I'm an atheist. I believe in reproductive rights for women. I believe a woman should be able to abort a pregnancy no questions asked. Why should I have to also believe the nonsense that "life begins at birth"? It seems to me that a human being is created as soon as a sperm fertilizes an egg. The DNA of a human being exists from that point onward. Are we so under the thumbs of the religious right that we can't say, "Yeah, life begins at conception. So what? The woman still has control."?
To be "alive" as a severed finger will be for perhaps minutes is different from "life," which implies the ability of something to sustain itself potentially for a full lifetime. DNA determines what it is, but does not give it life.
Well, an embryo does not have the ability to sustain itself for a lifetime. If it is removed from its life support system (the womb), it will die. Much as we could attach a severed body part to a machine to maintain its blood flow, warmth, nutrients, etc. The finger would continue to 'live', but would not be able to sustain itself without external support.
But isn't an embryo a "stage in the life cycle" and is therefor alive? What is the status of an unborn alligator, then, or a tomato sprout which hasn't quite broken through to sunlight yet? Dead?
You're absolutely right. It's false to claim that even a pre-embryonic sperm and egg aren't "alive." The difference is that once a sperm fertilizes an egg, the life of an individual being begins.
It sure is. It's just a nameless individual we'll never get to know. Genetically, it's an individual. The sentience discussion may have bearing on personhood, but not on whether the embryo is alive.
Reproductive freedom is being made to sound like some sort of demonic rite. There is big trouble brewing in the US. These Republican Teabaggers could demolish all the years of struggle and pain that women have invested in the right to their own bodies. If there is any rational thought in these politics it is not to protect life it is to justify their own immorality by blaming it on God. This does not make them righteous it makes them evil. Voters of this ilk do not think, they blindly follow. They are preyed upon by obscenely wealthy Evangilical Fundamentalist and the shield that allows these self-righteous politicos to hide behind.
Life is a label we put on consciousness to be able to feel good about ourselves. In the long run of things, we are mere specks of dust floating in space that had just the right influence on our chemistry to spawn evolution and countless species to thrive on our planet. Ultimately this is a choice that should be left to the women. NOBODY should be able to tell people what to do with their bodies, especially the government.
Babies aren't self sustaining any more than an unborn fetus. In fact, most people aren't self sustaining until they are well into their teens, some earlier, some later.
Just thought I'd point that out. :D
Maybe life begins when one gets one's first job. :)
People of all ages are dependent. Independence can't be an essential ingredient of life. Parasites are dependent but alive, after all.