Pharyngula

Rebuked by Michael Egnor!

It’s kind of like having my fashion sense chastised by the Insane Clown Posse…I’m not going to lose sleep over it. He’s upset that I don’t think a blastocyst deserves the same consideration we give to a child or an adult human being — that I have baldly stated that I’m pro-abortion. Unfortunately, his argument against my position doesn’t hold up at all well.

Women have a right to control their bodies — the right to self-determination. Yet the right to self-determination is contingent. One does not have a right to kill another person. The right to life supersedes the right to self-determination. When a woman is pregnant, the rights of two human beings must be weighed — that of the woman, and that of the child. While decent people agree on the rights of the woman, what about the rights of the child? What is the moral status of a child (or an embryo or a zygote) before birth? Is the unborn child a person?

My answers:

Biology 101: Human life — the existence of a discreet individual human being — begins at conception and ends at natural death.

Morality 101: All human beings are persons, and all human beings (from conception to natural death) are entitled to the fundamental right of personhood: the right to life.

Denial of personhood to some human beings — to Jews, to blacks, to women, to unborn children — is profound evil, and is the same evil.

So, according to Egnor, this is a “discreet [sic, I presume] individual human being”:

i-64075fac3297e2aefce4f223d43378ef-human_oocyte.jpeg

So is this:

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And they have exactly the same right to live as these:

i-645ddadfa64a9523311d70fa4bbfbee7-human_women.jpeg

Huh. I don’t know about you, but to me, that doesn’t exalt human life at all — it seems to do the opposite, and devalue the life of women.

Maybe when Egnor graduates to something beyond the 101 level, he’ll learn that human cells are not equivalent to a full human life. An “unborn child” (what a silly euphemism!) is not suddenly a person at conception: development is a gradual process of epigenesis, in which information and complexity expand over time, and the person does not form in an instant. There is no black-and-white boundary between non-personhood and personhood — it’s an arbitrary line drawn in a continuum.