Yes, but that's just a comically poorly-written law.
I'm almost disappointed that the article is a joke. I have to say, the thing I'd find most reprehensible about their rather modest proposal is the double-speak term - which I know is intended, but I have a much more visceral reaction to it than to the idea of infanticide.
morriswalters wrote:The thing that we call human is not complete until very late in life, say sixteen years or so. Even a child of ten doesn't yet have all his cognitive skills.
Agreed, although a child of two is certainly a person in a very real sense.
Again it comes down to quantifying that. We err on the safe side in the case of brain damage. If the brain could be regenerated even at the price of losing the distinct personality it had, would it be moral to let it die?
How much of the personality? As you say, we err on the side of caution and try to save what we can. But if it's a complete tabula rasa in the body of a person now lost, then we're back to Frankenstein's monster. Forget letting it die; I'm pretty sure the only moral thing to do in that case is to make damn sure
I would posit for the sake of argument that genetic distinctness is a better marker then mind. It's a matter of degree. The argument seems to be that we know it's human here and it's not human there. Where are the lines? It's not the fact of abortion that bothers me, it's the causal way people make the assumption that it makes no difference.
Look, that's an argument of convenience, too, but it's convenience for the people making the definitions instead of convenience for people involved in the actual situations. A lot of distinct human genomes aren't people. Again, IVF clinics have absurd numbers of them lying around on ice, and no one argues that those embryos have legal rights. Some people argue they shouldn't have been made in the first place, but that's not at all the same thing.
I don't have much to say about your final paragraph other than to point out if we can't pick a point someone else will.
No, someone else already has. In the US, that someone is the US Supreme Court. Our picking of points is irrelevant to practice.
But many other people do pick out points, and many of them pick out the moment of fertilization, because it's the easiest to understand and defend. That doesn't make it an intrinsic property of the universe; it's still
something that someone has chosen to define as such, equally
arbitrary. Being really
certain of an uncertain thing doesn't make the thing itself more certain.
So I'm not sure what you're suggesting. It sounds like you want an equally black-and-white alternative to the moment-of-fertilization argument, something that makes personhood and legal status and an easily identifiable individual all happen at the same time and somehow fits our commonsense use of everyday words at the same time. There isn't one.
And again, the semantics are still separate from reality, because the words weren't made up and calibrated for this particular discussion. It doesn't matter what you want to call a person or whatever else. You can call a fetus a person. You can call an embryo a person. You can call an unfertilized ovum a person. It's just absurd to extend them legal status.
It's not a matter of drawing a line. There are a bunch of lines, they're already drawn, and they don't all intersect at the same point. Trying to change the lines to make them more convenient to talk about is nonsense.
If you argue for mind then you open the doors to things that you might find distasteful. Should we harvest fetus's for any resources they might have? For all intents and purposes we could do it. Would it be moral for women to grow fetus's for sale? As I said I support the status quo. But I am not as comfortable as some with what it does to society. In any case I'm done. I shouldn't have joined this conversation, it generally doesn't end well.
Respect is another thing that doesn't correlate one-to-one with legal status. We don't treat human bodies like that under any circumstances. We don't sell them and we don't eat them and we only very rarely make them into creepy museum exhibits or have medical students cut them up, both for educational purposes that can't be served in any other way. We don't do things like what you're suggesting because
they're distasteful, and we have laws against them for the same reason.