When does pregnancy start?

Jan Brewer and Arizona have become philosophers (via, in a round about way, here):

Arizona was set to become the ninth state to forbid doctors from aborting a fetus 20 weeks into a pregnancy. But unlike elsewhere in the country, Arizona would start the 20-week count after a pregnant woman’s last menstrual period, or about 18 weeks into a pregnancy — which is typically before medical problems can be detected in fetuses in prenatal exams, according to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights.

In other words, a pregnancy starts before conception–it begins when the potential egg from the ovary. But why stop there? That egg, in some form, was probably already made when the woman was born (it was once thought that women are born with all the eggs they will ever have, but that doesn’t seem to be true) and the sperm was months old when it fertilized the egg. And you can trace the genetic material back as far as you want. In any case, it brings up even more interesting questions if the Republican idea that human life begins at conception is made into law: would the Arizona law retroactively make the egg human life before conception? The interesting questions about the fetus=human life bring up, such as ‘if a fetus is human starting at conception can the woman be charged with a crime if they do something that imperils the fetus?’, become even more interesting with this twist–if a woman drinks and then two weeks later gets pregnant, can she be charged? These types of questions would be really fun to argue if they weren’t so serious.

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