Friday, March 04, 2005

How Pro-Choicers Argue: Part 9

Intro, Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight

Confusing Parts and Wholes

One of arguments that I find most odd from some in the pro-choice camp goes something like this:

If an embryo is alive then both human sperm and egg cells are alive as well. Sperm and egg cells are obviously not the same as grown human beings in the same way that embryos aren't the same as grown human beings.

This example shows how pro-choicers can confuse parts and wholes. Sperm and egg cells are merely parts of larger, whole human organisms (namely male and female human beings) like my hand or arm is part of me while the unborn are not parts of other organisms but are whole human organisms unto themselves.

It is true that the unborn are smaller and less developed than born human beings but their size and stage of development does not change what they are. They are still whole human organisms regardless of whether they are small and less developed.

I've even talked with one pro-choicer who was so desperate not to lose an argument that he asserted that sperm and egg cells were organisms unto themselves and that humans reproduced asexually to produce sperm and egg and then egg and sperm mated to produce an organism (the embryo) which was an organism until she attached to her mother and was then only part of the larger female organism (the mother) until separation when she again became a whole organism. Needless to say, confusing parts and wholes can lead people to outlandish positions.


  1. Hello all... are you pro-choice or pro-life? Why not Pro-Free-Life? Promote a healthy life and make big money with Himalayan Goji juice.

  2. JJ:

    You seem to be playing a little fast and loose here. While a 1 week old blastocyst has a human genome, I don't think they qualify as a "whole human being." Morphologically they are not whole human beings. Unless you want to make the argument that has the form: human being = human genetic structure, which has been roundly criticized as reductionistic. I think the best you can do here is claim that they are "potential human beings" which are not yet whole.

    By the way, what is the status of mom in this equation? It seems in your haste to argue that the blastocyst is a "whole human being" you forget the fact that this entity requires a maternal environment to exist and develop properly within. To be fair I have not read your other arguments, so maybe you have already addressed this issue.