Ah, the Abortion issue strikes again....
My current opinion on the whole abortion issue: 1) The main issue of contention is one of what rights does a developing human have at various stages in that development. 2) Also at issue is how these rights (if any) weigh against the rights of a person who is acting as a life support system (aka mom) and thus SERIOUSLY effected by the issue.
The answering of the first question requires two parts. The first is a moral/ethical/philosophical selection of which qualities confer protection on a being (these rules need to exist anytime you have two or more entities you wish to have cooperate). Historically, those qualities suggested have tended to be attached to the meme of Personhood. This is the hard part. The second part merely requires the use of scientific method to determine what beings most likely possess these qualities and in what measure. In my formulation, both philosophy and science are required to arrive at an answer. The one without the other is rather useless for this debate, I think.
Once we establish when (if ever) a prepartum being has some protected status, then we must begin to balance the freedoms and rights of the mother against those of this being. I believe this to be a difficult but not insurmountable question.
I would guess that for the immediate future, the best we could do is come up
with answers which are not absolute, but represent a spectrum of degrees of
uncertainty (at X level of development, there is Y% chance that this is a
"person") and the degree of discretion the mother would have would be based on
this degree of uncertainty and her own person risks/costs.
So, anyone care to take a stab at a few qualities which are worth conferring a protected status to?
Oh, don't I just love sticking my head into hornet nests?
Glen (out of the frying pan into the fire) Finney