Pro-Life or Pro-Choice?

When does the sperm and egg become a human life?

This is an emotionally charged and important issue that needs careful consideration from all angles.

Personally, should I find myself with child, I would do anything it took to preserve that life–so in that regard, I consider myself to be pro-life. However, I do recognize that there are terrible circumstances where an abortion may be the best course of action in order to reduce harm, and because of that, abortion needs to be legal. A total ban on abortion is not a reasonable position.

Discussion With a Friend

8/26/2016 – Yesterday a friend of mine and I were discussing the issue of abortion. He is a particularly thoughtful person, even keeled, and a carfeful considerer. He’s one of the few people I know that can rationally discussion abortion without appealing to emotion–understandably, on this topic, that is extremely difficult to do.

He asked me, “When does the sperm and egg become a human life?”

I said, “the very second it becomes four cells, it’s a human.  You can test the four cells for DNA, and it will be human DNA.”

He counters, “You can swab the inside of your cheek for cells. Are each of those cells a separate human being? Because they contain DNA. How about a human ear grown in a medium? It has human DNA, is a collective of cells, is it therefore a human being with all the rights accorded to it?”

After giving it some thought, here’s what I came up with:

“I heard this metaphorical question once: Say there’s a ship. Over time, if the ship is repaired and every single piece is replaced once, is it still the same ship as it was in the beginning? Usually this question is posed as a metaphor for the human body because our cells are dying off and regenerating all the time. The physical form of “me” that exists now is a completely different “me” than existed 20 years ago.

So to answer your question about the ear, and the cheek cells–If you take a ship that is fully built and you pull a plank off of it, that plank is not considered a “ship”.

  • So in the process of building a ship, when is it considered a ship? You’ve got a pile of planks and rope, that’s not a ship yet.
  • You’ve got the frame built, but it doesn’t float–that’s not a ship yet either.
  • I suppose it’s not a ship until it floats and sails.
  • And it can’t sail until it’s being commanded by a brain, and that’s its human owner.
  • So it’s not a human life until it has a brain.

In the case of a fetus, we maybe can’t know exactly when it develops a consciousness of it’s surroundings, but we can probably tell when neural activity starts, and that’s a maximum of 8 weeks in.”

We went on from there, but I wanted to share that ship metaphor.

Podcast Episode on “Unbelievable” with Sue Thayer & Ann Furedi

  • Right out of the gate in the intro he drops the fact “1 in 3 women will have an abortion in their lifetime.” That seems extraordinarily high and not true. Will have to fact check this.
  • American : Generally the pro-choice argument leads with “It’s not murder unless the fetus is viable outside the womb”
  • I think both the pro-life and pro-choice people can come together on “How can we prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place”. This is where our focus ought to be.
  • Claim : Abortions centers have “goals or quotas” for number of abortions performed or referred.
    • She glosses over this fact because it sounds sensational, but I’d like to know what the goals are for? Perhaps they are actually trying to underperform over last year in an attempt to decrease number of abortions because then you know your family planning department is doing its job effectively. All businesses need to measure performance on their major services. As distasteful as this service is, it still needs metrics.
  • The British one mentions that 12-15% of women chose not to terminate the pregnancy after receiving counseling. (BPAP)
  • Brit : It’s important to separate the moral decision from the clinical practice.
  • Brit : I support the doctors and nurses that conscientiously object and don’t want to be involved in the procedure.
  • Brit : 23 weeks and 6 days – it’s bizarre because at 5 minutes to midnight on that last day you could still do the procedure, and 5 minutes after the woman and doctor are criminals. She calls this time limit arbitrary and wrong. They have to draw a hard line somewhere, don’t they? She’s got that entire 23 week period to make a decision!
  • The pro-lifer says the definition of life is “is it growing? is it changing? and the sperm and egg are.” Seems a little wishy-washy to me.
  • A lot of women receiving counseling are saying “Well, in different circumstances I might have this child” and that’s the point. We should create those circumstances. The gap between where they are and where they need to be is really profound. We also need to be sure (especially younger women) that the decision to abort comes from the mother’s free choice and not from outside pressures such as the boyfriend or the parents.
    • If I wasn’t 16
    • If my partner would help me raise the baby
    • If I wasn’t stretched to the absolute limit
    • My husband had a vasectomy
    • My parents would kill me
    • I can’t believe I’m even thinking of doing this
  • Brit : half of the women that come to them have already had children and have already been through the process. They know exactly what they are getting into.
  • American : If the abortion clinics were really pro-choice then they would advocate equally for adoption options as well as for abortion.
  • The American throws out the term “abortion industry” quite frequently and does so to deliberately cast it in a negative light. The Brit defends herself by saying that she works for an organization that is completely committed to serving the best interests of women, and I think that’s fair. I would even venture a guess that most people working in the “abortion industry” feel the same way and hate it when these emotionally rabid pro-lifers cast a bloody pall over them.
  • American : “Every woman that has ever been pregnant has been a mother.” Oh please. Give me a fucking break. Why don’t you tell that to a poor grieving woman who has conceived and miscarried a half-dozen or more times? That’s an insensitive and cruel thing to say.
  • This comparison between the Holocaust and aborted fetuses needs to stop.
  • American : compares to a woman who needs to feed her kids and goes to the corner store to rob it at gun point. She thinks it’s the right thing to do in order to feed her kids even though it’s against the law.
  • Toward the end I felt like the American was trying to change the Brit’s mind, like… specifically her, rather than present the pro-life position as a whole. She uses purely emotional language and can’t reach anyone with that.

Links for Further Reading:

Image source: galaxies and hurricanes

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