Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Christians: Keep your tumors for God!

I've been thinking: are Christians against the idea of having tumors removed? Your first reaction to such a question would probably be "No, why should they be?", but if you put a bit of thought into it, any Christian who is against abortion should also be against having surgery for cancer.

First of all, there are alot of similarities between a developing fetus and a malginant tumor, both morphological and physiological. An embryo at the two, four, or sixteen cell stage or even as far developed as a blastocyst is, to be general, a rapidly dividing mass of cells. Such a description can also be applied to a tumor. In a developing embryo, stem cells divide and continue to divide, much like tumor cells. Here the only difference is that in a tumor, the cellular growth and division is completely uncontrolled, while in an embryo, growth and division is carried out in line with a complex developental program. Fetal cells eventually proliferate into specific cell types with their own specific destinies and limitations on growth and division. Nevertheless, the basic cells from which more specific tissue is derived from - the stem cells - are much like tumor cells in that they divide and divide and can continue to divide without any end in sight. Tumor cells can kind of be thought as stem cells on steroids. The fetus during the first trimester (the period where the vast majority of abortions are performed), then, can be seen as akin to a tumor following a strict script.

I can already anticipate an argument against my analogy that Pro-Lifers are likely to use: "There is a difference between tumors and embryos: Embryos are alive! Life begins at conception remember!". Well, this argument is pretty darn weak. If life begins at conception, if a single fertilized ovum is alive, then why are tumor cells not alive as well? One response might be the difference lies in the potential of a fertilized ovum to produce a new being. But again, this is a weak argument. What about the tumors that are caused by uncontrolled stem cell proliferation? In theory, one can use stem cells to create new tissues of whatever type; it may even be possible to recreate a fully formed being using stem cell technology (though, admittedly, with our current technology and knowledge, this is a bit of speculative fantasy). These tumors came from cells that have that potential. Why, then, do tumors not count as being alive? The answer is, if you consider life to begin at conception, then tumors are alive as well. Removing a tumor is just as much 'murder' as having an abortion.

This leads to another argument, though. Someone could easily make the claim that tumors are different still because they are dangerous and directly threaten lives. To those who wish to make such an argument, I should point you in the direction of ectopic pregnancies. An ectopic pregnancy is one where the developing fetus becomes implanted in tissue other than that of the wall of the uterus, often in the fallopian tubes. Such cases are very dangerous and unless the fetus is aborted, can be fatal. Pregnancies, like tumors, can threaten the life of a mother. Not all pregnancies, of course, are ectopic, but neither are all tumors dangerous; some are benign rather than malignant. So if it is ok to remove a tumor because it is life threatening, then why is it not ok to abort a fetus if it is life threatening? Many pro-life groups have such a staunch anti-abortion stance that they object to such life saving procedures. They claim that it's part of "God's plan" if the mother dies during childbirth. Then why is it not part of "God's plan" when someone gets cancer? Shouldn't they be against having tumors removed for fear of messing with his divine scheme?

Maybe I'm way off the mark here with my analogy between the developing fetus and tumors. I'd like to hear a good argument against it though, so if anyone has something to say, just leave a comment.


Nikki said...

One night when I couldn't sleep, I was thinking about how tumors are lumps of cells that grow and reproduce and I thought of embryos and how they are lumps of cells that grow and reprodice and thought, well a tumor is a living being then. I am glad to see someone else thinking the same way. Great posting.

C.W.G.K said...

Thanks for the comment, Nikki. I still have yet to have anyone refute this argument, but then again, most anti-abortionists aren't really good at that whole logic thing. Nor are they good at that whole listen-to-reason thing. They're more of the stick-your-fingers-in-your-ears-and-ignore-countering-arguments kind of people.

Nikki said...

You're welcome.

No, many are not good at arguing on it. I couldn't agree more. I can't think of any argument someone could possibly come up with against this.

The whole thing with even being against saving the mother's life....I have a sister who works in labor and delivery and her hospital takes on many high risks pregnancies and we were talking about it one night and she was explaining to me how if the fetus is affecting the mother, there are cases where the mother will not be able to provide properly for the fetus, therefore, risking two lives. So in the end, these anti-abortionists want to disregard the mother's life to save the fetus and it may end up dying as well. And then no one lived.

C.W.G.K said...

Exactly. What it usually comes down to is pig-headed subbornness and unwillingness to listen to others. They believe that abortion is murder no matter what the case, and murder is always wrong; hence abortion is unacceptable in all cases. They rarely take into consideration the ramifications on the mother or even on the fetus postnatally. All they are concerned with is stoping "evil" abortionists from taking another "life".

Nikki said...

They defend and fight for the rights of a fetus, but don't give a crap about the person once it is born. That's what I always laugh about. I thought a life was a life, no matter how big or small it is.

What about the pregnant women they kill when they blow up abortion clinics? What about the babies and pregnant women they kill in war? What's the excuse for that? They're stopping a potential terrorist from being born? Please. Terrorists come from different countries and different religions. Or do they have some kind of excuse for people like Timothy McVeigh as well? The religious right always has the excuse that everything is done "in the name of God" or the will of God or whatever. Why does that sound familiar? Because the same people the US is fighting against say the same thing, except when they say it, it's in the name of Allah. It's crazy.