Re: Missing the woods for the trees
Lexxy, I think with that statement any credibility you may have had evaporated. Are you seriously trying to say that an adult human being who is sentient, sapient and capable of processing information about their environment, making decisions, etc is rationally equivalent to a non-sentient, non-sapient clump of cells? That they are the same thing to you? Under what logic does that form?
Let's take one of the most extreme scenarios; someone with a genetic defect leading to mental retardation so sever they would score below 70 on an IQ test. As an adult, that human is still more aware than a cat or a dog. They are well into the realm of being aware of their environment, being able to have theory of mind and a fear of death. Are you honestly saying that even the most mentally bereft of adult humans is the same as a collection of cells without a functional neural network?
A blob of cells isn't human. It has the potential to be human, but the characteristics that make us sentient and sapient simply don't exist at that stage.
Let me put this into context: are you familiar with the concept of stem cells? They are cells in your body flooded with telomerase and which have not had "fates" assigned to them. (Fate assignation methodology is beyond the scope of this comment, however, there's plenty of research if you want to hit up Google Scholar.) The short version of a stem cell is that it can become any kind of cell. Most stem cells could even be used to clone an entirely new copy of the host animal.
Adult humans produce thousands of these things per day. Our brains alone crank out several hundred new brain cells a day, to say nothing of the stem cells lining our guts, our marrow and various other aspects of our physiology: we are constantly being refreshed and renewed wiht new cells thanks to our stem cells. We couldn't be alive without them.
What's really interesting is that these stem cells don't always actually stay put. Every now and again we'll shed a few. One of the places this happens more than any other is our intestines. Or, to put this in a more compact version:
On a fairly regular basis you actually excrete as part of your feces collections of cells that could very easily (under the right circumstances) grow to become an adult human being. Not just any adult human being, one with your exact genetic code.
That's right, you poop people.
Well, that is, if you define any random collection of cells that could grow to become a fully independent adult human being a "person".
So, are you "advocating the destruction of a person" by taking a crap? What about by cutting yourself, bleeding and thus causing an uptick in blood cell production which ultimately jars loose a few stem cells that will probably be passed through the kidneys and excreted with your urine? How many "potential people" are killed by a night of intoxication?
Oh, so you don't consider the clumps of cells you excrete, bleed or murder with toxins to be "potential people?" Why, exactly? What differentiates that agglomeration of cells in your intestines from one that happens to exist in a uterus?
Did your mind generate something with the word "natural"? Interesting! But you see, "nature" is jut the result of fundamental forces interacting. The sort of thing that makes a hydrogen bond to a carbon, and those interact with another carbon...amino acids form proteins which cooperate and compete until you have RNA, DNA, cells, biofilms, multicellular organisms...and you.
You're a sack of chemicals and nothing more. That's nature.
What sets advanced multicellular life apart from less advances forms of life is the emergent properties of neural networks. The more complex the network the more complex the consciousness of the organism. Cats, dogs, people, elephants...where do you draw the line? Why?
Ultimately what this really boils down to is that you are arguing that potential people should have rights. But you are only arguing for a specific kind of potential people. Ones that arise under very specific circumstances. In order to grant rights to this special class of potential people you seem entirely ready to deprive actual people of their rights. Why?
What about non-human animals? Which among them deserve right? Why? Why not?
What about "potential people" that don't arise from your sanctioned methodology? Do they deserve rights? Why? Why not?
Your argument is based in emotion and rhetoric. I am open minded. I can be persuaded, my mind changed. I suspect you'll find that most of The Register's readership is the same. The key here is that you have to actually put the effort in. Answer the hard questions. Provide evidence, sound reasoning, logic and rationale.
Emotions of the arguing parties are irrelevant. Rhetoric is irrelevant. Faith is irrelevant. Either you can prove your argument or you can't, if you can't then don't expect to persuade anyone.
In the meantime, I will continue to advocate that women have the right to prevent a clump of non-sentient, non-spaient cells from developing a neural network advanced enough to be capable of choice. (Though I believe that once a neural network has evolved past that point the ethics of termination changes.)
I won't, however, denigrate adult humans - regardless of their mental faculties - by saying that they are remotely "the same" as something that can't think, or feel...or choose.