En Utero

I was regaled by a friend last night of pictures of cute kids, which made me think of how inventive young babies are. They look around the room, and try to make each piece of furniture a handhold as a means to an end. They play with objects in front of them, reach out to touch your face. They're really pretty cool.

There's an annoying question about them, however, which is - at what point are they actually alive? I don't believe there's any such thing as baby power. Its really mompower - at this point- a mother is comfortable working with the baby and she's sharper just because she knows she's doing something worthwhile - purpose gives us focus and definition. Babypower does not exist. They're helpless.

In fact, they're so helpless, they would die if not cared for intensively. Thats how we're born, its part of who we are as mammals. I suppose if we were born as egg, and we had to grow sharp claws to scratch our way out , it would be different.

I could go on about how its probably a better thing we're born alive, and how even if we're helpless its still better than digging our way out of the sand from a clutch of eggs - but whats interesting to me is the fact that nobody seems to realize that the debate about pro life vs. whatever - is really about helplessness and about toolmaking. Nobody debates whether or not a child has rights - even a helpless child. But at what point does a collection of cells, become a helpless child? Language is a form of toolmaking capability that works on a fundamental level.

Helplessness is not the criterion. Biologically helpless , living creatures - are commonly referred to as soulless. In slaughterhouses, there are pneumatic bolt stunners that shoot a bolt into the head of the animal One after another, rendering them impervious to pain. And then. Simply. Rendering them. We use chemical weapons of mass destruction (measured on their scale, of course) against mosquitos without a second thought. A fly is helpless against a fast American president. For whatever advanced processing they do, we do not consider them truly alive in the sense we consider ourselves alive. Certainly not in the sense that they would have rights.

That point, it seems to me - a point at which, for our species, sound comes into play - is a good place to set a zero. As St. Augustine writes " special substance, endowed with reason, adapted to rule the body".. And no, I'm not talking about Chilean Reds.

Alongside Researchers at Zhejiang University, China, Dr Kisilevsky tested 60 fetuses at term. Thirty babies were played a two-minute audiotape of their own mother reading a poem, and another 30 babies were played the voice of a female stranger reading the poem. The researchers found that the little ones responded to their own mother's voice with heart-rate acceleration, and to the stranger's voice with a heart-rate deceleration. The responses lasted during the two-minute tape as well as for at least two minutes after the offset of the voices.

"These results tell us that the fetuses heard and responded to both voices and that there was sustained attention to both voices," notes Dr. Kisilevsky. "But, because they responded differently to the two voices, we know they had to recognize their own mother's voice. We believe they are probably already learning about language in general and their own language specifically."

Dr Kisilevsky's team is now investigating both fetal response to the father's voice and the ability of the fetus to differentiate between English and Mandarin. In 2000, her research team proved that babies hear by the third trimester.

Clearly, by the third trimester we should be thinking about other options - for any termination of a pregnancy. If any reason other than one day someone is going to record the sound of a scream.

Thought experiments can have considerable power. At one point, a person fashioned a simple exercise for the Catholic Church - to question the viability of its policy against condom use. They asked a simple question, and oddly enough - directed towards someone who had uptake to the Vatican - "What if a man and a woman were married, and one of the partners develops Aids? Should those that are married be required not to enjoy consecrated sexual relationship?"

Lets assume for the sake of an argument that this logic bomb worked and the catholic church can accept for the sake of the purposes of our discussion - the case in which two people, who have committed themselves before God, to marry - find that they have conceived. This was a choice on their part, but not on the part of the unborn being.

So the question is - should a man and a woman be required , as a result of a biological process - to radically alter the life plan that he or she or they both have been inspired to follow? What if the man and woman are intent upon missionary work? Should that work be cancelled due to an unplanned pregnancy?

Key here is of course, intent. This is not exactly a fully baked thought experiment and I wouldn't take it to my best friend just yet. But the idea is pretty simple. Having a kid is a big deal. The church should be able to consider whether or not a mother wishes to make a good life for the child. And accepts that such a life would have an existence out of womb - such as, for example, childcare, healthcare, nursing, tutoring, etc. etc. etc.

Babies, at the third trimester, are already interacting with their environment. We've argued earlier about language origin as a form of sequential probability match activity on behalf of an organism. This type of activity would have already been firing on brain cells - muscle cells. That kind of thing. Clearly, we've developed that capability before we take it outside to the womb. So the third trimester is not a good line to draw. Things have happened before then, that make it worthwhile to to a precursor.

Just as an aside, children who have strokes - from one reason or another - often tend to fully develop their language capability. So we might not want to look at weight groupings of neurons - its not really a physical phenomenon.

I have defined language as a send/receive protocol that is used in control and in lattice formation. At 23 days, it is documented that a foetus can feel - but not receive sound. At 4 months they can hear.

If as we've stated earlier that there are definite conditions for life in association with origin of language, and if language is a send/receive protocol then the child has nailed up their language capability at or around 4 months. I have argued this capability is connected to interdimensional transitions. One could posit from this, that there is a moment at which the soul enters the body. In all actuality it is the moment at which the organic substrate by which we pursue life, has escaped its manifold. This would be a cyclical or recurring process , sort of like punctuated evolution - the kind of thing that keeps priests and rock musicians in business.

However, getting things back to Math - self referential systems like this won't have clear points of origin. How or precisely when that moment occurs should be beyond reasonable scientific ability to pinpoint - despite the fact that Chaos theory can give us this boundary we can discuss here. Its also , to my mind. Kind of morbid in a strange way. Would you sit around waiting to see the exact moment someone died? No. Well, if we're going to buy into this concept of symmetry its just as morbid to try to pinpoint the moment it enters. And it does enter. Just as it does leave.

So, to account for statistical variance. I would put the origin and line at the 3 month mark on a pregnancy. At which point, we would consider the woman is carrying a human life - no different than if she were caring for the helpless child she is tending as an infant, after it is born. And before that point. Wear a condom.

Note that the point of it is to help define a political issue. The real politics we're interested in , is better . (W. B. Yeats):

HOW can i, that girl standing there,
My attention fix
On Roman or on Russian
Or on Spanish politics?
Yet here's a travelled man that knows
What he talks about,
And there's a politician
That has read and thought,
And maybe what they say is true
Of war and war's alarms,
But O that I were young again
And held her in my arms!

Hug your wife, girlfriend or enemy for me today? I have a lot of work to do.