"Lest we get lost in a sea of generalities, I'll state my position: A fertilized egg is not a baby, any more than the cell at the end of my nose is a baby, or an acorn is an oak tree. A nine-month-old fetus is, quantitatively and qualitatively, a baby."
"The cell on your nose is a part of your body, not a separate being growing without one's body. There's an obvious difference."
If I take a syringe and remove blood from one of my veins, is the blood in that syringe part of my body? What about when I inject it back in?
No, the differences aren't obvious, but they may seem so to you given your viewpoint. To me, it is "obvious" that a fertilized egg isn't a baby, and doesn't warrant the moral status of a baby.
"Fertilized eggs fail to attach to the uterine wall all the time. Blastocysts, zygotes, and embryos spontaneously abort. Genetic defects result in non-viable fetuses. The development of a baby is a complex process, with plenty of ways to go wrong. As I said, a fertilized egg is no more a baby than an acorn is an oak tree... or an ingot of iron is a Mercedes-Benz."
"Fertilized egg is to baby as ingot of iron is to a car. This is just silly. An ingot of iron has no natural tendency to develop into a car. We have to make it happen. A fertilized egg, however, does have a natural tendency to develop into a baby."
A fertilized egg that isn't in a very particular environment doesn't have a tendency to produce a baby... it has a tendency to produce inert organic matter... as do many fertilized eggs even in a very conducive environment.
Fertilized eggs are complex cells, but there is no magical elan vital inhabiting them. They are machines whose components are molecules. Those molecules interact with their environment, and, given the right environment, are a part of a process which may produce a baby. But, a fertilized egg itself is not a baby, any more than any of the other parts of that process are.
"Ok, so you mentioned that things can go wrong in pregnancy. I could get hit by a car tomorrow, but that gives you no right to pre-emptively kill me."
My point is that the path from fertilized egg to baby is not the inexorable, inevitable process you seem to imply.
"You'll argue of course that I am a human life while the fertilized egg is not, but it is nevertheless an example of faulty reasoning on your part."
I'll ask you to let me make my own arguments, rather than you telling me what I'm going to say... that's a peev of mine.
What I'm actually going to say is that adult humans possess self-awareness and consciousness (or seem to, at any rate), just as I do. It is those qualities of self-awareness and consciousness that lead me to grant personhood to humans. A fertilized egg has neither of those qualities.
"The possibility that death will occur is not justification for murder."
True... and irrelevant to my points.
"You have to base your argument on other points for this analogy to be worthwhile."
You misunderstood me.
"It's a tad hypocritical for you to choose a point which you believe is the "beginning of 'life'" (with the truckload of moral assumption you've got hidden behind the word 'life') and then chatise everyone else for picking an "arbitrary point" which, since it differs from the one you picked, must therefore obviously be wrong."
"It's not hypocritical because the point I pick isn't arbitrary."
It isn't arbitrary in that you believe you have justifications which lead you to choose that point. It is arbitrary as you seem to dismiss that everyone else has their justifications, and that they are just as much, or as little hypocrites as you.
"The moment of conception is a point where there is in fact a new beginning of a new developing human life."
"The point at which an unborn baby's heart first begins to beat is a point where there is in fact a new beginning of a new developing life."
"The point at which a newborn baby first takes a breath is a point where there is in fact a new beginning of a new developing life."
"The point at which an unborn baby's brain first shows signs of complex activity is a point where there is in fact a new beginning of a new developing life."
"The point at which a newborn baby first shows signs of self-awareness is a point where there is in fact a new beginning of a new developing life."
I could create arguments to support each of those positions. For others, one of those is their position, and they are as certain that that is the point as you are of yours.
"This is a fact that cannot be disputed."
I can and do dispute it. QED.
"Picking a point along the path of pregnancy is in fact arbitrary."
We're just picking a different point from you...
"I'm sorry, but the subtext I read here is "If the bitch was such a whore as to actually have sex, then she deserves to stay pregnant no matter what she wants." This may not be what you believe, but your choice of words certainly implies this is your message."
"How about this. The choice to have sex involves certain risks and people who are not willing to accept these risks should not have sex."
I agree... but some see abortion as an acceptable way of dealing with an unwanted pregnancy, and see this as being a responsible choice. You may disagree with them, but that is their position.
"Also, the man is every bit as responsible as the woman, if not moreso, because the man makes less of an investment in that he doesn't have to carry a child for nine months."
The man is as responsible, but the woman is taking all of the health risks.
"As for your ending point, I'm glad that you think that many people agree that they should accept responsibility for their actions. I have my doubts, though, about how many people actually do so without hypocrisy or fully believe it."
"The main reason I didn't just mention that point is because abortion really is a question of life and death, and when life begins."
I see the abortion debate as being primarily a matter of control and power. It is a vestige of our patriarchal roots, of the days when women were property, the means of producing male heirs, cementing clan ties, expanding empires, etc. It is also an extension of some organized religion's lusts for power, and the expansion thereof. And yes, there is the issue of morality, and the status of biological entities (and I do consider this an important issue, just not, IMO, what is primarily driving the abortion debate).
"If life begins at conception, then that is the only argument that is needed."
Some of us find this to be emminently unsatisfactory. An amoeba is alive. A parakeet is alive. A cat is alive. A fertilized egg is alive. A blastocyst is alive. A fetus is alive. A baby is alive. All of these entities are alive, are "life", yet we assign them differing moral statuses. To be "life" is not a sufficient condition for the granting of personhood.
"Most irresponsible actions pale in comparison to the taking of a human life."
"Since many do not believe this, there are other arguments against abortion that don't depend on that assumption."
If you wish to support your position, and argument A is not pursuasive, it is sensible to put forward arguments B - whatever.
"Simply saying people shouldn't take actions when they are not responsible enough to deal with the consequences is a fine example of this."
I think this statement stands on its own. Most people can grasp the notion of negative consequences.
"Still, it's the life issue that makes abortion so heated as a topic and that issue makes it different from other questions of responsibility."
My view differs...
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