Yesterday I defended a South Dakota law against William Saletan’s criticism. A reader makes an additional point:
I haven’t read it, but is Saletan saying because that maternal RNA in the egg cytoplasm directs development for the first couple of cell divisions, the early embryo is part of the mother? [RP: As I wrote, it’s a little hard to figure out what Saletan’s argument is, but your description of it seems pretty good.]
First, for reasons that you point out, that doesn’t make sense as a philosophical matter — the new organism is recruiting the genetic factors in moving itself along the developmental trajectory.
But more importantly, by the time a woman gets an abortion, the new genome is doing all the developmental work and the mitochondrial DNA is simply providing energy for cell function.