Brownback, Jesus and Mary: Religious Freedom Apparently Doesn’t Apply To Women Seeking Abortion


To no one’s great surprise, Gov. Sam Brownback signed a massive anti-choice bill on Friday. The bill declares that life begins “at fertilization” (even though sperm and eggs are—like all human cells—just as alive as a fertilized egg), bans sex-selective abortions (incorrectly implying that they are a widespread phenomenon in the U.S.), bans any tax breaks for abortion providers, and forces abortion providers to read anti-choice scripts full of false information to women seeking safe abortion care. It’s one of the most far-reaching anti-choice laws in the country, and defining “life” as beginning at fertilization is rightly feared to be a way to open the door to legal harassment of abortion providers.

To add another layer of shamelessness to the whole thing, Sam Brownback decided to give up the pretense that there’s a secular justification for laws like this. The AP photographer took a picture of Brownback’s notes, where he wrote “JESUS + Mary” in big letters at the top. Besides being the kind of doodle that uncomfortably implies that Jesus is a schoolgirl crushing on his own mother, the note lays bare what’s going on with this and all other anti-choice legislation across the country: It violates the First Amendment’s prohibition against the government establishing religion. At their core, anti-choice laws are about imposing on the population as a whole the belief that some religions prohibit abortion, whether they are members of that faith or not.

It’s easy enough to quibble with the religious rationalizations for hostility to abortion, from the bad logic of insisting no woman gets to say no to pregnancy because Mary had a baby once to holding up a woman who gave birth as a virgin as some kind of exemplar all other women must try to live up to, which is basically impossible. But really, none of this matters: Americans have a right to believe anything they want, no matter how irrational. What they don’t have the right to do, however, is push their religious beliefs on others through force of law.

The First Amendment couldn’t be clearer: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Telling the rest of us that our abortion rights will have to be restricted because “JESUS + Mary” is Brownback thumbing his nose at the establishment clause.

So why such flagrant disregard for basic religious liberties? Straight-up sexism is a big part of it. Anti-choicers can simply treat women like the First Amendment doesn’t apply to them and get away with it, because there’s still a lingering sense in this country that women’s right just don’t count. That’s why so many people think it’s somehow not a violation of a woman’s religious freedom to give her boss veto power over her insurance benefits package because his religion says so. You can bet that if a bunch of female employers started claiming they had a right to impose religious restrictions on how their male employees used their own compensation, people would not be as gullible to the argument that religious freedom for employers means the right to impose your beliefs on your employees. Women’s bodies continue to be seen as this place where the traditional protections of our Constitution don’t matter as much.

The other reason is the religious right has simply worn the public down with their incessant unwillingness to accept that the First Amendment really, truly means they can’t impose their religion on the rest of us by fiat. The Christian right tries to force schools to teach their religion in biology classes with euphemisms like “intelligent design.” They want our environmental policy, foreign policy, and of course our legal definition of marriage to be derived from their interpretation of their scriptures. Sure, they often come up with flimsy secular rationales for their agenda, but at the end of the day it boils down to “JESUS + Mary.” For people who are so prone to sentimental diatribes about the founding fathers, they sure have no respect for the amendment the founders put at the top of our Bill of Rights.

For these reasons, I imagine that most people will regard Brownback’s flagrant disregard for religious liberty as more of a side note than a reason to sound the alarm in every major media outlet. More’s the pity. We mostly, for good reasons, talk about reproductive rights in terms of health care, the right to privacy, and women’s right to equality, but we don’t talk much about how the right to choose is also a matter of religious freedom. But it very much is. The sheer fact that there’s so much diversity of religious opinion—and opinion of non-religious people!—on the subject of abortion and contraception tells you that much. Forcing a woman to give birth against her will to satisfy your religious belief is a massive violation of her rights, and leaders like Brownback are functionally theocrats.

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  • cjvg

    I’m just so tired of all these conservatives trying to force responsible contraception using women to become an unmarried mother.
    Yeass lets all become pregnant out of wedlock like that slutty mary with her lose morals.

    • http://www.facebook.com/alfonso.taboadaportal Alfonso Taboada Portal

      It was through the Catholic Church imposed its beliefs the world became more civilized: so for Christian influence in the 365 was banned convict prisoners being eaten by animals in the circus, Pope Damasus condemned the torture and cruel, heinous in the 382, Pope Nicolas abolished torture in Bulgaria in 866, Gregory VII banned the burning of witches in Dinamarca.El Pope Urban VIII in a letter to his nuncio in Portugal from 1639 absolutely condemns slavery and threatened with excommunication, but referred to the Indians and was driven per Jesuit Reductions to the incursions of Brazilian bandeirantes were raiding them for slaves.

      Clement XI in the early eighteenth century gives orders to the nuncio in Madrid and Lisbon acting for ending slavery. There was respuesta.Y unscrupulous people like Voltaire, still highly regarded in progressive circles, is rawhide with the slave.
      Hugh Thomas concludes: “These isolated reports allow the Catholic Church stand as a foreshadowing of the abolitionist movement more plausibility than is generally granted. Throughout the seventeenth century letters of protest on her subject of the slave trade continued to reach the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome from cappuccinos, Jesuits and bishops. ”
      Do you understand, because it is a disaster that civil society repudiates the moral guardianship of the Church?

      • HeilMary1

        Your mother-killing, child-raping, genocide-leading heresy death cult caused most of the world’s genocides since its early years. Its intolerance for indigenous religions enabled the genocide of 40-100 million native people in the Americas, several million in Africa thanks to King Leopold, the Catholic missionary-imposed tribal wars like the Tutsi vs. the Hutu and its current opposition to condoms, several million Muslims through the Crusades and current U.S. oil wars, several million non-Catholic Christian “heretics” throughout Europe, including 1 million Serbs during WWII, and several million Asians, including 2 million Buddhist “communists” in Vietnam thanks to pedophile Cardinal Spellman and Catholic psychopath Madame Nhu. And when your pedophile-serving Vatican isn’t bullying governments to arrest and execute “baby-killing” Jews, it is torturing and torching midwife/abortionists for saving women from deadly childbirths.

        Do YOU understand that society is a disaster because of your morally bankrupt cult’s intolerance for the human rights of women, born intersex LGBT folks, the disabled, and non-believers? You disgust me with your evil blinders to your cult’s 2,000 years of genocide and gynocide.

        • http://twitter.com/dalibologna Troy Gavazzi

          That was one of the greatest rants I’ve ever read, mostly because it is all true.

          • HeilMary1

            Thanks! And I’ve barely scratched the surface! Sadly, the sanctimonious fascist liars like Alfonso above, who often bully their way into authority positions, refuse to believe their own sordid history and are often allowed to get away with repeating their trademark human rights violations. As an ex-Catholic, I used to believe his garbage and it has taken me decades to undo and unpack that reverberating damage.

        • http://www.facebook.com/ella.warnock.7 Ella Warnock

          Nailed it.

        • denis renaud

          Yes, such absurd religiously bigoted lying justification for killing babies in the womb…the rights of a woman to murder her child. You sir are a heartless hypocrite.

          • http://www.facebook.com/ella.warnock.7 Ella Warnock

            Oh, spare us, please. You seem to be completely unaware that your idolatry of the fetus is just as displeasing to your god as any other idol worship. You’re not fooling anybody.

          • HeilMary1

            I’m female, you womb-trafficking pedophile priest suck-up, and if Christ actually opposed abortion and contraception, don’t you think he would have whipped and chased midwife/abortionists out of their clients’ homes instead of the money changers out of the temple??

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=9433650 Sarah ES

            Her “child.” Right. You can pretty it up with all sorts of religious and sentimental terminology all you want. It does not change the fact that anti-choicers are only motivated by one thing: their hatred for women who refuse to play by their rules. The two big pro-lie arguments that every pro-lifer tries to use with me just don’t hold water: “But it’s a baby!” and “Don’t you know that increases your risk of breast cancer?”

            I look at a sonogram and only see the primordial beginnings where you see a “baby.” Even this “objective” evidence that so many anti-choicers use to try and convince people that we’re “killing babies” is little more than a preconception projected onto an image–that’s not science. No matter how you try to color it, it changes nothing.

            And then, of course, you people try to tell us, “But it’s bad for your health!” in an attempt to sound concerned for our welfare. But even if that myth concerning the link to breast cancer and abortion, which was pretty well debunked by the early 80s, were true, so what? Women have the right to make that choice for themselves. You attempt to dress paternalism as feminism, and it doesn’t work. We simply aren’t that stupid.

            You people think that all women are fools, and that’s why you are ultimately going to lose.

          • HeilMary1

            Check out The Washington Post’s recent obit for young Rachel A. Cullen whose breast cancer was clearly caused by her two daughters. Cullen was Catholic and probably anti-choice because of her charity work for single mothers, yet that didn’t save her from getting breast cancer at age 37 and dying at age 40. I’d post the link, but I’m afraid my comment will be filtered out by the spam filter.

          • ldwendy

            How do you know her breast cancer was clearly caused by her daughters?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tahni-Danielle/100001811068244 Tahni Danielle

            What about the women your society rapes? They deserve a choice not to carry your rapefetus to term.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tahni-Danielle/100001811068244 Tahni Danielle

          When the Christian missionaries got to Africa, they forcibly stripped all the native traditions except the one they approved of, being female circumcision.

      • HeilMary1

        Catholic clergy have largely supported all kinds of overt and covert slavery, especially of women as forced breeders for your pedophile priests. Google Magdalene Laundries and residential slave camp “schools” in the U.S., Canada and Australia to get a clue. Many “school” and slave labor victims were also exploited for deadly medical experiments by big pharma and government “defense” agencies who paid the abusive nuns and priests for access.

      • cjvg

        Most of these crimes were instituted and used by the church in the first place!
        Witch burning is a Christian crime that is almost 100% restricted to Christians using theology to condemn pagans (ie those not Christian like them) to burn or be drowned less their “unholy believes are found to attractive by others.

        Holy war (the crusades) in the name of faith was invented and first carried out by Christians, the history books are full of the atrocities committed and perpetuated by Christians.

        Slavery was routinely approved condoned and practiced by the church for centuries past the purely theoretical church ban of slavery (they even used them in the Vatican)

        Women have never been given equal human rights as men, and the church still promotes ownership of women by men (that sir, is what slavery is!)

        Before the unholy event of Christianity plenty of cultures had equal rights and better human rights laws then any Christian society ever had.
        _The batavieren and the cultures of the low lands and the kelts had no words for orphan since no child was ever considered to be one if any member of their tribe or village still lived.(yes, the concept orphans were an “invention” by the romans and the Christian church greedily took advantage )

        _Women had all the same rights to inheritance, and ownership of property, running of business, signing of contracts and self determination as men.(not so under Christian law until the beginning of this century, and even now the church is not in agreement)

        _Slavery did not exist, although you could own your labor for a set number of years to pay of a debt, your body could not be owned or used against your will.(raping female “servants: was never condemned or even acknowledged by the church, women were to be owned after all)

        _Marriage was a freely entered contract between the man and the woman and not a sale of the woman by her father. (like it was for centuries under Christianity)

        _ health care and education was freely available and dispensed by druids (so the church made sure to fanatically hunt them down and kill them)

        _ the romans marveled about the cleanliness of our people (found in many historical text) and remarked multiple times on how many times and how often we bathed, most would bath every day and often twice a day (Christianity sure did not follow that and thus the great plagues were born after our healers and teachers were all murdered)

        _Religion was a free personal choice, whether to have it or not, and who you would like to worship (tolerance, not a word Christianity ever practiced, mass murder was more their style, Remember the cathars, they even practiced Christianity, but just not a “brand” the church liked)

        I could tell you plenty more, but why bother, you are one of those who reveals in the christian history of blood and suffering and calls it bringing civilization to the “heathens”
        Any truly civilized society would turn their head in disgust and abhorrence from the atrocities perpetuated and even celebrated by this cult of blood, tears and suffering.

        Christianity has not one single redeeming quality that was not already present before they decided to murder it for their benefit.
        Even worse, after the educational and medical knowledge we lost through their inhumane eradication campaigns tried to come back, they brutally tried to repress it for as long as they could! (they murdered plenty of teachers who had new, and according to them blasphemous concepts about the natural world, medicine, human rights, freedoms etc)

        STOP lying for a change and truly look at history!
        I know it is scary to recognize that your foundation is rotten to the core and build upon one lie of repression after another.
        But once you learn and see the truth as it is written over and over, by millennia of independent sources (instead of your limited and corrupted Christian sources only) you will be a better human for it

        • HeilMary1

          Bravo!

          • cjvg

            Don’t sell yourself short, if read some of your truly formidable “rants” that were most impressive.

          • HeilMary1

            Thanks! I’m just trying to keep up with you!

        • colleen2

          The last Magdalene laundry closed in the late 90’s so it’s accurate to say that the Church practiced slavery throughout the 20th century. It appears that the church is as honest about ‘banning’ slavery as it is about laundering money or ending the systematic emotional, physical and sexual abuse of children by it’s employees.

        • http://www.facebook.com/amanda.kazarian Amanda Kazarian

          His face must be so sore from that bitch slap you just gave him.

          • cjvg

            Thank you, but it is easy when you are well read on historical facts.
            Fortunately for me I was educated in the low lands, and they have never held conventional “knowledge” as espoused by the church in very high esteem.

          • HeilMary1

            LOL!

        • TattooedLittleMiss

          Christianity raped Ireland (and I never use that word lightly). the Gaels had an egalitarian and far more humane system of government, society, and religion and despite being about 400 years behind the rest of the world in agricultural and societal development, were leaps and bounds ahead in legal and social development. They even managed to remold Catholicism when it was forced on them into the Celtic Church, which allowed women as priests and followed many more Gaelic traditions than catholic ones. Until, of course, the RCC decided that all had to be destroyed. Now, to this day, you can thank the combination of English tyranny and Catholic bigotry for the weakness of the Irish economy, the deaths of hundreds of women and girls from Anne Lovett to the lately discussed and sorely missed Savita. And at least the Irish had the advantage of being white! Now imagine the damage done in every other country that had to toil under the yoke of colonialism and Catholicism.

  • wecandobetter758

    To guys like Brownback, not respecting an establishment of religion is exactly the same as prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Arguments based on reason don’t work against that sort of “logic.”
    5 minutes ago · Like

  • http://twitter.com/NatashaChart NatashaChart

    Great article, though a point I feel gets missed in these discussions is that it’s also not right for the government to impose religious laws even on members of a religious congregation. It’s still wrong to enact civil penalties for religious dress code violations, for example, even if a majority of the population agrees with the dress code and would voluntarily comply anyway — as is actually the case in a number of Muslim countries. It would still be wrong to impose the Catholic bishops’ views on contraception on self-identified Catholics through civil law, not moreso because Catholics demonstrably use contraception at about the same rate as the rest of the population, because joining a religion should not revoke any of a person’s human rights.

    It must be seen as inherently wrong for religious authorities to exercise secular authority over any group of people whatsoever. They’re not subject to any democratic accountability, they shouldn’t get to set laws for anyone living in a democracy.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kori.biggs Kori Biggs

      Good point, as isn’t the whole aim to at least get people to exercise their so-called free will to “save” their “souls” themselves? I don’t think, from what I understand, that it is really supposed to work if you are only observing because you literally have no choice…

      • http://www.facebook.com/Feral.9.Hex Carla Clark

        EXACTLY!

        Signed, Christian and sharing your views.

  • HeilMary1

    Brownback is also criminally guilty of committing Munchausen by Proxy medical abuse against women and LGBT citizens because of his holy pedophile cult. Really, women and LGBT advocates should file Munchausen by Proxy medical abuse charges against him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/felonious.grammar Felonious Grammar

    Making women slaves to their biology after men have their way with it, blaming women for being raped, making it difficult for women to get birth control; there’s just no limit to what a man can do to women when he has “God” on his side. There should be EVERY LIMIT, though, right? How high does this crap have to go before it’s shot to death? Not only should such blatantly unconstitutional bills/laws be strangled in their crib; but the people who pass them should suffer certain political death for having trampled on the rights of U.S. citizens, while trying to make their religious beliefs the law.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ella.warnock.7 Ella Warnock

      Dependable birth control and safe abortion freed women from the burden of biology. Fundies of all stripes have been trying to put an end to it ever since then. What do women do when they can do anything? Well, duh . . . anything. Which doesn’t necessarily include any incarnation of “women’s work.”

      There’s a dirty little historical secret that antis seem to be woefully unaware of: Women were not just magically wonderful mothers back in the day before birth control. They don’t realize that infanticide, aka “crib death,” was a common method of disposing of unwanted infants. This is what happens when you force a woman to have children, or have many more than she can reasonably care for. It was tragic then, and it will be tragic again, if we allow antis to once again gain a foothold in controlling women’s rights.

      • HeilMary1

        There is a modern criminal psychology term for such hoodwinked “infanticide crib death” Catholic “birth control”: Munchausen by Proxy abuse, which is believed to be widely secretly practiced in overpopulated Catholic poverty pits like Brazil. Anthropologist/author Nancy Scheper-Hughes has documented this in her book, “Death without Weeping: The Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil”, in which impoverished mothers withhold food and medicine from unwanted, forced-birth kids, thereby hastening their deaths and winning village pity.

        • http://www.facebook.com/alfonso.taboadaportal Alfonso Taboada Portal

          Many feminists seek to demonstrate that the Counter, to defend the natural moral foundations of family, French family took an extreme situation (overload of children, higher infant mortality, increased neglect, decline in marriage age and onset of sexual aberrations), which would explain why in France first appeared birth control. This interpretation is the precise opposite of the truth advocated by many authors so far, which connect the practice of contraception, the extent of the wet nurses, higher infant mortality and child abandonment, a progressive de-Christianization society in the late eighteenth century, behaviors that from the late seventeenth century practiced high French nobility and bourgeoisie.

          • HeilMary1

            You have everything ass backwards. Contraception and abortion have been widely practiced for thousands of years, especially in Jerusalem by Christ’s female followers who consumed RU-486-like Queen Ann’s lace weed seeds. If God and Christ disapproved of contraception and abortion, God never would have peppered the earth with hundreds of abortifacient plants like coffee, tea and ginger, and Christ never would served abortifacient miracle wine to the Cana bride and her female guests. The highest rates of child abuse and maternal and infant mortality occur in pedophile priest-controlled poverty hell holes. Now get over yourself and your fascist Franco fantasies.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tahni-Danielle/100001811068244 Tahni Danielle

            If God disapproved of abortion he wouldn’t have commanded the genocide of the Canaanites and Mideanites, who’s population did in fact include children and pregnant women. Obviously God has no problem with it.

          • http://www.facebook.com/Feral.9.Hex Carla Clark

            Also couldn’t POSSIBLY mean that higher infant mortality was related to lack of access to abortion?

        • http://www.facebook.com/ella.warnock.7 Ella Warnock

          Just so. Fundies decry birth control, naively believing that severely restricting that plus abortion will magically usher in a new age of feminine, womanly, motherly attributes for all women, of course being completely unaware that such a golden age never existed anywhere or at any time. When more people are needed – for work, for war, – higher birth rates are tolerated. As fewer people are needed, population (spearheaded by women) declines.

          It really is about nature and survival of the fittest. Not that we shouldn’t be kind and merciful; that is of course also a natural part of a healthy society. But many of the things we’re witnessing at this point in time are neither kind nor merciful; they’re the twisted personal desires of those that most people are loath to rightfully label narcissistic.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tahni-Danielle/100001811068244 Tahni Danielle

        The Romans murdered their babies left and right but we modeled our society after theirs. That’s why there is such a strong rape-culture in America, because we modeled ourselves after a culture that stole engineering from their superiors rather than invented it themselves, raped and enslaved rather than progressed. Good job, morons, you’re not even trying to do better.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=48805881 Michael Fitz-Gibbon

    Kansas is teeming with filthy scum like Brownback and the simpletons who want to push Creationism onto students.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eva.king.73 Eva King

    And of course he cuts school funds, is working to eliminate state tax for the richest Kansans, raise sales taxes so the poorest pay a higher percentage of their income. He’s the worst governor of my lifetime in Kansas…and I’m an old Kansas born granny! Make him go away at the next election…pleeezzzzzzzzzzz!

  • Skulander

    This should be challenged in courts. It’s one thing to hold religious views on abortion, but quite another to impose them on another human being. People have different views on the matter and Sam Brownback has no business imposing his own views on women’s bodies and lives. People should demand specific scientific proofs of the need for such regulations (and of course, there are none). They should demand that the separation of church and state in the U.S. Constitution be upheld.

  • denis renaud

    Only a pervert would think of your explanation of Jesus + Mary. Thank God for Kansas where people protect human life instead of destroying it. Those who claim they have the right to kill their children in the name of human rights are hypocrites and will be dealt with by the Almighty.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ella.warnock.7 Ella Warnock

      :: slow clap :: Just the precise melange of moral outrage and priggish, self-righteous piety. Well played, sir.

      • HeilMary1

        LOL! His pedophile priest stay-out-of-jail convention in Bangkok or Manila must be breaking for happy hour with the homeless child prostitutes!

    • HeilMary1

      Your Almighty God is the greatest abortionist of all times, and if you are in the ABORTIFACIENT coffee, wine or U.S. depleted uranium shell business, then you run a close SECOND, mother killer!

    • Dez

      Oh so scared of your imaginary friend. Is he gonna beat me up after school too?

    • http://www.facebook.com/Feral.9.Hex Carla Clark

      Oh, really? Killing pregnant woman is considered protecting human life, now? No Pro-Choicer is demanding a right to kill. The FACT that a fetus dies due to separation from the uterus is a BIOLOGICAL ACCIDENT, that should NOT be blamed on women by labeling it as killing OR a ‘right to kill’. Fetuses aren’t children, and God, unlike you, loves women.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tahni-Danielle/100001811068244 Tahni Danielle

      A rape victim deserves the choice to abort her rapist’s fetus. I am SO TIRED of how you people make a point to forget that over 30,000 rapes end in pregnancy. It could be your daughter, or sister, or WIFE, whom I’m sure you would divorce if something happened to her. You need to stop sympathizing with the rapist instead of the victim, it makes you look like a rapist.

    • http://twitter.com/JenGStarr Jennifer Starr

      Perverts.. yep, the Catholic Church and the Christian Right has its fair share of those, doesn’t it , Denis?

  • GoodOne

    I think the author was jumping to conclusions that the facts do not bear out. We need to understand the rationale for their arguments and go from there if we want to be effective in our cause.

    The bad logic stuff the author wrote just does not jive with the rationale the other side gives. I mean come on let’s look at the best arguments and go from there. To portray the other side as a bunch of ignoramuses does us a disservice because we are then wholly unprepared when we speak to one of them who actually is not an ignoramus and we have no response because our side has not dealt with their “best logical” arguments.

    I have seen some of their secular arguments for SSM and if we are debating one of them and we say yeah well you are only saying that because of Jesus +Mary, then we like the a$$hat without any rationale. I have seen law school debates on SSM and frankly those folks are not dumb clowns.

    You owe us better reporting and analysis of what they say and why if we are to be good defenders of our positions.

    • http://twitter.com/JenGStarr Jennifer Starr

      This article represents the position and opinion of the author. If you feel that you have a better argument to speak to ‘the other side’, then by all means make it. Write your own article if you wish. But your comments are beginning to look more like concern trolling than anything else.

      • GoodOne

        Because I expect better info I am “concern trolling”?

        The point is I am looking for a better argument than what was written. I think it does no good to put the most outlandish points of a few as the whole rationale for anti-choicers. I hope her opinion is based on the facts of a subject and not a caricature but the author’s own description of anti-choicers reasoning just does fly with the debates I have had, read, or attended.

        If we intend to win more to our cause, taking apart their rationale would help. I call bs on the fringe stuff the author posted.

        If you are satisfied with what was written, then great. I was not and said so.

  • Ingrid Heimark

    How is it possible to not see a 23 cromosome-eggcell is extremely different from the newly formed 46-cromosome zygote that has in it everything it needs genetically to develop into a embryo, then fetus, then baby etc being left where it is, something an egg or sperm will never accomplish…..

    It is understandable someone might not believe the zygote is a human being, but using sperm og eggs as comparison in anti-scientific and plain stupid