An individual’s life is a continuum. If there is anything after death, I don’t know, but when does life begin? At conception? At birth? This seems to be the crux of the problem regarding both embryonic stem-cell research and abortion.
On the most basic level, what distinguishes one individual from another. I think most would agree that, biologically, each of us is defined by out genetic code–our DNA. So, perhaps the question should be when does an individual’s DNA first appear? The answer is that each person’s DNA is formed when the egg is fertilized at conception.
If, in addition, life is defined as self-generated action, then it’s clear that the embryo represents an individual life. There are no little fingers in the mother’s womb sculpting a being out of an undifferentiated mass of cells. The mother provides the environment and materials (oxygen, food) from which ! the embryo creates itself. It makes no sense to argue that since the embryo is not physically apart it is not a separate entity. A newborn child is just as dependent upon others for survival; it is only the way it acquires what it needs that is different.
Of course women have the right to do what they wish to their own bodies, but that right does not extend to destroying the life of another, except in self-defense. There are no special women’s rights (or men’s rights, black rights, white rights, etc.). Only the individual possesses rights–the most basic of these being the right to life.