I enjoy listening to your program on WAMU Sunday mornings. I come from the liberal end of the spectrum. I can not believe that the monks in South East Asia are not people of God and so I find any religion that holds that you have to believe in Jesus are destined to eternal damnation. So I like hearing the exploration of other religious traditions. In this morning’s program you asked us to share our beliefs about abortion. I have long been frustrated about how limited the debate has been. I understand that in the Jewish tradition they do not have a conflict between the commandment not to kill and early abortions and that is the position that I can support. I find it much more difficult to square the commandment with capital punishment or, more importantly still – the Bush administration’s concept of preemptive war. I believe life begins at conception, but human life does not. I do not believe that a zygote of human cells is human. Until the sole enters the body human cells do not constitute a human being. The question is when does a collection of human cells constitute a human being? Perhaps the definition of the beginning of human life should be the same as the end of human life – when organized brain activity begins. Certainly that could not occur until brain cells have differentiated from other cells, so stem cells by definition would not be human beings. It occurs before birth since late term fetuses respond to music and other external stimulations. The beginning of brain activity depends on the fetus; some fetuses are born without a fully developed brain. Because of these differences and the health of the mother and child, it should be up to the doctor and the mother to decide whether a fetus should be aborted or not. Government should be involved.
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