Health Care for Zygotes
Now that the Department of Health and Human Services is prepared to insure fetuses as if they were persons from the moment of conception, it is obviously time for the Social Security Administration to change all our ages and use our conception dates as the starting point for eligibility for benefits and for the IRS to let new parents take a tax deduction in the year of the pregnancy, not just the year of birth. The drinking age, driver’s license eligibility and other age-sensitive restrictions should also be moved appropriately.
More seriously, the question of when personhood begins is a continuing unknown, with highly variable views held by the world’s religions, scientists, lawyers, etc. Even the Roman Catholic Church, which opposes abortion at all stages of pregnancy, has no formal position on when the fetus becomes a person. While cautioning that the fetus should be treated as a person in the absence of definitive proof, it stated in its 1974 Declaration on Procured Abortion: “This declaration expressly leaves aside the question of the moment when the spiritual soul is infused. There is not a unanimous tradition on this point and [church] authors are as yet in disagreement.”
Catholics for a Free Choice
This letter appeared in the 5 Febrary 2002 edition of the Washington Post.