Abortion and Animal Cruelty Laws

Unlikely. The embryo stage is only about 8 weeks from fertilization. It would definitely be in the fetal stage.

Yes, some fetuses would be capable of suffering. But not all.

Unbelievable. Just flat unbelievable.

Embryos don’t have brains. The brain doesn’t begin to develop until about two months, but at that stage the devlopment is still very primitive and non-sentient. The neurons start to fire and brainwaves start to become detctable at about six months. This is the stage at which abortion becomes illegal in most states. Very few abortions happen after six months, and the ones that do happen only for urgent medical reasons. 90% of abortions occur in the first trimester before there is any kind of neurological system or any ability to think or feel. Almost all the rest occur in the second trimester, after the brain has begun to take shape, but before it has gone “on line” if you will, in that the neurons have not started to fire and consciousness has not yet awakened.

Third trimester abortions are extremely rare, usually illegal electively and difficult to get access to even when needed (there are only a couple of clinics in the US that provide them, and then only under very stringent conditions).

The abortion issue (which has nothing to do with animal cruelty laws) is not based entirely on the question of fetus suffering.

If flyswatters are legal, why can’t I have my own H-bomb? They’re the exact same thing!

:looks up from barbecue:

You CAN’T char broil a fetus? Oh no, what will I serve the boss? He’ll be here in five minutes!

:Runs into kitchen to find another cookbook:

Why is the beating heart relevant? Surely it has nothing to do with morality. Consider the two following cases:

  1. The Reanimator builds a device that contains the heart from a dead pig and attaches electrodes to it to make it beat. He then sets fire to it. Is he charged with animal cruelty? Of course not.
  2. Bob’s heart gives out, but thanks to future-technology, he has an external smooth pump that constantly keeps nutrients flowing through his body. The Reanimator sets him on fire. Is the Reanimator charged with murder? Of course he is.

What’s relevant isn’t the beating heart, it’s the presence of an identity with interests and the capacity to suffer. Consider, for example, the comatose dude. Can I set fire to him? Of course not: even though it’s currently inactive, he has an identity, and he has interests. Maybe he can’t suffer right now, but I still can’t end his life, because it’s contrary to his identity’s interests.

A zygote, on the other hand, has no more interests than a daisy, no more identity than an amoeba. The identity and interests don’t manifest until it has a working central nervous system capable of having concepts and receiving and processing neural impulses.

Here you go!

I think my friend disected a fetal pig in high school. Does that count?