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Abortion Controversy: 50 Years Later


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http://www.azcentral.com/members/Blog/JoannaAllhands/171458

 

 

Don't mean to step on anyone's toes BUT as a female this matter is close to my heart. As a rape survivor this is something I fight for!

 

I am ashamed that after 50 years we are seeing people desperate to turn the clock backwards.

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In my opinion, we should stop pretending this is a simple issue, because it's complex.

 

There's nothing particularily special about the moment of birth. What happens there? The baby exits the protective environment of the mother. We see the baby with our eyes. The baby undergoes a rather dramatic metabolic transition.

 

Let us suppose the child is raised to a year of age after its birth, and we don't like it. Why can't we kill it?

 

I think that a human life begins at conception. That is the moment when a sexually reproducing organism acquires a full genotype with an accompanying phenotype. Being then alive, it undergoes a complex cascade of growth and development.

 

I've recently been studying ethics with some philosophers. For me the most interesting place in this subject is called, perhaps appropriately enough, Hume's Guillotine. Let me attempt to briefy describe it.

 

Things are what they are. We may not understand very well what they are, or why they are what they are. But whatever they are, that's what they be. Our characterizations of them are descriptive. Then we may have some notion of what they ought to be. These characterizations are prescriptive. Apparently some philosophers think that the substance of ethics resides in how and why we cross the gap from descriptions to prescriptions. So we attempt to represent this as...

 

descriptive --ethics--> prescriptive

 

Okay, let me try and wrap this up. To me the ethical leap from "living" to "ought to be dead" is of the greatest significance.

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http://www.azcentral...Allhands/171458

 

 

Don't mean to step on anyone's toes BUT as a female this matter is close to my heart. As a rape survivor this is something I fight for!

 

I am ashamed that after 50 years we are seeing people desperate to turn the clock backwards.

 

People like to use any number of moral arguments to justify imposing their morals on unwilling others, ignoring the fact that morals are subjective any way you slice it. If a woman wants an abortion and someone is willing to provide it, what do I care? I am concerned about postpartum people, not fetuses.

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... morals are subjective any way you slice it.

 

That may indeed be the case, but behavior is objective and has very real consequences.

 

I am concerned about postpartum people, not fetuses.

 

I think people are amazing. They compel my curiosity. And to my surprise, in my efforts to understand them I have been given a glimpse into causality itself.

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"So long as you refrain from quoting me, commenting on my comments, or otherwise engaging me, then I shall try to do the same.

 

Deal?"

 

excerpted from a personal message from Legion to Ro-bear, dated July 4, 2012.

 

You just broke the deal, asshole. I kept it even during your extremely pleasant absence from the boards.

 

There will be nothing but trouble if we don't renew the deal. I know you too well. You can't keep up the facade of equanimity long.

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In my opinion, we should stop pretending this is a simple issue, because it's complex.

 

There's nothing particularily special about the moment of birth. What happens there? The baby exits the protective environment of the mother. We see the baby with our eyes. The baby undergoes a rather dramatic metabolic transition.

 

Let us suppose the child is raised to a year of age after its birth, and we don't like it. Why can't we kill it?

 

I think that a human life begins at conception. That is the moment when a sexually reproducing organism acquires a full genotype with an accompanying phenotype. Being then alive, it undergoes a complex cascade of growth and development.

 

I've recently been studying ethics with some philosophers. For me the most interesting place in this subject is called, perhaps appropriately enough, Hume's Guillotine. Let me attempt to briefy describe it.

 

Things are what they are. We may not understand very well what they are, or why they are what they are. But whatever they are, that's what they be. Our characterizations of them are descriptive. Then we may have some notion of what they ought to be. These characterizations are prescriptive. Apparently some philosophers think that the substance of ethics resides in how and why we cross the gap from descriptions to prescriptions. So we attempt to represent this as...

 

descriptive --ethics--> prescriptive

 

Okay, let me try and wrap this up. To me the ethical leap from "living" to "ought to be dead" is of the greatest significance.

Regardless of ANY argument to support embryonic life forms the issue has been and always will be that it's the WOMAN'S right to decide. Not yours, not mine, not anyone else's.
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In my opinion, we should stop pretending this is a simple issue, because it's complex.

 

There's nothing particularily special about the moment of birth. What happens there? The baby exits the protective environment of the mother. We see the baby with our eyes. The baby undergoes a rather dramatic metabolic transition.

 

Let us suppose the child is raised to a year of age after its birth, and we don't like it. Why can't we kill it?

 

I think that a human life begins at conception. That is the moment when a sexually reproducing organism acquires a full genotype with an accompanying phenotype. Being then alive, it undergoes a complex cascade of growth and development.

 

I've recently been studying ethics with some philosophers. For me the most interesting place in this subject is called, perhaps appropriately enough, Hume's Guillotine. Let me attempt to briefy describe it.

 

Things are what they are. We may not understand very well what they are, or why they are what they are. But whatever they are, that's what they be. Our characterizations of them are descriptive. Then we may have some notion of what they ought to be. These characterizations are prescriptive. Apparently some philosophers think that the substance of ethics resides in how and why we cross the gap from descriptions to prescriptions. So we attempt to represent this as...

 

descriptive --ethics--> prescriptive

 

Okay, let me try and wrap this up. To me the ethical leap from "living" to "ought to be dead" is of the greatest significance.

Legion, this was a very intelligent comment. I hope that, against all the odds, it flourishes into a constructive discussion.

 

As I write this, I see a pre-emptive strike posted. Oh well.

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You just broke the deal, asshole.

 

Ah! My bad Ro! I had completely forgotten that agreement in my absence.

 

I apologize. Shall we return to it?

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People like to use any number of moral arguments to justify imposing their morals on unwilling others, ignoring the fact that morals are subjective any way you slice it. If a woman wants an abortion and someone is willing to provide it, what do I care? I am concerned about postpartum people, not fetuses.

Ditto Ro-bear, ditto! It's astounding how they can make the jump, at least in their minds, from a few cells of tissue to a one year old child.
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Legion, this was a very intelligent comment. I hope that, against all the odds, it flourishes into a constructive discussion.

 

Thank for saying so Pockets. I was hoping that it would too.

 

Good to hear from you again man.

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Pockets, if you care to reiterate any points you think could form the basis of a "constructive discussion", feel free to do so. I wish I could share your optimism. What I think is most likely to happen is people talking past each other. It boils down to morals, and morals are neither objective nor universal.

 

For the record, I have always conceded that human life begins at conception.

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For the record, I have always conceded that human life begins at conception.

 

I think that's true in a biological sense, but certainly not in the sense where actual harm can be measured. In my mind, loss of future potential in a life form that can't contemplate the concept of potential is not harm.

 

This gets stickier when moving from fetuses to actual babies as likely the same argument can be applied to them as well. That I concede. I guess here it just comes down to the fact that you have to draw a line somewhere.

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Pockets, if you care to reiterate any points you think could form the basis of a "constructive discussion", feel free to do so. I wish I could share your optimism. What I think is most likely to happen is people talking past each other. It boils down to morals, and morals are neither objective nor universal.

 

For the record, I have always conceded that human life begins at conception.

I can do my best, but I'm not sure I'm the best equipped to defend points that aren't mine.

 

I would agree that abortion is not a simple issue and that it's not particularly helpful to frame it as one. I think people end up talking past each other when discussing morality because moral reasoning is pretty hard. It's not impossible, it's just really difficult. This already-difficult project is burdened further by the collateral baggage brought to the discussion table by the people involved. I think that it all boils down to assumptions. However, I think that you can critique faulty reasoning from those assumptions with objectivity. We do this all the time with respect to Christianity (ie., 'even assuming that Jesus healed those blind folks, this is not proof that he was divine.'), and I think we can do it here too.

 

I think the most salient point was that birth is a relatively insignificant event in terms of what the fetus actually is. So, in terms of the actual fetus, 'birth' is an arbitrary place to draw a line where abortion is OK beforehand but not OK afterward. All the distinctions are located elsewhere, in the relationship between the fetus and the mother.

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Of course a fetus is alive. What we don't have is a God mandating that all human life is precious. Life is cheap and humans have over populated Earth.

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I think the most salient point was that birth is a relatively insignificant event in terms of what the fetus actually is. So, in terms of the actual fetus, 'birth' is an arbitrary place to draw a line where abortion is OK beforehand but not OK afterward. All the distinctions are located elsewhere, in the relationship between the fetus and the mother.

 

I think the reason that birth is such a focus is because of appearances. A pregnant woman is perceived as a unit, a woman with a child as two units. Any place you draw the line will be arbitrary. If you draw the line at birth, a person's legal protection begins there. Three months or nine months does not so much differe in the act as in our perceptions of it. The more the thing looks like a human being, the more uncomfortable people are with doing away with it, but of course it is a human being even when it is indistinguishable from a mouse embryo. The big question for society is when does legal protection begin. I'm not in favor of placing that protection at conception or so early in the pregnancy that it makes things tough on the woman. As I have said, the fetus I do not care about.

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I think the most salient point was that birth is a relatively insignificant event in terms of what the fetus actually is. So, in terms of the actual fetus, 'birth' is an arbitrary place to draw a line where abortion is OK beforehand but not OK afterward. All the distinctions are located elsewhere, in the relationship between the fetus and the mother.

 

I think the reason that birth is such a focus is because of appearances. A pregnant woman is perceived as a unit, a woman with a child as two units. Any place you draw the line will be arbitrary. If you draw the line at birth, a person's legal protection begins there. Three months or nine months does not so much differe in the act as in our perceptions of it. The more the thing looks like a human being, the more uncomfortable people are with doing away with it, but of course it is a human being even when it is indistinguishable from a mouse embryo. The big question for society is when does legal protection begin. I'm not in favor of placing that protection at conception or so early in the pregnancy that it makes things tough on the woman. As I have said, the fetus I do not care about.

 

I see it pretty much the same way. And I'll admit that any 'line' that's drawn will be arbitrary.

 

Before birth, the fetus is essentially part of the mother's body. And she's the only conscious entity in said body. Therefore I'd prefer that she have control of her body. The problem with drawing the line ANYWHERE else is that you are infringing on a CONSCIOUS person's control of their own body.

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And she's the only conscious entity in said body.

 

That's a good point too.

 

Additionally, if you want to stand on the morality of robbing an unconscious organism of its future potential, you open a huge can of worms as it can easily be proven that REAL, MEASURABLE harm can follow when a woman is denied abortion (poverty, etc...), whereas it's impossible to show real, measurable harm to a fetus and its lost potential. The later is simply assumed.

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Of course a fetus is alive. What we don't have is a God mandating that all human life is precious. Life is cheap and humans have over populated Earth.

 

I appreciate this candor MM. It's refreshing. And I think it reflects the thoughts of many people. Having said that however, I feel compelled to voice my disagreement with it in various aspects. I personally believe that virtually all living beings are amazing, though I confess that I find some terrestrial organisms gruesome.

 

I think the assessment of "cheap" or "dear" depends on numerous things, but among them is context. I believe though that we may more readily approach the question of whether or not humans have yet overpopulated the Earth. There is no doubt in my mind that we will never be able to manifest exponential growth rates in our population. This would not be possible even if we left Earth at the speed of light and converted all the materials we encountered into human flesh.

 

It seems inevitable to me that the Earth, having a fixed amount suitable materials, will only sustain a certain amount of biomass. And much of this biomass will have to be devoted to the ecosystems on which we naturally depend and are a part of. But it's not at all clear to me what the upper limits are, or what proportion of people to ecosystemic biomass must be.

 

For instance, I don't see why it would it would be technologically impossible to basically transform almost the entire mass of the Earth into ecosystemic biomass.

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I think the most salient point was that birth is a relatively insignificant event in terms of what the fetus actually is. So, in terms of the actual fetus, 'birth' is an arbitrary place to draw a line where abortion is OK beforehand but not OK afterward. All the distinctions are located elsewhere, in the relationship between the fetus and the mother.

 

I think the reason that birth is such a focus is because of appearances. A pregnant woman is perceived as a unit, a woman with a child as two units. Any place you draw the line will be arbitrary. If you draw the line at birth, a person's legal protection begins there. Three months or nine months does not so much differe in the act as in our perceptions of it. The more the thing looks like a human being, the more uncomfortable people are with doing away with it, but of course it is a human being even when it is indistinguishable from a mouse embryo. The big question for society is when does legal protection begin. I'm not in favor of placing that protection at conception or so early in the pregnancy that it makes things tough on the woman. As I have said, the fetus I do not care about.

 

I see it pretty much the same way. And I'll admit that any 'line' that's drawn will be arbitrary.

 

Before birth, the fetus is essentially part of the mother's body. And she's the only conscious entity in said body. Therefore I'd prefer that she have control of her body. The problem with drawing the line ANYWHERE else is that you are infringing on a CONSCIOUS person's control of their own body.

A few thoughts:

 

Ro: If it's acknowledged that there is no real difference between a fetus and a newborn, then what reasons would you give to someone to convince them not to care about fetuses? Making things easier on pregnant women does not seem to be a convincing reason when we're talking about newborns instead of fetuses. And as we've said, there is no real physical difference between the two.

 

Rank: I'm not clear on what you mean by conscious here. I think the fetus may be 'conscious' but not self-aware. More conscious than a rock, a tree, plankton, and some fish, less conscious than an adult human, a cat, and some fish. Also, I think it would be more accurate to say that before birth a fetus is a body within another body, not that it is all the mother's body. She is literally growing a body inside of her body. When we eventually grow fetuses in machines from conception, they will not be regarded as one body, it will be the fetus bodies within the machines. So I think there are actually 2 conscious entities and two bodies, where one conscious body that is not self-aware is within another conscious body that is.

 

I want to note here that you have combined two directions of abortion arguments. The first part is about the fetus: what is it and what are the moral consequences of that. The second is about the relationship between the mother and the fetus: who should have control when one body is within the other. I just want to note that these are distinct paths that have their own sets of arguments for and against. You're making a distinction regarding consciousness and autonomy over one's own body, which involves both.

 

To sharpen what it is you mean, maybe you can consider a few hypotheticals. What would you think about abortion if fetuses were self-aware from the moment of conception but still required the normal amount of time inside the womb? And what would you think about abortion if fetuses were as they are now in all respects except that they are grown in machines? I think your answers to these will flesh out your position.

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I don't see your point Pockets. First, neither of your hypotheticals represent reality, so why worry about them? Second, it seems you are trying to fit this debate into the legal framework that has already been argued. We, on the other hand, are simply approaching it from a logical perspective irrespective of legal arguments.

 

Tell me, why is the lost potential of a fetus a greater harm than the measurable harm that often ensues when a woman is forced to carry to term against her will? That's the crux of the debate from a logical perspective I think.

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I don't see your point Pockets. First, neither of your hypotheticals represent reality, so why worry about them? Second, it seems you are trying to fit this debate into the legal framework that has already been argued. We, on the other hand, are simply approaching it from a logical perspective irrespective of legal arguments.

 

Tell me, why is the lost potential of a fetus a greater harm than the measurable harm that often ensues when a woman is forced to carry to term against her will? That's the crux of the debate from a logical perspective I think.

I don't have any legal arguments in mind when writing these replies. The hypotheticals only matter insofar as they relate to the reasons behind present positions. In that respect, they matter a great deal.

 

Your question is too compounded for me to answer without parsing it all out. I would rather just wait for Rank's response than deconstruct it, if that's all right.

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Of course a fetus is alive. What we don't have is a God mandating that all human life is precious. Life is cheap and humans have over populated Earth.

 

We don't need God to mandate that human life is priceless. It just is. And life does not become cheap just because Earth is over-populated. If you believe that, do you think killing people to save the environment would be all right?

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.... it's the WOMAN'S right to decide.

 

Okay. This is a naked assertion. I generally like to persuade myself that I know what a woman is, and I also like to believe that I know what decisions entail. However, I'm not at all certain what you intend to mean when you say "right".

 

What gives rise to rights? And what do rights entail?

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