The Adventures of Ziggy the Zygote

In my post on how I lost faith in the pro-life movement, I wrote two things about zygotes. First, I wrote about the utter lack of concern the pro-life movement shows for saving the huge number of zygotes – i.e. fertilized eggs – that are naturally expelled from women’s bodies before they even have an inkling that a pregnancy may be about to begin. Second, I wrote that because birth control prevents ovulation, those who believe that zygotes are the moral equivalent of people should be working to put every woman on the pill so as to reduce the number of zygotes expelled from the body, and thus killed.

Some anti-abortion readers made clear in their comments on my post that they missed both of my points entirely. One pro-life website, Life Action News, put up a post responding to my points by similarly missing them. This post was called “Introducing Ziggy the Zygote in … Adventures in the Uterus!” It started with this introduction:

NOTE: In her recent post “How I Lost Faith in the Pro-Life Movement,” blogger Libby Anne suggested that zygotes “flushed out” of women’s bodies naturally are not at all different from zygotes that cannot implant because of artificial birth control. Because she really does not seem to understand our very simple argument, I am going to approach the issue using small words and a kindly, loveable fictional character, Ziggy the Zygote.

The post continued as follows:

Hey, boys and girls! I’m Ziggy, and I’m a zygote! Nice to meetcha!

According to SCIENCE!, I am a human being!

Every time someone who is anti-abortion talks about a zygote, or fetus, or whatever, being a “human being” or a “person” or “life,” we need to talk about defining terms. For instance, life doesn’t begin at conception. Life began 4 billion years ago and has been continuous since. Both eggs and sperm are “alive” before they come together. As another example, skin cells and hair are also human, just like a zygote. I don’t see people getting all up in arms about saving skin cells. Finally, the term “person” is a legal concept, and, currently, having been “born alive” is one of the requirements. (The same with “human being.”) You’re probably starting to get my point. Simply asserting “According to SCIENCE!, I am a human being!” is simplistic, misleading, and quite simply false.

I know what yer thinkin’ – “Hey, I know what human beings look like, and you don’t look like me!” Hyuck, hyuck! Well, I sure don’t! But then again, neither does your grandma, or your baby cousin! Human beings look different at different stages of development. This is what you looked like, once upon a time. Pretty hard to believe, huh? Welp, it’s true!


I mean, really? Really?

The author says that people look different at different stages of development, and this is true. You don’t look exactly like your grandmother. But you know what? You actually, uh, look like your grandmother. You do not, in contrast, look anything like a zygote.

Here is your grandmother:

Here is a zygote:

Notice the resemblance? Yeah, me neither.

While the author focuses on appearance – and fails in her argument there – appearance is not so important as what characterizes personhood. People, for instance, are self aware. Zygotes, in contrast, are not. People have a nervous system and can think and feel pain, zygotes don’t and can’t do either. People are physically autonomous, zygotes are not. The idea that a zygote should be in the same category as you or your grandmother is silly.

When a lady gets pregnant – ask yer parents for more information on that! – I form in her belly. About a week later, I IMPLANT, which means I grab on to the wall of my special home, the UTERUS, and hold on tight so I can get bigger and eventually come on out into the world! Hyuck, hyuck!

But sometimes, I don’t grab on. I float away and don’t grow up into a full-grown person. It’s just one of those things!

“It’s just one of those things”? “It’s just one of those things”?!? But see, that was my point! Do we say that when people get cancer? Do we say that when a baby is born with spina bifida? No! We always, always, always try to find a way to save people’s lives, no matter the kind of disability or disease they suffer. If abortion opponents really believe that zygotes and embryos are people just like your or I, where is all the research to stop the loss of zygotes and embryos through failure to implant or early miscarriage? Why do those who claim to believe that zygotes and embryos are as much people as you or I focus solely on elective abortions and ignore natural abortions (aka miscarriages)?

Now, some ladies take pills called BIRTH CONTROL. These pills are supposed to keep Ziggy the Zygote from ever existing, but sometimes they don’t work quite right, and the zygote grows anyway. These pills can keep Ziggy the Zygote from being able to grab on to the uterus. Ziggy the Zygote can end up flushed away! Awwww!

Actually, studies have found that this is not true. The pill prevents ovulation, which means that no zygotes are created. In the case of “breakthrough ovulation,” well, a small percentage of women do become pregnant on the pill, right? The pill doesn’t prevent implantation, and zygotes that result from breakthrough ovulation have the same chance of implanting and growing into people that any other zygotes do.

Libby Anne says that ladies who don’t take birth control lose more zygotes than ladies who do, and if we’re really PRO-LIFE, we should WANT ladies to take birth control because it will SAVE ZYGOTES.

Yes, this is exactly what I said, and it’s true. Because the body naturally expels 50% of all fertilized eggs, and because birth control prevents women from ovulating, women on birth control expel fewer fertilized eggs than those not on birth control. So if you believe a fertilized egg is a person, and that every time your body expels a fertilized egg you are committing involuntary manslaughter, well, you should naturally want to do whatever you can to reduce the number of eggs your body expels.

As I said above, studies have found that the pill does not actually prevent a zygote from implanting in a woman’s uterus. However, the point I made in my original post was that even if the pill did prevent zygotes from implanting, and even if it did so at the rates exact abortion opponents use in their literature, your body would still kill many, many, many fewer zygotes (by expelling them) on the pill than not on the pill.

Well, golly, I’m just a dumb little zygote, but even I know the difference between a natural, very early miscarriage as intended by God or nature or whatever ya wanna call it, and taking a pill that INTENTIONALLY ends lives. Hyuck, hyuck!

Oh. My. Word.

Well okay then. The author of this post argues that the natural “death” of a zygote is a-okay because it’s what God intended. Do we say this about cancer? Do we say this about strokes? Do we say this about multiple sclerosis? No. If the author of this piece is to be consistent, she must be against modern medicine, since it gets in the way of what God intends. Somehow, though, I doubt she thinks twice before taking aspirin.

And let me say this, too. Just because something is natural doesn’t mean we don’t try to subvert it. I mean, my goodness, we subvert nature all the time! Think about cars, and houses, and cell phones! The idea that it makes sense for people who believe that zygotes are the moral equivalent of you or I to not give a shit about trying to prevent zygotes from dying simply because those zygotes die naturally? I’m sorry, but no. Just, no. If you really believe those zygotes are the moral equivalent of people, equal in value and worth, you ought to be very interested in finding out why they fail to implant and trying to see if they can be saved. Since, after all, they’re people. Anyone who could believe that and do otherwise is a monster.

I mean, if a lady never knows she’s pregnant and nature takes its course, that’s one thing. But if a lady knowingly takes a pill that might end a zygote’s life, that’s another. What if the zygote “flushed away” by that pill was one of the ones that God or nature (or whatever ya wanna call it!) intended to grab hold and grow up?

Wait, what? We can, with our actions, prevent what God intends from occurring? How does that make any sense? If God intends for a zygote to implant in a uterus, how could humans stop that from happening? Isn’t God supposed to be all powerful? And more than that, don’t we prevent what God intends every time we treat cancer? Every time we set a broken leg? Every time we use electronic shocks to restart someone’s heart?

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Really? Who’s the one who needs to do some more thinking here?

Boys and girls, there is a thing called INTENT. And it matters a lot! INTENT, in a court of law, can be the difference between life and death! Did you intend for someone to die? That’s an important MORAL question! (Link added for the benefit of pro-choicers.)

A lady who doesn’t take pills may lose zygotes, but that is the result of natural, biological processes that happen in every lady’s tummy. A lady who does take pills takes nature into her own hands, and a human being – even a little one like me – dies because of it. That’s very different from nature doing it! Don’t ya think?

This is the only part of the entire post that makes any sense at all.

Let me start by pointing out that research has found that the pill does not prevent zygotes from implanting. The folks behind Life Action News, however, refuse to believe that science. They shouldn’t be so skeptical. I mean, if they’re really interested in saving zygotes from being killed, shouldn’t they be rejoicing that studies are finding that the pill does not kill zygotes, and in fact, that the pill could be a perfect way for women to keep their bodies from killing embryos? Seriously, shouldn’t that be the best news ever?

And more than that, even if studies were finding that the pill did result in a few zygotes being expelled from the uterus, shouldn’t those who want to prevent the natural deaths of zygotes be interested in improving the pill so that breakthrough ovulation wouldn’t ever occur? For example, if you could eliminate breakthrough ovulation, then there would be no question about the possibility of the pill preventing zygotes from implanting. Think how many zygote deaths could be prevented! In other words, even if the pill did prevent the implantation of some zygotes, why should those who believe zygotes are the equivalent of people see the pill only as an enemy instead of a possible solution in need of improvement?

To quickly address the point about intent, however, I would say this: If I took the pill with the intent of keeping my body from natural expelling zygotes, even knowing that there was a very small chance that taking the pill could prevent a zygote from implanting and I knew it, wouldn’t my intent be positive? My intent would be to save lives, not to end them, and the result of my actions would be fewer deaths. (I’ll address this point more thoroughly using an analogy at the end of this post.)

Finally, the author of this point once again brings up the idea of “taking nature into your own hands” as though it’s both negative and something that we don’t normally do, and once again she makes light of the zygotes a woman’s body expels naturally – zygotes she supposedly views as no different in value or worth than you or I. This was the point I was trying to make – as long as people like this author speak so cavalierly about the death of zygotes, I cannot for the life of me believe that they actually see these zygotes as the moral equivalent of a person – even though they themselves claim they do. The conclusion I keep coming to is that either they don’t actually see zygotes as people like your or I, or they do and they are moral monsters.

Ziggy the Zygote trusts nature more than a pill that can be harmful to a lady and end a zygote’s life in the process!

Once again we have my two points being combined here – the idea that zygotes dying naturally is a-okay and the idea that women who take the pill are murderers. But once again, this doesn’t work. Why? Because the author clearly sees nothing wrong with zygotes dying naturally. Nothing. In fact, the author argues that we shouldn’t try to prevent it, because it’s what God intends. (Can I say how glad I am that we as a society don’t approach cancer that way?) Remember when the author argued that there is no difference in worth or value between a zygote and your grandmother?

The idea that the author could argue that zygotes are just as much people as your grandmother and then show literally no care for the half of all zygotes that naturally fail to implant is morally horrifying enough without adding that the author goes on to say that a woman on the pill – even if she is on the pill with the intent of keeping her body from ovulating and thus keeping zygotes from being naturally expelled from her body – is a murderer because she might possibly expel a zygote if she experiences breakthrough ovulation (something studies are finding does not happen).

It’s almost like the author cares more about making sure women don’t take the pill than she does about preventing the deaths of the zygotes she claims to view as people just as much as you, I, or your grandmother. In fact, it’s exactly like the author cares more about keeping women from using birth control than she does about preventing the deaths of the zygotes she claims to care so much about.

Well, boys and girls, that’s it for today’s lesson! I hope this has helped some of you understand the MORAL difference between natural processes and artificial contraception. See ya real soon!

I know I’m starting to repeat myself here, but really? Really? My mind is boggled.

We treat people with cancer, and you know what? That’s artificial! We treat people with heart disease, and you know what? The “natural” process would simply be letting them die. But we don’t do that. You know why we don’t do that? Because we have hearts! Because we assign value to humanity! Because we believe that people matter, and have worth! And this is why, like I said above, I can’t bring myself to believe that people like this author actually believe that zygotes are just as much people with rights and worth as you or I. In trying to refute this point, which I made in my original post, the author of this piece merely reaffirms it.

And let me say one more thing about the whole idea that taking the pill makes you a murderer because the pill might accidentally make your body expel a zygote, even though in the process it will be keeping your body from naturally expelling a great many more embryos. I’ll use an analogy:

Let’s say you’re an army commander and you see that enemy aircraft have just arrived above your troops’ position. Your men are about to be shot down like rabbits, and you’ve estimated that the death toll will probably be around fifty percent. Fortunately, you have anti-aircraft weapons and you know you can take down the enemy planes. However, you know that some of those planes might go down on top of a few of your troops. Or, they might not. You have no way of knowing whether shooting down those planes might unintentionally cause the deaths of some of your men. However, you know for 100% for sure that if you do nothing, half of your men will die. What is the moral and ethical choice here? Because if we follow the logic the author of the Life Action News article uses, the correct choice is to do nothing so as to avoid the chance that you might accidentally cause the deaths of some of your men. The correct choice is to watch half of your men die while you do nothing to prevent it.

As the way abortion opponents approach zygotes and the pill makes stunningly clear, there is no logic, and certainly no morality, in the positions of the pro-life movement.

Note: A reader has pointed out that in the introduction to the Life Action News piece, the author promised to show that the zygotes naturally flushed out of a woman’s body are somehow different from zygotes that fail to implant because of birth control (and just so this fact doesn’t get overlooked, I’ll say it again: studies are finding that the pill does not keep zygotes from implanting). However, the author of the piece focused not on any differences between the zygotes but instead simply on women’s intentions and, I suppose, on God’s intentions. In other words, the author argues that if God intends for a zygote to die, all well and good, but, in contrast, if a woman takes any action that may result in a zygote dying, whether that’s her intention or not, she is committing murder. There was no attention at all spent on showing any sort of actual difference, in worth, value, etc, between zygotes that are naturally rejected from a woman’s body and those that hypothetically could be rejected because of hormonal changes resulting from the pill. 

The Totally Unoriginal Atheist Case against Abortion
When Abortion Restrictions Mean Jail Time
Opposing Beliefs That Cause Harm
Fifty Shades of Disagreement: Evangelicals and Feminists on Fifty Shades of Grey
About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Lainey

    Ok I couldn’t finish that. I got to the bit where she said it was ok that I have suffered multiple early miscarriages but my med student friend who takes the pill cause she needs to be child free for the moment to have the best chance of completing her studies (and you know actually helping women with fertility problems) is a horrbile person; followed by the stupid bloody ‘hyuck, hyuck’ and felt the need to punch something then cry It’s just as well I didn’t have any respect left for the pro-life (Ha!) movement because i would have lost the last of it right there. How can anyone with any human empathy not see how monstrous and cruel that idea is. If that’s their idea of moral their moral compass is broken.

    • Evenstar120

      Lainey, I’m so sorry. And my reaction to the Life Action News piece was similar to yours – it’s infuriating.

  • AndersH

    Oh, I see what they’re doing here, they’re trying to distract us from the silliness of their argument with the tackiness of the way it’s delivered. Hyuck, hyuck!

  • Lusy

    Fortunately, just as many people will want to punch them in the face for using the phrase “Hyuck, hyuck!” three times more than should reasonably be considered acceptable in any article, as will actually be convinced by their argument.

    • Kate Monster

      Right? It took me, like, one paragraph to totally despise Ziggy. I don’t know that “Zygotes are obnoxious, annoying, and just generally insufferable.” was the best message for Life Action News to be sending.

  • JethroElfman

    BadCatholic did a recent post on this topic, and the commenters get lost in an argument over whether the soul is implanted at conception or at implantation. The whole thing is a religious viewpoint rather than a scientific one, hyuck, hyuck. Glad we are getting away from using religious dogma to create laws.

    But more importantly, did Libby Anne just swear in a post? There’s been naughty words in quotations, but this is the first time I’ve seen her swear.

    • Libby Anne

      That happens when I get really angry, and reading this article and writing the response simply made me really angry. The absolute callousness, the claim to value zygotes just the same as your grandmother and then the absolute lack of care about whether they die, just so it’s from natural causes, was horrifying to read.

      • Hazel

        OK, this Ziggy the Zygote thing is a dumb premise…but…

        I don’t understand your horror at people being ok with the prospect of a natural death. Everybody dies. Most of us, hopefully, will die a natural death without excessive intervention.

        In many cases, when life is no longer viable, due to old age or disease, we don’t do everything we can to maintain it–we offer only palliative care.

        There’s no way to offer palliative care to a zygote. And being unwilling to interfere with an unviable zygote does not mean that someone doesn’t care whether or not it passes.

        I’ve also known cancer patients, who loved their own lives just fine, but chose not to pursue aggressive cancer treatments, preferring, instead, to let the disease run its course.

        You seem to equate “caring” about a life with excessive medical intervention. But sometimes caring about a life means allowing it to end with dignity.

      • KarenH

        Well, and the other thing is, my grandmother was dead when I got pregnant on the pill (for the third time, I mit add). Does that mean it was okay for me to have my abortion? I cried both times, after all.

      • Hazel

        “If you really believe those zygotes are the moral equivalent of people, equal in value and worth, you ought to be very interested in finding out why they fail to implant and trying to see if they can be saved.”

        There actually already has been a lot of medical research into why some pregnancies fail to progress–as any woman who’s had two or more miscarriages will tell you. And there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Often it has to do with the woman’s anatomy or hormones, the correction of which often requires surgery or hormone therapy to prevent future miscarriages. Sometimes the reasons are more elusive.

        But your premise that people are not interested in finding out what causes a failed pregnancies is just false.

      • Twist

        If you’re talking about failed implantation or the kind of miscarriage that occurs before the woman even realises she’s pregnant and has no symptoms other than a slightly late, unusually heavy period, then their hasn’t been a huge amount of research. Certainly not as much as if a comparable proportion of born children were dying of cancer. It’s because whatever the pro-forced-birthers like to insist, nobody really thinks a four week pregnancy is morally equivalent to a human being. Even Ziggy the Zygote shrugs his shoulders (or would if he had them) and says “it’s just one of those things”.

      • Hazel

        “It’s because whatever the pro-forced-birthers like to insist, nobody really thinks a four week pregnancy is morally equivalent to a human being. ”

        I think it’s rather that in the kind of miscarriage you’re talking about, the zygote is already dead, and is probably already being flushed from the body, by the time a woman realizes it exists. The research then, goes into the mother, not the zygote, to find out why she’s unable to sustain a pregnancy, assuming she would like to sustain a pregnancy. But again, this doesn’t connote lack of “care” for the loss. It connotes a reasonable initiative to invest research where it can actually be productive.

    • Darren

      Did they discuss twins, or more interesting, chimera’s?

    • pagansister

      Is that anything like how many angels can dance on the head of a pin JethroElfman–the comparison of when is the soul implanted?

    • Rosa

      haven’t various Popes and Catholic theologians addressed this directly? I understand Protestants arguing about this, but can’t Catholics just ask?

  • jose

    Dumb and condescending at the same time. Dunning-Kruger much?

  • Alison Cummins

    The “Hyuck, hyuck!” post started out promising to refute Libby-Ann’s argument that zygotes naturally flushed out from a woman’s body are no diffent from zygotes flushed out because she wagon the Pill.

    But it doesn’t. It “explains” why a woman who deliberately causes zygotes to be expelled from her body is sinning, while a woman who simply allows them to be expelled is not. That wasn’t the question.

    • Libby Anne

      Oh, good point! I’ll add that in a note to the bottom. I guess by the time I got to the end, I sort of forgot how it started, lol.

  • “Rebecca”

    I don’t understand why that article was written with the Ziggy the Zygote ‘character’ when it could have made its point just as clearly (and less irritatingly) without this gimmick. What amateur writing.

    I’m also baffled by the way pro-lifers continue to cling to the belief that the Pill causes abortions, even though there’s been no significant, proven connection between the two. You would think that they’d be happy that the zygotes aren’t really being harmed and focus their attention elsewhere. But I suppose if some on the religious right can ignore the scientific evidence for an old earth and global warming, it’s no problem for many of those same people to ignore scientific evidence that their notions of birth control are wrong.

    • Libby Anne

      I know, that baffles me too! I made sure to point that out in my response for that exact reason – science is showing that the pill does not cause a woman’s body to reject zygotes, shouldn’t that be a cause for celebration? But no! Instead, they just insist that the pill must cause a woman’s body to reject zygotes, it must, it must! Why must it? Because, I think, at some level many pro-lifers want to oppose birth control. They have to make that part of their battle, and they have to do it under the banner of preventing abortions, or they look insane, since birth control is exactly what prevents abortions by preventing unintented pregnancies. But to those like you or me, who grew up in the movement and thought it was about abortion and not birth control, that makes no sense at all.

      • “Rebecca”

        When I was anti-abortion I also happened to be against birth control, but even then I understood that the two were somewhat different issues. To me, ending abortion was the most important point because it was murder. My anti-birth-control stance was not something I wanted to push on non-Christians, since it was about following God’s will, and it was not a life issue exactly. I was strongly against the Pill because I had been told it caused abortion, but when I found out it wasn’t, I was happy with that news and stopped caring if people had access to the Pill.
        I can’t grasp why more pro-lifers aren’t spreading the fact that the Pill does not cause abortions. It must be some combination of the anti-science mentality, the desire to control women, and the fact that anything they do that might appear to be ‘fighting for the enemy’ is going to be greeted with hostility from fellow pro-lifers. It’s such a suffocating culture.

        TMI embryo-related anecdote: When I was a few years into my marriage, I was still a pro-lifer and I was not on birth control. Then one time, my period was a couple weeks late (unusual for me) and when it finally did come, I had some heavier bleeding and clotting than normal. I was in the bathroom at the mall when I discovered I had passed a large, strange-looking clot that I realized might be, or contain, the remains of an embryo. In retrospect I don’t know for sure that it was a miscarriage, as I hadn’t taken a pregnancy test, but at the time I was pretty certain that I had miscarried.

        As I stood there with this possible-embryo-clot, I realized I could either work up a bunch of tears and start sobbing for my poor dead baby, or I could be honest with myself and admit that I did not really give a care about this lost life. All my pro-life training had taught me to think that this was 100% the equivalent of a person, but I literally couldn’t bring myself to think of it that way. Even though I pretended that I thought embryos and zygotes were people, now that it was here in front of me, I sort of realized it was all a farce. I flushed the toilet, mentioned it briefly to my husband, and moved on with my day of shopping.
        I guess to the pro-lifers, this makes me a horrible mother. I didn’t even name it :)

        Even though for a while I continued to think of zygotes/embryos as technical persons, by this point I can no longer take seriously all the pro-life wailing over dead embryos. It’s moral grandstanding.

        (Just to clarify, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with mourning your miscarriage at any stage of pregnancy, it’s just that for me, personally, it was no big deal and it would have been lying to pretend that it was.)

      • Seda

        “Pro-lifers”* want to control and subjugate women. When science can be harnessed to that end, then of course call it out; when it can’t, ignore it.

        *In quotes because, as this post makes clear, respect for life has nothing to do with their agenda.

    • Aighty

      I agree, that style of writing was really annoying and I never want to see it again. Honestly, I think the point of using Ziggy the Zygote instead of normal writing was to imply that someone has to be really dumb in order to make the argument Libby Anne was making. “Well, we would’ve written it in our own words, but it would obviously be above her head, so maybe if we use a cartoon character’s voice she’d get it.” The corollary of this implication, of course, is that their argument is obviously right (in their minds).

      Actually, I say “imply” but they more or less spell that out in their introductory note, now that I’m taking another look at it. >.> Regardless of who is right, that is not respectful discourse. I suppose if they believe she condones mass-murder, they would have no reason to respect her, but as Libby Anne points out in this post it is worth wondering if they really, truly believe that. At the very least, they must know that Libby Anne does not consider herself to be condoning murder.

      • “Rebecca”

        Thanks for clearing that up, Aighty. I was legitimately confused. Perhaps I was thrown off because this was the first time I’ve seen something written ‘from the perspective of the embryo/fetus’ that wasn’t trying to guilt-trip people into being pro-life. But yes, trying to use a zygote as a way to insult people who disagree with the writer is probably the idea here.

        Even when I was a pro-lifer I used to point out that no pro-lifer except the doctor-shooting, clinic-bombing kind actually seems to view abortion as being 100% equivalent to murder. I asked my adult siblings why they didn’t do as much to end abortion as they would to end, say, the systematic slaughter of first-graders, and they had no response. I guess their convenience comes first ;)

      • Jaynie

        That’s exactly what I think, Aighty. The whole thing is in the style that you’d used to explain something complex to very small children — especially with the listen up, boys and girls! thing. As if it’s actually much, much too hard for a fluffy headed liberal woman like Libby Anne to actually understand*, so we’ll tell her in these insultingly simplistic terms so she might grasp the very difficult thing we’re explaining here. Of course, their argument is ridic. but supporters, who already agree, will just read it as a subtle confirmation that pro-choice folks are idiots.

        “ACCORDING TO SCIENCE” is also not an argument you’d use when you’re debating a grown up. Tell me what science (note: I am a biology/psychology student and thus probably know more about fetal development and consciousness than the average person). Tell me who did the research, and why. In this case, tell me how the scientists defined the term “human being” and what properties an embryo has that make it so. ACCORDING TO SCIENCE is how Bill Nye explains gravity to a five year old.

        (Also, considering the overlap between creationists and pro-lifers, I really wish these people would stop trying to shoehorn scientists in wherever it supposedly benefits them. If you don’t respect my opinion as a biologist that all living things share a common ancestor, why do you respect my supposed opinion as a biologist that an embryo is exactly the same as a grandmother?)

        *note: I don’t think you’re fluffy headed, LA, but I’m sure the writer of this article does.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        “‘ACCORDING TO SCIENCE’ is also not an argument you’d use when you’re debating a grown up.”

        Well, it’s an argument I would use to debate a grown up or one that you would use. But it seems to me that a lot of “pro-lifers” and religious conservatives in general will try to hang their opinions on “Science” in exactly this simplistic sort of way, at least when they perceive it as convenient.

        Although to be fair, invoking the magic word Science without any references to a specific field, let alone any citations, is not a practice limited just to religious conservatives. See any men’s or women’s (or any other purveyor of pop science) with their endless stream of “According to Science, men don’t pick up their dirty socks off the floor because they evolved to hunt mastodons which would have involved looking up, not down, where socks would be” etc.

      • Twist

        We all know that “ladies” aren’t really adults though, and as such can’t be expected to understand something as big and masculine as SCIENCE.

        There seems to be a feeling, at least among those who don’t know the scientific method all that well, that tacking the word “science” onto something legitimises it. Pro tip for the pro lifers – stop assuming that everyone is as ignorant as you.

      • Integral

        I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the “Umbert the Unborn” comic strip that’s aimed at a “pro-life” audience, but it has the same tone. They clearly don’t consider their followers to be particularly bright either.

    • Christine

      It isn’t helped by the fact that the info pamphlets in the OC packs still claim that the Pill prevents implanation. (I have no clue why they’d say that)

      • Libby Anne

        I am unsure, but I think they say that it may prevent implantation, and I think they are required to say that because for a long time we simply have not known whether the pill might prevent implantation. That’s not actually an easy thing to study, if you think about it. Maybe that’ll change now that research is being able to reach some answers.

      • “Rebecca”

        I’m also not sure of the precise wording, but if it does say “May prevent implantation,” I can see where the confusion is. There is a subtle but important difference between “Preventing implantation may be one of the functions of this pill” and “If you take this pill, your zygote might not implant.”

      • Christine

        I haven’t had to take the pill in ages, but I think it was more along the lines of saying that an effect of the pill prevents implantation (not that the pill itself does it). I think it’s like breakfast cereal. “This cereal is high in fibre. Diets which are high in fibre have been shown to reduce heart disease.”, where they carefully don’t say that the cereal reduces heart disease. I just don’t understand why they’d want to imply it. I mean, I’m sure that lots of people will think that any prevention of implantation would be in addition to the 99.8%, but people don’t understand 99.8% vs 100% anyhow, so I don’t see benefit there.

      • Niemand

        All that really means is that the makers of the pill don’t want to go through the trouble of proving that their product can’t cause missed implantation. It’s sort of like all the disclaimers you hear at the end of a commercial for drug X where they tell you that it “may” be associated with headaches, nausea, increased bruising, erections lasting longer than 3 days, and being eaten by Chthulu. They have to include everything that everyone has ever reported, including things that are almost certainly unrelated. (Ok, as far as I know, no one has ever reported being eaten by Chthulu after taking a prescription drug, but maybe that’s just because there’s no cell phone reception in the intestinal tract of an elder god.)

      • Christine

        So the reason they make it sound like a “here’s an extra layer of insurance” is because they have to legally include it, so they might as well spin it.

      • Rosa

        What I don’t get is why other medications don’t get the same DO NOT USE MAY CAUSE MISCARRIAGE from pro-lifers. Actually I think I get it – they are lying assholes who just want to control women’s sex lives – but from their viewpoint it makes no sense. You’d think there’d be a pro-life org with a huge pocket list of don’t-use medications to hand out, like the Monterey Aquarium’s seafood lists.

        I took a hormone to re-regulate my period for a few months this year. It definitely causes miscarriages (i don’t think the doctor would have even prescribed it if I wasn’t using birth control – she asked, and what type) and the pharmacist took care to make sure I knew not to take it if there was any chance I might be pregnant, as well. But I have never seen a screed against artificially convincing your body you ovulated so it will stop bleeding after a week – even though if I were following their “be open to babies” rules I’d definitely be risking miscarriage in doing that.

  • thalwen

    Wow, what a patronising, condescending, rude and ridiculous… I don’t want to call it writing because that is an insult to writing. “Hyuck, hyuck?” Really? That sounds ridiculous in children’s pieces.
    And yes, the “natural” thing. Rabies is natural, and I’m sure if any of these “writers” got bit by a rabid skunk they’d be running to the hospital for their unnatural shots for their potentially dangerous disease. Hyuck, Hyuck.
    Their problem, as they’ve decided to go the more PC route and pretend to care about “babies” instead of the whole “we don’t like women to be able to decide stuff about their lives” is they’re forced to either be hypocrites or churn out ridiculous things like this. Because you are absolutely right, if these zygotes were really children, there would be research and save the zygotes fundraisers, and charities with annoying, way-too-long pity ads showing poor, sick zygotes and asking you to sponsor one.

    • Ibis3

      Or they would be pulling out their bible verses that encourage celibacy over marriage for Christians. After all, no sex at all results in no abortions, either natural or as an unintended consequence of contraception.

  • picklefactory

    Agh! That really set my teeth on edge.

    When are these people going to figure out that we just see natural law arguments as ridiculous post-hoc rationalizations?

  • Niemand

    Simply asserting “According to SCIENCE!, I am a human being!” is both horribly simplistic and very misleading.

    I would go further and say “flat out wrong”. There is no “science” that declares things true or false. Science is a method, at the most basic level, science simply means looking at the world as closely as possible and using your observations to shape your view of the world.

    Even if you charitably assume that what the writer means is “scientific consensus says that I’m a human being” (given the poor quality of the writing and reasoning, it’s not impossible that the writer made that mistake), the statement is still dubious. There is not a really rigorous, biologically based definition of “human being” that can both include a zygote and exclude a non-fertilized oocyte, a cancer cell, or a somatic cell. And then there’s the whole problem of twins, chimera, and molar pregnancies, any of which will pretty quickly destroy a definition of “human being” that includes zygotes and is not based on random prejudice.

    Ask a “pro-lifer” for a definition of “human being” and you’ll quickly see them descend into the argument “DEAD BABIEZ” without trying to defend or even explain their definition.

    • thalwen

      Not to mention that they always ignore or make irrelevant that one indisputable human being in the equation – the woman.

      • Nea

        That’s not a bug, that’s a feature. Note how they treat and what they assume about the only woman directly addressed – Libby Anne herself.

  • Niemand

    In other words, the author argues that if God intends for a zygote to die, all well and good, but, in contrast, if a woman takes any action that may result in a zygote dying, whether that’s her intention or not, she is committing murder.

    I guess God is not a role model.

    It’s an interesting argument, because it assumes a malevolent God.

    • Tessa

      Or they will say that God in all his goodness has called those zygotes/dead babies home to heaven. That now those dead babies and children will never suffer again and dance with angels and sit in Jesus’s lap in perfect safety. I think they have to say things like these because the idea that God allows children to be killed is just too horrible.

      • Niemand

        Well, then, wouldn’t it be better to abort ALL embryos/zygotes/fetuses rather than let them be born and subject to temptation and maybe end up in hell? Even if it’s a sin and results in the parents going to hell, well, who wouldn’t rather go to hell themselves than know that their child went there because of their (the parents’) actions?

      • Niemand

        Incidentally, I’ve proposed this argument to “pro-life” people and the usual response is, “Ew…you’re a horrible person for even thinking such a thing!” But I’ve never seen anyone put a finger on what exactly the problem is with the logic if one accepts the basic premise that all embryos go to heaven but people who have been born might go to hell.

      • Niemand

        (Sorry for serial posting, but something else just occurred to me.)

        In this case, it’s not that god allowed the embryos to die: God CAUSED the embryos to die. So if causing the death of embryos (as in an abortion) is bad, then God must be extraordinarily malevolent.

      • Libby Anne

        Niemand: First, I’ve asked the same question. Second, a friend told me that he frequently asks this question of pro-lifers, and that the only time someone has actually been able to answer, they argued that opposition to abortion isn’t about saving the babies, since they would go to heaven anyway, but rather about saving the women, because women who have abortions are sinning against God and need salvation and need to be prevented from committing such sin, which will send them to hell. He didn’t have a counter for that, but I do: Don’t we praise women who sacrifice their physical lives to save the physical lives of their children? With this background, then, what could be more heroic than for a mother to sacrifice her eternal soul to save her child’s eternal soul? After all, a fetus that goes on to be born and grow up may choose to reject God and thus go to hell, but a fetus that dies in the womb gets a gautunteed ticket to heaven. I’m waiting for my friend to get back to me on the response to that one. Seriously, combining an eternal hell as the punishment for not believing in Jesus with a belief that those under a certain age go straight to heaven if they die results in completely monstrous conclusions.

    • Seda

      This really stuck out for me, too – the deity this person appears to worship seems to be a monstrous, Nazi-like god. I’ve got to think Jesus would cringe to see his followers carrying on so – or maybe he’d just be crying out about ‘hypocrites’ and ‘whited sepulchres.’

      If God is real, She’s got to be better than this.

  • Christine

    It’s not so much the arguments that get to me as a) the insulting way in which they’re made and b) the fact that they seem to think that these are universal arguments. (Also: Libby, you seem to think that it’s normal to just take painkillers any time someone feels pain, without thinking about it. Be careful about leaving real holes in your logic like that that they can pick to pieces and decide that all your other points are invalid because of them.)

    • Ryan

      Also: Libby, you seem to think that it’s normal to just take painkillers any time someone feels pain, without thinking about it.

      Really? Unless there’s something I’m missing from other posts, I gathered that the point was a very simplistic argumentum ad-absurdum about the whole “natural vs. unnatural” bit (specifically, the article writer she’s refuting sees a clear moral distinction in what naturally occurs to a zygote, but very likely sees almost all other medical interventions as not violating the supposed moral superiority of “natural”, and in the case of asprin/etc. it is taking a pill, which can therefore be related to *the* pill…).

      If there’s some other context to painkiller comments by Libby Anne that I’m not aware of, though, please point it out.

      • Christine

        I read the argument in the same way. And I suppose I see the point – sure it’s only something you do in an extreme case, but so is abortion. I’ve just heard too many of the “why wouldn’t you take something for any little bit of pain you feel” idiots lately, and read it the wrong way.

    • Libby Anne

      Sorry for the confusion – my point wasn’t that everyone automatically takes aspirin when they’re in pain – I know I very often don’t – but rather that I doubt that, when taking aspirin, the author stops and asks herself “should I really be doing this, it’s artificial and against nature!!!”

      • Christine

        … I never realised that I was odd to do that. (Not in as many words – I don’t object to screwing with nature, but I do generally go “pain exists for a reason, are the benefits of taking this great enough to justify interfering with nature”). I know a bunch of other people who have expressed similar reasons for disliking painkillers (e.g. “I always overdo it when I take them”). I happen to have a lot of weird friends though.

      • Monimonika


        I once had a friend in college who frequently took multiple painkillers because she had built up tolerance to them at the typical doses. Whenever she lowered the dosage, she’d feel generally just terrible with a pounding headache. The more she took, the less effective the medicine was in reducing the pain, so she had to take more. She later decided to go cold turkey in order to lower her tolerance as quickly as possible. Her goal was to eventually be able to appreciate the pain-reducing effects of the pills on the occasions when she absolutely did need to reduce pain.

        Her situation was on the somewhat extreme side, but I can understand the fear of becoming overly dependent on painkillers and not having them work as well as they could when you REALLY need them to.

  • Sarah-Sophia

    There is no way a woman can know if she even had a break-through ovulution unless Ziggy the Zygote not only grabbed on to the uterus but stayed on long enough for the woman to miss her period (sometimes a woman won’t suspect she’s pregnant until she misses her second period). At that point it would no longer be Ziggy the Zygote but Eddie the Embryo. The only way for a woman to intentionally end her pregnancy is for her to take an abortion pill or have an abortion (and no, Plan-B is not an abortion pill because it cannot disconnect Bob the Blastocyst for the uterus, and neither can birth control).
    I think that sometimes when a woman miscarries her first thought is “What have I done to cause this,” and for some women like Michelle Duggar the first thing that comes to mind is the unnatural birth control she was taking. But, its likely the miscarriage would’ve happen regardless of whether or not they were taking birth control.

    • Libby Anne

      Eddie the Embryo. I like it. :-P

    • Niemand

      Eventually followed by Fred the Fetus?

      • Ryan

        Don’t forget Paul the Pharyngula!

      • Niemand

        Poor Paul. Everyone forgets him.

  • Sarah-Sophia


  • Tracey

    I think I get it.
    God is magically in control of all women NOT taking BCP
    + God has no control of women taking BCP
    = God is defeated by birth control pills!
    It’s like his kryptonite- his secret weakness! No wonder people don’t like birth control.

    • Anat

      Are BCP made of iron chariots?

  • Charlotte

    For me, the worst part was when they implied that pro-choicers don’t know what morality is. As if people who think that women shouldn’t be forced to have babies have no ethics. Reminds me of the “without God what’s to stop you from MURDERING EVERYONE!!!eleventy!!1!” argument that atheists and other non-theists get.

  • wanderer

    Why do I feel belittled by the constant use of the word “lady” instead of “woman?”

    • Niemand

      Because you’re being belittled. It’s natural to feel belittled by someone who is condescending to you and belittling you at every turn.

  • Lana

    Its not about saving babies, Its about regulating sex. Most of these people also believe oral sex is wrong. The story of oman spilling his seed is used to show that its wrong to spill your seed.

    • Uly

      Despite the fact that that story has nothing whatsoever to do with masturbation. Sheesh.

  • Jason Dick

    I just can’t get past how absolutely horribly that “Ziggy the Zygote” post was written. It’s a crime against literature everywhere.

  • plutosdad

    I had to stop as well when they said there is a difference between “god killing zygotes” and “people not allowing zygotes to even exist” and somehow the first is better.

    These people are immoral and evil. Their own rules of morality do not make any sense, and are not implemented with any consistency. Obviously it is about controlling women and forcing their sexual morality on others, punishing those they think are bad, and not one iota about saving lives. They advocate more death in order to punish “sluts”. Some morality that is.

    • thalwen

      Right. It’s as, if they really believe they are children, which they don’t, they are saying – it’s better for children to be killed by God, than to have not existed in the first place. It’s mind-boggling in how messed up that mentality is.

  • Saraquill

    Thank you Ziggy. The existence of your non-article has ensured that people will put more effort into preventing the creation of zygotes.

    Does anyone WANT to have an obnoxious mouthless talking entity that thinks it’s a cartoon character existing inside of them? It adds a rather distressing dimension to pregnancy.

  • Don Gwinn

    You make strong points, but in all fairness, I thought Ziggy Zygote was a high point of David Bowie’s career that he’s been trying without success to match ever since.

  • Tracey

    It’s occurring to me that one of the factors here is the scary cartoon’s use of the word INTENT. It was capitalized like that in the ‘article’ I assume? A friend of mine in an Evangelical church is very stuck on intent. Nothing seems to matter to him so much as intent. Intent is the focus rather than actions or results. I am a fan of good intent and think it can speak well of a person. But it’s not the end of the story. And INTENT can be an excuse to be lazy and to ignore actions and results.

    • Nea

      Intent isn’t just a means of ignoring results, I’ve seen it used as a means of handwaving bad results. “I didn’t intend to be incredibly offensive, therefore it’s your fault for being offended.” My standard response is “Actions matter more than intent. The Titanic wasn’t intended to sink.”

    • Alex

      Haven’t they heard that the road to hell is paved with good intentions? I mean that’s not exactly an obscure saying. It’s pretty well known. And obvious.

    • Soren

      Ahh but they are moral absolutist. Intent is the beginning and end of morals. Your actions or the consequences matters not, only your intent.

      Libby Anne has shown the simple fact that being on the pill means that less zygotes will die, and if you judge actions by their consequences that argument has weight. But using some versions of deontological ethics, intent is the final arbiter of what is moral. thus even if a 100 zygotes would die because you refuse contraception, it is still the moral choice, since 1 zygot dying because of you using the pill, is wrong because of your intent.

      I am no expert on moral philosophy, but I’ve been in enough internet debates to recognize when people are moral absolutists.

      The problem is that a meaningful dialogue with them is almost impossible for some with consequentialist leanings, unless they are willing to understand your reasoning.

      • ScottInOH

        You’re right, but it’s even worse than that, because the intent they want you to have is to follow God’s will, but nobody knows what God’s will is. It’s the ultimate in moveable goalposts.

      • Niemand

        I believe it is God’s will that any woman who does not wish to be pregnant but is should have access to abortion if that’s how she chooses to deal with her pregnancy. My evidence for this is at least as good as any anti’s evidence about what they believe “god’s will” to be.

  • Emma

    Now I’m curious to hear them argue why letting zygotes die naturally is different than, say, letting a child die of cystic fibrosis.

    • Niemand

      In fairness, a fair number of “pro-life” people are in favor of letting children die of CF or at least letting the parents decide not to treat children with CF with anything but prayer, which will inevitably lead to them dying at a young age, of preventable problems.

  • Bix

    Since some women do get pregnant while on the Pill, and carry healthy pregnancies to term, wouldn’t that mean that God can override it whenever he wants?

  • Evenstar120

    Libby Anne, I just wanted to say that I appreciate your series on these issues. I’ve enjoyed reading them and found them helpful and well thought out. I spent a long time as a teen and then young adult in the “pro-life” camp, but as the pro-life positions became more and more extreme on birth control, I knew I could no longer toe the party line (mostly because there was no way the husband and I could afford a kid at the time) and started questioning. At long last, I realized that I was, in fact, pro-choice because I couldn’t support banning abortion for a variety of reasons. Your articles lay out in a clear way how the facts are manipulated by the pro-life movement.

    If the article quoted above from LifeAction News is the best they can do to respond…yikes. Let’s just say that it doesn’t make me inclined to rethink my pro-choice positions.

  • Kay

    Those “hyuck hyucks” they put in the already badly written article are juvenile and don’t add anything to the discussion. Was that an attempt at making themselves look intelligent, or making Libby Anne look stupid? If that was their INTENT (hyuck hyuck), they accomplished the exact opposite.

  • Twist

    “Now, some ladies take pills called BIRTH CONTROL. These pills are supposed to keep Ziggy the Zygote from ever existing, but sometimes they don’t work quite right, and the zygote grows anyway. These pills can keep Ziggy the Zygote from being able to grab on to the uterus. Ziggy the Zygote can end up flushed away! Awwww!”

    So, in the previous paragraph what was described as ‘just one of those things’ is now something to be lamented?

    “A lady who does take pills takes nature into her own hands, and a human being – even a little one like me – dies because of it. That’s very different from nature doing it! Don’t ya think?”

    Um… no, actually. We take nature into our own hands all the time, and somehow when taking nature into our own hands doesn’t have the added bonus of giving women control over their own reproductive systems the fundies seem fine with it, for the most part. You know what else is ‘taking nature into our own hands’? Pacemakers! Organ transplants! Antibiotics! Athsma inhalers! Insulin! X-ray machines! Ambulances to get us to the hospital! It’s only when ‘taking nature into our own hands’ gives the breeding machines the idea that they’re actually people that god gets mad!

    If we didn’t routinely take nature into our own hands, we’d go back to having an average life expectancy in the mid forties and it would be commonplace for kids to die before their fifth birthday.

    Besides, if a woman is on birth control, she most likely does not want to become pregnant, and as such, if she does become pregnant is more likely to have an abortion than someone who wanted to be pregnant. If these really guys wanted to minimise the suffering of the ‘precious human life’, isn’t failing to implant going to be a more pleasant way to go than a medical or surgical abortion some weeks/months later? Or do we really just want to punish the sluts? I think we do, don’t we Ziggy?

    • ScottInOH

      You know what else is ‘taking nature into our own hands’? Pacemakers! Organ transplants! Antibiotics! Athsma inhalers! Insulin! X-ray machines! Ambulances to get us to the hospital!

      And in every single one of these cases, people accidentally die. We know full well that someone can have a bad reaction, up to and including death, to lots and lots of medical treatments, but we use them anyway, because usually they save lives.

  • Rob F

    As far as we can tell, Lactational amenorrhea (breastfeeding as birth control) works in exactly the same way as the pill and emergency contraception. How many people opposed to hormonal contraception are also against LA, as being logically consistent would require? The only way around it is to handwave them away and resort to bogus reliances on “natural law”, etc.

  • Grumpy girl

    One of my favorite corollaries for people who use medical assistance to become pregnant…

    What they never acknowledge is that God didn’t want them to have babies. If He had, they would have gotten pregnant, right?

    But when they use science and medicine to get pregnant, they thank God for their pregnancy. Why don’t they ever acknowledge the doctors who REALLY got them pregnant?

    Even worse, if they become pregnant with a “litter” of babies, they don’t want to selectively reduce the extra embryos to something manageable like twins or triplets. Nope, they think its fine to have those 4 or 5 babies prematurely (again, medicine and science stepping in here) because God wanted them to have them. Doesn’t matter if they can afford to take care of a bunch of special needs kids, because society will help them out.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t help with special needs kids, in fact I feel completely the opposite. What I’m pointing out is that there is a way to at least try to minimize the injuries to the kids recommended by doctors. But all of a sudden, these people who used science to become pregnant no longer listen to the docs recommendations because its not “God’s will”

    • Twist

      Meh, something good happens, god gets all the credit. Something bad happens, people get all the blame. It’s the same as people who thank god that they survived their thirteen hour heart operation, rather than the people who dedicated their lives to becoming highly specialised heart surgeons and then operated for hours on end to actually save them. Or people who thank god for saving them from a pileup where six other people died, without considering that if god really had anything to do with it, he could have saved everyone, or just made the pileup not happen in the first place. He’s either not powerful or not good – I’m going to go with not existant.

    • Sarah-Sophia

      It really bugs me when people who have had a major illness or injury thank God for their recovery and not the doctors/nurses or the scientists who came up with the inventions to make it possible. There is a Family Guy episode in which in the end Lois says that vaccines/medicines were invented as answers to prayers. That actually is not an accurate way to describe the accomplishment of the scientists because what they were really doing was rejecting God/Nature’s will that these people should die.

      • lucrezaborgia

        A few years ago, I was put in a coma because I had ARDS which has a 30%-40% death rate. Many people never wake up because their organs go into failure due to the lack of oxygen. When I recovered, all of my Christian friends had this belief that I would suddenly find faith in god because, clearly, my recovery was miraculous. Never mind the dedicated team of nurses and doctors who rallied around me and kept me alive, beginning with the ER doctor who decided to send me for a chest X-ray “just in case”.

  • BabyRaptor

    I want to punch a wall after reading that.

    Also, out of spite. I want to go back on birth control. My fiance lives on the other side of the country, so I don’t technically need it, but people that dumb, rude and rectal-cranial inversed deserve to be spited with all strength possible.

  • Hilary

    I wish I hadn’t read that. My brain hurts over the logic and bad writing. But I will admit for one split second – before reading the second sentence – I was kind of feeling for poor Ziggy. I have a good reason, though – my cat’s name is Ziggy, so that name immediatly brings me to about 14 lbs of domestic shorthair cat, white with tabby stipes on his forhead, ears, and tail, taking up half my pillow with a paw on my face.

    Now I have an lolcats style image of Ziggy the cat looking very annoyed at Ziggy the zygote with the caption:
    Teh stoooopid hertz, uz iz onli tu sels, tu smal to pouce, but uz is annoing mai humen.


  • Kat

    The anti-choicers who are also against birth control would argue that pregnancy is not a “disease” and thus, anything that prevents it medically (taking it into our own hands against ‘nature’) is preventing a natural, GOOD thing from happening, as opposed to taking things into our own hands and using medicine and science to prevent a death (ie. treatment for cystic fibrosis). I’ve brought up a lot of your points to my anti-abortion, anti-contraception friends/acquaintances (not all of them that are anti-abortion are anti-contraception) and that’s how they get around that. Pregnancy isn’t a disease! You’re preventing your uterus from fulfilling it’s ‘natural’ duty. Etc. I usually have to check out of the conversation before we ever get to this point though so I’ve never really formulated an argument. I keep trying to come up with something ELSE that we use medicine/science to also prevent that is a ‘good, natural’ thing but again, I’m usually frothing at the bit at all the terms they throw around – usually it’s baby killer. Once they throw that in there I can’t handle it, because they’re basically calling ME (a friend) a baby killer.

    • “Rebecca”

      I’ve grown leery of using analogies for these kinds of debates, since pro-lifers can find a way around virtually any comparison. It might fall on deaf ears, but I think the best course in the ‘natural function’ situation is to point out that A) No one ever agreed to the uterus they were born with and B) Unwanted pregnancy is really fucking miserable. Point out that there are women who would rather throw themselves down stairs than be pregnant, or who would rather kill themselves than be pregnant. Pregnancy comes with serious health risks, many of them permanent, and some which are life-threatening. While pregnancy can bring about a good end (a baby), there are plenty of women who frankly view it as nothing more than a disease.
      Like I said, though, deaf ears, as realizing this requires a certain sympathy to women that too few pro-lifers have.

      • Rosie

        I’m one of those who would rather kill myself than be pregnant. Though I didn’t really realize just how strongly I felt about that until I became pregnant and immediately started planning my suicide…at which point I mentally kicked myself in the ass and made an appointment for an abortion instead of going on with my first inclination. Pregnancy hit me harder than any disease I’ve ever had, though I guess I’m generally a pretty (physically) healthy person.

        But yeah, that all falls on deaf ears. It’s just proof that I’m one of those selfish sinful feminist women who thinks she ought to be able to do whatever she wants with her body and life, rather than spending it “as God intended”.

      • Niemand

        My planned, wanted pregnancy nearly killed me. I was completely healthy prior to pregnancy, healthy during pregnancy except for having more nausea and more continual nausea and fatigue than I’d really like, and had no risks going into labor. I still nearly died. I was willing to take the risk for the baby I wanted to have, but can’t imagine putting someone through that kind of torture if they weren’t willing.

    • Twist

      Except that for many of us, pregnancy isn’t a good thing, rather a life destroying thing. The anti choicers can go on parrotting that they believe women should primarily be wives and mothers and trying to force us into boxes that don’t fit, but it’s not going to make me magically want to become a parent, or give up my career in favour of baking cookies, washing socks and cleaning up baby sick all day.

    • ScottInOH

      Just to add to the other posts in this box, the argument the “pro-lifers” are making to Kat is explicitly religious–BC is against God’s will–and should therefore be irrelevant in making US laws. If someone believes God wants her to have a baby, that’s great, but that doesn’t mean other people can’t try to prevent it in their own cases. Various churches can try to guilt their members into not using birth control, but they can’t write it into law just because they think God said so.

  • G

    You know, there are some people born without the ability to feel pain. Children under the age of three don’t seem to be self aware, and they are dependant on their parents for a long time. Some adults with disabilities are not physically autonomous. Is it okay to kill these types of human too?

    • Anat

      There are various philosophical stances on the personhood of born humans. Some people consider all born humans as persons, some have further qualifications for instance degree of mental development. A born human, whether person or not, does not infringe on the rights and bodily autonomy of anyone in order to keep living. If their parents (in the case of children) or other relatives do not wish to care for them they can put them up to adoption. Other individuals or the state can care for them. There is no equivalence to pregnancy where a woman’s only way of preserving her autonomy is by ending the pregnancy, whether by abortion (if the embryo or fetus isn’t developed enough to survive outside the uterus) or by induction of birth (in late pregnancy).

    • BabyRaptor

      Self-awareness starts at birth, or shortly thereafter. The first time an infant cries because it realizes something is wrong and starts expressing displeasure, it’s self-aware.

      Once an infant is born, anyone can take care of it. It’s not firmly attached to a woman’s body, and reliant on her body/nutrients/systems for survival. So your point there is moot. When science comes up with a way to take a conception from one woman and implant it in the uterus of a woman who actually WANTS to play incubator, then we can consider outlawing abortion.

      The same with your “people with disabilities” argument. If it reaches a point where the caretakers no longer can, or no longer want to, take care of said person, there are other methods available. This isn’t the case in pregnancy.

      Also, neither of those arguments answer the question of why pregnancy is the ONLY time that people want to force others to sacrifice their own body for someone else. There are exactly zero other situations where a person could be forced to do this, and most other cases involve someone that is actually a human being, compared to a bunch of barely developed cells.

      Not sure where you’re going with the pain thing. I’ve never heard someone say “A fetus can’t feel pain, therefore it’s not human.” I’ve seen a bunch of laws enacted based on the fact that supposedly fetuses can feel pain after X weeks, though.

      • Anna Strakele

        “When science comes up with a way to take a conception from one woman and implant it in the uterus of a woman who actually WANTS to play incubator *WITHOUT PUTTING THE FIRST WOMAN THROUGH AN INVASIVE SURGERY* :)”

    • Kate

      Wow, your ilk are /still/ using this specious-at-best argument?

    • Niemand

      Actually, virtually all humans pass the rouge test-considered definitive for self-awareness-by 18 months and it’s not at all clear that “failing” the test means a lack of self-awareness, so the claim about infants and toddlers is clearly crap you made up to try to make your side look better.

      Nor are infants and toddlers dependent on their parents the way a fetus is. Infants can be adopted and cared for by someone other than their birth parents (as is evidenced by the baby mills the “pro-life” movement runs.)

      And no adult is allowed to use another person’s body without their consent. Disabled people who are “not physically autonomous” have to find people who AGREE to help them, usually by paying them or applying social pressure. They are never, under any circumstances, allowed to force someone to help them. That’s known as “slavery” and it’s what your side is supporting for women of reproductive age.

      • Nurse Bee

        Baby mills?

      • lucrezaborgia

        More like adoption mills.

      • Niemand

        Where “good Christians” go to buy babies born to “sluts” so they can “save” them. I understand it’s a very profitable business.

      • Nurse Bee

        What about adoptions by non-Christians and/or gay and lesbians?

    • Twist

      That depends, G. Do any of these people live inside the bodies of other people?

    • Twist

      Also, young children are dependent on SOMEONE. That someone absolutely does not have to be a biological parent. A fetus cannot currently be removed alive from one person and implanted in someone else, wheras a three year old can be removed from its biological parents and looked after by, well, any other human being on the planet.

    • Integral

      A more accurate comparison would be, is anyone forced against their will to donate a kidney to those examples of yours? No, they aren’t. And there aren’t any “pro-lifers” trying to pass laws to force them to, either.

  • Kiki

    I am awed at your patience in dealing with people like this and admire your willingness to honestly engage in good faith deabte with them because I can no longer stand to read their nonsense and certainly cannot muster a rational response. They influence people and policy and so must be continually challenged but what a tough row to hoe.

  • Slan

    It’s really quite telling that whenever pro-lifers need some “science” to back up one of their claims, they seem to only be able to provide links to the American Life League, one of the largest anti-abortion catholic organizations in the country. That is not science, that is catholic propaganda.

  • Joy

    OK, the only way “Ziggy” is a “kindly, loveable fictional character” is if we count intent. As in failure to achieve it. Well, I guess the author did achieve fictional, so 1 out of 3.