Notice that if you ask "When does life begin?" you get a definition, not a fact. What does this mean for the debate between pro-choicers and pro-lifers, one side defining life to begin at birth, the other at conception? Doesn't it mean that it's a problem without a solution?

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Biology would help if it were a matter of fact, but it's really a matter of definition, which is done by stipulation, not research.

Biology does give us facts, it just doesn't give us the facts we need to resolve the question.  The little bugger is alive and it has human DNA different from either of its parents' DNA because it is a combo of parts of each, a pastiche.

The real question is, at what point do we think the little bugger has legal rights not to be killed?

The real question is, at what point do we think the little bugger has legal rights not to be killed?

For sure, and at that point opinion and inclination sneaks in because you need a definition in the form of DEFINING (to your satisfaction) when the bugger has legal rights. And that (the defining) is an act, not a fact.

Gametes are alive, the fertilized egg is alive.  The question is not when does life begin, it is a political question, at what point do we no longer allow a woman to abort a pregnancy.  Certainly, there is a huge difference of opinion here and rightfully so, but it is all opinion, not science.

I suppose one question one seldom hears asked is "What makes when a woman terminates a pregnancy the state's business at all?"

IF it is a murder it is indeed the state's business.

The proposition that abortion is murder follows from the proposition that "the fetus is a person."  Which is why I think countering both statements should be the "pro choice" side's first order of business, rather than arguing about choice.  It doesn't and cannot become a matter of choice unless it is not a murder.

"'The fetus is a person" is a definition, a stipulation, not a fact. I'm just sayin'.

And I wasn't disagreeing with that, Unseen.  I was addressing, specifically, your question about why it would be the state's business.  Under some possible definitions, it's the the state's business--and under those circumstances it would be legitimately so, under others, it wouldn't be legitimate and is not.

Yes, debating when life begins is a waste of time. What I consider more valid is when life is undeniable. The courts in most civilized nations now define that as ex utero viability. If the fetus is viable outside the womb, it's right to life is legally recognized. I'm fine with that.

"The real question is, at what point do we think the little bugger has legal rights not to be killed?"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unborn_Victims_of_Violence_Act

I should have phrased it, "at what point should we consider the little bugger to have..."

What a ridiculous law.  Combined with the fact that abortion is recognized as a right, anyone who kills a fetus can be prosecuted for murder... unless it's done with the permission of the mother?  There is a glaring inconsistency here, and that of course is probably why they passed the law in the first place; to create the inconsistency and hopefully at some point in the future resolve it the way they wanted it resolved.

Once again, I point out that it's a matter of definition, not fact. By that I mean that while facts may determine how the law is applied, first comes a definition. And those who succeed in making their definition (opinion) law typically know full well what the result will be. So, if you want the state to be able to butt into a woman's medical decisions, all you have to do is define the unborn child as, if not a citizen, as at least a person subject to the protections of the state. But whether a fetus is a person is, as I'm always pointing out, not a factual matter but a one based on which definition one wishes to promote. Both sides of the debate want you to think they have the facts on their side, but actually the same facts could result in diametrically opposite conclusions depending upon the definitions embedded in the law.

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