Re: Values Added: Rootin' Tootin' Edition (Amanda Marcotte & Erica Grieder)
I've said before that because anti-choicers spend so much time trying to convince themselves that a zygote is the moral equivalent of a newborn baby, they assume that pro-choicers spend an equal amount of time trying to convince themselves that a newborn baby is the moral equivalent of a zygote. This is why they believe that posting photos of embryos, who obviously have a shape that is more complex than that of four cells, or of saying that a fetus has a beating heart at however many months, will convince us to abandon our positions. People who are pro-choice do not actually deny the fact of fetal development, surprising as that may be to people in a political movement that regularly denies scientific fact that is inconvenient to their ideology. Pretty much everyone will agree that at one point in the process of embryonic/fetal development we have cells which, although they have human DNA, have about the moral significance of nail clippings, and at the end, we have a human being with full civil rights. The extreme opinion on one end would support denying the child rights or allowing it to be killed it after it's born. The extreme position on the other end is basically that of the personhood amendment. (I guess even more extreme would be the argument that every sperm is sacred and therefore male masturbation is genocide, but this is too silly for even the Catholic Church).
My position, which is a totally mainstream pro-choice one, is that the rights of the fetus grow as it does, but never trump those of the mother. This basic reasoning is reflected in the Roe vs. Wade decision, and I suspect is also the reasoning used by most Americans when they're formulating their opinions about abortion. The position of the pro-life movement is that there's an arbitrary point, prior to birth, where the embryo/fetus/child gains all the rights of a post-born baby, and that arbitrary point is usually called "conception", but it's a semantic argument over what that means, and was one of the snags in the argument for the personhood amendment -- does it refer to fertilization or implantation? If you go with fertilization, then it's cold-blooded murder to abort an ectopic pregnancy; if you go with implantation, then the police will be spending all their time with manslaughter investigations every time a sexually active woman gets her period. The upshot of these arguments should be that it's impossible to argue a specific point where "life begins" unless you're seriously going to identify the moment when God zaps a collection of cells with a soul, and no argument along these lines can be based on actual evidence.