interesting that you addressed all but the fact that you keep making bald assertions with no evidence or reasoning to back your claims of prenatal personhood. "i declare it and it is so!" you can't expect anyone to agree with you when you argue by fiat. simply saying personhood begins at conception isn't going to convince anyone until you can provide evidence that it does. as has been said already, you're doing nothing but making appeals to emotion. i don't disagree that abortion is distasteful and i abhor it's use as a contraception method but until the fetus is viable outside of the womb the mother's right to decide what she wants to do with her own body trumps whatever rights you think a clump of cells without the capacity to think or feel pain have. anyone who thinks otherwise argues without evidence and from emotion and, more often than not, though not exclusively obviously, on the basis of their religious beliefs.
Regarding point 1: Personhood begins at fertilization.
I would have to disagree here. At the moment of fertilization, the cell thus created has the potential to become a person, but is not a person yet. A person is more than simply a cell with human DNA. When I get a cut, the blood that flows out has 100% of my genetic code in it and, theoretically at least, could be used to create a clone of me. But no one would argue that those cells should be considered a person with all rights and privileges granted therefor. True, the blood cannot survive outside of my body. But neither can a just-fertilized egg.
Fertilized eggs often fail to attach to the uterus wall, or are not viable and miscarry, often so soon that the mother never even realizes she was pregnant. But these are not reported as 'accidental deaths'. If a just-fertilized egg was considered a full person, then a mother who did something (such as imbibing alcohol, taking anti-inflammatory medicine, imbibing caffeine, all of which have been suggested as having the potential to trigger a miscarriage, particularly in the pre-uteral attachment period) in the next day or two (not even knowing that she was pregnant) which caused the zygote to spontaneously abort should be arrested for negligent homicide. And if she knew she was pregnant, should she be charged with pre-meditated murder?
Just being a collection of cells with human DNA is not enough to be a person. If, tomorrow, I was in an accident and my brain was destroyed, leaving just enough of the brain stem to operate my autonomous functions, my body would be a collection of living human cells, but me, the person, would be dead. Why should it be illegal to let the person-less body die?
The determining factor is the brain. In week 3 after fertilization, the nervous system begins to develop. By week 6, brain waves can be detected. By week 8, the fetus can hear, processing external stimuli. At this point, there's little doubt that the fetus is a person, and as such should be protected. Somewhere between week 3 and week 6, the organism has developed enough to be a person.
Someday, if medical science can continue to advance without being crippled or outright forbidden by anti-science fanatics, I expect we'll get to the point where a mother with an unwanted pregnancy can go into a clinic, and have the developing zygote, blastocyte, embryo or fetus transferred to an artificial womb, where it can incubate until birth. I rather look forward to that day.
1: This gets to the problem of parts versus wholes.
2: This is not an argument at all. People die at all stages of life, and it would be unreasonable to expect the unborn to be an exception to this.
3: Braindead people are still people, and killing is not letting die.
4: This is where our disagreement lies.
5: I look forward to that day strongly.
Section-by-section (how many more terms for parts can we come up with? :) )
1. I see it more as a concern of consciousness versus non-consciousness. Possession of a consciousness, even a rudimentary one, I would argue is necessary (if not sufficient) to be a sentient life form.
2. Yes, people do die at all stages of life. And when someone takes actions (even unknowing ones) that directly result in someone's death, we arrest them for it. So if the unborn are to be considered persons, with the same rules applied to them as are applied to the born, it would seem to follow that you are proposing that people should be arrested for taking actions (even unknowing ones) that directly result in the death of a zygote.
3. If my body ends up without a resident (braindeath) I'd far rather my body be quickly killed than left to slowly die of starvation and thirst over several days.
4. Yes, it is. To use a computer analogy, I see people as a combination of hardware (the physical body) and software (the neurological activity in the brain that comprises the consciousness, memory, etc) When the hardware is damaged beyond repair, the software has nowhere to run, and is lost as well. Maybe someday we'll be able to upload our software onto different hardware (computer networks, etc), but right now, we cannot. Without the software, the hardware is just....there. The brain is kind of like the hard drive. Even if wiped, it'll retain some of the original software that might be retrieved. (coming out of a coma, for example. The software was in sleep mode.) Before that software is installed, or even the hard drive added to the system, there's nothing there.
5. Hmm. Now I'm wondering how much progress is being made towards this, or even towards the possibility of transplanting a zygote/blastocyte/embryo/fetus from one womb to another, kind of like a post-fertilization surrogate. I'd think that this would be an area of research that would get support from multiple sides.
1: That is another argument entirely. I was replying to your equating an embryo with a blood cell.
2: I fail to see your point. If a pregnant woman behaves recklessly and her child dies as a result, she is guilty of negligent manslaughter. Not all miscarriages are caused this way.
3: And that is your decision to make regarding your own body, and your own body only.
4: A computer with no software is still a computer.
5: If I had more training I'd go into this field. Of course, there is the dilemma of testing it without killing some embryos.
1, 3, & 4: These seem to have combined, focusing on the definition of a 'person'. Your definition seems to be (and please correct me if I am wrong in my perception) that the definition of a person is based solely on the biological (the computer, if you will), while mine is more weighted towards the neurological (the software).
2: Let's say we have a hypothetical person, Susan. Susan and her boyfriend have sex, resulting in a fertilized egg, a single-celled zygote. After sex, she and her boyfriend go downstairs and have a couple of beers while watching TV. Because of the alcohol, Susan's chemical balance shifts slightly and the zygote fails to implant successfully and dies. Should Susan be arrested for negligent homicide?
5: Extensive testing before it ever gets close to human testing would of course be required. And even human testing would probably begin with test cases where the zygote/blastocyte/embryo/fetus was going to die anyway if nothing was done. A fatally ill/wounded mother, cases where the embryo/fetus has become dislodged and kill both the mother and itself if left alone, etc.
1, 3, & 4: That is correct. Answer me this: if I were to develop a self-aware computer program, would it be immoral for me to delete it?
2: Not in this particular case, because she was unaware that she was pregnant. Though I'm not sure how anyone would find out.
3: I would have no problem with this.
1, 3, &4: Yes. Causing the unwilling death of a self-aware, sentient being is wrong, whether that sentient being is human, alien, or artificial.
2: But negligent homicide covers causing a person's death through ignorance (as I recall, any legal experts feel free to correct me), so being unaware that her actions would kill the zygote would not absolve her of the crime. If a zygote, at the moment of fertilization, is to be considered a person, with all the rights thereof, then actions taken that terminate the zygote would have to be considered homicide, even if taken in ignorance. I think, and again please correct me if I am wrong, that your position depends strongly upon intent. Intending to terminate the zygote/blastocyte/embryo/fetus would be murder, while accidentally doing so (via drinking, unexpected side effects of other medication, stress, falling, etc) would not be.
5: The thought of developing an artificial womb naturally leads me to thoughts of cloning. There is talk of being able to grow someone a new heart or other organ from a cell sample, I wonder if the same techniques could be used to grow an artificial womb for the embryo to be transferred to. I love science. :)
i'm not sure i get that from the title of the discussion. i think he was making the point that, though people assume otherwise, there are in fact atheists who are against abortion- not all of us are pro-choice.
but to answer your question, of course, since many religious people believe that the egg is imbued with a soul at conception, being religious can make you more likely to be against abortion. while lacking that belief, and therefore being without that justification, being an atheist can make you less likely to be anti-abortion.