Abortion Essay

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Abortion Essay

Postby ztmario » Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:47 am UTC

I wrote this essay for no particular reason other than to get my ideas down on paper. I wrote it in one shot in a few hours, and then gave it a quick reading to try and catch any glaring errors. I'm not a regular on these boards, but I'm bringing it here because I've lurked for a while and I respect the intelligence of many of the members whose ideas I've read. In no way do I agree with everything I've read, but overall I'm impressed with how ideas are communicated.

This is an anti-abortion essay, and while I don't assume to be touching on any revolutionary ideas, I'd like to see how my logic holds up against this crowd. Obviously I'm not here looking for people to agree with me, I just want to find holes in my logic. This essay isn't influenced by religion, so I have no real connection to my stance other than what makes the most sense to me. I've gone from pro-choice to anti-abortion and back again in my life, and I also have some first-hand experience with the topic.

What I'm asking for isn't so much debate, but a reality check of my logic. A critique, even. I ask that the responses not be too overly bombarding; not because I'm particularly thick skinned, but because I'm most likely going to be managing a few at a time and would rather not find myself overwhelmed. But in the end, any feedback is greatly appreciated. The essay isn't short, but it should be a quick read. Finally, I want to apologize in advance if it seems less than polished, I just haven't had the time I would have liked to edit it more thoroughly. I feel, however, that it is passable.

We're going to give this a shot.
- Az
ztmario
 
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:28 am UTC

Re: Abortion Essay

Postby ztmario » Thu Feb 23, 2012 7:32 pm UTC

Spoiler:
On Abortion



Before we enter into discussion of this issue, it is important to note that this argument will revolve around only the logical, scientific, and legal questions of abortion. In no way will religious views be taken into account, as such views are withheld from the regulation of law in this country. There is no state religion and as such, state views may not be influenced by religious doctrine.

Secondly, we will not be entertaining legal standing nor court decisions in either defense or as offense of this essay’s opinions. The fact of the matter is that the law is not infallible, nor is it without falling susceptible to cultural and social pressures and norms. More importantly, it is not without making mistakes, or at least ruling in such a way that is later found to be morally skewed. If one would argue that Roe vs. Wade has determined that a fetus is not a person as a matter of fact, one should also keep in mind that Scott vs. Sandford determined that an African American was in fact only three fifths of a person. The courts have ruled on the personhood of human beings in the past, and they have done so incorrectly. Seeing such, abortion specific legislature and court rulings in no way advance the course of logic, and may in fact impede it.

It is also important to note that the majority of arguments both for and against the prospect of abortion rely on arguments that are neither logical nor relevant. An example of one such argument against abortion is that it may cause considerable psychological trauma to the former mother at some point farther along in her life. True or not, this is irrelevant. Any number of activities may cause people trauma, and rarely is this basis for criminalizing them. If abortion is not murder, then it is within a woman’s right to receive whatever treatment she desires for her condition as long as she understands the risks posed. An example of irrelevancy on the side of those advocating choice is saying that many teenage mothers face a decreased quality of life with the birth of their child or children. Again, this is not in doubt, but similarly there are any number of activities which humans engage in that may cause a decreased quality of life, and quite often these activities are legal. Furthermore, if abortion is in fact murder, one could hardly find the prevention of a decreased quality of life to be justifiable grounds for homicide. While these arguments may offer some plausible understanding of the merits that stand for or against abortion, they generally do not answer the fundamental questions, which we will attempt to do herein.

A final notation is to point out that with a few exceptions or inclusions, we will use the term “fetus” to describe the state of the unborn child. While this is correct, it is used to speak to the general image and description of the aborted life and does not mean to preclude the earlier stage in human development, the zygote, from inclusion in the defenses we will discuss. While we question the rights and the circumstances of the fetus, keep in mind that these arguments are implicitly in defense of every stage of life beginning with conception, which is the point at which the human being first comes into existence. Keeping these points in mind, we may continue to the body of the discussion.

The first question in our journey towards a logical truth is whether or not a fetus is a life. This is the first question which, if answered in the negative, ends all possible argument on the matter. Luckily enough for the existence of this essay, it is also the easiest question to answer. The fetus is without a doubt very much alive. It represents life and, more so, it represents human life. There is no doubt as to whether the zygote or fetus lives, and there is no confusion as to whether or not it is human. The next part of this question, and the more difficult to answer, is whether or not the fetus is a human being, or if you prefer, a person.

The first accusation is that while being a human life, the fetus is not a human being but a potential human being. Until it actually becomes a human being proper, it is not allowed the benefit of our legal system’s protection. The oft used comparison is that a fetus is not a human, in the same way that an acorn is not an oak tree and an egg is not a chicken. This comparison is particularly misleading, because it ignores the differences between biological entities and stages in biological development.

An acorn is not an oak tree, this is true. But a human spermazoa is not a human either. And while an egg is not a chicken, neither is the human ova a human being. However, an acorn that has germinated and begun to sprout is now a member proper of the oak species, it simply is not at the stage that would be considered an “oak tree.” It is a seedling, and will grow to a sprout, then a sapling, then a youth, and then an adult. Much like a human goes from zygote to fetus to baby to infant and etc. simply put, the acorn is a form of misdirection. The second form is the egg.
An egg is a container. Serving the same function as the chicken egg is the human placenta, which grows within the uterus and contains the human fetus. An egg is not a chicken, and a placenta is not a person. But what is inside the chicken egg? The answer, obviously, is a chicken. What is in the human placenta? The answer, again, is obvious.

Simply put, potential humans only exist as raw materials in the form of sperm and ovum within human beings themselves. Now, it is fair to say that something may be potentially something else even while it is actively engaged within the process of becoming that other thing. Surely if I have ham, cheese, and two slices of bread, I have a potential ham and cheese sandwich. And if I put a slice of ham on a single piece of bread, you would say it is still a potential sandwich, and not call it a ham and cheese sandwich until all the necessary components were in place. If I stop making the sandwich halfway through, all that’s left is a potential sandwich and no one that comes across my half-finished lunch is going to refer to it as a sandwich. The difference here, however, is that my lunch meats and loose bread will not go about fulfilling their potential on their own. I can not leave them on the counter, step out of the room, and then come back to a sandwich. A fetus, of course, will continue to develop quite happily and successfully all on its own, and regardless of outside intervention. All it requires is sustenance, but we can hardly hold this against the fetus since this is the same thing all humans require, and we are not listed as “potential humans” simply due to our requirement of food and water.

A second strike against the suggestion that a fetus is only “potentially” a human is the fact that the fetus has no choice but to go on developing. You could say that one is a “potential” author, and by this you might mean that he is very well written and perhaps creative enough to weave a captivating tale. He is not, however, a published writer, and so is only potentially an author. The difference however, is that our aspiring novelist has the option of not becoming an author. He may exist in a difference state (as our slice of cheese may end up on a hamburger, or our slices of bread may be toasted and buttered for breakfast), and his potential authorship may go untapped. The fetus, on the other hand, has no such option. It is a human being, and will continue to go on developing as a human being. Before we continue, take a look at the definition for potential:

1: existing in possibility: capable of development into actuality <potential benefits>
2: expressing possibility; specifically : of, relating to, or constituting a verb phrase expressing possibility, liberty, or power by the use of an auxiliary with the infinitive of the verb (as in “it may rain”)

Note “existing in possibility.” A human fetus is not “possibly” a human being. To say such would imply that it will “possibly” become a human, but it may “possibly” also become a vampire bat or a Louisville Slugger. The only “possibility” for a fetus is to move on to the next stage in human development, which is a newborn, or a baby. When there is but one possibility, that is no longer a possibility, it is a definite and it becomes the definition of the object in question. As noted in the second definition, when there is the potential for something, you might say something along the lines of “it may rain.” Notice however, that no one says “my pregnancy may result in a human.” It is also worth noting that none of the natural traits of that fetus are items of potential either, as they are all written quite concretely into the fetus’ genetic code. We may not be able to determine whether a fetus will be male or female, but the fetus itself has already made that distinction when it came into being.

No, simply put, there are no possibilities in regard to the future of the fetus. The only outcome other than the newborn stage of development is death. And this is the same for all members of our species, in every stage. These notions however, as persuasive and logical as they may be, still reside in the realm of opinion. The definitions of words are fickle things, and by striking the technical term of potential we simply invite a substitute. Noting as we have the fallacy of the supposed “potential human,” we will now approach the issue from a more logical and arresting standpoint. We will however, continue to refer to the concept of the “potential human” as it is this specific concept we are addressing.

The kangaroo, like other marsupials, gives birth after a very short gestation period, usually little more than a month. At this point, the baby kangaroo, called a Joey, is roughly the size of a lima bean and has developed to the same point as the average human fetus at seven weeks. The Joey, upon being born, spends the next nine months developing within the mother’s pouch. It grows until it resembles a small kangaroo, and this “advanced” Joey stage is comparable to the infant or toddler stages of humans. Note that disregarding appearances, the newborn kangaroo is in no way considered to be a fetus. And this is, of course, by human standards, as marsupials in general have not contributed much to the actual nomenclature of their life-cycles. No, by human standards, this fetal-looking creature is now a “baby.” And keep in mind that at this point in its life it is no more developed than a seven week old human fetus. Now consider if you will, a human woman in her eighth week of pregnancy.

Imagine that a bean-sized human baby crawls from her womb, grasps and pulls itself along her pubic hair and finally comes to rest in her “pouch,” a pocket of skin that, for the purpose of our thought experiment, all human woman now have along their midsections. Imagine that newborn “fetus” grabbing at its mother’s nipple (now transplanted to the interior of her stomach pouch) and suckling it, as any newborn is apt to do. Now, imagine that mother reaching into her pouch, withdrawing the baby, and promptly squishing it between her fingers. Would you consider her to be within her rights to do this? Would this be substantially different than squishing the head of her other child, a nine month old who just recently emerged from the same pouch? The answer for most would be no, this is not all right.

We view the newborn joey as a baby kangaroo, but a kangaroo nonetheless. It simply cannot be defined as a “fetus,” a term which scientifically fails to apply at the moment of birth. The “fetal” stage is simply the stage at which an organism exists within the body of its parent. To the advocate of the potential life form, the Joey ceased to be potential at the moment it was born. However, it is developmentally in the same exact stage as the so-called potential human. Logically, we can therefore determine that this notion of potential humanness cannot be based on gestation, developmental stage, viability (although we will return to this notion), appearance, or any other circumstance which the human fetus shares with the marsupial joey. The only possible distinction between the human fetus and the joey is in their location. The fetus resides within the womb and the joey resides within a pouch. The fetus can therefore only be potentially a human due to a matter of real estate.

Being left only with the fetus’ location as to its distinctive non-human status, we must examine this particular concept for logical fallacies. The first and most obvious cause of this distinction is the physical location; inside the womb. This argument would note that a human is simply not a human being until it has breached the vaginal canal, in a purely locational sense. This calls for another thought experiment:

Imagine if you will that a law was passed in which any person standing within a room of blue walls ceased to be legally considered a human being for the time he was within that space. And imagine that for however long that moment of time, it was perfectly legal to kill this person. As he ceases to be a person within that room, he is now a “potential person,” and will only become a person again upon leaving the blue room. In fact, considering such, you would not even be “killing” this person, you would simply be keeping him from reaching his human potential. However, once that same person leaves the blue room, he has fulfilled his potential, is now a human being again, and cannot be killed. It is this notion that we must now consider and accept if we are to agree that simple residence within the womb is grounds for the termination of a human life, and the abortion of a being that is not a human being, but only because he resides within the womb.

The distinction is clear: Morally, physical location can remove neither human standing nor unalienable rights. It is beyond naïve to assume that a moments before birth a fetus is no more than a lump of human tissue, with no claim to personhood, and no defensible rights and yet, the second of birth it is now a human being and its killing (infanticide) is one of the most heinous acts of the human imagination. You cannot go from a dispensable nothing to a treasured and fiercely guarded life form simply by passing through a cervix. There is no magical transformative barrier that the fetus must traverse in which it suddenly becomes a new classification of life. It is the same creature at the moment of birth as it was a few minutes prior within the womb. Location, simply put, does not equal eligibility for personhood. If so, then the darkest gulags of the Soviet Union should have conceivably considered moral centers, if only because the Soviet Union declared those areas to be without human consideration. If the womb can be considered a no-man’s land of civil rights and protections, then so can any other tangible location. We cannot as a moral society lambast the tortured existence of souls in Guantanamo Bay and at the same time suffer the existence of millions of wombs on our own soil in which the guarantee of protection from murder is literally naught. Logically, a fetus is not a “potential human” simply because it resides within the womb. If not the location, then it must be due to the circumstances.

The first circumstance that we will is examine is the concept of viability. Simply put, the fetus is not a human being because he is not viable, i.e. he/she cannot survive outside of the womb and is dependent on the mother for continuation of life. This is to say that he has not reached full humanness and personhood until he can survive independent of another person. Of course it goes without saying that no newborn, infant, or toddler can survive independent of another human being. The idea here is that the fetus is dependent on a very specific human being (its own mother and only its own mother), and that it depends on this person for even the most basic of survival. The fetus can quite literally do nothing on its own, and this includes breathing, which puts it in a separate class from a newborn baby. It does, however, put it in the same class as an invalid dependent upon life support for survival. There are of course persons in such a horrible state of damage that their every vital function is maintained solely through the use of mechanical apparatus. These individuals do not, of course, become “potential humans.” They do not at that point lose their right to exist. Therefore, dependence of vital functions is clearly not the determining factor in the right to life, or in establishing personhood.

Now, the astute observer will point out that in this case, the next of kin has the right to terminate those dependent functions. In the case of the ward being a child, the mother has the legal and perhaps even moral right to remove all such life support. This is indeed true. However, this is only in such cases where the return of viability is seen as being not likely. For instance, suppose a child is undergoing a heart transplant. At the moment that the diseased heart is removed, that child is no longer viable and is now being kept alive through mechanical means until the healthy heart can be introduced. The mother may decide that this is her chance, run into the operating room, and demand that her child be taken off life support. This will of course, not happen. Likewise, while the fetus is in fact completely dependent on the mother’s life support system, a healthy fetus not only has a “likelihood” of attaining viability, but a certainty of it. Imagine another ill child, solely dependent on a respirator for survival. Her doctor approaches the child’s mother in the waiting room and declares that the child will make a full recovery within nine months. The mother responds that she’d like the child taken off life support and be allowed to die. Now imagine the doctor’s response. He will undoubtedly do no such thing, and it is more than likely that he will place a call to social services. The same applies for the fetus.

Of course, the second prong of that approach is that the mother is the sole possible support of the fetus’ viability, and it is that very unique bond that precludes the fetus from being a human being. In short, one cannot be a human being and only a “potential human” as long as they are dependent on one single, specific other human for their own survival. This separates the fetus from a baby, who can be cared for by any human aside from its mother, and who still has available to it its own basic functions. It also separates the fetus from our hypothetically ill children who, while devoid of even the most basic of functions, are sustained by a machine, and an easily replaceable machine at that. There is, however, a class of person that this distinction does not separate our fetus from.
There are two girls, and we will call them Jane and Jill. They are very real, and there are numerous others like them, so we may consider them literally and not hypothetically.

Jane and Jill are conjoined twins, and they are joined skeletally at the midsection. They have the appearance of one torso with two heads, but actually consist of two spines. Each is more dependent on the other than our fetus could ever be on its mother, simply through the virtue of the fact that the fetus will certainly overcome that dependency, and will usually do so long before its natural birth date. Jane and Jill will always be dependent. Despite this, Jane and Jill have two social security numbers, two drivers’ licenses, and can vote separately in elections. Despite their complete dependence on another, they are fully realized human beings and afforded every such protection under the law. The only question is whether or not Jane and Jill are an exception due to their co-dependency. Surely a mother is not dependent on her fetus for survival.

Consider then the seven percent of conjoined twins which exist in a parasitic relationship. In this case, one twin is fully functioning and completely viable, and houses the organs which provide life for its often smaller, perhaps even withered, twin. One twin is in the same situation as our mother, and the other takes on a completely fetal level of dependency. However, this absolute dependency in no way restricts the humanity of the parasitic twin. It is a human being in every aspect, despite sharing the fetus' circumstances. And despite even that, unlike the fetus, the parasitic twin will never develop beyond its dependence. And yet again, this singularly dependent twin is indeed a person, possesses a social security number, and is protected under our bill of rights.

We must now address a possible side-effect of our reasoning. Would these conclusions provide full classification of humanness to the separate class of parasitic twins that reside completely within the body, and often do so as a mess of disorganized tissue? Along with the fetus, should we class those few twins that are very much alive, and grow within their hosts only to be removed as a mess of bone, fingernails, and other biologically human fragments?

The answer to this question is possibly yes, that these twins are humans and are afforded the same rights. However, the difference between these twins and our fetus is that the parasitic sibling has no viable future. They are our patients on life support to whom there is no possible recovery. In this case it is then again the right of the next of kin to remove that life support if they see fit. Again, the fetus is awarded with the right of life because it will continue to develop out of its stage of dependency. The parasitic twin has no such future. We may consider it a human being, but we must acknowledge its completely terminal disposition.

On the other hand, the answer is quite possibly no, if you are of the mindset that something can stop being a human being altogether. Parasitic twins are generally living tissue (as is the fetus, and as are we all), however they are living tissue that has strayed from the developmental path of a human being. It has strayed substantially, and it will never correct that path, nor will it continue to develop in a human way. Could you view this entity as no longer human? Is it possible to cease to be human? Could, for instance, a human being be mutated through whatever means to the point where it is no longer human at all? In the end, these questions are rather irrelevant to our logic. What is relevant is that we have established that dependence for viability is not a determining factor for whether or not someone is a human being or a person. Furthermore, neither is dependence on one specific human as in the case of a mother through the course of pregnancy. Our society allows individuals to suffer both sets of circumstances and yet considers them people and allows them the full rights and protections of our society. Having discarded the notion of the plausibility of a “potential” human, and having covered not only the location of the fetus but also its specific circumstances, we may now move on under the assured understanding that a fetus is in fact a human being. It is a human being, and it is a human being which exists in circumstances that do not detract from its right to the protection of its life. We will now take a moment to consider what exactly a fetus is.

Understanding what a fetus is will allow us to view him in context. Specifically, a fetus is as follows:

: An unborn or unhatched vertebrate especially after attaining the basic structural plan of its kind; specifically: a developing human from usually two months after conception to birth
In the case of humans, the fetus must be unborn to be a fetus. This is simple enough to understand. Being born is the process of exiting the womb. It is not the process of existing, nor is it the process of becoming alive. It is the process by which a human releases its dependency on its mother’s placenta and enters the next stage of development. Significantly, this next stage replaces dependence on the placenta with dependence on the breast. Of course, scientifically, the newborn is no longer dependent on a breast and many mothers will never breastfeed. This is, however, irrelevant, as modern science is also making the fetus less and less dependent on the placenta as well.

The fetus is simply a fetus in the same manner as a baby is a baby, a teenager is a teenager, and an adult is and adult. It is one of the many stages of human development. Specifically it is the second stage of human development, the first being that of a zygote, as mentioned earlier. Granted, the process of developing from a fetus to a baby is an extreme one, and the beginnings and ends of this stage are worlds apart as far as functionality and appearance are concerned. However, it is not the last major stage of development. All humans will continue to develop through puberty, and while these changes are much less severe, they are also very significant, both biologically and visually. Later on, women will further develop through menopause and undergo even more changes. While a teenager will “mature” through puberty, a fetus will “gestate” from its own stage of development. The specifics are of course different (nature would not serve us well to provide redundancies in our life cycle), but the concept is the same. As the definition states and as this essay will continue to purport, a fetus is a developing human. Now what is puberty?

Definition of PUBERTY
1
: the condition of being or the period of becoming first capable of reproducing sexually marked by maturing of the genital organs, development of secondary sex characteristics, and in the human and in higher primates by the first occurrence of menstruation in the female

It is the “development of secondary sex characteristics.” One would logically assume that if you are “developing” some human trait in particular, then you are also a developing human. Development stages do not preclude members of society from existing as proper people. If so, we may therefore consider children and adults as human beings and persons, but group together the zygote, fetus, and teenager as developing or “potential” humans, and abort our teenagers as we see fit. We could perhaps even group the menopausal woman in as well, and abort her as it’s convenient. To be clear, a fetus is not an alien life form, it is a stage of the human life cycle. What we are exploring is why this particular stage (and the one before it) is an expendable stage, while all that come after are sacred.

We have now removed the foreign nature of the term “fetus,” explained the true concept of birth, and examined the status of a fetus as a “human being” within the womb. The logical truth is that a fetus is indeed a human being, and it is a person. Understanding that, we must still face the notion that due to a combination of circumstances, the fetus is a person without recognizable rights. Objections are often raised to the fact that a fetus does not have a social security number, it not a citizen until it is “born,” is not counted on a census, and numerous other technical aspects, all of which are geared toward removing from the fetus its constitutional rights.

This line of reasoning quickly falls apart upon even rudimentary analysis. Illegal Immigrants, for instance, are not citizens, do not have social security numbers, and yet are still protected by our constitution. We cannot walk around killing them simply due to a lack of paperwork and a lack of legal recognition. Citizenship does not grant a person protection, humanity does. Likewise, protecting a person’s life does not correlate to counting them on a census. A census serves a specific function, and that function is not better filled by counting a zygote or fetus. It would be irrational to provide census statistics for a class of people that are not issued death certificates, and whose absence from a following census may be never be explained. Issuing death certificates for a portion of the population in which the mortality rate is fairly high would likewise serve no beneficial government process. It is additionally worth noting that a mother may choose to continue her pregnancy through to birth without there being any official record whatsoever of her child. A home birth would allow a baby with no more official recognition that a fetus, and yet that child is quite clearly a person and is quite clearly protected from murder.

And, as gruesome a notion as this may be, that same unaccounted-for child may die and be discarded of without any record of its existence in the notations of our society. This unknown child was still of course a person. The truth is that no babies are issued social security numbers upon birth. These must be requested at some point afterward and will be issued days if not weeks after the child is born. Until that number is issued, even this hospital-born baby has as much recognition as it did in the womb. True, the baby is still a citizen and the fetus is not, however neither are our throngs of constitutionally protected illegal immigrants.

History has taught us the error of declassifying a specific portion of our population toward the effect of removing rights or excluding entrance into a protected class. A fetus may be considered a “sub-person” by measure of its developmental stage, as likewise the Jews in the time of the Third Reich were considered “sub-human” due to their ethnicity and were without the benefit of the right to life. There are few among us that would look back and grant the National Socialists their right to determine the level of humanness that may be awarded civil treatment. Just as few would look back at our own nation and agree with the treatment of African Americans due to the fact that we had legally decided they held value as people to a degree that was less than an American citizen. No, history has only taught us that we should not, must not, and can not differentiate the quality of a life because of race, religion, or even developmental stage.

As a final point before moving on, it is worth noting that some attempt is made to identify the fetus as a person or not dependent upon how far along he is in his development. Specifically, the omission of one body part or another, or of the reception of some particular stimuli, is used to classify “people” and omit a human of a certain age or less. All that needs to be said is that a human being can conceivably be born without any number of senses or body parts, from the ability to feel pain to the absence of a brain. And we may be born alive without these faculties and considered people, regardless of the certain death we may face as a result. It goes without saying that the mother of a baby newly born with Harlequin type ichthyosisis would not told that her child was only “potentially” a person simply because he failed to properly develop skin within the womb. Simply, attempting to define persons by their body parts or the development of their senses and functions is not a logical course of action.

Qualifying the rights and liberties of the fetus as it stands alone, we have covered ground which would not have been questioned if not for the adversarial relationship in which those rights exist. To the contrary, our own legal system allows for the slayers of unborn children to be charged with the crime of murder. In general, it is not a foreign concept to protect the life of the fetus from harm or termination. Where the rights and recognition of the fetus are stripped away is at the point in time when they come into conflict with the rights of the mother. It is at that point that the fetus ceases to be a person and instead becomes a “potential person” devoid of rights, and it is that confrontation we will logically examine now

A woman certainly has a right to her body, as does any other member of society. This is not, however, a completely unalienable right. Circumstances do exist in which the freedom of our bodies may be restricted, and one such example of that is in the case of self-inflicted harm. You generally may not walk down the street through the masses and cut at your flesh with impunity. You most likely will be apprehended by the police, delivered to a hospital, and restrained until it can be assured that your behavior has been adjusted. Simply put, circumstances do exist where you have very little to no right to your body. In almost all cases, this has to do with ceasing the infliction of harm to one’s self. In certain cases, you may even lose the right to freedom of your own mind, as a court can order mentally inhibiting medications in exchange for freedom to those of society who find themselves inclined (for a variety of psychological reasons) to inflict not only harm upon themselves, but to others as well.

This is not to compare a woman seeking an abortion to someone with suicidal tendencies or to a mental patient, it is simply to recognize that it is a fallacy to think that under all circumstances any person has a right to complete control over their body. They quite simply do not. And that is just in cases of the infliction of harm, let alone in a matter of life and death.

Moving on from that point, one may claim an exemption because the mother exists in the specific state of sharing her own physical processes with the fetus, and it is her body that is being used, and without her permission. First, in regards to the ownership of one’s body, the fact is that the extent of one’s ownership can change in conjunction with one’s choices. A person certainly owns their kidneys. However, if they choose to donate one of those kidneys, and it is placed in another person, they no longer have claim to that organ. Strictly speaking, it is still the owner’s kidney, insofar as it has not changed into a different piece of tissue than it was in the first place. However, the agreement that was made as well as the procedure that has taken place has changed said ownership. The donor cannot decide at a later point in time that they shouldn’t have given up their organ and then proceed to cut it out of the recipient. The agreement to donate it in conjunction with the operation has removed their piece of tissue from their sphere of influence.

Similarly, the female has made the choice (for the most part, but we will address the exceptions later on) to proceed in actions that she knows full well may result in pregnancy. She has made an agreement to take that chance, and open herself up to the possibility or even probability of conception. She is risking her womb at the moment of intercourse. Likewise, the conception itself represents the procedure that seals the deal. There are two differences between the new mother and the organ donor; one is that the organ donor’s kidney is now inside the recipient, while our new zygote is inside the mother’s uterus. This is a matter of placement. The same as we may well tell the regretful donor “I’m sorry but now Mr. Recipient has the right to your kidney and we can’t change that, perhaps you should not have agreed to donate,” we may also tell our surprised mother “I’m sorry but now your unborn child has the right to your uterus and we can’t change that, perhaps you should not have agreed to have sex.” Both our mother and our donor have become suddenly aware that they have lost control over key parts of their bodies due to the decisions they chose to make.

The next logical objection at this point is that the donor has changed his mind and, furthermore, his organ is removed completely and he is a whole person without it. The mother on the other hand, did not intend to become pregnant and is now saddled with the loss of control of a part of her body that is still a part of her body proper. To address the latter issue, we will note that the benefit of the mother’s situation is that she will again regain full control of her body in its entirety in time. This is in contrast to the donor, who will never again regain that kidney, even at the possible failure of his one remaining kidney. While this comparison may not be completely equitable, the inequality can swing both ways.

To the point of the mother lacking intent, that is a particular item of interest. An argument made in the case for legalized abortion is that no contraceptive is completely effective, and so “accidents” may happen, and the mother should not be penalized if she was in fact being “responsible.” Functionally, this would be asking any potential mother to extend her responsibility beyond the use of contraceptives, and to the actual act of sex itself. Comparatively, this would be expecting the same level of responsibility from females as our system currently does from males. Imagine a man impregnates a woman, who delivers the child nine months later. Now in family court, our naïve friend explains to the judge that he did in fact use a condom but an accident happened, and he did not mean to impregnate the child’s mother. Therefore, he should reasonably not be expected to support the child. One can also imagine the judge’s response. While we ask the males of our society to be prepared for eighteen years of financial support in exchange for each act of sex, it is not unimaginable to ask of our women to be prepared for nine months of pregnancy in exchange for the same. This is at the same time granting our mother the option of releasing her child for adoption, thereby removing from her any financial responsibility.

Say perhaps that you invite a friend into your house, with the intention of having a pleasant evening of conversation. At some point the night turns sour, and you and your friend engage in a hostile exchange of words. He offends you, and you call the police with the intent of pressing charges for trespassing, under the notion that he is no longer welcome as the conversation has strayed from your original intent. Such charges would of course fail to materialize. A person knows the consequences of sex, and is beholden to those consequences regardless of the outcome. Because a sexual encounter did not turn out the way one plans does not imply that the person is suddenly a victim or being forced into any number of unconstitutional circumstances.

The truth is that one must always be aware of and accept one’s actions before acting. If you have chosen to speed, you are still responsible for the accident you cause regardless of the fact that you did not mean to cause it and never expected it to happen. It is perverse to the American moral system to believe that someone can become a victim of the results of their own actions; of actions that they willfully committed, and did so with complete understanding of the possible outcome. To say that a woman’s rights are being violated by forcing her to commit to a pregnancy that she did not “expect” to have is tantamount to saying that it’s a violation of someone’s rights to force them to lie in the bed that they themselves made. Granted, we often make allowances to those that make poor choices, and there are a number of systems in place to protect those that erred themselves out of a desirable station in life. However, these motions are charitable in nature and are a luxury, but in no way are they a defensible right. In short, the constitutional “right” does not exist, for men or for women, to have society pull them out of a sticky situation of their own creation. And such a right certainly does not exist to such a degree that it would override the right of an unborn human being to be kept alive.

At this point we have already established that a fetus is a person, and that there is no logical circumstance of its existence that works to rob it of its fundamental right to life. What we have just examined is if there are rights to which a woman is guaranteed that may be so egregiously offended as to override the rights of the child and justify its death. We have shown that the right to her body is one which is regularly supplanted under circumstances that are more trivial than the issue of life and death contained within the concept of abortion. We have also shown that the inherent sanctity of one’s body can in fact be momentarily suspended given it is done so through conscious choice. Furthermore we have logically concluded that knowing full well the possible ramifications of our actions does not preclude us from responsibility for those outcomes just because it was not the outcome we wanted. This is much less a matter of opinion than it is the observance of the responsibility we expect to be taken by the male half of our society.

We may now logically say that abortion is murder. It is the murder of a human, and it is the murder of a human for no redeemable reason. The only possible argument for the choice of abortion that remains is to say that while a fetus is in fact a person, is in fact a human being, it exists in a developmental stage in which it is subject to termination, to murder. If such is your stance, then it is important to keep in mind that this logically would imply any other stage of human development be open for summary execution as well. The only reason why one would not support the murder of babies would be perhaps because they are cute. Then what of ugly babies? Or perhaps it’s because babies have social security numbers, in which case there is no sanctity in the life of an illegal immigrant. Or perhaps it is only humans which or dependent for the continuation of their bodily functions, in which case there should be no punishment for the murder of the invalids. Whichever way you choose to justify the legalization of abortion, keep in mind the ramifications of drawing lines in the sand between groups of human beings. It can be a cumbersome task indeed to include the group you find it convenient to dispose of while still excluding groups of which you may not particularly desire to see removed. But make no mistake about it, the unborn child is a child nonetheless, and a human being, and a person, and whatever else it may be that you yourself are which grants you the sanctity of your own life.

Conclusion


The rights of men and women in our society are numerous, and are summed up in several documents that span the history of our nation. However, nowhere in those documents is the right to the correction of our mistakes. Sex poses risks, and it can safely be assumed that abortions are not limited to those among us who not aware of this simple fact. And as with most things in life, the greater the reward the greater the risk. Sex also carries with it the risk of a sexually transmitted disease, and this can sometimes carry permanent results. In some instances, this can even carry fatal results. Yet, knowing such, the majority of us still engage in sex, usually taking precautions that we know full well are not foolproof. We risk our lives with each act of intercourse, but it seems repulsive to ask that we risk the birth of a child. As arduous as pregnancy is, as emotionally damaging as it may be, and as easily as it can alter our lives, it is nowhere near as damning as death. Yet while it is apparently understandable to risk death, it is in certain circles unfathomable to ask one to risk protecting and ensuring life.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby ztmario » Thu Feb 23, 2012 7:34 pm UTC

Spoiler:
Appendix


I. Cases of rape and incest.

In the case of rape, it is acknowledged that the mother has been pressed into pregnancy by force, and that the pregnancy is not a choice but in fact a form of continued assault, and a continued sexual assault at that. In this case, we will also grant that while the rapist set this course in motion, the human being residing within the mother’s womb is in fact the perpetrator over the next several months. There is also no fault contributed to the mother, as its existence was through no choice of her own. Does this unwanted burden then qualify the fetus for abortion? The answer is unequivocally no.

Imagine if you will that a man has concocted a potion. This potion, when ingested by a woman, will cause her to take on all of the signs of and symptoms of pregnancy. She will experience morning sickness, gain weight, swell, and, after nine months of such symptoms, even go through the excruciating process of a natural childbirth. Her vaginal canal will even stretch and possibly tear, only except for delivering a baby, she will deliver an empty placenta. Now imagine this man tricks some unassuming woman into ingesting his elixir. She goes through nine months of torment, after which point the man is brought to justice and his crime is charged before the courts. He is found guilty. Now, I ask you, will he and should he be put to death? The answer of course, is that he will not and should not. Why should the fetus, whose crime is identical and yet who is innocent, suffer any worse of a fate than the hypothetical man who did so maliciously?

A pregnancy born due to rape is a tragedy. Rape itself is a tragedy. Most often, rapists are not put to death for their crimes. Why would the fetus? Furthermore, the assault that is the pregnancy cannot be legally pinned on the developing human. If it could, then children who “kill” their mothers during childbirth could, would, and should likewise be charged. No, the pregnancy-as-assault crime falls squarely on the shoulders of the rapist. The logic of abortion in the case of rape works under the assumption that one should be relieved of their injustices whenever possible. This is true. However, it also works under the assumption that one should be relieved of their injustices by whatever means possible. This is a fallacy. Someone sitting on my lap uninvited must be removed, but I cannot kill them to accomplish that. I can push them off or wait for them to get up. Both of these would accomplish relieving my discomfort, and would do so in a reasonable manner. A woman burdened by a pregnancy has the option of waiting nine months to be relieved of that burden. This is also reasonable when the alternative is killing. There are, unfortunately, victims in this world. And, unlike the pregnant rape victim, not all victims can wait nine months and find their lives returned to normal (in this case one is not to assume that the rape victim’s life will ever be normal; we are simply illustrating a return to general normalcy as opposed to a victim of a drunk driver who finds herself a paraplegic).

II. Mentally ill or otherwise challenged children.

A typical scenario in which abortion is touted as beneficial and in which it is practiced even by those actively seeking a child is in the aborting of fetuses shows to suffer from some particular ailment or another that is seen as debilitating or otherwise undesirable. The methodology is that as this fetus will grow to exhibit certain defective traits, it is more logical to terminate the pregnancy and perhaps try again. This can be seen as either merciful toward the child, considerate of the soon-to-be burdened parents, or even along the lines of strengthening the gene pool. All of which must be considered bearing in mind the obvious extensions of such a policy.

Once one accepts that a fetus is simply a baby before it is born, as a baby is a baby before it is a toddler before it is an adolescent, etc., we understand that no significantly different rules should apply. As with any other person, no fetus should be killed unless they are deemed to be without potential viability, the same as a person might be when diagnosed as terminally brain dead or likewise. To end a fetal life due to a syndrome that is manageable is to say that any person suffering that ailment is also a candidate for termination. Beginning such a process sends a very clear message: Certain conditions are not fit for human existence nor for personhood, and people with those conditions are quite simply better off dead in the best interests of both themselves and society as a whole.

Attempt to explain to an amputee war veteran how your similarly disfigured fetus was aborted because you felt its life would no longer be worth living. Or to a primordial dwarf how it is now acceptable to keep people of its kind from entering the gene pool. Or to someone with severe mental retardation how, regardless of how they may try and argue to the contrary, they are in fact much better off dead than having been born. The answer is simple; when you make life something that is “worth it” only under certain ideal conditions, you have effectively cordoned off entire sections of the population. How is it logical to extend benefits and civil rights protection to groups of people who you have now decided are not worth even keeping alive? This of course is not something easily done. When a fetus is seen as a person, the judgments you pass on it are passed on all people of similar disposition.

III. In saving the life of the mother.

If there is one instance in which abortion is logically justified, it is to save the life of the mother. Some that support the proposition of choice would contend that you cannot decide when a life is valuable and when it is not; if it is valuable enough to not abort simply because the pregnancy is unwanted, then it is valuable enough to not abort even if the mother’s life is in jeopardy. The notion contends that this stance is hypocritical insofar as it states that killing “babies” is wrong, and yet somehow it is okay to kill a “baby” to save the mother. Simply put, it is. In the same way that it is “okay” for the mother to decline an abortion and potentially give her life for that of her child. It is simply a life for a life.

To rejoin our friends the conjoined twins, oftentimes it is the case that the twins must be separated or both will die. More often than not, this separation will result in the death of one of the twins. The doctors and parents are faced with a choice: Either allow both children to die (not the most logical of options), or choose one of the children to live. While such a choice is by its nature an excruciating decision, it can logically be weighed by determining which of the lives has the greater viability. It is no different in a case of a mother and child.

Most likely, the mother will be the more viable of the two as all newborns maintain some inherent mortality rate (as does the mother, but under normal circumstances the newborn’s will be significantly higher). It should also be taken into account that the newborn would not only be giving its life for the life of its mother, but also for the lives of whatever further offspring its mother may go on to produce. Further reproduction is not of course a requirement towards fetal abortion in such cases, it is simply another variable to weigh in consideration of the more viable life. The end result, however, is the same; a life for a life in one way or another. It also speaks towards the issue we rose earlier in regard to justifiable responses. It is not justifiable to ward off nine months of inconvenience (no matter the severity) by inducing death. In fact, the only scenario in which death is justifiably induced is in defense of more death. In our society, to kill to prevent from being killed is a logical concept. Most would not view such an abortion as a mother’s attempt at defending herself from her child, yet in the end it is still a life to save a life.

IV. On teenage childbirth.

Special consideration is often given to the unwed teenage mother, and specifically to her lack of preparedness where child rearing is concerned. It is often stated that if a mother is not “ready,” her own life and by extension the life of her child will be negatively influenced and perhaps irreparably damaged by forced birth. We will consider this argument only after noting that the unwed teenage mother is in actuality only being forced birth. Adoption is of course a viable option to avoid each and every aspect of post-birth life deterioration. However, as this argument is often suggested sans adoption consideration, we will treat it as such.

First, in regard to the life status of the teenage mother, we are in effect saying “this child may in fact reduce your quality of life and prevent you from fulfilling whatever potential you may have both economically and functionally in society. Seeing such, you may terminate your child to avoid the possibility of such hardships.” As noble as this seems, it begs the logical conclusion; if one may terminate a life because that life “may” induce hardship, then how do you justify not being able to end a life when hardship is no longer a possibility, but a proven certainty?

If we allow one girl to kill a fetus because she could possibly face hardships, then what do we tell the girl who chose to birth her child and finds herself currently facing hardships? What is the rationale in killing a human because it could possibly be an inconvenience, but not killing a human when it proves itself to be an inconvenience. The truth is that no matter the hardships we may experience due to our children, at no point in time is their murder a justifiable solution to those problems. While it may be pitied, it is not even justifiable when the mother herself has been driven to literal insanity (severe post-partum depression), and yet some are quick to allow the same exact solution when there is but a chance of a negative outcome.

Oddly enough, the flip side of this coin is not often mentioned, that being that there are any number of “unprepared” teenage mothers who come to love their children and who would most likely not look back with regret that they failed to go the route of abortion. Girls who have in fact grown into responsible and successful women and mothers and whose children enjoy an ideal quality of life. There is no concern that by allowing abortion we rob an untold number of these women the joys of motherhood because they were allowed to make what might be a single but very permanent mistake. We allow abortion to avoid risking discomfort, but ignore the fact that this comes with the risk of losing pleasure.

In regard to the fetus, it is sometimes said that the quality of life for the child would possibly be sub-par, and it is in fact the “humane” thing to do to keep it from being birthed into its potentially tortuous life. Again, going by this logic, we would assume it should be acceptable to dispose of children when we see quite clearly that their lives are tortuous. To the contrary, our instinct and our practice is to protect such children and most would go to great strides to increase their quality of life. Where then is the logic in only wishing to kill that same child at a different stage of development, instead of aiming to improve its potential quality of life while it is still safely and happily tucked within the womb?

Secondly, where is it said who is vested with the ability to decide whether another person wishes to live the life in which they are set to enter? You could assume the mother, but the mother cannot one day look at her three year old child, decide that their life is not up to some particular standard, and then proceed to mercifully execute their child. Furthermore, even if the child itself vocalized a desire to die because of its particular circumstances, there are few of us who would be willing to oblige it. Even persons who support the right to die would be hard pressed to agree to allowing a child to make that decision, especially a child who was perfectly healthy and suffered no terminal ailment. Why should we assume that the fetus would make that same decision if so informed, and since when are we of the habit of fulfilling children’s death wishes? We of course have no valid reason to assume, and neither are we in such a habit.

The answer is that this logic is absent unless one states quite firmly that either the fetus is not a human proper, not a person, or not a person with defensible rights, all of which are arguments that we now know are empty and without merit.

V. Criminalizing abortion does not stop abortion

One of the more perplexing arguments in favor of legalized abortion is the fact that criminalizing the act does not stop women from engaging in it, and in fact only makes the act itself more dangerous for women. All of that is, of course, true. In the absence of legally approved method of abortion, there are a number of women (as have always existed through history) who will continue to engage in abortive practices, and many of these practices will be harmful (even mortally so) to the woman herself. This is indeed a travesty, but its logic is perplexing.

For one, this argument assumes that abortion may be abandoned for no good reason whatsoever, perhaps for mere whimsy. Were it the case that no good reason for abolishing abortion existed, it would make perfect sense that it continue to exist for the sole purpose of protecting women from dangerous and illegal procedures. However, illegalizing abortion is a notion that exists only because of the perception (and as we have argued, the fact) that it is the systematic murder of a human being. What is proposed is not subjecting women to mortal danger simply for fun, but of subjecting them to the possibility of mortal danger so as to avoid state sanctioned murder.

There is no assumption that making abortion illegal will stop abortions. Outlawing murder in general has certainly not stopped people from killing one another. This logic would suggest that any law without a 100% effective rate be revoked. Of course, there is the added consideration that by undergoing illegal abortions, women may very well be harmed. Likewise, however, there is the very real risk of one injuring themselves upon attempting to murder another person. They may be beaten off, maimed, or even killed themselves in self-defense. Do we suggest that the state assist in murders of other individuals so as to keep the potential killer from coming to harm during the murder of his victim? Perhaps have doctors strap down and sedate a man’s mistress so that his wife might exact her revenge upon the woman without having to risk being scratched or bitten? This notion is patently absurd. It is likewise absurd to suggest legalizing actions simply because people will continue to commit the crime regardless, or even because people may in fact injure themselves during the perpetration of the crime.

Criminalizing abortion is not forcing women into the chairs of unlicensed physicians, or forcing into their hands all manner of potentially lethal devices of self-induced abortions. It is forcing women to do not one, but one of three things: Undergo the aforementioned illegal abortion and risk life and limb during the termination of her pregnancy, carry the child to term and raise it, or carry the child to term and hand it over to the state. In fact, it is a choice of nine months of pregnancy, or on the other hand possible death. While some may find this to be a difficult decision, it is not a decision so dire that regulation is needed to make sure it is made smartly.

VI. On Adoption

In several instances this essay has noted adoption as a reasonable alternative to abortion. Doing such has allowed us to narrow the ramifications of pregnancy down to the nine months of carriage itself, in addition to the labor and delivery. Doing so is functional, and it is not logical to take into consideration the possible negative emotional effects of adoption simply because abortion itself has been shown to carry negative effects of its own. Trying to compare and justify the two would be an exercise in futility. More importantly, trying to compare emotional trauma and determine which is “worse” cannot be done logically.

Interestingly, there is a particular response striking against adoption as a legitimate alternative for abortion. This argument is that adoption is not actually a choice but is in fact condemning the woman to the care of her child due to the fact that no more than 3% of unmarried women choose to give their children up for adoption. In effect, certain proponents of the right to choose take issue with exchanging the choice of whether or not to abort with the choice of whether or not to put up for adoption, and it seemingly only because they do not agree with the choice that women make when given the prospect of adoption. They have, in effect, given women the right to choose whether or not to abort, but wish not to give women the right to change their minds. Adoption is not a viable alternative to abortion because not enough women choose to give up their children upon meeting them face to face. It is almost as if these women were tricked into deciding to keep their children, as if the baby itself exerted some type of unfair mind control, and therefore adoption is deeply flawed. It is apparently more prudent to simply kill the unborn child, therefore removing the chance that the woman might change her mind and make what would clearly be a large mistake.

This thinking is clearly skewed. It works under the assumption that children who are aborted should be aborted. Once you accept that as fact, it is logical to assume that when unwanted children are kept after birth, there must be something wrong. However, any empirical analysis of this data suggests simply that it is much easier to disregard a life when it is faceless. This is hardly a novel idea. One can read of all number of atrocities in the newspaper and perhaps not mutter so much as a single word of negative response. However, when most people are faced with the unfurling of a tragedy before their eyes, they react emotionally.

After the defeat of Nazi Germany, the Allies were struck by the enormity of the Holocaust and were outraged to the point of permitting or even inflicting atrocities of their own upon the Germans. Upon liberation of the camps, and upon seeing the results with their own eyes, their reaction was apt repulsion. However it is worth noting that for almost the entirety of the way, the Allies were aware of the existence of concentration camps and their purpose, and yet made no attempt to disrupt them. Camps were not of any tactical importance, and the train tracks that led to these houses of death were not so much as bombed in an attempt to stem the flow of bodies. When the holocaust was a faceless report, it was not given very much consideration. When it was seen first-hand, it began a near-global backlash against any and all crimes against humanity. Seventy years later it is still mankind’s first priority (perhaps slightly less in practice than in theory) that there “be no more Holocausts.”

It is along this same line of reasoning that the mother whose child is no more the size of a grain of rice, and who can be neither seen nor heard, is so much more easily dispensable than a mother who can cradle her child and see a face within it that is much like her own. Nature has provided us with certain failsafe’s that are fairly proficient at ensuring we love and care for our young. Babies have a certain look, a certain facial proportion that we are evolutionary geared toward feeling affection toward. It is not coincidence that the majority of parents end up loving their own children, it is nature’s way of ensuring the survival of our species. Abortion effectively bypasses that system by allowing us to determine the fate of our children without forcing us to ever encounter them face to face. If a zygote or a fetus does not endear you when you see it, it is not because it is not a human being or a person, it is because they are in a state of which they were not meant to be seen. There is no evolutionary benefit to having a handsome fetus, and science has put us in the unfortunate position of being able to take advantage of that fact to our convenience.[/quote]
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Роберт » Thu Feb 23, 2012 8:03 pm UTC

Serving the same function as the chicken egg is the human placenta, which grows within the uterus and contains the human fetus
lolwut?

Edit: are we sure we aren't doing someone's homework here?
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby el matematico » Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:25 pm UTC

ztmario wrote:The difference here, however, is that my lunch meats and loose bread will not go about fulfilling their potential on their own. I can not leave them on the counter, step out of the room, and then come back to a sandwich. A fetus, of course, will continue to develop quite happily and successfully all on its own, and regardless of outside intervention.

You can't leave a fetus on the counter, step out of the room, and then com back to a baby.

ztmario wrote:Note “existing in possibility.” A human fetus is not “possibly” a human being. To say such would imply that it will “possibly” become a human, but it may “possibly” also become a vampire bat or a Louisville Slugger. The only “possibility” for a fetus is to move on to the next stage in human development, which is a newborn, or a baby.

A fetus can become a fully functional human being or die and become dead tissue. There are your possibilities.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby lutzj » Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:27 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:Edit: are we sure we aren't doing someone's homework here?


I'm about 90% sure we are, which isn't inherently bad, except that those spoilers contain huge volumes of text set against the eye-straining blue echochamber background.

ztmario, if you really just want a stress-test of your logic, could you summarize your main points?
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Zcorp » Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:33 pm UTC

You've completely failed to account for the impact on society, at the very least you need to address what happens to the child after birth. What happens with the life of the child born to a mother who does not want them or the life of that child born into the foster care system.

You've completely failed to assert an ethical system or account for one. You obviously have a values system, you just don't directly address what yours is. Abortion is a values issue, you can't avoid talking about values in relation to it.

You also make a variety of assertions about human nature, culture and our goals. You state that overcoming crimes of humanity is our first priority, yet offer no evidence at all to back it. In fact, throughout the entire essay you offer not a single observation of reality to back any of your assertions related to values. This comes across as a giant appeal to emotion. As far as I can tell your conclusion is: Don't kill babies because it makes you fell bad.

You've taken the time to painstakingly discuss weird details "She will experience morning sickness, gain weight, swell, and, after nine months of such symptoms, even go through the excruciating process of a natural childbirth. Her vaginal canal will even stretch and possibly tear, only except for delivering a baby, she will deliver an empty placenta."

Who is your intended audience? Are they unaware of the birthing process? What is your goal in writing this?
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Роберт » Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:08 pm UTC

I'd avoid Godwinning your own essay.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby yurell » Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:16 pm UTC

The first question in our journey towards a logical truth is whether or not a fetus is a life. This is the first question which, if answered in the negative, ends all possible argument on the matter. Luckily enough for the existence of this essay, it is also the easiest question to answer. The fetus is without a doubt very much alive. It represents life and, more so, it represents human life. There is no doubt as to whether the zygote or fetus lives, and there is no confusion as to whether or not it is human. The next part of this question, and the more difficult to answer, is whether or not the fetus is a human being, or if you prefer, a person.


You assert that it is alive, without giving a definition for 'alive'. What are the criteria? Do other things count as alive under these criteria? What should be done about natural abortions (i.e. when a woman's body flushes out the foetus)? Are they guilty of involuntary manslaughter? What about fertility clinics, where they hold fertilised zygotes frozen, which have to be discarded after a certain amount of time? Is this murder? If so, should fertility clinics be obliged to implant every one of their embryos into someone, or shut down?

Until it actually becomes a human being proper, it is not allowed the benefit of our legal system’s protection.


But the requirements aren't only being a member of homo sapiens sapiens, there are other requirements for being considered a person. For example, is a brain-dead person still a person? They are definitely a human being, but should the have the same rights as everyone else? What happens if we pull the plug? Isn't pulling the plug on the machine sustaining grandma the same thing as removing the foetus?

The only “possibility” for a fetus is to move on to the next stage in human development, which is a newborn, or a baby.


That is entirely wrong. There are a whole spectrum of possibilities ranging from a full baby, to a stillborn one, to one born without a brain (won't show pictures because it's too squick for me), ones born with chests held together by only thin, translucent flesh, ones ejected while only a few centimetres long, ones ejected when only a few cells large. There are a large number of developmental problems that are possible, and some that are quite common (e.g. the woman's body simply flushing out an embryo that is unsucessful).
I know yo later address 'born dead' as a possibility, but they can be born very much 'alive' in a state at which they can never become a person, and will soon after die.

Also, the baby kangaroo is called a 'joey', it's not a proper noun.

Anyway, class now, so I'll read the rest when I return.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby LaserGuy » Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:31 pm UTC

ztmario wrote:The fetus is without a doubt very much alive. It represents life and, more so, it represents human life. There is no doubt as to whether the zygote or fetus lives, and there is no confusion as to whether or not it is human.


I'm not sure that this is necessarily the case. Is a hand a human? No, it is a piece of a human. Is a brain? No, it is a piece of human. How many of the pieces do you need for the pieces to cease becoming pieces and become a human? What are the essential elements? I ask because at various stages of development, a fetus is decidedly lacking in many of the parts that we would normally associate with a human being. Like a heart, or a brain, arms or legs, etc. Is it DNA? Surely not, for all species have DNA, but not all are human. Therefore you cannot take as given that a fetus is necessarily a human, without establishing what criteria you would use to define something as human. It is certainly a living thing, but so are bacteria, plants, slugs, and cows, but we have no problem ending the lives of these things at a whim. Your analogies to chickens and trees and whatnot face the same problem: you are assuming it is the case that a fertilized chicken egg is in fact the same as a chicken, but have no provided actual evidence for the claim; rather, you simply argue by analogy. Indeed, your sandwich analogy works against you: a fetus does not have all of the components of a fully functional human, and thus, based on the argument that you present, would not constitute a human. (The raw materials for a human are not simply a sperm and ovum, by the way; the majority of the raw materials are extracted from the mother's body; moreover, neither the original sperm nor ovum themselves are present in the completed human body).

Imagine that a bean-sized human baby crawls from her womb, grasps and pulls itself along her pubic hair and finally comes to rest in her “pouch,” a pocket of skin that, for the purpose of our thought experiment, all human woman now have along their midsections. Imagine that newborn “fetus” grabbing at its mother’s nipple (now transplanted to the interior of her stomach pouch) and suckling it, as any newborn is apt to do. Now, imagine that mother reaching into her pouch, withdrawing the baby, and promptly squishing it between her fingers. Would you consider her to be within her rights to do this? Would this be substantially different than squishing the head of her other child, a nine month old who just recently emerged from the same pouch? The answer for most would be no, this is not all right.


There are two considerations worth pursuing here. The first is simply that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the the mother crushing said lima bean. As I noted earlier, we have no problem killing, say, a cockroach, and yet a cockroach is decidedly more functional, more intelligent, more alive, more able to experience the world around it, than the thing that you are describing here. It may appeal to the emotions to make the claim that it does matter, but on what principle do you base the claim? The second avenue is to note that there is, in fact, a significant difference in the element of rights here. Even if we grant that the fetus is a person, there is the notable problem that, while it is within the mother, it violates her fundamental right to control of her own body, whereas, while it is without, it does not. Generally, the right to protection of your own self supersedes even those rights of the life of others. In the famous violinist thought experiment, it is pointed out that there is absolutely nothing wrong with, were another person inhibiting on use of your body, to separate yourself from them, even if it results in their death. Likewise, your right to self-defense trumps another person's right to life--if you are being attacked or raped or whatever, you have the right to protect yourself with deadly force. This is in fact true of your example with conjoined twins as well: in the event of highly co-dependent twins, it is sometimes the case that (normally at or near birth), a separation will be performed resulting in the death of one of the twins, and this is perfectly morally defensible. It has nothing to do with humanity, but everything to do with rights: a person has no right to infringe on your body without your permission or consent. Similarly, even if you were to, say, destroy someone's kidneys, which would invariably result in their death, you cannot be required to give up one of yours, if you were a match, to save them.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Xeio » Fri Feb 24, 2012 1:08 am UTC

I'm going to agree with the above, you're making quite an assumption by assuming zygote is a potential human, because it's way more likely a potential dead cell or clump of cells. 10-25%[1] of zygotes that make it to implantation will be miscarriages, and somewhere around 50% of them don't even make it that far.[2],[3] You're looking at less than 45% odds a zygote makes it 20 weeks into a pregnancy from conception.

And that's assuming you also ignore artificial insemination and other acts that create zygotes that will never be transplanted (though based on this paper I'm assuming you advocate illegalizing in vitro fertilization/artificial insemination and several forms of birth control similar to how the Mississippi personhood act would have).

EDIT: Also, you seem to have entirely misunderstood the argument of "location". The issue is not about location at all, the argument is about bodily autonomy, and that the womb happens to be inside another person's body. The argument is that one person does not have any legal right to impose themselves forcefully upon another even if they will die without it.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Shivahn » Fri Feb 24, 2012 2:00 am UTC

yurell wrote:That is entirely wrong. There are a whole spectrum of possibilities ranging from a full baby, to a stillborn one, to one born without a brain (won't show pictures because it's too squick for me), ones born with chests held together by only thin, translucent flesh, ones ejected while only a few centimetres long, ones ejected when only a few cells large. There are a large number of developmental problems that are possible, and some that are quite common (e.g. the woman's body simply flushing out an embryo that is unsucessful).
I know yo later address 'born dead' as a possibility, but they can be born very much 'alive' in a state at which they can never become a person, and will soon after die.

You've got an excellent point in general, but I feel it's important to be pedantic on this one point: it's not a fetus until 11th week of gestation, so it's technically wrong to say that a fetus can be ejected when only a few cells large. I realize that that's a bit pedantic, but I think we should try as often as possible to use the correct terminology on sensitive issues.

That said, it should probably be noted that most abortions aren't even performed on fetuses, but on embryos. So that makes "you're killing a baby" even sillier - often, it's not even a fetus yet.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby yurell » Fri Feb 24, 2012 2:09 am UTC

You are, of course, correct.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby yurell » Fri Feb 24, 2012 2:48 am UTC

With your kangaroo example, you've basically argued "in a completely different situation, we would see it as wrong, therefore it is wrong in the present situation without translating any of the nuance. For starters, a human being when it is a few centimetres long is completely incapable of crawling anywhere, it is so ridiculously undeveloped that it can't even breath. The woman's life isn't at risk if it's sucking milk from the pouch, as opposed to the difficulties in giving birth to such a large baby, the constant parasitism the baby utilises, the constant change in hormones etc.. In your example, the woman could pick up the little 'lima bean' and ... give it to an orphanage. Everyone's happy. You can't at that stage in real life, though. In short, you carry across all the moral burden but none of the nuance of the real life situation, which makes it a terrible analogy.

Your thought experiment involving the person in the room is another bad analogy. A more apt one would be the fore-mentioned violinist thought experiment. Furthermore, the comparison of a zygote with no brain cells to a fully-functioning, sentient being is truly ridiculous, and designed only as an appeal to emotion. And let's not forget the fact that the person in the room is a person, by your own argument, and was before entering the room. You've not defined person, and many would argue that a zygote a) isn't and has never been a person, and b) a zygote isn't and has never been a human being.

The distinction is clear: Morally, physical location can remove neither human standing nor unalienable rights. It is beyond naïve to assume that a moments before birth a fetus is no more than a lump of human tissue, with no claim to personhood, and no defensible rights and yet, the second of birth it is now a human being and its killing (infanticide) is one of the most heinous acts of the human imagination.


Logical fallacy: false dichotomy. There are more choices than 'human at birth' and 'human at conception'. For example, you cease to be a person once your brain stops functioning; why should you be considered one before it starts functioning?

Likewise, while the fetus is in fact completely dependent on the mother’s life support system, a healthy fetus not only has a “likelihood” of attaining viability, but a certainty of it.


As has been addressed, this is wrong.

He will undoubtedly do no such thing, and it is more than likely that he will place a call to social services.


You mean he'll find another womb for the child to live in and make the mother no longer responsible for the child, while ensuring that the mother no longer is at any physical risk herself? Great, I'm sure a lot of women would choose that, I know I would. However, in case you didn't notice, that's not how it works. There is no unlimited lines of willing uteri into which we can dispose unwanted pregnancies, so again your analogy fails to comprehend many of the important factors in the situation. You later address this as a major, glaring hole in your analogy, which raises the question — why did you raise the analogy at all, if your very next paragraph goes on to admit that it's bad and presents a new one?


As for your conjoined twins example, you miss another point — what if the parasitic, conjoined twin has no brain? Would it then be wrong to remove it? If so, why? How is this different from terminating the zygote?

Could, for instance, a human being be mutated through whatever means to the point where it is no longer human at all? In the end, these questions are rather irrelevant to our logic.


Why? Don't raise a question just to ignore it. If you've raised a question, answer it, otherwise it looks like you have no good response to it if posited.

This is, however, irrelevant, as modern science is also making the fetus less and less dependent on the placenta as well.


Why is this not cited? That just screams [Citation Needed] to me, and I imagine it would to anyone reading your essay too.

The logical truth is that a fetus is indeed a human being, and it is a person.


Hold on a moment — while you may have established that a foetus is a human being to your satisfaction, you haven't even defined what a person is.

A fetus may be considered a “sub-person” by measure of its developmental stage, as likewise the Jews in the time of the Third Reich were considered “sub-human” due to their ethnicity and were without the benefit of the right to life.


Did you just Godwin yourself? I won't accept this as coming even close to a reasonable analogy until you can demonstrate you can freeze a Jew in liquid nitrogen for a couple of months and when you defrost them they'll function perfectly fine, as if they had never been frozen.

“I’m sorry but now Mr. Recipient has the right to your kidney and we can’t change that, perhaps you should not have agreed to donate”


So ... if you change your mind about donating the organ, make this known, they can hold you down and cut it out anyway? I think you'll find that's incredibly wrong.

To address the latter issue, we will note that the benefit of the mother’s situation is that she will again regain full control of her body in its entirety in time.


The changes done can't be undone. Will her feet un-flatten? Will her breasts un-swell? If she dies in child-birth, will she become un-dead? Saying "we're going to make permanent alterations to your body, but that's okay because you'll have full control over what's left later" is fine if they consent to those alterations, otherwise it's called 'mutilation'.

To the point of the mother lacking intent, that is a particular item of interest. An argument made in the case for legalized abortion is that no contraceptive is completely effective, and so “accidents” may happen, and the mother should not be penalized if she was in fact being “responsible.” Functionally, this would be asking any potential mother to extend her responsibility beyond the use of contraceptives, and to the actual act of sex itself. Comparatively, this would be expecting the same level of responsibility from females as our system currently does from males. Imagine a man impregnates a woman, who delivers the child nine months later. Now in family court, our naïve friend explains to the judge that he did in fact use a condom but an accident happened, and he did not mean to impregnate the child’s mother. Therefore, he should reasonably not be expected to support the child. One can also imagine the judge’s response. While we ask the males of our society to be prepared for eighteen years of financial support in exchange for each act of sex, it is not unimaginable to ask of our women to be prepared for nine months of pregnancy in exchange for the same. This is at the same time granting our mother the option of releasing her child for adoption, thereby removing from her any financial responsibility.


As I have argued in previous threads, that's an argument to allow father's to disown their child, not force the child on their mother. Furthermore, the man doesn't have to do anything but provide some financial liability in this circumstance, while the mother is stuck with all the other responsibilities as well as this one, so the situation is in no way 'he same level of responsibility'.

Imagine if you will that a man has concocted a potion. This potion, when ingested by a woman, will cause her to take on all of the signs of and symptoms of pregnancy. She will experience morning sickness, gain weight, swell, and, after nine months of such symptoms, even go through the excruciating process of a natural childbirth. Her vaginal canal will even stretch and possibly tear, only except for delivering a baby, she will deliver an empty placenta. Now imagine this man tricks some unassuming woman into ingesting his elixir. She goes through nine months of torment, after which point the man is brought to justice and his crime is charged before the courts. He is found guilty. Now, I ask you, will he and should he be put to death? The answer of course, is that he will not and should not. Why should the fetus, whose crime is identical and yet who is innocent, suffer any worse of a fate than the hypothetical man who did so maliciously?


What if there was another potion, that would act as an antidote to that potion that affected her, that would free her of all her symptoms at the cost of destroying one of the man's sperm cells, and one of the woman's ova. Should she not be allowed to choose to drink it? Your situation is ridiculous.

A woman burdened by a pregnancy has the option of waiting nine months to be relieved of that burden.


Because women are simply birthing machines that cannot possibly suffer psychological trauma for this? We can't simply wait nine months to be 'relieved of our burden', the scars stay with us for LIFE. It is fucking disgusting that you think that we should risk our own lives for the sake of a sperm cell from a man who held us down and violated us. Your assertion is wrong.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby ztmario » Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:33 am UTC

I want to thank everyone for the responses so far, and just say that I'm reading and considering what's said. trust me, I know that there are terminology issues, technical issues (fetus vs. zygote, although I think I tried to clarify that in the beginning), and other assorted imperfections. so I want to thank you guys for being able to overlook the majority of them and stick to the bulk of the material.

As an aside, no this isn't homework. that probably has a lot to do with the tone, the "godwinning," and whatever emotional appeals it might contain. since I wasn't bound by a particular structure, I pretty much just wrote however I felt like writing.

To touch briefly on some of the quicker points:
Shivahn wrote:You've got an excellent point in general, but I feel it's important to be pedantic on this one point: it's not a fetus until 11th week of gestation, so it's technically wrong to say that a fetus can be ejected when only a few cells large. I realize that that's a bit pedantic, but I think we should try as often as possible to use the correct terminology on sensitive issues.

That said, it should probably be noted that most abortions aren't even performed on fetuses, but on embryos. So that makes "you're killing a baby" even sillier - often, it's not even a fetus yet.

the main idea for me isn't that "you're killing a baby" when it's actually a fetus, it's that "you're killing a person." From there, my point is that a fetus is different from a baby, or a teenager, or an adult only because it exists in a different stage of development. The argument is if this stage of development removes from the fetus, zygote, whatever, any traits that that would preclude it from being a person, or a human being as opposed to a "potential human being."

Xeio wrote:EDIT: Also, you seem to have entirely misunderstood the argument of "location". The issue is not about location at all, the argument is about bodily autonomy, and that the womb happens to be inside another person's body. The argument is that one person does not have any legal right to impose themselves forcefully upon another even if they will die without it.

bringing up location specifically may seem silly, but it was going along the lines of trying to determine what separates a fetus from a baby that would remove from the fetus the benefit of the right to life. I understand bodily autonomy, and it's mentioned in some length further on in the essay. first I touch on how much bodily autonomy a person actually has, second I question whether or not death is an equatable solution to a temporary inconvenience. I also end up covering the idea that the fetus or zygote is a trespasser of sorts.

LaserGuy wrote:I'm not sure that this is necessarily the case. Is a hand a human? No, it is a piece of a human. Is a brain? No, it is a piece of human. How many of the pieces do you need for the pieces to cease becoming pieces and become a human? What are the essential elements? I ask because at various stages of development, a fetus is decidedly lacking in many of the parts that we would normally associate with a human being. Like a heart, or a brain, arms or legs, etc. Is it DNA? Surely not, for all species have DNA, but not all are human. Therefore you cannot take as given that a fetus is necessarily a human, without establishing what criteria you would use to define something as human. It is certainly a living thing, but so are bacteria, plants, slugs, and cows, but we have no problem ending the lives of these things at a whim. Your analogies to chickens and trees and whatnot face the same problem: you are assuming it is the case that a fertilized chicken egg is in fact the same as a chicken, but have no provided actual evidence for the claim; rather, you simply argue by analogy. Indeed, your sandwich analogy works against you: a fetus does not have all of the components of a fully functional human, and thus, based on the argument that you present, would not constitute a human. (The raw materials for a human are not simply a sperm and ovum, by the way; the majority of the raw materials are extracted from the mother's body; moreover, neither the original sperm nor ovum themselves are present in the completed human body).


I may be wrong in stating this, but I disagree that the raw materials for a human are extracted from the mother's body. I believe that what is extracted from the mother's body is sustenance. If that's the case, then this would be akin to calling pizza and hamburgers the raw materials for me. They may be fuel, but they're not the raw materials. However, as I said, I may be incorrect.

As far as the issue of hands, brains, and parts of humans, I think that the key difference is that no hand or brain is going to develop into a human. I think that's a simple yet important distinction. No "part of something" is going to grow into the entire something. you can crush a severed hand quite easily without worrying that you're killing a human, because you are not interrupting any developmental path that will result in what you may consider to be a human. however, by terminating a fetus, you are ending a developmental path that exists to produce an individual fundamentally the same as you and I.

you're right about me not providing proof for my oak tree or chicken analogy rebuttals, but then again none of this piece is cited as it's not exactly a scholarly work, and it isn't any type of class assignment. I apologize for that, but I am still fairly sure that my analogies are solid, even without citing sources. I do, however, think that most people do realize that an egg is never actually a chicken, it just contains a chicken once it becomes fertilized. You can have a hen sit on an unfertilized egg until the cows come home, and it will never hatch. However there is no way for a woman to carry a fetus and have it not be born (aside of course from death, but I think that goes without saying for the purpose of this analogy).

In regard to the sandwich analogy, the point I was making is that if left alone, the "potential parts" of a sandwich will not miraculously constitute a sandwich. a fetus will, however, if left alone eventually constitute a baby. I understand you're saying that a fetus does not contain all of the "components" of a fully functioning human, and I spend a good amount of time analyzing the components it lacks and comparing them to other instances of human identity. Not being fully functioning does not by itself exclude one from personhood.

As far as the right to defend yourself, I cover this as well. You do have the right to defend your person, but you do not have the right (legally, in any regard) to kill someone unless they pose a mortal risk to yourself. That's why I ask if death is an equatable solution to nine month's of inconvenience? If I sit on your lap without your consent, you can surely push me to the floor, but you are generally not allowed to pull out a knife and slit my throat from behind. You can use force, but it must be equatable.

yurell wrote:That is entirely wrong. There are a whole spectrum of possibilities ranging from a full baby, to a stillborn one, to one born without a brain (won't show pictures because it's too squick for me), ones born with chests held together by only thin, translucent flesh, ones ejected while only a few centimetres long, ones ejected when only a few cells large. There are a large number of developmental problems that are possible, and some that are quite common (e.g. the woman's body simply flushing out an embryo that is unsucessful).
I know yo later address 'born dead' as a possibility, but they can be born very much 'alive' in a state at which they can never become a person, and will soon after die.


You stated you haven't finished the piece yet, but many of the same things you touch on are mentioned later on. As far as the possibility goes, I mean that in regard to what the purpose of the fetus is. and that is to advance to a newborn, child, etc. Things may surely go wrong, but there is no other purpose of the zygote or fetus other than to continue along the human developmental path. the only "possibility" of my own existence is to continue to continue that same path. now of course things may go wrong, and I may die, but I will not wake up tomorrow as a cantaloupe. furthermore, you wouldn't devalue my life on the basis that I might get hit by a truck tomorrow. Likewise, I ask if you would devalue a fetus' life because it may not survive its gestation in the first place.

Zcorp wrote:You've completely failed to account for the impact on society, at the very least you need to address what happens to the child after birth. What happens with the life of the child born to a mother who does not want them or the life of that child born into the foster care system.

Actually, I do, in the Appendix.

Zcorp wrote:You've completely failed to assert an ethical system or account for one. You obviously have a values system, you just don't directly address what yours is. Abortion is a values issue, you can't avoid talking about values in relation to it.

You also make a variety of assertions about human nature, culture and our goals. You state that overcoming crimes of humanity is our first priority, yet offer no evidence at all to back it. In fact, throughout the entire essay you offer not a single observation of reality to back any of your assertions related to values. This comes across as a giant appeal to emotion. As far as I can tell your conclusion is: Don't kill babies because it makes you fell bad.

You're absolutely right, and there is a reason for this. Values can't be argued effectively because they are subjective. I can't see much a point to argue for one value system over another ... it's just not an argument that anyone's going to win. while I acknowledge that my tone is far from unbiased, my actual intent wasn't to say abortion is wrong or right, but to simply say that abortion is a lot along the lines of x, y, and z. I use comparison after comparison in an attempt to put abortion into perspective, as I feel that that's really all anyone can do.

Someone could agree with everyone of the points I make and still claim to be completely for abortion. All it would take for that to happen would be for that person to also believe we should euthanize certain people, remove person status from other people, and so on and so forth. And I have no doubt that people like that exist.

Zcorp wrote:You've taken the time to painstakingly discuss weird details "She will experience morning sickness, gain weight, swell, and, after nine months of such symptoms, even go through the excruciating process of a natural childbirth. Her vaginal canal will even stretch and possibly tear, only except for delivering a baby, she will deliver an empty placenta."

Who is your intended audience? Are they unaware of the birthing process? What is your goal in writing this?

I believe that at that point I was discussing the inconvenience of pregnancy. it simply came down to not wanting to be seen as downplaying the discomfort of pregnancy and childbirth.

el matematico wrote:You can't leave a fetus on the counter, step out of the room, and then com back to a baby.


No, but you can leave it in a uterus, go about your life for nine months, and then find yourself with a baby. I don't know why it's necessary to get so literal as to mention a counter. my main point remains the same.

el matematico wrote:A fetus can become a fully functional human being or die and become dead tissue. There are your possibilities.


the possibility of death does not remove personhood. Every man, woman, child, and fetus on this planet may die and become dead tissue. I thought I ended up mentioning that.

As far as summarizing my main points, I will try to do that, but just not at this moment. I do understand that it's a lot of text to read, and I appreciate the effort. I also want to say that I am very pleased with the feedback so far, and want to thank everyone for their time to this point.

I do want to mention though that I understand that this is completely a matter of opinion. I won't find myself in disagreement with people who are pro-choice so much as I will with people who are pro-choice and misrepresent realities to make themselves feel better about their belief (for instance mentioning that a chicken is not an egg as if this has bearing on a fetus).
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby LaserGuy » Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:51 am UTC

The fetus is without a doubt very much alive. It represents life and, more so, it represents human life. There is no doubt as to whether the zygote or fetus lives, and there is no confusion as to whether or not it is human.


Thought I'd just add one more line of reasoning to this one.

In what sense of the term is the fetus alive? I mean, each individual cell is alive, but is the fetus itself a living person?

Well, perhaps one way to ask the question would be this: what does it mean for a person to be dead? If a person is dead, they are, rather by definition, not alive. So we can get to the heart of the matter by looking at the question of "What is death?" to determine "What is life?" A few things quickly become clear: your cells being alive is not sufficient for you to be. It is entirely possible that most of the cells in your body could still be alive, even though you as a "person" are not. Sure, most of these cells will die rapidly, since they lack the necessary functionality to survive long without the rest of the system, but nonetheless, a newly dead person could still be made up of mostly living cells. Your skin cells, for example, can survive for about 24 hours after the heart has stopped beating. So what does it mean to be dead? Medically speaking, the consensus seems to be when your central nervous system shut down, you are dead. Some places still use the beating of the heart as an indicator for death, but this is less reliable since it is possible to restart the heart, and it is possible to build an artificial heart that can keep the body alive. In either case, we can establish a condition for which a human is dead: the nervous system no longer works, the heart is not beating, or perhaps both.

It should be self-evident that the dead are not persons and have no rights. Legally, this is certainly the case, and I think it is pretty difficult to argue in any moral framework that dead are entitled to rights. Zombies, maybe, but that's a different problem. Now, we've established two things: a condition for death, and, associated with that, a condition for rights. So what relevant conclusions could we draw? Suppose, for argument's sake, we choose that our condition for death is the functionality of the nervous system. It follows, therefore, that the functionality for life is also based on the nervous system. For one can either be dead or alive--this set is exhaustive. If it does not have a functional nervous system, it cannot be a living human. This simplifies the problem considerably. The fetal nervous system develops at approximately 27 weeks of gestation. The nervous system at this point is still extremely limited in functionality, but it can respond to simple stimuli and can control some bodily functions. It takes several more weeks before the system is really up-and-running. What this means then, is that, by definition, all fetuses less than 27 weeks through gestation are legally dead. They therefore have no rights, and can be aborted without prejudice. After 27 weeks, things become a bit dicier, and you need other supporting arguments to make the case. However, this exclusion covers somewhere in the order of 99.5% of all abortions. Late-term abortions are most commonly done because the health of the mother is in danger, and there is little dispute over whether such abortions should be done.

You do have the right to defend your person, but you do not have the right (legally, in any regard) to kill someone unless they pose a mortal risk to yourself.


Your ability to use lethal force depends a lot on where you live. In some places in the United States, for example, you are allowed to protect yourself with deadly force from such things as theft, home invasion, assault, kidnapping, or rape, even if such things are unlikely to result in mortal danger to yourself.

[edit]
She will experience morning sickness, gain weight, swell, and, after nine months of such symptoms, even go through the excruciating process of a natural childbirth. Her vaginal canal will even stretch and possibly tear


Just to elaborate, I would contend, quite strongly, that if a person were to inflict this degree of assault on your person without your permission, you would be perfectly justified in killing them in self-defense. And this is missing probably 3/4 of the possible symptoms of pregnancy.
Last edited by LaserGuy on Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:58 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby ztmario » Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:55 am UTC

yurell wrote:With your kangaroo example, you've basically argued "in a completely different situation, we would see it as wrong, therefore it is wrong in the present situation without translating any of the nuance. For starters, a human being when it is a few centimetres long is completely incapable of crawling anywhere, it is so ridiculously undeveloped that it can't even breath. The woman's life isn't at risk if it's sucking milk from the pouch, as opposed to the difficulties in giving birth to such a large baby, the constant parasitism the baby utilises, the constant change in hormones etc.. In your example, the woman could pick up the little 'lima bean' and ... give it to an orphanage. Everyone's happy. You can't at that stage in real life, though. In short, you carry across all the moral burden but none of the nuance of the real life situation, which makes it a terrible analogy.


My intent here was simply to point out that humans look at a fetus within a womb and decide that it is either not a human being or not a person. We then look at a "baby" kangaroo which is nearly identical and at the same stage of development, and we declare that it is in fact a kangaroo. The only difference is that the kangaroo resides in a pouch and the fetus resides in the womb. There are other differences of course, which you mention, and I simply question which of these differences would be grounds for murder.

Your thought experiment involving the person in the room is another bad analogy. A more apt one would be the fore-mentioned violinist thought experiment. Furthermore, the comparison of a zygote with no brain cells to a fully-functioning, sentient being is truly ridiculous, and designed only as an appeal to emotion. And let's not forget the fact that the person in the room is a person, by your own argument, and was before entering the room. You've not defined person, and many would argue that a zygote a) isn't and has never been a person, and b) a zygote isn't and has never been a human being.

The blue room is not so much a BAD analogy as it is a SILLY analogy. and it is silly because I was trying to refute a silly notion. at that point I was discussing the difference between a newborn baby and a fetus which was a mere minutes from birth. considering that in all ways aside from location, the baby and the matured fetus are identical, I was eliminating location as a valid difference. If there truly is a valid difference, I'd like for you to tell me what it is. I thought I was clear about what I was comparing, but I can understand if it didn't come across that way.

Logical fallacy: false dichotomy. There are more choices than 'human at birth' and 'human at conception'. For example, you cease to be a person once your brain stops functioning; why should you be considered one before it starts functioning?


I was not under the impression that you stopped being a person when you lost brain function. If this is your opinion, then I fully understand you not recognizing a fetus as a person, and I wouldn't expect any more or less from you in regard to the essay.

In regard to the "likelihood" or certainty of a fetus becoming an adult, I have stated several times and will continue to state that I am DISREGARDING the obvious chance of death. I am disregarding it because it is something that all humans face and so can not possibly be used against a fetus, zygote, or any other being with regard to human status. Also, the comparison was a child on life support who would not recover, and one that would recover. A doctor may tell you that your child will recover, but this doesn't mean the hospital roof can not collapse and kill him. I thought this was clear, and apologize that it wasn't.

This is, however, irrelevant, as modern science is also making the fetus less and less dependent on the placenta as well.


Why is this not cited? That just screams [Citation Needed] to me, and I imagine it would to anyone reading your essay too.

It's not cited because it goes off the basis that we can today sustain babies born far more premature than we could in recent times past. If we can provide increasing viability for a premature baby, we have made it less dependent on the placenta. In a formal paper this would be cited, but I felt it was more or less common knowledge.

A fetus may be considered a “sub-person” by measure of its developmental stage, as likewise the Jews in the time of the Third Reich were considered “sub-human” due to their ethnicity and were without the benefit of the right to life.


Did you just Godwin yourself? I won't accept this as coming even close to a reasonable analogy until you can demonstrate you can freeze a Jew in liquid nitrogen for a couple of months and when you defrost them they'll function perfectly fine, as if they had never been frozen.


The only thing you're stating here that I can see is that you feel that a zygote would be considered "non" or "sub" human because you can safely freeze and store it with nitrogen. If that's the basis by which you want to make that determination, then that's perfectly acceptable. I probably would not, however.

“I’m sorry but now Mr. Recipient has the right to your kidney and we can’t change that, perhaps you should not have agreed to donate”


So ... if you change your mind about donating the organ, make this known, they can hold you down and cut it out anyway? I think you'll find that's incredibly wrong.

No, but I did say that in this case the kidney was already transplanted. At least I seem to remember having said that.

To address the latter issue, we will note that the benefit of the mother’s situation is that she will again regain full control of her body in its entirety in time.


The changes done can't be undone. Will her feet un-flatten? Will her breasts un-swell? If she dies in child-birth, will she become un-dead? Saying "we're going to make permanent alterations to your body, but that's okay because you'll have full control over what's left later" is fine if they consent to those alterations, otherwise it's called 'mutilation'.

Absolutely, and the question is only if death is an acceptable defense to the flattening of feet and the swelling of breasts. That's a determination that only you can make. For all intents and purposes however, the mother WILL regain full control of her body.

As I have argued in previous threads, that's an argument to allow father's to disown their child, not force the child on their mother. Furthermore, the man doesn't have to do anything but provide some financial liability in this circumstance, while the mother is stuck with all the other responsibilities as well as this one, so the situation is in no way 'he same level of responsibility'.

Actually, the mother is stuck with no responsibilities whatsoever. She can simply choose to have nothing at all to do with her child if that's her desire. The mother can be forced to do absolutely NOTHING for the child after it is born. However, at the very least, the man CAN be forced to provide "some" financial liability.

Imagine if you will that a man has concocted a potion. This potion, when ingested by a woman, will cause her to take on all of the signs of and symptoms of pregnancy. She will experience morning sickness, gain weight, swell, and, after nine months of such symptoms, even go through the excruciating process of a natural childbirth. Her vaginal canal will even stretch and possibly tear, only except for delivering a baby, she will deliver an empty placenta. Now imagine this man tricks some unassuming woman into ingesting his elixir. She goes through nine months of torment, after which point the man is brought to justice and his crime is charged before the courts. He is found guilty. Now, I ask you, will he and should he be put to death? The answer of course, is that he will not and should not. Why should the fetus, whose crime is identical and yet who is innocent, suffer any worse of a fate than the hypothetical man who did so maliciously?


What if there was another potion, that would act as an antidote to that potion that affected her, that would free her of all her symptoms at the cost of destroying one of the man's sperm cells, and one of the woman's ova. Should she not be allowed to choose to drink it? Your situation is ridiculous.

No, my situation is simply trying to determine if death is an equatable punishment for the imposition of a pregnancy. I don't feel that it is and that's what I am describing here.

A woman burdened by a pregnancy has the option of waiting nine months to be relieved of that burden.


Because women are simply birthing machines that cannot possibly suffer psychological trauma for this? We can't simply wait nine months to be 'relieved of our burden', the scars stay with us for LIFE. It is fucking disgusting that you think that we should risk our own lives for the sake of a sperm cell from a man who held us down and violated us. Your assertion is wrong.
[/quote]
Actually, I stated that risk of life was an instance in which I find abortion completely justifiable. Short of that, I can't find a good reason (in my own opinion) for what I see as murder.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby ztmario » Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:58 am UTC

To be honest, I find it a bit odd that no one has said anything in regard to what is actually one of the main points of the essay, which is that gestation is simply a state of human development.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby LaserGuy » Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:00 am UTC

ztmario wrote:To be honest, I find it a bit odd that no one has said anything in regard to what is actually one of the main points of the essay, which is that gestation is simply a state of human development.


Sure, I can say something about it. Naturalistic fallacy.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby ztmario » Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:03 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
ztmario wrote:To be honest, I find it a bit odd that no one has said anything in regard to what is actually one of the main points of the essay, which is that gestation is simply a state of human development.


Sure, I can say something about it. Naturalistic fallacy.

I don't really see how that applies, but I might just be missing something.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby ztmario » Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:11 am UTC

I think I can more or less sum this up as someone asked before.

My humble opinion is that a zygote is a developing human, as is a fetus, as is a baby, as is a child, as is a teenager. These are all stages of development that lead to "mature" adulthood at which point you have a mature human being. The fact that the zygote or fetus resides within the womb is immaterial; this is simply where that stage of development takes place. being "born" means no more than emerging from the womb. it is a transfer of spaces and a release of dependency on one specific person (the mother).

Then I simply ask what is so different about a zygote or a fetus that would make its termination allowable, in contrast to a human baby (which is simply that zygote or fetus in a later stage of development.)

Obviously there are several differences, and I discuss as many of these as I can. One idea may be that a fetus or zygote is missing parts. that's fair enough, but if I removed certain parts from a baby, would this result in it being a candidate for legal termination? I then simply compare the other differences and try to determine if these situations are really as unique as supposed. I generally find that they are not.

The question seems to be "how can we define a "person" that would exclude a zygote or fetus, but not also exclude certain other members of society that we consider to be people?" I try to do that and fail.

The next issue is that it is immaterial if the fetus or zygote is actually a person, because even if it IS a person, its supposed rights are in direct conflict with the mothers rights. I then simply question if the mother has any inherent rights that are so grossly violated so as to warrant the death of another. Of that, I am unconvinced.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby LaserGuy » Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:17 am UTC

ztmario wrote:The question seems to be "how can we define a "person" that would exclude a zygote or fetus, but not also exclude certain other members of society that we consider to be people?" I try to do that and fail.


I gave you one just above: until 27 weeks of age, the fetus is legally dead. By definition, people are not dead.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby ztmario » Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:20 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Thought I'd just add one more line of reasoning to this one.

In what sense of the term is the fetus alive? I mean, each individual cell is alive, but is the fetus itself a living person?

Well, perhaps one way to ask the question would be this: what does it mean for a person to be dead? If a person is dead, they are, rather by definition, not alive. So we can get to the heart of the matter by looking at the question of "What is death?" to determine "What is life?" A few things quickly become clear: your cells being alive is not sufficient for you to be. It is entirely possible that most of the cells in your body could still be alive, even though you as a "person" are not. Sure, most of these cells will die rapidly, since they lack the necessary functionality to survive long without the rest of the system, but nonetheless, a newly dead person could still be made up of mostly living cells. Your skin cells, for example, can survive for about 24 hours after the heart has stopped beating. So what does it mean to be dead? Medically speaking, the consensus seems to be when your central nervous system shut down, you are dead. Some places still use the beating of the heart as an indicator for death, but this is less reliable since it is possible to restart the heart, and it is possible to build an artificial heart that can keep the body alive. In either case, we can establish a condition for which a human is dead: the nervous system no longer works, the heart is not beating, or perhaps both.

It should be self-evident that the dead are not persons and have no rights. Legally, this is certainly the case, and I think it is pretty difficult to argue in any moral framework that dead are entitled to rights. Zombies, maybe, but that's a different problem. Now, we've established two things: a condition for death, and, associated with that, a condition for rights. So what relevant conclusions could we draw? Suppose, for argument's sake, we choose that our condition for death is the functionality of the nervous system. It follows, therefore, that the functionality for life is also based on the nervous system. For one can either be dead or alive--this set is exhaustive. If it does not have a functional nervous system, it cannot be a living human. This simplifies the problem considerably. The fetal nervous system develops at approximately 27 weeks of gestation. The nervous system at this point is still extremely limited in functionality, but it can respond to simple stimuli and can control some bodily functions. It takes several more weeks before the system is really up-and-running. What this means then, is that, by definition, all fetuses less than 27 weeks through gestation are legally dead. They therefore have no rights, and can be aborted without prejudice. After 27 weeks, things become a bit dicier, and you need other supporting arguments to make the case. However, this exclusion covers somewhere in the order of 99.5% of all abortions. Late-term abortions are most commonly done because the health of the mother is in danger, and there is little dispute over whether such abortions should be done.

This ignores the difference between an individual whose faculties are failing or have failed, and an individual whose faculties are developing. This is the difference between allowing nature to take its course and going out of your way to STOP nature from taking its course.

I feel that the issue is that people tend to look at things the fetus lacks and use those omissions to disregard the possibility of it being "alive" simply because an adult human would die without those same faculties. Why can't someone be "alive" without a nervous system if not only are they in a completely natural state in which one is not yet necessary, but are also in the process of developing one?

I would agree with you in an instance where a zygote was determined to be developing in such a way that it would NOT develop a nervous system. In this case, termination is not interrupting human development because the only natural course for the zygote is failure. but when that natural course is normal development, I don't agree with using the lack of a faculty to determine life.

You do have the right to defend your person, but you do not have the right (legally, in any regard) to kill someone unless they pose a mortal risk to yourself.


Your ability to use lethal force depends a lot on where you live. In some places in the United States, for example, you are allowed to protect yourself with deadly force from such things as theft, home invasion, assault, kidnapping, or rape, even if such things are unlikely to result in mortal danger to yourself.

Being from the East Coast, I'm more familiar with the concept of equatable force. For instance not being able to shoot someone who pushes me.

She will experience morning sickness, gain weight, swell, and, after nine months of such symptoms, even go through the excruciating process of a natural childbirth. Her vaginal canal will even stretch and possibly tear


Just to elaborate, I would contend, quite strongly, that if a person were to inflict this degree of assault on your person without your permission, you would be perfectly justified in killing them in self-defense. And this is missing probably 3/4 of the possible symptoms of pregnancy.

But I was discussing this in the case of a court trial. Of determining a condemnation of death.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby ztmario » Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:22 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
ztmario wrote:The question seems to be "how can we define a "person" that would exclude a zygote or fetus, but not also exclude certain other members of society that we consider to be people?" I try to do that and fail.


I gave you one just above: until 27 weeks of age, the fetus is legally dead. By definition, people are not dead.

And as I stated in the opening, I am shying away from legal definitions of life and death, or of personhood, because legal opinions are fickle and ever-changing.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby LaserGuy » Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:38 am UTC

ztmario wrote:This ignores the difference between an individual whose faculties are failing or have failed, and an individual whose faculties are developing. This is the difference between allowing nature to take its course and going out of your way to STOP nature from taking its course.

I feel that the issue is that people tend to look at things the fetus lacks and use those omissions to disregard the possibility of it being "alive" simply because an adult human would die without those same faculties. Why can't someone be "alive" without a nervous system if not only are they in a completely natural state in which one is not yet necessary, but are also in the process of developing one?

I would agree with you in an instance where a zygote was determined to be developing in such a way that it would NOT develop a nervous system. In this case, termination is not interrupting human development because the only natural course for the zygote is failure. but when that natural course is normal development, I don't agree with using the lack of a faculty to determine life.


Because the possibility of further development doesn't matter. If it does not meet the prerequisites to be considered a person, then it is not one. It may some day become one, but that only becomes an issue when "some day" becomes "now". For example, if I'm in the process of getting my M.D, I don't get to call myself Dr. LaserGuy, simply because I'm a potential M.D. Nor am I allowed to practice medicine--I have to actually complete all of the requirements of the program before I can be considered a doctor. Similarly, if a fetus is a potential person, then it does not yet have the rights of a person. Once it meets all of the requirements of personhood, then it gains all of the rights of a person. Until such time, we are under no obligation to pretend it is one.

Your ability to use lethal force depends a lot on where you live. In some places in the United States, for example, you are allowed to protect yourself with deadly force from such things as theft, home invasion, assault, kidnapping, or rape, even if such things are unlikely to result in mortal danger to yourself.


Being from the East Coast, I'm more familiar with the concept of equatable force. For instance not being able to shoot someone who pushes me.


The level of violence a fetus inflicts on a woman is significantly more harmful than a push. It leads to permanent disfigurement and excruciating pain, among other things.

Just to elaborate, I would contend, quite strongly, that if a person were to inflict this degree of assault on your person without your permission, you would be perfectly justified in killing them in self-defense. And this is missing probably 3/4 of the possible symptoms of pregnancy.


But I was discussing this in the case of a court trial. Of determining a condemnation of death.


I'm not sure why a court trial is relevant. If someone is causing you serious physical harm, you have the right to prevent them from doing so, using deadly force if necessary.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby ztmario » Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:54 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
ztmario wrote:This ignores the difference between an individual whose faculties are failing or have failed, and an individual whose faculties are developing. This is the difference between allowing nature to take its course and going out of your way to STOP nature from taking its course.

I feel that the issue is that people tend to look at things the fetus lacks and use those omissions to disregard the possibility of it being "alive" simply because an adult human would die without those same faculties. Why can't someone be "alive" without a nervous system if not only are they in a completely natural state in which one is not yet necessary, but are also in the process of developing one?

I would agree with you in an instance where a zygote was determined to be developing in such a way that it would NOT develop a nervous system. In this case, termination is not interrupting human development because the only natural course for the zygote is failure. but when that natural course is normal development, I don't agree with using the lack of a faculty to determine life.


Because the possibility of further development doesn't matter. If it does not meet the prerequisites to be considered a person, then it is not one. It may some day become one, but that only becomes an issue when "some day" becomes "now". For example, if I'm in the process of getting my M.D, I don't get to call myself Dr. LaserGuy, simply because I'm a potential M.D. Nor am I allowed to practice medicine--I have to actually complete all of the requirements of the program before I can be considered a doctor. Similarly, if a fetus is a potential person, then it does not yet have the rights of a person. Once it meets all of the requirements of personhood, then it gains all of the rights of a person. Until such time, we are under no obligation to pretend it is one.

Well I already discussed "potential person" in the exact same way you're going about it, and noted the differences. You would be a "potential MD" because you very well may not be an MD for various reasons (excluding death). Likewise, if we exclude death, a fetus has no choice but to continue to develop as a human. it can not at some point develop into a horse instead. However, you CAN decide to stop being a potential MD and instead be a chef. This is a key difference.

And as far as the "requirements" of being a person, I'm still asking how you define that. your answer was with the legal definition, but as I noted, legal definitions are fickle and transitional. I'd like a higher standard than that.

Your ability to use lethal force depends a lot on where you live. In some places in the United States, for example, you are allowed to protect yourself with deadly force from such things as theft, home invasion, assault, kidnapping, or rape, even if such things are unlikely to result in mortal danger to yourself.


Being from the East Coast, I'm more familiar with the concept of equatable force. For instance not being able to shoot someone who pushes me.


The level of violence a fetus inflicts on a woman is significantly more harmful than a push. It leads to permanent disfigurement and excruciating pain, among other things.

Yes but the question still is whether or not all of that justifies death. That is, of course, a matter of opinion. And this is without even taking into account the woman's own choices that resulted in her pregnancy.

I'm not sure why a court trial is relevant. If someone is causing you serious physical harm, you have the right to prevent them from doing so, using deadly force if necessary.

Because this is a condemnation of death, not a spur of the moment attempt at self defense. you defend yourself to protect against immediate harm; you shoot someone to stop them in that instant from hurting you. abortions are usually discussed and considered over a period of days or weeks ... I'm not familiar with a concept of "self defense" that spans days or weeks. if you can wait that long to act, then the danger or harm is clearly not so severe that death is a justifiable response. no, it's more like a condemnation of death than it is an act of self defense. deciding on an abortion is more akin to sentencing a criminal and that is why I compared it to a court proceeding. to compare this to an act of self defense would be to say that a woman immediately induces a miscarriage or conducts her own abortion in direct response to a particular pain or ailment.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:57 am UTC

ztmario wrote:I mean that in regard to what the purpose of the fetus is. and that is to advance to a newborn, child, etc. Things may surely go wrong, but there is no other purpose of the zygote or fetus other than to continue along the human developmental path. the only "possibility" of my own existence is to continue to continue that same path. now of course things may go wrong, and I may die, but I will not wake up tomorrow as a cantaloupe. furthermore, you wouldn't devalue my life on the basis that I might get hit by a truck tomorrow. Likewise, I ask if you would devalue a fetus' life because it may not survive its gestation in the first place.

I still find this entirely irrelevent; as mentioned a few times, you have taken zero effort to maintain why a fetus should be considered a human, and further zero effort to explain why the fate of the fetus trumps the will of the mother. Numerous examples of forced parasitism can be used as an analogy. I see no reason why you have demonstrated that biological material that will eventually become a human infant is more important than the free will of a current human being, insofar as her right to decide to terminate said potential material.

But continuing on with your above point, the necessity to devalue a pre- or current fetus is not necessary to demonstrate it's inferior standing to a present human; there is no legal or moral framework in civilized society that mandates any one individual is REQUIRED to sacrifice anything to ensure the survival of another. That is, if you show me a picture of your sick brother and say "He needs one of your kidneys or he will die", I am under no imperative to acquiesce. None. In my life calculus (and I mean no offense by this), I am infinitely more important to myself than your brother is to me, and I will not be giving him my kidney. Similarly, a woman is under no imperative to carry that ball of cells to infanthood, and one of the perks of being a human being is that she can exercise her humanity and choose what she will do. I see that you are attempting to make a case for choosing life, but your reasoning is flawed, biased, and does a poor job of actually demonstrating why this choice is important to make on the side you want it to fall.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby ztmario » Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:01 am UTC

Also in regard to the arguments regarding self defense, assault, kidnapping, and the like, you are treating the fetus like a person acting with malice and intent. If you're authorizing "deadly force" against a fetus because it is technically "assaulting" the mother, then it would be reasonable to charge a newborn with manslaughter when a mother dies in childbirth. there's no difference that I can see. if you're going to blame a fetus for the assault caused by a pregnancy, then you can blame a baby for the death caused by its birth.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby ztmario » Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:09 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
ztmario wrote:I mean that in regard to what the purpose of the fetus is. and that is to advance to a newborn, child, etc. Things may surely go wrong, but there is no other purpose of the zygote or fetus other than to continue along the human developmental path. the only "possibility" of my own existence is to continue to continue that same path. now of course things may go wrong, and I may die, but I will not wake up tomorrow as a cantaloupe. furthermore, you wouldn't devalue my life on the basis that I might get hit by a truck tomorrow. Likewise, I ask if you would devalue a fetus' life because it may not survive its gestation in the first place.

I still find this entirely irrelevent; as mentioned a few times, you have taken zero effort to maintain why a fetus should be considered a human, and further zero effort to explain why the fate of the fetus trumps the will of the mother. Numerous examples of forced parasitism can be used as an analogy. I see no reason why you have demonstrated that biological material that will eventually become a human infant is more important than the free will of a current human being, insofar as her right to decide to terminate said potential material.

But continuing on with your above point, the necessity to devalue a pre- or current fetus is not necessary to demonstrate it's inferior standing to a present human; there is no legal or moral framework in civilized society that mandates any one individual is REQUIRED to sacrifice anything to ensure the survival of another. That is, if you show me a picture of your sick brother and say "He needs one of your kidneys or he will die", I am under no imperative to acquiesce. None. In my life calculus (and I mean no offense by this), I am infinitely more important to myself than your brother is to me, and I will not be giving him my kidney. Similarly, a woman is under no imperative to carry that ball of cells to infanthood, and one of the perks of being a human being is that she can exercise her humanity and choose what she will do. I see that you are attempting to make a case for choosing life, but your reasoning is flawed, biased, and does a poor job of actually demonstrating why this choice is important to make on the side you want it to fall.

I only ask why the task is on me to maintain why a fetus is a human. I am simply working on the premise that a fetus IS a human, and debating reasons why it would NOT be considered one. the logic is simply working in the reverse of what you seem to expect. I'm not saying that you don't pose a valid question, I'm just saying why is the burden of proof on my side as opposed to the other way around? why is the base assumption that a fetus is NOT human?

As far as the woman being forced to carry a fetus to term, I believe it is a matter of her self interest versus the self interest of the fetus. does her inconvenience justify the death of the fetus or zygote? some will say yes, and some will say no. personally, I say no. this all depends on if the fetus or zygote is a person or not, of course, and you're asking me to prove it. I'm simply shifting the burden of proof. or, if you like, I am saying that it IS a person because there is not a single circumstance of its being that I believe clearly distinguishes it from a newborn child. it is those circumstances that I discuss over the majority of the essay.

to the extreme, I can understand if a fetus is identified as a person and you STILL feel that it is justifiable to kill it to avoid the inconvenience of an unwanted pregnancy. I have no rebuttal to that and none exists. that is a completely valid opinion.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby ztmario » Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:17 am UTC

As far as the fetus being a parasite ...

par·a·site
noun
1.
an organism that lives on or in an organism of another species, known as the host, from the body of which it obtains nutriment.

the fetus may be parasitic by its actions, but it is not a proper parasite. It does not reside within an organism of another species. It is a natural stage of the human reproductive cycle. I always found it odd how quickly people are willing to debase and slander the mechanism of their own reproduction as a matter of convenience. A fetus is a parasite the same way that any child is a parasite, as long as it exists in a one-sided relationship with its parents. it is not a parasite in the way that a tapeworm is a parasite, which is how it is often referred as.

a proper parasite is foreign to the hosts body. a fetus originates within the hosts body. a parasite does not naturally belong in the hosts body. a fetus has no other natural habitat EXCEPT for its hosts body. if the fetus were a parasite, then the female body would not be so specifically geared toward sustaining the fetus' life. simply put, I find the "fetus as parasite" idea to be very sorely lacking in substance.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby LaserGuy » Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:36 am UTC

ztmario wrote:Well I already discussed "potential person" in the exact same way you're going about it, and noted the differences. You would be a "potential MD" because you very well may not be an MD for various reasons (excluding death). Likewise, if we exclude death, a fetus has no choice but to continue to develop as a human. it can not at some point develop into a horse instead. However, you CAN decide to stop being a potential MD and instead be a chef. This is a key difference.


No, it's not a key difference. It's an irrelevant difference. It is not yet a human life, and until it becomes one, we are not obligated to treat it as such.

ztmario wrote:I only ask why the task is on me to maintain why a fetus is a human. I am simply working on the premise that a fetus IS a human, and debating reasons why it would NOT be considered one. the logic is simply working in the reverse of what you seem to expect. I'm not saying that you don't pose a valid question, I'm just saying why is the burden of proof on my side as opposed to the other way around? why is the base assumption that a fetus is NOT human?


Well, the burden of proof always falls on the person making the positive claim. If I show you a random entity, and ask "Is this human?", the null hypothesis will be that it is not human, and you will look for ways to show that it is one. This is pretty much true of any claim. I don't see why the fetus should be an exception to an extremely general rule. Shifting the burden of proof is a logical fallacy. If you are making the claim that the fetus is a person, you have to prove it. Otherwise, we are under no obligation to accept your claim as true.

ztmario wrote:And as far as the "requirements" of being a person, I'm still asking how you define that. your answer was with the legal definition, but as I noted, legal definitions are fickle and transitional. I'd like a higher standard than that.


Well, strictly speaking, the definition that I'm using is not the legal one, it is the medical one. The legal definition was chosen to be the same as the medical one, because it is medical professionals who are most likely having to make such evaluations, and inconsistency between the law and the medical practice would cause some serious problems. The boundaries here are pretty strict though, because, as I said when I built up this syllogism, I defined it in terms of death. We know that at some point, the body ceases to function and the person is clearly no longer alive. It simply comes down to figuring out which systems most accurately reflect this state. The nervous system is a natural choice, because the brain controls all of the other systems: a body is incapable of responding in any way without a functional nervous system. As I said before, the circulatory/respiratory systems are also somewhat natural choices, or perhaps a combination of the two. Regardless of which systems you choose, almost invariably you will find some point in time which the fetus lacks the appropriate systems.


ztmario wrote:
I'm not sure why a court trial is relevant. If someone is causing you serious physical harm, you have the right to prevent them from doing so, using deadly force if necessary.


Because this is a condemnation of death, not a spur of the moment attempt at self defense. you defend yourself to protect against immediate harm; you shoot someone to stop them in that instant from hurting you. abortions are usually discussed and considered over a period of days or weeks ... I'm not familiar with a concept of "self defense" that spans days or weeks.


If someone is continuously harming you over an extended period of time, then self-defense remains an option. Also, you are assuming that such a contemplation period actually exists. You could just as easily have a woman who has sex, realises she forgot to take the pill the morning before, so goes down to the pharmacy and picks up an emergency contraceptive. Likewise, there are many women for whom the decision does not require any contemplation at all. It is literally a case of:
Doctor: "You're pregnant."
Woman: "Can I schedule an abortion?"
This depends greatly on the woman and on her circumstances at the time. If I had gotten my girlfriend pregnant, say, five or six years ago, we would have aborted without a second thought. We had no interest in having children at that point in our lives.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby elasto » Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:50 am UTC

ztmario: I haven't seen you post a convincing rebuttal to the Violinist thought experiment:

Judith Jarvis Thomson provided one of the most striking and effective thought experiments in the moral realm. Her example is aimed at a popular anti-abortion argument that goes something like this: The fetus is an innocent person with a right to life. Abortion results in the death of a fetus. Therefore, abortion is morally wrong.

In her thought experiment we are asked to imagine a famous violinist falling into a coma. The society of music lovers determines from medical records that you and you alone can save the violinist's life by being hooked up to him for nine months. The music lovers break into your home while you are asleep and hook the unconscious (and unknowing, hence innocent) violinist to you. You may want to unhook him, but you are then faced with this argument put forward by the music lovers: The violinist is an innocent person with a right to life. Unhooking him will result in his death. Therefore, unhooking him is morally wrong.

However, the argument does not seem convincing in this case. You would be very generous to remain attached and in bed for nine months, but you are not morally obliged to do so. The parallel with the abortion case is evident. The thought experiment is effective in distinguishing two concepts that had previously been run together: "right to life" and "right to what is needed to sustain life." The fetus and the violinist may each have the former, but it is not evident that either has the latter. The upshot is that even if the fetus has a right to life (which Thomson does not believe but allows for the sake of the argument), it may still be morally permissible to abort.


I don't feel like I need to expand on it because it is a very powerful and succinct argument. This thread has turned towards the argument over whether a foetus is a person but the pro-choice argument is much more fundamental than that.
Last edited by elasto on Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:52 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Shivahn » Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:51 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Well, strictly speaking, the definition that I'm using is not the legal one, it is the medical one. The legal definition was chosen to be the same as the medical one, because it is medical professionals who are most likely having to make such evaluations, and inconsistency between the law and the medical practice would cause some serious problems. The boundaries here are pretty strict though, because, as I said when I built up this syllogism, I defined it in terms of death. We know that at some point, the body ceases to function and the person is clearly no longer alive. It simply comes down to figuring out which systems most accurately reflect this state. The nervous system is a natural choice, because the brain controls all of the other systems: a body is incapable of responding in any way without a functional nervous system. As I said before, the circulatory/respiratory systems are also somewhat natural choices, or perhaps a combination of the two. Regardless of which systems you choose, almost invariably you will find some point in time which the fetus lacks the appropriate systems.

The nervous system is additionally a good choice because it's presumably where consciousness resides, and most ethical arguments can be distilled to "doing this is bad because it harms the experiences of conscious beings."

I think most people would agree that the circulatory system was a good proxy when we didn't know much about the mind and couldn't measure potentials flitting around the brain, since it's such an obvious case of "this is living, this is dead," but I don't honestly think many people think heartbeat and respiration means alive in a medical setting.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Meteoric » Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:57 am UTC

ztmario wrote:One would logically assume that if you are “developing” some human trait in particular, then you are also a developing human.

I'm not sure why one would assume that. It might appear attractive, at least linguistically, but developing any arbitrary human trait does not necessarily make you a developing human. Opposable thumbs are a human trait, yet monkey embryos are not developing humans.
ztmario wrote:As a final point before moving on, it is worth noting that some attempt is made to identify the fetus as a person or not dependent upon how far along he is in his development. Specifically, the omission of one body part or another, or of the reception of some particular stimuli, is used to classify “people” and omit a human of a certain age or less. All that needs to be said is that a human being can conceivably be born without any number of senses or body parts, from the ability to feel pain to the absence of a brain. And we may be born alive without these faculties and considered people, regardless of the certain death we may face as a result. It goes without saying that the mother of a baby newly born with Harlequin type ichthyosisis would not told that her child was only “potentially” a person simply because he failed to properly develop skin within the womb. Simply, attempting to define persons by their body parts or the development of their senses and functions is not a logical course of action.

Skin is not comparable to brain function for deciding personhood. If the child failed to develop a brain within the womb, the mother would not be told that her child was "potentially" a person, though. At that point, the potential would be gone, and the child would be definitely not a person, and the mother or doctor would be entirely justified in choosing to terminate it, even if it were somehow able to survive without life support.
ztmario wrote:Imagine if you will that a man has concocted a potion. This potion, when ingested by a woman, will cause her to take on all of the signs of and symptoms of pregnancy. She will experience morning sickness, gain weight, swell, and, after nine months of such symptoms, even go through the excruciating process of a natural childbirth. Her vaginal canal will even stretch and possibly tear, only except for delivering a baby, she will deliver an empty placenta. Now imagine this man tricks some unassuming woman into ingesting his elixir. She goes through nine months of torment, after which point the man is brought to justice and his crime is charged before the courts. He is found guilty. Now, I ask you, will he and should he be put to death? The answer of course, is that he will not and should not. Why should the fetus, whose crime is identical and yet who is innocent, suffer any worse of a fate than the hypothetical man who did so maliciously?

"Would a court of law put him to death as punishment, after the fact" is a different question from "Can the woman justifiably kill him during the potion's effects, if doing so will prevent or end those effects". I would say the answer to the second is yes, just as she would be justified in killing someone subjecting her to a different form of torture/mutilation for nine months.
ztmario wrote:And as I stated in the opening, I am shying away from legal definitions of life and death, or of personhood, because legal opinions are fickle and ever-changing.

Your opening is somewhat unclear on this, actually. Your first paragraph says you will revolve around the logical, scientific, and legal questions, and the second paragraph says you will not be entertaining legal definitions. These either contradict each other, or the way you intend them to coexist without contradiction should be clarified. Attempting to bypass certain legal considerations when arguing that abortion should be illegal is rather silly, too, especially since you refer to various laws to support your argument several times.
ztmario wrote:Say perhaps that you invite a friend into your house, with the intention of having a pleasant evening of conversation. At some point the night turns sour, and you and your friend engage in a hostile exchange of words. He offends you, and you call the police with the intent of pressing charges for trespassing, under the notion that he is no longer welcome as the conversation has strayed from your original intent. Such charges would of course fail to materialize.

I'm not sure on the legality of this situation, but if someone refuses to leave your house after you demand they do so, even if you invited them in originally, it is my understanding that, at least at some point, that IS trespassing and the police CAN intervene.
ztmario wrote:I may be wrong in stating this, but I disagree that the raw materials for a human are extracted from the mother's body. I believe that what is extracted from the mother's body is sustenance. If that's the case, then this would be akin to calling pizza and hamburgers the raw materials for me. They may be fuel, but they're not the raw materials. However, as I said, I may be incorrect.

At least some of the materials really are extracted from the mother, as I understand it. Calcium is taken from the mother's bones to strengthen the child's, for example. Someone with a better understanding of the biology can hopefully confirm or refute that. Also, your analogy is wrong, since pizza and hamburgers, along with whatever else you eat and drink, are indeed the raw materials your body is built from. Food is both sustenance and raw materials.
ztmario wrote:As far as the right to defend yourself, I cover this as well. You do have the right to defend your person, but you do not have the right (legally, in any regard) to kill someone unless they pose a mortal risk to yourself. That's why I ask if death is an equatable solution to nine month's of inconvenience? If I sit on your lap without your consent, you can surely push me to the floor, but you are generally not allowed to pull out a knife and slit my throat from behind. You can use force, but it must be equatable.

A pregnancy does pose a mortal risk. A small one, with proper medical care, but the risk is non-zero (and proper medical care is not always available). There are also a variety of situations in which killing is justifiable, both legally and morally, despite minimal risk of death, so this argument does not hold at all.
ztmario wrote:Because this is a condemnation of death, not a spur of the moment attempt at self defense. you defend yourself to protect against immediate harm; you shoot someone to stop them in that instant from hurting you. abortions are usually discussed and considered over a period of days or weeks ... I'm not familiar with a concept of "self defense" that spans days or weeks. if you can wait that long to act, then the danger or harm is clearly not so severe that death is a justifiable response.

Kidnapping, for example. If I get kidnapped, I am justified in escaping by killing the person trying to kidnap me when they first attempt it, or while they are asleep that night, or a month later when I get an opportunity, or a year later. Self-defense isn't usually decided over weeks because the danger doesn't usually occur over weeks, but that does not make it unjustifiable when the window for decision is wider.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Diadem » Fri Feb 24, 2012 6:01 am UTC

Ok I'll give this a shot. Since you asked for people to poke holes in your logic, that is what I will focus on.

ztmario wrote:It is also important to note that the majority of arguments both for and against the prospect of abortion rely on arguments that are neither logical nor relevant. An example of one such argument against abortion is that it may cause considerable psychological trauma to the former mother at some point farther along in her life. True or not, this is irrelevant.

This is only irrelevant if you believe that a government should never, ever, under any circumstance, pass laws designed to protect people against themselves. Which is a position only a small minority of people hold. For example most people have no problems with the government requiring safety belts. You may say that other arguments are more important, but that doesn't make this one irrelevant.

An example of irrelevancy on the side of those advocating choice is saying that many teenage mothers face a decreased quality of life with the birth of their child or children. Again, this is not in doubt, but similarly there are any number of activities which humans engage in that may cause a decreased quality of life, and quite often these activities are legal. Furthermore, if abortion is in fact murder, one could hardly find the prevention of a decreased quality of life to be justifiable grounds for homicide. While these arguments may offer some plausible understanding of the merits that stand for or against abortion, they generally do not answer the fundamental questions, which we will attempt to do herein.

You make the same logical error here as in the previous bit I quoted. Just because argument X is more important than argument Y doesn't make Y irrelevant. Besides, the premise that X is more important than Y will first have to be proven. I for one think this particular argument is a very important one.

A final notation is to point out that with a few exceptions or inclusions, we will use the term “fetus” to describe the state of the unborn child. While this is correct, it is used to speak to the general image and description of the aborted life and does not mean to preclude the earlier stage in human development, the zygote, from inclusion in the defenses we will discuss. While we question the rights and the circumstances of the fetus, keep in mind that these arguments are implicitly in defense of every stage of life beginning with conception, which is the point at which the human being first comes into existence. Keeping these points in mind, we may continue to the body of the discussion.

Good, I like this. Define what you are talking about in a clear and concise way.

The first question in our journey towards a logical truth is whether or not a fetus is a life. This is the first question which, if answered in the negative, ends all possible argument on the matter. Luckily enough for the existence of this essay, it is also the easiest question to answer. The fetus is without a doubt very much alive. It represents life and, more so, it represents human life. There is no doubt as to whether the zygote or fetus lives, and there is no confusion as to whether or not it is human. The next part of this question, and the more difficult to answer, is whether or not the fetus is a human being, or if you prefer, a person.

Wait a second, just because something is alive and made up of human-parts doesn't make it human. A severed hand is, at least for a while, alive, and it's made of human-parts as well, but it's not human. Though you are making a distinction between human and person, so I guess we can accept this premise than as a redefinition of what 'human' means. That does mean though that you are going to have to show stronger proof that 'human = person'.

The first accusation is that while being a human life, the fetus is not a human being but a potential human being. Until it actually becomes a human being proper, it is not allowed the benefit of our legal system’s protection. The oft used comparison is that a fetus is not a human, in the same way that an acorn is not an oak tree and an egg is not a chicken. This comparison is particularly misleading, because it ignores the differences between biological entities and stages in biological development.

An acorn is not an oak tree, this is true. But a human spermazoa is not a human either. And while an egg is not a chicken, neither is the human ova a human being. However, an acorn that has germinated and begun to sprout is now a member proper of the oak species, it simply is not at the stage that would be considered an “oak tree.” It is a seedling, and will grow to a sprout, then a sapling, then a youth, and then an adult. Much like a human goes from zygote to fetus to baby to infant and etc. simply put, the acorn is a form of misdirection. The second form is the egg.
An egg is a container. Serving the same function as the chicken egg is the human placenta, which grows within the uterus and contains the human fetus. An egg is not a chicken, and a placenta is not a person. But what is inside the chicken egg? The answer, obviously, is a chicken. What is in the human placenta? The answer, again, is obvious.

Simply put, potential humans only exist as raw materials in the form of sperm and ovum within human beings themselves. Now, it is fair to say that something may be potentially something else even while it is actively engaged within the process of becoming that other thing. Surely if I have ham, cheese, and two slices of bread, I have a potential ham and cheese sandwich. And if I put a slice of ham on a single piece of bread, you would say it is still a potential sandwich, and not call it a ham and cheese sandwich until all the necessary components were in place. If I stop making the sandwich halfway through, all that’s left is a potential sandwich and no one that comes across my half-finished lunch is going to refer to it as a sandwich. The difference here, however, is that my lunch meats and loose bread will not go about fulfilling their potential on their own. I can not leave them on the counter, step out of the room, and then come back to a sandwich. A fetus, of course, will continue to develop quite happily and successfully all on its own, and regardless of outside intervention. All it requires is sustenance, but we can hardly hold this against the fetus since this is the same thing all humans require, and we are not listed as “potential humans” simply due to our requirement of food and water.

A second strike against the suggestion that a fetus is only “potentially” a human is the fact that the fetus has no choice but to go on developing. You could say that one is a “potential” author, and by this you might mean that he is very well written and perhaps creative enough to weave a captivating tale. He is not, however, a published writer, and so is only potentially an author. The difference however, is that our aspiring novelist has the option of not becoming an author. He may exist in a difference state (as our slice of cheese may end up on a hamburger, or our slices of bread may be toasted and buttered for breakfast), and his potential authorship may go untapped. The fetus, on the other hand, has no such option. It is a human being, and will continue to go on developing as a human being. Before we continue, take a look at the definition for potential:

1: existing in possibility: capable of development into actuality <potential benefits>
2: expressing possibility; specifically : of, relating to, or constituting a verb phrase expressing possibility, liberty, or power by the use of an auxiliary with the infinitive of the verb (as in “it may rain”)

Note “existing in possibility.” A human fetus is not “possibly” a human being. To say such would imply that it will “possibly” become a human, but it may “possibly” also become a vampire bat or a Louisville Slugger. The only “possibility” for a fetus is to move on to the next stage in human development, which is a newborn, or a baby. When there is but one possibility, that is no longer a possibility, it is a definite and it becomes the definition of the object in question. As noted in the second definition, when there is the potential for something, you might say something along the lines of “it may rain.” Notice however, that no one says “my pregnancy may result in a human.” It is also worth noting that none of the natural traits of that fetus are items of potential either, as they are all written quite concretely into the fetus’ genetic code. We may not be able to determine whether a fetus will be male or female, but the fetus itself has already made that distinction when it came into being.

No, simply put, there are no possibilities in regard to the future of the fetus. The only outcome other than the newborn stage of development is death. And this is the same for all members of our species, in every stage. These notions however, as persuasive and logical as they may be, still reside in the realm of opinion. The definitions of words are fickle things, and by striking the technical term of potential we simply invite a substitute. Noting as we have the fallacy of the supposed “potential human,” we will now approach the issue from a more logical and arresting standpoint. We will however, continue to refer to the concept of the “potential human” as it is this specific concept we are addressing.

This is an interesting piece in your essay. I could argue with many of the particulars of these paragraphs. For example just because something necessarily will develop into something else doesn't mean it is that something else already. The sun will necessarily develop into a white dwarf. There are no other possibilities (short of collisions with other stellar objects. But the odds of that are astronomically small). It doesn't even require sustenance to do this. But does that mean the sun is already a white dwarf? No it's not.

But your argument suffers from a much more serious flaw. It doesn't proof what you are trying to proof. You are trying to proof "fetus = person" but all you have proven, even if you reasoning holds up, is "fetus = human".

Imagine that a bean-sized human baby crawls from her womb, grasps and pulls itself along her pubic hair and finally comes to rest in her “pouch,” a pocket of skin that, for the purpose of our thought experiment, all human woman now have along their midsections. Imagine that newborn “fetus” grabbing at its mother’s nipple (now transplanted to the interior of her stomach pouch) and suckling it, as any newborn is apt to do. Now, imagine that mother reaching into her pouch, withdrawing the baby, and promptly squishing it between her fingers. Would you consider her to be within her rights to do this? Would this be substantially different than squishing the head of her other child, a nine month old who just recently emerged from the same pouch?

Interesting question.
The answer for most would be no, this is not all right.

Wait, you can't just do that. Pose a problem, then skip right on to whatever answer you like best without giving any argument. That's not reasoning, that's just stating opinions.

Is there a substantial difference between a fetus, a 6-week-pouch-carried-infant, a newborn baby or a adult human. That's the question you have to answer. Most proponents of abortion would say answer yes. If you think the answer is no than this is what you have to proof. It is 90% of the entire debate. You're just skipping that to go right to the conclusion, and then argue what most people would consider peripherals from there on.

We view the newborn joey as a baby kangaroo, but a kangaroo nonetheless. It simply cannot be defined as a “fetus,” a term which scientifically fails to apply at the moment of birth. The “fetal” stage is simply the stage at which an organism exists within the body of its parent. To the advocate of the potential life form, the Joey ceased to be potential at the moment it was born. However, it is developmentally in the same exact stage as the so-called potential human. Logically, we can therefore determine that this notion of potential humanness cannot be based on gestation, developmental stage, viability (although we will return to this notion), appearance, or any other circumstance which the human fetus shares with the marsupial joey. The only possible distinction between the human fetus and the joey is in their location. The fetus resides within the womb and the joey resides within a pouch. The fetus can therefore only be potentially a human due to a matter of real estate.

You're making another major logical error here.

You argument summarizes as: "Situations X and Y are similar, so if X has property A while Y doesn't have propery A, that is a contradiction. Ergo Y must have property A". This doesn't follow. Another possibility is that X does not have property A either!

Which is exactly the position most proponents of abortion take. A fetus is not a person by the nature of being undeveloped. It doesn't matter if it's located in the womb or in a kangaroo-pouch. If it's located in a kangaroo-pouch it's no longer a fetus, agreed, it has been born. That doesn't make it a person!

It is beyond naïve to assume that a moments before birth a fetus is no more than a lump of human tissue, with no claim to personhood, and no defensible rights and yet, the second of birth it is now a human being and its killing (infanticide) is one of the most heinous acts of the human imagination.

Agreed.

From this it follows that either a newborn is, like a a fetus, not a person, or that a fetus just before birth is a person. It doesn't follow that a fetus (zygote) is a person from the moment of conception. Indeed, most abortion advocates will usually not argue for allowing abortions in the last few months of pregnancy, for precisely this reason. Though I'd personally argue the former option. I have no principal objections to infanticide. Though I'm not an expert, so I could be wrong. At the very least though it's a much less grave offense than murder, a newborn baby being an underdeveloped person at best.

The fetus can quite literally do nothing on its own, and this includes breathing, which puts it in a separate class from a newborn baby. It does, however, put it in the same class as an invalid dependent upon life support for survival. There are of course persons in such a horrible state of damage that their every vital function is maintained solely through the use of mechanical apparatus. These individuals do not, of course, become “potential humans.” They do not at that point lose their right to exist.

Says who? People in a persistant vegetative state do in fact lose their right to exist: Their next of kin / legal guardians get to decide what to do with them. Why is that? Because they no longer have any higher brain functions, so they are no longer persons. Just like a fetus.

Now, the astute observer will point out that in this case, the next of kin has the right to terminate those dependent functions.

Ah, so you are in fact addressing this. This is not an argument against the content of your essay, but I do have a minor bone to pick with your writing style. You do this all the time. You make a bold statement that ignores an absolutely vital piece of the equation, and then later suddenly come back to that vital piece. That is not necessarily bad (you can't say everything at once), but you do it without saying or even implying that you recognize this vital piece. You just leave your readers hanging and wondering if you missed the obvious. In this case you treat it immediately after, but a few other times you only treated it a few paragraphs later.

In the case of the ward being a child, the mother has the legal and perhaps even moral right to remove all such life support. This is indeed true. However, this is only in such cases where the return of viability is seen as being not likely. For instance, suppose a child is undergoing a heart transplant. At the moment that the diseased heart is removed, that child is no longer viable and is now being kept alive through mechanical means until the healthy heart can be introduced. The mother may decide that this is her chance, run into the operating room, and demand that her child be taken off life support. This will of course, not happen. Likewise, while the fetus is in fact completely dependent on the mother’s life support system, a healthy fetus not only has a “likelihood” of attaining viability, but a certainty of it. Imagine another ill child, solely dependent on a respirator for survival. Her doctor approaches the child’s mother in the waiting room and declares that the child will make a full recovery within nine months. The mother responds that she’d like the child taken off life support and be allowed to die. Now imagine the doctor’s response. He will undoubtedly do no such thing, and it is more than likely that he will place a call to social services. The same applies for the fetus.

You're arguing a strawman here, though most likely unintentionally. The likelihood of a return to viability is NOT the criterium used. A husband is allowed to remove his wife's life support if she is in a persistant vegitative state. He is not allowed to do that if she has terminal cancer, even though in both situations there is no chance of a return to viability.

The relevant distinction is not viability, but personhood. Having higher brain functions.

Jane and Jill are conjoined twins, and they are joined skeletally at the midsection. They have the appearance of one torso with two heads, but actually consist of two spines. Each is more dependent on the other than our fetus could ever be on its mother, simply through the virtue of the fact that the fetus will certainly overcome that dependency, and will usually do so long before its natural birth date. Jane and Jill will always be dependent. Despite this, Jane and Jill have two social security numbers, two drivers’ licenses, and can vote separately in elections. Despite their complete dependence on another, they are fully realized human beings and afforded every such protection under the law. The only question is whether or not Jane and Jill are an exception due to their co-dependency. Surely a mother is not dependent on her fetus for survival.

Jane and Jill both have fully developed brains. They are both persons. It's slightly amazing how you keep managing to miss the vital point in the entire debate (Or at least one of the most vital points. The point most people argue over as well. "Fetus != person" is sufficient reason to allow abortion, but not a necessary one. There are several other important arguments in favour of abortion that you also need to address. But you first have to proof that fetus is a person, if you can't argue that starting point your entire case collapses.

I'm going to leave the rest of the essay as it. You make a few more logical errors here and there (for example you're suddenly arguing from existing law while you opened with staying you weren't going to look at that). But it doesn't really matter. I think I've sufficiently demolished your main argument. Or rather, you never even made your argument in the first place. You skipped straight to the conclusion and argued the rest of your essay from there.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby el matematico » Fri Feb 24, 2012 6:08 am UTC

ztmario wrote:
el matematico wrote:You can't leave a fetus on the counter, step out of the room, and then com back to a baby.


No, but you can leave it in a uterus, go about your life for nine months, and then find yourself with a baby. I don't know why it's necessary to get so literal as to mention a counter. my main point remains the same.


Well, you totally said
A fetus, of course, will continue to develop quite happily and successfully all on its own, and regardless of outside intervention. All it requires is sustenance, but we can hardly hold this against the fetus since this is the same thing all humans require, and we are not listed as “potential humans” simply due to our requirement of food and water.

An uterus is not enough for a fetus to develop, you need a living mother until very late in the development. If a whole living human being's actions are not an outside intervention, then you can leave the kitchen and come back to see a sandwich your roommate made that came to be without outside intervention. Just because the mother's part in the fetus development is not a voluntary conscious action (like making a sandwich) does not mean you can dismiss it.

ztmario wrote:the possibility of death does not remove personhood. Every man, woman, child, and fetus on this planet may die and become dead tissue. I thought I ended up mentioning that.
A corpse is not a person, even if at some point it was alive. A fetus can pass directly to the corpse state and never be a person.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby ztmario » Fri Feb 24, 2012 7:08 am UTC

elasto wrote:ztmario: I haven't seen you post a convincing rebuttal to the Violinist thought experiment:

Judith Jarvis Thomson provided one of the most striking and effective thought experiments in the moral realm. Her example is aimed at a popular anti-abortion argument that goes something like this: The fetus is an innocent person with a right to life. Abortion results in the death of a fetus. Therefore, abortion is morally wrong.

In her thought experiment we are asked to imagine a famous violinist falling into a coma. The society of music lovers determines from medical records that you and you alone can save the violinist's life by being hooked up to him for nine months. The music lovers break into your home while you are asleep and hook the unconscious (and unknowing, hence innocent) violinist to you. You may want to unhook him, but you are then faced with this argument put forward by the music lovers: The violinist is an innocent person with a right to life. Unhooking him will result in his death. Therefore, unhooking him is morally wrong.

However, the argument does not seem convincing in this case. You would be very generous to remain attached and in bed for nine months, but you are not morally obliged to do so. The parallel with the abortion case is evident. The thought experiment is effective in distinguishing two concepts that had previously been run together: "right to life" and "right to what is needed to sustain life." The fetus and the violinist may each have the former, but it is not evident that either has the latter. The upshot is that even if the fetus has a right to life (which Thomson does not believe but allows for the sake of the argument), it may still be morally permissible to abort.


I don't feel like I need to expand on it because it is a very powerful and succinct argument. This thread has turned towards the argument over whether a foetus is a person but the pro-choice argument is much more fundamental than that.

there are two issues involved here. the first is that hooking me up to the violinist is going to unnatural lengths to continue life that would not naturally continue on its own. with regard to abortion, one is going to unnatural lengths to END life that would very well naturally continue on its own. to me, that's a sizable difference.

secondly, I made no decision that could have conceivably led to this situation. I did not enter into an action that had a well known possible outcome of creating new life. this man is not my responsibility, as I have not created him. I have no responsibility to take care of someone else's children, because I didn't create them. I do have a responsibility to my own, however, because I created them. this does not mean that I own them and can do with them what I wish, it just means that I am responsible for them. the logical response to that is make a case for abortion in the instance of rape, and to that I simply refer my first point.

I don't find this to be a particularly compelling thought experiment.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby ztmario » Fri Feb 24, 2012 7:10 am UTC

this might be a tall order, but I'm asking just for a break in responses, just until I can post at least one more response. not because I am not loving the discussion and the feedback (I am!) just because I don't want to get swamped down to the point where I have to pick and choose what I respond to (its already been brought to my attention that I missed responding to an interesting thought experiment). again, this is just a request, but if it can't wait then by all means please respond.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby ztmario » Fri Feb 24, 2012 7:18 am UTC

el matematico wrote:An uterus is not enough for a fetus to develop, you need a living mother until very late in the development. If a whole living human being's actions are not an outside intervention, then you can leave the kitchen and come back to see a sandwich your roommate made that came to be without outside intervention. Just because the mother's part in the fetus development is not a voluntary conscious action (like making a sandwich) does not mean you can dismiss it.

that must be a matter of opinion because that is exactly one of the reasons I am dismissing it. the other reason is because the sandwich meats can end up as something other than a ham and cheese sandwich. this is the whole basis of the "potential person" or "potential human" argument. In this manner, you can replace potential with possible for the same end result.

excluding death, what is the possibility that a fetus will develop into a baby? as I understand it, this is the ONLY possibility. at that point, it is a certainty. this is in contrast to if the fetus could develop into a car stereo. then I would concede that it is only a POTENTIAL human being or person, because it also has the possibility of being a stereo. but that is not the case ... it only has the potential to become a baby. again, I am excluding death because death is a possible outcome for all humans at all times, and does preclude personhood.



ztmario wrote:the possibility of death does not remove personhood. Every man, woman, child, and fetus on this planet may die and become dead tissue. I thought I ended up mentioning that.
A corpse is not a person, even if at some point it was alive. A fetus can pass directly to the corpse state and never be a person.[/quote]
I don't see what a corpse has to do with a fetus. a corpse is a dead person. I guess I'm missing something.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Fri Feb 24, 2012 7:29 am UTC

ztmario wrote:excluding death, what is the possibility that a fetus will develop into a baby? as I understand it, this is the ONLY possibility. at that point, it is a certainty.

Why are you excluding death? That strikes me as an extremely relevant possibility, especially since it's the one realized by abortion.
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