A woman’s unencumbered, secular right to make decisions concerning her own body. That’s where the subject of contraception/abortion begins and ends with rational human beings. It proceeds no further. There is no debate, and there certainly is no controversy. The Christian right are not, however, rational human beings. Like their fundamentalist Muslim brothers they forfeited the right to be considered mentally balanced the moment they based their entire opposition to women’s rights on the alleged desires of an invisible Middle Eastern sky being. “HUMAN LIFE BEGINS AT CONCEPTION!” is however their cry, and this alone forms the foundation of religiously-inspired anti-abortion (anti-contraception) legislation, otherwise disguised as Personhood bills… efforts which in fact contradict the very Judeo-Christian tradition which they’re so fond of bellowing about in other matters of Law. You won’t hear a Christian admit this, it’s a tad awkward, but the Jewish Talmud resolutely asserts that life begins at birth: “[When the] greater part is already born, one may not touch it, for one may not set aside one person’s life for that of another.” In Jewish lore the act of birth, therefore, changes the status of the foetus from a nonperson to a person (nefesh). This, of course, is simply ignored by Christian crusaders and is just another reason why their arguments should be dismissed without a second thought. If one moves the goal posts at whim, picking and choosing what arguments are valid when and where just to suit their religious ends then those people cannot be taken seriously in any rational debate.
From a humanist position the question though is at least valid. When does life begin? Thankfully, it’s a question that is extraordinarily easy to answer, and the Christian right should now pay very careful attention to the next eleven short sentences. Life begins at the moment its twin, death, also springs into existence. One cannot have a defined ‘life’ without that life being able to ‘die.’ Without death there is no life. The former begets the latter. The latter assigns meaning to the former. One delineates the other, and fortunately the definition of death is not in dispute. Death is when electroencephalography (EEG) activity ceases. That’s it. That’s death. It follows quite naturally therefore that the onset of life is when foetal brain activity begins to exhibit regular and sustained wave patterns, and that occurs consistently around week 25 of pregnancy. Only after something can die can it be considered alive, and to argue anything to the contrary is patently absurd.