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I believe that every workable moral code, religious or otherwise, is essentially a codification of instinctual human responses. For example, humans have evolved into a species that can only survive as communities. Thus, codes of morality- the ones that work at least- stress the notions of community and communality. How that plays out in different cultural and religious traditions can vary markedly. Many Asian cultures for instance have no or little tradition of charity, but they do have deeply felt traditions of respect for elders, the importance of consensus over individual action, and the value of conformity. In the West, the situation is almost the opposite. The idea of charity is deeply imbedded in our culture, but so is the idea if the primacy of individual rights (at least we have since the Enlightenment).

So what does this have to do with abortion? Because I think that our instincts are that life does not begin at conception- it evolves gradually until the baby is born. Just as the death of an elderly man or woman is less sad than that of a teenager entering the prime of his or her life, so is a miscarriage at 6-weeks less tragic than a full-term stillbirth. Imagine how most of us would react at the idea of a full-blown funeral for a miscarried embryo. I suspect that would strike most people as excessive and perhaps even unhealthy. No one would think that about a funeral for a stillborn infant. Why do we react this way? Because our instincts tell us that the embryo is not a fully developed person.

It seems the me that a rigid anti-abortion stance is a morality grown in a hot-house; it is not natural, and therefore it cannot work for most people. Most people- at least from my reading of the polls- would accept a law that made abortions more difficult to obtain as a pregnancy progressed. The escalating difficulty would be in proportion to what our insticts tell us how the "personhood" of an embryo/fetus progresses.