A comment has been made on my blog by 'Magdalena'.
'Look, a foetus is biologically a person, but not a person morally speaking. If a couple expect a child and that expectation shapes their plans for life, their ambitions for the future etc, then the loss of that child, through miscarriage, is a tragedy. But there are millions of spontaneous miscarriages each year. In trying to conceive, the average couple will 'lose' 6 foetuses before one implants itself. According to your argument, that is 6 dead children. Who is the murderer then? Well, God designed the human body, so ....
But this of course assumes you accept a foetus is a moral person. It is not, it is a biological being with the potential to become a person. You can talk about a child that survived abortion and ruminate upon 'what ifs', but you could also ask 'what if your mother had not had sex the night she conceived you?' - you wouldn't be here. Scary to think that your life is that contingent, but it is. No reason to panic, no reason to force people to have unwanted children (or shall we just encourage couples to have sex all the time and have as many children as they possibly can?)
The fact that a couple do not grieve for the 6 spontaneously terminated foetuses is because they do not, at the time, expect a particular life to come intot he world, do not have plans for it etc. Death is a tragedy on account of the living, not the dead. If I get hit by a bus, it is not because I lose my life that my death is a tragic one, it is because my parents and my son lose my life. Similarly, the death of a child is tragic because the parents lose their child. But the termination of an unexpected (or unwanted) foetus, whether by God's or nature's sloppy design, or by human choice, is clearly not tragic in this sense. For all the moral philosophy you can cite, this is simply an intuitive truth of human existence. I would greatly appreciate your reply here, as I think this is an important debate, and that you happen to be wrong!'
Firstly, personhood is not something which we, humans, persons, confer on an individual. Personhood simply is, you don't even have to include the Creator of human beings to believe it, but then again it helps. The psalmist says, 'For You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.'
Humanity, or personhood, is not something we achieve of our own efforts, but something which is given at the moment of conception. Now, you can say that what you have in a day old foetus is 'a person at the very early stages of development', but you cannot (though you may insist) deny that the foetus has personhood. If you do deny that, then you have to, quite arbitrarily, point to an exact moment in development when this personhood suddenly appears or is conferred, not by God, or by that foetus's mere existence, but by us.
And that is the problem with moral relativism. For while the unborn child him/herself is not yet a 'moral being', capable of knowing right from wrong, or making moral decisions, we are moral beings who are capable of distinguishing between right and wrong and of making moral decisions.
Secondly, there can, as we are witnessing in a country in which over 200,000 abortions take place every year, be no doubt that the removal of the status of personhood from the unborn child has had an absolutely disastrous impact on the innocent human being in the womb, and, I might add, many, many women who have come to regret ever having had an abortion.
If a woman miscarries naturally, as you say, that is a tragedy. Yet it is not so tragic as abortion, which amounts to the direct intervention of the mother (and a doctor who by his oath is sworn to the protection of human life) in order to kill, or end, or 'terminate' the human life still growing within her.
An 'intuitive truth of human existence' is that it is wholly unnatural for a mother to kill her own child. I haven't always been Catholic or 'pro-Life', but, I do grow more and more aware of how contingent my existence is upon my own mother and father having not stepped into my life when I was a foetus, and ended it. I am glad they didn't do that before I was born and I am glad they didn't do that after I was born. Life is a gift and you, and I, are lucky in as much as we were shown mercy by our own mothers and fathers (who, it is well known, are often highly culpable of putting pressures on girlfriends/wives to abort) upon whom we were utterly dependent. Perhaps this is why as well as the commandment, 'Thou shalt not kill', exists another commitment, 'Honour your mother and your father,' since they were merciful and did not reject us or seek to end our lives. Mothers and fathers are not perfect, of course, nobody is, but we owe them.
So, in answer to your question (and I know you didn't directly ask me), yes a miscarriage is a tragedy. The womb is not always a safe place for a foetus. But how much more dangerous is it now, in 21st century Britain, to be a foetus, in a country which not only defends the wilful killing of the unborn, but, indeed, often actively promotes it?
Finally, an unborn child has no choice about whether he or she lives, or dies, as the case in Italy illustrates all too well. That child was utterly dependent, as all children are, upon those in his care. Mothers, fathers, doctors, nurses, governments and, indeed all of us, do have a choice to protect human life and cherish it, or to snuff it out and pretend to ourselves that our victims were 'sub-human'.
We can choose to show mercy to the unborn, or we can choose not to show mercy to the unborn, the most dependent and vulnerable human beings who, yes, indeed, exist. Furthermore, while the Church preaches that the taking of the life of the innocent human being in the womb is a great sin and a crime against the child, against Heaven and against God, mercy, as the book pictured above displays, is what the Church dispenses to all those who yearn for it and, if there is one thing about the guilt, regret and pain which are hallmarks of abortion, mercy is something for which many, many yearn.