This is part 2 of my response to Mike Leman's column, 'The abortion debate's "middle-ground" illusion.' He calls for keeping the discussion honest. I'm not sure his attempt to make the debate a human rights issue and his appeal to science does that. He writes, "Human rights either belong to everyone or they are guaranteed to no one." I agree with that, but to me "everyone" implies personhood and a fertilized human egg is not a person - it's a zygote. Referring to the "pro-autonomy" movement, Leman writes, "It defies reason when it acts as if a developing human person doesn't exist before full-term delivery." Is that an honest representation or is he building a straw-man that he can easily tear down?
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In my opinion it defies reason to call a fertilized human egg a person and therefore entitled to legal rights and protections. Leman writes, "It defies science when it compares the unborn to an organ like an appendix." Again, is that an honest representation or another straw-man? In my opinion it defies science to claim an embryo is a person. A human egg measures 0.1mm, compared to a grain of salt that measures 0.3mm. At 4 weeks, an embryo is the size of a pinhead and looks like a tadpole. At 6 weeks an embryo is the size of a sweet pea and at 8 weeks it still has an "embryonic tail." In my opinion it defies common sense to claim that is a person and I think to do so is definitely in the realm of belief/religion - not science. Leman writes, "It doesn't make an honest claim for when life begins.
By extension, it refuses to identify the moment we become responsible for protecting human rights. If not from the beginning, then when?" Medical research has estimated that 50% of fertilized human eggs naturally fail to implant in the uterus. Add that to the 15 to 25% of all pregnancies that end in miscarriage and the majority of all conceptions end in pregnancy loss. In light of that, I think it is reasonable to say we are not responsible for protecting human rights from the "beginning" or moment of conception. Historically, legal rights have been granted at birth, hence the term "birth-rights."