There is a popular game (more of a diversion, really) called "Twenty questions". My siblings, parents, and I played it often on long road trips when I was a child. The object of the game, for those readers who have never heard of it, is this:
One person in the group thinks of a person, place, or thing, and the other players ask yes or no questions about it until they determine what it is, or until twenty questions have been exhausted.
Usually,the first questions are asked to determine if the the object or substance etc, in question is animal, mineral, or vegetable. If, by answering these questions, one has determined the answer will be a person, another question is usually asked to determine if the person in question is living or dead. This line of questioning will narrow the possibilities down quite a bit, allowing the questioners to more quickly draw a conclusion. If the questioners can determine the answer within twenty questions the questioner who gets the right answer wins. If the questioners don't determine the right answer within the allotted twenty questions, the answerer wins.
This has since become a popular internet game and a rather ingenious electronic game that can be purchased at various stores. One can find and play it online by simply going here.
Recently Marshall Art posted an entry on his blog expressing no small amount of outrage at Planned Parenthood for requesting government funding. His entry has generated about 79 comments to date.
I've written about this before. I am very passionate about this subject.
Once again, I allowed myself to be drawn into an insult trading contest with a certain commenter whose name I won't mention as it is not an integral part of the discussion. I don't wish to go into that at this time. Or ever, for that matter. So, if you follow the link to his post, please disregard the mud slinging by myself and a couple of others and focus, if you will, on the subject matter.
I would instead focus on the subject brought up by a couple of otherwise seemingly intelligent commenters on the "personhood" of a fetus.
I had thought this particular argument moot, due to the determination of just about every non-biased scientist (with the exception of those who graduated from the Josef Mengele school of medicine) on the planet that the fetus is a living human entity at the instant of conception, but apparently, there are still a few dinosaurs left who cling to the unscientific belief that somewhere during gestation the human fetus becomes a person, but starts out dead. Or, as they prefer to put it, "non-living". However, these same people can't seem to come up with a precise moment when the lifeless lump of tissue becomes a living human being.
One commenter actually said, "They do not kill babies. They perform abortions. There IS a difference."
As far as I'm concerned, there is no difference between abortion and killing babies. It is my contention that a human conceived embryo is a human being from the exact instant of conception.
After that, the discussion degenerated into a discussion on when a fetus becomes a viable human being.
I will now present my side of the argument:
There is, and never has been, any time in the history of mankind wherein anything but two humans came together to create life naturally, biologically, in the womb, without aid of test tubes or other medical equipment.
Actually, even with test tubes and up-to-the-minute advances in medical science, the human egg still requires human fertilization in order to advance through the stages of development and become a living, breathing human baby. There has never been any human pregnancy that resulted from two different species, such as a Rhinoceros and a Hibiscus. Or even a human being and an animal. Human pregnancies always are a result of a human sperm fertilizing a human egg.
It will never be any different.
Thus, to suggest that at any time during the stages of human development the embryo is anything other than human, one must ask oneself, "If not human, what?"
It takes, as I mentioned, a human cell called a sperm cell from the male human being to fertilize a human cell called an egg which issues from a woman human being's fallopian tubes to create a human cell called a zygote. This zygote becomes a human embryo, which, in turn becomes a human fetus.
At no point during these stages of development does the zygote, embryo, or fetus ever become anything other than human.
The question with which these abortion rights advocates would attempt to cloud the issue is, "At what point during the developing stages does the fetus become a human being?"
They would argue that somewhere during the development cycle a non-living fetus becomes a living human being, but they cannot decide at what point. It would seem to me that if they don't know when it becomes a human then they can't say it isn't a human being.
To put it more simply, A human man impregnates a human woman, and within 9 months, give or take a few days, the result is a human baby. If it takes two humans to conceive, how could the resulting baby ever, during any stage of it's development, become anything other than human? And if it can, what does it become? And when does it change to whatever it becomes? And at what point does it change back to human?
These questions will be argued by abortion rights advocates as a question of semantics. They will no doubt say something like, "We aren't saying it isn't human. We are saying it isn't living!" They will offer variations of this same statement, but it makes the same point. And it means basically the same thing. Their point will be, unless it breathes, or can exist outside the woman's body, or it's heart is beating, etc, it isn't a living being.
But that is flawed logic , to wit:
At the very instant of conception, the female human egg cell begins to divide and grow. It is microscopic, and although it starts with only one cell, as soon as the male human sperm cell binds with the egg, it becomes two cells, and from there, it continues to grow, unless impeded, until it becomes a fully developed human being.
If it grows, it must be alive.
What, if anything on this planet, has grown while dead? What living entity on this planet does not continue to grow until death? Point being, if it grows it is alive. At what point in development does the human embryo not grow?
So, I will submit that the question is not, "When does a zygote, embryo, fetus, et al, become a living human being?", but rather,
"When is it not a living human being?"