Joined: Jan. 2006
We need to separate the issues of what is human, from what is legal. I see some people simply can't grasp the difference. For Spike, being genetically human means being possessed of all the rights of citizenship - the right to vote, to own property, etc. But in the Real World this is not practical.
Spike sees a continuum from conception through death, with no particularly notable milestones along the way. Things like birth are kind of irrelevant. Yet the law, rather arbitrarily, makes LOTS of age distinctions: When someone is old enough for their life to be protected (birth), old enough to drive, to vote, toinherit, to gain control of trusts, receive social security, withdraw certain savings without paying penalties, receive senior citizen discounts, get drafted/enlist in the military, and so on down a VERY long list of items.
Does the law draw these arbitrary distinctions solely because the law is an ass, or might there be some useful reason for them? If there is NO useful reason, then let's all agree that people are too stupid to live, and be done with it. Otherwise, we are obliged to examine the tradeoffs of every selected age, to see what the costs and the benefits might be of changing any given age, in either direction.
This is NOT a trivial exercise: every cost to someone is a benefit to someone else. Even talking about NET costs and benefits entails assigning weights to each, with no consensus as to how anything should be weighted.
So what people have discovered over lo these thousands of years is, what matters is NOT the details of the law per se, what matters is the *process* by which laws are made, modified, and interpreted. Humans being a gregarious and social species, any workable process must be a community process in some important ways.
What the American political process has produced is never written in stone; it's always subject to 'reform', change in any direction. Abortion is a case in point: prohibition was producing what the public at large recognized as costs exceeding benefits. So we're engaged in the long slow process of trial and error, to see where the tradeoff finds the most publically acceptable balance.
And this is a political issue. Science is not involved.