Biology says human life does not begin at conception. The sperm and the egg are already living, functioning, human entities. They are certainly not dead; nor are they non-human. Yuval Levin (“A Middle Ground for Stem Cells“) could, therefore, extend his “profound moral case” for equality to every sperm and every egg. In vitro fertilization gives most eggs a chance—a right?—to be fertilized and move into the next phase of living.
As a matter of public policy, this extension of Levin would require colossal interference in the menstrual lives of females. (And the right of every sperm to continue living-let’s not spell out what that would entail!) Society would then need to decide which women would then be implanted with those fertilized eggs—even in Levin’s “age of biotechnology” embryos need a women’s womb to develop until birth. And to decide who would then look after these human lives, given that every baby needs nurturing adults to grow and develop as a person…
I doubt that Levin wants the logic of his argument to be played out this way. But doing so exposes the political position taken by most people who oppose stem cell research on so-called moral grounds, namely, support for laws that subordinate the lives of women to the embryos they may not always choose to carry. No bioethical or “moral” considerations can make this position just.
(an unpublished letter to the editor in response to A Middle Ground for Stem Cells)