On Aug. 25, the Star-Tribune printed two letters about threats to species. Sandra Materi urged readers to support the Endangered Species Act, which protects threatened wildlife. Dino Wenino discussed another shrinking American species, the human being. Our national birthrate has fallen below replacement level, yet Wenino scoffed at the notion that fertilized human embryos deserve protection. He reasons they are tiny and look like tadpoles and therefore have no right to existence.
Interestingly, on Aug. 14, supporters of the Endangered Species Act released about a thousand tadpoles into the shallow pools of the San Gabriel Mountains. They hope these organisms will mature into mosquito-devouring mountain yellow-legged frogs. Pregnant women, of course, know their “little tadpoles” will mature into human beings if nature and they permit it.
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Mr. Wenino says it defies reason to call a fertilized human egg a person entitled to legal rights and protections. Yet the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004 recognizes an embryo or fetus in utero as a legal victim, if it is injured or killed during the commission of any of over 60 listed federal crimes of violence. The law defines "child in utero" as "a member of the species Homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.” So, “tadpoles” do have the human right to justice, along with some other birthrights like inheritance.
And, hopefully, one day they will have all the protections and right to life that yellow-legged frogs do.