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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Kansas “Life Begins at Fertilization” Law



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Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is poised to sign into law a bill declaring that life begins at fertilization. From the Reuters story:

Kansas is set to enact one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation which defines life as beginning “at fertilization” and imposes a host of new regulations.

Some think this could destroy the abortion right by declaring that embryos and fetuses are human beings. (Ditto, laws declaring “personhood” begins at fertilization.) I think not. The Supreme Court doesn’t care whether embryos and fetuses are human lives–and neither do most pro choice activists.  For the Court majority and the activists, the right to personal autonomy of the mother trumps the humanity of the unborn baby.

But I think the law could act to effectively prohibit embryonic stem cell research and human cloning in the state. Think about it. If an embryo is a fully protectable human life–and since in ESCR and cloning no woman is being forced to do anything with her body–the conflicting rights between autonomy of the mother and the life of the unborn are not present.  Hence, destructive embryo research and human cloning in Kansas could be stopped. 

And what would be the legal objection? I can think of one: Some scientists claim a fundamental constitutional right to conduct research, which if imposed by a court, would require a compelling state interest to prohibit or regulate just about anything scientists might want to do. I have been waiting for such a lawsuit to be filed for awhile now. This could spark it. 



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