“Life”…

Human”life” should be protected and valued… ummm… duh…

The $64,000 question is what the term “life” means…

This isn’t about the meaning of life — but rather what constitutes a life.

It’s non-controversial that a fully-functional human being is alive.  It’s also non-controversial that a separated sperm and egg are not a human being.  The trouble starts (in more ways than one) at conception.

Some folks define “life” as starting with conception, or shortly thereafter.  For them, a thing has a “life” if it can possibly become a fully-functional human being.

Others think that “life” begins with birth — Once an infant is independent of her mother, she has the rights accorded other human beings.  A rare few think that infanticide is morally permissible — but folks seriously making those claims are pretty rare.

In all honesty, I have problems with both extremes.  I’m not at all convinced that life (really, potential life) begins with conception.  Cells don’t have sensation, perception, or other human-like functions.  Many pregnancies end with spontaneous miscarriages — and sometimes the mother doesn’t even realize she was pregnant.

On the other extreme, it seems a matter of maternal “geography” to say that a being isn’t a human immediately before making the trip down the birth canal.  If my birthday was 12-7 instead of 12-8, I’d still be a person.  I was a person on 12-7 — I just resided inside of my mom.

Making this more complicated is the conflicting medical evidence about when a fetus gains sensation, neural activity and the like. Add in the potential conflict between the continued development of the fetus and harm to the life of the mother and you have a right royal mess.

To be honest, I’m not sure what I think about abortion.  Every time it happens, it’s a sad thing.  But, I’m not comfortable saying that sometimes people find themselves doing sad, but ultimately necessary things.

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