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That’s Our Womb Locked up in That Room…

Take a sheet of paper.  Call it… Roe v Wade.

Now, what this sheet of paper says is that a woman’s right to privacy allows her to terminate her pregnancy.  To Roe v Wade , whether or not this is a human is irrelevant.

Now.   Comes along a Federal Court decision that says, ” if a woman is attacked, and her unborn child is killed, the attacker can be tried for murder.”  Bend up a corner of the paper, and fold it in, because what was totally open, has acquired some definition, that is, the issue of whether the unborn  is or isn’t human life is no longer irrelevant.  It’s human life if it is taken away without the lawful consent of the mother.

Now, twenty years ago you couldn’t imagine that there would be a place called the Internet where people sell human body parts.  The Internet twenty years ago was the ArpNet growing up into a Network linking colleges and Universities and… the Defense Department.  So what will you not be able to imagine ten years from now? You might not have pictured that a woman, (or a pregnant man) might, just might, under certain circumstances choose to sell individual body parts to individual bidders for a currently gestating fetus.  What will the courts decide?   Lets say that, even a very liberal court will say, “This is way out of bounds.  Profiteering in the dismemberment of (potential human life) is uncivilized…. .  Maybe, just maybe another corner of that paper will be bent in.  This will be the corner that says:  “It’s a woman’s body, and she has the right to do what she wants with it… Sometimes.”  On the simplest, programmatic level, you’ve just introduced an ‘if’ clause.  How do you feel about that? 

Now.  They have made great strides with developing  artificial wombs.  For the womb to be the most successful at growing the human embryo outside of the body, it should be made up from tissue that is a composite of both donors to the developing embryo.  A man and a woman contribute a mateial to fertilize an egg and grow it in their own artificial womb.  They visit it.  They love it.  They get in an argument.  They decide to split.  The woman says, “I can do what I want with my body!”  The man says, “Wait, that’s our body!”  So bend up another corner of that paper.  A woman can terminate a pregnancy because Roe V Wade decided that  an individual’s right to privacy allows a woman to do what she chooses with her own body…  The only problem is-> In the artificial womb, Whose body is it?  and whose privacy is it?   The courts may decide that the only being with a legal claim to privacy in this case  is, “the embryo…” 

Science will change the human landscape of thought and ethics faster than the law makers can legislate, and faster than the courts can… legislate while they say they aren’t.

Thank God, I suppose.  I say, ‘thank God’, because lawmakers and the courts did such a bad job.

One last thought that may seem stray: Slavery and the right for it to be ‘practiced’ in the United States may well have been decided by economics, as many people suggest, but it wasn’t.  In the end, it was decided by bullets, and bodies of brothers blown to peices, a land writhing with pain, and a land, still, still just emerging from the death, but…  

Maybe it was better that it wasn’t decided by the expediency of economics.


-John P. Schumake


  • John Zarlengo

    John as always very interesting. I’m not sure I understand exactly what you are saying. But I will try to summarize it. The embryo is considered a human sometimes — when a woman decides it is a human. Technology is moving so fast that ethics and legislation can’t keep up. Sometimes courts legislate and the implications have long lasting effects. I’m not sure how the thank God and the slavery fits in. I also am not sure if this can be viewed by others. I have not been seeing other’s comments.

  • John P. Schumake

    I suppose its best for me to work my way backwords through your questions. The reason you don’t see other’s comments is because I have been sending the blog to a feedburner, and people have generally subscribed to it in their browser through an RSS feed, or in their Outlook, in which case it’s difficult for them to comment back. Reason I moved to this was in part because of the massive amounts of Spam (Read my blog called “Don’t Spam My Blog, Man”. Also, the comments that aren’t spam have been in many cases such vitreolic angry and vile spewing that I’m really remiss to display it. If it was halfway intelligent, I would. (Your comments, of course have always been very thoughtful, and well worth answering)
    As far As the mention of slavery: we have 2 issues that totally divided this country, and really did so on a state by state basis; slavery and abortion. Both of them, perhaps, could have been decided by expedience:”The times-a-changin’, i.e. – economics, or science. Working baclwards through my article – the science changing things in our time, becomes a mirror to the economics and industry changing things in the slavery era, going back in time – the court decisions, both in the case of abortion and slavery presaged the national rivalry, and animosity in the Congress; Well, if the court rulings, and then national/Congressional vitreole (in the case of the Slavery era it disinigrated to the point of physical attacks in the Congress), and the slavery era culminated in the Civil War, what will this current era culminate in? The ‘thank God’ therefore is a tongue in cheek way of saying ‘the changing times, i.e. science and technology could render the abortion issue as we know it irrelevant, because our frustum at which we view it has altered the impact it has on us, or, as important, the impact the courts CAN have on it (the example I gave of folding the paper becomes the sort of viewing frustum, in the same way that a movie screen becomes a viewing frustrum for a video projector. You can move the screen closer, move it away, or cut down what you see by putting objects in front of the lense. The paper I cited with the original Roe vs. Wade is the reality at one point in time. It’s the viewing frustrum. However, the real social and scientific changes we are experiencing are impinging on, filtering, cutting down, and may even enlarge that frustum. I cited several very real things that will change that frustum: artificial wombs, the Internet and selling of body parts… (in my little paper folding exercise, the events end up masking or even obviating Roe v. Wade)…

    So, My statement of ‘thank God’ in reference to how science and social changes are rapidly outpacing what lawmakers can do, was followed by an ‘I suppose’, because this would be an ‘expedient’ way for things to change, though not necessarily ‘good’ – hence the ‘I suppose’. I tried to explain my tongue-in-cheek answer by ending this with the example of slavery, a good parallel to abortion . I mentioned how economics (industrialization of the day) probably would have made slavery inexpedient and many ecoomists agree slavery would have ended, but would that end have been as ‘true’ as the end that came with that horrible conflict? I don’t think so. In this, I am being a little quizzical, perhaps even a bit sarcastic when I say ‘thank God, I suppose.’ Really, I think that leaves us with one question in the eschatological sense: the final conflict in the case of slavery was the Civil War, so… I have written several science fiction scenarios in this little blog that are quickly becoming reality… so where does the eschatological escaltor go from here?


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