Letters to the Editor - Opinion
Parousian Tobias Danna's response to Grace Juneau's attack on Emily Byers' column was published in Friday's Reveille. Danna's letter unedited for space appears below:
In her column "Argument for Plan B has many flaws," Emily Byers offered a logical case to reconsider Plan B distribution and abortion in general. Grace Juneau, an intelligent and successful college debater, challenged Ms. Byers' rhetoric in a fashion worthy of a final speech in an elimination round. As a former college debater for Southeastern Louisiana University, I appreciate Ms. Juneau's bravado - I often tried similar tactics when I knew I was losing an argument on my case's key points. Knowing that this is not a game of academic forensics, but a real life battle to persuade hearts and minds lest serious personal and social devastation occur (advocates on both sides of the issue predict this if the other side prevails), let me offer my evaluation of the merits of the two arguments.
Ms. Byers' argument that life begins at fertilization is simple text book biology. The zygote is the beginning stage of human life, and not the separated sperm and egg. Ms. Juneau offers a reductio ad absurdam argument that by Ms. Byers' argument, masturbation is also the destruction of human life because sperm are potential life. What she misses is that Ms. Byers is not addressing the merits of preserving potential life, but life that already exists - a living human being at the earliest stage of life. Sperm is not human life, as humans (including zygotes) have 46 chromosomes and sperm only have 23. Zygotes grow, take in nutrition, have cellular activity, and sperm do not. Some of the college co-eds Ms. Juneau refers to are surely not the most hygienic folks, but I am willing to bet none of them ever discovered a baby in a sock or rag after putting off cleaning for too long.
Likewise, zygotes have their own unique DNA which is other than that of the mother's, indicating a person other than the mother. The question then becomes does anyone have the right to do whatever she chooses with her child's body. Of course, this is intolerable. Laws concerning the liberty for any woman's uterus should have the same boundaries as the laws concerning Susan Smith's hands: do whatever you want with them, but society cannot allow you to kill other people for the sake of your convenience.
If this was a college debate round, Ms. Juneau would lose for several reasons. She does not clash with Ms. Byers' main points, but dances around them. She does not provide a solution for the main question Ms. Byers asked and answered, namely when does life begin. Finally, she opens herself up to a moral critique, as she dismisses the Nazi comparisons when Plan B proponents are using the same rationale of ignoring the dignity of human life that they found inconvenient. An experienced debater like Ms. Juneau knows when the facts aren't there, you still have to fight out the debate for your side relying on your sophistry.
But this issue is too important to both sides for it to be dictated by emotionally driven arguments rather than truth. The fundamental question, answered many times but dismissed by a society that finds the truth too hard, is still does life begin at fertilization, and if not, then when.
Sr., Political Theory