Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Overheard: James Taranto on controversy of asserting a scientific fact

Commenting in the Wall Street Journal on abortion advocates complaints about legislation in Kansas which includes a provision which declares "life begins at fertilization."

This is basic reproductive biology. The assertion that life begins at fertilization is a tautology. Camp and Weatherford might as well be objecting to a legislative finding that A is A or 2+2=4 or a tautology is true by definition.

So why do they find the declaration so discomfiting? Because abortion would be easier to justify if one were ignorant of basic reproductive biology. If one imagines gestation as a process in which an inanimate lump of matter, or a part of the mother's body, or a parasite (which by definition is an organism of a different species) grows for months before spontaneously generating an independent identity, then it is hard to formulate a moral objection to abortion prior to the moment at which spontaneous generation occurs.

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