Dec. 6, 2012
I got up at 4 AM to watch the royal wedding last spring. I own a replica of Princess Diana’s, and now Duchess Catherine’s, engagement ring. Two weeks ago, I happily watched a documentary on Will and Kate that I’m pretty sure repeated no more than five cuts of footage for something like two hours. When I found out the Royal Couple was expecting a baby this week, I was so excited that you’d have thought Duchess Catherine was my best friend and had called to tell me personally.
I immediately turned to Twitter, where there were about five trending topics on the matter. I gleefully joined the throng tweeting things like “ROYAL BABYYYYYY!!!! I hope ABC covers the first sonogram!!”
The irony of the world’s (appropriate) joy didn’t strike me until later.
“Archbishop Cranmer” addresses the tension between the humanness of Duchess Catherine’s unborn child we acknowledge by our happiness (and use of the word “baby”) and our reproductive health elite’s insistence that, especially at such an early stage, the child is not a person or a baby:
His Grace would like to congratulate the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the announcement that they are expecting their first baby. Girl or boy, he or she is destined to ascend the Throne and reign over the United Kingdom (should it remain united) and the Dominions overseas.
But His Grace is puzzled.
Everywhere he turns he reads about a Royal baby. Even The Guardian talks of the couple 'expecting their first child', despite the Duchess being in the 'very early stages' of pregnancy. We are told that the couple 'are to be parents', and that this 'will be the Queen's third great-grandchild', and 'a first grandchild for Prince Charles'.
And the child's birthright is acknowledged: yes, he or she is 'destined to wear the crown one day'; he or she 'will become third in line to the throne', which the Prime Minister described it as 'absolutely wonderful news'. Even Ed Miliband tweeted: 'Fantastic news for Kate, William and the country. A royal baby is something the whole nation will celebrate.'
[… ]Baby? Destiny? Parents? Great-grandchild? School? Even the Twitter hashtag is #RoyalBaby.
Surely such 'pro-choice' newspapers and journals (and people) should be talking about a bunch of pluripotent stem cells, an embryo or a foetus? For reports suggest that the Duchess is still in her first trimester, so this is not yet a baby; and certainly nothing with any kind of destiny. At this stage, surely, it is a non-person, just like the other 201,931 non-persons who last year were evacuated from wombs in England, Scotland and Wales.
Or are royal foetuses endowed with full humanity from the point of conception?