Thursday, June 18, 2009

Been thinking about this for a few weeks now.

And I think I've decided to put it on both my Political Blog AND my Ex-Mormon Blog. Either one seemed appropriate, so I'll double up.

I'm talking, of course, about the recent shooting of Dr. George Tiller, famous performer of late-term abortions. He was fatally shot while attending his church services on Sunday, May 31st.

His death--or rather the CIRCUMSTANCES of his death--once again forced me to consider my own views on this topic. And once again, I find myself arriving at the very same quandary.

Dr. Tiller's death was, without doubt or qualification, a cold-blooded murder. No matter how much "good" the shooter believed he was about to accomplish, there is NO justification for gunning down an unarmed man as he passes out programs at his church services.

But that isn't the topic I mentioned. I was referring to abortion.

I am more than familiar with the standard arguments: "No one has the right to take away a woman's control over her own body!" vs. "No one has the right to kill a healthy, viable unborn baby just because it's an INCONVENIENCE!"

Both arguments have some merit. The libertarian in me believes that an individual's rights can only be curtailed in cases where another individual's rights are being violated. So women DO and SHOULD have control over their own bodies. However, the other side of that argument is that a fetus IS potentially another individual, and therefore an abortion IS violating someone's rights: specifically the right to life.

This is certainly a subject that deserves consideration. But consideration has never been something that iBear shies away from, and with my experience in/around the medical field and my own areas of specialized study, I believe myself more capable than the average layperson of rendering that consideration.

First: in my considered opinion, a fetus at 8.5 months of pregnancy IS a human being, and is therefore entitled to basic human rights. Therefore, terminating the pregnancy at this point is effectively killing another human being, and therefore qualifies as a form of homicide. Of course there ARE sometimes extenuating circumstances--for example when the mother's life is in danger--and in those circumstances it is certainly acceptable to abort a pregnancy.

But on the other hand, a zygote at 8.5 DAYS of pregnancy is NOT a human being. It is simply a cluster of cells, and a cluster of cells is NOT entitled to human rights. Indeed, at 8.5 days the vast majority of women would have no idea that they were pregnant yet. Terminating the pregnancy at THIS point is NOT a form of homicide, as no human being has been injured. Life DOES NOT begin at conception.

So this is the formation of the quandary. A late-term fetus IS a human being, and DOES have rights. A cluster of stem cells is NOT a human being, and does NOT have rights. So at some point between conception and birth, the embryo becomes a person. Before this point, it has no rights. After this point, it does. But no one knows where this point is.

Currently, there are two controversial rules-of-thumb for locating the point when a zygote becomes a "person."

The first is the common pro-life suggestion that life begins at conception. They claim that a zygote itself fits the basic definition of biological life and therefore human rights attach from the moment of conception. But I've already addressed this point, and in my considered opinion this is simply not the case. My STOMACH LINING fits the basic definition of biological life. But no one in their right mind would suggest that the rapidly-reproducing cells in the epithelial wall of my digestive tract constitute their own legal individual. So simply meeting the biological requirements of "life" is not enough.

The second is the equally-common pro-choice suggestion that life doesn't start until birth. But this strikes me as black-and-white thinking in a gray world, and once again I'm forced to disagree. At 9 months, even an unborn fetus is alive. It has a heartbeat, brain activity, and all other medical requirements to meet that standard. The differences between a fetus one hour before birth and a baby one hour after birth are negligible. There is no miraculous transformation that suddenly makes this one a human being and that one NOT a human being.

So I don't know. And unlike the first 20 years of my life, that doesn't really bother me anymore. As a Mormon, I would have been informed by priesthood leaders what I was to believe. Now I get to figure it out on my own. It's a very freeing sensation, and yet a difficult dilemma. I look forward to trying to get a handle on it.

Tune in later:)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Answering the big question.

Now that I've heard back from a couple of people and know that I've got readers now, I guess it's time to outline the answer to the big question that seems to be floating around.

"Why did you leave?"

I left because the Mormon Church is not true. That's really the only answer I can give. I can break it down and be more specific, but talking about specific points of doctine isn't going to accomplish anything except making people angry. So instead, let me try to explain a little bit of my exit process.

Several years ago, I realized I was feeling...uncomfortable with the church. Things that had never bothered me before were popping up and demanding answers. Things that I had always assumed fit together were starting to look different. Around 3 or 4 years ago, I came to the realization that the LDS church had been telling me what I believed for my entire life; and finally I decided that I wasn't comfortable with that. So I "took a step back" to try to figure out exactly what *I* believed. And taking that step back made me look at the church and its teachings from the point of view of an outsider, rather than from the inside as I had always done. And that's when I had my now-famous-in-certain-circles moment of "WTF!? I live in a SHOE!!!"

The pieces didn't fit together the way I thought they did. Things that I had NEVER seen or heard about became glaringly obvious. (I'm not going into specifics right now because I don't want to start an argument.) It was like a proverbial house of cards: one "truth" had been supporting another. None of them were able to stand alone. And if you know "A" is true because "B" is true, then the discovery that "B" is NOT true can absolutely shatter everything you once believed. And that's what happened to me. I discovered that NEITHER is true.

Contrary to popular belief, this was not an easy decision. Realizing that everything that I'd believed for my ENTIRE LIFE is false, and then sweeping up the pieces and starting over, was one of the hardest things I've ever done.

I appreciate that this is difficult for many of my family and friends to wrap their minds around, so I am perfectly willing to answer questions. But I am NOT Mormon now, and any doctrinal discussion on history will be treated as a historical discussion--including pertinent facts from historical sources, whether they be "church-approved" or not.

Thank you for tuning in, and there will be updates as they become available.