Friday, January 31, 2014

A Discussion of Capacities and Their Relation to Human Personhood

There has been some confusion on some of my articles as to what it means for humans to have an inherent nature as rational agents, so I'd like to take the time now to expound upon just what is meant by an inherent nature, as well as the concept of capacities and what they have to do with human personhood.

When I say that a particular ability is in a thing's nature, I mean that just by virtue of what that thing is, it can perform certain functions. What is in a particular entity's nature is available simply by observation. For example, it is in a dog's nature to bark, to bury items, to chase rabbits, and do all manner of things. It is in a cat's nature to mew, to be independent, to catch mice, and to murder you in your sleep (okay, maybe not that last one). And human beings have certain capacities, too, such as the capacity to walk, to speak, to engage in higher-level thought, to be rational, to be conscious, to fall in love, etc. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of capacities. This is also not a Christian convention -- the concept of nature and capacities goes back at least to Aristotle, though Aristotelian thought has permeated Christianity quite a bit (in particular, read Aristotle's Metaphysics).

Talk of capacities is just another way to talk about what is in a thing's nature, though more specifically as there are different degrees that capacities come in, and different types of capacities that a thing can have. Capacities can also be thought of in terms of potency -- a capacity a thing has gives it the potential to develop or become something. Russell DiSilvestro, in his book Human Capacities and Moral Status (Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2010, p.17), says:
A capacity is the metaphysical ground or truth-maker of a true conditional statement about a thing. For example, the capacities of sub-atomic particles are what make statements describing what would happen to these particles in different circumstances true. Both ordinary language and the language of philosophy and science are suffused with statements about capacities. For example, you have the capacity to speak English, my pet rat has the capacity to experience pain, and salt has the capacity to dissolve in water. Such capacity-statements typically have a structure containing three elements: one which refers to the capacity itself, another which refers to the bearer of the capacity, and a third element which refers to what the capacity is a capacity for.
There is a bit of a difficulty in philosophy, in that different philosophers often use different terms to refer to the same thing. So I will give the name that I prefer as to the capacity, and any alternate name for the capacity that eventually comes up in philosophical literature. There is also much to be said on capacities and this article is only a basic treatment of these capacities. But this should give you a basic understanding of what capacities are and how they relate to the abortion issue and the discussion of human personhood.

Active vs. Passive capacities

Strictly speaking, an active capacity is a capacity that an entity has to develop something that is within its nature to develop. You have the capacity to read this article, and you still had this capacity while you were a human embryo (more on that below). Even though you couldn't read this article at the time when you were an embryo, you had it within yourself to develop that ability. Active capacities are identity-preserving capacities; in other words, everything that you have within yourself to develop you develop without becoming a different person. So you are the same person now as you were as an adolescent, a toddler, a fetus, and an embryo.

A passive capacity (sometimes called a compositional capacity) is the capacity for something to become part of the identity of something else, thereby losing its own identity. A passive capacity is not identity-preserving. For example, an oak sapling has the active potential to become an oak tree, but it has a passive potential to become a desk or a house (thereby no longer being a tree).

Sometimes active and passive capacities are understood as identity-preserving capacities, and referring to the passive potentiality as explained above by the term "compositional capacity," but the context of the passage should make it clear which sense of "active" and "passive" are intended. DiSilvestro in the same book (p.19) refers to an active potential as a potential to change things, whether in the world or in the bearer of the capacity. An example he uses is the act of standing. You remain the same person when you stand as when you sit. A passive identity-preserving capacity can be understood as powers for being changed by things in the world or in the bearer of the capacity. An example of a passive capacity in this respect would be the capacity for something oily to be burnt. An example of a compositional capacity (a passive capacity as illustrated in the previous paragraph) would be a lump of bronze being made into a statue. The statue is not identical to the lump of bronze it came from.

So all of the abilities that the zygote will develop are present from the very beginning, albeit not the ability to perform them. Any potential that an entity has within itself to develop is an identity-preserving capacity, which is why you are identical with the zygote that was conceived in your mother's womb, even though there are obvious differences between the two. But in what sense can the human zygote be said to have these abilities?

Inherent vs. Presently-Exercisable capacities

This simply refers to a hierarchy of capacities. You currently have the ability to read this article, to think, to sing (however off-key), to stand, to dance (a capacity woefully lacking in Caucasians like myself), etc.

An inherent capacity is a capacity that one has within oneself to develop. So whether or not you have developed these capacities, if entities of your kind naturally develop these abilities, then all entities of that kind have that capacity inherently. It's not until you actualize the potentiality that it moves from being merely an inherent capacity to a presently-exercisable capacity, and you will only actualize capacities that are within your nature to actualize (human beings will not develop the capacity to fly because it is not in their nature, nor will birds develop the capacity to write an opera).

I prefer the terms "inherent" and "presently-exercisable," or "immediately-exercisable," because it is obvious just in the names what that capacity entails, but capacities exist in a hierarchy. So you will sometimes see them referred to as second-order capacities (inherent capacities) and first-order capacities (presently-exercisable capacities). Or you will see them referred to as lower-order capacities, which is a presently-exercisable capacity, and higher-order capacities, which is just the capacity to obtain a lower-order capacity. DiSilvestro gives an example in his book (p. 20):
Liquid water has the lower-order capacity to evaporate, while ice has the higher-order capacity to obtain this lower-order capacity. An oak tree has the lower-order capacity to support a tree house, while an oak sapling has a higher-order capacity to obtain this lower-order capacity.
Sometimes philosophers, like Eric Olson or Michael Tooley, speak of blocked or suppressed capacities. An example that Michael Tooley, a pro-choice atheist, uses in his book Abortion and Infanticide is about "Mary," who has the capacity to run a five-minute mile. If she gets drunk or gets out of shape, she would still have the capacity but it would become blocked or suppressed by external factors. But if you are speaking in terms of first- and second-order capacities, then suppressed capacities can be understood as second-order capacities.

So this naturally leads to the question of severely disabled human beings, such as anencephalic fetuses. According to J.P. Moreland and Scott B. Rae, in their book Body and Soul (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 2000, p. 72),
Higher-order capacities are realized by the development of lower-order capacities under them. An acorn has the ultimate capacity to draw nourishment from the soil, but this can be actualized and unfolded only by developing the lower capacity to have a root system, then by developing the still lower capacities of the root system, and so on. When a substance has a defect (e.g. a child is colorblind), it does not lose its ultimate capacities. Rather, it lacks some lower-order capacity it needs for the ultimate capacities to be developed.
So in the case of an anencephalic fetus, they are still persons because they still have the same inherent capacities as other human beings, they are just being prevented from actualizing them due to external factors. A hundred years ago, someone who lost their sight would have lost it permanently. But today we have cornea transplants and other methods of restoring sight so that it is now possible for someone to regain their sight. This is because it went from being a first-order, immediately exercisable capacity to a second-order, inherent capacity. But the capacity was never lost, just like it was never lost a hundred years ago when it was impossible to restore it. So anencephalic humans are still human persons.

So this is what is meant when we talk about human nature, and the capacities (inherent and otherwise) that an entity possesses by virtue of the kind of thing that it is. Human zygotes have the same capacities we do now, just at a different level in the hierarchy. But these capacities they have are identity-preserving capacities, so they remain the same person throughout all of these changes. You are the same person now as you were in your mother's womb, right from the very beginning.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

In one week: Secular Pro-Life presentation at the University of Georgia

On Thursday, February 6, SPL president Kelsey Hazzard will speak at the University of Georgia on the topic "Pro-Life Without God." This is very similar to our earlier presentation at MIT, so if you missed that, here's your second chance! (We'll also post a video afterward.)

Time: 6:00 p.m.
Room: MLC 248
Dinner: Free pizza

The event is hosted by Students for Life UGA, whose president tells Secular Pro-Life that abortion advocates on campus have resorted to tearing down the posters advertising this event. They really do not want people hearing the secular case against abortion!

But censorship won't get us down. If anything, it is an encouragement, reaffirming for us that this speaking engagement is needed and has the potential to save lives. Please come out and join us, and let your friends in the Athens, GA area know about this event.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Walk for Life West Coast 2014

WFLWC 2014 Attendance Broke Records
Most years we write a blog post filled with photos examining the religious nature of the Walk for Life West Coast, and the anti-religious nature of its counter-protesters.  However, this year we had the honor of speaking at the Walk on behalf of Secular Pro-Life, so this year the blog posts are about that experience.

(If you still want to see SPL's photos from this year's Walk, click here. If you want to see our opposition's counter protest photos, click here.)

The following is the text of Secular Pro-Life's speech, complete with links to more information. (You can watch SPL's video of the speech here.)

* * *

Thank you Fr. Pavone. Hello!

As you’ve probably just heard, my name is Monica Lynn Snyder, and I’m a member of Secular Pro-life – a group that doesn’t exist! Well, okay, we do exist but apparently we’re not supposed to. According to our opposition, the pro-life movement is based solely on religion--yet here we are, Secular Pro-Life, using secular arguments, using science. This seems to irritate some people.

By “some people” I mean “pro-choicers.”

They want this to be about religion. They want this to be religion vs. freedom, to be dogma vs. progress, because it distracts from the real issue. So they’ll go on about religious sexism and they'll ignore anti-abortion feminists like, I don’t know, Susan B. Anthony. They will talk about puritanical views on sex while ignoring the human rights atrocity of murder in the womb! They will talk all day about how there's no proof of a human soul, but they’ll skip the part where there is plenty of proof of a new human life!

This is why Secular Pro-Life, the mere mention of our name, causes abortion rights advocates to freak out. Because we take away their favorite distraction: their anti-religion bigotry. We show the Pro-Life movement is not just about religion--it’s about human rights, it’s about science, and science says abortion kills humans!

Secular Pro-Life isn’t here because of faith—we’re here because of facts. Like the fact that fetal heartbeat begins 3 weeks after conception, the fact that brain waves can start at 6 weeks. You put those two together, that means 2/3rds of abortions kill human beings with heartbeats and brainwaves. And do you know how I know? Because the biology textbook tells me so!

Because, at its core, this is a debate about biology. At its core, this is a debate about life and death. And we’re promoting life, they’re promoting death. It’s like Coke vs Pepsi—we’re Coke, they’re Pepsi, but instead of Pepsi they use rat poison. It’s Coke vs. rat poison! They can have the coolest cans, they can have the funniest commercials, but in the end it’s still a can of rat poison! When you peel away the glossy ad, the pro-choice position offers death. Nothing more.

They’ll use rhetoric—they’ll use rhetoric about freedom, about female empowerment, and that can be very appealing. I mean I’m all for freedom! I am all for female empowerment. I believe women should have the same opportunities as men—for education, for career, for balancing family life, all of it. We should be creating a society that allows that. But! Creating that society—an equal society—is tricky, because biology has dealt the sexes different hands. Women bear the children. That takes time, energy, resources—in some ways that makes life more difficult for us than for men.

And we can level the playing field: we can work to improve maternity leave, childcare options. We can work to break down stigmas about single mothers, about working mothers, stigmas about stay-at-home fathers! But those solutions take work. They take complicated changes, and abortion tries to short circuit the whole process. The abortion-on-demand mentality tells me, “Sure, you can have the same opportunities as men! All you have to do is kill your offspring!!” That’s the decision I’m left with? That’s choice?? That’s equality?

The pro-choice position has little to offer in terms of feminism and nothing to offer in terms of science, so they change the subject to “freedom from religion.” That’s why Secular Pro-Life makes pro-choicers so defensive.

But for pro-lifers, we’re hope. Our existence symbolizes the strength of the Pro-Life message to all people, regardless of religious belief. The fact that I have no religion and I’m still passionately pro-life means We! Are! WINNING!

I know…I know it doesn’t always feel like that when the media acts like we don’t exist. Doesn’t matter! The tide turned years ago. Now it’s lifting all of our boats. As of last year, 58% of Americans said they think abortion should generally be illegal. And that holds true for the youngest generation, even though we’re the least religious. And do you know why? Because it’s not just about religion; it’s about human rights!

You know it wasn’t supposed to be like this. You guys were supposed to get tired! Sick of being misconstrued! Sick of being mocked! You were supposed to quit! In ’84 or ’94, or 2004. And yet here we are, 2014, larger than everI And why is that? It’s because people like you and me take action, large and small. We turn words and ideas into deeds. And that’s why we’re growing and they’re shrinking, and it’s making them desperate!

Just look for their signs today, they’ve got nothing left! They’re going to scream about theocracy, about Christian “fascism,” about the pro-life movement being a bunch of religious old men. You know what? The pro-life movement does have a bunch of religious old men, and I say “great!” We welcome religious old men, we welcome everyone! Religious, secular, men, women, young, old—I have a pro-life friend who’s ambidextrous! Yeah!

The pro-life movement is winning, because we are THE big tent! Do you believe in God? Great, come on in! You don’t believe in God? Great, come on in! You’re not sure about God? Great, come on in! Everyone who recognizes the horror of abortion is welcome here!

I think it was Mother Teresa who said, the best defense is a good offense….actually, I think General Patton said that, but Mother Teresa would agree, and that’s Secular Pro-Life, we’re on the offense. We’re writing and walking and talking and blogging about everything science has to say about life. We love, a good, secular-based debate, if only we could get one! All pro-choicers want to do is talk about religion.

President Obama said that before he could support a law banning abortion he’d have to explain how “abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.”

Well Mr. President, I am happy to help you with that.

It’s filled with secular reasoning about why women deserving better than forceps and saline solution. Why the pro-life movement is right, and abortion is wrong! Why you should choose Coke, not rat poison! Stop by anytime!

Thank you.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A plea for mutual understanding in the Munoz case

On Sunday, as you probably heard, Marlise Munoz was removed from life support under court order. This eliminated any chance that unborn baby Nicole, a few weeks short of viability, might survive to birth.

Secular Pro-Life issued a brief statement mourning the loss and stating our disagreement with the court's decision. A long comment thread ensued. Pro-choice facebook followers expressed the view that Secular Pro-Life's position is anti-woman (e.g. wanting Marlise to be an "incubator"); that the logic behind keeping Marlise on life support would also justify grave robbing; that the right to die supercedes the right to life; and that the fact that Marlise did not address the possibility of pregnancy in discussing her end-of-life wishes is irrelevant because, as one commenter put it, "she was still a person, whether she was pregnant or not."

I present the following analogy in the hope that it will clarify the core issues, put to rest the accusations of misogyny, and help us to better understand one another. (I do not yet know how our pro-choice friends will respond to this analogy, but I am curious to find out.)

Our hypothetical family consists of Wife and Husband, a couple in their thirties, and Daughter, who is in kindergarten. It is a loving family. Wife and Husband are very close, and have discussed their feelings about life support on several occasions. Husband stated that the idea of life support made him very uncomfortable; he felt that being hooked up to machines would be undignified and even dehumanizing. Wife promised to abide by Husband's wishes.

Tragedy strikes the family when Daughter is diagnosed with leukemia. Wife and Husband love Daughter and are understandably sick with worry. Daughter needs a bone marrow transplant.

Wife is not a match, but luckily, Husband is. Daughter currently has an infection, and in her weakened state, it could take weeks for her body to fight it off. Until then, she is not in good enough shape to undergo the transplant. But as soon as the infection is resolved, Husband is prepared to donate his marrow to save Daughter.

The day after Husband learns that he is a bone marrow match, he suffers a pulmonary embolism (the same condition that struck Marline Munoz). He is placed on mechanical support while his doctors try to figure out their next steps.

Sadly, it soon becomes clear that Husband will never regain consciousness and is beyond all hope. His skin begins showing signs of decay. But most of his organ systems remain functional, and he is still producing good bone marrow.

The hospital checks donor banks with no luck; Husband is the only possible match.

Wife states that she wants Husband removed from life support, in accordance with his wishes.

The hospital wants to keep Husband on life support until Daughter is well, perform the bone marrow transplant, and then disconnect Husband's life support. The hospital and its lawyers point out that when Husband discussed his end-of-life wishes, he never addressed the remote possibility that life support would be needed to save Daughter. Husband obviously loved Daughter and was prepared to donate his bone marrow to her before he suffered the pulmonary embolism. Moreover, hard as it is to say it, Husband is effectively dead, whereas Daughter still has a fighting chance; therefore, Daughter's interests should prevail.

Wife, hoping to avoid a media circus, doesn't directly address these points. However, her supporters come out of the woodwork and make several arguments in favor of disconnecting life support. They say that keeping Husband on life support is tantamount to making him an "incubator" and is contrary to his human dignity. They allude to the sexist history of men being forced into the role of the "family provider," accusing the hospital of anti-male sentiment for now forcing Husband to be a provider of bone marrow to Daughter.

They also point out that Daughter's condition has been deteriorating; the infection has reached her lungs, and every breath is painful. Even if she were to get the bone marrow transplant and survive, she would probably need to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of her life, her cancer could recur, she would be raised by a single mother, and her overall quality of life would be seriously compromised.

Which side would you take in the above scenario?

Wherever you come down on this hypothetical, I think (hope) we can all agree on the following points:
1) This is a tragedy. So is the Munoz case.
2) Wife is not a monster out to kill an innocent child; she is a greiving widow trying to navigate heartwrenching territory. The same goes for Erick Munoz.
3) The hospital and its supporters are not motivated by sexism or trying to be cruel. Neither are pro-lifers in the Munoz case.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Does the "16 & Pregnant" franchise decrease teen birth rates?

According to Eliana Dockterman at TIME:
Whereas 16 and Pregnant only traces the nine months leading to birth, Teen Mom follows the lives of the same teens after the baby showers are over and the reality of life with a baby sets in. A typical episode of the show follows the new moms as they fight with the fathers of their children (many of whom have now left them), fight with their parents (who are usually supporting them), struggle financially, struggle to finish their degree, and watch their friends enjoy prom and college without them.
This sounds very difficult. How many teenage girls would watch this show and want to emulate its stars? Hopefully none. MTV has set up a website——to go along with their teen mom shows. tries to prevent teen pregnancy by discussing relationships, abstinence, birth control, and more. Is it helping? As Docterman reports:
The study suggesting a link between the show and a drop in pregnancy rates, conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that the rate of teenage pregnancy declined faster in areas where teenagers were watching more MTV programming. After crunching the numbers, they concluded that the shows prevented more than 20,000 births to teen mothers in 2010 alone. (emphasis added)
Docterman appears to be conflating teen birth rates with teen pregnancy rates. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research's actual abstract:
16 and Pregnant led to more searches and tweets regarding birth control and abortion, and ultimately led to a 5.7 percent reduction in teen births in the 18 months following its introduction.
Notice that they talk about a reduction in teen births, not teen pregnancies. After all, what would searches on abortion have to do with decreasing pregnancy rates? Abortions don't prevent pregnancies; they prevent births by ending pregnancies. I don't know if the 5.7% reduction stat is cause for celebration because I don't know whether it means that teens are being more careful about their sexual choices or that teens are more likely to seek abortion. Maybe it's both.

In either case, the birth rate reduction may not be the result of MTV's shows anyway. As Docterman points out:
[The study] only proves correlation, not causation. The study does not rule out other factors, like increased sex education at schools in those same areas where families can afford to pay for cable television and allow their children to watch a liberal channel like MTV.
The study doesn't rule out sex education?? That's a pretty important factor. And what are the abortion rates—especially the teen abortion rates—in those same areas? What are the parental notification laws? What are the socio-economic demographics? Both abortion rates and teen birth rates have been shown to correlate to different demographics, after all.

Docterman herself seems skeptical that MTV is driving the national decline in teen birth rates. She concludes:
Spreading the word about contraception, birth control and the risks of unprotected sex through popular media may be having some positive effect. Glamorizing teen pregnancy may be diminishing that effect. But either way, MTV can’t do the work of the adults in the lives of teenagers.
Docterman points to studies that show teenagers who can have frank conversations with their parents about the ramifications of unprotected sex are less likely to engage in risky sexual behavior. Maybe one of the better ways to lower teen pregnancy rates is to make sure we don't leave the parenting to the likes of MTV.

Friday, January 24, 2014

TOMORROW: Walk for Life in San Francisco

Our time in D.C. was a huge success! Despite the cold temperatures and disrupted travel plans, many of you still made it out to the March for Life (see video; pictures coming soon). We were interviewed by multiple news outlets and even made the front page of Buzzfeed: "13 Young, Secular People Who Also Believe Abortion is Wrong."

And tomorrow, we will make the news once again. Secular Pro-Life spokeswoman Monica Snyder will address the crowds gathered in San Francisco for the Walk for Life!

To march with SPL, meet in front of the Asian Art Museum tomorrow at 1:15 p.m. Look for our "Call me an extremist, but I think dismemberment is wrong" banner. And on Sunday, if you are registered for the Students for Life of America west coast conference, be sure to come by our table, say hello, and get some free goodies.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The "Anti-Choice War On Women"

(Note: You can click on any image to see a larger version.)

Every now and then I see this resurface:

I'd be interested to know how they're defining
"anti-abortion leaders"...

The first implication is that men shouldn't have a say in the abortion debate, a ludicrous claim we've addressed before. The next implication is that the pro-life movement is primarily composed of, and orchestrated by, men.

This claim is, of course, total crap.

The pro-life movement is filled with women. For example, check out the break down of SPL's Facebook followers:

(Click to enlarge.)

Women make up 46% of Facebook users, but 60% of our followers. (Thanks, ladies!)

But SPL is a relatively small group. Maybe our stats having nothing to do with the overall pro-life movement. Maybe we're just some random aberration in a mostly pro-choice nation.

According to Gallup, roughly half of Americans call themselves "pro-life."

Link here.

If being anti-abortion means being anti-woman, we'd expect self-described pro-lifers would be almost all men, and almost all women would describe themselves as "pro-choice." Right? But of course that's not the reality:

Link here.

These stats have a 4 point margin of error, so numbers within 8 points of each other are statistically equivalent. In other words, statistically, women are just as likely to describe themselves as "pro-life" versus "pro-choice," and pro-lifers are just as likely to be women versus men. 

So no, we can't say almost all women are "pro-choice." In fact, not even a majority of women call themselves pro-choice. Likewise, self-described pro-lifers aren't almost all men. Statistically, there's no correlation between a person's gender and whether they call themselves "pro-life" or "pro-choice."

But there can be a lot of ambiguity about the terms "pro-life" and "pro-choice." People who aren't really involved in the abortion debate may not define these terms the same way activists do. Some people believe abortion is morally wrong but should remain legal; they may tell pollsters they are "pro-life." 

Is that what's going on here? Maybe most women think abortion should generally be legal but just say they are pro-life because they are "personally pro-life"...?


Link here.

Here, the left two columns are people who think abortion should be legal all or most of the time. The right two columns are people who think abortion should be illegal all or most of the time. According to these stats, 58% of Americans think abortion should generally be illegal; that includes 59% of men and 57% of women. Only 40% of women say abortion should generally be legal. These stats again have a 4 point margin of error, meaning, statistically, the same amount of men and women think abortion should generally be illegal, and women are significantly more likely to think abortion should generally be illegal rather than legal.

Of course some argue that you're only pro-life if you believe abortion should be illegal all the time, but in reality very few people believe that. Here, look:

Link here.

So for example, most pro-lifers believe abortion should be legal if the mother's life is in danger or if the pregnancy resulted from rape. These pro-lifers would then say abortion should be "legal only in a few circumstances." Heck, I believe abortion should be "legal only in a few circumstances."

Furthermore, these stats also show even most pro-choicers support parental consent requirements, mandatory waiting periods, bans on partial-birth abortion, and making abortion illegal in the third trimester. Actually, about half of pro-choicers believe abortion should be illegal even in the 2nd trimester!

Remember, according to Gallup, 48% of Americans call themselves "pro-life" and 45% say "pro-choice," and those numbers break down roughly half and half between men and women. If you apply those numbers to the above policies, that means about 67% of men and women think abortion should be illegal after the 1st trimester, and about 80% of men and women think it should be illegal in the 3rd trimester. Are we to believe that all of these people--including a strong majority of women--want to restrict abortion as part of an "anti-choice War on Women"? Please.

Being anti-abortion isn't about being anti-woman. Being anti-abortion is about protecting fetal life. And no matter how many abortion rights activists insist otherwise, pro-life women know the difference.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

TODAY: March for Life!

The weather is going to be atrocious, but we're no fair-weather activists. You can still plan on us to be at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. this morning! The abortion industry doesn't take the day off when it's cold. Neither will we.

The original plan was to meet in front of the Museum of Natural History. However, we have heard (unconfirmed) rumors that the setup will be different this year and the stage will be right in front of the Museum of Natural History. If that is the case, obviously we'll have to move. Check the facebook event for updates, or just look for our giant blue banner.

If the snow has caused you to miss a flight or be unable to drive in: we'll miss you. But you can still be a part of the March for Life experience! If you've received a refund for travel expenses, donate some of it to Secular Pro-Life and/or another pro-life organization. SPL member Phil E. suggests that you "spend the day as an e-activist" by talking up the March for Life on social media. And as usual, there will be a live broadcast on EWTN (the Catholic channel).

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Response to the Spectrum Argument

On Patheos, pro-choice blogger Bob Seidensticker has formulated an argument for abortion that he calls the "Spectrum Argument" for abortion.

First, I'd just like to take a moment to say that it's refreshing to find a pro-choice blogger who actually attempts to make a logical argument for his position, rather than the rhetoric, demonizing of pro-life people, and just all around fallacious and otherwise bad arguments which are the normal fare on Patheos, as well as other pro-choice sites like RH Reality Check and Jezebel. So kudos for that.

The argument

Seidensticker's argument is that there is a spectrum of human personhood during gestation. He asks us to consider a spectrum from blue to green, where there is a continuous change. It's difficult to know where blue ends and green begins, but we can all agree that blue is not green. Similarly, it's difficult to know where a child ends and an adult begins, but we all know that a child is different from an adult.

So his argument seems to be something like the following:

1) Human personhood exists as a spectrum, from "not a person" to "full-fledged person."
2) Human fetuses fall toward the "not a person" side of the spectrum.
3) Therefore, human fetuses are not persons.

He gives a supporting argument. He argues that a brain with 100 billion neurons doesn't think 10^-11 times as fast as a brain with a single neuron. In fact, he asserts, it doesn't think at all. By the same token, the differences between a newborn and an adult is trivial compared to the difference between a single-cell zygote and a one trillion cell newborn.

The response

The immediate problem with this argument is that he gives no attempt to argue at what point we actually do become persons. This is a problem, because if there is the slightest chance that we may be killing human persons, then we ought not to kill them or we risk doing serious moral wrong. The argument "we don't know when we become persons, we just know the unborn don't qualify" is simply an ad hoc justification for abortion.

He resorts to the tired old arguments that an acorn is not an oak tree (no, but it is an immature oak tree), a silkworm is not a dress (of course not, because dresses don't develop from silkworms; it is made from the silk the worm produces), etc. This kind of argument just denotes a complete lack of knowledge of basic biology. I have dealt with these arguments elsewhere.

The spectrum argument fails to adequately address the fact that there is a continuity of human development that begins at fertilization and doesn't stop until after birth. Logically, that suggests that teenagers are "more of a person" than toddlers, because they are more developed, so teenagers should have the right to kill toddlers for any reason they want. And since adults are more developed still, they should have the right to kill teenagers. Then, of course, you start to lose certain developmental abilities as you get older, such as memory, motor functions, etc. So the elderly are less valuable and should be able to be killed by an adult for any reasons whatsoever. This is clearly an absurd argument, but it is the logical conclusion of the spectrum argument.

Not only is his argument absurd, but his supporting arguments don't do the work he needs them to do in order to support his main argument. It may be true that a brain with one neuron doesn't think nearly as fast as a brain with 100 billion neurons, but he misses the point that it is still a brain. It is just an immature brain. It hasn't had the chance to develop into a fully mature brain. Similarly, the unborn may be less developed at the single-cell stage than the 100 trillion cell stage, but it is still a human person at that stage. She is just an immature human person at that stage. She looks and acts exactly as a human being does, as every human being does, at that stage.

Seidensticker's assertion that he's an expert at babies doesn't add anything to his argument. I have had a hand in raising three of my nieces. Pro-life people have babies, too. The dictionary lists one definition of "baby" as "a human fetus." In fact, the term "fetus" in Latin means "offspring." It's true that pro-life people can use the term to add emotion to their argument, but it's equally true that pro-choice people often insist on using "fetus" or "embryo" in an attempt to dehumanize the unborn to make it more palatable to justify abortion.

So his comparison of the pro-life argument to PETA's slogan of "a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy" is simply a false analogy. The unborn are full human persons, a claim I have amply justified before. And it's not hard to see how his argument fails. Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, did not appear human, and yet he clearly was. Being human in appearance does not make one a human person. What makes one a human person is their inherent nature as rational agents, a nature that is shared with the unborn. The reason that you have the present ability to think rationally and to even read this article is because the zygote that you were at the beginning of your life had the inherent capacity to develop it. As Christopher Kaczor notes, hedgehogs don't develop rationality because it's not in a hedgehog's nature (Sonic notwithstanding).

Seidensticker's point about how evangelicals thirty years ago supported abortion is simply irrelevant. Many people, from evangelicals to atheists, have become pro-life over the last thirty years. That's a testament to the strength of the pro-life position! Seidensticker's history is just a red herring, as it detracts from the actual argument.

Seidensticker finishes off by arguing that the pro-life argument fails because it fails to account for the spectrum. Seidensticker did a good job of representing the argument, but a poor job of refuting it. He didn't refute any of the premises, he just asserted (with weak evidence) that human personhood is a spectrum. Let's take a look at the argument as he presented it:

(1) Human life begins at conception;
(2) It is murder to take a human life;
(3) Abortion is murder and should be considered immoral.

This argument cannot be done away with by asserting a spectrum. The "human life" in this argument is clearly biological human life (and he even admits that from conception the zygote is a human biologically). If it is wrong to take a human life, then Seidensticker has affirmed the argument, not denied it. His "spectrum" argument is clearly an argument against personhood, not biological human life. So the argument as presented here succeeds. And as the icing on the cake, I have also soundly refuted the "spectrum argument."

Human development may exist on a spectrum, but human value clearly does not. The only clear place to draw the personhood line is at fertilization, because that's the clear place that someone begins. The sperm and the egg cease to exist and the new human being comes into existence. Then they are on a lifelong path of development that begins at fertilization and doesn't end until they're an adult. If abortion is going to be justified, clearly it won't be justified in this manner.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Child Support

When arguing about abortion, I’ve seen a lot of people claim "sex isn’t a contract." Other variations of this idea include:

·         Consent to A doesn't mean consent to B (that is, consent to sex doesn't mean consent to reproduction).
·         You clearly don't consent to reproduce if you use birth control.
·         Sex is not a crime and shouldn’t be punished / Rights cannot be restricted unless there is a crime.

The problem is, when it comes to reproduction, these arguments only apply to women. 

If a man gets a woman pregnant--be it his wife, girlfriend, affair, or one night stand--he is legally bound to provide support for that child. In other words, because the man participated in the child’s conception (because the man had sex), his rights are altered. It doesn't matter if the man was only consenting to sex, and not to reproduction. It doesn't matter if he used birth control. It doesn’t matter that sex isn’t a crime. He fathered the kid, so the law considers him responsible for the kid.

And the law takes a pretty hard line on the subject. Courts can require a father to pay child support based not just on what he earns, but on what courts believe he has the ability to earn. Child support obligations remain even if a father goes to prison, or declares bankruptcy. Even if he wants to terminate his parental rights (and therefore his parental responsibilities), the courts usually won’t allow it unless there is another adult prepared to adopt the child and take over that responsibility. And there are many methods for enforcing child support. A man's tax refunds can be intercepted, his property seized, business or occupational license suspended, and in some states his driver's license can be revoked. If he still fails to make payment, he can be held in contempt and given jail time.

In short, if a man has sex he runs the risk of being (rather tightly) legally bound to any new life he creates. In the essay "Abortion and Fathers' Rights", author Stephen D. Hales summarizes the situation:

"...the father, having participated in conception, cannot escape the future duties he will have toward the child. The father can decide that he cannot afford another child, that he is not psychologically prepared to be a parent, that a child would hinder the lifestyle he wishes to pursue, and so on, to no avail."

Sound sad? If a man is forced to pay child support, that could mean serious emotional, psychological, financial, and social repercussions for him. So why do we have child support laws? Is it because we hate sex, and want to punish people for having sex?

No, of course not. And interestingly, you rarely see anyone even suggest as much. No, it’s clear to most people that we have child support laws in order to, you know, support children. Child support laws aren’t enforced to punish men for having sex—they’re enforced because it’s best for the child. In the same way, abortion shouldn’t be outlawed to punish women for having sex—it should be outlawed to protect fetal life. In both cases, it's not about punishment, it's about protection.

And that’s as it should be.

I’d love to live in a world in which there are no unplanned pregnancies and no unintentional parents. I think people should have control over whether they become parents, in the sense that people should have control over whether they get pregnant or get someone pregnant. That’s why I support comprehensive sex education: I want people to understand their own fertility and, if they do choose to have sex, I want them to understand how they can best prevent pregnancy while being sexually active.

However, once pregnancy has happened, once there’s already a new human organism in the picture, it changes everything. I think the people whose actions created that new life should be responsible for its protection. 

Of course, many people disagree. Abortion rights advocates place reproductive freedom over protecting the lives we create, at least when it comes to women and pregnancy. How would this mentality look if they also applied it to men and child support? Hales has an idea:

"A man has the moral right to decide not to become a father (in the social, nonbiological sense) during the time that the woman he has impregnated may permissibly abort. He can make a unilateral decision whether to refuse fatherhood, and is not morally obliged to consult with the mother or any other person before reaching a decision. Moreover, neither the mother nor any other person can veto or override a man's decision about becoming a father. He has first and last say about what he does with his life in this regard."

(And if we’re being really consistent, he doesn’t have to inform the woman he impregnated, or anyone else, about his decision to refuse fatherhood.)

It seems to me that consistency requires abortion rights advocates to argue for the man's right to choose as well as the woman’s: the pro-choice mentality means that, as women can "walk away" from their pregnancies, men should be able to walk away from the women they have impregnated. 

Not very uplifting, is it?

Or we could strive for a different kind of consistency--the kind that holds both men and women to a higher standard. This is why I’m for child support laws, and this is why I’m against abortion.

Further Reading: DNA testing means forced fatherhood as states limit abortion, Quartz, June 16, 2019

Friday, January 17, 2014

A letter from our president

The anniversary of Roe v. Wade on January 22nd is a somber occasion. It reminds us of the millions of innocent lives that have been lost to abortion in the United States. It is also a very hectic time for many pro-life advocates, myself included.

And yet this is, without question, my favorite time of year. Why? Because for me, it's a family reunion. My dear pro-life friends, many of whom I only get to see in January, gather from all parts of the country to honor the lives lost, celebrate the lives saved, and make plans to advance the cause of life in the coming year.

I hope you'll be able to make it to this year's family reunion! We'll be in Louisiana on Saturday the 18th, in the D.C. area on the 21st and 22nd, and in San Francisco on the 25th and 26th.

Get all the details on our website. See you soon!

For life,

Kelsey Hazzard
President of Secular Pro-Life

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Supreme Court Abdicates Responsibility in Late-Term Abortion Case

[Today's guest post by Roger McCormack is part of our paid blogging program.]

The tragedy that is late-term abortion recently received the approbation of the U.S. Supreme Court. A case pertaining to Arizona legislation banning abortion at 20 weeks, which the Ninth Circuit subsequently struck down as unconstitutional in Isaacson v. Horne, illustrates the increasingly empirical claims refuting orthodox pro-choice assumptions.

New insights in embryology exhaustively document the ability of a fetus to feel pain as early as 16 weeks, and offer evidence that the effects of late-term abortion on the health of the mother are adverse. The District Court that first heard the case ruled that a ban at 20 weeks was permissible due to “substantial and well-documented evidence that an unborn child has the capacity to feel pain during an abortion by at least 20 weeks gestational age,” as well as finding that “the instance of complications (to the health of the pregnant woman) is highest after 20 weeks of gestation.” Arizona’s legislation carved out exceptions for significant health risks or threat to the life of the mother. But the Ninth Circuit reversed the District Court, and only the intervention of the Supreme Court could restore the legislation.

The Supreme Court, in refusing to enter the fray, implicitly surrendered to prevailing abortion rights principles, irrespective of scientific claims. That late-term abortion entails sadism, the willful knowledge that a fetus undergoing the procedure will feel significant pain, further condemns the Court's negligence. A disturbing corollary is the notion that Roe v. Wade is unassailable; an apogee of legal reasoning that belies any attempts of reform.

The inability of abortion rights advocates to grapple with the knowledge of what late-term abortion actually does further suggests a logical, moral, and philosophic weakness. For example, Amy Davidson of the New Yorker wrote:
Some states have tried to justify early bans by pointing to a state interest in preventing fetal pain; the science is much disputed there, but this is a field that anti-choice activists and legislators are actively pursuing. (The appeals judge in the Arizona case noted that, were it an issue, it could be addressed with an anesthetic, but that is a logical answer to an emotional appeal.)
The callous admission that a fetus can merely be treated with an ‘anesthetic’ offers a incisive look into pro-choice logic. Failing to contend with fetuses that have suffered pain, or are currently suffering pain, Davidson places the burden of proof on pro-life advocates. Why should the onus be on those who seek to prevent an act of violence? Does not the inverse require an incontrovertible burden of proof? While the scientific evidence is far from nebulous, the slightest chance of pain being inflicted should require a Supreme Court hearing. The inexorable logic of this could easily lead to arguments advocating for the use of aesthetic before killing a newborn baby, but that would be to betray emotion, forbidden in the realms of cold "logic". 

Furthermore, the stipulation of viability as the sole threshold for impermissible abortion, in Roe v. Wade, did not stop the court from deciding in Gonzales v. Carhart to uphold a ban on partial-birth abortion. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “The court has given state and federal legislatures wide discretion to pass legislation in areas where there is medical and scientific uncertainty.” The court should have decided to take up this mantle again, and refuse to let pro-choice obscurantism win the day.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Interview with SPL's West Coast Walk for Life Speaker

On January 4th, Bay Area Catholic radio host Ed Horodko interviewed SPL's Monica Snyder, who will be speaking at the West Coast Walk for Life on January 25. Click this link and fast forward to around the 14 minute mark to hear the segment. Here's an excerpt:
I've met a lot of people who I would not call "pro-life" or "pro-choice." They're sort of on the fence, they haven't really dug into the issue, and when it comes up they will say something like, "Oh, I don't have an opinion—I'm not religious." I find it very frustrating because from the outside point of view of the overall movement they think it's solely a religious cause and therefore it doesn't have anything to do with them if they're not religious. Whereas, of course, we believe it's a human rights issue and it has to do with you if you're human.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Planned Parenthood: Committing an Abortion is Like Swimming

[Today's guest post by Sarah Terzo of is part of our paid blogging program.]

During my research on Planned Parenthood I stumbled across a quote from a Planned Parenthood clinic director that I’d like to share. It is from an old article (Sandra G. Boodman, “The Dearth of Abortion Doctors; Stigma, Low Pay and Lack of Personal Commitment Erode Ranks” The Washington Post, April 20, 1993), but the quote is so revealing of PP’s attitude towards abortion that I thought it deserved a mention.

Irving S. Rust, director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in the South Bronx, was asked about the declining number of doctors doing abortions. His response was that abortions are "boring" to perform, and that is why many doctors won't do it. It's an argument I have seldom encountered. A first trimester abortion is "like swimming," he said. "It can be sort of boring and kind of monotonous, but unless you're good at it, you can wind up with some major complications."

It is amazing how many incriminating quotes by Planned Parenthood one can find when digging through news archives. It is disturbing (but not surprising) that a Planned Parenthood director viewed killing unborn babies so casually. Planned Parenthood campaigns to allow non-physicians to perform abortions and opposes even modest safety regulations for abortion clinics. But these candid words from a Planned Parenthood director reveal that they are well aware of the dangers of abortion, especially when done by people without much experience. They know that even first trimester abortions can be dangerous to women, contradicting their public position that abortions are safe because they are legal.

The comparison to swimming is particularly callous. Does Planned Parenthood believe that an abortion is no more morally significant than a swim in the pool? It's stunning how lightly the largest abortion provider in the United States views killing unborn children. Even midway through the first trimester, the baby is very well developed. By 7-8 weeks after conception, the child has arms and legs with fingers and toes. He or she has a beating heart at 21 days. Jewels Green, who worked in a clinic that performed abortions in the first trimester only, nevertheless testified to sorting through recognizable body parts. (If you have a strong stomach, see for yourself what an aborted baby at 8 weeks looks like.)

Since 1993, the number of doctors committing abortions has declined even further. Abortion advocates are getting nervous:
[T]he number of state-based restrictions on abortions has increased significantly over the last two years. Defining a “scarcity” of abortion providers to mean a state where either 60 percent of the women live in a county without an abortion provider, or where there are 200,000 or more people for each abortion provider, we found that fully 32 states were experiencing scarcity as of 2008, the last year for which these data are available. 
The number of abortion facilities in the United States continues to decline rapidly, with 87 closures in 2013 alone. May the trend continue in 2014 and beyond!

Monday, January 13, 2014

FGM: Safe, Legal, and Rare?

[Today's guest post by Rachel Enders is part of our paid blogging program.]

Safe, legal, and rare. 

We’ve all heard this phrase at one time or another regarding abortion. The debate in popular culture changes, however, when you apply this phrase to female genital cutting, also known as female genital mutilation, female circumcision, or FGM. Incredibly, healthcare professionals have tried to curb the prevalence and danger of this heinous deed by making it “safe, legal, and rare.”

Female genital mutilation is most prevalent in Africa and areas in the Middle East. To describe this as non-graphically as possible: the practice involves removal or other injury to external female genitalia, including the clitoris, labia minora, and labia majora. Other forms include narrowing the passageway to the vagina and ceremonial pricks. While some people argue that there are health benefits to male circumcision, it is irrefutable that health is not improved by FGM. The only result from this practice is pain and long-lasting harm. According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 140 million girls and women who have endured FGM, and the practice is becoming more common in western nations due to the influx of immigrants.

It is obvious that female genital mutilation is a crime against humanity – especially considering that the girls and women affected usually have no say in the matter. Despite the heinous nature of the procedure, in 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics proposed that an altered form of FGM – the ceremonial pinprick – should be legal and performed by a licensed physician. That’s right. The “safe, legal, and rare” rhetoric of abortion was applied to female genital mutilation.

A bioethics representative from the AAP said, "If we just told parents, 'No, this is wrong,' our concern is they may take their daughters back to their home countries, where the procedure may be more extensive cutting and may even be done without anesthesia, with unsterilized knives or even glass."

Opponents, including Georganne Chapin from the advocacy group Intact America, pleaded against the measure, saying "There are countries in the world that allow wife beating, slavery and child abuse, but we don’t allow people to practice those customs in this country. We don’t let people have slavery a little bit because they’re going to do it anyway, or beat their wives a little bit because they’re going to do it anyway."

It is astonishing how closely this debate parallels the abortion debate. Proponents of legalized abortion claim that the results of illegal abortions will be worse than legal and "safe" abortions, and so the moral question is shoved aside. Pro-life advocates feel that the heinous nature of abortion outweighs the potential back-alley tragedies that might occur following illegalization. In both cases, society-wide problems drive the crime. In both cases, the victims are often young. In both cases, the practices come from a male-driven patriarchal society. Abortion and FGM are both used to oppress girls and women, and both are human rights violations.

If it is preposterous for female genital mutilation to be “safe, legal, and rare,” then why is the deliberate killing of a human person in abortion legal? 

(Note: The AAP quickly retracted their proposal after the massive outcry against FGM. The academy asserts that they do not condone any form of female genital mutilation.)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Obvious Common Ground

A Secular Pro-Life member recently brought 31 States to my attention. This documentary film, which is still in production, tells the stories of courageous women who refused to abort their children who were conceived in rape—only to learn that the laws of their states effectively punished them for choosing life:

If you can't watch the video, the issue here is that in 31 states, a rapist can sue to obtain custody or visitation rights for the child conceived by his violence against the mother.

I have to believe that these laws are simply the result of oversight. Perhaps these laws were written decades ago, when rape was a taboo topic and DNA testing was unknown, and legislators at the time simply didn't think to write in any particular provisions concerning rapists. As a result, rapists have the same rights as any other biological fathers. Once legislation is enacted, political inertia comes into play, and no reform comes until people start making real noise.

The time to make that noise is now. If there is any common ground between pro-lifers and pro-choicers, this is it! These outdated policies encourage abortion, threaten women's safety and sanity, expose children to needless instability and stress, and are just plain outrageous.

By telling women's stories, 31 States will encourage the sociopolitical momentum necessary to close this loophole, in all 50 states, once and for all. If you'd like to support the production, you can buy a bracelet or make a straight-up donation on their website.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Argument from Identity

I have previously explained two good arguments for the pro-life position, the Substance View and the Future of Value arguments. I would like to share with you a third. It's an argument that Alexander Pruss has termed an identity-based argument. Stephen Napier defends a similar argument which he has termed the Unity argument, but my exposition of this argument will follow Pruss' essay I Was Once a Fetus: An Identity-Based Argument Against Abortion, with additional notes by Napier where appropriate. I will merely be giving a basic exposition of the argument; I would recommend reading the essay for a more robust defense, as well as answering potential objections to the argument.

The argument is meant to show that I am identical with the fetus that was in my mother's womb. Since the right to life is an essential property of human beings, if I have the right to life now, I had the right to life while I was a fetus. Of course, not everyone agrees that we are identical with the fetus that was in our mother's womb. Some believe that you don't come into existence until your organism, the fetus, attains consciousness and self-awareness (or certain other properties).

Well, there are only two possibilities: we either are identical to the fetus that was in our mother's womb or we are not. So let's assume just for the sake of this argument that we are not identical to the fetus that was in our mother's womb.

If that's the case, then where is that fetus that I came from? There are only two possibilities: either the fetus I came from is now alive or it is now dead.

So the fetus (F) must still be alive. Every biological part of F developed into me. Since F developed into me, F has become all of my body. I can't separate out one part and say "that is F." So while F exists, I also exist. This means that I cannot be an organism because there cannot be two organisms that have the same body. So if I am an organism, I am F. But if I am not F, then I am not an organism. This would also mean that I am not a rational animal, because I am distinct from F, and this is an absurd consequence because human beings are rational animals. If we are rational animals, then we are organisms.

Napier points out other absurd consequences that follow from the position that the fetus is still alive but I am not the fetus. Persons do not have sexual intercourse, their bodies do. It would also mean that rape is merely a property crime, not a crime against a person. It would also entail that two numerically different entities occupy the same place at the same time, which violates a plausible law of physics.

So if the fetus is not alive, then it must be dead. But what happened to it? When did it cease to exist? It could have ceased to exist if the fetus was truly a part of the mother's body, since if something is a part of your body and is cut off, it dies. According to Aristotle, if you cut your finger off, it remains a finger in name only; it is no longer the same entity it was before since its essence was to be a part of your body. So the fetus could have died when it was removed from the woman's body at birth.

But this is highly implausible. The law of transitivity states that if A is a part of B, and B is a part of C, then A is a part of C. For an example, if your finger is a part of your hand, and your hand is a part of your body, then your finger is a part of your body. So if the fetus is a part of the woman's body, then she would have two heads, twenty fingers and twenty toes, four eyes, two noses, and roughly half the time male genitalia. Plus there are scientific reasons for denying this, such as the fact that the fetus has a different genetic code than the woman does. Additionally, the fetus is not controlled by the woman via the umbilical cord, and the fetus does not work toward the good of the mother's body in the way that the rest of her body does, as a unified whole with each part fulfilling a certain function to keep the woman's body functioning properly. There may be some benefit that the fetus has for the woman, such as through a process called microchimerism in which the mother and fetus exchange cells and may have certain health benefits. But the fetus remains a wholly separate entity. So in no way can the fetus be said to be a part of the mother's body.

Napier also points out that the fetus was merely carrying out its self-directed development. So the fetus would have died because it gains the ability to think, but this is absurd because things don't die when they gain an ability the development of which is rooted in the thing's developmental program or plan. So the fetus can't be dead.

So it seems clear that the fetus, itself, is still alive because every organic part of the fetus developed into me; but it is equally clear that I am identical to the fetus that was in my mother's womb. If I am not identical to that fetus, it leads to many absurdities. So the Argument from Identity goes something like this (I'm working off an outline by Stephen Napier here):

P1: I am either identical to the fetus that was in my mother's womb or I am not identical to it.
P2: If I am not identical to the fetus, then the fetus is either dead or still alive but separate from me.
P3: If the fetus is dead, then it died by gaining an ability that was in its programming to develop.
P4: But things don't die because they gain an ability that is in one's programming to develop.
C1 (from 3 and 4): Therefore, the fetus is not dead.
P4: If the fetus is alive but separate from me, then either a) Two numerically different things occupy the same place at the same time, or b) I am not my body but my fetus is.
P5: A violates a plausible law of physics, and B entails absurd consequences, such as rape being merely a property crime and not a crime against a person.
C2 (from 4 and 5): Therefore, the fetus cannot be alive but separate from me.
P6: If the fetus is not dead, and if the fetus cannot be alive but separate from me, then I am the same thing as the fetus.
P7: If I am the same thing as the fetus, then the fetus has a right to life (since I have a right to life essentially).
C3 (from 6 and 7): Therefore, the fetus has a right to life.