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Narrowing in on what’s up for debate on the matter of abortion
August 19, 2008, 9:26 pm
Filed under: Ethics, Philosophical Anthropology | Tags:

{Some unoriginal observations}

What is the question at hand?  Is it “When does life begin?”  No, if anything, we are interested in when an individual human life begins.

But is that really up for debate?  Don’t we know, roughly, when an individual human life begins?  Is this really controversial?

Is the fetus human?  Of course it is.  This is uncontroversial if you stop and think about it.  If it is not human, then what is it?  Is it a dog fetus?  Is it a cow fetus?  No, it is uncontroversially a human fetus.  So the fetus is human.

Is the fetus alive?  Of course it is.  This is uncontroversial if you stop and think about it.  If it is not alive, then it is dead.  But it is manifestly not dead.

So the fetus [really it is the zygote I have in mind] is a human life.  Is it an individual human life?

If you take out my heart and hook it up to a machine to keep it alive, it will be both human and alive but it won’t be an individual human life.  It is a part of me.  Yes, the ovum is a part of the woman and the sperm is a part of the man.  But the zygote is a distinct life, with its own distinct genentic code.  It is not merely a part of the mother or father, as if it were merely one of the their skin cells or something of the like.

So the fetus is an individual human life, in a uncontroversial way.

So there really is no debate on the matter of when an individual human life begins.

But when does an individual human life attain personhood?  That is controversial.

When does an individual human life attain basic human rights?  When does it become someone we need to take responsibility for and becareful to deal with in an appropriate matter?  That is controversial.

Of course its being controversial doesn’t mean that it is irreducibly foggy and hidden from our understanding.  No.

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