The abortion debate over the last 50 years can be summarized as the entrenchment of both sides, abortionists and antiabortionists, without any signs of compromise or resolving this issue. Why is this? Is it because it is safer and fulfilling to just shout at each other from across the aisle. Or because it does not take much talent to do so? Or nobody wants to be seen as surrendering? . . . add your own reasons. A conspiratress would say it is to distract from other problems that Big Brother does not want you to investigate.
In my opinion, this is such a waste of human talent and time which could be better utilized to address problems such as big pharma, spiraling health care costs, banksters, green energy, and space exploration. But a shouting match is safe, satisfying and gives a false sense of accomplishment.
Let's take a different tack. The gist of the abortion debate can be summarized in one sentence, is the life of the baby more important than the life of the mother? "Life" being used in a very loose manner. The antiabortionist would say "yes". And there lies their paradox. The abortionist would say "no". And here is their weakness. How would you define life?
What is life? Some examples in a hierarchical order are. (1) In Scotland, Prof. Lee Cronin is attempting to create non-carbon based inorganic life. Our entire planetary ecosystem is carbon-based organic life. (2) There are viruses which are essentially biochemical machines. (3) There are dead cells and live cells. (4) Venter has created synthetic life from scratch. (5) Somewhere after that point biologist are attempting to bring back to life extinct species. (6) We are alive. (7) And finally, brain dead living human bodies on life support in hospitals.
What is life? The true answer is we don't know. But can we get to a more sophisticated and clearer understanding?
In my previous article "Emergence: A Powerful but Little Known Notion", I had proposed that new properties could emerge out of a medium if there was a stimulus. In the case of a Ray Kurzweil type proposal, a stimulus would be required to cause a future sophisticated electronic hardware and software to facilitate the instantiation of an electronic mind that is different from the sum of the hardware and software.
Likewise, we can now recognize that cell life requires a stimulus to be recognized as a living cell. We don't know what it is. Many years ago I read about a mild electric shock applied to the nucleus would restart cell life (but could not find a reference for this article). While brain dead humans demonstrate that another different stimulus is required to instantiate a living, breathing human. Therefore we can infer that emergence is a useful methodology to getting to a definition of life.
That is, life can exist in four states, biomechanical (virus), cellular (single celled organisms), multicellular aggregation (plants and animals) and entity (humans). The entity form is where a multicellular aggregated organism has a spirit that distinguishes it from brain dead. Of course throwing the wrench into the works, we could ask, are dogs and pigs aggregations or entities? But let's step back from that question, and that of what is the spirit.
Returning to abortion. We know that egg and sperm cells exhibit cellular life. When fused they become multicellular aggregated fetuses which may or may not become babies. When born and if alive, these fetuses are babies. We know that fetuses can be stillborn or dead at birth, i.e. the cells are alive but the baby is dead. Therefore, we can infer that the entity form of life instantiates at some time between cell multiplication and child birth.
The question is, when? When does the instantiation of the entity, the stimulus in emergence, convert a multicellular aggregated fetal life into a baby human life? Let's look at the empirical evidence. Normal pregnancy is 40 weeks and the shortest recorded gestation period for a fetus to survive as a baby is 21 weeks. Therefore, we deduce that entity life instantiates as early as 21 weeks or not at all as in stillbirths.
It would therefore, be correct to state that aborting a human life occurs at or after 21 weeks. And for those of you who demand that any life is important, don't eat.
The test, therefore should be, has entity life instantiated? If so, abortion should be illegal. If not, it should be legal.
Now, is this entity instantiation proposal, one everyone can live with?