Is there a graduating scale of how alive someone is?  Can we say the injured adult on life support for massive trauma is less human?  They are not viable outside of the hospital bed, or self-sufficient.  Under normal means, many people at any given time can be incapable of independent living.  In the future they will hypothetically be capable of living on their own again.  For this reason they are artificially supported.  It could be a major trauma with a positive post-surgery prognosis or a debilitating disease undergoing treatment.  The individual is factually incapable of living without support in the immediate; it is understood however they will at some definite point be able to function normally.  It is a matter of time, not their present state, that determines the viability of a human.

capable of becoming actual, useful, etc; practicable: a viable proposition
(of seeds, eggs, etc) capable of normal growth and development
(of a fetus) having reached a stage of development at which further development can occur independently of the mother

There is a problem here.  For a child, it is simply a matter of time, as with an adult, before they are independently able to develop.  It can be tracked with relative exactness, more so than an injured adult waiting to achieve viability yet again.  Is the worth of an adult life measured in the immediate?  Is the use of medication or ventilators presently determining a lack of viability, thus a non-human status?  We await the day a person heals and returns to normal.  We await the day when a child takes its first steps.  Eats with a spoon for the first time.  Walks to school alone; was the child less human before each measure of independence from Mother?

This larger problem of independence looms.  What stage of development is considered independent existence from their parents?  Can anyone with a child actually claim they develop independently?  A preterm baby, in a ventilator and receiving treatment as the trauma patient does, develops further.  They follow the same route every baby does no matter their supported location or placement in time. A child still in the womb, at the same level of development, is just as capable of surviving the external treatment other children their age undergo.  Is a baby post due date more, or less, viable?  Are the considered “alive” but in the wrong location?  They were considered “alive” and “viable” if they had been born on the due date.  Is a preterm baby alive but non-viable?  They are outside the womb, but not independent of support.  Is a trauma patient alive but non-viable because of the same support?  Does the location alone form the determining factor?  Are children born in the “wrong” nation less human or less viable, because of locale?

There are milk banks, for women to donate breastmilk, for premature infants, some in the 20th week.  Preterm babies do better when fed breastmilk.  (Their own mothers won’t lactate for many weeks, given the circumstances).  Studies show premature babies – even extremely fragile early ones – grow healthier and better when put skin to skin with parents or volunteers, and carried upright as part of routine treatment.  These simple developmental facts of nurturing demonstrate their humanity. The children are not independent of support, even if considered alive and viable.

A newborn is certainly considered viable.  If one, however, chooses to ignore their viable (and according to the definition, “further development can occur independently of the mother”) newborn and have them develop independently, they will find the opposite result of the definition of viable.  The newborn will quickly die of a few factors.  Failure to thrive and starvation being two immediate ones.  A mother who does not rear her offspring kills it with neglect.  How is this possibly independent growth?  If anything, a born baby is less viable than a baby in the womb.  A gestating baby has everything provided and done for it, the mother does nothing but exist.  A born baby needs constant care and feeding.  We also continually push back the age at which a baby will survive early labour.  Even 18-week babies surviving, while rare, is not unheard of.

In the Victorian Era, there was a wasting disease of babies, called “failure to thrive”.  The babies could be taken care of materially, but they would still die off.  Orphanages had a 100% mortality rate at times.  Anecdotal discoveries made some doctors instruct their nurses to hold each baby for a short session each day.  The failure to thrive deaths drastically reduced.  Children need human contact to be healthy and even to survive.

Failure to Thrive, Livestrong

Failure to Thrive, Wiki, Harry Harlow

Failure to Thrive, Sharecare

Failure to Thrive, NIH, pubmed

Failure to Thrive, ehow

Failure to Thrive, Scientific American

The direct translation of “fetus” (Latin) to English, is “offspring”.  When is the fetus capable of growth and development independent of the mother?  A baby’s world is the mother, whether in or out of the womb.  A newborn needs physical contact to be healthy, has to be fed and needs to be cleaned when soiled, as well as protected from harsh climates (it is winter here in Ontario, necessitating shelter and warmth) and predators.  An infant is no more capable of survival than a newborn, and a toddler may eventually be potty trained and go through the fridge, but cleanliness and nutrition are far out of reach.  A child cannot outrun predators or fight back, but cannot care for and sustain itself alone.  While most teenagers may actually get through singular survival out of sheer rebellion and foolhardiness, college and university students seem to be in regression.  They apparently cannot emotionally handle mean words, they throw fits, smash things and scream when they don’t get what they want/their own way, and can’t cook Kraft dinner: making them about as capable as the toddlers.

So what is viability?  What is humanity?  If we found DNA floating in the atmosphere of Jupiter, it would be alien life, from Jupiter.  When we find human DNA in a woman’s womb, we question what it is.  That DNA is the same at conception that it is when born, that it is when an adult, and still the same hundreds of years after death extracted from the pulp of a tooth.  That “mass of cells” is always going to be born from a woman, either naturally through the birth canal or via c-section.  That “mass of cells” will always be a baby at birth.  It is not a guessing game or mystery box.  We never ask a woman “is it human”, but “boy or girl”, with the presupposition that she has a baby inside her.

A “mass of cells” at 7 weeks looks like a little peanut, with a visible head and body, and more importantly, with an evident beating heart, pulsing like a strobe light.  That is not a mass of cells, that is a definable human being, with a brain.  At 19 weeks, when the average ultrasound takes place, a woman can see her baby’s skeleton, the features of the skull, its actual brain and inspect the lobes herself; one can see the baby kicking, sucking its thumb and watch its heart beat and the different sections of the heart work.

Anywhere else in the world but inside a human mother we would say that baby is a human.  The very place that baby is intended to be somehow negates its humanity and makes it a “mass of cells”.

No child is viable, by the definition of viability, for no child can live without their mother or a comparable surrogate.  A newborn and infant surly cannot develop independent of their parents; warmth, safety, sustenance and even the need for touch are dependent absolutely on the mother (and includes the father).  In what way is this dependence “independent development occurring”?  The baby’s brain is still growing, the skull has a soft spot and the plates have to shift into place and eventually knit, it has no practical immune system, the liver doesn’t function for weeks and the digestive tract is incapable of processing normal food if the toothless gums could even manage anything; these are growth and development.  There is huge visual and verbal development in the first weeks (compare the cries days after birth to the babbling and laughter-squeals at two months, or how long before the baby follows sounds with its eyes) post birth.  Language and walking don’t come for nearly a year.  Those are developments and growth, and language is dependent on the mother/father or family-clan-social group.

If we can kill children for a lack of viability, we have two solutions: there’s no killing of humans (especially for the decisions other individuals make), OR we can kill people for convenience or monetary reasons, up until they are able to work and provide for themselves.  All a fetus needs is a place to live safely and a source of nutrition and contact with another human.  Isn’t that the definition of survival and viability for all humans?

8 weeks, 5 days; not a mass of cells but visually human.

Marian Errors

In section 27 of the Synod Against the Family (h/t Ann Barnhardt for coining that), almost immediately there is near blasphemy.  “Near”, simply because we are so far from basic catechesis that people are not aghast at reading it.  Without the comprehension of a problem, we further remove ourselves from it.  There was a time when such statements would have Saints clamouring to defend the honour of the Mother of God, while demanding correction for obvious mistakes.  In ages past people knew and loved their Mother.  Would they have allowed such a statement?  Would they have noticed it?  Has anyone else?  So far I have seen nothing on this.  A layman with these ideas would have be corrected.  How much worse from men professing to hold the faith?  The  very ones teaching, protecting and promulgating it need stern condemnation.  They should be the ones that know better.

The mother guards the memory and the feelings of birth for a lifetime: “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Lk 2,19.51).

There are errors here.  The most basic scriptural error is having the verse refer to memories, and specifically to birthing Christ.  Mary is absolutely not reflecting on birthing Christ and holding it in her heart, going over and over it again silently.  The second verse here should not be included: this verse is not just out of context within the Nativity scene, but entirely out of context biblically.  We will begin with the context of Luke 2:51.

[41] And his parents went every year to Jerusalem, at the solemn day of the pasch, [42] And when he was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast, [43] And having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not. [44] And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day’ s journey, and sought him among their kinsfolks and acquaintance. [45] And not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking him. [46] And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions. [47] And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers. [48] And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. [49] And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my father’ s business? [50] And they understood not the word that he spoke unto them [51] And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart. [52] And Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men.

This scene is no where near the Nativity.  Christ is twelve years old.  His birth is not involved in what she is thinking about or pondering or feeling.  In fact the surrounding context makes it clear she is specifically meditating silently and obediently, contemplating what Christ said to her.  When Mary kept all the words of Christ in her heart when he was twelve, it is specifically the words Christ spoke, at that time.  The same phrase is used in 2:19.  This does not mean it is the same object of wonderment or focus.

[16] And they came with haste; and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. [17] And seeing, they understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this child. [18] And all that heard, wondered; and at those things that were told them by the shepherds. [19] But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart. [20] And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God, for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Here, Mary is being spoken to by those who are glorying the newborn Christ, and everything that had been said (just previously an Angel had spoken with the shepherds) about Him.  She is absorbing what they are saying, holding the words close to her.  She mulled over them, reflected interiorly on the proclamations.  In silence and obedience, she accepts and considers all that was.  There was no speaking out, questioning, or refutations.  It was simple, quiet, graceful compliance with God’s will.  Absolutely no where does this directly or indirectly refer to her thinking, or stewing upon, Christ’s birth.  There is not even an abstract hint of such a thing.  To make any of this work, the Synod writers had to change “words” to “things”, and even within context “things” still reads as “what Mary is being told”.  It is not a difference between scripture versions either.  It is quite clear in differing translations that thinking about Christ’s birth was not the focus of Mary’s ponderings; not in the Nativity, not in the Temple when he was twelve.

That alone should be enough for a humble, shamefaced retraction by those in the Vatican.  Apparently learned men do not know the difference between listening to words about a child, listening to words from a child (over a decade apart), and giving birth.  Is it possible men who claim to be theologians, educators, leaders, lawyers, could not comprehend the difference?  Was this a purposeful pass under the radar in hopes that people would absorb without consideration?  This is a dangerous line of reasoning, as if it is so, the purpose would be to diminish Mary within the Church.  As her seed will crush the head of the serpent, disparaging Mary can only help the devil.

By using verses out of context, the document gives the impression that Mary experienced childbirth as any woman would.  That she is no different from the fallen daughters of Eve.  This is a sneaky downplaying of Mary to that of common woman, on par with the rest of us.  Experiencing life, feelings and thoughts, on par with the sinners.  Mary is full of grace, she did not experience birth the way the rest of us do.  The inference attempted here is to put Mary on equal footing with the rest of womankind.  “The mother guards memory and feeling”.  She is a generic representation of all women, all memories of birth, all feeling.  We are actually, really, just like her.  

This is the blasphemy.  Equating all mothers, and the experience of Motherhood, with Maryhood.  Using out-of-context quotes about Mary to defend their statement about mothers in general.  As doctrine stands, Mary birthed Christ as women were supposed to before the fall:

Genesis 3:[16] To the woman also he said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children

After the fall, God tells Eve that becoming a mother will be sorrowful, painful, a trial.  Before the fall it is accepted that this was not the case.  Mary was without the stain of original sin, therefore she was free of the punishments of Eve.  Mary did not experience giving birth as the rest of us, and likely had nothing to think about in relation to it.  While women do go over labour hours, how much pushing, the pain, the methods, in the end it is all about the baby and the rest is unimportant.  What did Mary have to consider in her labour?  It would have been nothing, she would have been entirely focused on the Christ-child.  Not a non-event of the non-struggles of birth.

This is a lowering of Mary, to remove the supernatural from the faith.  It is the next move in the “the multiplication of loaves was really a story about sharing”.  Mary didn’t “really” have a supernatural birthing of Christ, as spoken of by God in Genesis.  She gave birth just as every other woman does.  And this is blasphemy.