Consider an average couple. They are pro-choice. They want to have a baby. She gets pregnant. In this particular situation, they would probably think of this fetus as an “unborn baby”. For them, in this instance, life began at conception. They refer to the baby as “him” or “her”, compare names, etc.
Consider the same couple…pro-choice…they get pregnant by accident. They didn’t want to have children until much later in their relationship. Now, do they still think of the fetus as an “unborn baby” or do they minimalize its existence to justify having an abortion? Do they think of the fetus as “it”? In this scenario, does life begin at birth?
This is not an attempt to start any kind of dialog about the morality of abortion. I just want to know what people think about this great divide in our society.
In both cases, I think we’re largely dealing with competing conceptions of possible futures, since we certainly aren’t dealing with different actual beings. It is genetically a him or a her. But it, as it is, is also not yet anything like what one would think of as a personage that one would necessarily need to refer to as a him or a her, and doing so seems to involve imagining a particular future for the zygote/embryo/fetus/unborn baby. To speak of people minimizing “its existence” seems to involve more than a little of pre-emptively deciding what “its existence” is.
I’m an identical twin. That means that I (or my sister-- hard to say which-- we’ll use me for hoots) literally did not exist at all for up to 8 days or so after conception, technically, and broke off suddenly as a relatively big clump 'o cells-- a clone of my sister, basically. When did I get my soul, or did I miss out on the big give-away?
(I’m not so sure if I believe in souls at all so I may be on a third side of the debate. . .)
careful with the terminology here. as far as i know, a “fetus” refers to an offspring in gestation when it starts to physically resemble what it is agoing to become (in this case, a human).
i think many people could agree that in terms of physical resemblance, an unborn offspring early on resembles more a collection of cells (my common example: cheek cells, since we once examined those in grade school) than a human being.
to me, no harm is done when the collection of cells aborted can by no means be called human, other than by its dna. cheek cells, for example, also have dna. they aren’t by themselves human. they aren’t sacred.
many people believe that the “life” is sacred. back to cheek cells again. are alive. still aren’t sacred.
many people get caught up on the potential for life in the collection of cells. by that argument, premarital sex is preferrable to abstinence, since abstinence does not have the potential to produce life. out with potential.
to me, the “humanness” of said collection of cells are all that we have to judge their value. it’s a lot easier to call a fetus a human than to call a fertilized egg a human.
but then, it is all a matter of perspective. it’s very difficult to see life from eyes other than our own. as you show in your example.
—That means that I (or my sister-- hard to say which-- we’ll use me for hoots) literally did not exist at all for up to 8 days or so after conception—
It might even be more accurate to say that either both or neither of you existed: a third potential child existed, which itself had the potential to be any number of nearly indentical genetic clones.
(interestingly enough, even identical twins may have structural differences, due to the fact that DNA is more like a recipe, not a blueprint, and the cake comes out differently with each cooking. The prescence or abscence of wisdom teeth, for instance, is not always the same in twins (my 8th grade english teacher wasn’t born with wisdom teeth, like me: his brother had eight of them)
An interesting question, bringing in the examples in the OP. I never thought of it that way-- that people’s opinions would change based on their circumstances at a particular time. I guess that’s true if they really, really wanted to feel justified in having an abortion they would’ve otherwise feel justified about, but I’d like to think most people would recognize that if they believe a certain way they can’t just change their beliefs to suit themselves.
As for this:
Not necessarily true. When my husband and I were trying to get pregnant, we didn’t hold funerals for all the fertilized zygotes that didn’t take hold (although I think there’s a good chance there weren’t any at all-- we got pregnant VERY fast!) but I still think that spark of life started at the conception. At least, I think that’s what I think. Right now, anyway. Considering this is not something we can ever get a 100% correct answer on, it’s all opinion.
—You’re saying your teacher('s brother) had a double set?—
Yep. And boy was he bitter about it. I don’t know much about it works biologically, but from what I do understand it has something to do with the way these structures (in this case, the buds that eventually develop into the teeth) form in embryos: I guess it’s possible for them to over or underdivide. I’ve read some things claiming that it’s evolution at work, but I’m not so sure, seeing as I know of that example in twins. Of course, that could be just a very rare deformity (but the fact remains: a deformity that must have been embryonic, not genetic). No one in my extended family was born without wisdom teeth like I was, though that doesn’t prove it isn’t somehow recessive.