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Discussion Starter: Life Ethics

In September, Missouri became the second state (after South Dakota) to define life as beginning at conception and abortion as ending the life of a human being. An effort to include the definition in Missouri's constitution failed, but Colorado will vote today on an amendment defining the unborn as "persons" from the moment of conception.

"They do help the unborn, because whether those kind of amendments win or lose with the voters, they expose voters to the truth. It creates a discussion in the public about what is the unborn child? Are they human life? If they are human life, do they deserve the same rights as the rest of us—the right to live, of course, being the chief right among those? So I don't believe whether they help the unborn is based on the success of the amendment, but rather does it cause a discussion, does it make people think about it, does it put the truth out there? And I think yes, it does all of those things."

"Of course laws specifying that a new human being comes into existence when fertilization takes place help the unborn. It's a way of publicly saying that, however weak and vulnerable this tiny human organism may be, it is one of us. Our lives begin in weakness and dependence and, of course, often end there as well. But from zygote to irreversible coma we remain equally human. We should be glad whenever the law acknowledges this."

"There is a sound scientific basis for calling the unborn 'human beings.' The debate remains whether it is warranted ethically or legally not to protect the lives of some human beings as much as we protect the lives of others, because of some characteristic they lack. But we can't engage in an honest debate about that if we are not clear ...

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In the Magazine

November 2010

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