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Kamala Harris And Julius Caesar

November 29, 2020 Featured Today No Comments

By DONALD DeMARCO

Kamala Harris made the following statement during the October 7 vice-presidential debate: “The issues before us couldn’t be more serious. There is the issue of choice, and I will always fight for a woman’s right to make a decision about her own body. It should be her decision and not that of Donald Trump and the vice-president, Michael Pence.”
She makes the now common mistake of giving “choice” primacy. In the moral order, we discover what is good first and then choose it. When we raise “choice” to a level of primacy, we lose sight of what is good and open choice to any kind of immorality. In this regard, Harris’ view is preposterous, for it puts first (pre-) what should come after (posterious), or the cart before the horse. This makes her claim that neither the president nor the vice-president should make an abortion decision all the more ludicrous.
Putting these matters aside, I want to introduce a little-known but quite extraordinary scientist by the name of Julius Caesar Arantius (Giulio Cesare Aranzi). He was one of the great Italian anatomists of the sixteenth century alongside Hieronymus Fabricius (1537-1619), the founder of modern embryology, Gabriele Falloppio (1524-1562), who discovered the fallopian tubes that lead from the uterus to the ovaries, Bartolomeo Eustachi (c. 1500-1562), who described the structure of the Eustachian tube of the ear, and many others.
Arantius (1530-1589) was born in Bologna and became professor of anatomy and surgery at the University of Bologna in 1556. He established anatomy as a distinguished branch of medicine. He dissected the dead bodies of pregnant women and was the first scientist to prove that during pregnancy the blood circulation of the mother and fetus remain separate, neither continuous nor contiguous with each other. Among his important publications are De Humano Foetu Liber (1564 in Rome, 1571 in Venice, 1579 in Basel), and De Formato Foetu in 1564.
Arantius provided clear scientific evidence that the unborn child is not part of the woman’s body. Despite Harris’ boast that with regard to the environment she is strongly pro-science, her knowledge of pregnancy lags behind scientific discoveries made in the sixteenth century.
Genetics would corroborate Arantius’ findings. Half of the genetic endowment of the unborn child comes from the male progenitor, who is decidedly not part of the woman’s body. Hematology would confirm that the pregnant mother and her unborn child may have different blood types. In addition, the destiny of the fetus, unlike the liver, kidneys, or lungs, is to leave the body and continue to develop as it had from its initial formation as a distinct organism.
In a brief paragraph, Harris makes a number of serious mistakes, but the most egregious one is her identification of bonding with assimilation. When we eat, we assimilate the food into our body. Fully digested food becomes part of the body. On the other hand, assimilation is radically different from bonding where mutual and reciprocal benefits are conferred upon both parties without either losing their identity.
There are three important kinds of biochemical bonding: sexual intercourse, pregnancy, and lactation. In the first kind, concerning the man and woman (I would prefer to say husband and wife), hormones pass from the woman to the man as well as from the man to the woman thereby assisting in the bonding. One reason that many physicians oppose contraception is that it compromises this two-in-one flesh physiological bonding.
Pregnancy provides the second form of biochemical bonding. Pediatricians talk about the powerful feeling of attachment or closeness that a pregnant woman has toward her unborn child. She bonds with her child while she anticipates his birth.
Lactation is the third form of biochemical bonding, between the nursing mother and her infant. This form of bonding is so well established that the sound of the child crying in the nursery can awaken the mother by triggering the release of oxytocin and prolactin. These bio-chemicals assist in extending the bonding between mother and child.
What science tells us, in addition to what people know through experience and intuition, is that human beings are capable of bonding with each other: husband and wife, pregnant mother and unborn child, mother and neonate. This bonding is neither assimilation (loss of identity), bondage (enslavement), nor indifference (alienation). Bonding confers mutual benefits. It is a two-way street, so to speak, in which reciprocal benefits are conferred. Bio-chemical bonding, in the three senses we have outlined, sends the message that we human beings are made for each other, that love, rather than alienation, characterizes us in our essential nature.
It is a tragedy that someone running for vice-president of the United States could unwittingly proclaim her ignorance on so elementary a reality as mother-child bonding. Here is a case in which a baseless ideology can displace an indisputable reality. It is also most unfortunate that such ignorance can be delivered with force and confidence, as if these two factors were more convincing than reality itself.
Kamala Harris’ views on pregnancy are by no means unique. Barbara H. Herman, a specialist in child development at George Washington University’s medical school, has argued that what was formerly termed “mother-infant bonding” may actually be a form of opiate addiction. There are bio-chemicals involved in bonding, to be sure. After all, we are bodily creatures. But they do not explain the whole picture, which includes acceptance, love, satisfaction, commitment, and joy.
They refer to the basement, but not to the entire edifice. To reduce the person to chemicals is to lose sight of the person.
Kamala Harris has demeaned women by denying that the relationship between a pregnant woman and her child is a form of bonding that attests to her dignity and her God-given capacity to bond, nurture, and protect human beings at the most vulnerable stage of their lives. If she could only catch up to the sixteenth century.

  • + + (Dr. Donald DeMarco is a professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University and an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College & Seminary. He is a regular columnist for the St. Austin Review. His latest five books are How to Navigate through Life; Apostles of the Culture of Life; Reflections on the Covid-10 Pandemic: A Search for Understanding; The War Against Civility (all posted on amazon.com), and A Moral Compass for a World in Confusion.)
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