Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Beginning Of Life: Opinions, Views and Such

Eric, of Quixtar Blog said:

"The abortion issue is quite simple from my perspective, and I've been accused of siding with the religious right. The issue hinges on the understanding of when life begins. If life is scientifically proven to begin at conception then abortion is pretty much murder. If life begins only after birth, then it's just a procedure of choice.

The question that needs to definitively be answered is when does life begin? What day? What's the criteria?"

First, it's not so much a question of "upon fertilization of egg with sperm" or "upon the expelling of the fetus out of the body by the host." Science has defined the start of life as when the fertilized egg implants in the uteres -- a seemingly random designation but important as many fertilized eggs don't implant, or implant but are rejected (and not by a chemically altered environment -- sometimes the egg kills itself, other times there's other circumstances (stress, starvation, the body attacks the cell (it happens) and other factors). A legal definition (at least as instituted by the Supreme Court in 1973 with Roe v Wade) would be at what point would the human fetus would be able to survive (with or without help) outside the womb. And there's many groups that claim that life starts upon fertilization but when pressed have no problem with life actually starting upon the ejaculation of sperm (the "Every Sperm Is Sacred" reference I joke about often, but which has had a long tradition within Christianity and even affects thinking today.

Then there's the personal belief systems. While it's easiest to believe the extreme points, the majority in the United States are willing to split hairs. They're willing to grant that the fetus in them is indeed a human being, but aren't willing to go as far as to state that they therefore have more rights than the woman carrying them (i.e. if they endanger the woman, the fetus goes, not the mother). Some societies have even gone so far as to allow women to mourn their abortions (something the US steadfastly avoids, the pro-abortion because of what mourning would mean, the anti-abortion because mouring would mean peace to those who have aborted AND THAT'S THE LAST THING THEY WANT TO SEE HAPPEN); and many who go to abortion clinics definitely view their action as killing, and express regret even as they prepare to go through the procedure.

Personlly, I hold to the present Legal view (No state can ban abortions, but they can set reasonable controls on them) but I admit discomfort with this viewpoint. I doubt that I'll feel fully at peace with it anytime soon. I also choose to live with this discomfort.

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