Pro-Placenta And Proud Of It
In my opinion, the response to the Colorado proposed ballot initiative that would amend the state's constitution to define a fertilized egg as a "person" entitled to "inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law" by those who don't regard females of reproductive age as things whose utility is to be decided by popular vote misses the mark.
Faced with a proposal to confer personhood to bits of tissue, those opposed to the initiative have been reduced to wondering what effect this law will have on miscarriages, debating whether treatment for ectopics would still be allowed on grounds of self-defense, and whether or not protecting the existence of human zygotes [will] automatically result in some sort of fascist police state. Talk about moving the Overton window!
Absent from all this is any mention of basic biology (ah, that pesky reality) and a discussion of why conferring legal rights to parts of internal organs is nonsense.
In a nutshell, if a fertilized egg (zygote) is defined as a "person", tumors acquire personhood, one of President Bush's daughters ceases to exist, and the placenta becomes entitled to "inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law" (not that there's anything wrong with that, of course).
Let's briefly review some Biology 101:
1. Tumor persons.
Fertilization is not a momentary process. It's a complex sequence of events that takes about 24 hrs after the gametes come into contact.
Figure 3 above shows only a few of the stages of fertilization. Not included are the steps that lead to the formation of the female and male pronuclei and their fusion (syngamy).
So, at what point in this process does the tissue become a person?
Needles to say, this is a trick question. Because no matter what stage you pick you still end up conferring personhood to a bunch of tumors ( some types of hydatidiform moles, to be more exact).
An aside. This is a great pic of a complete mole/normal fetus twin gestation:
2. The fertilized egg shows cleavage.
The fertilized egg (zygote) is not an unique snowflake. Rather, it's the precursor of a bunch of totipotent cells [the zygote cleaves into two (then 4, 8, 16) cells called blastomeres], each of which could, if all goes well with the pregnancy, develop into an individual. In fact, twinning may occur up to 14 days after fertilization, well past the blastomeres stage.
3. Placental rights.
Take a look at this diagram of human embryonic development from the NIH:
Notice something interesting on the left side (Extraembryonic)? That's right, the placenta is part of the zygote-American. Which not only makes the placenta a "person", but it also entitles
So, to sum up, when confronting the destructive fantasy of some people that their personal beliefs should govern medical care and be enacted into law, before engaging in a game of "what if", it's best to challenge their fundamental premise that ideology and propaganda should trump reality. [Not that this strategy was all that effective when it came to the issue of "partial-birth" abortion, when the SCOTUS managed to impose a medical standard of care for a nonexistent procedure, but hope springs eternal and all that.]