Reader comments

On It’s official: Brownback signs bill saying life begins at fertilization


Daniel Kennamore 4 years ago

Because religious dogma is incapable of standing up to criticism.

avarom 4 years ago

Consider the case of monozygotic twins, Here we have one fertilisation event, but two individuals result. Do those twins have to share the ‘human life’ they had from conception? Surely not, for we treat twins as separate persons. So, when did both lives start, if not at conception? During the twinning process? Or sometime after? And if lives start during the process of twinning, perhaps it is morally wrong not to twin an embryo, as it prevents the cells from realising their potential as multiple human beings?

Member of the human species; Perhaps it could be argued that an embryo should be protected because it is human. We don’t morally protect our own skin cells, despite the fact they are living human skin cells. So, what does the embryo have.... that skin cells don’t? If the answer is potential to develop into a human being, then this is just the potentiality argument again (and by cloning, perhaps a skin cell does have the potential to develop into a human being).

However, if the answer is that an embryo is a human being (and we accept that as truth, even though it is arguably false) then we need to then ask whether being a human being is enough to give the moral weight – the intrinsic value – conveyed by the term ‘human life’. Perhaps being a human being is only special because it usually correlates with having some other property, such as consciousness or self-awareness, that is special. In that case, then we should be using that other property to value the embryo instead of whether or not the embryo is a human being.

Consider whether it would be acceptable to kill a member of a non-human species that was capable of thinking human-like thoughts, was conscious and felt their lives were valuable, such as the intelligent aliens (think E.T. or Jar Jar Binks) or robots of science-fiction. If such a species (biological or not) is also worthy of protection, due to the fact they have certain psychological characteristics, then isn’t it safe to say that is those characteristics that are truly being valued here?

avarom 4 years ago

In addition, applying rights based on what group you belong to, rather than what you are able to do, seems a lot like bigotry or prejudice. History shows us many applications of rights based on being of a certain economic class, race, gender or religious group. Why should doing the same for being part of a species be any different?

It is often said that because the zygote is a new human being because it has a unique human genome. This is a relatively weak argument, because a unique genome is not required to form a human being (e.g. identical twins, or clones, or human parthenotes) and unique genomes often do not form human beings (e.g. mutated genomes of cancers or the modified genome of induced pluripotent stem cells). Unless we are willing to admit that melanomas are actually human beings because they have a different genome, and that a woman who is pregnant with her clone (or identical twin) is not actually pregnant with a human being, then this argument should be abandoned.

Failure of an embryo to implant; The fact that only a fraction of zygotes go on to form a human being also hits hard the “life begins at conception” dogma. Firstly, the results of most conceptions are not viable embryos, and these abnormal embryos are usually passed out during a menstrual cycle. If such embryos are human beings, should we hold a funeral? Should we feel bad for not even realising they existed in the first place? Also, assisted reproductive technologies are much like natural reproduction in that far more embryos are conceived than result in pregnancy, and therefore shouldn’t IVF and sex be just as much of a problem as abortion? Or is the death of dozens of lives justified if it creates a life in the process (if that is the case, shouldn’t doctors and nurses be making babies instead of saving lives)?

Further, the oral contraceptive pill is known to make the uterine environment more hostile to any embryos that would implant there. The hormone progesterone released during breastfeeding acts in the same was as the oral contraceptive pill (in fact, progesterone analogues are the key ingredient of the pill), which is why breast-feeding is a ‘natural contraceptive’. Therefore, shouldn’t both the contraceptive pill and sex while breast-feeding be complained about just as much as abortion and embryonic stem cell research?

avarom 4 years ago

Conclusion; It is evident that the idea that life begins at conception is at odds with reality. Many human beings can result from a single conception, many conceptions can result in just one human being and theoretically human beings could develop without any conception event occurring at all. The idea that conception is a key point in the process of development is unfounded, as the potential to develop into a human being is not only possessed by sperm and eggs, but is completely logically fallacious in the first place. In addition, it doesn’t even appear that being a human being qualifies as having the intrinsic value required to convey moral status, as it is possible that non-human beings should have same intrinsic value attributed to ‘human life’. Neither can genetics rescue this argument, for a unique genetic composition is possessed by some non-human beings, and some human beings don’t have a unique genetic composition. Finally, the way most people act normally, and the way nature is, is very wasteful of zygotes, making the conclusions of this argument very difficult in practice.

It is not a scientific fact that human life begins at conception. The truth is that human life, in the sense of a person like you or I, emerges slowly from the genetic information and molecules that made up the sperm and eggs in your parents body, from the processes of controlled growth of the resulting embryo and foetus, using nutrients that nourished you in the womb. Science informs us that it is a continuous process. Those looking for a nice distinct point in time that can be used as the starting point of each person’s existence will be sorely disappointed if they look at the science. Philosophically, I’d argue that no intrinsic value of human beings exists, except for the value applied by a being to itself. Although this may be criticised for being overly restrictive (not attributing any intrinsic value to neonates), this criticism only works if we have a another significant reason to think neonates should have such value – I do not believe such a reason exists.

mettarefuge 4 years ago

Brilliant! Thank you for saying and sharing this.

avarom 3 years, 11 months ago

My pleasure, and thank you for reading it!

NotImpressed 4 years ago

Because the anti-abortion crowd is DYING to get this before SCOTUS. They feel that if they can get it in front of the current team up there that Roe will be overturned or curtailed further.

verity 4 years ago

What? Ten hours and no comments that the Constitution doesn't guarantee church/state separation? Somebody's getting sloppy.

/that is sarcasm, in case it's not obvious/

Mike1949 4 years ago

Here Hear! Brownback and the far right doesn't know the invitation for wrath they have asked for! The one thing that will get the middle class angry, and the pay back will ripple though every election for state office because the middle class knows brownback could not have done this without radical state congress and house of representatives! This is a classic example of "CORRUPT GOVERNMENT" that 3 out of 5 people recognize as a slap in the face of common sense. There is NO common sense to this as it is an open invitation for common sense and radicalism that we see in other Islam country's! Our state government is not better than Iran nor many of those other country's!

Kevin Millikan 4 years ago

In that world..I could see myself moving back to the state I love..

Cait McKnelly 4 years ago

You know, I'm curious about something. If Brownback, Kinzer, Newman, Gittrick and their cohort manage to successfully outlaw abortion and contraception (and actually ENFORCE it), what are they going to do with all of those kids?
According to the Guttmacher Institute, the single most given reason for having a first trimester abortion is "finances/inability to support a child". You can tell women to "keep your legs closed" all you like, sex is still going to happen and so is unintended pregnancy, especially when you refuse to allow anything other than "abstinence only" sex education.
The state is pretty much refusing to support those kids now. TANF has a 48 month lifetime cap.

verity 4 years ago

Cait, I think that is a rhetorical question, but will answer it anyway.

Ideology does not care about the consequences.

One might call it purposeful blind stupidity (among other things).

NotImpressed 4 years ago

The folks that believe in the anti-abortion POV feel that those consequences are God's way of punishing them. I personally don't believe that, but that's what they think.

Xwards 4 years ago

Food for thought:

Does this mean that I can claim my fertilized egg as a dependent on my tax returns? What if the fertilized egg fails to implant due to some external force, is there criminal liability? If the egg and sperm of two foreigner join in Kansas, will the resulting baby be a US citizen? What is the status of all those frozen fertilized eggs in IVF facilities? Etc., etc., etc......

Lisa Medsker 4 years ago

I've had the same questions for years... None of the Pro Forced Birth people seem to be able to answer that one. They think I'm joking.

Lisa Medsker 4 years ago

I kind of wonder if that isn't the whole point. "If you're not actively breeding, it's a crime".

mac 4 years ago

I'm so looking forward to November 4, 2014.

jhawkinsf 4 years ago

Assuming Brownback chooses to run again and assuming no third party candidate will become a credible challenger, what are the Democrats doing now to lay the groundwork for a successful challenge. Frankly, it's not too early for a frontrunner or two to emerge. Yet I've not heard word one of possible challengers. If the Democrats do have a frontrunner or two, they're not getting the word out. If they don't have potential candidates lined up, they're behind the curve.

I'd be very interested if others have more information about potential Democratic Party candidates.

verity 4 years ago

Unfortunately you are correct. The party claimed it was going to be putting up some candidates several months ago, but I still haven't heard anything.

If you're really interested, try emailing Joan Wagnon or Dakota Loomis.


50YearResident 4 years ago

Not to worry, Brownback is going to re-run for President of the United States, where he can do more good for the Nation, not just for Kansas.

Jean Robart 4 years ago

I hope you're not serious about doing good for the US.

Mike1949 4 years ago

I am old and decrepit, buy brownback better have a better protection service!

Jean Robart 4 years ago

you might look forward more to the day the next governor is sworn into office rather than election day.

centrist1 4 years ago

Problem is with Brownback being all anti-abortion the pro-lifers will be voting for him and there is alot of them in the state of Kansas. Brownieback isn't as dumb as he looks he knows this, that is the main reason him carrying on his anti-abortion agenda and then he can carry on his main agenda which is the Koch Bros. agenda.,

question4u 4 years ago

“All human life is sacred. It’s beautiful,” Brownback said

If Brownback really believes that Dzhokar Tsarnaev's life is "sacred" and "beautiful" then he is clearly a better Christian than most who claim that title. How many have mourned the loss of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's "sacred" and "beautiful" life? That's tough to do, so if Brownback has prayed for the soul of Tamerlan Tsarnaev you have to admire his strength.

At the same time you have to wonder why someone with this kind of respect for "all human life" as "sacred" and "beautiful" would want to block any legislation that would have made it harder for someone questioned by the FBI in 2011 for possible ties to terrorists, as Tamerlan Tsarnaev was, to get the gun used to kill police officer Sean Collier. Collier's life was "sacred" and "beautiful" too. Was it just God's will that the "sacred" and "beautiful" Tsarnaev brothers should kill four people and maim more than 150 others?

It would be helpful if Brownback explained, since he has signed a state law based on a philosophy that the lives of even the most cold-blooded murderers are "sacred" and "beautiful." Of course, Brownback could be arguing that the Tsarnaev brothers aren't human and therefore do not fall under his categorical imperative that their lives be considered "sacred" and "beautiful," but that leaves him with the problem of explaining what they are. Chechnya is far away, but it isn't another planet.

So please Sam, enlighten us as to why you think that the lives of Dzhokar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev are "sacred" and "beautiful."

sturgen 4 years ago

I propose that the money to defend these trash pieces of legislation should be taken from the pocketbooks of those who crafted and voted them into place. At this rate the "defense funds" will mirror the entire state budget in no time. However we will be churning out many underprivileged, undereducated kids that with just a little twist in labor laws will make great cooperate feedlot/farm employees. Think of it, since they are technically underage and on government assistance they can be paid less than minimum wage boom, profit! Helping those little whippersnappers pull themselves up by the bootstraps of American dreams is probably the greatest legacy he will leave. Brownbackastan is the best-astan!

moonflower 4 years ago

i really miss the days when fundamentalists absolutely knew the pope was the anti-christ.

kernal 4 years ago

Does this put us ahead of Florida for first place in the race for the most idiotic state govenment?

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

Keep a close eye on Michigan,Ohio and Wisconsin. The ALEC brothers have lied to many and found themselves elected to office. There are liars then there are the ALEC brothers who have managed to put other lying politicians to shame. Who would have thunk?

Jean Robart 4 years ago

Who died and made the governor God?

verity 4 years ago

Do tell. Sounds like you have some interesting stories.

avarom 4 years ago

They people he paid to vote for him!

Mark English 4 years ago

Have you all forgotten that you live in Kansas? Lawrence is literally the only city in the state that the majority votes Dem. I love reading all of your comments though. Hilarious!

mom_of_three 4 years ago

Yeah, thats what the rest of the country thinks of us, too. Especially when this is in the bill " require physicians to give women information that addresses breast cancer as a potential risk of abortion. ..... doctors convened by the National Cancer Institute a decade ago concluded that abortion does not raise the risk for developing the disease." So lets just tell them a made up lie because you think it might make them change their minds...
All life is sacred, according to the governor, except the life of the women who becomes a mere incubator.

kernal 4 years ago

The people of Kansas will eventually tire of being duped by their legislature and change will come, markus.

Mark English 4 years ago

Thanks Kernal... I'm still waiting for the change that was promised 4 years ago... maybe during this term something will happen. Waiting.........

jafs 4 years ago

That's unlikely, since we've had numerous D governors in KS.

verity 4 years ago

I questioned that too. I live in a city that votes D with regularity. And you can't always tell by the number of Rs registered as many register R to vote in the primaries.

webmocker 4 years ago

TOPEKA KS Today Governor Brownback signed into law a bill that requires all sexually active women to register that status with their local police department. When faced with objections from opponents of the bill, Brownback shrugged his shoulders and said he didn't care what anyone else thinks.

yourworstnightmare 4 years ago

Upwards of 60% of all human fertilization events fail to result in pregnancy, with most of them failing very early before the mother even knows.

Why does Jesus create life and then destroy most of them?

Kate Rogge 4 years ago

They may as well raise the sales tax to 30% now to cover the costs of losing court case after court case defending these obscenely stupid and repressive laws. Look what an unholy mess Brownback and the Kochs-backed state legislators have made of our state.

NotImpressed 4 years ago

The only court that matters to them in this is SCOTUS and that's where they are aiming

verity 4 years ago

And that might just backfire, considering the way Roberts has voted on some issues. Might make any number of laws unconstitutional.

verity 4 years ago

The government of Kansas is now dictating science?

Make it so!

Cait McKnelly 4 years ago

I've had this whole BS DNA thing out with you before, WristTwister. You only believe what you want to believe and, like our governor cherry picking the Bible, you only cherry pick science (or pseudo "science") for what you want to hear. Bottom line, DNA is nothing more than a template made of protein precursors. Is it unique? Yes it is. But to say that DNA makes it a "person" is like saying a dress pattern makes it a "dress".

voevoda 4 years ago

No, WristTwister, life begins before conception. All human cells (along with all animal and plant cells) are alive. They all have DNA. And each cell is unique, in some fashion.

When a person comes into existence is not a matter of scientific fact, but rather of interpretation. You and Governor Brownback are substituting your own religious interpretation for a legal interpretation that is binding even on persons of different religious (or non-religious) sentiments.

voevoda 4 years ago

I'm still puzzling over your science, WristTwister. Zygotes are also cells that are specialized and die, so by your logic, they should be the same as others. They are also alive and human. And your statement "Human life does not begin until all of the life creating cells combine and all of he DNA is present to initite the life process" is truly muddled. All what cells? All what DNA? And what is the "life process" if not what is going on all the time? The zygote cannot develop unless it is embedded in a human woman, so it cannot form "a unique organism" on its own. And out of this muddle you have the audacity to proclaim that any other view "ignores science and is either intellectual dishonesty, ideologically based partisan politics or ignorance"? Hubris, WristTwister, to be so certain that you have got the sole and complete truth that you want to impose it on everyone else through the force of law.

voevoda 4 years ago

Still muddled, WristTwister. Clearly you are not a scientist.

tomatogrower 4 years ago

Then I suppose you can take the zygote out of a woman and get it a job, since it's a person?

Nevernever 4 years ago

So how do you give both mother and fetus full human rights, WristTwister, without one of them having rights that trumps the others?

tomatogrower 4 years ago

Then we can take the zygote out of the body and put it in your body. How about that?

Ewok79 4 years ago

Did Brownie not get the memo? You sir are a Governor, NOT GOD. And a crappy Governor at that, more like a dictator.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 4 years ago

The real intrent here is to extablish a theocracy in Kansas. Brownshirt displays his great admiration for sharia style law and will do anything the Kochs tell him to enable this repressive agenda.
He has already shown his willingness to oppose Federal Law and his discrimination and bogotry of the sitting president with his outrageous refusal to accept Federal funds for Medicare. Federal funds that have been taken from us at the point of a gun. And his willingness to go along with a law that will allow law enforcement in Kansas to arrest Federal officials enforcing Federal law. What more do yu need to know of his criminal intent?? He wants to put into law his religious dogma to a non-existant diety, and wants to make all the citizens of Kansas fall down and worship his religious flubdubbary.

voevoda 4 years ago

Sharia law doesn't endorse Brownback's position. It says that until the 40th day after conception, an embryo has no soul and so may be aborted. Please don't distort the Islamic faith to make your point, Yeoman.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 4 years ago

voevoda, I am not familiar with that particulr tenant of the Islamic faith. I intended no ill feelings. Thank you for your information.

irussell 4 years ago

Life long Kansas resident and now am EMBARRASSED to acknowledge that. But I did vote, so I have a right to complain.

fearthetaliban 4 years ago

Pro Birth but no evidence of Pro Life. Just wish Sam would reread the Sermon on the Mount and The Beatitudes. How does his love of The Kochs fit into that?

webmocker 4 years ago

"fearthetaliban 2 hours, 22 minutes ago

Pro Birth but no evidence of Pro Life."

I don't know. He just eliminated the tax break for adoption. Oh wait, that doesn't count! Hmm. I guess the governor really IS a totally inconsistent concave anus.

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

Sam ALEC Brownback is living proof the GOP is dead. Which makes Sam and his admin impostors and/or frauds.

Deception is key to their success.

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

I believe the next candidate is a woman who because of Sam ALEC Brownback will run for governor. I also believe this woman can and will bring a lot of republicans into her arena.

We shall see in due time.

Sam Brownback has never been a republican. For that matter the entire Kansas delegation are no longer republicans if they ever were..... And they are all about big government intrusion.

daviskan 4 years ago

Just remember that when you crack an egg for breakfast, you are murdering a chicken. I wonder if that is against the law

jjt 4 years ago

Does the new law actually put Doctors who prescribe certain types of contraception at risk of prosecution, for example when prescribing IUDs? Should women who use IUDs no longer use them or move out of Kansas are they at risk before the law. What is the situation with the morning after pill particularly in cases of rape?

I suppose what I want is someone from the group who support the governor's law to come out and specifically answer these annoying sorts of questions so we know where we stand.

tomatogrower 4 years ago

Actually I would like them to try and prosecute a woman who had to fix an ectopic pregnancy or a woman who miscarried. Then I think people would see the nasty, misogynist side of these men who are "pro-life".
On the radio the other day, I heard one of the creeps say the reason they are saying that abortion can cause brain cancer is because women who don't give birth at a young age have a slightly higher risk of getting breast cancer. Why they assume a woman who has an abortion has never or is never going to give birth to other children is beyond me.

Skulander 4 years ago

There's nothing "pro-life" about them. They're quite willing to let women die, like Savita Halappanavar in "prolife" Ireland. This can and will happen in the U.S. if we don't push back.

John McCoy 4 years ago

The separation of church and state are a myth in Kansas.

4getabouit 4 years ago

Hail the new God of Kansas. Our new savior, Samuel Brownback. On your knees sinners, least you be burned at the stake.

Mark Currie 4 years ago

I had a large article written. I just deleted it. I am going to go bang my head on the wall instead. Take whatever path you want. It is not up to me to judge anyone. Have a great day.

Skulander 4 years ago

Why does Sam Brownback hates women so much? Why is he so pissed that women have gained control over their bodies and lives since 1973, and don't die from back-alley abortions anymore?

It's a really weird moment when men (why are they almost always men?) impose their religious views on women? (And what about atheists? what about the millions of pro-choice people in the U.S., and around the world? Why should religious bigotry be imposed on their bodies and lives?) Men will never get pregnant: while they sure are allowed to have an opinion and be allies (or foes...) they should NOT be allowed to make or pass laws that will hurt women and families to this extent.

But women have a choice. We can sit quietly and do nothing. Or we can put our anger to work, and raise awareness about the need to elect pro-choice leaders, not anti-choice, anti-women misogynists such as Brownback. The choice is ours: we can continue to be bullied, or we can say: Enough is enough! and act up.

GMom05 4 years ago

Amen, sister. Brownback is nothing but an ignorant bully.

verity 4 years ago


Enough is enough!

As long as we allow the extreme right to bully us into submission, this will continue to happen. We need to quit arguing and start acting. Ideology will not change by argument or discussion. We need to ACT!

lifeisreal 4 years ago

thank you Sam ....

you are my hero. I am an unborn Kansas citizen. it is wonderful for you to step forward and represent all of the people of kansas instead of just the bleeding heart liberals. I heard the pun " only citizens who are born are for abortion " . we here are waiting to live while planned parent has an industry against us so we die. my question is , since God has known me while im still in my mother , do abortionist while killing people, think they are doing what Jesus would do ?

thanks again my friend , perhaps now an unborn child will have a chance to become a productive citizen of kansas , be man or woman to bring pride to our state. Ms Sebilious made sure no native son would be born in kansas . now we can be a little prouder of the state we live .

A new Kansas citizen

Celeste Plitz 4 years ago

Silence, zygote. There is no god but the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and he could give a flip about who gets an abortion. He's busy making sure there is plenty of beer and strippers for the afterlife. All hail the Flying Spaghetti Monster!!!

lifeisreal 4 years ago

you realize you are talking about yourself in a time of your life .........

Commenting has been disabled for this item.