Arguing with the Pro-lifers
posts a very good and informative article on the recent Partial Birth Abortion bill released in Congress. You should definitely read it.
But what I'm going to write about is the post below it, in which Amp writes:
Well, no doubt some pro-lifers are interested in "the injustices that often lead women to seek abortion" and so on, but that's not the defining trait of the movement. You don't have to be interested in that stuff to qualify as pro-life.
The abortion debate is about one question: "Should the government force childbirth on pregnant women?" The answer to that question is what classifies someone as pro-life or pro-choice.
A good point it, but it makes a rhetorical error, namely attributing to one's opponent the exact opposite of one's own central view on the issue.
There is no doubt that pro-choice is about not enforcing childbirth, but the pro-life argument is entirely disjoint, that an embryo is a human, and therefore subject to equal protection under the law of the already born. Unless this is recognized, there can be no progress in the debate between pro-life and pro-life factions.
The problem is, the view that an embryo is a human is a logically flawed view, and I'll explain that.
To say "an embryo is a human," is logically equivalent to "life begins at conception," ie "at the moment of fertilization the embryo becomes a human."
So what does it mean to "be human"? This is a very complex thought, but there are two axioms about humanity that are pertinent here.
The first is the axiom of individuality - each individual person is one human. Two persons are not one human, similarly one person is not two humans.
The second is the axiom of permanence - a person remains a human for the entirety of said person's life. There is no point, once a person is human, where that person stops being a human unless dead.
These axioms are not usually explicitly mentioned because they are obvious, the truth of them is taken for granted. But when made explicit, we can analyze the above argument.
Suppose then, that life begins at conception. Then at conception the embryo becomes one human, and will remain one human until death.
But this creates a problem because there is the occasion where the embryo will split into two. Under this hypothesis, indentical twins are two persons but one human, which contradicts the axiom of individuality.
Thus the argument that life begins at conception is a fundamentally flawed argument. So the question becomes where does "life begin"? I don't have an answer to this, but I do know that the answer isn't "at conception".
Ah, my training as a mathemetician comes in handy.