Right this minute, as my wife sleeps in the other room, those two clumps of cells are sloshing around in her uterus, hopefully with the short-term result that one or both of them attach to its lining and continue to divide and multiply and eventually become a person that will probably wreck my car someday.
But here's the thing: We're not there yet.
People on the so called "Pro-Life" side of the abortion debate like to pretend that we live in a world where that would be an inevitability; Where the assured outcome of the union of sex cells from a mother and father is a baby, a life that will issue forth into the world, and one that God has, in his infinite wisdom, already made a plan for.
But I can tell you that that's far from a certainty. People on the right probably don't particularly like thinking about In Vitro Fertilization, it's all "science-y" and probably looks like witchcraft. And maybe their God DOES take issue with it; Lord knows all the batshit insane Christian Republican couples I'm acquainted with seem to have had no trouble cranking out whole broods of infants who will presumably grow up to pierce their body parts and loathe them.
We weren't so lucky. It's been a long road, and, thanks to the "greatest healthcare system in the world," an incredibly costly and stressful one, since fertility isn't something that's covered by insurance. But we've arrived at this point, and it's got me thinking about that old chestnut the Pro-Lifers like to drag out and yell:
LIFE BEGINS AT CONCEPTION!Would that it were so. I haven't the faintest idea what the statistical odds are for us, but I know for a fact that those cells, three days past the point that screaming, frothing protesters contend is the time when the soul winks into existence, are by no means a sure thing. That terrible truth will hound me for the next 10 days until she can take a blood test and find out if it worked.
A lot can happen to those not-quite blastocysts in that time, including failure to attach and spontaneous failure to continue cellular division, both of which represent another devastating setback on our journey, and a loss of thousands of dollars of borrowed money. But according to the people holding the signs, they're "alive."
Alive? ALIVE? I wish I shared their confidence. I wish I could go back in the bedroom tonight and look at my wife and know our long nightmare is over. That those two little guys up there are going to just keep right on chuggin' toward the day when I catch one of them sneaking back in their bedroom window puking tequila at 16. That it was a certainty.
And to be sure, when women who have different dreams decide to terminate a pregnancy, they're a bit farther along than those pictures - more recognizably human. That doesn't change things for me, but maybe it does for some. I don't take issue with that perspective, but the notion of life beginning at conception is the one I'm currently infuriated with.
If the contention is that there's a God, and that he breathes life into each of us at the moment that sperm meets egg, that he's got big plans from Day One, then why am I so freaked out? Why am I steeling myself against the letdown? If life begins at conception, then those two clumps up there should be all set, and I should sleep easy.
And if "God's will" is that after over twenty-five thousand dollars worth of treatment, the bulk of it in shamefully overpriced drugs, that both those clumps fail, that they are sloughed off the the rest of the uterine lining at the end of this cycle and we're back at square one, then HOW, HOW THE HELL, is THAT any more humane or acceptable morally than an abortion? What kind of awful, malicious God would expect such awesome contortions of reasoning for some self-righteous human to be able to express what they know of the truth of "His Will?"
Maybe it's because they don't know shit. Maybe it's because life doesn't begin at conception, after all. Maybe life begins when you're born, or close to it, and maybe it's really not for me or any one person to judge someone else's ideas about that, or how they conduct themselves or the choices they make about their bodies. We do a lot of things in this life. This is our path, right now. But I'll be damned if I ever judge someone else for taking a different path.
And either way, next asshole I see with that stupid slogan on his sign is going to end up wearing it for a hat.