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October 24, 2012


I also think it is interesting that when the abortion topic comes up many people immediately through up the 'what about rape and incest' defense. I looked up the laws in many states and unless I am mistaken the guilty party in the rape does not get the death penalty but the innocent party (the baby/fetus) does. So we are willing to give the innocent a harsher sentence then the guilty. Where else does that happen?!?

And such is the gradual Francization of American law. The Germans traditionally legislate permissions and the Italians traditionally legislate restrictions. The French seem to have enough laws that no matter what you do you are probably breaking one or more of them. That means that it doesn't matter much what you do unless someone else complains about it.


Simply recognizing a special case.

Actually, RonH, it's an ILLUSTRATION of a fundamental, essential inconsistency.


I would agree with you that it would be a special case if there was something fundamentally different about the baby in the womb versus the baby born prematurely out of the womb (to use the example given in the post). But there isn't - it's the exact same age, same developmental stage, same everything. Yet one can be legally murdered and the other not. That is the inconsistency.

Darth Dutch

Killing a fetus is a harm to the pregnant woman and likely to others.

Making it illegal is not inconsistent with being pro-choice.

Other states recognize the special case in different ways.

In some states, no doubt, these laws are consciously written to provide an opportunity to argue inconsistency.

But it is not inconsistent to recognize a special case.

So what makes that case special where killing an unborn child is okay in one instance (if the mother chooses) versus not (if the mother wants the baby and it is murdered)? If nothing is ontologically different between the two unborn, then why the protection of one but not the other?

Darth Dutch


You have two cases.

1) A pregnant woman chooses to have an abortion.
2) A woman who has been yearning to start a family for years finally gets pregnant. Someone kills her fetus while, say, snatching her purse.

You see the difference even if it does annoy you.

I think RonH is saying the meaningful difference - the only one that counts - is the variation in the mother's consent. I think RonH is saying the fetus has no value in any situation, and that the immorality (hence illegality) is found in violating what the mother wants to do with her fetus.

Is that an accurate summary, RonH?

If my summary of RonH is accurate then the charge of murder isn't the correct legal charge. It should be something related to doing bodily harm to the mother, or violating the mother's rights, or her property rights. It should not - cannot - be murder of the fetus because that implies the fetus has rights.


DD said there was no difference.
I pointed out a difference.
I didn't say it is the only difference that counts.

It's analogous to the difference between...

1) You steal my car.
2) You borrow my car with my permission.



So you admit there is nothing different about the fetus in either case and the only difference is that it was wanted in one case and not in another by a 3rd party? The only difference is something entirely subjective?

That's a dangerous line of thinking that has had disasterous results in the past.

Darth Dutch

StevenK is correct, that the mother is the primary determinant of the value of the preborn. However, we could envision a scenario where a mother is driving to the abortion clinic and is hit by another driver running a red light. Is the other driver still guilty of murder even though the mother has already determined that the preborn child has little value to her? According to California state law, yes, not because of the value the mother put on the preborn, but because of location. This is the inconsistency in the law as I understand it.

I didn't say it is the only difference that counts.

Other than the difference of consent, what else is there that counts?

And would you agree that murder is the wrong charge to be made against someone violating a mother's consent? Can you murder a non-human or a non-person?

The first line is me quoting RonH. Sorry.

"DD said there was no difference.
I pointed out a difference."

That is incorrect - I said there was no difference in the nature of the unborn in either case. You simply said there was a difference in the desire of the mother in each case. You did not address my question of the supposed difference in the unborn. Not sure if that was intentional or not.

Darth Dutch


I gave the difference as a counterexample for DD.

One counterexample is enough. No?

A law specifying a different charge would be one option.

Actually, a murder charge can work too - without contradiction.

The term 'murder victim' has two meanings: the deceased one and his friends, family, etc.

A fetal murder law that identified these 3rd parties as thhe only victims (and excluded the fetus) would not be incompatible with legal abortion.


3rd party victims are not murdered, and neither is the fetus so where is the crime of murder taking place?

If instead of killing the mother's fetus, I kill her appendix by taking it out of her body and tossing it in the trash, is that murder?


You have two cases.
1) A pregnant woman chooses to have an abortion.
2) A woman who has been yearning to start a family for years finally gets pregnant. Someone kills her fetus while, say, snatching her purse.
You see the difference even if it does annoy you.

One could also argue:

You have two cases.
1) A slave-owner beats and kills one of his slaves because the slave was stealing from the plantation.
2) Another plantation owner kills another’s slave for competitive purposes.


That you could.
And it would be the same thing too.
If only the fetus really were the same as the slave.


We're circling the drain here folks because we're side-stepping the fundamental issue:

What is the fetus?

If it's a clump of cells, then by all means do what you want with it: kill it, love it, do research on it.

If it's a human, then there is a completely different set of considerations.

Clarification of this issue is absent from the back-and-forth with RonH.

I think that the point here is that we are talking about a "complete human being" at a certain stage of development. What the phrase "complete human being" means is determined by what is that stage of development. I think that a "complete human being" is sufficient to qualify them for the legal protection of any other human being. Thus their life should also fall under that protection. In the case of a particular disability,it is appropriate to include them in the same "complete human being" status with the appropriate qualification of recognizing that the human condition is such that some abnormalities are a natural part of a "complete human being" and again, such individuals have the right to legal protection of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to the extent that they are able to engage in that. That the law does not reflect this view is a human failing that needs correction.

....a big problem in the abortion debate: The defenders of life (Republicans) are often weak in their responses and mostly in a defensive position. That's why they end up in trouble when pushed into the corner with "how about rape?" or "how about health issues?". They are just out there, trying to defend something they don't really need to defend. Nobody is out there, trying actively to outlaw abortion in cases of rape or in cases of real health issues for mother and/or child. But that's all they talk about. And why is that? So they don't have to talk about the extreme stand on abortion on the left. The current DNC platform on abortion is the most extreme, most agressive, most pro-abortion platform that party has ever had. But is anybody talking about it? No. We are just talking about the Rep. platforms abortion stand which hasn't really changed at all. Newt Gingrich on "meet the press" is prob. the only rep. politician I've heard so far, to make this clear and to expose it. Not one could defend the liberal stand on abortion. They didn't even try. We need to communicate to the american people, what the democrats abortion agenda is and not just standing on the side lines and brabble lame responses when challenged on our abortion agendas ...

I think there's an inconsistency in the law. Remember how, in God, Freedom, and Evil, Alvin Plantinga explained an explicit contradiction, a formal contradiction, and an implicit contradiction? An explicit contradiction is when one statement is the negation of another statement. A formal contradiction is when you can take a set of statements and deduce a statement that is the negation of one of the statements in the set. An implicit contradiction is where you have a set of statements such that adding a statement to the set that is actually true allows you to deduce a statement that explicitly contradicts one of the other statements in the set. I think the law is implicitly contradictory. Here's how I'd show that.

1. If you kill the unborn without the mother's permission, it is murder.

2. If you kill the unborn with the mother's permission, it is not a crime.

There are two statements you can add to this set that are both actually true and that allow you to deduce an explicit contradiction. Here are the statements:

3. A murder can only be committed against a human person.

4. "If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment." ~Harry Blackmun, Roe v. Wade

From 1 and 3, it follows that:

5. The unborn is a human person.

From 4 and 5, it follow that:

6. It is a crime to kill the unborn.

But 6 explicitly contradicts 2.

After all, consider the context of Blackmun's statement. It was in the context of abortion. He is saying that if it can be established that the unborn are persons, then even a mother does not have the right to have her unborn killed. So the fact that a mother might agree to it doesn't change anything.


All the things you've argued seem to hinge on this one point...the person-hood of the unborn as a determinant factor of the right to equal protection under the law. That's the problem. How do you establish the unborn is a person? If you can do that, then those opposing your argument don't have a leg to stand on. But I don't think this is a terribly easy thing to do.

How do you establish the unborn is a person?

Like I said, it follows from 1 and 3.


Yes, within the realm of intellectual argumentation, you have a point. But let's bring that argumentation into the real world. Do you really think that 1 will be viewed by those that support abortion as anything other than grounded in the opinion that a woman has the right to do whatever she wants with her body? I know the problem with this position so, we need not rehash it. The point is that its presumed person-hood is contingent on the woman bestowing it on the unborn through personal expression of want. She wants a child and on that basis declares it to be a child and thus extends the protections afforded to her, to her unborn. You might say that she acts as a volunteer guardian, which guardianship is supported by the law. She has the option of resigning that guardianship at any time she chooses. The thing that all this hinges on is the choice of the woman in question. It does not hinge on the person-hood of the unborn, which is not automatically presumed by your 1 statement. The thing is that there is a unique biological link that makes this "guardianship" different from other forms that people engage in. Yet the law has not yet been crafted to take that distinction into account. To do so we would need to establish, through some objective means, that the unborn is a person. Now, we've already come to terms with the fact that the SLED test is not adequate for this determination. So, what criteria do you use to determine person-hood? I think that the problem with the SLED test is that it hinges on material evidence when person-hood and indeed humanity is determined by something quite immaterial. I think that the closest we can come to arguing in favor of the unborn being part of the human family and thus deserving of our protection is what I stated before. This is a "complete human being" at a certain stage of development. With nothing essential to being a human being missing at that stage of development, we have no reason to deny them the protection afforded to any other human being. If anything, the unborn, having never done anything willfully to harm another, have shown themselves to be more meritorious for that protection than any of us who cannot make such a claim.


While I understand the desire for an objective determination of "person-hood", it seems to me that the concept of person-hood is subjective. You defined it as when nothing essential to being a human being is missing. But the criterion for what is essential is itself subjective. However, rather than person-hood, why don't we simply acknowledge the innate value of human beings. The essential criteria for determining whether something is human or not is quite objective. It seems to me the person-hood maneuver is used to delay granting innate value to human beings as long as possible, thus widening the window of opportunity for abortion.

Louis, I think you misunderstand the point of my comments above. It's irrelevant to my point whether the unborn are actually human persons or not. All I was trying to show is that the law contains a contradiction.

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