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percy-l - Re: [percy-l] A Walker Percy piece written for the NY Times 30 years ago

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Subject: Percy-L: Literary, Religious, Scientific, and Philosophical Discussion on Walker Percy

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  • From: Charles Lowry <lowry.charles AT>
  • To: "Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion" <percy-l AT>
  • Subject: Re: [percy-l] A Walker Percy piece written for the NY Times 30 years ago
  • Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2011 11:43:03 -0500

Wade has, perhaps inadvertently, drawn into focus what is the heart of the matter:  "Disliking, even denouncing, abortion may be appealing for Christians, but drawing on the law to prohibit it during an ambiguous period of human development is impractical."  The point that many pro-life advocates argue, and it is a point that has noticeable impact on the ideological equilibrium of pro-choice advocates, is that every scientific advance in embryology takes us further and further from regarding life in the womb as "an ambiguous period of human development."  I wonder if the increasing queasiness of larger and larger numbers of Americans about the moral and legal status of abortion is connected not to false science, but to the advance of science and the more precise knowledge we have of the stages of fetal development.
There is near universal revulsion over the practices of the Philadelphia doctor who concluded many of his "abortions" by using scissors to sever the spinal cord of living infants.  But is it just a matter of timing?  What we are also finding, I submit, is that more and more of our neighbors slogging their way through what the ancient hymn calls this vale of tears are reluctant to engage what we may refer to as the backwards clock, to come to the conclusion at a definite point, "yes, not human today, okay to fix the 'problem,' but probably human tomorrow."  It is ironic for both sides in this debate that the advance of science has not liberated us, but has offered us knowledge of the stages of human fetal development that, on the contrary, constrict us.
Chuck Lowry
Brooklyn, NY

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