links for thought, or rather link for thought, November 2012: “life begins at conception” edition

First, allow me an introductory rant on the anti-choice slogan “life begins at conception!”:

This rhetorical turn has bothered me for many, many years. “Life begins at conception” is a memo from the Department of No Shit, Sherlock. “Life” is not a sufficient factor for legal protection or moral concern, as we can see by the fact that so many of these people hunt clearly living creatures (“Don’t shoot! That deer has a heartbeat that began in utero, dude!”), buy the dead flesh of formerly-living animals at grocery stores on a regular basis, pull (again, clearly-living) weeds from garden beds, and cruelly stick loaves of dough into the oven, thus murdering a shit ton of yeast, which is alive. “Alive” doesn’t do much for us as an analytical category here.

The question is: when does personhood begin? When does an organism of the human variety (or potentially of other varieties, for that matter) become an individual person with rights? It’s not an easy question, and we can disagree about the answer, but it’s the question. Avoiding it with all this “life begins at …” and “your baby’s heart is beating by …” bullshit is cowardly and cynical.

Just one link this month, because apparently my online reading time has been compromised by Mr. I-Don’t-Think-I’ll-Sleep-Throught-The-Night-Anymore this month.

from Jodi Jacobson at RH Reality Check, “Life Begins at Conception. That’s Not the Point

The question is not when life begins. That just obfuscates the real issues.

The fundamental issues are:

  • When does pregnancy begin?
  • Does personhood begin at conception? Is a fertilized egg, blastocyst, embryo, or fetus a person with rights that trump those of the woman upon whose body it depends?
  • Do women need “evidence” that if they are pregnant, odds are they are going to have a baby?
  • Do women have the moral agency and fundamental rights to decide whether or not to commit themselves not only to the development of a life within their own bodies, but to a lifelong tie to another human being once a child is born?


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