My Take on Abortion

Is abortion right or wrong? This can be a sensitive subject because of the emotions involved.

First of all, I do not like the phrases “pro-life” or “pro-choice”, because they are loaded expressions saturated with propaganda. They are more like political phrases that implicitly assume their position.

Some arguments against abortion beg the question by assuming that a human life is always taken which therefore constitutes murder. This is circular reasoning. On the other hand, it would NOT be circular reasoning to begin with the assumption that abortion isn’t wrong. This is because, just like in a court of law, we must assume innocence before guilt. Abortion must therefore be proven to be wrong.

I believe if an argument is to be made for or against abortion it must be done on purely moral logical grounds, based on what is best for humans. By this reasoning, I will not consider any religious or spiritual objections to abortion, because they are subjective and personal; a sound argument for or against abortion should be able to stand on its own feet. If such an argument exists however, it should be considered whatever its source.

The most common argument against abortion is that a human life is taken. Is this true? Strictly speaking, it depends on when the abortion occurs. Immediately after conception, all that is present is a fertilised egg. Is this a human being? No. The gestation period describes the process from conception to birth, and it is clear that a new human being is being created, which means there was a point in the past when it did not exist. Whilst it may not be very easy at all to pinpoint when exactly that is, if abortion occurs early enough it cannot be said that a human life is taken.

Since human consciousness resides in the brain, it makes no sense to talk of personality or humanity where a brain doesn’t exist. Also, without a sufficiently developed brain, sensation is impossible. Since there is a stage in development where the brain doesn’t exist, we can also say there is a stage where personhood cannot exist, and there is a point in time when there is no chance of harm of pain.

Let me address the inviolability of human life: this is a metaphysical position. There are those who believe human life is sacred and higher to all other animals. Others think humans should not be given any deference over animal life. Whatever your position, it would be tenuous to argue a general moral law (such as against murder) based on personal metaphysical beliefs.

Let us also consider that there is more complexity and function in an insect than a newly conceived egg. If aborting a zygote or blastocyst is wrong then so is killing insects, not to mention destroying more complex forms of life considered vermin, like rats or mice. Some might argue that human life is worth more but: 1. a zygote or blastocyst is not a human, and 2. this assumes that human life is somehow more sacrosanct than animal. However, because this is a personal metaphysical bias, it would be unfair to impose it on others, and deeming abortion wrong as a result would be doing just that.

Another popular argument against abortion is that it denies the right to live. If this is true though, then shouldn’t contraception be wrong? Every time a human couple copulate there is a chance of a new human being coming into existence and having a life. Every time prophylactics are used, millions of sperm will die; millions of opportunities for another human life are destroyed. Some might argue that with contraception, there is no direct chance for human life because conception has not occurred, but this seems to be drawing the line in a rather convenient place. Why draw the line at conception but not earlier at the point of sexual intercourse? Why draw the line at conception but not later at the point of blastocyst emergence? To draw the line at the point of conception because ‘that is when a human life begins’ is circular reasoning. Also, although it is far more likely that a human life might emerge without contraception than with it, we are talking degrees on a scale of probability: even conception will not necessarily result in human life. Between 10% and 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, not to mention stillbirths. Many miscarriages occur without the woman even realising she was pregnant. Here we have nature aborting pregnancies on a regular basis.

There are also the rights of the woman to consider. Placing the possibility for potential of life above the mother’s rights would seem to be unfair. This is because the mother is an actual human being with the right to decide her life and future, whereas a foetus might not even have a developed brain. As previously discussed, there are far more developed, complex, and intelligent forms of life than a foetus. Examples include: dogs, cats, dolphins, apes. In fact, a rodent or fish demonstrate infinitely more behaviour than a foetus. No one would think of placing the rights of an animal above those of a human, so why place the “rights” of a foetus or blastocyst over those of a human? This seems to be a serious logical discrepancy.

Some might argue that having sex incurs responsibility and this is indeed true. However it does not follow that having sex means that one gives tacit consent to getting pregnant and becoming a parent. Allowing for the possibility that conception might occur is not the same as agreeing to sustain another lifeform for 9 months and giving birth. Moreover, even if it did, one cannot say that abortion is right as long as conception is an accident but wrong if conception could be avoided. Who is to make this determination, and how?

It seems that abortion is a grey area because there is a gradual progression of development and exact definitions are hard. Strictly speaking, abortion could be murder and therefore wrong if it occurs too late, and harmless (and even necessary) if it occurs early enough. It seems to me that the best balance between respecting human life and rights is to leave the decision of abortion with the only responsible person who can make that decision: the woman. Up to a certain amount of time, it is her private personal decision. After such time where we can say that a human brain has developed (therefore personality will start to emerge and the foetus/baby can experience pain), the developing baby should be considered a human being with all rights and privileges thereto. Should an issue occur after this time where it is actually beneficial to terminate the pregnancy (for instance, if carrying the child to term would actually kill the mother), the decision should be the mother’s or next-of-kin’s.

I won’t pretend to have covered every issue or objection here, but I believe the primary points have been discussed. I realise this can be a difficult subject, but we must be objective and logical when discussing it. Emotion is a powerful force, and personal beliefs can cloud judgement, which is why when trying to fairly decide an issue of this importance, personal biases and emotion should be kept of it. Of course this can be the hardest thing to do, but our interest should be in the facts and what is best for people.

I will maintain that the onus is on others to prove all abortion to be wrong, and not on women to justify any abortion to be right.

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58 Responses to “My Take on Abortion”

  1. D Says:

    I didn’t exactly read your post, but here’s some of my take on it (abortion).

    To start off, I’ll go ahead and tell you that I believe that abortion is morally wrong, and the government shouldn’t allow it.

    First of all, the government tells us that we have the freedom of life. When an unborn human is aborted, that human automatically loses that freedom and is murdered. If you don’t consider it murder, then consider it banning that human from ever having that freedom of life. So abortion goes against the government. This is all considering you live in the U.S.

    Now as for morality, it is wrong because we all know that taking away a person’s life or keeping a human from ever having life on earth is morally wrong.

    Everything above is considering you have a choice in the matter; a choice in whether to let a human be born and have life or not. If you have no choice in the matter, you can’t be blamed for it.

  2. Joe Says:

    evanescent: excellent summary of the issue. The crux is what determines when a fetus becomes a human. obviously a fetus that has not developed a brain is not one.

  3. Spanish Inquisitor Says:

    In January of 1973, Justice Harry Blackmun, joining with 6 other members of US Supreme Court, undertook a similar analysis, and arrived at a similar conclusion, albeit from a legal perspective. Our knowledge of the biology of reproduction has increased tremendously in the meantime, yet he was able to take the then existing state of knowledge and come to the same conclusions. Sort of remarkable if you think about it.

    If anyone wants to read the actual opinion, here it is: Roe v. Wade

    @D

    I didn’t exactly read your post

    What exactly did you do? Look at the title to his post, assumed that you knew what he was going to say, dismissed it without thought or analysis because, of course, your religious beliefs are far superior?

    Yea. That’s it. Do you have even the foggiest idea how insulting and condescending that is? If you weren’t going to read what he wrote, you could have at least had the decency to be quiet.

  4. tobe38 Says:

    Well said. Of course you avoided the “Great Beethoven Fallacy” argument, I’d be surprised if no-one brought that up in the comments. 😉

  5. evanescent Says:

    D said:

    I didn’t exactly read your post, but here’s some of my take on it (abortion).

    I’ve already addressed the objections to abortion in the article D. Which you would have been able to give your opinion on, if you’d have read it.

  6. Shefaly Says:

    Political framing: Binary
    Reason: convenience of ontological reductionism

    Real-life framing: Base-10
    Reason: Life is like that

    No wonder some will never read it. They want convenience.

    Good post.

  7. Eric Hill Says:

    A foetus merely has the “potential” to become a human being. If we apply all the rights and privledges to something that has the “potential” to be human (as the anti-abortionists do), then we should apply this guideline to all aspects of society.

    If an adult is involved in a serious accident and is essentially brain-dead, we have the technology to keep that individual breathing for a long time. However, as a society we currently have no problem “pulling the plug”. Now…there have been documented cases were people have “awaken” from being braindead, so we know the “potential” exists. Whether this is a miracle, an act of God, or some other unknown power has yet to be determined. And, whether you believe in God or not, we all know that there are things in this universe that science can’t (yet) explain.

    So in essence, we have people who support a double standard. Both the foetus and brain-dead adult have the “potential” to become a functioning adult, but we want to treat these situations differently.

    The real issue is intolerance. If you believe that abortion is wrong, then don’t get an abortion. Naturally, you have the right to teach your kids your beliefs and anyone else who comes along and asks for your opinion.

  8. evanescent Says:

    Hi Eric, thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

    I totally agree with you that those in society who oppose abortion (for personal or religious reasons) apply a double standard.

    Allow me to pick up on one thing you said although it’s not strictly related to this article:

    Naturally, you have the right to teach your kids your beliefs and anyone else who comes along and asks for your opinion.

    I agree with the second part of the sentence, but maybe not the first. After all, we’re all entitled to our opinions and should give them if asked, but our kids don’t really have a say in the matter! Naturally our opinions will probably rub off on our kids anyway, children being very emulative as they are. But I think when it comes to matters of personal conscience (like abortion) we should allow our children to form their own opinions, without choosing their political or religious standpoint for them, even if we end up actually disagreeing with them! (If you agree then I must have misunderstood you so ignore this comment.)

  9. Krista Dominguez Says:

    You claim that the question of abortion needs to be viewed on strictly logical and moral grounds (which I agree with). However, you claim that this morality must be completely separate from religious opinion. Who determines what is morally right and morally wrong? Also, any time you talk about morality you are entering a religious domain, whether that religion be secular humanism, Christianity, or any other worldview.

  10. evanescent Says:

    Hi Krista, thanks for commenting.

    You said:

    However, you claim that this morality must be completely separate from religious opinion. Who determines what is morally right and morally wrong?

    We do, based on what causes unnecessary harm to another sentient being.

    The reason I believe moral and political decisions should be totally free from religious affiliation is because religion is about one person’s personal belief, and is not a factual objective basis for deciding right from wrong. Like I say in the article, if a sound moral argument can be made for or against something then it should be able to stand on its own merit anyway, without any reference to personal faith.

    Also, any time you talk about morality you are entering a religious domain, whether that religion be secular humanism, Christianity, or any other worldview.

    This isn’t true, Krista. For one, humanism isn’t a religion. But even if it was, religious worldviews are irrelevant for a discussion on morality.

    That sounds like a sweeping statement, but it’s actually incredibly true when you think about it: if causing unnecessary harm is morally wrong, then it’s morally wrong. That’s what the definition means. So, it doesn’t matter what your personal convictions are.

    I recently wrote about how objective morality exists and we can tell right from wrong, no matter what our worldview is:

    https://ellis14.wordpress.com/2007/08/28/my-morality-rumination/

  11. Geno Says:

    evanescent,
    I agree with you. If it is not human life then no justification is needed. However, if it is a human life, no justification is adequate.

    Now it is alive and it is human (it didn’t come from my dog). Therefore it is human life. What you are quibbling over now is the quality of that human life. If you want to be the judge over who lives and who dies, go ahead.

    If you are going to say that it is not human life or it has something less than human value, there should be no objection (not even from me) if we were to harvest them and serve them like sushi in a restaurant.

    Do you object to people eating these embryos or fetuses? We eat other non human body parts.

  12. D Says:

    What exactly did you do? Look at the title to his post, assumed that you knew what he was going to say, dismissed it without thought or analysis because, of course, your religious beliefs are far superior?

    Yea. That’s it. Do you have even the foggiest idea how insulting and condescending that is? If you weren’t going to read what he wrote, you could have at least had the decency to be quiet.

    I wasn’t saying I disagreed with eva. I was just giving my opinion even if I said the same thing eva did only in a shorter version.

    Obviously you believe yourself to be superior to me considering your automatic assumption that I thought I knew eva’s opinion, when although I did not read it, I simply gave my opinion on it without even directing my comment to anyone in particular. You are showing a lot of arrogance, Span.

    ________________________________________

    @eva

    I’ve already addressed the objections to abortion in the article D. Which you would have been able to give your opinion on, if you’d have read it.

    I know, and I read it, at least the part that concerned my objections, and I quite frankly don’t think abortion is right, and I find nothing that goes against my statement. I might as well re-read your post, skipping the parts that don’t concern me.

    Another popular argument against abortion is that it denies the right to live. If this is true though, then shouldn’t contraception be wrong? Every time a human couple copulate there is a chance of a new human being coming into existence and having a life. Every time prophylactics are used, millions of sperm will die; millions of opportunities for another human life are destroyed. Some might argue that with contraception, there is no direct chance for human life because conception has not occurred, but this seems to be drawing the line in a rather convenient place. Why draw the line at conception but not earlier at the point of sexual intercourse? Why draw the line at conception but not later at the point of blastocyst emergence? To draw the line at the point of conception because ‘that is when a human life begins’ is circular reasoning. Also, although it is far more likely that a human life might emerge without contraception than with it, we are talking degrees on a scale of probability: even conception will not necessarily result in human life. Between 10% and 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, not to mention stillbirths. Many miscarriages occur without the woman even realising she was pregnant. Here we have nature aborting pregnancies on a regular basis.

    So killing an unborn baby is ok because you kill other potential babies before that? What are you saying here? I’ve heard this many times before, but it makes no sense. You are still denying the right to live, and that is not right. If there is no choice involved, then it is not anyone’s fault, but if you have a choice to let an unborn baby live, you should let it live. To do otherwise would be what humans call murder or denial of life. Sometimes the circumstances demand that the child not live, in which case, it is nobody’s fault. If you are capable of bringing a child into the world and there is a chance of the baby living on, you should follow through. Do you know how selfish it sounds to kill an unborn baby just because it will be inconvenient for you? I apologize, but that is just horrifying.

    Placing the possibility for potential of life above the mother’s rights would seem to be unfair. This is because the mother is an actual human being with the right to decide her life and future, whereas a foetus might not even have a developed brain. As previously discussed, there are far more developed, complex, and intelligent forms of life than a foetus. Examples include: dogs, cats, dolphins, apes. In fact, a rodent or fish demonstrate infinitely more behaviour than a foetus. No one would think of placing the rights of an animal above those of a human, so why place the “rights” of a foetus or blastocyst over those of a human? This seems to be a serious logical discrepancy.

    Oh, please. Ok, I agree that if the situation demands that the child not live, then it really can’t be anyone’s fault. But you try to justify this murder by saying that a foetus isn’t as complex as a dog (which by the way, has been born)? That is just the worst philosophy I have ever heard: “Well, it’s ok to kill the baby, because it isn’t as complex as a dog.” By the way, I doubt that an unborn being would be as complex as a being that has been born already. This is despicable; killing a baby just because of some inconvenience. You cannot justify a human death just because it isn’t full grown yet therefore not as complex as a full grown animal.

    Sure, the women have the choice, but they shouldn’t choose abortion if the baby’s life will have beneficial effects for that unborn human. If you say that it matters how it affects the women, you can also say that God should do whatever benefits Him, which would be to bring us all to Heaven even if we refuse it, which would be unjust, therefore, God should put His creation above His convenience. Before you say anything, that was just an analogy, so don’t argue against it unless you are arguing against the point I make.

    I’m not saying that all abortion is wrong. I’m saying that abortion is wrong if living can be beneficial to the unborn human.

    Mabye I’m agree with eva, mabye I am not, regardless, that is my opinion.

  13. evanescent Says:

    D said:

    So killing an unborn baby is ok because you kill other potential babies before that? What are you saying here? I’ve heard this many times before, but it makes no sense. You are still denying the right to live, and that is not right. If there is no choice involved, then it is not anyone’s fault, but if you have a choice to let an unborn baby live, you should let it live. To do otherwise would be what humans call murder or denial of life. Sometimes the circumstances demand that the child not live, in which case, it is nobody’s fault. If you are capable of bringing a child into the world and there is a chance of the baby living on, you should follow through. Do you know how selfish it sounds to kill an unborn baby just because it will be inconvenient for you? I apologize, but that is just horrifying.

    I addressed all this in the article. If you’d understood it you wouldn’t have raised the issues that you have.

    Denying the right to live. What EXACTLY does this mean, and where do you draw the line? Would you use a condom? Why, or why not? How is denying a thing the right to live a crime? Shouldn’t we all go around procreating at every opportunity, because if we did more life would exist than currently does. So by not having sex every 5 (and a half) minutes and using condoms, we’re denying millions of lives aren’t we??

    There is a difference between a child and lump of cells. As harsh as that might sound, it’s a fact. You assume abortion is the killing of an unborn human, which is EXACTLY the wrong assumption I countered in the article.

    Oh, please. Ok, I agree that if the situation demands that the child not live, then it really can’t be anyone’s fault. But you try to justify this murder by saying that a foetus isn’t as complex as a dog (which by the way, has been born)? That is just the worst philosophy I have ever heard: “Well, it’s ok to kill the baby, because it isn’t as complex as a dog.” By the way, I doubt that an unborn being would be as complex as a being that has been born already. This is despicable; killing a baby just because of some inconvenience. You cannot justify a human death just because it isn’t full grown yet therefore not as complex as a full grown animal.

    Who’s talking about killing babies D?? You must be on a different discussion than the rest of us. This is talking about aborting a foetus or blastocyst, not a human baby.

  14. evanescent Says:

    Geno said:

    I agree with you. If it is not human life then no justification is needed. However, if it is a human life, no justification is adequate.

    This pretty much seems it up perfectly.

    Do you object to people eating these embryos or fetuses? We eat other non human body parts.

    I am personally repulsed by the idea, but it would be hard to argue against it morally. This should probably come down to a matter of taste (no pun intended) but if anyone has an opinion of this very interesting point, please chime in.

  15. tobe38 Says:

    I would be repulsed by the idea of someone eating their freshly removed appendix, but hey, whatever rings your bell. I wouldn’t object to it morally, and I can’t see any reason to see a fetus differently.

  16. Darren Says:

    I might go one step further and say that not only is abortion not wrong, it is often the socially responsible thing to do. What becomes of the child that is born to the unloving mother? What effect does that neglected child/adult have on society in later years?

    Apart from the issues already discussed, there is also the simple fact that there are too many of us already. At some point, the needs of the many must outweigh the needs of the few, or the one (to quote Mr Spock!)

  17. D Says:

    Denying the right to live. What EXACTLY does this mean, and where do you draw the line? Would you use a condom? Why, or why not? How is denying a thing the right to live a crime? Shouldn’t we all go around procreating at every opportunity, because if we did more life would exist than currently does. So by not having sex every 5 (and a half) minutes and using condoms, we’re denying millions of lives aren’t we??

    I draw the line at denying a human’s life, and a human is a human, regardless if it’s full grown or not. Denying human life is exactly what it sounds like. Denying human life is taking life away from a human or just keeping a human from ever having life. Denying one’s life is a crime because you aren’t allowing them to live, which takes away our freedoms: life, liberty, and happiness. Unless the situation demands it, a human should be allowed to live, and you have no right to justify it by saying that it isn’t as complex as a dog yet. You are overexaggerating and drawing assumptions with the rest of it, so I’m not going to even address you there.

    There is a difference between a child and lump of cells. As harsh as that might sound, it’s a fact. You assume abortion is the killing of an unborn human, which is EXACTLY the wrong assumption I countered in the article.

    Does that lump of cells have the potential to become a human? If so, it should be considered a not-yet-developed human. You can’t justify murder by calling an unborn human just a lump of cells; get over it.

    Who’s talking about killing babies D?? You must be on a different discussion than the rest of us. This is talking about aborting a foetus or blastocyst, not a human baby.

    That is one despicable statement. You have no right to call Christianity despicable after that. I may be overreacting, but seeing as you are calling a not-yet-developed human by a scientific word in order to justify killing it, I don’t see how you could call someone despicable, let alone Christians. You are basically saying, “That isn’t a human. It’s just a bunch of cells (that have the potential to become a human), so we can kill it.” That is the same thing as saying that a person with an under-developed hand can be killed because that person isn’t fully developed.

    ___________________________________________

    Now, if you’d excuse me, I’d like to leave, so don’t object to my comment in a way that causes me to repeat myself, instead, if you find a valid argument against my comment, tell me, and I’ll answer it, but I refuse to answer anything that I have already explained.

  18. evanescent Says:

    D said:

    I draw the line at denying a human’s life, and a human is a human, regardless if it’s full grown or not. Denying human life is exactly what it sounds like. Denying human life is taking life away from a human or just keeping a human from ever having life. Denying one’s life is a crime because you aren’t allowing them to live, which takes away our freedoms: life, liberty, and happiness. Unless the situation demands it, a human should be allowed to live, and you have no right to justify it by saying that it isn’t as complex as a dog yet. You are overexaggerating and drawing assumptions with the rest of it, so I’m not going to even address you there.

    On the contrary, D, you haven’t addressed anything. You didn’t my question on condoms. And your answer on drawing the line at denying a human life begs the question; it assumes its own conclusion. Yes we know that you disagree with abortion, but you have really left untouched everything I said in my article.

    Does that lump of cells have the potential to become a human? If so, it should be considered a not-yet-developed human. You can’t justify murder by calling an unborn human just a lump of cells; get over it.

    Every sperm in your testes, or egg in a female ovum has the potential to be a human being. Do you never masturbate? Do you use contraception?

    Aren’t you wasting human life there? No. Because there is a difference between a human being and a conceived egg. This point seems to be lost on you.

    That is one despicable statement. You have no right to call Christianity despicable after that. I may be overreacting, but seeing as you are calling a not-yet-developed human by a scientific word in order to justify killing it, I don’t see how you could call someone despicable, let alone Christians. You are basically saying, “That isn’t a human. It’s just a bunch of cells (that have the potential to become a human), so we can kill it.” That is the same thing as saying that a person with an under-developed hand can be killed because that person isn’t fully developed.

    This, again, is just waffle. That’s not at all what I’ve said, but you’ve not read the article or understood it because if you had you wouldn’t raise the objections that you had.

    You’ve just spent an entire paragraph moaning about nothing; a misunderstanding of what I’ve said and failed to addressed anything on a mature logical philosophical or intellectual standing. You have a lot of work to do D.

    Now, if you’d excuse me, I’d like to leave, so don’t object to my comment in a way that causes me to repeat myself, instead, if you find a valid argument against my comment, tell me, and I’ll answer it, but I refuse to answer anything that I have already explained.

    You’re excused.

  19. evanescent Says:

    Darren said:

    At some point, the needs of the many must outweigh the needs of the few, or the one (to quote Mr Spock!)

    I have been, and always shall be, your friend!

  20. D Says:

    Since there isn’t anything worth talking about here, I’m leaving for a long while.

    Have a nice day.
    God bless.

  21. Geno Says:

    Darren,
    I ask this in a philosophical way and not personally. Have you though of killing yourself to alleviate the population problem?

  22. evanescent Says:

    Geno, I’ll let Darren reply to your question too, but I’ll have a go:

    I’d agree that overpopulation and unwanted births are a big problem. One only needs to look at the huge problems caused by the ridiculous Catholic ban on contraception.

    There are very real benefits to contraception, one of which is preventing unwanted births. So, to draw the line AFTER conception instead of BEFORE, seems to me like I said in the article, to be drawing the line in a rather convenient place. So the benefits of contraception must also apply to abortion, and that’s what Darren is saying I think.

    I think taking a human life is very rarely justified (i.e.: killing yourself), but preventing birth is a very different matter.

  23. tobe38 Says:

    @ Geno,

    The difference between killing Darren to allieviate population problems and terminating an embryo, is that Darren is actually a conscious, sentient being. He can consider his own existence, which is the very thing that makes him human, and he is capable of suffering. None of that can be applied to an embryo.

  24. Darren Says:

    Geno,
    No, of course not, for reasons already given by evanescent and tobe above. I am already here, and to take your argument to it’s natural extreme leads to genocide. We obviously shouldn’t cull ourselves, our individual urge to live is too strong for that, but there comes a point where we need to accept responsibility not to make the overpopulation problem worse than it already is by unnecessary and unwanted births.

    All the effort that anti-abortionists expend could be put to better use to help those of us that are already here and in need of help. Where does the concern of the anti-abortionist go once the baby is born? It evaporates, it seems.

  25. Geno Says:

    Darren,
    In times past ALL orphanages and child services were provided by the Church, as Atheistic society just kicked the kids to the curb like trash.

    Evanescent,
    To a comment you made earlier, there is no such thing as an “unwanted child”. Someone wants that child – it may not be his/her parents, but someone would take and love and raise the child. What we have are irresponsible parents. I think it funny that the solution is to “execute” the victim!

  26. evanescent Says:

    Let’s leave the atheist baiting out of the thread Geno. You’ve already agreed with most of what I said on abortion in the article, and I think any comments should be restricted to that subject.

  27. Geno Says:

    evanescent,
    I can’t let comments like this one from Darren go unanswered.
    “Where does the concern of the anti-abortionist go once the baby is born? It evaporates, it seems.”

    Perhaps your warning should be to Darren since the Church is the most influential and vocal in the abortion debated, his comment “anti abortionist” = church (and we all know it)

  28. evanescent Says:

    The church is the most vocal in the abortion debate so it seems, but I believe the church’s problem with abortion stems from religious beliefs and not what is best for people.

    I have no problem with people debating religious / atheistic views towards abortion, but I’d just like to make sure the debate is about abortion. It could be noted that people of all beliefs have varying opinions on abortion.

  29. Geno Says:

    well, as I said earlier I don’t think it is a religious issue at all – it’s a view of “life” issue. If it is a human life abortion is wrong, if not, it’s open season on the unborn.

  30. Geno Says:

    you said – “and not what is best for people.”

    I guess it depends which “people” you are, the born or the unborn 😉

  31. evanescent Says:

    That’s exactly the point though Geno, as I argued in the article, abortion isn’t the taking of a human life. I thought you agreed with this.

  32. Geno Says:

    evanescent,
    I never stated my position. I just said that if it wasn’t human life you needed no justification, but if it was human life that no justification was adequate.

    Later, I made the point that it is alive and it is human since it didn’t come from a dog. I also said your point was to argue the quality of the “life.”

  33. evanescent Says:

    I think I already made this point in the article, but a fetus or blastocyst is no more a human than a human cheek cell is, or a sample of male semen, or a female ovum. After conception, a glob of cells might eventually become human, but it has no “humanness” about it, no magical or spiritual property that makes it human, (and even if it did, so what), no more than a sample of dog DNA is a dog.

    A blueprint for a building is precisely that, a blueprint; it isn’t a building.

  34. Geno Says:

    so when do you think that they become “Human Life” and worthy of protection by society?
    Peter Singer at Princeton has lobbied for 20 yrs that parents should be allowed to exterminate unwanted children up to 8 days after birth.

  35. evanescent Says:

    so when do you think that they become “Human Life” and worthy of protection by society?

    I don’t have an exact date, but I would say after such time that the brain has developed.

    Peter Singer at Princeton has lobbied for 20 yrs that parents should be allowed to exterminate unwanted children up to 8 days after birth.

    And I totally disagree with this. That would be murder.

  36. Geno Says:

    It can’t be murder if it’s legal!

  37. evanescent Says:

    Which is exactly why it’s not legal.

  38. Geno Says:

    that’s why we fight to keep “life” from having an arbitrary start point that individuals decide.

  39. tobe38 Says:

    @ Geno

    so when do you think that they become “Human Life” and worthy of protection by society?

    Up to around 20 weeks is normally ok. Up until that point, there is no cerebral cortex and no nervous system, meaning that there is no consciousness and no suffering. It is after that point that I think you could call the fetus “human”.

    that’s why we fight to keep “life” from having an arbitrary start point that individuals decide.

    If you don’t object to contraception, then you’re doing exactly the same thing – treating conception as the “arbitrary start point”.

  40. Wolf Pangloss Says:

    I think you could have a fairly straightforward measuring stick that a lot of people would agree on for when abortion should be illegal. Killing the child in the womb should be illegal in all cases where the child is viable with medical help outside the womb. Once delivered, the child is clearly a human being. This would prevent any late term abortions, and not prevent RU486 or contraceptive methods such as the pill that flush the rapidly developing embryo out of the body. It doesn’t depend on religious or moral stances or fine parsing of when life begins (for life begins at the beginning, obviously).

    Killing a child in the womb before that time is a tragedy, but I’m not sure that punishing the already disturbed women who make that choice by forcing them to seek out non-accredited doctors is a win for society.

    On the other hand, the eugenicist aspect to abortion should be troubling to all who hope for a color-blind nation. Abortion is more easily available, and more widely used, in the mostly black inner cities of America than any other place in America. If you read the story of the founder of Planned Parenthood you will find this was PP’s intention from the start.

    And just think about all the 40 million legal abortions that have been performed in the US since 1972. Would we need so many legal and illegal immigrants to do the jobs that need to be done if we hadn’t been killing off so many children who would have grown up, some of them who would have working-age children of their own by now?

  41. evanescent Says:

    Wolf said:

    Killing the child in the womb should be illegal in all cases where the child is viable with medical help outside the womb.

    I would probably disagree with this, and roll the abortion cut-off period further back to the point where a cerebral cortex exists. Once a brain and nervous system has developed what we have is a human in its first phase of development, obviously this NOW-human fetus isn’t viable outside the womb, and I would only allow termination if there was a greater reason: e.g.: to save the mother’s life. Up until this point, the mother has free choice what to do.

    You’ve recently written a blog of your own in response to mine, and in your first paragraph you say:

    ‘Abortion is Killing a Child in the Womb’

    The title of this post is obviously factual because it is based on the plain meaning of words. Nobody could have a factual objection to it, only a political objection. Another obvious fact is that life begins at the beginning. All things begin at their beginning. That is what “beginning” means.

    This is exactly the sort of thinking I addressed in my article: it is not as black and white as you paint it. And like I said in my article, to draw the “beginning” lines at conception, but not say, intercourse, is drawing the line in a convenient place of YOUR choosing, which begs the question.

    Your argument also begs the question in its very title by assuming that abortion is killing a child; it’s not at all! A cell is not a child, nor is an embryo nor blastocyst nor necessarily even a fetus. It is strictly speaking, KILLING, but killing what? And it would be impossible to object to this killing with honesty, whilst standing on ants, swatting flies, or eating meat.

    If you’re going to object to abortion purely on the grounds of potential life, then (like I also said in my original article) then why not have sex all the live long day?; male masturbation should also be illegal, not to mention contraception!

  42. evanescent Says:

    Wolf has continued this discussion on his own blog, so I will repost our latest discussions here:

    Wolf said:

    I reject any equation of human life with the life of an ant or cow.

    Why? Humans are animals. We are not more or less worthy of life than any other. Every living creature on the planet today has proven it can survive by natural selection in its particular environment. The difference with humans is that we can think about our own existence. But there is nothing sacred or sacrosanct about man.

    The mind and soul of a human is nothing like any animal, and those are the aspects that set humans apart.

    The mind of any animal is nothing like another animal. Just because humans have the most complex minds in the world doesn’t make us holy ground. The word soul is a metaphysical spiritual belief, and I think the word is meaningless.

    The beginning to me is either when the fertilized ovum implants on the lining of the womb or when all the parts are in place that are necessary to survive to term.

    But this begs the question, and is rather convenient. Why one or the other? Why not somewhere in between?

    A human being is a person, and the person is the product of the brain. It is most logical to say that when the brain is formed that is when humanity begins.

    I admire your attempts to form a dichotomy between human and not, but it simply isn’t a case of one or the other. Gestation is a series of gradual steps, from mitosis to blastocyst to embryo to fetus. What is it about a fertilised ovum makes it human, that doesn’t make an egg or sperm on their own human? To draw the line after conception and say “humanity begins here” is special pleading, and has no reasonable basis.

    On the other hand, once the brain has fully formed in the womb, the child is still not viable, but we have a living being with a formative mind that can experience pain. So whether viable or not at this point, aborting it would be taking a human life and would cause unnecessary suffering.

  43. Geno Says:

    evanescent,
    so why do we gas termites and not humans – or do you advocate equality of extermination?

  44. Geno Says:

    My statement above was attached to your comment;

    “Why? Humans are animals. We are not more or less worthy of life than any other. Every living creature on the planet today has proven it can survive by natural selection in its particular environment. The difference with humans is that we can think about our own existence. But there is nothing sacred or sacrosanct about man.”

  45. evanescent Says:

    Hi Geno, no I don’t advocate equality of termination, but then, I’m not the one drawing a double standard between a blastocyst and the life of a fully formed insect, mouse, rat, fox, or cow.

    Those who oppose ALL abortion are unable to explain why they make the distinction, and give a lump of cells more rights than a living sentient animal. It is their duty to rationalise their double standard.

  46. dovelove Says:

    “Is abortion right or wrong?”

    It’s not relevant. I get “fire in the belly,” every time I come upon this issue. It shouldn’t be one. I feel totally violated in reading the arguments about this. This is my mf’ing body, and the government should have absolutely no say whatsoever when it comes to MY BODY…or anyone elses. That is, and always been, the church screwing the state.

    Abortion, prostitution, suicide, drug use — none of these, per se, should be, nor should they have ever been, a crime. Until we harm another (that does not include a being that must feed on and live inside of us to exist), then it should not be an issue for the government. And “harm” does not mean it goes against YOUR religious beliefs.

    What’s most reprehensible is the thought of the government taking control of a woman’s body once she becomes pregnant. I cringe at the thought, it’s a sickening abuse of power. They don’t need the details, there should be no exceptions, no rules, when it comes to a person’s own body.

    To hell with the “laws” that have always been infused with religion, we should have an understandable, undeniable, unquestionable HUMAN RIGHT to govern our own bodies.

    Again, it doesn’t matter if another or a group of others thinks the choices I make regarding my own body are right or wrong. Something that is feeding off of my body, totally drawing it’s materialization from MY BODY, that can only live via my body, then regardless of what it is, I TAKE PRIORITY…it is MY CHOICE.

    And until “government” (laws based on religion) agrees with that, then women will never have equality — they will never be free, nor will any of us ever have true FREEDOM under such a government. Even now, when a woman becomes pregnant, she just became an even lesser citizen per this government — the fetus inside her, being considered equal or even above her, above her rights to her own body.

    This government routinely rapes the basic human rights of all of us, but moreso for women…and this issue is particularly deplorable. Just the fact that it is one.

    Dove

  47. tobe38 Says:

    @ Dove

    Wow! Well said, here here and encore! 🙂

  48. evanescent Says:

    Brilliantly said dovelove!

  49. Spanish Inquisitor Says:

    {clap, clap, clap}{repeat}

    I don’t need to add anything to that, Dove.

  50. Ergo Says:

    It is a logical fallacy to argue that emotions cloud logical reasoning.

    The matter of abortion is not a gray issue: it’s perfectly clear–although it takes a great amount of rational thought to arrive at the clear conclusions. Never is a voluntary abortion a violation of any right.

  51. evanescent Says:

    Hi Ergo, thanks for commenting.

    I’m not sure it’s a logical fallacy because I wasn’t trying to provide a logical argument about emotion. It is simply a matter of fact that emotion clouds judgment and our sense of logic. This is why when emotions are running high humans often act irrationally.

    I agree with everything else you wrote though; once you think the issues through clearly, there is clearly no violation. I think the problem for some women is thinking things through clearly because of religious opinion and perhaps peer pressure.

    See Dove’s comment above; it’s excellent.

  52. Misanthropic Scott Says:

    I have not read the numerous replies to this obviously controversial post. I would state that you have done an excellent job of presenting the issue and have clearly given it a lot of thought.

    The one issue I have with your reasoning is this:

    After such time where we can say that a human brain has developed (therefore personality will start to emerge and the foetus/baby can experience pain), the developing baby should be considered a human being with all rights and privileges thereto.

    How well defined must that brain be? As you point out, many animals show far greater intelligence than a fetus. I would even argue that many show more intelligence than a newborn infant. If we follow the logic that it is OK to kill pigs (chosen because they’re quite intelligent), then it may be OK to commit infanticide.

    I strongly oppose infanticide, personally. I think that an overwhelming number of people agree on that, despite its former practice in many cultures at many times, probably including the present in some cultures. So, I think that rather than attempt to define when a brain has developed and whether that brain is now equal to a mosquito’s or a pig’s, I would draw the line at the obvious easily defined time of birth.

    This is what we use for tax deductions. This is what has been used for many years to determine murder, tax deduction, the start of the count of our ages, etc. In short, if when someone asks me my age, I do not count the 7.5 months I was inside my Mom, then that just doesn’t count.

    Other than that, I thoroughly agree with the rest of your reasoning.

  53. evanescent Says:

    Hi Scott

    thanks for your comment and for taking the time to read my article.

    I don’t believe that the human brain should be capable of actual thought in order to draw the line at abortion here. Rather, it should be sufficiently developed to experience sensation (a nervous system) and at such an age where it begins to acquire knowledge. This is the formation of the human person is it not? This is why I draw the line at this point.

    The problem with drawing the line at birth is because clearly, you are just as much a human being 1 minute after birth as 1 minute before. There is indeed a line to be drawn, but surely not as late as this.

  54. Misanthropic Scott Says:

    Hi Evanescent,

    I can certainly respect that position. However, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on it. I think that any line drawn before birth is simply too difficult to determine. What if we find that different fetuses mature at different rates? If the fetus has rights while still in the womb, who’s rights come first? Can a woman be essentially imprisoned to prevent her from taking actions that medicine this week believes will harm the fetus?

    I’d personally say that the vast majority of women know this is not to be taken lightly. I believe that the decision is just far too difficult and far too individual to allow the state to set the rules on this. That doesn’t make it “right” to have a late term abortion. It just means that I don’t think I can know everything about every situation and make a blanket decision for all women all the time, especially since I don’t actually have a uterus.

    I’m prepared to leave the decision between a woman and her doctor. Or, if she is incapacitated, whoever has legal power of attorney to make decisions of life and death.

    BTW, did you know that the current ban on in tact dilation and extraction actually includes an exception only for the woman’s life, not her general health?

  55. evanescent Says:

    BTW, did you know that the current ban on in tact dilation and extraction actually includes an exception only for the woman’s life, not her general health?

    No, can you elucidate please?

  56. Ergo Says:

    This is why you need a philosophy that shows you how to think at the conceptual level of principles and integrate the principles in a non-contradictory fashion while applying it to reality.

    Human consciousness is not equipped to handle the innumerable perceptual concretes that confront us in our daily lives; our cognitive activity tends towards conceptualization, unit economy, crow epistemology. The issue of abortion is one concrete situation to which a consistent body of principles need to be applied. Let me briefly outline the process:

    1) To say that an entity has no rights is not to say that the entity should be slaughtered, killed, or disposed off recklessly or wantonly. In other words, the lack of rights does not logically entail wanton violence, slaughter, killing, reckless destruction.

    2) Rights are moral principles that pertain *only* to action–specifically, to the freedom of action. Life is a process of self-generated action; thus, right to life is the right to *act* towards self-preservation and self-sustenance. Without the right to act, one cannot live.

    3) Rights are *moral* principles that are applicable to only human beings in a social context since only humans are moral beings; further, “individual right” is a redundancy (albeit a necessary redundancy) because only individuals can have rights; half-an-individual, parts of individuals, or groups and societies of individuals can have no rights. (in the case of societies, the rights delegated to a society are the rights of the individuals constituting the society, and not of society as such.)

    3) One man’s rights imposes only a negative obligation on others to not violate his rights. No one’s rights can ever conflict with each other. Thus, one entity’s right to life cannot conflict with another entity’s right to life. Rights do not conflict.

    4) Rights cannot exist where force exists. Thus, criminals have limited to no rights; for example, I can kill a criminal in self-defense if he threatens my life. We deny criminals certain rights depending on the severity of the force they introduced in invalidating someone else’s rights.

    5) Since rights pertain to actions, and some actions are beyond the abilities of young infants and children, the voluntary parent (who chose to have children) or voluntary legal guardians are entrusted with the responsibility of administering the rightful actions of their children.

    Given all of the above,

    1) a fetus has no rights because it is not an individual but a part of its host; it lives not as an individual entity but as a part of an entity; parts of entities have no rights (e.g., hands, livers, kidneys, etc.)

    and 2) If a fetus were granted the right to life, it would conflict with the existing and actual rights of an actual, individual, independent, moral, entity, i.e., mother. Remember that Rights among individuals do not conflict. In the face of a contradiction, one of the premises is wrong. Since it is false to deny that the mother–a whole individual–has the right to life, the premise that the fetus has a right to life must be false.

    and 3) If a fetus had the right to life, then it would create an *active* obligation on the mother to sustain the life of the fetus inside her and administer legal obligations on behalf of the fetus *against* her own wishes, i.e., by force and not voluntarily. Rights cannot exist under force and rights do not create *active* or positive obligations or duties on people. This is another conflict arising due to faulty premises.

    4) Finally, to say that a fetus has no rights is not to permit wanton and reckless slaughter or rash abortions of fetuses–that would be immoral albeit not illegal. All criminal acts must be legally punished; all immoral acts must be vociferously condemned and not tolerated. Aborting a fetus is not a criminal act (although, if done wantonly, recklessly, repeatedly, and due to the carelessness of its parents, it becomes grounds for vocal and vociferous moral condemnation).

  57. evanescent Says:

    That’s such a well-written illuminating and fascinating post, Ergo! Thank you very much for taking the time to comment. I have to say I would find it very hard to disagree with anything you wrote there. It makes wonderful sense.

  58. Misanthropic Scott Says:

    (Let’s see if nested block quotes work. Feel free to edit the format of this if not.)

    BTW, did you know that the current ban on in tact dilation and extraction actually includes an exception only for the woman’s life, not her general health?

    No, can you elucidate please?

    Certainly. Here is a link to the full text of the law banning intact dilation and extraction, the proper medical term for the procedure deliberately called partial birth abortion by the political community and anti-abortionists to create an immediate negative bias against it.

    http://tinyurl.com/34cb86

    The paragraphs that upset me are:

    For these reasons, Congress finds that partial-birth abortion is never medically indicated to preserve the health of the mother; is in fact unrecognized as a valid abortion procedure by the mainstream medical community; poses additional health risks to the mother; blurs the line between abortion and infanticide in the killing of a partially-born child just inches from birth; and confuses the role of the physician in childbirth and should, therefore, be banned.

    Note the complete lack of any exception for any reason above. And then, read this section.

    This subsection does not apply to a partial-birth abortion that is necessary to save the life of a mother whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.

    Note that this excludes only cases where the woman’s life is in danger. A coma would not kill the woman. Nor would many other horrific conditions.

    Remember that these paragraphs were not written by the medical community but by lawyers and politicians who are unlikely to know the full list of potential medical reasons for the procedure or apparently, even the actual name of the medical procedure as it is known in the medical community.


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