The question is not whether they're human beings
That’s irrefutable scientific fact. The question is….what are you going to to about it?
Is it actually the case that no one can tell you with any degree of authority when the life of a human being actually begins?
No, it is not. Treating the question as some sort of grand mystery,
or expressing or feigning uncertainty about it, may be politically
expedient, but it is intellectually indefensible. Modern science long
ago resolved the question. We actually know when the life of a new
human individual begins.
A recently published white paper, “When does human life begin? A
scientific perspective,” offers a thorough discussion of the facts of
human embryogenesis and early development, and its conclusion is
inescapable: From a purely biological perspective, scientists can
identify the point at which a human life begins. The relevant studies
are legion. The biological facts are uncontested. The method of
analysis applied to the data is universally accepted.
But what to do about that irrefutable fact is a loaded political question.
On the other side are those who believe that those human
beings who have worth and dignity have them in virtue of having
achieved a certain level of development.
As opposed to inherently having worth and dignity by being human. As
if some additional level of development is necessary to confer on that
human being more worth and dignity, by degrees.
They deny that all human beings have worth and dignity
and hold that a distinction should be drawn between those human beings
who have achieved the status of “personhood” and those (such as
embryos, fetuses, and, according to some, infants and severely retarded
or demented individuals) whose status is that of human non-persons.
Seriously, this is the tortured parsing of terminology assigned to
different states of being. Why? To de-humanize whole classes of human
beings and justify denying them rights.
Political parties that hold those views cannot make a coherent
argument for any other moral argument on behalf of health care, or
housing, or equitable distribution of wealth and resources for other
classes of human beings. One you have eliminated a class of human
beings from rights, you have selectively and prejudicially chosen
certain classes worthy and others unworthy.
But hey, when you go far in politics unchallenged (to any
consequences) with this viewpoint, you bully your way into power. And
then you have created what Pope Benedict refers to as ‘the tyranny of
Who’s safe in that scenario?
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