Not counting the comments in this old thread over the last two days, I have written exactly zero on the subject of reproductive rights. In my life. Guess I just figured other people had it covered. What a spineless coward I’ve been. Time to get out there and knock some heads! As I’m an RR noob, please forgive me if I come out swinging on an argument that has only been definitively kiboshed about a zillion times, namely the whole “life begins at conception” thing.
I won’t rehash what’s gone on so far in the thread, but suffice it to say that my right hand has been busy, and thus All Your Uteri Are Belong To Us (“us” being me and my gametes).
In one corner: me and Antigone (who kindly reminded me as to the difference between a gamete and a zygote).
In the other corner: Neil, a biblical literalist who in the last week has not only blogged a response to Lisa’s nearly year-old post, but also noted how gay pride parades are God-mockery and helpfully pointed out that Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett just might now be in hell (pretty classy, Neil!); and Theobromophile, a regular at Neil’s site. Neil’s blog seems to get decent traffic, so we may get some other new visitors too, but what the heck, I’m in the mood to add a few more kleenex to the pile.
The fight: Can the “rights” of a single-celled organism trump the “rights” of a woman? (I’d like to point out the first set of scare quotes are mine, and the second set Neil’s.)
Taking off from the last current comment on Lisa’s thread, by Theobromophile:
The scientific fact is that gametes are not human beings the way that zygotes, blastocysts, and embryos are. There is no right to life of a gamete, no more than your dandruff has a right to life.
However, conception changes all of that. From the moment of fertilisation, the egg changes; it develops a hard outer shell to keep out other sperm; DNA from the parents’ gametes mixes; and cell division begins. (Scientists can examine two-celled blastocysts and determine where the head will be.) The result is a complete human being at the earliest stage of life.
There is a tremendous amount of intellectual dishonesty required to pretend that foetuses (or embryos) are not living human beings. While I fully understand why most anti-lifers do not acknowledge this point – as to do so would be to admit that some humans in our society have a right to life, but the smallest, most vulnerable, and unwanted ones do not – it is, nevertheless, antagonistic towards basic biology.
Theo, considering you would apparently gladly risk the life of a real woman with a lifetime of experiences just as deep as your own for the sake of a non-sentient single celled organism that happens to have a hard outer shell, you really oughtta reconsider who you want to call “anti-life” here.
Wanna argue with me about about late term abortions, sure, we’ll still disagree, but at least I’ll feel like we might be able to have something approaching a rational conversation. Arguing in favor of a single cell is pure kookiness. Now you can claim “INTELLECTUAL DISHONESTY!111!!” all you want, but you’re not actually demonstrating exactly how I am supposedly being so. Let me instead show you your own.
You and Neil and others like you make the argument that because the scientific establishment classifies a certain parisitic single-celled organism as “human”, this somehow also proves, scientifically, your faith-based ethical belief that this non-sentient microscopic life form is morally equal to (or perhaps higher than) the life of the host human off of whom it is currently leeching. What we have here is a (yes) human single cell which has precisely as much awareness as a monkey zygote or a cat zygote or a mouse zygote or a gamete or an amoeba or a rice krispy. Your position seems to be that since a human zygote has a chance of growing into a self-aware homo sapiens at some much later date, it has already got some magic quality which makes its worth equal (or better) than the life of an adult woman who has it. But… why? Unfortunately, you guys are missing any kind of middle steps in your intended chain of logic.
This is intellectual dishonesty. Though I’ll give y’all the benefit of the doubt and assume you’re being just as intellectual dishonest with yourself as you are with me. I really can’t understand why anyone would hold your point of view, except with the theory that you are only getting so hot and bothered over this issue because believing this confers on you moral superiority and thus the right to control other people. Like, women.
Speaking of hot and bothered, here’s a challenge to Neil, Theobromophile, and to any other pro-zygote anti-woman’s “rights” lurkers out there. (Remember, that’s Neil’s scare quotes, not mine.)
Let me pose you a simple question. A variation on one I’ve read somewhere before, wish I could remember where. Anyway, please answer directly, as it may clarify a lot for all of us.
First, imagine that you are a heroic firefighter. (Who knows, maybe you really are one.)
You’re passing by a fertility clinic when you notice it’s burning down. Being the brave and plucky embryonic-rights crusader you are, you leap into the fray to save as many frozen embryos as you can. You’re just lumbering out of a burning lab, loaded down with a refrigerator full of potentially hundreds of frozen blastocysts, when you suddenly notice a child whimpering in the corner, trapped behind a fallen timber which you are sure that you, with your rock hard pecs, can easily move.
Now, you might be able to leave and then come back for which/whoever you left behind; but the fire’s raging pretty badly. You also might not. Do you…
(1) …drop the refrigerator to save the child, and take the chance that the blaze might destroy the hundreds of frozen blastocysts before you can return?
(2) …keep on going with the refrigerator, and take the chance that the fire might kill or maim the child before you can return?
If you chose the child, why did you do so?
If you chose the refrigerator, does your answer change if you know that the refrigerator has only ten frozen blastocysts? Only one?
And finally, if you refuse to give a straight answer either way, what does this say about the strength of your convictions?