Leadership board member Michelle Z. shared this image, noting that it’s been circulating on Tumblr.
These analogies only work if you avoid those pesky “difficult concepts” from science: concepts like fertilization, species classification, and biological development.
Let’s start with the egg. They’re right: it isn’t a chicken, because it hasn’t been fertilized. Hens lay eggs whether or not they’ve conceived; this means that farmers can avoid chicken reproduction by simply keeping the roosters separate from the hens, without hurting egg production. The eggs sold in supermarkets are almost always unfertilized. What you’re eating is the stuff that would have nourished the chick before hatching, had a chick been conceived. (As our dear friend Phil puts it, “Eggs are chicken period. Have fun erasing that mental image.”)
If you were to break open an egg that was fertilized, you’d reveal something rather unfamiliar to your breakfast table:See the beak and the tiny little bird foot? Chicken. Very young chicken, but still chicken.
Let’s move on to the acorn. “An acorn is not a tree” is one of the oldest, easiest-to-refute, unoriginal, nonsense pro-choice statements in the book. It relies on a simple linguistic confusion. The word “tree” can be used in two subtly different ways. One use is to designate species: oak trees, pine trees, etc. Another meaning designates the adult stage of the plant, as in “I planted a sapling last August, and now it’s a tree.” An acorn is not an adult tree. It IS a member of its species: oak, pine, or whatever the case may be. Likewise, unborn children are human, but they are not adults (and obviously, pro-lifers have never claimed that they are).
The silkworm example is just ridiculous. Of course a part of the raw materials used to make a dress is not a dress. But embryos and fetuses are not “raw materials” for making people. The raw materials are the nutrients that we ingest– prenatally through the umbilical cord, in infancy through breast milk or formula, and so on. We don’t “come from” unborn children; we once were unborn children.
This brings us to the final image. It appears that this image depicts a moment just before fertilization; the sperm hasn’t yet gone in to mingle its DNA with the egg’s DNA. So, ironically enough, the pro-choicers are actually right about this– just not for the reasons they think.
But let’s pretend that it were really an image of the moment of fertilization. Human fertilization (also known as conception) creates new members of the human species. Newly conceived human beings are of course not adults yet, but neither are they mere raw materials. They are simply young, and look exactly how they are supposed to at this stage of their lives. At conception, they possess all the genetic information that will guide them through the prenatal period, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age. Every person, including you, can trace back his or her existence as an individual to this event.
Pro-lifers are at a disadvantage here. In general, people tend to prefer simplistic ideas to ones that take more time to explain, even if the latter has science on its side. The abortion movement has made very good use of misleading images and language. It’s up to us to improve public understanding, one person at a time. Please share this post with your friends.
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