The Corner

Re: Embryos: Natural Death and Moral Obligations

Ramesh: “Tell me more about these drugs,” you write. I can’t, because they have not been developed yet. In fact, as I noted in my piece, even the scope of the problem remains a mystery: Hundreds of thousands of embryos might fail to implant annually in the U.S., or millions might. This lack of research is precisely the problem we should address first if we think these early embryos deserve the same protection and treatment that any other human life would.

As I wrote, if people at a later stage of development were dying in these numbers, there would be little debate (among pro-lifers or anyone else) that something needed to be done. We certainly wouldn’t be fretting about the side effects of drugs that don’t exist yet. We would undertake a massive effort to research the problem and develop ways of addressing it. We would be fully aware that much, or even all, of the research could lead to dead ends and unworkable solutions. This would not stop us.

On a related note, I found this part of your reply interesting:

There might be circumstances — ones that right now sound like the stuff of science fiction — in which pro-life women might consider it morally obligatory to take such drugs.

I’m not sure the circumstances are as far-fetched as you claim; modern medicine has been pretty effective when it comes to changing the function of the reproductive system, from birth control to fertility treatments. But I would like to see a wider discussion of this. Could pro-lifers really see it as morally obligatory not to conceive children the way humans naturally conceive children? Or would most see this as absurd?

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