How About Memory; Does That Bestow Personhood?
Turning, again, to Joseph Bottum, we find this bit of information… just so’s you know:
Researchers have learned that unborn babies at thirty-weeks gestation are forming short-term memories. By the time unborn children reach thirty-four weeks in development, they are “able to store information and retrieve it four weeks later.”…
The “unless” to that finding would be unspeakable if a handful of judges hadn’t written it into the law.
In response to the stimuli of comment section chastisements, I found more-detailed information on the study referenced in the above paragraph. I should have done so, before, but being busy, and mainly intending to enter into the discussion on a philosophical level, I convinced myself that the additional step wasn’t necessary.
Consider that the core distinction in the comments was between “memory” and “habituation.” Drawing the line down the rough center of the abortion debate and throwing those words into the mix, you’ll likely find that one side takes “habituation” to mean that the fetus reacted to a repeated stimulation, while the other takes it to mean that the fetus remembered its reaction to the repeated stimulus and the subsequent outcomes.
In a debate about whether a fetus — right up to the moment of total extrication from the whom — is a human being, or even just a distinct living being worthy of a basic presumption of a right not to be killed, the semantic difference between “memory” and “habituation” is not likely to spur revelations. The skeptics would, as an a priori matter, require evidence of a sort known to be impossible (at least for the present). We cannot, for example, ask an in utero child to point to a picture that matches a card displayed ten minutes earlier.
Putting aside the fact that the title of the study appears to be “Aspects of Fetal Learning and Memory,” I’ll concede a change to my initial statement to read that “by the time unborn children reach thirty-four weeks in development, they are” able to recall a learned response to stimuli, unless they have been cut into pieces or had their brains sucked out of their skulls in accord with their mothers’ “choice.”