While doing some searching, I came across some abortion-related links I wanted to save, hence this post. Nearly all of these are pro-choice, although I stuck a token pro-life link in too. :-p
Anti-abortion activists are fond of saying “The only difference between a fetus and a baby is a trip down the birth canal.” This flippant phrase may make for catchy rhetoric, but it doesn’t belie the fact that indeed “location” makes all the difference in the world.
It’s actually quite simple. You cannot have two entities with equal rights occupying one body. One will automatically have veto power over the other – and thus they don’t have equal rights. In the case of a pregnant woman, giving a “right to life” to the potential person in the womb automatically cancels out the mother’s right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
After birth, on the other hand, the potential person no longer occupies the same body as the mother, and thus, giving it full human rights causes no interference with another’s right to control her body. Therefore, even though a full-term human baby may still not be a person, after birth it enjoys the full support of the law in protecting its rights.
7 weeks–Neurons form a brain stem atop the spinal cord.
8 weeks–Brain stem resembles that of newborn. Embryo has face, hands and feet, but lacks upper part of brain that controls intentional movement.
22 weeks–The most primitive part of the brain, the cortex, is sufficiently formed to control limb movement.
28 weeks–Interneurons form, linking the cells within the neocortex. Such connections are essential to performing multitask functions, such as writing or playing tennis.
30 weeks–Electroencephalogram recordings resemble those of a newborn baby. Distinct sleep-awake patterns emerge. Fetus can usually survive outside womb.
Neuromaturation and the Moral Status of Human Fetal Life, by Michael Flower. (PDF link).
Thus, if we return to those neocortical capacities most likely to engage our moral attention as we prepare to ascribe a protected status of fetal personhood (i.e. possible awareness and/or a discrete and sustainable bodily existence regularly achieved through birth), we might be led to conclude that it is probably not until after 28 weeks of gestation that the fetal human attains a level of neocortex-mediated complexity sufficient to enable those sentient capacities the presence of which might lead us to predicate personhood of a sort we attribute to full-term newborns.
If you do concede this, then I would urge that it’s not clear that you have any moral principles at all–since it seems you are willing to give up your moral beliefs, if enough people disagree with you. You would be, in effect, hostage to how others think. But if you wouldn’t concede this–if you deny that a lack of consensus that it is wrong to kill infants would cause you to acquiesce in legalized infanticide–then why do you concede that a lack of consensus about preborn children implies they should not be protected? To put the point another way: if you lived in the United States in the 1950s, say, when abortion was considered as abominable as infanticide is today, you presumably would have denied that the wrongness of abortion hinged upon the consensus against it. So similarly you should deny today that legalized abortion follows from a lack of consensus against it.
(The above is obviously a pro-life link; by linking to it, I’m not saying I agree with it.)
Gladiatrix’s arguments on a Christian discussion forum:
Let’s examine one of the better arguments presented by some anti-choicers===>“One can claim that because a fertilized egg contains the DNA “blueprint” (46 chromosomes) needed to create a human being that it is in fact A human being.” But does that work?
Actually the logical outcome of this argument would extend the definition of “human being” to any cell with 46 chromosomes. That would mean that when a surgeon chucks an appendix in the trash after an appendectomy he would be guilty of mass murder.
The point is that every cell in the body has the “blue-print” for creating a new human being via cloning…
Michael Bennet, chair of the Department of Neuroscience, Albert Einstein College of Medicine writes: “Personhood goes with the brain and does not reside within the recipient body. There is none, not heart, kidney, lung or spleen, that we cannot do without or replace artificially. The brain is the essence of our existence. It cannot be transplanted.”