...it is not easy for most people to reject the standard pro-life argument without rejecting other beliefs they have, such as the belief that infanticide is wrong, or murder isn't justified to serve society. Most people cannot disprove the pro-life position without also disproving some other strongly held belief.
This is absolutely correct. I cannot deny that after conception the embryo is fully human without denying the teaching of an Ecumenical Council that from the moment of His conception, Christ was fully human. And if I deny that then I am denying that the Ecumencial Councils are authoritative witnesses to the Truth. And if I deny that, there's not much point to showing up at an Orthodox Church except to look at the pretty pictures.
The same problem exists in the pro-life camp. More than half of conceptions are naturally aborted within a month.
And 100% of human lives end in death. I'm not aware of any ethicist or legal scholar who considers that a justifying factor in deliberately causing such a death.
If the loss of zygote life is equivalent to the loss of a person's life, then the spontaneous abortion of zygotes is an enormous natural disaster, the numbers dwarfing death from any other natural cause. Yet the activism on behalf of medical research to reduce such abortions is nil, and dead zygotes (when noticed) conventionally don't receive standard ceremony.
In general the Church doesn't have 'activism on behalf of medical research' of any kind. Society as a whole has many efforts directed improving overall feminine health, pregnant women's health, fetal health, and genetic disease, all of which can have positive impacts on the spontaneous abortion rate. But
1) No individual or organization has unlimited resources. If I contribute my charity (or dedicate my life) to cancer research, it doesn't mean I don't care about AIDS victims or MS sufferers or poor children in Guatemala. It also doesn't mean I don't care about unborn children. It only means that I can only do so much.
2) Our society has legalized the murder of the unborn. If I look at a war-torn country (say Somalia), which is more important to the well-being of its residents--that I stop the war or that I make sure the children all get all their immunizations? It's certainly a debatable point as to what should be the priority, but the position that the priority is to stop the violence so that afterwards medical service can be consistently offered is very logically defensible. In America, our doctors are trained to kill infants. In this context, there is little incentive for medical research to put valuable resources into seeking to save a mass of disposable tissue the owner may want to get rid of anyway. Changing the societal context so that the medical establishment has the same incentive to save the lives of the unborn that they do to save any other human life would go further to generate useful research then anything done now when the results of such research could simply be aborted a few weeks later anyway.
In their practices, people don't seem to care about zygotes as they do people. Additionally, according to the pro-life argument presented, which I think is the most representative, a woman who has an abortion is a murderer. Criminal treatment is therefore required, in the harshest acceptable form,
This makes assumptions about the nature and goals of 'criminal treatment' which are not necessarily shared by Orthodoxy.
Yes, a woman who has an abortion is a murderer. More importantly, from the Church's perspective she is a sinner. As thieves are sinners. As liars are sinners. As *I* am a sinner. It is not the concern of the Church (or its members) to punish sinners or to mark some hiearchy by which this sinner is worse than that sinner who in turn is not nearly as bad as that other sinner. It is to bring them to repentance and help them not commit their sin again. As such treating a woman who has had an abortion in the same way you treat a serial killer, gang-banger, or a guy who in a bar brawl hit someone harder than expected and caused his death, is not pastorally productive--this is especially true in the current environment when the law and significant parts of society told the woman that her actions were okay, but its true in environments where abortion is not socially acceptable as well. The sin itself, like all sins, needs to be repented of, but the underlying root is different and as such needs to be treated differently.
(This is not intended as a cop-out from what the *legal* treatment (which is concerned with punishment) of such women would be, but I don't see a way to get into that without taking this thread far afield, and probably violating the moderators warnings about politics--I'll simply say that the American justice system's priorities, goals, and methods are not necessarily the Church's ideal.)