• Andrea Dibben

Biology basics. Then what?




Yesterday, the anti-choice Facebook group ''Doctors for Life'' published a meme stating ''Human parents produce human offspring'' as part of their ''Biology basics" campaign. As one would expect, the reaction to this post was a mixture of bewilderment, derision and a general sentiment encapsulated by the exclamations, ''Duh?", ''Bruh..'' or the infamous phrase, ''No shit Sherlock''. It also led to some of us wondering, ''What is the point here?" Because it was obvious that this very basic, undisputed fact was being used to make some very overstretched inference related to a woman’s choice to terminate a pregnancy.

The bomb soon dropped when one of the members of the group, in reply to my comment in a FB discussion on the meme, stated:

''This basic fact is not being used to infer but to clarify the terms from which an inference can be made. I am glad you consider this statement to be an undisputed fact. That we can collectively ascribe the word human to an embryo or foetus is an important starting point for discussion even if we eventually disagree on the intrinsic value or the relative value because of other overriding factors.''

My answer is that the only inference that can be made from this meme is that no other species can be born from the copulation of two human beings, which is not a starting point of any discussion but a fact that everyone takes for granted. The ''species membership'' of an embryo / foetus was never in question.

But it is obvious that the word ''human'' here is a purposely loaded term to try to reframe the argument on abortion.

On this issue, in an article for the Times of Malta, ''Why I am pro-choice'' I had stated:

“Pregnancy is a long road of development and granting absolute right to life from conception reduces the unique nature of our human life to our genetic material. I can value an embryo and a foetus by virtue of its species membership and its potentiality to become a person, but still accept that however significant it is as a human life’s biological beginning, a woman’s complete life (which is so much more than DNA) matters more.”

The crux of the matter is that no matter how many biology basics are published by Doctors for Life, the discussion on the moral worth of the embryo / foetus remains outside the realm of biology. Now anti-choice doctors believe that from fertilization a blastocyst has the same moral worth as a pregnant woman and they have the right to believe that: we all have freedom of conscience.

But that is a belief just like some believe that eating animals and their products is immoral or the belief that sex outside marriage is wrong.

The problem lies in the fact that the state imposes that belief on the rest of us. And by imposing that belief, the state and all those who actively support the current legislation are breaching the human rights of half the population, jeopardizing our physical, mental and social health, even criminalizing us and going against evidence-based guidelines of international reputable health organizations.

And ultimately that is why we can never just agree to disagree on this issue because these doctors' beliefs are not affecting their life in anyway (especially if they're male) but they are surely affecting mine and the lives of all women and girls of reproductive age in Malta.

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Voice for Choice is a coalition of civil society organisations (NGOs) and individuals who work together for reproductive rights and justice in Malta.

Email: info@v4c.mt