Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Where does a person begin?

... Probably not at Birth. I'm posting prompted by something I saw Firedoglake.

There's been a push by certain sectors of the "Religious Right" (read: Evangelicals, megachurches, mixes of politics, religion, and business) against abortion for quite a while. One of the major rifts in the debate is where life begins. Or, to be more precise, at what point we have a "person" deserving of legal protection by the government, and when that protection trumps the rights of the mother to control her own body and biology.

One of the more extreme views (but surprisingly common) is that once the sperm and the egg meet, you've got a person, and killing that person is like murder/manslaughter/homicide/etc. I really disagree with this viewpoint.

Here's something I posed to some Campus Republicans two months ago:
Through whatever circumstances, you are faced with a really shitty choice:

  • You can see two TV screens, one with a microscope's view of a hundred little post-conception cells on one video screen, and another of one newborn baby in a cradle.
  • You know neither personally.
  • You don't know where they are in the world.
  • You know nothing more about their circumstances.
  • You know you will never personally encounter any of them or experience external repercussions from your choice.

Now, for whatever reason, you must choose between them, and failing to choose means the death of the cells and the baby. What will you pick?

If the person undergoing this choice really believed the rhetoric, they would choose to save the hundred little cell bundles, correct? A hundred lives, compared to one? But I cannot see anyone seriously choosing the blastocysts or embryos over the baby.

So here's what I'm trying to get at: You express your real belief through choices. The rhetoric of the "un-born baby" at or closely after conception is hollow, because I cannot imagine any sane individual actually going through with the hypothetical situation presented and choosing to save the petri dish over saving the newborn.

None of them gave a real answer. It's a wildly improbable situation, but the rhetoric being used by the person-at-conception folks is so strong and clear: According to them, you save the cells. Period. Strangely, I haven't found any of them (yet?) who really want to give an answer to this question, even when their stated beliefs are so unambiguous. Probably because it shows how silly they are when actually applied.

So to any conservative readers (10% of zero readers total?): If you want to answer, choose. If you don't like the question because it's too vague, tell me why. That's why I put all those bullet points in about what you do and don't know about the situation.

P.S.: Experimenting with HaloScan comments instead of Blogger comments. No important comments were lost in the transition, needless to say.

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