Recently I’ve been giving some more thought to abortions, given what’s happening with the Supreme Court in the U.S.
Entertain this crass analogy.
Let's say that you have some ashes of a dead person. You're 100% confident the person is dead. Throwing the ashes into the ocean is clearly ok. It's not immoral.
Now let's instead say that you have the body of someone lying in front of you. You're 50% confident the person is dead. (i.e. you think there's a good chance, 50%, that the person is alive) Then, it is your moral obligation to save that person.
Even if that probability reduced from 50% to 5%, as long as you had a certain confidence that the person is alive and rescue-able, you'd be obligated to immediately bring that person to the hospital, no matter how inconvenient that would be for you. (This is assuming that there's only 1 person in front of you. You're not a emergency responder that has to triage 100s of people.) Even if it took you 9 months to carry that person, it would not be admissible to throw that person into the ocean (you see where the analogy is going).
Okay, now, let's naively say that I'm 50% confident that embryos are human. (~50% of people in the US are supposedly pro-life) Then, intentionally having an abortion is potentially an intentional killing of another human. Even if I were 5% confident that embryos are human, I'd be morally obligated to carry that pregnancy to term.
It would be immoral to have an abortion.
We can even take this a step further, past abortion and Roe v. Wade. Unintentional abortions, i.e. miscarriages, are also potentially the deaths of other humans.
"Miscarriages occur in at least 20 percent of pregnancies, many in the first twelve weeks." There are cost-effective interventions to prevent miscarriages, such as providing folic acid, adequate maternal nutrition, education etc.
Thus, if we are purely utilitarian, then the highest priority item ought to be to stop unintentional abortions, as that would literally increase lives saved by 5x (1/0.2). Even if we set our prior at 50% of whether embryos are human, then still the highest priority ought to be to stop unintentional abortions. 50% times 20% of all pregnancies is 10% of all pregnancies, which is still a massive number.
That would be orders of magnitude greater than any other EA cause area.
Someone check my logic?
Might stopping miscarriages be a very important cause area, or are your priors much much lower?
Additionally, (regardless of legality, constitutionality or effectiveness of repealing Roe v. Wade), on purely moral grounds, if one has a 50% prior that something is human, doesn't that mean that getting rid of it is immoral?
Edit 1: Thanks to @Lark for pointing out that Toby Ord makes the reverse argument in his piece, The Scourge: Moral Implications of Natural Embryo Loss. Toby says that the implications of the above argument are so radical that it must imply that most people do not believe that embryos are human. As stated in the comments, I think this is flawed--it could also be the case that most people have not yet internalized the consequences of what they believe. As with most challenges that have afflicted us for long periods of time, miscarriages are so diffuse as to not have any particular advocacy group and therefore be not very politically tractable.