I certainly would never deny, and have never denied, and will never deny, that embryos are “nascent human lives.” That would be a ridiculous thing to deny. But to gloss over the fact that they exist in a special state unlike any other in the hoped-for course of their existence — in a beautifully parasitic and complementary relationship to their maternal host — is to gloss over the most essential point of all. And that is the exceptional nature of pregnancy.
An embryo is not a fetus. For that matter, a fetus is not a baby. They exist on a continuum, but they are different — in a way that say, a baby is not different from a child and a child is not different from an adult.
Consider the most mysterious event of all — when the embryo-fetus divides itself into both a living form and the placenta, its carrying case and source and method of its nutrients.
I am going to make one final point, and I mean final. What astonishes me in the course of this discussion (to judge from the blizzards of e-mails and other blog items done on this debate) is that I, a relatively secular person, am arguing the position that we cannot understand the mystery of life without faith — and that a great many pro-llfers, whose commitment to life is religious in nature and whose religion plays a far more central role in their lives than it does in mine, are arguing with me on the grounds that the whole business can be discerned entirely through reason and science.
Which suggests to me that this is a debate being conducted, in the end, on the head of a pin. But it has been an honor to debate these matters with the likes of Ramesh Ponnuru and Robbie George.