The Roman Catholic Church "insists life begins with thought and must be protected at all costs, despite all consequences, including the consequence of dead women, whose lives are not nearly as valuable as the "life" of an unborn fetus. This past year, the Church has called upon faithful followers to march, to starve themselves, to go to jail, to even take up arms—all to protect those fetuses. No exceptions. None. Not if the fetus is already dead inside the womb. Not if the fetus is going to kill the actual living woman carrying it. No goddamned exceptions EVER."
Well, except for one: when it's going to cost the Church money.
A Fetus Is Not a Person if it Costs us Money, Says Catholic Church
Joan, are you suggesting that the RCC is motivated by....... money?
If life begins with thought - then there's no reason at all to protect unborn children. When does a person begin to think? Perhaps not before he/she is three years old.
In Causing Death and Saving Lives, Jonathan Glover actually argues, among many other things, that imputing personhood at birth is simply a convenient social and legal convention, a useful though arbitrary bright line. Before specifically discussing abortion (and capital punishment, and many other specific life-and-death issues), he considers common arguments for the value of human life and the general wrongness of killing people, rejecting many (such as "sanctity of life") and accepting an individual's right to autonomy and to a worthwhile quality of life. A newborn baby doesn't have the necessary awareness any more than a fetus about to be born.
Personally, if the blastocyst or embryo or fetus that went on to become me had been aborted, or miscarried, I wouldn't be around to care. Parents often feel tremendous value in the potential child, whether or not they realize that that's what a pregnancy represents (rather than an "unborn child" or "preborn baby").
(I'm trying to remember the title and author of a short story where America is controlled by an obvious descendant of the RCC, which extends the "sanctity of life" to a crazy obligation to future generations as yet unconceived, at the expense of actual living people: newborns are tested for their reproductive potential, and those who would be infertile as adults are given the "sacrament of terminal baptism" -- they're held under the water, and their souls are guaranteed to go straight to heaven.)
As noted by the atheist blogger on about.com, abortion debates tend to weigh on what the religious think, though there are atheists and agnostics who are opposed to abortion as well (see link for his description of such folk).
He divides up atheists who are also against abortion into three categories, in which I fit into the anti-abortion, pro-choice category. (Abortion is ethically troublesome to me when one destroys a viable human being in its earliest stage of life - it ain't a chicken or a frog - but is less ethically troublesome than outlawing abortion - as that results in more death). As such I lump abortion into the same category as the death penalty: the taking of human life which should only be considered after grave and sober reflection.
I would prefer to see better contraception (and contraception education), which reduces the overall need for abortion in the first place (but not entirely of course). Considering the Religious Reich is in charge of so many statehouses, good luck with that.