubt that little Brody's fist-pumping exercises are the result of a cognitive desire to throw a fist in the air and demand equality for all men. I can't even say that his raised fist is the result of a cognitive desire to simply raise his own fist, because I do not have access to the tools necessary to prove such a thing. What I can say, however, is THAT'S MY LITTLE HOMIE, RIGHT THERE, PUMPIN' HIS FIST IN THE AIR!

Brody Mcrae Chesson

Oh yeah, btw...such a thing CAN BE PROVEN. You and I just don't have access to the tools (or the baby and/or fetae) necessary to do so.

So, Billiam, let's recap what I've talked about today...
  1. I can't prove that the sonograms of balled fists WERE, OR WERE NOT, the result of cognitive capabilities...because A) I have no idea how far along in the gestational period those fetae were, B) I lack the necessary equipment to determine such things, and C) readings on the brains of said fetae were not taken AT THE TIME.
  2. Likewise, I cannot prove for certain that Baby Brody's throwin' up the fist was the result of cognitive capabilities coupled with intentional muscular motion, for the same reasons (except for reason "A", because I am aware of the exact age of the baby in question).
For all I know, the sonograms you have seen were taken a week prior to a natural birth, or were sonograms taken of "freaks of nature" that had functional forebrains prior to the eleventh week of gestation, and their balled fists may have very well been the result of a cognitive desire to ball up a fist. Conversely, they may also have been random synaptic firings of muscular and nervous systems that are typically found within a fetus during the middle of a normal pregnancy. I honestly don't know...because not only did you not provide any information other than the basic "I've seen a sonogram of a fetus with a balled fist", I wasn't there at the time of the event AND I don't have the necessary equipement or expertise to operate it.

Now, just for the record, you can't provide "completely, and irrefutable proof" that JFK was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald. For that matter, you can't even provide such proof showing that he was even killed by an actual bullet! All you have are words on paper, and the Zapruder(sp?) film of his head exploding. I'm quite certain that his head DID explode because a bullet entered (and then exited) with the proper amount of force, as are most people...but we don't have access to the bullet, the body, or any tangible proof that a bullet flew through his head.

And Billiam, in case you're wondering, I was led to discover this knowledge through PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. In the very early part of 2003, Allison's monthly visit from "Aunt Flo" came a few weeks late. An appointment was made with the doctor, and in the meantime, the subject of abortion was brought up. Before any final decision was made on my part, I wanted to know anything and everything about the subject that I I LEARNED. I read scientific journals, I read my Gideon's, and damned near everything else I could get my hands on. I'm not sure if you've ever been in a similar situation, but I can assure you that it is a truly mind-blowing experience that I never want to experience again. Thankfully, "Aunt Flo" arrived just a day before Allison's appointment with the doctor, and such a choice was never made between us. Children are precious, and I would like to have at least one child of my own, at some point...but that doesn't change the facts of the matter, regarding basic human development.

If there's any scientific data you'd like to share with me, either supporting or refuting these facts, I would love to read it. Until then, my opinion stands as order for a human being to be considered a "person", and therefore subject to the standards of "murder", that human being must be in possession of at least the basic and bare minimum of cognitive self-awareness.

For the time being, I'll just continue to marvel at the beauty of my friends' newborn children...

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