Flat Earth Follies: The Religious Right's Egg Crusade

By Sikivu Hutchinson

Taking its “life begins at conception” charade from State Legislature to State Legislature, one of the most dangerous political forces in the U.S. is stepping up its crusade for the “rights” of the unborn. Backed by an organization called Personhood USA, the latest offensive from the Religious Right involves a renewed movement to amend state constitutions to establish human rights and personhood status for fertilized eggs. Ever immune to morality, reason, church-state separation precedents and an understanding of the basic laws of biology, the most flat earth reactionary segment of the so-called pro-life movement wants to circumvent constitutional protections for abortion by conferring personhood on fertilized eggs. This would eviscerate the premise that women have a sovereign and singular right to control their bodies by designating rights even before implantation and a clinically viable pregnancy has been determined. For those who have any elementary grasp of the human reproductive process, conception does not automatically result in pregnancy and the majority of fertilized eggs never implant in the uterus. Yet if the egg crusade zealots had their way, these new edicts would potentially criminalize any woman attempting to use birth control pills or IUDs, and jeopardize in vitro fertilization procedures and stem cell research.

Though the egg crusade has failed to gain the imprimatur of the National Right to Life Committee, those who would dismiss such a campaign as too extreme to gain traction do so at their peril. According to the L.A. Times, earlier this year the egg crusaders were able to convince the North Dakota House of Representatives to pass a constitutional amendment on personhood, although it was later vetoed by the State Senate. Colorado voters also rejected a similar ballot initiative 73% to 27%. Yet in California the egg crusaders are collecting signatures and whipping up support for an amendment insidiously dubbed the California Human Rights Amendment.

One of the most reprehensible arguments that the egg crusaders make to bolster their cause is a comparison between their movement and the movement to abolish slavery. Their website cites Joshua Giddings, a 19th century American anti-slavery legislator who held that “God” as “author” of all life grants the inalienable right to life to every being. Following this argument it is unclear who is exactly “enslaving” pre-implanted fertilized eggs. Is it potential mothers who arrogantly lay claim to their own bodies? Is it the state for failing to protect the right of pre-implanted fertilized eggs to implantation? By cloaking its propaganda in the rhetoric of civil and human rights, the egg crusaders avoid delineation of the real life consequences for women, once again reducing them to vessels with no agency, right to privacy or control over their own bodies.

The website does not specify what rights un-implanted eggs would be conferred with other than, presumably, the right to progress to the implantation stage, fetal development and then birth. There are no details about who or what could act on the behalf of the un-implanted egg as person if the host carrier (formerly known as mother) of the egg were to determine that she should receive medical treatment. There was no information on who would legally be empowered to intervene or act on behalf of the un-implanted egg as person (the state perhaps?) to object to any stance that the mother might take. It stands to reason that if contraception were used to prevent the inalienable right of the egg as “person” to implant, then host carriers who did so would be criminalized and prosecuted for murder. As a preventive measure, potentially offending host carriers could perhaps be fitted with special ankle bracelets or encoded with state monitored electronic microchips to preclude violations.

The Catholic and fundamentalist Christian activists at the forefront of the egg crusade are curiously silent on these small details. In true schizoid fashion they push for special faith-based government entitlements and yet scream about government interference, rallying big government to run roughshod over women’s fundamental right to privacy through a new regime of policing. And indeed, their own “family planning” policies have proven an abysmal failure, as evidenced by the exploding teen birth rates in Bible Belt states like Alabama and Mississippi in comparison to lower rates in the relatively godless Northeast and Northwest (abstinence-only sex education programs and fundamentalist Christian propaganda against fornication outside marriage would seem to be a source of cognitive dissonance for Southern teens).

The decidedly anti-human rights egg crusade would take this national obscenity one step further by deepening the region’s poverty and straining its already overburdened, single parent-averse social welfare net. The fervor of this “new” brand of anti-abortion activism only underscores the need for a vigorous secular defense against the continued incursions of the Religious Right. It’s either that or get ready for the ankle bracelets.

Sikivu Hutchinson is the editor of blackfemlens.org and a commentator for Some of Us Are Brave KPFK 90.7 FM. This is an excerpt from her book Scarlet Letters on race/gender politics, atheism and secular belief in America.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Dan

    The egg crusaders want nothing more than the subjugation of women to (white) male control. Imagine if a woman should be a cigarette smoker or casual drinker under such a regime; could she be prosecuted for damaging her otherwise-unknown egg-”person”?

    One more step on the road to Margaret Atwood’s Republic of Gilead.

  • CybrgnX

    These type of legislations are put into place because of the Jefferson ideal of …
    “The true theory of our Constitution is surely the wisest and best, that the States are independent as to everything within themselves, and united as to everything respecting foreign affairs…”
    Although I admire most of Jeffersonian ideas the above has lead to a hugh number of problems from slavery, dumb laws, creationism is science, abuse of women by DARM (dumb ass religious males). Although the total control of the states by the govmint is scary, but local idiocy of the state laws is pathetic, as in they now want to make a parasite(yes it is-look up the full definition) protected in the same manner as a child.

    And “….Imagine if a woman should be a cigarette smoker or casual drinker under such a regime; could she be prosecuted for damaging her otherwise-unknown egg-”person”? And the answer is YES! because you are saying it wrong. It should be
    “…Imagine if a woman should be a DRUG ADDICT (cigarette smoker or casual drinker) under such a regime; could she be prosecuted for damaging her otherwise-unknown egg-”person”? But at this time you can only be prosecuted after the birth because most of these damages are not visible until birth. It is known that these DRUGs can cause damage so if the parasite is given full law protection then the women WILL be prosecuted by the DARM.

  • Martin

    As Dan suggests, I’ve often wondered if legislation like this would mean investigation of every miscarriage as a potential homicide?

    I’ve also wondered if it would be possible, once this legislation is passed, for pregnant couples to claim a fetus as an exemption when they file their income taxes? It would certainly add a sense of urgency to some New Years Eve “celebrations”!

  • http://she-who-chatters.blogspot.com D

    Double-you. Tee. Eff.

    Thanks for pointing out the latest in meddlesome authoritarian dick-waving bullshit. How positively infuriating!

    The only thing that tempers my anger is the knowledge that their foolishness is born of ignorance. Their stifled imaginations unthinkingly swallow the nonsense ideas laid before them: that sperm+egg=person. I was taught in the fifth grade that sperm+egg=zygote, and zygote+time=blastocyst, and so on and so forth, and after a while, you get a fetus that kinda-sorta looks like a human body (which is not the same thing as being a person, otherwise mannequins need rights), and then it’s born and then it just eats and watches and metabolizes and maybe learns to repeat some stuff, and then an ego barrier develops between the toddler’s idea of “self” and “environment,” and only then do you have a person. Albeit a tiny, foolish, impetuous person, who lacks a good deal of skills that are needed to become a healthy, critical-minded, well-adjusted person.

    Well, OK, I didn’t learn all of that in the fifth grade, and it’s way more complex than that and I skipped a few steps, but still. These people are morons. WTF again. A Defense of Abortion needs to be required reading in schools. Seriously, that was written in 1971, and we’re still going around in circles on this? We have some real growing up to do as a nation.

  • Sirutka

    What worries me the most about this “life begins at conception” is how do they deal with the naturally high rate of spontaneous abortions? Do they even think about it? Would every potential mother who had a miscarriage be investigated as a person guilty of manslaughter? What a wonderful way for the religious right to persecute ‘uppity’ women.

  • http://www.myspace.com/driftwoodduo Steve Bowen

    This doesn’t go far enough in my opinion. I’m all for giving human rights to sperm. After all they deserve their chance to fertilise an egg don’t they? and the bible says wanking is a sin so it must be right. Sheeesh!!

  • Adviser Moppet

    It’s times like this I want my three wishes to come true.

    1: I wish men could get pregnant, not women.
    2: I wish pain relievers for labor pains would not work on them at all.
    3: I wish abortion was illegal under all circumstances.

    Then when the men get pregnant we women can yell at them for being sluts and not keeping their legs shut etc etc etc.

  • keddaw

    “No fertilization without representation”

    Sorry, I just came up with that and felt the need to share it.

  • lpetrich

    It gets even worse. I’ve seen some people call abortion an effort to exterminate black people. They point to a greater fraction of black women’s pregnancies ending in abortion than white women’s ones as “proof”, and some of them even try to compose some Protocols of the Elders of Planned Parenthood, claiming that Margaret Sanger supposedly believed in eugenics.

  • Wednesday

    Imagine if a woman should be a cigarette smoker or casual drinker under such a regime; could she be prosecuted for damaging her otherwise-unknown egg-”person”?

    Yes, especially if they are also guilty of being poor or non-white. I mean, we’ve had women jailed for fetus endangerment because they were taking a prescription drug to TREAT their illegal drug addictions.

  • Alex Weaver

    I have a simple remedial suggestion: humor. Every time they bring it up we make “omelette” jokes until they’re in complete disarray.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    I’m all for giving human rights to sperm.

    Masturbation as mass murder? That might fly, until the knuckleheads realize that this will require the prosecution of men.

  • http://she-who-chatters.blogspot.com D

    Every time they bring it up we make “omelette” jokes until they’re in complete disarray.

    That’s, like, the best damn idea I’ve heard all day!

  • Staceyjw

    These people (fundies) won’t be happy until they have turned back all the rights that women have gained. And this IS an issue of womens rights- our right to NOT be forced into pregnancy, a right to our own body. Anti-choicer’s are also anti-birth control and anti-womens liberation, and they use these things as a wedge in politics, knowing that few politicians will fight with them.

    Fundies are very dangerous, and its easy for modern, thinking people to ignore them. I mean, what they want is so insane- but they are motivated, organized, and powerful because of it. NEVER FORGET IT. They command large groups of just as crazy religious nuts, and many more moderates willing to go along for the ride.

    This is why we need to be more active as atheists- we are a large part of the population, and are often ignored. Its time we stop them from running all over womens rights, not to mention all the other rights they trample in the name of god.

    Staceyjw

  • Ritchie

    Steve Bowen beat me to the punch here. If a fertilised egg is to be granted rights, then why not sperms and unfertilised eggs, which are, after all, fertilised eggs in potentia? Are men to be prosecuted whenever they, as an old uni friend would charmingly put it, ‘play the knuckle-shuffle’?

    The scary thing is of course that there are probably those among these wackos who might just think so…

  • jemand

    this reminds me of the push to criminalize abortion in the first place… up until the mid 1800′s not even the catholic church was opposed to abortions before quickening, which generally was at day 40. The argument that aborting these early pregnancies was the equivalent of killing a human was an idea that had to be pressed onto society before abortion became illegal.

    And now the same techniques are at work for fertilized eggs pre-implantation. Let’s hope we don’t get birth control banned…

  • TEP

    A fertilised egg isn’t one life – it’s billions! After all, a fertilised egg has the capacity to split in two, which is the cause of identical twins, and in principle this could be made to happen enough times to give billions of identical offspring. So destroying one egg is actually killing billions of people, as is not taking every measure to make sure that the egg ends up producing the maximum possible number of people. So, anybody who produces a fertilised egg, and does not induce it to split into billions of offspring is guilty of genocide.

  • http://she-who-chatters.blogspot.com/ D

    TEP, don’t forget about all their possible descendants, too!

    Stupid people trying to figure out “when life begins.” It began billions of years ago and has been continuing apace ever since.

  • Joffan

    In concord with other observations here: remember, boys, every sperm is sacred.

  • Arch

    Your life began at fertilization.

  • Joffan

    I don’t think so Arch, I’m sure I’d have remembered it. Have you been to any non-implanted zygote funerals recently?

    Becoming human, based on successively granted individual rights at various ages, is a process. In the USA people become fully human at age forty, when the last rights restriction based on age is lifted.

  • Entomologista

    They will pry my birth control from my cold, dead hands.

  • http://cranialhyperossification.blogspot.com GDad

    Joffan, I was aware of the age restriction until 35 of becoming President. What’s the final restriction until 40? I can’t wait until next August, then.

  • http://she-who-chatters.blogspot.com D

    Your life began at fertilization.
    – Arch

    Really, now? That strikes me as rather like saying that a leaf’s life began only when it first broke away from the rest of the twig on which it grows. It can be traced back in a continuous path all the way to the rest of the tree, which can in turn be traced back continuously all the way back to the very first replicators. Arbitrary distinctions are arbitrary, my friend.

    Unless you mean something different by life which makes that step of the process into something crucial. Please tell me why I should accept your definition, if you think I should. If not, well, I guess it’s fine for you to think that way, freedom of conscience being what it is. But I should hope you don’t wish for others to hold themselves to your standards, in that case.

  • Polly

    I don’t think what Arch said is all that controversial.
    from Merriam Webster, 1 definition of “Life”:

    c : an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction

    Once an egg cell is fertilized, it metabolizes, multiplies, differentiates, and reacts to its chemical environment, and carries out all the activities we associate with a living organism. Neither sperm nor egg alone do any of these things.

  • http://www.skepticaloccultism.com/ pendens proditor

    I’m curious what these people would say if you asked them why the majority of fertilized eggs never achieve implantation even when humans don’t interfere. In their view this egg is a life, a soul, which gets snuffed out only days after coming into existence. Somehow this seems to be an even less dignified death than a stillbirth — people are at least affected by you and will mourn for you rather than never knowing you even existed. Your death isn’t even a miscarriage; the body flushes as usual and out you go.

    And every soul only gets one shot at this life thing. Are there really zygote-souls up in heaven with fully formed adult personalities? Are they disappointed that they missed out on life? Do they feel like they won the lottery since they got to skip right to paradise? Or do they get sent somewhere else despite never once having the ability to sin?

    “Why does God kill zygotes?” is even harder to answer than “Why does God kill babies?” The whole conception process is a ridiculously inefficient way of bringing souls into the world; shouldn’t the all-powerful and all-knowing be able to come up with a better approach?

    While Googling the subject I stumbled on an article that makes this argument much better than I do, so I think I’ll just yield the floor: http://reason.com/archives/2004/12/22/is-heaven-populated-chiefly-by

  • RollingStone

    “Neither sperm nor egg alone do any of these things.”

    Not true. The sperm and the egg are both alive. They are both cells, and all cells are living things. In fact, your dictionary didn’t mention that by definition, all life is made of cells. It can consist of trillions of cells or one cell. Gametes do reproduce, multiply and differentiate – it’s called “meiosis,” and you should have learned about it in high school Biology. They metabolize energy through cellular respiration, like other organisms. And they do react to their environment: the only environment they can live in is the reproductive system; once they leave it, they die fairly quickly. Another example is the way sperm react to the temperature of their environment: in order to reproduce, they need to be at a slightly lower temperature than 98.6, which explains why the testicles are in their unfortunate outer location.

    Also, let’s consider what the category of life INCLUDES under the dictionary definition. It includes all animals, plants, fungi, single-celled organisms, weeds, grass, the bacteria living in your intestines, the mold growing in your refrigerator, and millions of other things. But we are only talking about the human species, so the dictionary doesn’t tell us much, unless you want to start a “Save the Bacteria” campaign.

  • Polly

    @RollingStone,

    Gametes do reproduce, multiply and differentiate – it’s called “meiosis,” and you should have learned about it in high school Biology.

    You are confusing the end products of meisosis which are sperm and egg cells with the parent cells that undergo meiosis.
    Here’s a definition of “meiosis”:
    **A type of cell division in which a nucleus divides into four daughter nuclei, each containing half the chromosome number of the parent nucleus.**

    Sperm and ova have only 23 chromosomes. They cannot divide reductively.

    They metabolize energy through cellular respiration

    True. I misspoke.

  • http://paulforpm.blogspot.com/2009/04/morality-exposed.html keddaw

    By such a narrow definition of life, a cell that is dying (not growing or reproducing) is not technically alive.

  • Wednesday

    @Polly, since sperm and ova metabolize energy, etc etc, it looks like you’re basically saying they don’t count as life because they lack the capacity to reproduce. So do you mean to argue that ability to reproduce is a necessary condition for something to count as life?

  • Polly

    @Wednesday and keddaw,

    That’s a tremendous oversimplification. Reproduction is no more a defining characteristic of life than any other property I listed. A good comparison would be a virus. It has the capacity to reproduce like crazy but is it “life”? I lean toward no, but it’s debatable. OTOH, a fertilized egg fits all the criteria I listed above.

    I would say there is a whole spectrum from completely dead to fully living depending on the properties of the specimen under consideration. Some specimens are very ambivalent, others “fill the bill” pretty nicely.

    Anyway, getting back to my original point: I don’t find it at all unreasonable to say that my life (functions) began at fertilization regardless of what kind of haploid, quasi-life preceded that stage.

  • http://paulforpm.blogspot.com/2009/04/morality-exposed.html keddaw

    Life is indeed a spectrum. We “know” life when we see it at a macro scale, but to then try to define a line where one side is alive and one side is non-life is almost impossible. The virus example is a very good one, I would tend towards yes but biology isn’t my specialist subject.

    While your life may have started at fertilisation, is it not also accurate to say that your human life only began with the formation of a central nervous system? Although what that would make pre-nervous system life is curious.

  • rennis

    What is the general consensus as to when a fetus is human life? Is it when it has a DNA that is not that of the father or mother? Is it when there is a distinct heartbeat? Would destroying something that has a beating heart be considered killing it? At what point should the fetus obtain basic protections so as to be allowed to complete it’s development?

  • Alex Weaver

    Albeit a tiny, foolish, impetuous person, who lacks a good deal of skills that are needed to become a healthy, critical-minded, well-adjusted person.

    You mean we all go through a right-winger stage?

  • Alex Weaver

    At what point should the fetus obtain basic protections so as to be allowed to complete it’s development?

    When technology reaches the point where this can be achieved without enslaving another sentient being in the process?

  • Polly

    @keddaw,

    is it not also accurate to say that your human life only began with the formation of a central nervous system?

    That’s as good an attempt as any – though like any line it’s not without weaknesses – which I have no interest in debating.

    One’s answer depends on what one values ABOUT humans.

    What do you say to this:
    I attained the the unique (to our knowledge) aspect of being “human” when I attained a concept of self and others as individuals: some time between 3 months and 12 months old. However, I was anatomically* human before birth, and my first complete cell had the genetic makeup of a human – though in no sense is a cell a human oraganism.

    *problematic! how many and which organs, present or absent, determines humanness?

  • Joffan

    GDad, my mistake, I had vaguely misremembered that the bar on seeking presidency was 40. 35 it is.

  • http://paulforpm.blogspot.com/2009/04/morality-exposed.html keddaw

    The problem here, as I see it, is that we have not adequately defined the concepts.

    A fertilised egg is alive. It cannot be anything other than human. However, can we then take the leap to say it is a human LIFE? It is an alive human, but that is only true because human has two meanings here. We have the concept of a multi-cellular well-formed oraganism that is human and we have the concept of having to define the DNA and that can also only be human.

    Most reasonable people would assume that a ball of cells in a lab did not constitute a human life as they weren’t viable. Also, most people would assume that a stem cell, while alive and undeniably human, do not constitute a human life.

    If pushed I would agree with Alex, and perhaps use stronger language. A human is not a parasite, when a ball of cells is viable without leeching off another human being then it is a human.

    This usually occurs about 18-19 years after conception.

  • Arch

    You cannot separate human from human life. Is murder, slander, theft, etc, acceptable against a baby, a child, an elderly individual, a handicaped person? By the arbitrary definition of life “when a ball of cells is viable without leeching off another human then it is human”, you have opened the door to justification of all kinds of acts that are clearly contrary to the dignity of the human person. Human life begins at fertilization, and if we fail to recognize personhood at fertilization, we will continue to think that many acts that degrade human life are acceptable. And when we kill the most vulnerable, we cheapen our view of every human life, even our own. Once again, your life began at fertilization.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Human life begins at fertilization…

    How is this also not arbitrary?

    …and if we fail to recognize personhood at fertilization, we will continue to think that many acts that degrade human life are acceptable.

    Such as abortion I presume? The problem is that that is what you are trying to show…that it’s bad. You can’t very well use the “fact” that it’s bad to argue that it’s bad.

    And when we kill the most vulnerable, we cheapen our view of every human life, even our own.

    And forcing half of our population to be enslaved to their biology isn’t cheapening our view of every human life?

  • Arch

    How is this also not arbitrary?

    It is the only definition that is not arbitrary. Something (or in this case, someone) starts at its beginning. Human life starts at the beginning of life–fertilization.

    Such as abortion I presume?

    Such as all murder, including abortion… also euthanasia and capital punishment, among others… objectification, theft, abuse, etc… you got it.

    And forcing half of our population to be enslaved to their biology isn’t cheapening our view of every human life?

    The mentality of being enslaved to biology is already a pessimistic, degrading, and unhappy view. Being human is a gift! We are not enslaved as humans, but gifted as humans. We have freedom to make choices for which we are culpable–that is a beautiful thing! Without it, we would not have the capacity for goodness and love.

  • http://www.myspace.com/driftwoodduo Steve Bowen

    It is the only definition that is not arbitrary. Something (or in this case, someone) starts at its beginning. Human life starts at the beginning of life–fertilization.

    Millions of fertilised human eggs are flushed down toilets and dumped in sanitary bins on a daily basis, due to the extremely high attrition rate in human fertility. By this token even God doesn’t value them as human life.

  • Lyra

    Imagine, if you will, that somebody needs a transplant: something like a kidney or bone marrow, something that can be given by a living person. Imagine that, due to blood type or something like that, you are the only person who can be a donor for this person. The process is disruptive and painful and slightly risky to your health. The person will die if you do not give them part of your body.

    Now, you might say things like “of course I would help them.” “It’s the morally right thing to do.” On the other hand, you might say, “I’m not sure I would be comfortable with that.” But what I am concerned with is the answer to this question: should the government be able to FORCE you to donate a kidney? In other words, should you have a CHOICE in whether you donate your body parts to someone else, even to save them? Does your right to control what happens to your own body supersede another person’s right to life? Look, we let people opt out of being organ donors when they’re not even USING the organs anymore and nobody raises a stink, so I think that question has been answered by society. Why then is there a different standard for women?

    I am allowed to think less of someone who is not an organ donor, and you are allowed to think less of someone who gets an abortion. That’s fine. But just like I am not allowed to force you to donate your body, you should not be allowed to force me to donate mine.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    It is the only definition that is not arbitrary. Something (or in this case, someone) starts at its beginning. Human life starts at the beginning of life–fertilization.

    You are apparently confusing the concept of “non-arbitrary” with “discrete”; this is a mistake. “Arbitrary” signifies a declaration made in the absence of supporting evidence. “Discrete” means completely separate, or disparate. In the proper senses of these words, and in you acsence of support, yoer declaration is indeed, as OMGF pointed out, arbitrary.

    Being human is a gift! We are not enslaved as humans, but gifted as humans. We have freedom to make choices for which we are culpable–that is a beautiful thing!

    I’m left to interpret your non-answer of OMGF’s point as an admission that you would deny this freedom to choose to half of humanity, although the matter at hand is one you can never ever experience.

  • jemand

    I’m with Lyra. As long as the “pro life” are not pro forced donation AFTER DEATH for goodness sake, they are nothing but hypocrites, have nothing really to care about “human life” but simply continue in a movement that began to oppose the broadening role women played in public life. If you will remember, there never was even an *argument* much about abortion prior to about 1860. Even the catholic church allowed it.

    The question is not at all about whether the fetus is “human” or even conscious… the question is whether someone else is forced to give up the use of their body to support it, with the concomitant risks to health and life. I don’t think ANY line of “humanity” is sufficient to force that. If one volunteers, that is fine, but it cannot be forced. Whether or not the fetus has a beating heart, feels pain, whatever, can inform the individual woman’s choice, but it can never override that choice.

  • Danikajaye

    Something I think is helpful to ponder in this argument is why it is immoral to murder another human being in the first place. Putting aside the religious “because God said so…” ideas, we don’t murder another human being because it causes pain and suffering, severe trauma to the murdered person, their family and society at large. It deprives the victim of future experiences and their right to decide what they do with their own life. What of these applies to an unborn fetus? If a pregnancy is terminated and the fetus feels no pain and it saves the mother from further trauma is it wrong? Can you really deprive a fetus of right to choose when it is encapable of making a choice?

  • http://she-who-chatters.blogspot.com/ D

    @ Polly (#28): You’re right about meiosis – it makes gametes, it’s not how gametes self-reproduce. However, one of the latest criteria for life is “dynamic disequilibrium.” You see, neither a lone gamete nor a mule has a capacity for self-reproduction, but they are no less alive for it. They still both metabolize and react to their environments, and while either could in principle be used for further genetic material (either by combining with another gamete, or by being cloned), their status as de facto genetic dead-ends is nothing to do with whether or not they’re alive.

    @ Alex Weaver (#34): Actually, that’s not too far from the truth, depending on how you look at it. My junior year history teacher was talking about how babies are pretty much entirely self-absorbed, and are really only concerned with what they want (as a matter of necessity, they must be to command parental affection, armed as they are with nothing but cuteness).Though he does not strike me as the faithful type at all, he made an off-hand comment in an uncharacteristically serious tone of voice: “Talk about original sin.”

    In A Defense of Abortion, Judith Jarvis Thomson also points out that while the right to get a developing parasite out of your body is a good one, it does not entail the right to see that parasite destroyed. Eerily close to your #35, as well. Well, not “eerie” so much as “spot-on and awesome for it,” but whatever.

  • keddaw

    Another problem I see here is that people are so keen on defining a living cell (fertilized egg) as human life. When I sneeze there are living cells expelled, they are both alive and human, should we have full medical facilities on standby to try and keep those cells alive as long as possible? To not do so robs the dignity of human life.

    Ridiculous? Of course. So what are people actually defending? It is the potential to become a full human being. But that then brings into play the idea of cloning, stem cells etc. If every cell could potentially become a fully developed human using technology then you must redefine it again.

    Human life begins when a cell, or ball thereof, has the potential to become a fully developed human (again with the multiple meanings of human!) without technology. Does that mean that a premature baby isn’t a human life as it would die without technology?

    My view is that we need different language to describe human life. To say the cells in my sneeze are not alive or not human is wrong, but to describe them as human life is also wrong. The same goes for a fertilized egg, and if you disagree then consider this: for every pregnancy there are approximately two women whose bodies flush a fertilised egg away without her knowing. Should we thus have a medical team on standby to try and save this ‘human life’ every time a woman has a period? That is the only possible response if you believe a fertilized egg is equivalent to an adult human life.

  • http://www.myspace.com/driftwoodduo Steve Bowen

    The genes in a Chimp are 95 – 97% human. Does a chimp embryo get 97% of human rights?

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Thump already handled the other stuff, but Arch, I do want to comment on these two points:

    Such as all murder, including abortion… also euthanasia and capital punishment, among others… objectification, theft, abuse, etc… you got it.

    Because murder wouldn’t happen if no one got abortions? Because euthanasia is somehow wrong? Because so many anti-choicers are against capital punishment? Because making women into baby carrying vessels isn’t objectification? Because people wouldn’t steal stuff if we didn’t have abortions? People wouldn’t abuse anyone if we didn’t have abortions? Really?

    The mentality of being enslaved to biology is already a pessimistic, degrading, and unhappy view.

    Then why try to force that onto women?

  • Arch

    As long as the “pro life” are not pro forced donation AFTER DEATH for goodness sake, they are nothing but hypocrites, have nothing really to care about “human life” but simply continue in a movement that began to oppose the broadening role women played in public life.

    Donating organs is generous, commendable, and should be taken very seriously, especially under grave circumstances, but the decision to donate an organ is not equivalent to a decision regarding murder of a human being in the womb. A person opting for or against organ donation is not necessarily making a direct decision to murder or not.

    If you will remember, there never was even an *argument* much about abortion prior to about 1860. Even the catholic church allowed it.

    This is completely false. The earliest writings of the Church denounce abortion.

    Then why try to force that onto women?

    Pregnancy is not evil. Once again, we are not enslaved by biology. Life is a gift.

    Human life begins when a cell, or ball thereof, has the potential to become a fully developed human without technology.

    Exactly, which is the case at fertilization… from that moment, a new human life is present which will continue growing and developing naturally, inside the mother’s womb.

    I highly recommend looking at ultrasound videos, or perhaps the “Silent Scream” film. My wife and I have found the ultrasounds of our children to be very powerful experiences. Not to mention hearing the heartbeat, which begins at 22 days after conception.

    Check out Jane Roe as well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_MUUvcvjEg

    Peace.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Arch wrote:

    not equivalent to a decision regarding murder of a human being in the womb.

    Given that you have yet to show that a fetus is a human being, ought you not delay this line of argument until you’ve done so? Otherwise, you appear to be either a)unaware that you’re begging the question, or b)arguing in bad faith.

    Please explain why your definition of human life is not arbitrary; it certainly appears so to me. There is nothing about a blastula that is remotely human except for its potential to become human. Is that the baseline for your “definition” of humanity? If so, why? Please don’t merely assert something without backing it up.

    Pregnancy is not evil. Once again, we are not enslaved by biology. Life is a gift.

    Except when the pregnancy is ectopic, or brought about by rape, or will result in an anencephalic child, or bring a child to a drug-addled mother, or…. You get my point, right? Your simple “moral” pronouncements do not a truth make. Life is not nearly so clear-cut as you seem to think, and if you’d deny a woman choice in any of the above situations, you’d certainly be “enslaving her with biology.” You should at least accept the fallout of your supposedly moral arguments, rather than waving away objections with unfounded assertions.

    You have yet to comment on what makes you, a male, qualified to define the morality of this question for a woman, when it is a morality you’ll never put to the test personally.

  • Polly

    You have yet to comment on what makes you, a male, qualified to define the morality of this question for a woman, when it is a morality you’ll never put to the test personally.

    By this logic, an infertile or post-menopausal woman who’s never had children, as well as a transgender woman would also be unqualified. How is this comment not sexist?

    I see this as an attempt to muffle your opponent by implicitly saying he has no right to an opinion because of his gender. As if the ability to REASON on a subject is negated if it “can’t happen to you.”
    What if Arch were (is) a woman? Does that change the validity of the arguments? Pro-life women put forth the same types of arguments – why not just pretend you’re talking to one of them.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Polly, my point is that direct experience can and does inform one’s view of morality. I can comment on the morality or immorality of abortion, but the fact that I cannot experience the results of my moral pronouncement — only inflict them onto others — means that they are sterile and not as informed by consequences. That is my point.

    To put it simply: Talk is cheap. I bet he’d change his views about abortion pronto if he were carrying an ectopic pregnancy.

  • http://paulforpm.blogspot.com/2009/04/morality-exposed.html keddaw

    Arch, quote-mining is very naughty…

    Human life begins when a cell, or ball thereof, has the potential to become a fully developed human without technology.

    Was my original quote, but I added that it meant certain babies could not be considered human life, such as premature babies. This would 100% rule out any ectopic pregnancy from being a human life and would absolutely allow abortion in that case.

    And unless you can point to a reason why a fertilized egg being naturally aborted (not implanting in the wall of the womb)should not be afforded medical treatment when a woman has a period then your argument is not consistent.

  • http://she-who-chatters.blogspot.com/ D

    If the room is stuffy, and I therefore open a window to air it, and a burglar climbs in, it would be absurd to say, “Ah, now he can stay, she’s given him a right to the use of her house – for she is partially responsible for his presence there, having voluntarily done what enabled him to get in, in full knowledge that there are such things as burglars, and that burglars burgle.” It would be still more absurd to say this if I had had bars installed outside my windows, precisely to prevent burglars from getting in, and a burglar got in only because of a defect in the bars. It remains equally absurd if we imagine it is not a burglar who climbs in, but an innocent person who blunders or falls in. Again, suppose it were like this: people-seeds drift about in the air like pollen, and if you open your windows, one may drift in and take root in your carpets or upholstery. You don’t want children, so you fix up your windows with fine mesh screens, the very best you can buy. As can happen, however, and on very, very rare occasions does happen, one of the screens is defective, and a seed drifts in and takes root. Does the person-plant who now develops have a right to the use of your house? Surely not – despite the fact that you voluntarily opened your windows, you knowingly kept carpets and upholstered furniture, and you knew that screens were sometimes defective. Someone may argue that you are responsible for its rooting, that it does have a right to your house, because after all you could have lived out your life with bare floors and furniture, or with sealed windows and doors. But this won’t do – for by the same token anyone can avoid a pregnancy due to rape by having a hysterectomy, or anyway by never leaving home without a (reliable!) army.
    – Judith Jarvis Thomson, A Defense of Abortion (section 4)

    Arbitrary distinctions are arbitrary. “Life” is a word we made up, and trying to determine just when it “really” begins is a fool’s errand. Legally speaking, we have a well-respected documentary beginning of a person’s life called a “birth certificate.” Why on Earth should we make it any more complicated than this? I see no compelling reason whatsoever.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Arch “Exactly, which is the case at fertilization… from that moment, a new human life is present which will continue growing and developing naturally, inside the mother’s womb.”
    I hate to be semantic about semantics, but the blastocyst (which, frankly, is an awesome word) won’t “continue growing and developing” all that much until implantation occurs. Before that point, it can’t (with the exception of ectopic pregnancy, which can but isn’t the kind of “can” that ends happily).
    See how muddy the waters get once you start looking at them?

  • Danikajaye

    Does this “Egg Crusade” remind anybody else of The Minority Report?

  • Arch

    Ectopic pregnancy is not justification for abortion–nothing is a justification for abortion. To understand a case like ectopic pregnancy or a situation in which mother and/or child’s life is in danger, a true understanding of the principle of double effect is vital. Various treatments can be offered, but a direct abortion is never acceptable.
    Further, even if growth is not rapid in the time immediately after fertilization, that does not deny the fact that a human life is present at fertilization.

    And unless you can point to a reason why a fertilized egg being naturally aborted (not implanting in the wall of the womb)should not be afforded medical treatment when a woman has a period then your argument is not consistent.

    If there were a way to prevent miscarriage from taking place and save the baby, it surely would be done. I am the father of a miscarried child. We would have done something to prevent the miscarriage if it were possible and ethically licit, but it was not possible. Our experience only reaffirmed the fact that our miscarried child was a human life, too. Yet miscarriage is completely not in the realm of a direct decision to end a preborn child’s life.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Ectopic pregnancy is not justification for abortion–nothing is a justification for abortion.

    The ethics which bring you to value a potential life over an actual life scare the hell out of me.

  • Arch

    It is not valuing a potential life over an actual life–it is valuing all human life, period. The fact that some think they can decide, based on state of human development, that some are worthy of life and some are not, is truly scary. And defending all human life at its most vulnerable stages (preborn, elderly, the infirm, etc) does not diminish the value of a human life at what some here are considering an “actual” or “fully developed” (as if that were definable) human life. ALL human life is invaluable, from fertilization to death.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Ectopic pregnancy is not justification for abortion–nothing is a justification for abortion.

    I really would like to call special attention to this, because it demonstrates how extraordinarily evil the Catholic church’s position on abortion is.

    Let’s just review the facts briefly. An ectopic pregnancy is when the fertilized embryo implants in the woman’s body somewhere other than in the womb; in the vast majority of cases, this means within the Fallopian tube. When this happens, only one of three things will result: the woman’s body will naturally abort the fetus on its own; the woman can have a chemical or surgical abortion; or the fetus will grow until the Fallopian tube ruptures. This will result in critical internal bleeding, comparable to being shot in the gut, and the certain death of the woman without immediate, emergency surgery.

    In all three cases, the fetus will die. A tubal ectopic pregnancy cannot produce a live baby. The only question is whether the mother will die also, and Arch is arguing that she should. Even though he subscribes to a bizarre cult of the blastocyst, he is utterly unconcerned for the life of an actual adult human being. This is a moral obscenity, and the only thing that makes this situation more ludicrous is that people who hold this stance have the arrogance to call themselves “pro-life”.

  • Sarah Braasch

    Lyra and jemand really hit the nail on the head. The so-called “pro-lifers” have so many more dire concerns than abortion. But, they don’t seem to realize this. I think this just goes to show how much the “pro-life” movement is a misogynistic religious movement about subjugating women as sex slaves and the property of men and how much it is not about saving lives.

    Our ENTIRE legal system is based upon the premise that, as an individual human being, you don’t have to lift a bloody finger to help anyone anywhere ever. Never.

    The set up I like to use that always seems to hit home: The most beautiful loving and sweet little girl can be getting gang raped in front of you, can be starving to death on the street in front of you, can be having her throat slashed in front of you, can be choking on a candy in front of you, can be drowning in front of you, can need a blood transfusion from you, and you are the only person who can do this, BUT you do NOT have to help her. Not in any way. You have no obligation whatsoever. You can walk right passed her, singing a tune, skipping, or whistling a melody.

    You only have an obligation to take care of her once you have made the conscious choice to intervene on her behalf. Only then. Then you can be held responsible for not taking due care of her — after you have chosen to intervene.

    When have you heard of a “pro-lifer” railing against our legal system for this reason? Hmmm. I can answer that question for you. Never.

    No one is ever required to help anyone else ever. Not if someone needs blood or tissue or an organ or food or help or money or expertise or permission or anything. You don’t have to do anything to help anyone ever for any reason. Except when it comes to women and blastocysts. Then we require women to sacrifice their bodies and their lives whether they consent or no.

    Because the “life” of a blastocyst is somehow more important than the life of an adult woman human being.

    So, go ahead — let them call a blastocyst a human life all they want.

    It doesn’t change anything. Forcing women to sacrifice their bodies and lives to care for another “human life” up ends our entire legal system. Oh, unless you don’t consider women to be full human beings. Then, I guess it works out ok.

    This is why morality has no place in the law. I won’t go so far as to say that morality doesn’t exist. But, I will say that it is an entirely personal assessment, having no objective basis whatsoever.

    And the idea that life is sacred and that it begins at some distinct point (good luck defining that, BTW) is purely theological.

  • jemand

    @Sarah, aren’t there some countries with slightly different legal systems, that if you see a crime, you actually are required to report it, or an injury, report it to the medics, at whatever time you are next capable of reporting it? Still doesn’t change the bottom line, that as an *individual, specific* person, you are not legally required to be responsible for another *individual, specific* person. Legal requirements are always limited to financial support, or alerting specific government employees who specifically volunteered for the job to situations. Never what the anti-abortion lobby wants for women. I’m all for someone telling me I might be *immoral* for my choice. That’s a discussion I’m willing to have. What I’m *not* willing for, is them to get tired of attempting persuasion, and resort to *force* when their arguments do not convince me. Like people who argue it’s immoral not to be an organ donor. Or immoral for a healthy parent to not give their sick child a kidney transplant (note, men can be in this situation, but not pregnancy. “Pro-lifers” are completely silent about legislating these situations. Draw your own conclusions).

    In some of those instances, I might even *agree* with the moral argument! But you can’t press onward and make it a legal requirement, because that comes with much, much more harm in an ethical system than it would alleviate.

  • Arch

    The only question is whether the mother will die also, and Arch is arguing that she should.

    Clearly a false statement, if you would have heeded my entire post.

    he is utterly unconcerned for the life of an actual adult human being.

    Also clearly a false statement if you read my posts… and clearly not the position of the Catholic Church. In fact, the Church upholds human life as so sacred, that it must be protected from its very beginning to its very end. The stage in life or capabilities of the person do not determine worthiness to live. Quality of life (which is not something definitive–attempts to define “quality of life” are futile) is not above the sanctity of life. All human life is sacred.
    Once again, understanding the principle of double effect is necessary for understanding Church teaching on life issues in which the mother’s life is in danger, certainly including ectopic pregnancy. It is by no means disregarding the life of the mother.

    This is why morality has no place in the law. I won’t go so far as to say that morality doesn’t exist. But, I will say that it is an entirely personal assessment,

    Should it be legal to commit murder, to steal, to commit perjury, embezzle, etc, because one’s personal assessment tells them it is? Or because in a certain circumstance they feel like it ought to be okay? Such a base of ethics cannot say that ANY act is wrong. That would be scary.

    I will say that it is an entirely personal assessment having no objective basis whatsoever.

    This is an objective statement about morality, and is therefore contradictory.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Arch “Once again, understanding the principle of double effect is necessary for understanding Church teaching on life issues in which the mother’s life is in danger, certainly including ectopic pregnancy. It is by no means disregarding the life of the mother.”
    But it is disregarding the health of the mother (as well as the possibility of future pregnancy), since to “double effect” they have to cut the area out (which is “cutting out a tube that happens to contain an embryo” and therefore not an abortion, thus showing theology’s mastery of splitting hairs), rather than treating it earlier by non-surgical means (which is), although a casual googling shows Catholics being both for and against using methotrexate, which surprises me not at all.

  • http://paulforpm.blogspot.com/2009/04/morality-exposed.html keddaw

    @Arch “The fact that some think they can decide, based on state of human development, that some are worthy of life and some are not, is truly scary.”

    Sorry kid, but we do this all the time, it’s called public policy. As an economist I may be more used to it, but every time you decide to take the car rather than walk, every time you decide to vote for party A over party B you are making a decision that ultimately values one group’s comfort over another group’s life.

    When you choose to fly rather than take the bus you make a choice that will have ramifications on how many people die later on, when you vote for a party that denies socialized medicine you indirectly cause the deaths of hundreds of people who would otherwise have been saved. When you vote for a party that wants a welfare state you cause a massive reduction in charitable givings and cause the death and suffering of people in 3rd world countries that would otherwise have been saved. (I have no idea if you are R or D so I thought I’d show a problem with each.)

    As a post script, why are so many Christians anti-abortion but pro-death penalty? Not saying Arch is, sounds like he isn’t, but it’s an interesting mental state.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    In fact, the Church upholds human life as so sacred, that it must be protected from its very beginning to its very end.

    Unless the life in question is that of a woman with an ectopic pregnancy, in which case you said specifically that you were against abortion. This can only mean you favor letting the woman die, since that is what will occur without an abortion.

  • Arch

    although a casual googling shows Catholics

    Please do not get information on Catholic teaching from wikipedia, CNN, googling, etc. Church teaching is regularly misrepresented by modern media sources. Go to official Church documents, or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
    http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc.htm

    when you vote for a party that denies socialized medicine you indirectly cause the deaths of hundreds of people who would otherwise have been saved.

    The big word here is indirectly. To indirectly impact someone in a negative way, which would likely be undesired, is not the same as a choice to make a direct, desired action toward someone to end their life.
    Regarding the death penalty, you bring up a good point. There are Christians who think the death penalty is okay, which is contrary to Catholic teaching. The Church teaches a consistent ethic on life, and all Christians ought to uphold that, which certainly includes being against the death penalty.

    This can only mean you favor letting the woman die, since that is what will occur without an abortion.

    This is a false statement. The woman’s life is recognized just as much as the child’s in the principle of double effect, and in the case of ectopic pregnancy, the woman’s life is the one that can be saved and the one that receives direct effort to save… Principle of Double Effect… the woman’s life is to be saved in ectopic pregnancy, but by a means that does not include direct abortion of the child.

  • Scotlyn

    Wow – so there is a movement to protect female eggs? And I used to think Monty Python’s “Every Sperm is Sacred” was pure hyperbole!

    Further to the logical problems noted above, an interesting illustration of the problems of carrying the battle “backwards” (in the human embryological development sense) in legal terms here. Irish constitutional law does vigourously protect the life of the “unborn” with the effect of forbidding 99.99% of abortions (legal definitions even here are tricky things). But the case above concerned a separated couple’s disagreement about the fate of frozen embryos produced from their respective egg and sperm prior to their separation. The woman argued – unsuccessfully – that the embryos came under the heading of “unborn” and had a right to be implanted and carried to term, whereas the man argued – successfully – that the unimplanted embryos did not satisfy the criteria to be protected as “unborn,” and moreover, that he had the right not to become a father against his will. His argument having carried the day indicates where Irish women need to focus our energies in proposing liberalisation of our own abortion laws – we can now assert that there is a legal precedent in favour of the principle that people cannot be forced to become parents against their will.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    The woman’s life is recognized just as much as the child’s in the principle of double effect, and in the case of ectopic pregnancy, the woman’s life is the one that can be saved and the one that receives direct effort to save… Principle of Double Effect… the woman’s life is to be saved in ectopic pregnancy, but by a means that does not include direct abortion of the child.

    This is silly. Whether or not an intermediary exists between an action and a result doesn’t reduce the moral weight of the decision being made. Isn’t it your own Bible that declares, “By the fruit shall ye know the tree”?

    What you are doing is twisting desperately to avoid what you clearly see as a contradiction in your espoused morality and the practical effects it has.

    Sarah is right. This is nothing more than the continued policy of the Catholic heirarchy to subjugate women, and is yet another blot on their record.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Arch “Go to official Church documents, or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”
    Forgive me because my eyes glazed over a few pages into that 64 page tract (conveniently not using terms like “double effect” or “ectopic”), but it looks like they’re fans of repetition.

    “Principle of Double Effect… the woman’s life is to be saved in ectopic pregnancy, but by a means that does not include direct abortion of the child.”
    That’s theological nitpicking to get around a theological conclusion. “We can’t suck the embryo out of the tube that it will eventually rupture, causing you to bleed out and potentially die if you don’t happen to be in close proximity to a hospital at the time, but we can wait for it to do that, then cut out the torn tube, which just happens to contain an embryo.”

  • Rollingforest

    I take a moderate approach on abortion. Personhood is based on consciousness in my opinion. Consciousness is connected to the brain. The brain develops during the second trimester. Killing a person is murder, therefore killing someone who is conscious is murder, therefore killing someone with a brain is murder, therefore killing someone in the second or third trimester of pregnancy is murder. Thus, while I feel the woman has a right to abortion during the first trimester, during the second or third abortion should only be allowed to save the woman’s life.

    In regard to the idea that a baby is a parasite: I think that, contrary to what Sarah said, we DO have a moral obligation to help people in need unless doing so would hurt us more than they are hurt now. The fact that most people don’t do this is no excuse. Also, I feel that parents have an especially strong ethical requirement to care for their children which would make late term abortion especially wrong.

    (notice how religion is not needed for this argument at all)

  • DSimon

    Rollingforest, my moral theory about abortion reads pretty similarly to yours, but with the cutoff point at the end of the 2nd trimester. My (layman’s) understanding is that the parts of the brain thought to be required for consciousness actually develop, at the earliest, pretty close to the end of the 2nd trimester, even though the brain as a whole starts developing earlier. “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” and all that jazz.

  • Rollingforest

    Yes, I’m interested in researching the development of the brain more as well to fine tune my theory.

  • Kennypo65

    The question is, “When does life begin?” Dozens of complicated arguments and definitions, but no concensus. Yet, the answer is quite simple, so simple in fact that it has been the answer for millenia, crossing all cultural and ethnic barriers, and defined throughout human history. Life begins at birth. The date on my birth certificate is December 1, not March 1. Why? Because that’s the day I was born. A lot of pro-lifers will defend to the death the rights of the unborn, but once the child is born, especially if he/she is poor and not white, they no longer care about his/her rights.

  • Rollingforest

    The answer to “When does life begin?” is 3.8 billion years ago. On the cellular level, DNA gets shuffled and different cells get grouped together differently, but in the end, there is no fundamental difference between a cell that is you and a cell that could become someone else.

    I agree that birth is another one of the major turning points in pregnancy. It is easy to put forward birth or conception as special. There are certainly problems with conception being the start of personhood, but the problem of birth being the start of personhood is that someone could be born premature. They are obviously a person when the come out premature, but if they had been born later, then under the theory you put forth, they wouldn’t be a person until later. I think that many people believe that personhood is connected to something about the baby/fetus, not the location of it at any given time.

  • Kennypo65

    @Rollingforest: The premature birth is still a birth so they are not excluded from my definition. In the interest of full disclosure, I happen to agree with you that late term abortions should be restricted to medical necessity. In all honesty, I would like to see the need for abortions greatly reduced, which is why I am an advocate for comprehensive sex ed, and safe and effective birth control. Actually, I would prefer that adoption were utilised more. Of course this is not a perfect world, and this is only my opinion. It is very telling that pro lifers tend to focus on making laws to restrict a woman’s right to choose instead of making the choice of adoption more appealing. There are lots of good people who want children but can’t have them that would make great parents if given the chance. I even have an idea what the prolifers can say about adoptions. They could say something like a child is a gift from God, but perhaps it’s one that you weren’t meant to keep. You were meant to give it to others. But adoption requires nine months of commitment and dedication, whereas banning abortion can be reduced to a sound bite.

  • Rollingforest

    If they set up a program that paid people not to get an abortion but to give up their child for adoption instead, I bet it would decrease abortion, but I’m betting it would also raise a lot of controversy.