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Talking about Embryonic Life

Talking about Embryonic Life

(p.56) Chapter Three Talking about Embryonic Life
Contested Reproduction
John H. Evans
University of Chicago Press

This chapter is concerned with embryonic life discourse, which is the primary discourse used to oppose abortion in the United States. Embryonic life discourse is important because so many people use it to oppose a range of reproductive genetic technologies (RGTs). The chapter evaluates the possibility of deliberation regarding RGTs across the abortion divide. Surveys by social scientists which include interviewees from liberal religious groups tend to argue that abortion for cystic fibrosis is an acceptable alternative, and members of conservative traditions are less likely to make this case. The discussions with the pro-lifers who only use the embryonic life discourse show how this exclusive use would preclude the merger of the abortion issue with RGTs that do not result in embryonic death. While surveys can be used to evaluate the prevalence and representativeness of discourses in a population, they have limitations. Such a survey only shows that the respondent uses these discourses for RGTs in general. It cannot show which RGT they are using them for, whether they also use them for abortion, or whether these discourses are salient enough that they would use them if they were not prompted by the survey.

Keywords:   embryonic life discourse, abortion, reproductive genetic technologies, survey, embryonic death

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