One of the main talking points on the forced-birth right is that fertilized eggs are people. What they are doing is begging the question on when life starts and when personhood should be identified. This isn’t the result of some deep well thought argument, it’s a claim made without an argument. They are then claiming that the only thing the law must do is enforce a woman’s obligation to carry an embryo to term.
Here’s the thing that is not discussed enough: they do not actually think fertilized eggs are people. When you push them, they will reassert the claim but they will not defend it. And why would they? It is a claim that is logically, morally and scientifically bankrupt. Why would they try to actually defend it? This is a cynical tactic made by huge liars acting in bad faith. I refuse to accept this claim and so should you.
A thought experiment
You may have a Trolly Problem before. The canonical one shows a track with rail switch. A person is then given a choice, do nothing and five people are run over. Pull the switch and a single person is killed. You are presented with question-is it an acceptable sacrifice to kill one person by your actions to save five people who would have been killed by your inaction.
Let me restate that problem this way.
In this case, if you do nothing 1000 embryos will be destroyed. You can save these 1000 unique humans by diverting the trolly to run over a single baby. Is a single baby an acceptable sacrifice to save 1000 embryos?
Let’s change that up.
Here you are given an option to do nothing and a single baby is killed. However, if you pull the lever 1000 embryos are destroyed. Are they an acceptable sacrifice to save a baby’s life? Would anyone choose to stand and do nothing while a baby is killed?
It is beyond ridiculous to think anyone acting in good faith could possibly think it is acceptable to strip women of bodily autonomy for an embryo when you are willing to let a thousand of them be destroyed to save a baby.
You can present this all you want and you will not get a single response from the forced birth fetish crowd. They will pivot to appeals to emotion about babies being killed as if they have already established that an embryo is a baby.
One common tactic when faced with the logical problems with treating an embryo as a person is to move the goal posts from a hypothetical collection of embryos to a single embryo. One claim occasionally made is to insist they are uniquely human at some arbitrary early point in development. This is silly.
Science does not treat eggs as humans. Science uses terms like egg, zygote, embryo and fetus to describe the development stages because they are sufficiently different.
You can find plenty of examples of people who can not identify a human embryo from a collection of animal embryos. A trained biologist might-but most people can not. There is nothing “uniquely human” about the existence of a human embryo. It’s a clump of cells growing in a mammals body like many other mammal embryo.
There is a reason why prenatal care starts focused on the mother for the first 10 to 12 weeks and then slowly puts more focus on the baby. You start getting “humanness” later in development. This is the basis for the Roe compromise, putting a thumb on the scale for the wishes of the mother early in development and on the scale for the “baby” as it develops.
Lastly, you will not find a description of uniquely human that doesn’t start with science and veer off into the supernatural. Show them a collection of embryos and ask them to pick the human one and they’ll say it’s the one with a soul or it’s the one made in god’s image.
Literal Bad Faith
There is nothing in the bible that could be used to defend the idea that a fertilized egg is a person. If there was, chapter and verse would be as well known as John 3:16. On the other hand, there is plenty to support abortion in the bible.
There is nothing in scripture to suggest fertilized eggs are given souls. By many estimates less than half of all fertilized eggs result in a viable birth. To accept the claim that life begins at conception is to accept that god has-for some reason they will not explain or defend-chosen to destroy more than half of all individuals shortly after ensouling those clumps of cells. This would mean the majority of souls may have never seen sunshine, never been hugged and never tasted food.
I do not expect this to change minds. In my decades of asking forced-birth fetishsists to defend their claim that fertilized eggs are people, I have never had one make any attempt to defend that position. Not once.
I said it before and I will say it again, I refuse to accept the claim that a fertilized egg or even an embryo should be treated as the equivalent as a person. Not scientifically. Not morally. Not logically. And certainly not legally. If they are going to make this claim, they should have a rigorous defense for that claim. But they do not. I think they are huge liars acting in bad faith and so should you.