News & Politics

Questions for Pro-Lifers

What if person-hood really did begin at conception? What else would you like pro-lifers to answer?
This post has generated some confusion and a lot of questions from pro-lifers and pro-choicers alike. I have a bad habit of assuming everyone who is reading this is well-versed in feminist theory and pro-choice politics, and that simply isn't true. So I'm going to back up a bit and try to lay out some of the issues.

There are a lot of different pro-choice arguments out there. Most of them revolve around the ideas of bodily autonomy and personal privacy -- that is, a pregnant woman should be allowed to decide for herself whether or not she continues the pregnancy, and the government should not be empowered to legally compel her to remain pregnant against her will. There are a lot of moral, legal and ethical arguments as to why the government shouldn't be able to do this, and why women should not be forced to sustain a fetal life. I'm not going to get into those here. Instead, I'm going to address the standard pro-life view that life begins at conception, and that we should invest every fertilized egg, embryo and fetus with full personhood rights. And I have a few questions about that.

The ultimate pro-life goal is the passage of a Human Life Amendment. The texts of such an amendment vary, but they generally include the basic idea that:
The paramount right to life is vested in each human being from the moment of fertilization without regard to age, health or condition of dependency.
In other words, life begins the moment a sperm fertilizes an egg. Personhood begins here. Sounds simple enough, right? But I have some questions and concerns (numbered for easy answering from the multitudes of pro-lifers who I'm sure will be happy to address them):
Jill Filipovic is a New York-based freelance writer and a law student at NYU. More of her writing is available online at her blog, Feministe.
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