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You can certainly argue that a sperm and egg cell have potential, but it simply isn't the same thing as with a fertilized egg, never mind an embryo or a baby.  For example, for every sperm cell that successfully implants an egg cell, millions upon millions fail and die.  Never mind the far greater number of sperm cells that don't get the chance to in the first place.  The biological reality is that almost all sperm cells are simply fated to die without ever accomplishing anything meaningful.

So no, the same reasoning doesn't apply, and certainly not in the way you're trying to imply.  When virtually all sperm cells are inevitably fated to die, trying to use their 'potential' as justification to 'protect' them fails miserably.  The same doesn't apply to egg cells, of course, but the fact of the matter is that an egg cell can't fertilize itself.  It's own fate is no different than a sperm cell's, unless there are sperm cells present to change that.  And even then, there's a high chance that something will go wrong.

The potential lies not with a particular sperm or egg, but with the male and female set of reproductive material collectively.  With human intervention, these cells have the potential to form a new human being.  Disagree?

When a woman ovulates, her uterus prepares itself for the implantation of a fertilized egg.  The 'intervention' you talk about happens automatically.  It's true that not all fertilized eggs successfully implant themselves, but it isn't for lack of a place to do so.  So this is simply a bad argument.

So because the woman's body automatically intervenes, her deciding to stop her body from doing that intervention is morally wrong.  That's messed up on soooo many levels, especially if we apply it to other contexts.

The point, which you didn't address, is that the woman's body must intervene to develop the neonate throughout its gestation.  Without her intervention, it certainly will not automatically reach maturity.  This is actually a very solid argument against the particular point I'd raised it against, which was the idea that a fertilized egg will, without outside intervention, reach maturity.  Instead, it requires outside intervention at every point.

Taking the 'potential' argument to extremes might work with someone who's never really thought about it.

Seems to me that the 'potential' argument is only ever put forth by someone who's never really thought about it.

I'll give you that much, at least.  But to someone who's seriously considered it and its ramifications, it's simply not effective as an argument, because they've probably already accounted for the points you're trying to bring up, and if they haven't, they have enough of a framework to fit them into.

Ipse dixit.
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screwtape ipse dixit. beat me to it November 15, 2013, 11:21:21 PM