Forget Gosnell: This Case Highlights The Real Abortion Issues

John Andrew Weldon, and the mother of his baby, and her property.

John Andrew Weldon, and the mother of his baby, and her property.

John Andrew Welden is being held on first degree murder charges for tricking his girlfriend, pregnant with his child, into taking an abortion bill ( Cyotec, a drug used to induce labor) that she thought was an antibiotic, because he had tampered with the label. The fetus, nearly seven weeks old, miscarried as a result. You can read this ugly story here.

She wanted to have the baby, he didn’t. He arranged his own abortion, deceiving her, betraying her, mistreating her terribly. But how did he commit murder? What he tricked her into aborting wasn’t a human being. NARAL says so. Sandra Fluck says so. President Obama says so.

The ethical and logical problem with our abortion laws, as well as the rhetoric and conduct surrounding them, is that they lack integrity and embarrassingly so. A seven week fetus is not treated as a human life if a mother chooses to have an abortion, and a doctor performs it. This must mean, in any sane, fair and ethical system, that it is not a human life. If it is not a life if a doctor aborts it, it isn’t a life if a boyfriend tricks the mother into aborting it. How can it be? The fetus hasn’t changed, and the conduct hasn’t changed. All that has changed is the agent, and there are only a few ways that can alter the act. “A deceptive killing?” A killing without authority,” perhaps. But the agent can’t make eliminating something first degree murder, if it wasn’t a human being that was eliminated.

Only one kind of object fits the rhetoric of abortion advocates, and that is property. They don’t like to acknowledge that, because the immediate and indeed appropriate comparison is slavery. An owner could kill a slave, and it wasn’t murder, just as a potential mother can abort the future baby she is carrying, for it is her body, just as it is his plantation–and she’s not committing murder either. If someone else killed the slave, well, that was a crime, but a property crime—after all, black slaves then, like the unborn now, just weren’t considered human beings. At least that was consistent. How can anyone say that it makes sense to charge  John Andrew Welden with the murder of a quasi-baby that was his as much as it was his girlfriend’s? She can “kill” it (I’m running out of euphemisms) to the applause of Sandra Fluke and Planned Parenthood, but if he does, he risks a lethal injection. Ridiculous. Illogical. Unfair. Ah, but it makes it so much easier for women, who don’t have to come to grips with a pivotal bioethical problem. Just have it both ways, even though they should be mutually exclusive.

Problem solved!

How lazy, hypocritical and cowardly.

I know that a lot of our cherished illusions rest on double-think and mythology, but when it starts sending people to the chair something is amiss. I think abortion advocates, legislatures, law enforcement and the culture need to stop ducking tough issues and decide: when, if ever, does a fetus become a human being with the rights of a human being, and no, “whenever the woman says so” is not an acceptable answer. And if the answer is “never until it pops out of mom and risks having its neck wrung by a Dr. Gosnell disciple,” that’s fine…but then you can’t charge a John Andrew Welden with murder.

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Facts, Graphic: International Business Times

310 thoughts on “Forget Gosnell: This Case Highlights The Real Abortion Issues

  1. This statement left me speechless: “His crime falls under the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004 which defines “unborn child” as “a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.” The law excludes abortions with the consent of the mother.”

      • What about amputation of a limb?
        If without consent – a crime.
        If with consent for a medical reason – not.

        If with consent not for a medical reason – tricky. A strict libertarian would say “no problem”.

        I see this is being much the same. This action by the boyfriend was no worse than, say, cutting off both legs of the victim. No better, either.

        Not to be compared to, say, a surgeon having to amputate both legs for medical reasons..

          • I was about to break Godwin’s Law, but I stopped myself. Deep breath…..

            “This action by the boyfriend was no worse than, say, cutting off both legs of the victim. No better, either.”
            -I think the expectant mother would have a different opinion on the matter.

            • Given that there are examples of expectant mothers who have chosen to give up their own lives so their child may live.. YMMV there.

          • Maybe you might be able to relate to this analogy better.

            There are many Trans and Intersex women who quite voluntarily spend $20,000 or so having their genitalia reconstructed. Their choice to have their testes (if any) removed, the penis (if any) reshaped or removed etc.

            If someone was to do the same thing to you, cut your (redacted) off, I think you’d see it as being rather worse than even breaking your nose.

            I could be wrong of course, but that’s the impression I get from most men.

            Similarly, many men have surgical procedures to reduce breast size in case of gynecomastia.

            If your G/F or wife was mutilated by having her breasts cut off without her consent, I think it would be worse for her than merely having her head shaved.

            Choice – consent – is everything.

                  • You also were never told that the flora in your various organs was part of the human body, but it’s sure part of the human body. (Get rid of enough of that bacteria, and you’re going to have a devil of a time doing everything from breathing to keeping your feces from leaking out of your colon.

                    • The reason we have a separate term for those relationships (symbiosis) is because the bacteria *isnt* part of the body. Regardless of the symbiotic relationship’s usefulness.

                    • Jack & Tex,

                      This argument’s occurring in multiple places. I’m cutting this one in favor of the other. (I’ve already made substantive points there) I hope that’s okay.

                      Jack,

                      Being human is irrelevant to the analogy of what is and isn’t part of the body. Bring it up is a red herring.

                    • Back to the twins….the twins have two joined bodies. They are not each, as individuals, part of the other’s body (except in the two heads, one body scenario.)

                      If the fetus isn’t human, but a herring, I agree that the mother can certainly kill it, but it’s not murder if the father does.

                    • Jack,

                      The analogy was pointing out that your “I wasn’t taught that” statement fails. Your statement didn’t require humanity, so mine didn’t either.

                    • Sure, we can end this string, the flaws in your definition of “part of the human body” have been demonstrated, so little else needs be said.

                    • Sure, we can end this string, the flaws in your definition of “part of the human body” have been demonstrated, so little else needs be said.

                      There’s still ongoing discussion on this. I think you’ve failed and you think I’ve failed, but it’s inappropriate to mention your opinion of the contested result in a spot where we were going to cease discussing the topic.

                • tgt,
                  “Science” says no such thing. “Science” says the exact opposite of what you claim it does. At fertilization, a fetus is without doubt a unique new organism with its own genetic code. All of the cells of a woman’s body parts share the same genetic code. All of the fetus’ cells contain the fetus’ own unique genetic code, not the mother’s. You can make the semantic argument that a fetus is part of the mother because they are connected, but that is not a scientific argument. Let’s not pull words out of our keisters and put them in science’s mouth.

                  “[The zygote], formed by the union of an oocyte and a sperm, is the beginning of a new human being.”
                  -Keith L. Moore, Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology, 7th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2008. p. 2.

                  “Although life is a continuous process, fertilization (which, incidentally, is not a ‘moment’) is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte.”
                  -Ronan O’Rahilly and Fabiola Müller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 3rd edition. New York: Wiley-Liss, 2001. p. 8.

                  “As a materialist, I think it has been demonstrated that an embryo is a separate body and entity, and not merely (as some really did used to argue) a growth on or in the female body. There used to be feminists who would say that it was more like an appendix or even—this was seriously maintained—a tumor. That nonsense seems to have stopped…
                  -Christopher Hitchens, from “God is Not Great”

                  • What science says
                    You haven’t debunked my point. Yes, it’s a a unique new organism, but it’s still part of the woman’s body. It’s not just that they are connected, the fetus is completely internal. I don’t see what’s unscientific about this.

                    The first two quotes don’t disagree with me. The third quote does disagree with me, but is just an appeal to authority, and not a very good authority at that. Hitchens isn’t a biologist.

        • Terrible analogy, Zoe—come on. The analogy would be this: If I amputate my own leg, or a doctor with my consent, its still a leg. If you amputate my leg without my consent, it’s now an ARM. That’s the logic of the murder charge.

          • The analogy would be better yet if you said: “If you amputate my leg without my consent, it is now HAIR.” Otherwise the analogy is still referring to the taking of a limb. Hair, on the other hand, can be replaced with a bit of time and is not a permanent loss.

          • Thanks Jack this is my point. Not murder for a mom so not murder for a dad. If its considered viable outside the womb it’s a human. This clearly wasn’t the case here. Murder 1 is a joke.

          • Zoe tends to define everything in terms of legitimized perversity. What concerns me more is the continual degradation of the worth of human life. If the most innocent among us are subject to arbitrary extinction based on sheer convenience, then who among us are truly safe? How far apart are the steps from the Weldens of the world to the Gosnells… and then on to the Himmlers?

            • If the DNA tests human,it’s human. It’s amusing all the gyrations the so-called pro-choice crowd goes through trying to explain that away. What difference does a few months growth make? So,if it looks like a human and can survive outside the womb it’s human but if not it’s an…it? If the mother wants it,it’s human and protected but if not it’s fair game for the abortionist? Don’t tell me the child I miscarried was not human. I’m human,my husband is human therefore the product of our union is human. Just because some “expert” says not doesn’t make it so. The so called experts have political bias in these cases. Why even bother with terminology? Is it to make the killing of innocent life more palatable? It doesn’t to those who know the fetus is human and those who don’t believe it don’t give a damn.

        • You’ll have to do better than that analogy.

          I know one of the strongest arguments of the pro-abortion crowd as they euphemistically refer to themselves as ‘pro-choice’ is that an unborn baby IS their body or part of it.

          That have yet to be proven with anything other than geography.

          Odd how a woman’s body reacts to a pregnancy as though the unborn baby is an infection or a tumor. Not something you expect of something that is “part of her body”.

          • Part of body as in an internal parasite. As in the flora of bacteria that’s all over our insides. Why is this hard to understand?

              • Only if you’re intentionally skipping the definition that is used and meant. I wouldn’t think you’d do something like that.

                • Only if you are cherry picking a definition not in common usage for “Part of the Human Body”.

                  You have cherry picked definitions before, so I can’t say “I wouldn’t think you’d do something like that”.

                  • When have I cherry-picked definitions? Can you give me an example?

                    To me, this is a pretty common usage for “part of the human body,” but that might just be my having some biological knowledge.

                    • tex,

                      By your cherry-picked definition, sneezing makes us all violent people

                      Did you even read that post? I specifically said the opposite.

                      “Yes, you are a violent person, in the sense that you are someone who does violent things, but no, you are not necessarily a violent person, in the sense that you are are dangerous. Your clear attempt to confuse the two meanings shows that you’re not arguing in good faith.”

                      You consider that a common usage because it fits the narrative necessary to disregard the human life in favor of a would-be parent’s comfort, convenience and leisure.

                      I consider it a common usage because it was commonly used in my high school biology textbooks (when I was anti-abortion, natch) and is commonly used that way in the science blogs I follow (which don’t tend to talk about abortion).

            • Internal parasite? And in a few months time that “internal parasite” is a dearly loved child for some. Pro choice people come up with some of the most bizarre and offensive ideas. So you’re telling me my children are parasites? At what stage do they cease to be parasites? When they leave my body? Bacteria have a symbiotic relationship with us but the do not have human DNA. Of course you must come up with these idiotic terms and explanations. Since when is pregnancy a disease and the fetus a germ? You have to make these things up to get around the moral issue.

              • Did you realize that tex was the one that brought up women’s body’s having issues with children. For the purpose of whether a fetus is part of a woman’s body, parasite is a damn good comparison.

                I think the issue is that you aren’t separating biological parasite from the colloquial meaning.

                So you’re telling me my children are parasites? At what stage do they cease to be parasites? When they leave my body?

                Biologically, when they leave your body. If you’re meaning in the colloquial sense, then when you start getting something out of them. For women who intend to get pregnant, there’s a symbiotic relationship from the start.

                Bacteria have a symbiotic relationship with us but the do not have human DNA.

                Was this supposed to debunk something I said?

                Since when is pregnancy a disease and the fetus a germ? You have to make these things up to get around the moral issue.

                I never suggested such.

                • Even Christopher Hitchens thinks that tgt’s argument is a silly semantic game:

                  “As a materialist, I think it has been demonstrated that an embryo is a separate body and entity, and not merely (as some really did used to argue) a growth on or in the female body. There used to be feminists who would say that it was more like an appendix or even—this was seriously maintained—a tumor. That nonsense seems to have stopped… Embryology confirms morality. The words “unborn child,” even when used in a politicized manner, describe a material reality…”

      • I see things this way:

        Rather than say “terminating a pregnancy without the mother’s consent” is the equivalent of:
        Blinding her
        Cutting off both her legs
        Cutting off one leg, below the knee
        etc etc

        The law as it stands say it’s the equivalent of killing her. It’s the closest match from a practical viewpoint.

        Should it say that? Possibly not – but if not, you’d have to make a case that there’s a closer equivalent that’s obviously more reasonable. There may well be one, it’s not obvious to me, but it might be to the mythical “reasonable person” and as long as it’s not obviously unreasonable, I couldn’t object, much as it would go against my feelings on the issue.

        If I had a choice between living, or have my unborn child live, I’d choose the latter – if foetal development was far enough along for me to consider them to be a person. Possibly before then too, I don’t know.

        But that’s my choice, not anyone else’s.

        That’s what it’s all about. Consider, those joining the military and serving on submarines have far harsher living condition than in all but the harshest prisons. It’s their choice. But to kidnap someone without consent and subject them to those conditions is a heinous crime, one that can leave the perp liable to the death penalty.

        See what I’m getting at?

  2. After consider meditation, I have only seen about 3 ways how the pro-abortion crowd can logically justify their stance. (I know all the *actual* reasons for abortion and few are logical)

    But the only 3 rational ways are:

    As you mentioned above claiming an unborn human is property of the mother. Which leads to many appalling scenario.

    When the baby’s existence is a clear danger to the life of the mother.

    An the final one, that an unborn human has rights if he/she is wanted and has not rights if he/she is unwanted. Another appalling option.

    • Fallacy of the excluded middle. It’s a combination of 1 and 3. The fetus has some rights, and the prospective mother has some other rights. It’s similar to kids and their parents, but with a stronger slant towards the mother (who is the physical host of the fetus)

      • “Fallacy of the excluded middle. “

        No it isn’t. I’m not sure you even know what that means.

        “It’s a combination of 1 and 3.”

        What is “it’s”? Some vague notion you haven’t identified, that you are assuming I’ve asserted, but not identified? Strawman territory.

        “The fetus has some rights, and the prospective mother has some other rights.”

        Spiffy. I’ve not denied that.

        “It’s similar to kids and their parents, but with a stronger slant towards the mother (who is the physical host of the fetus)”

        Ok. That opens a discussion about right to make a choice based on personal convenience vs right to life (which I clearly assert right to life overrules a convenience based choice). That starts slipping into the ‘illogical’ reasons to support abortion that I alluded to when I opened my assertion by stating “I have only seen about 3 ways how the pro-abortion crowd can logically justify their stance.”

        Otherwise you’ll need to actually identify what rights those are in conflict, so we can determine which are valid and which are not.

        • Fallacy of the excluded middle

          You presented 3 ways. and said they were the only rational ways. You excluded a combination of smaller parts of each way. You said it was A or B or C only, when there are other rational ways to do it. If you hadn’t said B, this would have been pretty close to textbook.

          What is “it’s”? Some vague notion you haven’t identified, that you are assuming I’ve asserted, but not identified? Strawman territory.

          My phrasing was poor. I meant to say “Contra to you, a combination of 1 and 3 is logical, and also not appalling.”

          Ok. That opens a discussion about right to make a choice based on personal convenience vs right to life (which I clearly assert right to life overrules a convenience based choice).

          Um… are you assuming that fetus’ have a right to life? We can discuss whether they do or not. I say no.

          • Presenting 3 ways as being *about* the only ways *I’ve seen so far*, is by no means saying those are the ONLY logical ways. I’ve only noted them so far. Additionally, it still isn’t a “Fallacy of the excluded middle”, more accurately described as a “False Dichotomy” or “False Dilemma”.

            The Principle of the Excluded Middle states that for any proposition, either the proposition is true or the negation of the proposition is true.

            For example, The house is red or the house is not red. This does not violate the principle of the excluded middle.

            The following does violate the principle: The house is red or the house is blue. (as there is a third option (technically several)). This is also known as a false dichotomy.

            Presenting you will a list of 3 observed justifications by no means is that fallacy, as I have acknowledged the possibility of other *rational* options (just as of yet, have not heard or read them).

            Nor does the list assume that I leave out any combination of those principles as you so assert.

            You can assert that a fetus has no right to life. By all means. I suppose some arbitrary TGT determined point in the birthing process grants that right. Is it when the water breaks? First contraction? When the crown of the head is visible or the buttocks (in the case of a breach birth)? Maybe when the umbilical cord is cut? Shoot, maybe not until a baby says it’s first word.

            As for you saying that option 3 actually has validity, that an unwanted baby has no rights and a wanted one does. Awesome. What a world you envision, in which adults whose vanity and caprice authorize them to end the lives of the powerless, most helpless, and least considered element in such a decision.

            • Your fallacy

              You did say the only ones you have seen, which does suggest there could be others. That’s a point for you. Unfortunately, but stating them as 3 separate things suggests that those points are completely independent. I think it applies, but there’s wiggle room.

              Name of the fallacy

              My bad. Fallacy of the excluded middle is a subset of false dichotomies. I used it as a synonym.

              You can assert that a fetus has no right to life. By all means. I suppose some arbitrary TGT determined point in the birthing process grants that right. Is it when the water breaks? First contraction? When the crown of the head is visible or the buttocks (in the case of a breach birth)? Maybe when the umbilical cord is cut? Shoot, maybe not until a baby says it’s first word.

              I suggest that the rights of the mother are stronger than the right to life of the fetus during pregnancy. When does it exactly change? I think the right to life increases relative to the mother during labor. It’s only definitively equal to the mother after birth (when they are actually independent). It’s messy and inexact, but ethics is often messy, and inexact.

              As for you saying that option 3 actually has validity, that an unwanted baby has no rights and a wanted one does.

              I didn’t say that. I said that a combination of the ideas in 1 and 3 yield a nice, rational defense. I explained what it was in my prior comment, so I didn’t see a need to repeat that part.

              • Your fallacy

                So far, I’ve only seen blue, red, and yellow in that rainbow over there.

                That’s an analogy model familiar to you, I’ll let you fill in the blanks so you can realize the error in your refutation. My comments in no way require that those be the only three options, nor do they preclude a complex argument based several of those options at once.

                Right to Life

                First of all a newborn child is not actually independent. Try putting one in the woods for a few days; come back and let me know if they are still alive. So by that standard even newborns ought not have a right to life. Since this independence skill doesn’t really develop until a child can *procure* and *make food edible* for themselves, along with shelter, then by all means the Right to Life ought not develop until much later.

                By that standard.

                I find ethics to be quite succinct and precise, they only appear ‘messy’ to those who don’t look at how elegantly and properly the first principles balance and compare to each other.

                What parts of option 3? Distill out the wanted/unwanted part and you don’t have an option 3. Keep the wanted/unwanted part and your a monster.

                • Your fallacy

                  Your parallel only touches some of your wording. You didn’t model it all. The specific language that’s a problem was: “But the only 3 rational ways are:”

                  Right to life
                  First of all a newborn child is not actually independent. Try putting one in the woods for a few days; come back and let me know if they are still alive.

                  Are you intentionally misrepresenting what I said? I did not claim that a birthed fetus can take care of itself. I said it’s separate from the host: “It’s only definitively equal to the mother after birth (when they are actually independent).”

                  What parts of option 3? Distill out the wanted/unwanted part and you don’t have an option 3. Keep the wanted/unwanted part and your a monster.

                  The part of 3 was that the mother’s rights can trump rights of the fetus. For instance, a child has the the right to liberty, but their parents have rights to control that liberty. The parents decide how much liberty their children have.

                  • Your fallacy
                    The specific wording is actually this: I have only seen about 3 ways

                    Which states quite plainly the only ways I have seen. My comment doesn’t state, “there are only 3 ways.”

                    I specifically worded it the way I worded it to acknowledge that perhaps there are more logical ways to justify the stance. I haven’t seen them yet.

                    Right to Life

                    If that is your line of reasoning, then I’m not confident you know what “Independent” means.

                    Also, I’m not confident you read justification 3 either. it was based on rights being granted based on how wanted an unborn baby is. All three options are obviously justifications for why mother’s ‘right’ to comfort and convenience can trump an unborn baby’s right to life.

  3. And if the answer is “never until it pops out of mom and risks having its neck wrung by a Dr. Gosnell disciple,” that’s fine…but then you can’t charge a John Andrew Welden with murder.

    It’s NOT fine, but I get why you say it. Better to say “if that’s your point” or something that says that is their position not that it’s fine.

    • You’d be surprised how many people think it’s “fine.”

      You see, it it really is “never” until birth, then the Gosnell scenario is inevitable—because it also makes no sense for the same viable organism to be killable one second and not killable the next. This is Peter Singer’s point, and he’s right.

      • It doesn’t matter what we personally feel is right or wrong. If its not murder by LAW for the mother it can’t be murder for the father period. I don’t personally like the idea of abortion but its the way the law is written. I’m sure he did think that there wasn’t any possibility that what he was doing was considered murder.

      • It makes no sense for it to be illegal to drink one second, and legal the next second. Therefore, alcohol should never be legal (or illegal). It makes no sense to not be allowed to get a driver’s license one day, but be allowed the next. Driving should never be legal.

        This argument is a complete failure.

        • Awful AWFUl analogies. The problem with the abortion nonsense is that it changes the definition of the subject, not according to factors that genuinely change the subject, but according to the actor. A better analogy is the crack/ cocaine distinction, which have been found unconstitutional.

          You argue this case nastier than most, perhaps because you know you have only cant, not science, not logic, not consistency, not your usual logic to rely on. Yes, tgt, it would be nice if we could wish the abortion dilemma away by pretending an unborn child isn’t an innocent human being, and that our choice is between letting the more powerful organism at fault for the dilemma in many cases just exploit that greater power rather than suffer life altering consequences, or decree that life comes before convenience and responsibility. Unfortunately, nobody who doesn’t have a stake in reaching that conclusion believes it. It’s like global warming denial.

          • Awful AWFUl analogies.

            Yet you didn’t point out a single issue that applied to them. You jumped to complaining about the differences in law of fetuses based on actor. Singer has no bearing on that.

            The problem with the abortion nonsense is that it changes the definition of the subject, not according to factors that genuinely change the subject, but according to the actor. A better analogy is the crack/ cocaine distinction, which have been found unconstitutional.

            This is a tangent to my complaint, but it’s still wrong. Parents can do things to their kids that other adults cannot. Actor’s matter.

            You argue this case nastier than most, perhaps because you know you have only cant, not science, not logic, not consistency, not your usual logic to rely on

            This is projection. Look at how you responded to my analogy. I attacked logic X for argument A, and you responded with backing logic Y for argument B.

            Yes, tgt, it would be nice if we could wish the abortion dilemma away by pretending an unborn child isn’t an innocent human being, and that our choice is between letting the more powerful organism at fault for the dilemma in many cases just exploit that greater power rather than suffer life altering consequences, or decree that life comes before convenience and responsibility.

            You’re the one pretending that humans at all stages of development must have the same human rights…but only when it applies to fetuses and life. You understand the differences normally.

            Unfortunately, nobody who doesn’t have a stake in reaching that conclusion believes it. It’s like global warming denial.

            You seem to be attempting to slander all pro-choicers as biased based on having a stake in the result. I have a multitude of gay pro-choice friends. I also have pro-choice friends and family who would never want an abortion personally. What’s their stake in allowing abortions?

          • “You argue this case nastier than most, perhaps because you know you have only cant, not science, not logic, not consistency, not your usual logic to rely on. Yes, tgt, it would be nice if we could wish the abortion dilemma away by pretending an unborn child isn’t an innocent human being, and that our choice is between letting the more powerful organism at fault for the dilemma in many cases just exploit that greater power rather than suffer life altering consequences, or decree that life comes before convenience and responsibility. Unfortunately, nobody who doesn’t have a stake in reaching that conclusion believes it. It’s like global warming denial.”

            Jack,that’s what I was trying to say. Whitewashing what really happens in an abortion doesn’t make it any more acceptable to those of us opposed to it. Just admit you’re killing a human being. It is legal so you don’t have to fight for it to be. Call it what it is,unless you’re trying to salve your own conscience.

        • “It makes no sense for it to be illegal to drink one second, and legal the next second. Therefore, alcohol should never be legal (or illegal). It makes no sense to not be allowed to get a driver’s license one day, but be allowed the next. Driving should never be legal.

          This argument is a complete failure.”

          Killing a human should always be illegal. A fetus is just as human as the being it develops into. If a seedling grows up to be a tree it’s a tree. If you kill the seedling you have killed a tree seedling,not a flower seedling. If you kill the fetus of a lion you have killed an unborn lion.

  4. Calling it murder sure seems wrong for something that is legally not considered to not be a person. On the other hand, it’s still an awful crime. The distinction between the mother doing it and someone else doing it to her is a matter of choice. Under law, she has the right to make that choice, and the biological father doesn’t, because it’s happening in her body. Perhaps a good model for how to think about this (and what a reasonable punishment would be) is Angelina Jolie’s recent preventive mastectomy: The tissue removed is alive, but killing it does not constitute murder, and it’s okay if she does it, but a terrible crime if somebody does it to her against her will. A prosecutor in my state would probably charge that as a serious form of aggravated battery.

    • So…..killing a baby by punching the pregnant mother in the gut is not murder under any circumstances, just personal injury. Got it. Thanks for clarifying. That’s kinda evil, but thanks for clarifying all the same.

      • I noticed you called it a “baby,” and if that means you think a baby is a person with a right to life, then I can see why you’d think someone kills a fetus by punching a pregnant mother should be called a murderer. But then shouldn’t the mother be a murderer too if she gets an abortion? And if you think abortion is murder then your view is consistent and logical.

        However, if we accept the status quo, and accept that the fetus isn’t a person when the mother kills it, how does it magically become one when someone else kills it?

        Then it hit me: You could adopt the stance that fetuses are people with rights, and therefore killing them is murder, but making an exception for the mother on the grounds that the fetus has no right to occupy her body, and her right to bodily integrity outweighs even the fetus’s right to life. This allows you to charge people like Weldon with murder and not charge pregnant women with murder when they do the exact same thing, while still maintaining some degree of logical consistency.

        • Every expectant mother who has ever WANTED her child from time immemorial has called her fetus a “baby”. The very notion that a fetus only magically becomes a “baby” at the moment it emerges from the womb was necessitated by the “peculiar institution” of abortion.

          Your compromise does “maintain some degree of logical consistency” but it also posits that A) fetuses are people with rights and B) said people with rights can be killed with no consequences for seriously inconveniencing someone else (with no ill intent, and in most cases due directly to the actions of the inconvenienced party.)

          There are many equally logical policies under which the infirm and retarded could be rounded up and gassed, illegal aliens could be executed or forced to undergo sterilization, etc. If you are okay with the unfortunate moral implications, then yes, I will grant you that they are logical. The issue with the law discussed above is that it is illogical, due to an unwillingness to come right out and say that “fetuses are people but we do not want them to have the same human rights that other people have.” This is what you are saying, and therefore you are logical.

          • The issue with the law discussed above is that it is illogical, due to an unwillingness to come right out and say that “fetuses are people but we do not want them to have the same human rights that other people have.” This is what you are saying, and therefore you are logical.

            I think the issue is the demagoguery you’re putting over human rights. We’re fine with children having less human rights than adults, but you can’t understand that fetuses have less rights than children.

            • What you can’t understand is that Right to Life is a pretty close to absolute, only becoming abridged in the case that an individual has committed acts so heinous their right is forfeit.

              Only your personal dictate to get around the the flaws of the pro-abortion debate is that Right to Life is the right that unborn humans do not get.

              • Why should 2 cells have a right to life? Why should an unthinking being that is inside another being and completely dependent upon that specific being have a right to life? That’s what I don’t get. I understand why a human that can, well, do something, has a right to life, but why the fetus?

                • Addendum. You made a strawman suggestion that life is the only right that fetuses don’t get. I’m hoping that was just a poor word choice.

                • 1) Fetuses suck their thumbs, move around, show stress. Nobody knows what they think about—they haven’t had much stimulus. They are not warts.
                  2) If they don’t have a right to life, which I am willing to accept for the purposes of the post, then how can killing them be murder, as if they do?

                  • 1) As noted by Ampersand, until about 7 months, they flat out can’t think. You seem to be confusing “thinking” with “responding to stimuli”
                    2) I haven’t argued that killing a fetus is murder. I think the murder laws are just another step in the process of attempting to outlaw abortion through the backdoor.

                    2b) That said, I think there is a rational argument in favor of the position. I’ve stated the building blocks other places. Parents have rights over children that non-parents don’t. Children don’t have a right to liberty when it interferes with their parents wishes, but other adults can’t simply lock your 3 year old in their house. It’s the same idea.

                    • I’m happy to use 7 months as the baseline. So in a jurisdiction that allows a 7 month abortion, is a mother in the clear but a father guilty of first degree murder? The dead whatever gave its consent in neither case.

                    • You call that an argument? They are still children. Yes, parents can strike children and strangers are committing assault if the y do. But that’s no remotely similar, because the distinction is based on authority, not the actual character and legal rights of the harmed whatever. If the law wants to call killing someone else’s fetus Sligavaty, and make the penalty severe, fine. Or call what the mother does a legally sanctioned killing….that works too. But you can’t base the disparate treatment on the argument that one fetus is human and the other isn’t because of who chose to kill them. Why are you arguing otherwise?

                    • I’m happy to use 7 months as the baseline.

                      7 months is the possibility of thought. Not thought itself. If you want to say fetuses’ think, you’re going to have to back it up.

                      is a mother in the clear but a father guilty of first degree murder?

                      Again, I’m against the murder language. As a crime though? Yes. The difference is that the fetus is inside the mother’s body. That gives her the control that the father doesn’t have. It’s biological custody. I want it to make sense for father’s to have equal say either pro or anti abortion, but I recognize that it doesn’t make sense for them to do so.

                      The dead whatever gave its consent in neither case.
                      Non sequitur. Children don’t give consent in their parents rights over them either.

                    • I never, never argued that it made no sense for what the father did here to be treated as a crime. It’s a terrible crime. I object to it being charged as murder.

                    • Yes, parents can strike children and strangers are committing assault if the y do. But that’s no remotely similar, because the distinction is based on authority, not the actual character and legal rights of the harmed whatever.

                      Oooo…I like your wording better. The fetus has the right to life, just the mother has the right to ignore it. In any event, it breaks down to the same thing.

                      But you can’t base the disparate treatment on the argument that one fetus is human and the other isn’t because of who chose to kill them.

                      I have never made this argument. We’re in agreement that that’s stupid.

                  • Doesn’t it take thought to suck a thumb? At 12 weeks a fetus can suck their thumb. Are you telling me that it’s a reflex? I highly doubt it. Please give me some documentation. I have studied child development, A & P, human genetics and behavioral genetics. I know where the law stands on person-hood, but the law is not entirely based on science. It’s strongly influenced by cultural norms. This is all about societal trends, not science.

                    • Jennyct, thanks for your reply.

                      Thumb-sucking in the womb comes from a combination of two reflexes, neither of which require thought – the rooting reflex and the sucking reflex.

                      It’s not limited to the thumb – fetuses, and babies, suck virtually any part of their skin they can comfortably reach, including fingers, the back of the hand, and even toes. (Some fetuses do this so much that they are born with sucking bruises on their hands.)

                      It’s not limited to sentient animals, either. Virtually all mammals have the sucking reflex when born.

                      And yes, it is a reflex. (Try it with any baby younger than three months – touch the roof of its mouth gently with your finger, and it will start sucking without having to think about it. This even works on some babies while they’re asleep.) The evolutionary advantage of the rooting and sucking reflex for mammals that breastfeed is obvious.

                      You can find a lot about the sucking reflex in medical journals (disturbingly, the sucking reflex sometimes reappears in adults who are suffering from senility), but you can also read about it on wikipedia.

                      Would you also like a reference regarding fetal development of the central cortex?

                    • “… the law is not entirely based on science. It’s strongly influenced by cultural norms. This is all about societal trends, not science.”

                      There is bias among some scientists to be sure.

                • “A human that can, well, “do something” has a right to life….”

                  Guess we know where you fall on the Terri Schiavo discussion.

                  But that is just a very revealing tangent. No need to expound.

                  Did you mean 2 cells of a *human being* or 2 cells of a battery? what? I know it is all just more pro-abortion “redefine what an unborn human is” so we don’t have to say we are killing humans line of justification. But since you are making a quantitative rule here, at what point does your 100 trillion cells have a right to life? 4? 8? 16? 10,000? 1 billion?

                  Odd measuring stick.

                  • Guess we know where you fall on the Terri Schiavo discussion.

                    Let’s not tangent anymore.

                    Did you mean 2 cells of a *human being* or 2 cells of a battery?

                    Obviously a just fertilized human egg. Your attempt at strawmanning my clear arguments are not nice.

                    . But since you are making a quantitative rule here, at what point does your 100 trillion cells have a right to life? 4? 8? 16? 10,000? 1 billion?

                    I didn’t make a quantitative rule. You claimed the right to life was absolute. I was pointing out the absurdity of that. Our rights are based on our conscious, and a fetus doesn’t have that. I used the example of a just fertilized egg as it is the absurd end of your statement.

                    • What? Does the tangent expose inconsistency to your standard?

                      Asking about the battery or human is not a straw man. It exposes yet another method you pro-abortionists uses to redefine a *human* in order to soften the value of human life when compared to comfort and convenience of the parents.

                      You stated that 2 cells don’t have rights, implying at some point a certain quantity of cells do have rights. I was pointing out the absurdity of using that as a standard.

                      Right to life being determined by consciousness is an arbitrary and inconsistent rule.

                    • What? Does the tangent expose inconsistency to your standard?

                      No, it’s just a tangent.

                      Asking about the battery or human is not a straw man. It exposes yet another method you pro-abortionists uses to redefine a *human* in order to soften the value of human life when compared to comfort and convenience of the parents.

                      This is incredible, you defend against something being a strawman by saying it references an argument I haven’t made.

                      You stated that 2 cells don’t have rights, implying at some point a certain quantity of cells do have rights. I was pointing out the absurdity of using that as a standard.

                      No, I didn’t imply that a certain quantity of cells have rights. Here’s my full comment again: “Why should 2 cells have a right to life? Why should an unthinking being that is inside another being and completely dependent upon that specific being have a right to life? That’s what I don’t get. I understand why a human that can, well, do something, has a right to life, but why the fetus?”

                      I was pointing out that if you claim all fetuses have the right to life, then you’re claiming that even a 2 celled organism has the right to life, even though that 2 celled organism doesn’t have any of the traits that lead to a right to life. At some point the organism has traits that grant it a strong right to life, but I did not suggest it was based on number of cells. You’re strawmanning my argument.

                      Right to life being determined by consciousness is an arbitrary and inconsistent rule.

                      We know conscious beings feel and act. We think it’s bad when that ceases. This isn’t arbitrary. I also don’t know what’s inconsistent about it.

            • You are welcome to explain logically how fetuses have less of a right to not be killed than children or babies do. I’d love to be enlightened.

              • I’ve explained this all over, but:

                1) Lack of consciousness. That’s where are rights come from.
                2) Because they aren’t autonomous beings. They are entirely inside another being, and the being is biologically thrown out of whack by the fetus. Whatever right to life the fetus has is in balance against the rights of the host. A third party can’t simply kill the fetus, but the host can.

                • ” A third party can’t simply kill the fetus, but the host can.”

                  The host better find a coat hanger then.
                  Original Hippocratic Oath contains…”I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy.”

                  • Completely irrelevant. That’s an appeal to historical authority.

                    The original oath is roughly 2500 years old. It also says this:

                    “To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art — if they desire to learn it — without fee and covenant; to give a share of precepts and oral instruction and all the other learning to my sons and to the sons of him who has instructed me and to pupils who have signed the covenant and have taken an oath according to the medical law, but to no one else.”

                    If I’m the son of a doctor, I must be entitled to free medical instruction.

                    • I’m tired. The back and forth bantering serves no purpose as far as changing the debater’s minds but I guess an argument can be made for helping those who are undecided to see both sides.

            • “I understand why a human that can, well, do something, has a right to life, but why the fetus?” -tgt

              Oh, the utilitarian can of worms THAT line of thinking opens up.
              If you really can’t understand why a fetus should have a right to life when it can’t DO anything, allow me to posit that a fetus CAN do something. It can GROW UP INTO AN ADULT.

              If you are going to make a utilitarian argument against the value of a fetus’ life, then you should be able to calculate that a fetus, even an unwanted one, has a great deal less negative value than many adults. Many adults live on welfare, are loved by no one, and appear to harm society a great deal while contributing nothing. Sure, they can “do something,” but in so doing they make themselves less valuable to the State or whatever than the fetus. If you would argue, “then let’s also round up and kill all adults who are more of a drain on society than the average fetus” then you are at least consistent.

              If your argument for killing the fetus has nothing to do with value to society and your only point is that the fetus is not yet an independent, free moral agent…so what? It will be all of those things in a matter of time if you don’t kill it. If cognitive ability and usefulness are your gauge for worthiness-to-live, then let’s have the inevitable discussion about which special-needs adults, infants, and temporarily unconscious people are below the threshold and can be ethically snuffed.

              • If you really can’t understand why a fetus should have a right to life when it can’t DO anything, allow me to posit that a fetus CAN do something. It can GROW UP INTO AN ADULT.

                You equivocated on my term doing. I was talking about actually taking actions. Thinking. You switched to mean A can become B over time.

                If you are going to make a utilitarian argument against the value of a fetus’ life, then you should be able to calculate that a fetus, even an unwanted one, has a great deal less negative value than many adults.

                I’m not making a utilitarian argument. Fail.

                It will be all of those things in a matter of time if you don’t kill it.

                I’ve said it a million times if I’ve said it once. A fetus doesn’t become a person independent of it’s host.

                If cognitive ability and usefulness are your gauge for worthiness-to-live, then let’s have the inevitable discussion about which special-needs adults, infants, and temporarily unconscious people are below the threshold and can be ethically snuffed.

                I didn’t make an argument about usefulness. I did make an argument about cognition, but that doesn’t lead to any arguments about special-needs adults. Same for temporarily unconscious (they already have a conscious mind and will maintain the same mind). Infants actually are a valid question thinking specifically about cognition and will, but the willingness of society to care for them means that any right to life is going to come out on top.

  5. I’m not sure the pro-choice camp alone has to answer for the Act. It seems more like it’s the horrid result of lobbying from both sides.

    • Wikipedia is a little vague. No owner was found guilty of murder for killing slaves in the South…there were one or two cases of this in the Virgin Islands: “The Code of Justinian and the Spanish Siete Partidas deprived cruel owners of their slaves, and that tradition went into the Louisiana Black Code of 1806, which made cruel punishment of slaves a crime. In modern societies brutality and sadistic murder of slaves by their owners were rarely condoned on the grounds that such episodes demoralized other slaves and made them rebellious, but few slave owners were actually punished for maltreating their slaves. In the American South 10 codes prescribed forced sale to another owner or emancipation for maltreated slaves. Nevertheless, cases such as State v. Hoover (North Carolina, 1839) and State v. Jones (Alabama, 1843) were considered sensational because slave owners were punished for savagely “correcting” their slaves to death.”

  6. I don’t really see the problem. There are good reasons to want to prevent others from harming pregnant women and their fetuses and also good reasons for wanting to allow abortions. If I were making the laws, I probably would not call the killing of a fetus murder, but just because you call it murder does not mean that the fetus is a human being for all other intents and purposes. You could say that a fetus is not a human being until it is born but make it a legal fiction that a fetus is “born” when it is injured by a third party without the consent of the mother.

    • You don’t see a problem because you are comfortable equating this with a property crime. It should be murder, but it logically cannot be. The moral and ethical gymnastics required here are astounding.

      • Why can’t it be murder? Many crimes are not completely logical, yet society seems to get along fine. For example, the Canadian Criminal Code states that it is murder to unintentionally kill someone while attempting to intentionally kill someone else. Generally, murder is the intentional killing of another person, so it is illogical to say that one can be a murderer even if one kills someone that one did not intend to kill (perhaps Parliament should have created a different offence, such as “manslaughter with intent to kill another”). Nevertheless, because attempting to kill one person and accidentally killing another is equally morally blameworthy to attempting to kill one person and succeeding, the law still defines unintentionally killing someone while attempting to kill someone else to be murder.

        A similar argument could be made for killing a fetus. Even though a fetus is not a human being, society could decide that intentionally killing a fetus without the consent of the mother is equally morally blameworthy to being murder. If this is so, why not call the crime murder?

    • What? You don’t call non-living humans humans for the purpose of creating a crime. The real problem is that, of course, a fetus is a human life, but abortion is hard to justify if we admit it, so we accept a lie. OK—accept the lie. But then you’re stuck with the property model

      • I don’t really get your point. Laws are made to control human behaviour. If a law is most effective when it deems something to be what it is not, what is the problem with using a legal fiction?

        Why can’t you call non-humans humans for the purpose of creating a crime? For example, corporations can commit crimes and are treated as people for that purpose, but corporations are obviously not human beings.

        I didn’t say that a fetus was non-living, I just said that it was not a human being for the purposes of the law.

        • You CAN do any crazy, illogical, nonsensical and unfair thing you like, and certainly legislatures do. But when laws make no logical sense, they make law-abiding next to impossible. If you say this is murder for you, but not him, then there is every reason for someone to wonder if this applies to other crimes as well. Maybe we’ll let poor people shoplift, or friends of Barack Obama vote six times. Laws ought to be based on conduct and facts, not wishes, political correctness and fiction. Among other things, it is a lazy way to avoid the though job society has an obligation to do: make choices about what things are and what conduct is correct and desirable based on fact. Laws, among other things, define and articulate our values. Do we value an unborn sheilds life or not? This law says: YES! A LOT! and also NOT AT ALL. It does not command respect, because it has no integrity.

          • When laws make no logical sense, they make law abiding next to impossible, but that does not mean that laws must be perfectly logical. Laws are human creations, made over long periods of time and reflecting may different objectives and social values. Often these objectives and values are conflicting. Perfect logic is impossible and, in many cases, undesirable. What is important is not that the entire legal system is logical but that individual laws can be supported with logic.

            I already gave an example of a case where the law does not stand up to strict logical scrutiny in my answer to Modern Knight (where unintentionally killing someone when intentionally trying to kill someone else is still considered murder). The problem in this case is that two values in the law conflict. Generally, we do not want to hold people responsible for what they did not intend to do, or at least punish those who commit crimes accidentally more leniently than we punish those commit crimes intentionally. We also believe that it is equally blameworthy conduct should be punished similarly and that to kill someone accidentally while intentionally trying to kill someone else as it is to intentionally kill someone. In this case, we have a conflict between two societal values. In Canada, Parliament decided that, in this case, the importance of punishing crimes of like moral blameworthiness in the same manner outweighs the importance of ensuring that only those who intend to commit a certain crime are punished for committing that crime. This makes the law illogical, because Parliament has decided that, at least in this one case, the general rule that people should not be punished for what they do not intend to do does not apply. Canadians seem happy to accept the fact that the law is illogical in this case, though.

            You could make a similar argument for many laws. For example, in Mouse’s Case (a 1608 decision from England), it was established that, at least for the purposes of tort law, it is okay to destroy property in order to save life (a passenger who threw cargo off a barge that would otherwise have sunk was not held liable for the destruction of property). A law that states that the poor cannot steal if they are starving therefore is inconsistent with the idea that life is more important than property set down in Mouse’s Case. Nevertheless, there is a good reason for allowing the illogical result that the poor cannot steal because if they could, no property would be safe. The poor would not be made better off because all property would be locked up and hidden if there was no law against the poor stealing. Therefore the poor should not be allowed to steal.

            The same argument could be made in the case of voting. We generally believe that, in a democracy, all votes should count equally, but we also believe that sometimes some votes should count more in order to ensure that different interests and constituencies can be better represented. Laws that say that the votes of people in smaller states should be worth more than those in larger states in terms of electoral college votes and laws that say that the votes of Barack Obama’s friends should be worth more are illogical because they conflict with the principle that votes should be counted equally. Society nonetheless accepts that votes of those in small states are worth more because of the belief that voters in small states have interests that are important and should not be ignored just because the people in those states are in the minority. There is no similar reason to give Barack Obama’s friends extra votes, so they do not get extra votes.

            The same reasoning applies to people who harm fetuses. Society could decide that it is equally blameworthy for a third party to kill a fetus as to kill a human being, and thus both killings should be considered murder. This position is, in itself, logical. It conflicts with the position that a mother should be able to kill her fetus (or that a doctor should be able to do so with the mothers consent), so calling the killing of a fetus murder would make the entire body of law illogical. This lack of overall consistency is not a problem however, because the individual laws are themselves logical.

            • In your example, the law presumes that you cannot “accidentally” kill an unintended victim when your intent was to murder another. The murderous intent makes any collateral killing murder. Although I do not know Canadian law, I would imagine that would extend to the unintentional killing of an unborn child under similar circumstances.

              Treating the crime of killing the intended murder victim as equivalent to others killed in the same murderous rampage is reasonable and logical. Granting or revoking “human being” status to an unborn child depending on the circumstances is not.

              • Why? If it society thinks it is equally morally blameworthy for a third party to kill a fetus as it is for a third party to kill a human being, why is it illogical to deem the fetus to be a human being for the purposes of the crime of murder? If you do not like legal fictions, you could change the definition of murder to include the intentional taking of the life of a human being or the intentional destruction of a fetus by a third party.

            • Huh? So if individual laws are inconsistent and contradictory, that’s OK as long as they are internally logical? That’s ridiculous. That’s exactly how we ended up with slavery for so long even though the Declaration would appear to have made it counter to our core principles. That’s how torture is justified. And that’s the track that supports the current abortion rationalizations.

              • Exactly. Laws can be inconsistent with each other so long as they are internally logical. This is one of the reasons why we have judges and statutory interpretation, to try and determine the logical meaning of any given law in its context and in a given situation.

                Think, for example, of the famous example of the sign that says “No vehicles in the park”. Must the meaning of the word “vehicle” in the case of the sign accord with every other reference to a vehicle in every other statute? Must the sign, to be consistent, apply to all vehicles at all times (e.g. an ambulance could not go into the park to save someone’s life)? Or can we just agree that it is okay for the law not to be logically inconsistent because the “No vehicles in the park” sign can achieve its purpose without being logically consistent with all other laws?

                I don’t understand your example about slavery. The problem with slavery is not that allowing it was logically inconsistent with the wording or meaning of the Declaration of Independence or with any other document or law. The problem with slavery is that enslaving people is wrong. Slavery would be no less wrong if it did not conflict with a country’s other laws (for example, the Confederate Constitution explicitly recognized slavery, but I do not think that made slavery okay in the CSA).

                The same logic, I would think, should apply to torture.

                • You have been talking law, then suddenly switch to ethics. Yes slavery is wrong, but the inconsistencies among the legal structure then in place allowed something wrong to persist until the laws were brought into line. Ethically, a system that has no integrity is unethical. Saying that laws can be contradictory doesn’t mean that it isn’t unethical, incompetent and wrong to allow them to be.

                  • I’m sorry, I’m just not seeing why it is unethical per se for laws to be inconsistent. I agree that it is unethical to allow inconsistent laws to create unethical results, but then it is also unethical to allow consistent laws to create unethical results. If inconsistent laws create ethical results, then I do not think they are unethical.

                    • Because we don’t carry law books, statutes and lawyers with us, and when definitions are contradictory from law to law,its impossible to know what’s legal…which is intolerable.

                    • You seem to have an issue with every human legal system then. As long as we have statutes, we will need statutory interpretation, and a legal system that demands that all words be interpreted in the same way in all circumstances would not be a legal system I would want to use in any country.

                      I also fail to see how the “impossible to know what’s legal” argument works in this case. Causing the destruction of a fetus without the pregnant woman’s consent seems pretty obviously wrong. I don’t see why it is intolerable to punish someone who believes that doing so is okay because abortion is legal, any more than it is intolerable to punish someone for murdering another because suicide is legal (because if you wanted to be totally consistent, if killing a human being is murder, shouldn’t suicide be murder? I suppose this inconsistency could theoretically cause confusion for a would-be criminal).

                    • Taking an ice cream cone is “pretty obviously wrong.” Is “pretty obviously wrong” all the precision you need? Our failure to come up with a precise legal definition of when a fetus deserves Constitutional protection or not is directly linked to over a million abortions each year. “OOPS! DAMN! I guess we really should have defined “abortion” as the taking of an innocent human life!” The lynchpin on which Roe v. Wade was decides was privacy, which means to me that abortion was determined to be one of those things the government had no legitimate interest in. Really? Really? If so, then the “murderer” here had every reason to think, “this may be pretty obviously wrong,” but she’s the mother, I’m the father, and it’s our kid/not kid/pseudo kid/ wart, and nobody else’s business. “SURPRISE! The law says she’s removing a mole, but you’re a cold blooded killer, because when you do it, that “mole” is a baby!”

                      Due process demands legal precision. Yes, there are lot and lots of inconsistent laws, and every one of them raise fairness and due process issues. Most of them don’t kill anybody, or result in someone spending their life in prison.

                    • Yeah, “pretty obviously wrong” is all the precision I need in this case. I really can’t see how anyone could believe that destroying the fetus inside of a woman without her consent is not a crime because abortion is legal. A person might not think it is murder, but when you do something you know is wrong, ignorance of the law is no excuse.

                      In the case of a person destroying a fetus without a person’s consent, I tend to adopt your position about riding a manatee. To paraphrase, “It’s a law, and he broke it. This isn’t even an especially obscure or surprising law. If you don’t know [that there is a law about destroying fetuses without the consent of the pregnant woman], you need to read more. If you don’t know that [destroying a fetus without the pregnant woman’s consent] is cruel, stupid and wrong, you were raised in Dogpatch.”

                    • I should have been more clear in my original post. I have reviewed the comment policies and I know Jack does not like it when people put words in his mouth. The quote used above is from Jack’s post “Manatee Reflections: How Can We Tell Right From Wrong When We Can’t Think Straight At All?”. Some words have been removed, with my own position added in square brackets. The quote is not intended to portray Jack’s position on this issue, but rather to convey my own position.

                • We can agree that the problem with slavery is that enslaving people is wrong and that the problem with torture is that torturing people is wrong and that the problem with murder is that murdering people is wrong. It is ethical, moral and simple until ‘society’ applies qualifiers.

                  Qualifiers like the enslaved, tortured or murdered are the property of another, which then makes the act a property crime, or perhaps not a crime at all. This is where the logic, ethics and morality break down.

          • Who is claiming that fetuses aren’t living? Who is claiming they aren’t human?

            Truly? The strict “part of the woman’s body argument” maintains both. The analogies used are tumors and warts.

            I woudn’t choose to use those analogies, but nonetheless: Unless they’ve been removed from the patient or in some other way treated, tumors and warts are both alive (in the sense of being living tissue) and human (in the sense of having human DNA). So the question stands.

            I do think that, out of millions of pro-choicers, there probably are some who have said that fetuses aren’t living. There are many who have said that fetuses aren’t human beings, but they mean it in the “personhood” sense, not the DNA sense. (If I say that a severed arm is not, in and of itself, a human being, I’m not denying that it has human DNA and is biologically human.)

            • Whoops, I hit “post comment” too early. To complete my thought: Although there may be one or two pro-choicers, out of millions, who actually argue that fetuses are not living tissue or do not have human DNA, these people are extremely rare, and concentrating your fire on such arguments as if they were typical pro-choice arguments is cherry-picking.

          • What Barry said. I’ll also mention that the warts and tumors analogy tends to be used to debunk the argument that human DNA => fully human rights. It isn’t an intent to say that fetuses are no different than warts and tumors. Claiming such is a strawman.

          • Yup. An early development human. You’re not going to claim that early development humans have the same rights as other humans, are you? That’s been handled already all over this thread.

            • “Yup. An early development human. You’re not going to claim that early development humans have the same rights as other humans, are you? That’s been handled already all over this thread.”

              But you see,the pro-abortion argument keeps changing. This is one. Used to be the argument was that a fetus wasn’t a human being so it’s ok to kill it.

              • When was that the dominant argument? Can you point me to any references? Make sure there’s no equivocation lumping species with rights. Jack failed to defend his argument, so I doubt you’ll have better luck.

                • That’s a questionable device, stating as fact that you’ve won an argument that you have not.

                  Karla correctly cites a main thread of pro-abortion advocacy, if not the one you try to defend. One doesn’t lose an argument by having the adversary say, “You’re wrong.” The after-the-fact, post hoc argument that a fetus is not a human being because we want to abort the fetus and we don’t advocate killing human beings is slippery, but also cynical and intellectually dishonest, and hardly persuasive. I say it again, in case you missed it: if women could become pregnant and have a baby within a week without missing a day of work, and all unwanted babies could be adopted in a second, the argument that killing the fetus was ethically defensible and didn’t involve a human life would be considered monstrous and laughable. This is a whole web of convenient myths that have been repeated so often a whole generation swears to their truth, because they don’t like the alternative.

                  • That’s a questionable device, stating as fact that you’ve won an argument that you have not.

                    I didn’t say I won the argument. I said you failed to defend the argument, and that’s true. You claimed a certain group meets your definition, and Barry and I pointed out how they don’t. Your position is left wrong.

                    Karla correctly cites a main thread of pro-abortion advocacy, if not the one you try to defend.

                    Again, still waiting for a valid defense of this.

                    The after-the-fact, post hoc argument that a fetus is not a human being because we want to abort the fetus and we don’t advocate killing human beings is slippery, but also cynical and intellectually dishonest, and hardly persuasive.

                    Who’s doing this?

                    if women could become pregnant and have a baby within a week without missing a day of work, and all unwanted babies could be adopted in a second, the argument that killing the fetus was ethically defensible and didn’t involve a human life would be considered monstrous and laughable.

                    And again, you’re arguing with a strawman. Yes, the fetus is a human life. No it doesn’t have the same rights as an adult human. If you remove the need to balance rights, then any right to life of the fetus is going to win out. Again, this is irrelevant, because you’re arguing with a strawman position that fetuses aren’t human.

                    This is a whole web of convenient myths that have been repeated so often a whole generation swears to their truth, because they don’t like the alternative.

                    What myths?

                  • ” This is a whole web of convenient myths that have been repeated so often a whole generation swears to their truth, because they don’t like the alternative.”

                    I see the arguments as those that the Nazis undoubtedly used against the Jews or soldiers use against Muslims. It was and is a practice to dehumanize your target and so desensitize yourself.

                • ““Yup. An early development human. You’re not going to claim that early development humans have the same rights as other humans, are you? That’s been handled already all over this thread.” But you see,the pro-abortion argument keeps changing. This is one. Used to be the argument was that a fetus wasn’t a human being so […]

                  When was that the dominant argument? Can you point me to any references? Make sure there’s no equivocation lumping species with rights. Jack failed to defend his argument, so I doubt you’ll have better luck.”

                  The point is the changing arguments of the pro-abortionists makes them lose credibility.

                  • Citation still needed. Are you sure you’re not equivocating? Roe v Wade does refer to fetuses as not persons, but I don’t see an argument of not human.

  7. The “product of conception,” fetus, or whatever euphemism you want to call it, is an unborn baby. Period. To abort, unborn or born, or whatever euphemism you want to call the process, is to kill a living thing that will grow into another separate human being, unlike a breast or a limb. We euthanize unwanted pets and people get more upset than when unborn babies are “euthanized.” We have become a totally sick society.

    • “The “product of conception,” fetus, or whatever euphemism you want to call it, is an unborn baby. Period.”

      Or half of one. Or two. Or none. Or a hydatidiform mole, a cancer. All are possible products of conception, development has to proceed a lot further than “the moment of conception” to say which is which.

      With that caveat, I agree with you in principle for the most part. I’d just put personhood as happening later, before then it’s potential, not actual.

      • “Before then it is potential”

        And further line of argument from the “it’s not a real human so we can do what we want with it” softening of what abortion IS: killing a human.

          • An unborn human is a human. Abortion is killing a human. Why don’t people understand this?

            Wait, they do understand this. They just don’t like to admit it. It get’s in the way of making comfort and convenience based decisions.

          • “An egg is a chicken, but it’s not a chicken chicken. Why don’t people understand this for humans?”

            I assume you are talking about a fertilized egg. We don’t understand abortion because a human at whatever stage of development is of greater value than a chicken. If you kill a chicken,you have dinner. If you kill a human you get life in prison.

            • If you kill a human you get life in prison.

              Karla, this is an honest question – I don’t know what your answer will be.

              Do you want the law to say that abortion is homicide? If so, should it be punished the same way as homicide? If a woman is found guilty of paying a doctor to perform an abortion, should she be punished with life in prison? (Or with the death penalty, if in a death penalty state?)

              Regarding the rest of it, something can be alive, and made up of human tissue, and still not be a person. When a doctor takes out someone’s appendix and tosses it out, she is destroying living human tissue, but she has not committed a murder. Ditto for a doctor who turns off life support on a patient who is legally brain dead. Being human and being a person are not the same thing.

              • “Do you want the law to say that abortion is homicide? ”
                Here’s my problem,Ampersand. At what point is it just a piece of human tissue? Do we know,can we measure when it is a person? Maybe at conception,maybe when it has a brain,when it “looks” human? I don’t know. We really have no way of knowing. And until we know I will side with personhood from the beginning. As for the penalty for killing that person I will leave that with the legislature but I must say I don’t think the mother is malicious nor do I think she believes she’s killing a “baby.”
                As for the appendix,it is not a human being because it has no personhood,no spirit,if you will. The same with a person who is on life support but brain dead. The spirit is no longer residing in the body.
                I appreciate how you approached me on this. 🙂

                • Karla:

                  Maybe at conception,maybe when it has a brain,when it “looks” human? I don’t know. We really have no way of knowing. And until we know I will side with personhood from the beginning.

                  But we do know. A being with no functioning cerebral cortex cannot be a person. Without the cerebral cortex, there is no mind to have experiences; there is no person there to feel pain, or regret, or hope, or have thoughts. A piece of human tissue without a mind can no more be a person than a nail or a chair can be a person.

                  If we ignore the importance of the mind, we are denying the single most important thing about being a person. Any other trait could be replicated in things that are not people; I can build a realistic mannequin with teeth, fingers, faces, and all the other human traits, but I cannot build a mannequin with a mind.

                  The sole trait that distinguishes people from objects (including objects made of human tissue, such as a decapitated limb or a corpse) is that we have minds. And yet you are saying that the mind is completely irrelevant when deciding when personhood exists.

                  That’s nihilism. You are denying that the essence of personhood has any moral meaning at all.

                  As for the appendix,it is not a human being because it has no personhood,no spirit,if you will. The same with a person who is on life support but brain dead. The spirit is no longer residing in the body.

                  “Spirit,” as you use it here, seems to be another term for “mind” – as you are describing it, it clearly requires a functioning brain to exist (which is why it isn’t in the liver, or in the braindead patient).

                  But the mind, or spirit, physically cannot exist in a human that doesn’t have a functioning cerebral cortex. Just as a brain-dead patient has no spirit, a fetus (before 28 weeks) has no spirit. The spirit, or mind, cannot exist in the body without a physical structure capable of supporting it, and a fetus (before 28 weeks) lacks that structure.

                  • ” The spirit, or mind, cannot exist in the body without a physical structure capable of supporting it, and a fetus (before 28 weeks) lacks that structure.”

                    http://www.wvec.com/news/year-in-review/top-video/Miracle-143708876.html

                    “He was born without a brain and only a brain stem.
                    “And then his second birthday came around, and it’s like he’s getting better. He’s laughing. He’s learning to interact with us,” said Eric.”

                    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17475053

                    ” This helps explain the purposive, goal-directed behavior exhibited by mammals after experimental decortication, as well as the evidence that children born without a cortex are conscious.”

                    • At most, that changes the drawing line (I favor a relatively early one anyways), not the principle itself.

                    • Your first link isn’t meaningful; there are many cases of people – especially families – projecting consciousness onto brain-dead people. It’s understandable, and I’m very pleased if it brings them joy, but it’s not evidence of consciousness.

                      The second link is very interesting, but it’s contrary to what the vast majority of scientists who work in this area believe. As the authors themselves write, their views are not the mainstream scientific view – “Few cognitivists or neuroscientists would today object to the assertion that cortex is the organ of consciousness.” The “evidence that children born without a cortex are conscious” you refer to is a single study from 1999 which had a sample size of only four children, plus the author’s own anecdotal observations.

                      But even if the authors are correct, so what? They’re not denying that neurons are required for consciousness; they’re just arguing that the neurons in question are located mainly on the upper brainstem, rather than in the cerebral cortex. The lack of pyramidal cell dendritic spines on the neurons doesn’t stop being a salient issue just because we’re now talking about brainstrem rather than cortex.

                      So even if the study you link is absolutely correct – and if so, that would overturn a huge amount of current brain science – that still doesn’t change the fact that an embryo is physically incapable of having any consciousness. It is not a person.

                    • “Your first link isn’t meaningful; there are many cases of people – especially families – projecting consciousness onto brain-dead people. It’s understandable, and I’m very pleased if it brings them joy, but it’s not evidence of consciousness.”

                      Did you watch the video or read the article? The baby is alive. He’s acting like a baby does. He’s laughing for God’s sake and that’s not projecting. If you think so you are the one stretching. When I say brain dead I mean someone kept alive artificially.
                      You claimed that there could be no consciousness without a cerebral cortex. That’s what I was addressing.I’m showing you that’s not true. You said nothing about the brain stem nor were we talking about embryos.

                    • Karla, I didn’t watch an entire video of Josiah White – and neither did you. What we both watched was an edited news report with around 5 seconds of non-continuous video footage of the baby (and they repeated a clip at least once). In the clips shown, Josiah appears to be laughing – but it’s almost certainly true that if we could see an entire half-hour of Josiah, we’d see him do a lot of random movements, some of which will appear meaningful and non-random if taken out of context. (Similar to the way edited snippits of Terri Schiavo were used to create an illusion that her eyes tracked a balloon, when really she just had random eye movements.)

                      To be meaningful, it would be necessary to show a much longer and unedited videotape, rather than little edited snippets.

                      The claim that having a brain or not makes no significant difference is a genuinely incredible claim; it requires more proof than a few seconds of video, shown without content. It’s as if I showed you this photo. You wouldn’t say the photo is proof positive that a girl can fly; for a girl to fly in the manner of Supergirl is incredibly unlikely, and requires more proof than a single out-of-context photo.

                      The brainstem wasn’t brought up by me; it was brought up by you, when you linked to a scientific article that argued that consciousness could be seated in the brainstrem rather than the cortex. My comments about that article stand.

                    • So Josiah White is outside the womb and viable. He isn’t dependent on life support but because you say he,like a fetus,has no spirit then it is permissible to kill him. It is no longer fetus’ who may be killed but children who are born and viable.
                      Here’s the next logical step as we become increasingly desensitized.
                      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2108433/Doctors-right-kill-unwanted-disabled-babies-birth-real-person-claims-Oxford-academic.html
                      “Writing in the Journal of Medical Ethics, Dr Minerva and co-author Alberto Giubilini, a University of Milan bioethicist, argue that ‘after-birth abortion’ should be permissible in all cases in which abortion is.
                      They state that like an unborn child, a newborn has yet to develop hopes, goals and dreams and so, while clearly human, is not a person – someone with a moral right to life.”

                    • So Josiah White is outside the womb and viable. He isn’t dependent on life support but because you say he,like a fetus,has no spirit then it is permissible to kill him. It is no longer fetus’ who may be killed but children who are born and viable.

                      You’re putting words I never said into my mouth. (Or, well, my keyboard). It’s not permissible to kill Josiah White, any more than it was permissible for John Andrew Welden to do what he did.

                      As I’ve said in this thread, abortion is a matter of balancing the conflicting rights of the mother and the rights of the fetus. An embryo or a fetus (at least before 28 weeks) is not a person, and as such their rights cannot outweigh the rights of a person to control her own body.

                      However, that conflict of rights does not exist in Josiah White’s case. There is no person’s right to bodily autonomy at issue at all. And Josiah has parents who loved and wanted him very much, and their rights matter very much. It is obvious to me that in that context, it would be morally horrific to kill Josiah.

                      On the other hand, it is common for children in Josiah’s condition to be permitted to die of natural causes in the first week or two of life (even though perhaps their lives could be saved with medical treatment). That’s a horribly sad thing for any parent to go through, but I’m not going to sit in judgement of those parents and call them murderers. Nor do I feel that allowing a baby with no brain to die is at all the same thing, morally, as allowing a baby with a brain to die.

                      Finally, regarding Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva’s argument, I strongly disagree with them, for reasons I discussed on my blog.

            • Their doesn’t seem to be a refutation of my point here. Humans > Chickens, so human fetus has the same rights as an adult human? It doesn’t work.

              My comparison was to note that while fetuses are human, they don’t have all the same rights as other humans.We don’t treat them identically like we don’t treat chickens and chicken eggs identically. I explained this to tex. We can argue over whether a fetus should have the right to life, but simply stating that it’s human doesn’t automatically give it the rights of adult humans.

              • ” We can argue over whether a fetus should have the right to life, but simply stating that it’s human doesn’t automatically give it the rights of adult humans.”

                So only adults have rights? Children don’t? Or you have to be at a certain stage of development to have rights? You don’t have rights if you’re 35 weeks in utero but you do if you are born alive at 24 weeks?

                • So only adults have rights?

                  I didn’t say only adults have rights. In multiple places in this thread I have explained how fetuses have less rights than children who have less rights than adults. I’ve used the rights of children compared to adults to make my point. It’s not a difficult one.

              • You’ve been begging the question this entire post string.

                You assume that the Right to Life only applies to adult humans, that this is somehow chiseled in stone somewhere. It’s only chiseled in stone in the pro-abortion crowd’s mind. Until you can prove that only adult humans have the right to life, you really can’t keep using that as your primary rebuttal tool.

                Fix it.

  8. I absolutely agree!!! 1St degree murder is a double standard and because its the Feds its all they could charge but it will never STICK! It’s ridiculous. She can walk into a clinic and have an abortion the same exact way against his wishes and its not murder because the fetus isn’t viable outside the womb yet. If its not murder for her its not murder for him PERIOD! The only crime is with the drugs, switching of the drugs, deception/ tricking her and of course using his dads practice to obtain the meds. This was no fairy tail relationship or it would have had a different ending.

  9. 1) Laws like this are a natural result of a genuine split of opinion among the US public (and the people we elect). This was a pro-life law, passed over the opposition of pro-choice legislators and groups, and as such it reflects pro-life beliefs. Other laws are pro-choice laws, and as such reflect pro-choice beliefs. I’m not sure it’s fair to describe what happens when different groups within a democracy honestly disagree as “hypocrisy.”

    This is an unusual case, but really its no different than many proposed pro-life laws that define abortion as murder but exempt the mother from punishment.

    2) I don’t think the slavery comparison stands to scrutiny. A person’s body is not comparable to a plantation. Moreover, popular pro-slavery arguments in the 1800s acknowledged that slaves were people, although they falsely described slaves as childlike and unable to take care of themselves.

    It’s politically useful for pro-lifers to pretend that abortion and slavery were similar debates, and that the major argument for slavery was the claim that Africans were not people. But that’s simply not true.

    In fact, the arguments that were historically used by slavers to argue for slavery – it’s been around forever! It’s in the Bible! It’s the foundations of civilization! – don’t resemble pro-choice arguments; they resemble anti-gay-marriage arguments.

    3) In the end, cases like this and Gosnell are too weird and atypical to be the center of the debate. Philosophically, the central questions of the abortion debate are, first of all, can the state legitimately use force to make pregnant women give birth? And second, is a fetus or embryo morally identical to a person?

    Those are questions that apply to the large majority of real-world abortions, not just to rare exceptions. Any discussion of abortion that does not address these two questions, is a discussion about a side issue.

    • 1. I more or less agree, but “genuine split” is a euphemism for “haven’t had the guts and resolve to answer basic questions.” I’m sure you weren’t suggesting otherwise, but the fact that there are lots of bad laws like this is no justification.

      2. I know I made the plantation comparison for effect, but the real one IS valid—in both cases, that which is fully human is being devalued by claiming it is not, or a lesser human. You’re just wrong that the “blacks aren’t human like real people” argument wasn’t a major underpinning of US slavery. This was the fall back “scientific” argument against abolitionists, and it is used today still. The reason “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” knocked the pins out from under popular support for slavery was that it forced readers to look at blacks as humans and realize that the loved, cared, thought and suffered like we did. Simon Legree was an outlier too, and defenders of slavery argued that she had made up the abuses she exposed. She published a book of newspaper accounts that were worse than what was in her novel.

      The slavery comparison is 100% legitimate. It’s just uncomfortable. Like “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Truth hurts.

      3. Is it right to allow an innocent human being to be killed for the sake of vanity, convenience or anything at all is NOT a “side issue.”

      • 1.

        1. I more or less agree, but “genuine split” is a euphemism for “haven’t had the guts and resolve to answer basic questions.”

        I’m not even sure what this means. Surely you’re not saying that it’s a problem that pro-lifers haven’t had “the guts and resolve” to murder all pro-choicers and thus resolve the issue, or vice versa. But short of that, I don’t see how not firmly deciding a controversy one way or the other, in a democracy, is a failure of guts and resolve.

        I agree that the law is a bad law; as a pro-choicer, I opposed the law.

        2. Things don’t become true just because you stomp your foot and say so, Jack. I linked to an extensive discussion of historic pro-slavery arguments by a Yale historian who is a legitimate expert on this subject; that outweighs the absolutely zero evidence you cited.

        You also conflate two different arguments, and misrepresent the pro-choice argument, when you write “that which is fully human is being devalued by claiming it is not, or a lesser human.” If I say a chair is not a person, I’m not calling it “a lesser human”; I am proposing two categories, person and not-person, and saying the chair belongs in the category not-person. To claim that these two arguments are the same is simply wrong.

        In over 99% of abortions, the fetus that is killed is not a person. It physically lacks all capacity for thought or feeling, because the necessary physical structures for thought and feeling do not exist in its brain. It is not murder for a doctor to abort a brainless being, any more than it’s murder for a doctor to turn off the machines keeping the heart beating of someone who is legally brain-dead.

        3. Is it right to allow an innocent human being to be killed for the sake of vanity, convenience or anything at all is NOT a “side issue.”

        A zygote or fetus is a “human being” in the sense of having human DNA, but it is not a person. It has no functioning brain and is incapable of innocence or guilt.

        Since you don’t think that a zygote is a “lesser human” than a born person, let me ask you something. You’re in a burning building; down one corridor is a suitcase containing 2 living, fertilized human eggs, both scheduled to be implanted in willing women’s wombs tomorrow. Down the other corridor is Lucy, a five year old child. You only have time to rescue one.

        Would you let Lucy burn to death so you could rescue two fertilized eggs?

        For me, it wouldn’t matter if the suitcase had 2000 fertilized eggs; I’d still rescue Lucy. A living, thinking person has infinitely more moral value than a being that is physically incapable of thinking or feeling anything.

        • You’re #3 is a false analogy.

          You’re equating “Lucy” an innocent child in the midst of a fire to the vain people making decisions of convenience in your hypothetical. The two are hardly comparable.

          • That wasn’t the point of my example, Texagg. The comparison I was making was not between a five-year-old and a pregnant woman, but between a five-year-old and a fertilized egg.

            My point is, if there really is no moral difference at all between a five-year-old girl and a fertilized egg, then it should be easy to decide to rescue the fertilized eggs rather than the little girl.

            Imagine you’re in a burning building; down one corridor are 4 five-year-old children (Charlie, Linus, Sally and Pigpen) who you can rescue. Down the other corridor is a single five-year-old child named Lucy. You only have time to run down one corridor.

            In that circumstance, I assume you’d first go to rescue the 4 five-year-olds first. So would I. Tragic as it is to not rescue Lucy, we can’t justify allowing 4 five-year-olds to burn to death, because their lives are just as valuable as Lucy’s. So why don’t we feel the same way about 4 fertilized human eggs?

            I notice that you avoided answering my question. So this time, please answer it, and rest assured that I’m not saying Lucy is the same as a pregnant woman.

            The building is burning. Down one corridor is a suitcase with four fertilized human eggs, all of which have women waiting to bear them. Down the other corridor is Lucy, a five-year-old girl. There is only time to rescue one. Which do you choose to rescue?

            I don’t know what you’ll answer. But I can guarantee that most normal human beings, even if they’re pro-lfie, would choose to rescue Lucy in that circumstance. And that’s because – although they don’t like to admit it – pro-lifers know that there is a real and important moral difference between a five-year-old child and a fertilized egg.

            It’s convenient for you, and other pro-lifers, to pretend that there is no moral difference between a fertilized egg and a five-year-old. But there is.

            • Assuming that viability is what determines a right to life is your error.

              The pro-abortion crowd’s justification for why an unborn human doesn’t have a right to live, is based on viability or survivability on their own. I can acknowledge the validity that an unborn fetus cannot survive on its own and I can acknowledge that a mere fertilized human egg still has a long way to go before it even makes to later stages of human life.

              Those are actually quite valid reasons to pick “Lucy” over the 4 fertilized eggs in the emergency you described, because I’m not being forced to determine who has a right to live. I’m forced to determine who I can save from a scenario that has little to do with evaluating justice based on a plethora of factors. Using those factors to determine whose lives to save allows the pro-abortion crowd to immediately say “HA, because you acknowledge that unborn humans may be less sentient, or may not respond to stimuli or may be at an earlier stage of development, you must also acknowledge that a mother can kill them at will!”

              As evaluating likelihood of survivability in an emergency being a method of determining who has a right to life. It’s a non-sequitur.

              • The scenario presented is not one that shows the logic behind allowing mothers to kill their unborn at will. It simply doesn’t.

                All it does it put on a balancing scale several factors of whose life/lives to save in an emergency.

                It would be like comparing:

                Who do you save?
                Lucy or 4 elderly people on hospice with less than 2 days to live?
                Lucy or a girl one year older?
                Lucy or a boy one year older?
                Lucy or a girl one year younger?
                Lucy or a boy one year younger?
                Lucy (a crabby little brat) or Schroeder (a talented young boy)?
                10,000,000,000 fertilized eggs or a 30 year old COPD patient who has already clinically died twice and isn’t expected to survive 2 more days?

                None of the answers to those questions answers the question “Who has a Right to Life?” Right to life is innate until forfeit through personal action. Who you save in a fire based on a PLETHORA of other factors does not change the Right to Life one iota. There isn’t a continuum based on some formula of (survivability x viability x sentience x emotion x responsiveness x etc) upon which lies a point and everything to one side of the point has a Right to Life and everything on the other side has an arbitrary privilege to life at the whim of others.

                You’re scenario best fits in a specific sub-component of the abortion argument. That is, the evaluation of rightness/wrongness of abortion in relation to a mother who’s survival is threatened by the unborn human. In which case you’ll have little disagreement from me on abortion.

                As for the greater, more general abortion argument? The answer to the question posed in your scenario doesn’t reveal anything.

                • Pardon me, it does reveal something when applied to the general abortion argument. It reveals a willingness to weigh the factor of Right to Life against factors such as comfort, convenience, vanity, etc.

                • My point is simple: You aren’t actually willing to sign on to the proposition that a fertilized egg is the moral equal of a born child. If you were, you wouldn’t be engaging in all this dodging; you’d just say “assuming I have reason to believe they’d survive, I’d rescue the eggs.”

                  If a fertilized egg were morally equal to a born child, then without question it would be better to rescue a dozen eggs and let Lucy die, than vice-versa. It would not be a difficult question at all.

                  But in fact, only a moral monster would choose to sacrifice Lucy in order to save a suitcase of fertilized eggs, which is why you’re unwilling to say that’s what you’d do. Lucy is a thinking, aware being, with a mind; she is worth an infinite number of eggs. (As are you, as am I.)

                  But the pro-life position depends on not acknowledging the simple and obvious fact that the differences between a fertilized egg matter, morally. Hence all the dodging and weaving you’re doing rather than answering my simple question.

                  • I know you aren’t illiterate, so you must have missed where I did answer your question.

                    There has been no dodging. I demonstrated how your scenario has no bearing on a Right to Life determination.

                    The more I consider it, the more I realize your scenario doesn’t even address the line Jack stated that he labelled “3”. Which is that a large portion IF not the majority of abortion seekers do so because they are balancing their own comfort and vanity against the life of the unborn.

                    “Is it right to allow an innocent human being to be killed for the sake of vanity, convenience or anything at all is NOT a “side issue.”

                    If you wanted a scenario that addressed the objection Jack raises (which is the Elephant in the Living Room), it would have gone something like this:

                    Down one hall is a living room with a young woman watching TV. She has asked you to come fluff her pillow and change the channel for her, because she doesn’t want to be bothered with discomfort. Down another hall is a baby in a burning room.

                    Your choice: Either the baby dies or she has to change the channel and fluff the pillow herself. Which do you choose?

                    • Correction, my answer was in a line I edited before posting. So it is not up there.

                      The answer is “of course you save Lucy.”

                      Then read the rest of the post. Your scenario still reveals nothing in regards to the general abortion debate other than a willingness to balance life against comfort.

                  • “But the pro-life position depends on not acknowledging the simple and obvious fact that the differences between a fertilized egg matter, morally. Hence all the dodging and weaving you’re doing rather than answering my simple question.”

                    From your utilitarian stance of applying varying moral weight:

                    There may be a ‘moral’ difference between various stages of human development. But even so, not so much of a difference that changes the weighting scale drastically enough to even begin considering the factors that most pro-abortionists do.

                    So you still aren’t making a valid point.

                    • There may be a ‘moral’ difference between various stages of human development. But even so, not so much of a difference that changes the weighting scale drastically enough to even begin considering the factors that most pro-abortionists do.

                      Until at least 28 weeks, an embryo or a fetus is physically incapable of having any mind at all. It physically cannot have a thought, experience a sensation, want a desire. It is not comparable to a stunned boxer, who, although stunned, still has a cerebral cortex; rather, an embryo lacks a higher brain just as my chair lacks a higher brain. There is no person there and never has been.

                      That is a DRASTIC moral difference, and it makes a huge difference to outcomes.

                      Far from being a minor or unimportant distinction, the difference between a person and an object is very likely the single most important moral distinction there is. This distinction is why it is moral to burn firewood, but not people; it is why it is acceptable to own objects, but not people; it is why it is acceptable to bury a corpse, but murder to bury a person. It is why people have rights but objects do not.

                      And yes, it is why abortion is moral. The right of a pregnant woman to make her own essential life choices, and to be free of government using force to make her give birth, outweighs the right of a non-person to use her body to become a person.

                      I could consider an argument that a fetus after the 28th week – which at least has the physical possibility of having a mind – has more rights. But prior to that point, it’s obscene to suggest that the freedom of a thinking person should be thrown away in order to facilitate the “rights” of a non-person with no mind at all.

                    • Your arbitrary criteria for right to life is odd to me. An unborn human is still human.

                      “It physically cannot have a thought” It will shortly, and it’s human.
                      “It cannot experience a sensation” It will shortly, and it’s human.
                      “It cannot want a desire” It will shortly, and it’s human.

                      You chair is not in the process of developing a brain either. False analogy.

                      There is no person there for the convenience of not feeling bad about killing the unborn.

                      There still may be a moral difference, it is slight in the grand scheme of things and not enough to imbalance the ethical scales when considering a parent’s comfort and convenience. It is NOT as drastic as you need it to be.

                      Your misuse of the word “Moral” reveals potential flaws in your overall argument. It isn’t moral to burn firewood, nor is it immoral to do so. Morality doesn’t apply to that.

                      Nevertheless, you’ve spent your whole response begging the question. You assume in your premise there is no or almost no moral weight to unborn human, then your conclusion is there is no moral weight to killing an unborn human.

                      “The right of a pregnant woman to make her own essential life choices, and to be free of government using force to make her give birth, outweighs the right of a non-person to use her body to become a person.”

                      Your bottom line certainly succinctly sums up the comfort and convenience of the born outweighs the life of the unborn. All based on false premises and then justified via a politically expedient rationalization.

                      Certainly women get to make their own *essential* life choices. Killing another human life is not one of those *essential* choices.

                      You then follow it up with a ridiculous comment “the right of a non-person (begging the question again) to use her body to become a person”. That assertion requires attributing freewill and decision to the unborn human; two qualities I believe you claim they do not have.

                    • Your arbitrary criteria for right to life is odd to me. An unborn human is still human.

                      A mole is human. My liver is human. My hair is human. A human corpse is human. Yet none of these things have a right to life.

                      Your criteria – “human” – is completely arbitrary and illogical. There are all sorts of examples of living human tissue with no right to life. My criteria is logical, is consistent with our criteria for determining death, and reflects important moral priorities. Our ability to think is the most important part of what makes us human, and is the source of human rights. Without thought, we wouldn’t even have the concept of rights.

                      Carl Sagan wrote,

                      “All animals respond to stimuli and move of their own volition. Large numbers are able to breathe. But that doesn’t stop us from slaughtering them by the billions. Reflexes and motion are not what make us human.

                      Other animals have advantages over us–in speed, strength, endurance, climbing or burrowing skills, camouflage, sight or smell or hearing, mastery of the air or water. Our one great advantage, the secret of our success, is thought–characteristically human thought. We are able to think things through, imagine events yet to occur, figure things out. That’s how we invented agriculture and civilization. Thought is our blessing and our curse, and it makes us who we are.”

                      To say that thought is not a morally important trait, is to say that what makes us human is not something of any moral importance.

                      “It physically cannot have a thought” It will shortly, and it’s human.

                      Well, not it won’t, not if the mother gets an abortion. All there is, at this stage, is a hypothetical potential person. But why should this hypothetical potential person have rights when other potential people do not?

                      I live with two lovely, perfect children – two children who would not exist today if their mother hadn’t had an abortion a decade earlier (since the exact life circumstances that produced these two children would never have occurred).

                      Of course, if their mother had had different children instead of these two, then the two children I know and love would be nothing but hypothetical unrealized potential children. No doubt those other children would also be lovely and perfect. But I don’t see why the children I know and love are any less valuable, or why I should regret that these potential children came into being rather than those other potential children.

                      There is a lot of evidence that women mostly use abortion, not to choose to have children or not, but to control the timing of when in their life they have children. Banning abortion doesn’t mean that more children are born, just that different children are born. Why is that so valuable that it’s worth treating women’s human rights and freedom like worthless garbage, as you do?

                      You chair is not in the process of developing a brain either. False analogy.

                      Do you understand that’s not an argument?

                      It’s true that the fetus might develop into a person, with a great deal of help and resources from the mother’s body, and the chair won’t.

                      But just pointing that out is not enough. Can you explain, using logic, why that difference matters?

                      A potential person is not the same as the person, any more than an acorn is the same as an oak tree. It is not logical to treat two things that are not the same as if they are identical.

                      We don’t say that a baby must have a right to drive a car because, if we wait sixteen years, it will have a right to drive. We don’t say that a ten-year-old has a right to drink booze because, in 11 years, it will be of drinking age. The idea that our potential future rights are the same as our current rights is not logical, nor is it consistent with other laws.

                      Similarly, the right to life comes from being a person. Something that is not a person can’t have the right to life – not even if it might hypothetically become a person if we wait five months.

                      There still may be a moral difference, it is slight in the grand scheme of things and not enough to imbalance the ethical scales when considering a parent’s comfort and convenience. It is NOT as drastic as you need it to be.

                      Your misuse of the word “Moral” reveals potential flaws in your overall argument. It isn’t moral to burn firewood, nor is it immoral to do so.

                      Semantics? Really? What a pathetic dodge. I guess you really don’t have a single logical argument.

                      Certainly women get to make their own *essential* life choices. Killing another human life is not one of those *essential* choices.

                      What we’re talking about is the right of women to decide whether or not to become parents, and to control their own reproduction, without having to remain virgins. That you apparently consider this trivial suggests that you’re unable to properly weigh what’s at stake here.

                      But it doesn’t matter. We don’t live in a dictatorship, and women are equal citizens, not slaves. You may consider the right of women to control their own reproductive destinies trivial, but most women do not, and in a free society that something that should be given weight.

                      You then follow it up with a ridiculous comment “the right of a non-person (begging the question again) to use her body to become a person”. That assertion requires attributing freewill and decision to the unborn human; two qualities I believe you claim they do not have.

                      Good point, my phrasing was unclear. Let me clarify: The person attributing rights to the fetus is not the fetus itself – which is not a person, and has no conception of its own existence, let alone “rights” – but you and other pro-lifers.

                      But you are mistaken. You are attributing a person’s characteristics to something that is not a person, and thus vastly overweighing its value. (I have more than satisfactorily proven that an embryo is a non-person in this thread; if you have a rational, non-religious argument for how an embryo could be a person, or for why capacity for thought is entirely irrelevant to personhood, then make the argument. You have not done so thus far.) And you are treating the right of pregnant women not to have the government force them to give birth at gunpoint as if it were a trivial matter, of no value at all.

                    • “A mole is human. My liver is human. My hair is human. A human corpse is human. Yet none of these things have a right to life.”

                      Strawman. I haven’t claimed any of that. If you are trying to segue into the “unborn human is part of a woman’s body” line of thought, it has already been invalidated in previous threads. In short, an unborn human is not part of a woman’s body.

                      “My criteria is logical, is consistent with our criteria for determining death”

                      Really? Arbitrarily re-defining humans as not-human is our criteria for determining death?

                      You are shooting in the dark now.

                      “reflects important moral priorities.”

                      Apparantly comfort and convenience is a moral priority. It is not.

                      “Without thought, we wouldn’t even have the concept of rights.”

                      That sounds strangely enough like a serious modification of the anthropic bias.

                      But, if that is a criteria for rights, the ability to think of rights, then I ought to be able to freely beat the hell out of my dog and dehydrate it and torture it for my pleasure since it can’t conceive of rights (being a human thought process and all).

                      “Carl Sagan wrote,

                      “All animals…..”

                      Irrelevant.

                      “‘It physically cannot have a thought’” It will shortly, and it’s human.”

                      Well, not it won’t, not if the mother gets an abortion.

                      Further begging the question in a manner already expounded on. You are assuming that it is ok to abort then concluding it is ok to abort.

                      Your following three paragraphs are well word-smithed rationalization of the begged question.

                      “Why is that so valuable that it’s worth treating women’s human rights and freedom like worthless garbage, as you do?”

                      You’ve given a great example of a bandwagon fallacy. It is also known as the Appeal to Popularity. Justifying your stance based on a politically popular opinion is hardly valid.

                      You have yet to prove it is a woman’s right (which I’m not really certain are any different than a man’s right) to kill an unborn human. Before you move on to “It’s her body” (remember that has been invalidated elsewhere in this discussion).

                      Because I certainly do not treat women’s human rights like worthless garbage. I just don’t believe in the fallacious claim that a woman has a right to kill an unborn human.

                      “We don’t say that a baby must have a right to drive a car because, if we wait sixteen years, it will have a right to drive. We don’t say that a ten-year-old has a right to drink booze because, in 11 years, it will be of drinking age.”

                      You make the same false analogy TGT does. You are equating an inalienable right with a series of what would best be termed an ‘alienable’ right. Won’t fly. Right to life for the innocent is inalienable.

                      “Similarly, the right to life comes from being a person…..”

                      Further cant. Addressed elsewhere in this discussion and identified as begging the question.

                      “Semantics? Really? What a pathetic dodge. I guess you really don’t have a single logical argument.”

                      It’s hardly semantics, you attempted an analogy that was defeated because a description was not applicable to a subject. Sorry if that sucks.

                      Odd that your entire argument so far has rested on the semantics of what is and isn’t a human.

                      “What we’re talking about is the right of women to decide whether or not to become parents, and to control their own reproduction, without having to remain virgins. That you apparently consider this trivial suggests that you’re unable to properly weigh what’s at stake here.”

                      No, we’re talking about comfort and convenience being improperly weighed against right to life. Hardly trivial. What is sad is how much you trivialize a human life in order to justify the decisions made. As for your ‘virgin’ comment; hyperbole doesn’t suit you.

                      “But it doesn’t matter. We don’t live in a dictatorship, and women are equal citizens, not slaves.”

                      Emotional appeal and also a nice fat strawman.

                      Those comments are logically correct, you just don’t seem to realize I’ve never asserted any of that. You just think I do, because I acknowledge right to life.

                      “The person attributing rights to the fetus is not the fetus itself – which is not a person, and has no conception of its own existence, let alone “rights” – but you and other pro-lifers.”

                      Guess we also know where you stand on the Terry Schiavo case. At least there is consistency.

                      On a side note, rights are only rights if an individual attributes them to themselves?

                      “You are attributing a person’s characteristics to something that is not a person”

                      According to the manufactured definitions necessary to justify a pro-abortion stance. Since your entire argument begs the question, it is fitting to end with one.

                      So far, your argument is based on arbitrarily redefining certain humans to fit the needs of people who don’t want them. Your support consists of assuming this as right and then concluding it must be right. You have made several emotional appeals, one of which on several occasions was an emotional appeal to a politically expedient stance. I have seen nothing but a compendium of fallacy to back your argument.

              • Assuming that viability is what determines a right to life is your error.

                I don’t make that assumption, and I never made that argument. You’re badly misinterpreting what I wrote.

                I think that “the right to life,” in regards to abortion, is determined primarily by personhood, not viability.

                • “Personhood”

                  Further terminology with slightly modified definitions.

                  Absolutely required to accept a pro-abortion position.

                  Jack is absolutely right, the pro-abortion crowd has only cant.

  10. The “woman’s body” argument is also an intellectually unsupportable dodge. An organism with different genetic make-up, separate thoughts and a beating heart is not “part of a woman’s body” like a wart or a kidney or a leg…and doctors would object to and refuse to amputate a healthy leg just because it “offends” its owner…and it isn’t even sleeping and thinking. It is another excuse not to deal with the real ethical issue, which is that another life is involved.

    Imagine each conjoined twin making the argument that it had the right to kill the other, since she was part of her own body. Now let’s imagine that one twin is massively bigger, smarter, and the only one able to talk and vote. Does that power alone empower her to take the life of the other?

    • You talked about the siblings, but what about the parents? Parents often make the decision to separate conjoined twins early on because twins who remain joined have a much lower life expectancy and life long problems. Sometimes, the surgery is successful — and I believe that those stats have been improving over time. Often, however, one or both twins won’t survive. Should the parents be charged with murder if this happens? What about the doctors? Should there be an inquiry in each instance to weigh the risks vs. advice of the doctors? I think it’s a tough question.

      • I think you missed the point of Jack’s analogy, he wasn’t drawing comparisons to survivability, in which case the conjoined twins analogy isn’t appropriate. He’s drawing the comparison between who gets to make a decision in the case of two lives, one of which is claimed to be part of the other’s body, therefore the other can make whatever decisions they want.

        • I’m focused on who gets to make the decision too. Once viable children are born, are parents allowed to make a decision to operate that may kill one or both children — let’s say that both kids (remaining joined) have a life expectancy of 15 years, but if the operation is successful, there is every reason that they will live full normal lives? I’m not taking a position here — I think this is a tough question.

    • What’s an insupportable dodge is pretending that you debunked the idea that the fetus is part of the woman’s body. The fetus is completely inside the woman and attached to her, depending upon her in a one-way parasitic relationship.

      Your conjoined twins argument is complete bullshit, and you’ve been called on it in the past. Throwing it out again is still bullshit.

      • It’s a good analogy. Bullshit is the “part of a woman’s body” argument, which is just intellectually insupportable, except to those who have already predetermined the conclusion they want to reach.

        • I gave evidence for why your debunking wasn’t enough. Your response to it is general statements that ignore my evidence completely. You aren’t going full SMP, are you?

          • Argumentum ad SMP-um.

            Sad.

            Presumes SMP is less of a mind in a discussion. Quite arrogant and wrong of you.

            Additionally makes a comparison to that presumption in order to debase an arguers validity. So it falls squarely in Ad Hominem realm.

            Failed again.

            • I didn’t do an ad hominem. I didn’t say “you’re fat. Therefore you’re wrong”.

              I think you mean to call it poisoning the well (You’re an x, therefore you’re wrong), but that isn’t what I did either.

              What I did was explain what Jack did wrong, and then make a joke to shame him about doing that piece wrong.

              Shorter: It wasn’t “You’re like SMP, therefore you’re wrong.” Instead it was “You did this thing wrong. It’s what SMP always does when he can’t respond to an argument.”

          • First of all your evidence didn’t demonstrate why his debunking wasn’t enough. It merely listed several geographic constraints, none of which satisfy an unborn baby being part of the mother.

            So, no, he doesn’t need to respond to your flaws when your original point didn’t even do what you thought it did.

            And for once you are right, it wasn’t an ad hominem. It was just downright classless, baseless, and rude. But I shouldn’t have expected less of you, so I retract my concern over your comments of equating what you perceive Jack’s behavior to what you perceive to be SMP’s behavior.

            • First of all your evidence didn’t demonstrate why his debunking wasn’t enough. It merely listed several geographic constraints, none of which satisfy an unborn baby being part of the mother.

              We treat other separate organisms that are entirely inside a human being and have similar dependent relationships that are considered part of that human being. How is that not enough? It’s a direct parallel. To avoid it requires special pleading.

              And for once you are right, it wasn’t an ad hominem. It was just downright classless, baseless, and rude.

              It was classless, baseless, and rude to point out that someone is making the bad arguments of someone who is known for bad arguments? I don’t get it.

              • No we don’t, and before you drum out your bacterial flora error, Jack already debunked it already.

                Special Pleading? Seriously man, you need to educate yourself on the fallacies. You can’t just say one you recall hearing or reading about and hope it sticks.

    • Now let’s imagine that one twin is massively bigger, smarter, and the only one able to talk and vote. Does that power alone empower her to take the life of the other?

      It’s funny how you don’t take this analogy all the way. Of course no one should be seen as having less of a right to life because they are weaker, smaller, stupider, mute, or lack voting rights. That is not the morally important difference between a woman and a fetus.

      Let’s take your analogy one step further. Imagine that one of the two twins completely lacks pyramidal cell dendritic spines on the neurons in its brain, like a fetus before the 28th week of pregnancy does. Without those dendritic spines, that twin is physically incapable of experiencing a thought or an emotion, having any awareness, or any consciousness. It is medically different from being asleep, or being in a coma; unlike those states, having no dendritic spines is a state of total mind non-existence.

      Would it be wrong to remove (even if it killed her) a cojoined twin without dendritic spines? I don’t think so. The mindless twin is physically incapable of being a person. The good of a person morally outweighs the good of a non-person.

        • If it could be said with certainty that the development of those features were merely a matter of letting it live? It would absolutely be unethical

          There is no “merely a matter of letting it live” if it’s attached to another organism.

            • “Merely” is begging the question, not quibbling, but I actually was letting that go as the smaller of the sins. The “letting it live” part is also problematic. You suggest there’s nothing to it, like this twin is not placing demands on the other twin. In the last abortion thread (circa February), there was an attempt to claim that attached bodies don’t affect each other. It got shot down then, and I’m not letting it get resurrected here.

        • If it could be said with certainty that the development of those features were merely a matter of letting it live? It would absolutely be unethical.

          Why?

          As TGT points out, when talking about a pregnancy, the process by which a fertilized egg becomes a person is not “merely a matter of letting it live.” To suggest that it is, is a “Woman? What woman?” argument.

          It requires the active participation of the mother, both consciously (for instance, having to quit smoking and drinking, seeking and paying for prenatal care, etc) and non-consciously (the mother’s body puts enormous resources into supporting and growing the fetus), to turn a fertilized egg into a baby. The process carries some danger to the woman, both of mortal harm and (much more likely) of permanent but non-mortal harm.

          In the pro-life perspective, a potential but not actually existing person is granted greater rights than an actual person, so long as that actual person is a pregnant woman. The pro-life view values the life of a potential but nonexistent person over the freedom and safety of an existing woman.

          The pro-choice position, to me, makes more sense. A hypothetical “potential” person’s rights do not outweigh the rights of a real, existing person’s rights. The government does not have the right to force us to allow other people the use of our bodies organs, and it certainly has no such right for mere potential people.

          Is that inconsistent with a law saying that in a case like this, the man committed homicide? Yes, it is. Which is why virtually all pro-choicers oppose such laws.

          • 1. “Which is why virtually all pro-choicers oppose such laws.”
            That’s not my impression. There are many feminists who would argue that the mother gets to decide if the baby is a “child” or not.
            2. “a potential but not actually existing person is granted greater rights than an actual person, so long as that actual person is a pregnant woman. The pro-life view values the life of a potential but nonexistent person over the freedom and safety of an existing woman.” How so? Requiring a person not to kill a person because the other person is weak and dependent is having superior rights? Is that true of children and the disabled too? Insisting on duties is not a diminishment of rights. Both have the same right to live.
            3. Child-rearing requires even more active participation. The point of choice is choosing not to assume responsibility for another life before creating it.

            • 1. “Which is why virtually all pro-choicers oppose such laws.”
              That’s not my impression. There are many feminists who would argue that the mother gets to decide if the baby is a “child” or not.

              Every major national pro-choice organization in the country publicly opposed the homicide section of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004, which is the law which led to John Andrew Welden being charged with homicide. Your “impression” is irrelevant; facts are facts, and it is the fact that pro-choicers opposed this law.

              A “child” is a subjective term, and of course individuals are able to decide what they do or don’t think is a child. (There are many examples of this outside of the abortion debate: Adoptive parents choose to think of a child with no genetic relationship to them as “our child”; sperm donors might not think of a genetic child as “my child”; etc.) Some people refer to their housepets as their children. This is all irrelevant to the question of what pro-choicers say the laws about homicide should be.

              2. Requiring a person not to kill a person because the other person is weak and dependent is having superior rights?

              But we’re not talking about killing “a person.” In virtually all cases, when an abortion takes place, the fetus is not a person; it is physically incapable of having any thoughts, feelings, or experiences. It is, at best, something that might potentially become a person someday.

              3. Child-rearing requires even more active participation. The point of choice is choosing not to assume responsibility for another life before creating it.

              This brings up a major inconsistency in the pro-life position: What about rape?

              If, as is usually the case, pro-lifers say that rape victims should be able to legally abort their children, then they should drop all claims that their movement is about “saving innocent lives.” The child of a rapist is just as innocent as any other child, and the circumstances of their conception cannot justly take away their “right to life,”

              That most pro-lifers favor an exception letting the children of rapists be legally killed is not consistent with the belief that a fertilized egg is the same as a born child and has a full right to life. But it is consistent with a belief that slutty women deserve to be punished for choosing to have sex.

              There are some pro-lifers who favor forcing rape victims to give birth, too. Fair enough, but if that’s the argument, then pro-lifers should quit saying that it’s okay because the woman chose to have sex, since they’d force the woman to give birth regardless of if she chose to have sex or not.

              That aside, the point of choice is that the government should have no right to force a woman to continue, or to abort, a pregnancy, Pregnant women are not slaves.

              Once a child is born, the parents – or parent, if the father has split town – are free to give the child up for adoption. No one will force them to take care of that child. Yet pro-lifers advocate using the state to force unwilling pregnant women to give birth, all to protect the rights of a purely hypothetical person, a person who doesn’t actually exist yet. I stick by what I said – pro-lifers value the “rights” of hypothetical, nonexistent people over the rights of actually existing women.

              • 1. Organizations are not individuals, Barry. But it’s a bad law; I’d be happy for you to be right.
                2. What about rape? If the fetus is a child, then the taking of the life doesn’t change. There is no obligation to take care of a child imposed on one without consent, but its’ not the child’s fault it exists. No obligation to care for—obligation not to kill? Of course.
                3. A “child” is a subjective term, and of course individuals are able to decide what they do or don’t think is a child. Ridiculous. It is a vital term, like rights and “person” and needs to be defined with precision and consistency. You can call a doll a child, but that doesn’t make it a child.
                4.If, as is usually the case, pro-lifers say that rape victims should be able to legally abort their children, then they should drop all claims that their movement is about “saving innocent lives.” The child of a rapist is just as innocent as any other child, and the circumstances of their conception cannot justly take away their “right to life,” That most pro-lifers favor an exception letting the children of rapists be legally killed is not consistent with the belief that a fertilized egg is the same as a born child and has a full right to life. But it is consistent with a belief that slutty women deserve to be punished for choosing to have sex. There are some pro-lifers who favor forcing rape victims to give birth, too. Fair enough, but if that’s the argument, then pro-lifers should quit saying that it’s okay because the woman chose to have sex, since they’d force the woman to give birth regardless of if she chose to have sex or not.

                Yup. Agree completely.

                5. That aside, the point of choice is that the government should have no right to force a woman to continue, or to abort, a pregnancy, Pregnant women are not slaves. Yup also. No doubt about about it. It’s a problem all right. But pretending a human being isn’t one so that the problem can be solved without bad feelings is a device, not a solution.

                6. My problem with all of this is that it was and is an after the fact, manufactured rationalization to allow abortions on demand as the painless solution to a genuine ethical conflict affecting women. “Potential person” is a dodge; “the woman’s body is a dodge,” and there is no question in my mind that if babies could be born in two weeks and a mother didn’t show, nobody would dare making either argument, because they would be laughed away. But inconvenience and hardship is no excuse to argue away a life…or a million lives a year.

                • 1. …and your impressions are not examples. Barry referenced pro-choice organization disapproval. Can you point to where you got your idea from?

                  2. No obligation to care for—obligation not to kill? Of course.
                  If you’re making the women carry the pregnancy, you’re forcing them to care for the fetus. You can’t have it both ways.

                  3. Your complaint is that some people use the child term to refer to their fetuses, and others don’t? I guess child could be a technical term, but our the people referring to their child referring to it as a technical term? If not, then it’s not an issue. Calling something a child or not is really about emotions. If you want offspring, then you might consider your wife’s eggs children. If you don’t want offspring and are planning to get an abortion, then you aren’t going to call a fetus a child.

                  Your problem with children language seems similar to me to laws requiring pregnant women be told about fingernails or see ultrasounds. It’s an attempt to play on their emotions and the connotations.

                  4. You have been consistent about that. Barry, I don’t think this had a place in arguing against Jack. It’s like a pro-pot activist trying to use the legality of alcohol to back pot.

                  5. Haven’t we agreed to that? Pretending a fetus is a fully formed human is a device as well.

                  6. Yes, if the fetus had no affect on the woman’s body, then there’d be no need for a women’s body argument. I don’t see what that matters.

                  6b. But inconvenience and hardship is no excuse to argue away a life…or a million lives a year.

                  And here is where you go off the rails. You suggest that any human life is worthwhile, and inconvenience and hardship can’t get in the way. If you believe this, you should also believe that birth control is inappropriate. It stops those sperm and egg lives.

                  We’ve been round on this. You impart full rights on a fertilized, implanted egg when it’s no different biologically from a fertilized egg that’s prevented from being implanted by birth control.

                • 5. That aside, the point of choice is that the government should have no right to force a woman to continue, or to abort, a pregnancy. Pregnant women are not slaves.

                  Yup also. No doubt about about it. It’s a problem all right. But pretending a human being isn’t one so that the problem can be solved without bad feelings is a device, not a solution.

                  I take offense at this, Jack; your language (“pretending… a device’) strongly implies that I’m being dishonest. I’m not. I honestly, completely believe that a fetus is a not a person. I honestly, completely believe that it’s morally horrific to say that a real person should only have as many rights as a hypothetical person who is physically incapable of thought. I honestly, completely believe that your position – which seems to be that the presence or absence of a functioning cerebral cortex makes no moral difference – is irrational and ridiculous.

                  Disagree with me if you want, but stop implying I’m being dishonest.

                  By the way, you never answered my burning building question. Which would you save, the five-year-old girl, or the suitcase full of living, fertilized human eggs?

                  “Potential person” is a dodge; “the woman’s body is a dodge,” and there is no question in my mind that if babies could be born in two weeks and a mother didn’t show, nobody would dare making either argument, because they would be laughed away.

                  No one would make either argument because no one would know about the pregnancy until after the mother had given birth.

                  I see it as a matter of rights in conflict; the fetus has rights, and the mother has rights, and when those rights are in conflict we have to decide which has greater weight. Since the fetus is a mindless entity, not a person, its rights cannot weigh as heavily as the mothers (at least not until quite late in the pregnancy.)

                  But yes, if pregnancy asked practically nothing of the woman – if it were extremely brief and she was never even aware of being pregnant – then that would change how we balance the rights, because much less is being asked of the mother in that case. Similarly, if we had Star Trek technology which could transport the fetus out of the mother harmlessly at any stage in the pregnancy and then use an artificial womb for the rest, that would change the moral calculus, because women wouldn’t have a lot at stake.

                  But so what? In this world, the moral calculus has to include that pro-lifers want women to be forced to make extremely large sacrifices, including a risk of injury or even death. In this world, no matter how much you squirm and dodge admitting it, women have a lot at stake in the decision to continue a pregnancy. Therefore, what we are weighing is the rights of a real person with a lot at stake, versus the rights of a nonexistent, hypothetical person to make use of a person’s body without her consent.

                  But inconvenience and hardship is no excuse to argue away a life…or a million lives a year.

                  If a child was dying of kidney disease, and his father could save the child by donating a kidney, would you favor the government using force to make the father “donate” a kidney, without his consent? After all, his inconvenience and hardship – and you forgot to mention, freedom – doesn’t matter next to his child’s life, does it?

            • I wonder if this attitude is changing with the younger generations. I am pro choice as are most (but not all) of my female friends. All of my pro choice friends place abortion somewhere on a curve between “necessary evil” and “necessary sin.” Some of my friends do think it is a sin and would never get one in their own lives because they are in a financial and emotionally healthy place that they would consider it deeply wrong to abort a child. I think I fall into that camp myself — that something can be a personal sin for one person but an absolute necessity for someone else. The reason we don’t impose our views on others is because we recognize that not all women are as lucky as we are, that many children are born and raised in poverty, there are thousands of unwanted children waiting for adoption, and that for many women — an unplanned pregnancy (especially at a young age) will almost always mean a life involving little education and severe unemployment. So, abortion is a “necessary” option in today’s society even if we personally would never do it. We also think that no one is in a place to judge another woman’s reasons — the last thing we would want is a doctor weighing our moral choices. The pro choice organizations might agree with us on the law, but not on the reasons.

              • I personally believe that at some future point a cheap male contraceptive will exist, at which point the demand for abortions will fade.
                Eventually we will look back on abortion as being a barbaric and shameful social evil, just like slavery.

                And everyone will say, “I would never have been okay with abortion if I had lived back in those days.” Just like people talk about slavery today.

                Then we will take up some new barbaric and shameful hobby up that meets our needs (clone warriors to fight the zombies?)…and everyone who opposes THAT will immediately be called a fanatical moralist, just like the people who opposed slavery and abortion when those were popular…

                • There’s an important difference. Right now, the way our government, laws, economics, social structure (everything really) works — we need abortion. We need it even if people like me can look upon it as morally wrong — on a personal level — given that we are financially secure. I don’t think the same can be said about slavery — even if you look at it in an historical context. Slavery has always been about conquest — hail to the heroes who prevailed in glorious cleansing battles (or at least had big bank accounts). It was done because people with guns, swords, bows, etc. could make it happen. Slavery has always been wrong. There may be a point where we can say that abortion is morally, socially, and perhaps legally wrong — but we aren’t there yet,

  11. The fetus is either a human being or it is not.
    If it is a human being, how can the mother own it?
    You can’t own another human being in any other instance.
    I think the law is crap.

    • Your logic fails. Here’s a parallel:

      Either a child is a human being or it is not.
      If it is a human being, how can we deny it cigarettes?
      You can’t deny a human being the right to cigarettes in any other instance.
      I think the law is crap.

        • And that difference is intentional. It shows the flaw in the logic that required an all or nothing situation for human rights (not being property is a human right). One can make an argument that a fetus is not property, but Fin’s framing doesn’t.

  12. I was about to create a hypothetical conjoined twin analogy, and then I saw that Jack already did it. Props.
    I also was going to use the less-politically-correct “Siamese twin” so props again.

    Conjoined twins “occupy” one another’s bodies. They inconvenience one another (for a lot longer than 9 months). Like the fetus/mother relationship, each is a unique organism with its own independent life. Like the fetus, a conjoined twin is not “viable” outside of the other twin’s body (assuming non-separability for the analogy’s sake.)

    To the best of my knowledge, conjoined twins generally do not arrange for one of them to die so that the other may live a better life. Neither could one successfully sue the other for existing. It would be presumed that both twins have an equal right to life, and either/both would protest the idea of, say, flipping a coin to decide who dies.

    The unfortunate fetus is essentially a conjoined twin with no ability to protest.

    • The unfortunate fetus is essentially a conjoined twin with no ability to protest.

      Except for the co-dependency (instead of dependency), and conjoined twins being at equal stage of development (instead of adult/fetus).

      • I don’t think a conjoined twin and a fetus can be called that similar. My point in the original analogy had to do with power distribution, and the fact that ultimately the decision of which could terminate the other would come down to which had the power over the other, and which could survive the separation.

        I’m not going to debate the question of whether a fetus is or isn’t a human deserving to be treated as one under the law. The point of the post is, and remains, either a fetus (pick the age) is a human being, and hence killing it is murder, or isn’t, in which case eliminating it is something else. A law saying it’s human for X but not for Y is absurd, and I haven’t read anything approaching a persuasive comment to the contrary. The woman’s body thread was in reaction to the “it’s my body and I get to say whether its a life or not” argument, which is embarrassing.

        • Reasoning of your analogy
          Thanks for declaiming Isaac’s argument. The main thrust is being debated elsewhere.

          I’m not going to debate the question of whether a fetus is or isn’t a human deserving to be treated as one under the law. The point of the post is, and remains, either a fetus (pick the age) is a human being, and hence killing it is murder, or isn’t, in which case eliminating it is something else.

          So…you’re just going to knowingly go with your false dichotomy and try to define away my complaint with your argument. Well, you couldn’t respond to the hole’s in your logic, so you might as well give this a try.

      • “Except for the co-dependency (instead of dependency), and conjoined twins being at equal stage of development (instead of adult/fetus).”

        Both of which are irrelevant to the analogy. What’s your point?
        Conjoined twins can theoretically be dependent (as opposed to co-dependent) if it is determined that one twin is leeching off of the other’s vital organ. So what? Are you actually saying that matters? Do you think that this would justify killing the dependent twin?

        Twins are at the same stage of development. What if they weren’t? So what? What if there could exist a 5-year-old conjoined with a 30-year-old? Chronologically, that’s a far bigger difference in development than mother/fetus. What earthly difference would that make? Would that justify killing the 5-year-old? What if both of your objections applied? A five-year-old conjoined to a 30-year-old and dependent on the 30-year-old’s organs?

        Your only real problem with the conjoined twin analogy (which works for all purposes of the analogy) is that a fetus cannot make a passionate and public plea for its life. If it could, we would not be having this conversation.

        • Neither of my complaints were irrelevant.

          dependency v. codependency
          Co-dependency puts the twins on equal footing, which is certainly not true in mother fetus.

          Stage of development
          Humans have different rights at different stages of development. When you created dependent twins, you again, put them on equal footing.

          What if there could exist a 5-year-old conjoined with a 30-year-old? Chronologically, that’s a far bigger difference in development than mother/fetus.

          Time isn’t relevant. A 25 year old and 90 year old have all the same rights.

          The general idea of a 5 year old and a 30 year old conjoined twins could work, I’d say that since they have both reached the conscious stage, and well into it, killing either would be inappropriate. Of course, we’re in hypotheticals now. That situation doesn’t occur.

          Your only real problem with the conjoined twin analogy (which works for all purposes of the analogy) is that a fetus cannot make a passionate and public plea for its life. If it could, we would not be having this conversation.

          I babies have a really high right to life, and they can’t make passionate and public pleas for their life. Your complaint fails, but it does show part of why a fetus doesn’t get all human rights: they don’t have the capability to think.

      • I finally got your acknowledgement!

        Kidding, but I shouldn’t be surprised; to my (sort-of) chagrin, you’re the only one who really touched on what I think is the key issue (which extends well beyond abortion), which is about how sapience/sentience/self-awareness should enter into the whole “rights” debate.

          • But if you guys can’t even get that issue straight, then all the other discussions are like asking St. Louis natives to cheer for the Cubs.

        • “…you’re the only one who really touched on what I think is the key issue (which extends well beyond abortion), which is about how sapience/sentience/self-awareness should enter into the whole “rights” debate.”

          It shouldn’t at all, if you are only talking about TEMPORARY lack of self-awareness. A fetus is on its way to becoming fully self-aware, sentient, etc. It’s only a matter of time. How can that be the “key issue”, if basically all fetuses are destined to become sentient beings as long as nothing kills them?

          If that’s the direction we want to take the debate, then you can’t really compare a fetus to anything that has no potential to become human (cancer cells, chicken eggs, etc.) A better (though not perfect) comparison would be to a boxer who was just knocked unconscious. Barring any unusual circumstances, and if no one burns him to death in saline solution in the meantime, the boxer WILL regain consciousness, but is CURRENTLY neither self-aware nor thinking. To say, “well, we have this great window of opportunity to off the guy, since he CURRENTLY isn’t really functioning…” would work within your reasoning, absurd as it is.

          No one is framing the debate in terms of sentience because it’s something of a red herring. We know the fetus is designed to be sentient. He/she WILL be sentient. The question is whether it is acceptable to kill the fetus before he/she is capable of making a fuss over it.

          • Relatedly, does it not strike the average person as creepy that so much of the abortion debate is framed around the question of “at what point does the fetus _____ (Feel pain? Think? Not want to die? Have a beating heart?, etc.) It’s relevent, sure, but are we looking for a cutoff line? Is it going to boil down to “quick, hurry and hack up the fetus before it can understand what we’re doing?” or “quick, hack up the fetus before it can realize how much this hurts?” Or, “quick, hack up the fetus before it looks too much like a human?” The reasoning being used to justify early abortions belies immorality itself.

          • You did acknowledge the imperfectness of the comparison, but the difference is that said boxer (whether he’s 6 or 90) has already developed a consciousness of some sort, and is merely experiencing a brief delay in its operations (so to speak). A fetus/embryo, as far as we can tell, doesn’t even begin developing anything similar until quite late in its lifespan. Let’s put it this way, if we somehow develop sentient robots with free will, would it be murder to stop building one before any higher thinking functions had been installed?

              • Except a lot of people are seriously considering the idea that any sentient AIs with free will would have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; sympathetic depictions of AIs have been with us at least as long as Asimov. Even blockbuster video games like Mass Effect and Halo often treat AIs as sentients worthy of respect and even friendship.

                Personality, I’d get around the dilemma by not developing AIs advanced enough to have personal preferences to begin with.

              • No, because it would still be a robot. Using consciousness as one’s definition of human life is what gets you to paradoxical robot scenarios.

                So if we did have a fully sentient and self-aware robot, you wouldn’t see anything unethical about killing it?

                  • If the fact that the robot is a conscious entity is morally irrelevant, then why, ethically, is any reason at all needed to turn it off (let alone a “damn good” one)?

                    • Well, you have an excellent reason to turn off Lore (Data’s brother) – self-defense. I think there was an episode where Lore declared war on humanity or something.

                      My question is, why would you need any reason at all to turn off Data? He may be apparently a good person, conscious, and with a desire to keep on living, but as I understand your argument, none of this is a relevant consideration. Do you see any ethical problem with someone turning Data off, against Data’s will, and for no reason at all?

              • There would be pretty solid disagreement over whether or not the robot is conscious or if it is just artificial and a result of damn good programming.

                • Of course, chasing down that rabbit hole would ultimately call upon the pro-abortion crowd and its currently preferred definition of ‘personhood’ to accept into the protected ranks of “Right to Life” a robot while still keeping unborn humans out.

                  I wouldn’t put it past them though. All the cartwheels necessary to keep up the belief that living people’s comfort and convenience outweigh the unborn’s right to life would ultimately allow for such an assertion.

                  • What? You know Tex, I’ll admit that I don’t know many women who have had abortions. Or, at least I don’t know many women who acknowledge that they have had abortions — because it is an intensely personal and shame-ridden admission. For those I do know, it is a decision that they still struggle with years later (in some cases, 20 or more years later). Most women who decided to have one weren’t weighing things like “comfort and convenience,” they were weighing things like “graduating high school or lifelong poverty” or “having a baby with a boyfriend who beats me and has started using heroin vs. running away and starting a new life.” And these are real examples among my peers. I don’t know anyone who has said, “Gosh, I REALLY want to make partner this year, but this baby thing is going to make it SO inconvenient.” And even if that were the case, it is still no one’s place to judge but that individual woman. Take a hard look at the numbers of how many single women are raising children. Then look at how much those women make and the chances of an even remotely better life that those children might have. Because the fact is, the fathers aren’t usually around in these unfortunate and unplanned circumstances. So no, this isn’t “comfort and convenience.” This is living vs. abject poverty and misery.

                    • It certainly is a comfort and convenience decision.

                      Plenty of single mothers do not live in abject poverty and misery. They seem to have figured out how to work and provide.

                      Additionally your ‘poverty and misery’ rebuttal is a dog that doesn’t hunt. I can’t stand this excuse, no rational person should, not in America. The factors that push a person into ‘poverty and misery’ may seem to be legion, but most are personal and little to do with external circumstance.

                      Those tiny few with external circumstance have countless sources of help available to them and plenty of unnecessary & complex hindrances that have nothing to do with a baby that ought not exist (but that is whole separate economic & political discussion)..

                    • ” Take a hard look at the numbers of how many single women are raising children. Then look at how much those women make and the chances of an even remotely better life that those children might have. Because the fact is, the fathers aren’t usually around in these unfortunate and unplanned circumstances. So no, this isn’t “comfort and convenience.” This is living vs. abject poverty and misery.”

                      I’m going with you on this,Beth. People need to put up or shut up. Those of us against abortion best start helping out those mothers who decide to have their babies and are poverty stricken or quit complaining about the state funding.
                      I feel the same about people who are in a rage about illegal aliens but won’t break their own backs in the hot sun picking tomatoes nor complain about the farmers hiring and exploiting the cheap labor that gives them relatively cheap produce.

                    • I’m going with you on this,Beth. People need to put up or shut up. Those of us against abortion best start helping out those mothers who decide to have their babies and are poverty stricken or quit complaining about the state funding.

                      I think that pro-lifers need to do more than that.

                      Any serious discussion of lowering abortion rates should include looking at the countries in the world with the lowest abortion rates. Those are countries like Netherlands and Belgium, with rates of around 5-7 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44. (The US’s abortion rate is above 20.)

                      The pro-life theory is that we should reduce supply for abortion. But the countries that actually have incredibly low abortion rates haven’t achieved them by reducing supply; they’ve done it by reducing demand.

                      How do they reduce demand? They provide extensive sex education, strong welfare states for single parents, and they push birth control on teens as if it were candy.

                      If pro-lifers genuinely want to prevent abortion, why aren’t they demanding Netherlands-style programs? Why is banning abortion more important to them, than policies which have actually been effective in the real world?

                    • 1. One way to stop abortion is to stop celebrating it, like it is an act of honor and distinction. The Democratic National Convention was like a commercial for abortion. Usually the government does not fund that which it sincerely wants to see less of.

                      2. If a group believes an act is or should be the unlawful taking of human life, that does not confer an obligation to do what the proponents of that act believe is the way to minimize the conduct. What a bizarre—but classically liberal— idea. Either eliminate the causes of my criminal for me, even those I’m personally responsible for, or YOU are responsible for my act, and you have to approve of what you regard as my crime. Thus we have no right to be angry about 9/11 unless we advocate different policies in the Middle East. A lot of anti-abortion advocates think that stopping government funding of Planned Parenthood is one way to save lives, or shutting down abortion clinics, or publicizing the Gosnell horrors, or educating women about how viable and human fetuses are, or not being blase about unmarried people having sex. This doesn’t count, apparently.

                      3. The crime, if it is a crime, illegal or not, does not create a put up or shut up obligation at all, in any case. I can say something that is wrong is wrong. It is then my obligation to try to stop it when I can. Eliminating he conditions that encourage or lead to that act, if they are social ills, are an independent individual and societal obligation.

                    • *shrug* I don’t think pro-lifers are obligated to do anything, Jack. (Karla brought up that line of thought, not me). But nor am I obligated to take them at their word that their a bunch of saints who care about nothing but saving babies, when their actions suggest that they’re far more concerned with making sure that slutty women are punished for choosing to have sex.

                      There are policies which have actually been shown to produce the world’s lowest abortion rates. If pro-lifers were rational thinkers who actually gave a damn about saving fetal lives, that would be a matter of major interest to them.

                      Think of murder, for instance. Among people who care about stopping homicide, the discussion doesn’t begin and end with crafting laws against murder. Sure, they want murder to be illegal, but they also do a lot of very sophisticated work looking at how different inputs and methods effect the murder rates, and trying to understand what places where the murder rate has plummeted have been doing that other places could pick up. No one who is serious about stopping homicide thinks that all we need to do is outlaw it.

                      In contrast, I’ve never ONCE met a pro-lifer who has any interest whatsoever in low abortion rates. I’ve never met a pro-lifer who could answer the question “what countries in the world have the lowest abortion rates?” I think that’s strange and illogical behavior for a movement that says it only cares about preventing abortion.

                      As for the government “paying for” abortion, other than life-threatening emergencies and other rare cases, it hasn’t done so since the Hyde Amendment in 1977.

                      Personally, I think a real compromise is possible between pro choicers and pro lifers, in which women’s freedom to choose is maintained, but the government does everything it can (short of force) to encourage women to freely choose to avoid abortion. Real-world evidence shows that such methods can produce enormous cuts in the abortion rate – in the case of the US, they could potentially reduce the abortion rate to a fifth of what it is now.

                      Do you really think the idea of a compromise in which both sides get most of what they want is something that you should be dismissing with a sneer?

                    • “But nor am I obligated to take them at their word that their a bunch of saints who care about nothing but saving babies, when their actions suggest that they’re far more concerned with making sure that slutty women are punished for choosing to have sex.”

                      1. Since when is a position on ethical and moral conduct dependent on the sainthood of those advocating it? Is it right, or isn’t it?

                      2. “They’re far more concerned with making sure that slutty women are punished for choosing to have sex.” Sounds like confirmation bias to me. What is your support for that assertion? Seems like a thoroughly discredited and archaic position that is in an extreme minority today. It’s certainly not a fair characterization of the mainstream anti-abortion movement.

                      3. When Have I ever dismissed the concept of a compromise “with a sneer” or otherwise? My position on abortion has always been that a balancing approach is unavoidable and the best way to reduce abortions while giving women acceptable options. Absolute positions on either side do not further that objective.

                    • “3. The crime, if it is a crime, illegal or not, does not create a put up or shut up obligation at all, in any case. I can say something that is wrong is wrong. It is then my obligation to try to stop it when I can. Eliminating he conditions that encourage or lead to that act, if they are social ills, are an independent individual and societal obligation.”

                      I acknowledge what you’re saying here but don’t the pro-lifers have an obligation to look after the lives they wish to save? If they demand the killing stop then isn’t it up to them to come up with an alternative? I know some Christian organizations provide for destitute mothers but if we stop abortion,stop welfare these organizations will be overwhelmed and children will suffer. Is that not so? If people are truly interested in saving lives then they should not complain of the cost to the state at the very least. You are not going to force women into celibacy or forced sterilization as much as some far right folks would like to be done.

                    • “How do they reduce demand? They provide extensive sex education, strong welfare states for single parents, and they push birth control on teens as if it were candy.

                      If pro-lifers genuinely want to prevent abortion, why aren’t they demanding Netherlands-style programs? Why is banning abortion more important to them, than policies which have actually been effective in the real world?”

                      I see your point but isn’t America already providing sex ed and welfare? Not sure about the birth control.

                    • Jack,

                      “They’re far more concerned with making sure that slutty women are punished for choosing to have sex.” Sounds like confirmation bias to me. What is your support for that assertion? Seems like a thoroughly discredited and archaic position that is in an extreme minority today. It’s certainly not a fair characterization of the mainstream anti-abortion movement.

                      The anti-legal-abortion movement overlaps significantly with the cut-services-for-pregnant-women-and-poor-people movement and the abstinence-only movement. Both of those lead to more abortions. They’re also highly correlated with level of religious belief. Barry’s comment seems pretty solid to me.

                      Karla,

                      I see your point but isn’t America already providing sex ed and welfare? Not sure about the birth control.

                      As I noted above, the people who want to outlaw abortions also want to cut welfare and give nonworking abstinence only education. They fight against birth control even when it’s provided by private groups. Heck, the idea that birth control should be covered by health insurance is getting strong pushback from these same people.

          • A fetus is on its way to becoming fully self-aware, sentient, etc. It’s only a matter of time.

            It’s not “only a matter of time”. There’s a considerable amount of input required.

  13. Jack wrote:

    1. Since when is a position on ethical and moral conduct dependent on the sainthood of those advocating it? Is it right, or isn’t it?

    I didn’t mean to say that it was dependent; of course it is not. The pro-life position is wrong because using the government to force pregnant women to give birth against their will is wrong, and because an embryo, while human, is not a person.

    2. “They’re far more concerned with making sure that slutty women are punished for choosing to have sex.” Sounds like confirmation bias to me. What is your support for that assertion? Seems like a thoroughly discredited and archaic position that is in an extreme minority today. It’s certainly not a fair characterization of the mainstream anti-abortion movement.

    I used to agree with you. Nowadays, I don’t. Although I’ve met some rank-and-file pro-lifers whose policy preferences were consistent with a belief that a fetus is morally indistinguishable from a child, those folks usually have policy preferences which are totally out of step with the abortion criminalization movement as a whole.

    In contrast, the leaders of the abortion criminalization movement have consistently put their political weight behind policies which make little or no sense if they genuinely think that abortion is identical to child murder. And those same leaders routinely endorse policies that make a lot of sense if their goal is to punish women who have sex.

    To be fair, this is never phrased as “punishing” women by pro-lifers; what I’ve heard again and again from pro-lifers is that women should be made to “take responsibility for their actions” (by “actions,” they mean having sex), or that abortion is wrong because it lets women “avoid the consequences.”

    So what motivates pro-lifers: the belief that women should be forced to face consequences for having sex, or the belief that abortion is exactly like child murder? I made a chart, which you can see here.

    Almost no pro-life policies make sense if they really see no difference between the abortion of a fetus and the murder of a four-year-old. However, nearly all pro-life policies make sense if they’re seeking to force women who have sex to “face the consequences.”

    3. When Have I ever dismissed the concept of a compromise “with a sneer” or otherwise? My position on abortion has always been that a balancing approach is unavoidable and the best way to reduce abortions while giving women acceptable options. Absolute positions on either side do not further that objective.

    Just now, you seemed to dismiss out of hand the idea that we should consider the policies of the countries that have the worlds’ lowest abortion rate. Those policies have achieved the stated primary goals of BOTH the pro-choice and pro-life movements, and should therefore be of great interest to anyone who wants to find a compromise.

    My apologies if I misread you.

    • I didn’t mean to dismiss them out of hand—I think any solutions to this dilemma needs to be examined and considered. I am generally skeptical about cross cultural comparisons, that’s all—especially regarding the sanctity of life. In some countries, like Russia, abortion is used as primary birth control. Euthanasia is favored in much of Europe. First degree murderers get less than 10 years in prison—serial killers get released. The fact that a majority of the world, or Europe, or “democracies” favor a philosophy or policy is just not an argument for adopting it—it’s an “everybody does it” cheat. Is it an argument for looking at it, studying it, being open-minded about it? Yes. Of course. I agree with you.

      No fair solution to the abortion problem can arise without respect for each side of the equation—the burden on women, and the rights, whatever they are, of the child, potential child, crypto-child, embryo, fetus. Either side that dismisses the legitimate interests of the other is intellectually dishonest and ethically objectionable.

      I don’t think arguing that people should be responsible for their choices is the same as saying they should be punished. People should be expected to be responsible for choices…a woman who says, “Oh, never mind the birth control! if I get pregnant, I’ll just have an abortion…hell, insurance pays for it!” is despicable. Do you not think so? Policies shouldn’t discourage that?

      • Although other policies also contribute, I think the main reason abortion rates are so low in a country like Belgium is birth control – it is available for free, it’s convenient, and it is pushed publicly. (For example.)

        The mechanism by which birth control reduces abortion isn’t mainly cultural. I can’t imagine any reason to think that birth control can’t reduce abortions among Americans, regardless of our cultural differences. (See also the study I linked to in my response to Karla this morning.)

        No fair solution to the abortion problem can arise without respect for each side of the equation—the burden on women, and the rights, whatever they are, of the child, potential child, crypto-child, embryo, fetus. Either side that dismisses the legitimate interests of the other is intellectually dishonest and ethically objectionable.

        My problem is, I honestly can’t see any logical reason to believe that something that cannot have a mind has moral rights. This isn’t just a position I’ve taken up because I’m pro-choice; I passionately believe that the mind is the single most important aspect of existence, and the only distinctive trait of human beings that matters. Even if abortion didn’t exist, the moral importance of the mind would remain essential for other issues (like determining when it’s okay to shut off life support, or to harvest organs to save lives, or why eating chicken is acceptable but cannibalism is not).

        I do think we should seek to reduce abortions, though, partly as a matter of expedience (abortions are more expensive and painful than birth control), and partly because I do recognize that many Americans are genuinely and deeply disturbed by abortion, and I’d like to accommodate their preferences insofar as that can be done without taking away women’s rights.

        I don’t think arguing that people should be responsible for their choices is the same as saying they should be punished.

        But neither is arguing that women should be forced to take responsibility for their choices, the same as arguing that we must prevent as many abortions as possible. In fact, since the “responsibility” argument is used to argue against making birth control more available, and making birth control more available is what reduces abortion, the two arguments are actually in conflict with each other.

        By the way, I think that using birth control – or getting an abortion – IS “taking responsibility.” What’s irresponsible is giving birth to a baby you’re currently unable to take adequate care of (unless you’re going to give up the baby for adoption).

        People should be expected to be responsible for choices…a woman who says, “Oh, never mind the birth control! if I get pregnant, I’ll just have an abortion…hell, insurance pays for it!” is despicable. Do you not think so? Policies shouldn’t discourage that?

        I don’t think this mean stereotype of women who get abortions is fair or typical, any more than the stereotype of conservatives who passionately loathe all black people is fair or typical. (In both cases, one could point to individual examples of the stereotype being true, but that doesn’t mean that it’s fair to generalize that way, or to set policy based on the assumption that the stereotype is true.)

        The majority of women who get abortions, in the US, are current mothers seeking to control the size of their families. Most of them are poor, which means that they can’t easily pay for the most effective birth controls, even if they have a doctor who tells them about those options.

        Anyway, to answer your question, I’d be in favor of policies that reduce abortion, as long as they aren’t coercive, and as long as they are evidence-based.

        Here’s what I think should happen for the woman in your example: When she goes to get an abortion, she should get one. But the doctor or nurse should say “if you’d like, we could offer you free long-term birth control. It would be a lot cheaper and more comfortable for you than having to get an abortion again.” A variety of options – including the most effective birth controls, like the rod and IUDs – should be offered for free.

        • Nothing is free.

          But as long as you advocate for the general public to pay to mitigate or solve the results associated with people’s private personal leisure activities:

          I’m going to need you to pay for all my broken and stressed joints from parachuting, I’m going to need you to pay for all the future treatments for my friend who loves cigar smoking, I’m going to need you to pay for my other friend’s gambling addiction (he’s racked up about $2,000 in debt so far), and you definitely need to foot part of the bill for all my vacations (including the one where I accidentally damaged a rental car). Oh, you’ll definitely need to help foot the bill on the eye-glasses I need from watching too much TV in my leisure time.

          Now perhaps you see why people object to paying for the contraceptives and abortions. It doesn’t have to do with wanting to ‘punish the sluts’. I’m certain there is a segment of the population who sees it that way, but it is certainly unfair of you to generalize as such.

          “What’s irresponsible is giving birth to a baby you’re currently unable to take adequate care of (unless you’re going to give up the baby for adoption).

          Certainly sounds good in writing. But it is a euphemism. Who are you to say what “adequate care” is? Additionally, if the baby had an option to say, do you think it would prefer to be killed or prefer to have ‘somewhat less than middle class means’ of care provided for it in life? It’s arrogant to assume what is best for others.

          • Pardon me, it’s arrogant to assume death (non-existence) is preferable to an existence that may be less than the comfort level to which you are materially accustomed. Especially when you enjoy the comforts of being alive.

          • You’re making a slippery slope argument, but in this case that’s an argument of desperation. All the evidence in the real world indicates that we can give some things away, when giving them away provides a net benefit to society, without committing to giving everything away.

            I already cited a real-world example, Belgium. Belgium does pay for birth control and medical care (and they actually pay less than the US does), but they don’t pay for ski vacations or the other silly things you listed.

            A second real-world example: Alaska gives a free cash bonus to everyone who lives in Alaska, which is probably the most broad-based government giveaway anywhere in the USA. But that hasn’t forced them to give other things away; on the contrary, Alaska is one of the least generous states in almost every other way. Proof positive that giving away something free doesn’t commit government to giving away everything for free.

            The argument that free birth control would commit us to giving away everything else people want is absolutely untrue. In fact, the opposite is true. The US has already committed to giving some things away to poor families with children – food stamps, prenatal aid, medicaid, and many other programs. But if we give away birth control, we will save a lot of money on those programs. The savings are substantial: Brookings calculated that a $235 million investment in birth control would save taxpayers $1.32 billion.

            Why are you only interested in reducing abortion if you can do it coercively, with government force against women? If you REALLY believed that all fetuses were the moral equal of born children, you wouldn’t oppose the world’s most effective policy for preventing abortion. But when push comes to shove, you don’t actually value preventing abortion; if you can’t do it by government coercion of women, you don’t want to do it at all.

            Additionally, if the baby had an option to say, do you think it would prefer to be killed or prefer to have ‘somewhat less than middle class means’ of care provided for it in life?

            The embryo and fetus have no preference either way. It doesn’t care if it lives or dies; it has no preference to live. It has no mind.

            Furthermore, why is that potential life more important than other potential lives? I have two very close friends, now age 7 and 9, who would never have been born if their mother, 20 years ago, hadn’t been able to use abortion to save herself from what almost certainly would have been a life of poverty and struggle. Why isn’t the wonderful potential of their lives, just as important as other potential wonderful lives? (I’m not saying that they are more valuable than the hypothetical other child that could have been born 20 years ago would have been, if it had been born. But I don’t see any reason to think that these children I love are any less valuable.)

            • ” The savings are substantial: Brookings calculated that a $235 million investment in birth control would save taxpayers $1.32 billion.”

              Not only that but you could look at it this way. Free contraceptives might mean fewer abortions.

            • It is only a slippery slope argument if I think the ills of taxes or debt paying for one set of people’s leisure activities will inevitably lead to taxes or debt paying for other people’s and ultimately everyone’s leisure activities.

              I did not imply that at all. In fact quite to the opposite, I blatantly stated the reason people don’t want to pay for other’s leisure activities is why there is push-back against the ‘free’ (lie) contraceptive programs. Not as you so maliciously ascribe to everyone, “to punish the sluts”.

              “Why are you only interested in reducing abortion if you can do it coercively, with government force against women?”

              More politically expedient bullshit and reframing of the narrative to a lie. When it boils down to it, all you have is arguments against a strawman that anti-abortionists believe in some totalitarian state bent on suppressing women.

              Bullshit bullshit bullshit.

              Sorry guy, but when people value the Right to Life, it isn’t ‘forcing women to deny their rights’ (because they don’t have ‘right’ to take innocent life).

              “If you REALLY believed that all fetuses were the moral equal of born children, you wouldn’t oppose the world’s most effective policy for preventing abortion.”

              Sure the anti-abortion crowd can oppose it, because the anti-abortion crowd doesn’t feel the government’s or the people at large ought to pay for other people’s leisure activities and their effects.

              “But when push comes to shove, you don’t actually value preventing abortion; if you can’t do it by government coercion of women, you don’t want to do it at all.”

              Lemme rephrase this like you do:

              When push comes to shove, you would rather have the government coerce the people at large into paying for a sub-set of the people’s leisure activities.

              Who is coercive?

              I personally think neither. But as long as you are going to reframe the discussion in methodology designed to vilify and demonize, then we can.

              Your final paragraph is a big euphemistic false analogy. When the anti-abortion crowd refers to ‘potential’ children, they are referring to already conceived children. Not ’10 year later twinkle in daddy’s eye.’ (which is a ridiculous comparison)

              • Sure the anti-abortion crowd can oppose it, because the anti-abortion crowd doesn’t feel the government’s or the people at large ought to pay for other people’s leisure activities and their effects.

                1) Let’s be clear: Based on actual evidence, we know that free birth control can reduce abortion by 60%. In the US, there are about 1.2 million abortions a year. So making free, high-quality birth control universally available can prevent over 700,000 abortions every year. In a decade, that would be around eight million abortions prevented.

                Pro-lifers say they consider each abortion to be the murder of an innocent human child. So what’s at stake here is a practical method, that has been proven to be effective both in other countries and in US test studies, which will prevent eight million children (in the pro-life view) from being murdered.

                Are you honestly arguing that your philosophical preference that the government not pay for birth control, should count for more with pro-lifers than preventing eight million child murders?

                If we’re really talking about the murders of eight million innocent children, then you should be willing to accept almost anything to prevent those murders.

                When push comes to shove, you would rather have the government coerce the people at large into paying for a sub-set of the people’s leisure activities.

                This argument doesn’t work, because we don’t have to tax people more in order to provide free birth control. As I wrote earlier, “a $235 million investment in birth control would save taxpayers $1.32 billion.” Taxes are coercive, I agree, but they’re also necessary. But in this case, the program would actually SAVE taxpayers money overall, not cost them money.

                That said, yes. If it would prevent eight million child murders, of COURSE I’d rather tax the people at large a relatively minor amount than just sit there and not do what I can to prevent eight million child murders. Without any doubt.

                Finally, I don’t think pro-lifers should be freed of all responsibility for their freely chosen positions. And the conclusion that pro-lifers are more interested in using government coercion on women who choose to have sex, then in preventing abortion, is a logical conclusion from the actual positions taken by pro-life groups and politicians.

                The very common pro-life position, which you can see in dozens of examples of actual pro-life legislation, that raped women should be free to abort, but other women shouldn’t be, makes no logical sense at all if pro-lifers believe that a fetus is morally an innocent human child. No one would say that it’s okay to kill a five-year-old if her father was a rapist. The rape exemption is absurd if the goal of the pro-life movement is to save innocent fetuses; but the rape exemption makes perfect sense if their goal is to target women who choose to have sex.

                Birth control, as we’ve seen in this thread, is another example. Free, high-quality birth control has been proven, in both studies and in real-world examples, to massively reduce abortion. If pro-lifers real goal was to prevent as many abortions as possible, and if they really believe that the 1.2 million abortions every year are 1.2 million child murders, then they should be willing to compromise on their opposition to birth control in order to prevent millions of child murders. To say otherwise is to say that being uncompromising on birth control is more important than preventing child murder.

                But in real life, pro-lifers oppose doing all they can to prevent abortion. It is only using government coercion against pregnant women that interests them; they oppose much more effective techniques for abortion reduction, when those techniques don’t include government coercion against pregnant women.

                • All valid. But its overly simplistic to pretend that your approach doesn’t create its own problematical principles. What crime can’t we prevent if taxpayers compensate people for being prone to continue the misconduct rather than being responsible? We already follow this path by giving money to people who have children they know they can’t care for. We extend unemployment endlessly so refusing to accept employment a person considers beneath them is profitable. We are about to eliminate the legal violation of immigrating without authority by just defining the conduct as acceptable. So because people refuse to pay the minimal amount of money it costs to use birth control, and threaten to kill the results of their irresponsible conduct unless we pay for their recreation, we gladly pay it, because “it works.” Well, extortion often works…the question is whether we want to base public policy on extortion. Pay our bills, or we kill our babies. Nice. (of course, we won’t acknowledge they’re babies, because then our consciences might force us to deal with our conduct, rather than making everyone else pay for it.)

                  As I keep saying, there is no way out of the woman/unborn conflict that doesn’t involve a major ethical sacrifice. Maybe your formula is the best one. But I’m not siding with anyone who pretends or believes that there are not huge and potentially disastrous abdications of core ethical principles involved when we agree to pay for the irresponsible conduct of others so they don’t do something we think is terrible.

                  • So because people refuse to pay the minimal amount of money it costs to use birth control, and threaten to kill the results of their irresponsible conduct unless we pay for their recreation, we gladly pay it, because “it works.” Well, extortion often works…the question is whether we want to base public policy on extortion. Pay our bills, or we kill our babies.

                    That’s ridiculous.

                    1. “Pay our bills, or we kill our babies’ is a dishonest way to describe what’s going on. Furthermore, it’s dishonest in a way that demonizes people unfairly, and by painting ordinary women who get abortion as evil blackmailing baby-killers, you’re making compromise, as well as civil engagement, harder to achieve..

                    2. You could frame virtually any public expenditure intended to mitigate outcomes as extortion – “either you pay to put up guard rails, or we’re going to drive off the road and kill ourselves!” – but that would be unfair and untrue.

                    3. Over large populations, birth control methods like the pill and condoms are have a higher failure rate than more expensive birth control methods like the rod and IUDs. (What do I mean by “more expensive”? For example, the rod – depending on where you live – can cost between $400 and $1000 up front.) For millions of people, the better methods are not really affordable. (Plus, their doctors may not be educating them on the difference between birth control methods – assuming they have a doctor at all, which many don’t.)

                    There are a lot of reasons that cheaper birth control has higher failure rates, but one big reason is that every time a person has to actively use birth control – the more days you have to remember to swallow a pill, the more times you have to individually put on a condom, etc. – is a new chance to make an error. It’s a new chance to have thought you took a pill when you didn’t – not because you’re an evil blackmailer, but because humans make mistakes. It’s a new chance to accidentally rip a tiny hole in the condom without noticing. It’s a new chance for your husband or boyfriend to refuse to accept a “we have to wait, I’m not sure I took my pill.” It’s a new chance to hit that rare-but-not-unheard-of manufacturer’s flaw. It’s a new chance for two drunk people to fall into bed even though they don’t have a condom on them and forget to consider the consequences at that moment. Etc, etc, etc..

                    Over a large population of birth control users, that adds up to millions of chances for birth control to go wrong. So although cheap birth control is certainly a lot better than no birth control – and for many individuals, they never get unlucky and cheap birth control works fine – over a large population, you’re going to have a lot more unwanted pregnancies if people rely mostly on affordable rather than expensive birth control.

                    4. In conclusion, women with unwanted pregnancies are not evil blackmailers. They’re ordinary people, most of them mothers concerned with how to pay the bills for their currently existing children, who have made the most ordinary of human errors. And there’s an easy policy fix that would massively reduce their error rate.

                    As people interested in public policy, we can take two approaches. We can try and frame these people as evil scum, and helping them at all as a moral failure akin to paying off child murderers. This is the approach you took with your last post, and it’s not an approach that is compatible with any serious policy attempt to significantly reduce the number of abortions.

                    Or we can try and approach the issue as practical problem solvers. That’s what I’m trying to do. i wish that pro-lifers would try it, too.

                    • I framed the argument as extortion, because using abortion rates as an argument for publicly funded birth control to those who believe abortion is a death of a human being is being framed that way by abortion advocates. You did it yourself. “Personally, I don’t choose to regard the unborn as deserving human rights, but since you do, you should want to pay taxpayer funds to make it easier for those who will get abortions not to get pregnant.” It’s a cynical and an offensive argument. “If you really care about abortion—that is, if you really care about what you say is the taking of human life—you should be willing to pay to stop it.” How is that not your argument?

                      Sandra Fluke argued—indignantly and insultingly– that we have an obligation to pay for her to protect herself during recreational sex, and you say that if we object to that, that women should have the responsibility of paying for their own precautions, we don’t really care if there are more dead babies as a result. This logic turns up in other contexts–death penalty opponents like to argue that it’s cheaper to eliminate the punishment than to fight all of the the appeals– expensive appeals that are only necessary because of the efforts of death penalty opponents. Extortion. The same with drugs: enforcing the laws is too expensive (because we, the drug-loving, keep breaking them), so the smart and frugal policy is to just give up, and pay for all the addictions instead.

                      I agree that birth control should be accessible and encouraged. I think linking that to preventing abortion is unethical. It is like justifying infanticide, cannibalism and genocide by saying that they are the fault of those who oppose China-style birth quotas.

                    • ” “If you really care about abortion—that is, if you really care about what you say is the taking of human life—you should be willing to pay to stop it.” How is that not your argument? ”

                      Jack,I agree. But those of us who do believe abortion is taking a human life should be willing to do what it takes to stop it short of breaking the law even if that means we must suffer the law being broken against us(extortion).

                    • Jack,

                      The issue with your framing is that the people who are arguing for free birth control aren’t the same set of people as those having abortions. We’re arguing that if there is free birth control, then some of the people who would in the future get pregnant and have abortions would be prevented from that action.

                      This is akin to suggesting free counseling for high risk youth. It’s not akin to extortion.

                    • That’s a useful distinction, and takes it out of the category of the anti-death penalty argument that I detest: abolishing the death penalty is cheaper than paying for all the extra litigation we put you through delaying executions.

                      Something is still wrong, though. “If you really cared about stopping drug crime, you’d agree that we should distribute illegal drugs free to addicts.” That seems to me similar to Barry’s argument. While I happen to think every bit of birth control available is a boon to mankind, I don’t see that one is obligated to to believe that if one thinks life begins at conception. The position that sex is for procreation, that sex without procreation as an objective is immoral, and that sex without purpose or consequences is wrong may be archaic, silly, impractical, stupid, and really a downer, but it does not have to be motivated by anti-woman animus, as Barry claims. No doubt, the RESULT is harshest on women. But because a desired result harms a group does not mean that the harm is what motivates support for that result, or even that the supporters aren’t sympathetic.

  14. I see your point but isn’t America already providing sex ed and welfare? Not sure about the birth control.

    We do have sex ed and welfare, but as I understand it the sex ed is less frequent and comprehensive, and without a doubt the welfare is much less generous.

    What’s most important, though, is birth control. The most effective birth control methods – Intrauterine devices, injections of Depo-Provera, the implantable rod (Implanon) – are not subsidized, are not well-known, and are generally out of the reach of teenagers and poor folks. The cheap and widely known methods – the pill, withdrawal, and condoms – are also statistically far less effective at preventing pregnancy.

    A recent study found that just giving women access to free, effective birth control reduced the abortion rate enormously – from around 15 per 1000 women to around 6 per thousand women. In other words, about 60% of abortions were prevented. (And that was on the first try! I bet we could do better than 60% if the programs were refined and improved.)

    But such programs are opposed by pro-life organizations and politicians in the US.

  15. Pingback: Pro-Lifers Don’t Give A Damn About Fetuses. They Only Care About Coercing Women. | Alas, a Blog

  16. Rhetoric aside, it looks like most people wouldn’t save a suitcase of embryos instead of a human. These types of questions are useful for establishing the boundaries of an argument. So: What about pregnant people?

    BURNING BUILDING. TWO ROOMS.
    Two women are in Room A. Each woman is pregnant with just-implanted triplets who are about the size of a pinhead, if that.

    Seven non-pregnant women are in Room B.

    You can only bring the fire hose to one room; the women in the other room will die.

    Do you save the two pregnant women? After all, that room has eight people… if you count the pinhead-sized dots as people.

    Or do you save the seven non-pregnant women?

    • Sophie’s Choice. Such lose-lose situations cannot be criticized, especially since they have to be acted upon without debate. I could make a convincing argument for either room, or add elements that would change the calculus. I guarantee you that if the choice was one pregnant woman vs one non-pregnant woman, the vast majority would choose the mother-to-be. What do you think that proves?

      • I guarantee you that if the choice was one pregnant woman vs one non-pregnant woman, the vast majority would choose the mother-to-be. What do you think that proves?

        Proves? Nothing. These examples can’t prove anything. But they can suggest, or show, things.

        I think that your example shows – to put it in math terms – that the vast majority attribute a value of “1” to a person they know nothing about, and a value of “>0” to an embryo. 1 plus >0 is larger than 1, so they choose to rescue the pregnant woman.

        In G&W’s example – if we assume that no further information is available – I guarantee that the vast majority would choose to rescue the seven women rather than the two women. (I’m pretty sure you would, too, which is why you dodged answering G&W’s question.) I think that shows that the vast majority attribute a value of “1” to a person they know nothing about, and a value of “<1" to an embryo.

        What I think this thought experiment shows is that an embryo, or fetus, is given by most people a value that is greater than nothing, but less than the value of a born person.

        • You know how much I object to people putting words in my mouth. In the heat of the moment, I would indeed probably choose the seven women over the two women and six embryos. That doesn’t mean it’s the right decision or an informed decision.

          Do I assume that all six embryos will live? Multiple births have a higher mortality rate. How old are the mothers? How healthy are the non mothers? If I had actuarial information showing that the expected years of life for the seven non mothers were 25, 55, 20 ( a heart condition), 15 ( a depressive alcoholic), 30, and 62, for a total of 207 years of life, and the expected years of live for the two mothers-to-be were 60 and 48, with the life expectancies of the six unborn working out to an average of 73 each, for a total of 646, I’d say the clear choice would be the two mothers. Who is to say that would be the wrong choice?

          • Don’t fight the hypothetical. Just assume that the only relevant distinctions are the pregnancies and the numbers of people. Since we’re past the “eggs in a suitcase” stage, we’ve reached the human equivalent.

            If triplets make you tweaky, you can substitute: there are four newly-pregnant women in one room, and seven non-pregnant women in the other room. All the women are the same, absent their pregnancies. Which room do you save?

            It’s the same question. Just answer it already.

            • You are inexplicably fond of your hypo. I’m not: it begs the question. There is a material difference, as I explained, with what I WOULD (probably) do in the real situation, and what I should do, after analyzing it. Young lives are more valuable than older lives. Innocent lives are more deserving of rescue than non-innocent, and weak over strong. Are we trying to preserve the species, or preserve values, like respecting the sanctity of life, that strengthens society?

              I’d flip a coin.

              • You are inexplicably fond of your hypo. I’m not: it begs the question.

                Huh? I’m not sure how to put this politely, but either you are not reading the question correctly or you do not know what “begging the question” means.

                There is a material difference, as I explained, with what I WOULD (probably) do in the real situation, and what I should do, after analyzing it. Young lives are more valuable than older lives. Innocent lives are more deserving of rescue than non-innocent, and weak over strong.

                That opinion is information which is handy to know. But it is not an answer to the question. Since you’re intelligent enough to be posting responses, you presumably know this.

                Since this a hypothetical which is designed to tease out what you really think (and not what you would do in a panic) then you may analyze it as you wish. I suggest that you should use the “after some thought” response.

                Regarding all of that other information which you mentioned: In this case you don’t know–so as an unknown it is irrelevant. That is also intentional, since I have no interest in side tracking away from the matter at hand.

                Are we trying to preserve the species, or preserve values, like respecting the sanctity of life, that strengthens society?

                I have no idea what you’re trying to do–or which of many competing values you prioritize over others. That is why I’m asking the question, hmm?

          • Jack,

            I’ve already explained to Ampersand why his hypothetical isn’t sufficient for determining rightness or wrongness of abortion, here . And the the following post behind it.

            He ignored both. I don’t doubt he’ll do the same here.

            He used his initial either/or hypothetical to open the justification of why a mother has a right to kill the unborn.

            He’s been shown why that hypothetical has no bearing on that determination.

            • texagg04
              I’ve already explained to Ampersand why his hypothetical isn’t sufficient for determining rightness or wrongness of abortion

              Um… right. This is a complex topic, not a simple one.

              That’s why we use these hypotheticals. The goal is to isolate and identify specific points, so that we can either resolve the disagreement or understand how they contribute to the final conclusion.

              Obviously it’s not sufficient to determine the argument; it’s not supposed to be.

              used his initial either/or hypothetical to open the justification of why a mother has a right to kill the unborn.

              Which makes sense. There are MANY reasons why you might oppose abortion, right? One of the most common answers is “babies are people, so abortion is murder.”

              Getting that one off the table is relevant. It’s not determinative, but it’s relevant.

              He’s been shown why that hypothetical has no bearing on that determination.

              Perhaps for you. If you don’t think babies=people, or if you don’t think abortion=killing people, then this doesn’t apply to you. You might oppose abortion for other reasons, whether it’s “god says so” or “i want more humans on Earth” or whatever.

              But since it’s a common argument and the topic of this thread, it’s obviousl relevant in general.

      • These hypotheticals are chosen for a simple and valid reason: they allow you to focus on the debate and find out where the line of battle actually IS.

        There’s no point in flinging shit about whether people think that we should freely be able to kill infants (nobody is saying that) or whether people want to give mothers the death penalty when they abort (nobody is saying that either.) Right? That would be a waste of time.

        There’s no point in arguing specifics until we know where everyone stands. These questions are designed to elicit those positions. If they’re uncomfortable to answer: well, it’s an uncomfortable topic, ya? It usually is. But you shouldn’t defend a position if you’re unwilling to state it.

        I could make a convincing argument for either room, or add elements that would change the calculus.

        Well, how about this? First answer the question I asked, and then you can pose any other question you’d like. I’m happy to answer it.

        And in that vein, I always answer my own questions, but I forgot here, so: I would, without a doubt, save the seven women. I don’t place enough value on the pregnancies.

        What would YOU do? Why?

        I guarantee you that if the choice was one pregnant woman vs one non-pregnant woman, the vast majority would choose the mother-to-be. What do you think that proves?

        I agree it’s probably true, and I think it proves… well, not much. I guess it would show that people (for whatever their individual reasons) value a developing child in a non-zero way.

        I do, I think. But there are other considerations as well; there’s a lot of room between “equal value to a human life” and “valueless.”

        So in the end, that’s a relative argument which doesn’t tell us much. After all, many people would save a girl toddler over an old man, right? But that doesn’t mean that folks elevate girl toddlers over everyone else, or that all old men are expendable.

  17. Just came across this article. It’s about a year old, written by neuroscientist Daniel Bor of the University of Sussex (UK). Although it doesn’t directly address thumb-sucking, it does talk about the difference between reflexes and conscious thought, and why it is not physically possible for a fetus to experience consciousness during most of the pregnancy.

    The evidence is clear that a fetus can respond to sights, sounds, and smells, and it can even react to these by producing facial expressions. The evidence is equally clear, however, that these responses are generated by the most primitive parts of the brain, which are unconnected to consciousness, and therefore these actions don’t in any way imply that the fetus is aware. Furthermore, the fetus is deliberately sedated by a series of chemicals produced by the placenta, so even if it had the capacity for consciousness, there is almost no chance that it could ever be conscious in the womb. Consequently, it can’t consciously feel pain.

    But what if the fetus is removed from the womb and its sleep-inducing chemicals? Will the fetus suddenly be conscious in the outside world? In adult humans, for normal consciousness to occur, it is now generally agreed that two sets of regions need to be intact, functional, and able to communicate effectively with one another: the thalamus, a kind of relay station in the middle of the brain that connects many regions with many others; and the prefrontal parietal network, our most high-level, general purpose section of cortex. If either the thalamus or prefrontal parietal network is substantially damaged, the patient is likely to enter into a vegetative state, with virtually no sign of consciousness.

    When do these brain regions form in the growing fetus? Only after about 29 weeks are the connections between these areas properly laid out, and it takes another month or so before the thalamus and the rest of the cortex are effectively communicating, as revealed by brain waves. So it’s highly unlikely that consciousness, at least in any form that we’d recognize as human awareness, arises before about 33 weeks into pregnancy.

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