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March 09, 2016

Comments

Not sure how this helps your position. We have the mirror image inconsistency on your side. You are willing to excuse God's genocide in Noah's flood but want to save every life even if is is merely a fertilized egg. How is killing everyone on Earth except one family not genocide?

There is no inconsistency. There is a tension at most. Just like you, as a Christian, can be pro-life without that belief being grounded in Christianity as such, an atheist can believe that the flood is a form of mass murder without it relating to the fact that God did it. To be clearer, there are disanalogies between the two. In the case of abortion the fetus is inside your body, and it is reasonable to say you have greater rights to what happens inside than outside your body. Though you could make the case that Humans are part of gods body, at least in a way. The bigger difference is that she probably does not think of fetuses as persons, and there is a difference between killing persons and non-persons. You are assuming that fetuses are innocent persons, while she assumes it is an object, so your argument becomes circular. You are assuming what you need to prove. -Daniel Gitlesen

Not sure this really proves anything, at least not in any sort of debate with someone who holds a pro-choice position like that.

Most people who hold pro-choice positions aren't advocating that it's ok to kill human babies. Quite the opposite - most pro-choice folks are quite interested in standing up for human rights as they see them (in my experience, anyway).

The problem occurs with the question of whether an unborn baby is human. That's the only debate worth talking about on this issue - every other debate follows from the answer to that question. If unborn children are human lives, it's by definition murder to kill them. If they aren't, there's no issue with "killing" them.

So, this person is only holding two contradicting opinions if she believes that unborn children are human. My guess is that she does not.

Also, @Daniel, a pro-life position is ABSOLUTELY grounded in the Bible, and therefore in Christianity. Abortion rights are completely incompatible with Biblical teaching. I won't spend any more time pointing out where/why here because I'm not sure what exactly you're referring to with that statement. And I'm not sure how an atheist can believe a mass flood is murder, unless our definitions of murder are quite different.

Bill,

God does what God wants to do. If you believed the flood actually happened (you don’t), you’d call it evil. But God has a perfect and totally good reason for doing absolutely everything He does. The flood included. God does what He chooses to do with His creation.

For example, some people think that the death of Jesus (if they chose to believe it) would be evil on the part of God. So clearly they have no understanding of Christianity. The same logic applies to the flood. God does what He does because He’s God and He knows a heck of a lot more than you or me.

No matter what you believe, there is no inconsistency in the above. You may not like it...you may hate it...but no inconsistency.

Hideous,

Most people who hold pro-choice positions aren't advocating that it's ok to kill human babies.

Of course, they are.

Lots of people think unborn babies are human (They should if they have a speck of respect for what the science says, of course). But many of those same people harp on about a women’s right to kill that particular type of human. The unborn kind.

a pro-life position is ABSOLUTELY grounded in the Bible

This is true. But the point is that one need not appeal to the Bible any more than one need to appeal to the Bible in explaining why rape and armed robbery are wrong.

Related: (and not to get us off topic)

But it’s primary season. How about a very simple question for our pro-abortion politicians on the Democratic side during a debate?

How about this:

“This one is for Hillary Clinton. Secretary Clinton, do you believe than an unborn fetus is a human being?”

Will we get a question so basic?

Will we get something so important to this issue?

Nope. Not a chance.

Why? You know why.

@Hideous: As KWM said I did not mean that you cannot ground a pro-life stance in the bible, or that Christians do not, but the writer of the article pointed out that belief in the bible and God is not necessary for a pro-life stance. When I mentioned a flood I was referencing the article again where Noah was mentioned, the idea being that if God was the one who created the flood the atheist in the article would probably say that that was a mass murder or genocide (the latter clearly inaccurately given the definition of genocide which presupposes the intent to eradicate a specific group of people exclusively) because it is an act if God created it, not merely a natural occurrence.

@KWM: You can understand Christianity and disagree that the death of jesus and the flood was good. You could even be an atheist and say that if there is no God then it was wrong because then morality is grounded outside of god's commands, but if there is a God then it was right since god's commands are the basis of right and wrong. Then you run into the Euthyphro dilemma though, which some Christians believe means that god does not decide what is right and good. Also, Babies are human, they are not necessarily persons though. What a person is is extraordinarily difficult to parse, but the idea is that killing something that is human but not a person is permissible, yet killing something that is both is impermissible. Point being that personhood might begin before you are born, which is why late term abortions are illegal.

I am an atheist, but personally I believe most abortions are wrong, yet I believe they should be legal because I do not think the state should have the right to force certain things on you when it comes to your body, even if it kills someone, even if that someone is an adult. I think that is a limit to the just exertion of government power. If you believe states have the right to go to war, but not to torture even a Christian could potentially agree with that. I have several Christian friends who do, though I live in Norway.

Daniel,

You can understand Christianity and disagree that the death of jesus and the flood was good.

In a very meaningless thin sense. But really understanding - the understanding that should’ve been clear in my remark, is very different. Put simply, if you think the death of Jesus was an evil perpetrated by God, you really don’t understand Christianity. My meaning is clear.

Also, Babies are human, they are not necessarily persons though.

Not necessarily? What’s the difference?

What a person is is extraordinarily difficult to parse

That’s convenient. Why is it difficult? Do you make it difficult? For example, could you parse whether a 97 year old clinging to life is a person? Or a 2 month old with Down’s Syndrome?

Point being that personhood might begin before you are born

It might…it might not. Today yes. Tomorrow no. Po-tay-toe…Po-tah-toe.

Got it.

which is why late term abortions are illegal.

Late term abortions are not illegal in the US.

"Most people who hold pro-choice positions aren't advocating that it's ok to kill human babies."

I'm not sure of the percentages, but I have seen it. The end result is the arguer does not care.

Personal bodily autonomy overrides any other consideration.

The woman has a right to choose what to do with her body.

The unborn has no rights.

Therefore the woman trumps the unborn. Humanness isn't a factor.

Usually happens after the "It's not a human" argument stops working. Or after the violinist who will die if you disconnect him from your body runs up against the rebuttal that you were the one that connected him so not disconnecting him isn't an externally imposed oppression.

Or....

Killing humans is bad.

Sometimes, killing is required... For example:

God killing humans (Noah, Jesus etc etc) is done as a necessary evil for good to prevail over evil.

Humans killing humans (in war) is done as necessary evil for good to prevail over evil.

Humans killing humans (abortion) is done as necessary evil for good to prevail over evil.

Killing is sometimes a necessary evil.

Sometimes it is simply that abortion is the lesser of two evils - one where there is no good outcome at all.

I can instantly think of many situations where a child being kept alive necessarily is simply evil.

The last sentence was meant to read:

I can instantly think of many situations where a child being kept alive UNnnecessarily is simply evil.

Again, as to "Most people who hold pro-choice positions aren't advocating that it's ok to kill human babies."

"The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.

Both a fetus and a newborn certainly are human beings and potential persons, but neither is a ‘person’ in the sense of ‘subject of a moral right to life’. We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her. This means that many non-human animals and mentally retarded human individuals are persons, but that all the individuals who are not in the condition of attributing any value to their own existence are not persons. Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life. Indeed, many humans are not considered subjects of a right to life: spare embryos where research on embryo stem cells is permitted, fetuses where abortion is permitted, criminals where capital punishment is legal."

"Those who are only capable of experiencing pain and pleasure (like perhaps fetuses and certainly newborns) have a right not to be inflicted pain. If, in addition to experiencing pain and pleasure, an individual is capable of making any aims (like actual human and non-human persons), she is harmed if she is prevented from accomplishing her aims by being killed. Now, hardly can a newborn be said to have aims, as the future we imagine for it is merely a projection of our minds on its potential lives. It might start having expectations and develop a minimum level of self-awareness at a very early stage, but not in the first days or few weeks after birth. On the other hand, not only aims but also well-developed plans are concepts that certainly apply to those people (parents, siblings, society) who could be negatively or positively affected by the birth of that child. Therefore, the rights and interests of the actual people involved should represent the prevailing consideration in a decision about abortion and after-birth abortion."

"A possible objection to our argument is that after-birth abortion should be practised just on potential people who could never have a life worth living. Accordingly, healthy and potentially happy people should be given up for adoption if the family cannot raise them up. Why should we kill a healthy newborn when giving it up for adoption would not breach anyone's right but possibly increase the happiness of people involved (adopters and adoptee)?

Our reply is the following. We have previously discussed the argument from potentiality, showing that it is not strong enough to outweigh the consideration of the interests of actual people. Indeed, however weak the interests of actual people can be, they will always trump the alleged interest of potential people to become actual ones, because this latter interest amounts to zero. On this perspective, the interests of the actual people involved matter, and among these interests, we also need to consider the interests of the mother who might suffer psychological distress from giving her child up for adoption. Birthmothers are often reported to experience serious psychological problems due to the inability to elaborate their loss and to cope with their grief. It is true that grief and sense of loss may accompany both abortion and after-birth abortion as well as adoption, but we cannot assume that for the birthmother the latter is the least traumatic. For example, ‘those who grieve a death must accept the irreversibility of the loss, but natural mothers often dream that their child will return to them. This makes it difficult to accept the reality of the loss because they can never be quite sure whether or not it is irreversible’.

We are not suggesting that these are definitive reasons against adoption as a valid alternative to after-birth abortion. Much depends on circumstances and psychological reactions. What we are suggesting is that, if interests of actual people should prevail, then after-birth abortion should be considered a permissible option for women who would be damaged by giving up their newborns for adoption."

"First, we do not put forward any claim about the moment at which after-birth abortion would no longer be permissible, and we do not think that in fact more than a few days would be necessary for doctors to detect any abnormality in the child. In cases where the after-birth abortion were requested for non-medical reasons, we do not suggest any threshold, as it depends on the neurological development of newborns, which is something neurologists and psychologists would be able to assess.

Second, we do not claim that after-birth abortions are good alternatives to abortion. Abortions at an early stage are the best option, for both psychological and physical reasons. However, if a disease has not been detected during the pregnancy, if something went wrong during the delivery, or if economical, social or psychological circumstances change such that taking care of the offspring becomes an unbearable burden on someone, then people should be given the chance of not being forced to do something they cannot afford."

It would seem, that humanness is not a criteria. Especially since in terms of the time frame for an after birth abortion, "In cases where the after-birth abortion were requested for non-medical reasons, we do not suggest any threshold"

http://jme.bmj.com/content/early/2012/03/01/medethics-2011-100411.full

In the question of morality of abortion versus the flood, since the criterion seems to be personhood rather than humanhood, and personhood is a legal term, the question is why a pro-choice movement has more right to define who is not a person than God?

Why so blinkered,

I can instantly think of many situations where a child being kept alive UNnnecessarily is simply evil

Whatever situations you can instantly conjure up in your mind, it's much easier to think of situations where killing (unborn babies, born babies, children, etc.) humans is necessarily evil. Come to think of it, that's a much bigger problem facing our troubled world.

Maybe that's the reason.

It comes back to our fundamental human arrogance when dealing with God.

I'm happy to grant that an unborn foetus is "less than" it's mother. I don't think it's immoral to grant that the mother has the power of life and death over the foetus (how she chooses to exercise that power is a different matter).

But the quantitative difference between mother and foetus is bounded. The quantitative difference between God and humanity is infinite. If a mother can execute a foetus because it's inconvenient, how much more can God execute humanity who are at once both infinitely lesser than him and in active rebellion against his lordship over all creation?

To be pro-abortion yet accuse God of immorality in killing humans is hypocritical in the extreme.

Note that the converse does not apply. That God kills humans as he wills does not grant that we also may do so, because that is a determination that God has reserved to himself beyond carefully specified guidelines ("He who sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed" - Gen 9:6).

"...one need not appeal to the Bible any more than one need to appeal to the Bible in explaining why rape and armed robbery are wrong..."

This phrase made me wonder, what is your stance on a girl impregnated via rape or incest? Should she be forced to carry the pregnancy to its outcome? Should she be restrained in a kind of hospital/jail to make sure she does nothing to harm the pregnancy? Just curious how far you'd take it...

RagTime,

Let me work through the logic…

(1) Is the act a crime?

I'll assume 'yes'.

(2) Is the act a capital crime?

There are 3 parties here: the perpetrator, the victim, and the baby. Before we start talking about putting the baby to death, we should talk about putting the perpetrator to death. Otherwise, you're assessing a harsher penalty on a third party than on the one who committed the offence.

(3) Does the perpetrator's guilt attach to the child?

If the perpetrator is guilty of death and we allow that the father's guilt attaches to the child, then I can see a consistent moral argument for killing the baby.

Otherwise, to argue for post-rape abortion is to argue that we should kill an innocent third party because of harm inflicted on the mother (which caused the third party to become dependent upon her). Admittedly, there are situations of infanticide where the mother has been ruled "not guilty by reason of mental illness" due to some form of extreme stress, but that's a long way from sanctioning or condoning the practice. And there's a legitimate argument that people who are mentally ill to the point of committing homicide may legitimately be restrained to protect themselves and others.

Incidentally, there are (relatively) many examples of women who have been raped and chose not to abort subsequently affirming that they made the right decision, but that's a situational argument and not a moral one. If it were a moral argument, it would follow that a woman who chose not to abort and regretted it should be able to subsequently terminate her child, and I don't hear anyone saying that.

I also think that there is a significant impact of intent to kill that is being missed in this article...

Just as a motorist doesn't get up in the morning thinking "You know what, I really feel like knocking off a motorbike rider and killing him/her": NOBODY gets up in the morning and thinks "You know what, I really feel like having an abortion, I'll get knocked-up to achieve this".

Through a set of bad decisions and carelessness, the motorist has indeed caused death to occur.

Through a set of bad decisions and carelessness, a woman has an abortion, causing death to occur. The woman did not set out to kill a human.

If the set of bad decisions and carelessness did not happen, then there would not be a human to kill in the first place. This is a long way from intending to kill someone.


Blasting everything as "Murder" is inappropriate and over simplified, as intent is a significant legal requirement, see the types of murder:
(From http://criminal-law.freeadvice.com/criminal-law/violent_crimes/degrees.murder.htm)
First-degree murder, or capital murder as it is often called, is the most serious form of murder. In most states, a first degree murder involves elements like deliberate planning, premeditation, or malice.

Second degree murder is killing another with malice - doing a harmful act without just cause or legal excuse - but without premeditation or deliberation.

Felony murder is a killing that happens during the course of the commission of a felony. The murder isn’t necessarily planned out or intended, it’s just a consequence of the other offense.

So, if abortion is murder, then who is to blame? - The person causing the set of bad decisions and carelessness? - In many instances, it is not the mother of the child who is to blame for her situation. Why should she be punished for a crime that she has not committed?


@KWM: There is a difference between something being human and something being a human, there is also a difference between being a human and being a person. A dead human is still a human, but it is not a person. A piece of human elbow tissue is human but it is not a human.

@Collicutt: (1) Concerning the argument that there is a disanalogy between the violinist case that Thompson suggests and a pregnancy, since you choose to have sex whilst the violinist is kidnapped. The usual answer to this is to say that when it comes to the issue of legality at least, as long as you are the only person the violinist can be hooked up to, most people have the intuition that even if you chose to hook yourself up to him, you should still be legally able to unhook yourself later, that is, change your mind. (2) Concerning whether pro-choicers have more of a right to define personhood than God. First of al, personhood is both a legal and a metaphysical term. Well, if God exists and is allknowing and he would not lie it would be wrong to go against what he is saying, logically. But an atheist does not believe god exists, much less that he is allknowing and perfectly good, so using what God thinks about it becomes, yet again, circular. It is obvious that the Atheist will not accept the argument because she rejects all these premises. It does not mean God does not exist, merely that if your argument is meant to persuade an atheist it is doomed to fail. If you don't care what the atheist thinks, that's fine, but then why argue against the view? There is a form of inconsistency if you believe that if God exists and decides what is right and wrong then it is still wrong for him to flood the earth, perhaps even hypocrisy, but atheists usually assume that God can be evil. I know that gets us into the debate over what the necessary properties of god are, but at the moment I'm just talking about the dialictics. No matter if an impefect God is still God, that is certainly the sense in which the atheist is using the term/name, and so she might be using the term/name wrongly, but that does not amount to hypocrisy or logical inconsistency.

@Andrew W: (1) Same as 2 above basically. (2) The logic might rather be, since the mother is not responsible for becoming pregnant, it is even more clear that she has a right not to have the state force her to carry the child. Besides, not all abortions are clearly an act of killing, versus "letting die" by depriving it of something that it needs to survive; the mother's body or a link to it. (Depends on the method of abortion though, some clearly kill it.) The question becomes whether the mother has a greater legal right not to have her body decided over by the state than the fetus's right to utilize the mother's body even though she in no way chose for it to do so. Letting the fetus die, in this case, is not punishment as such, but rather an unfortunate bi-product of civil liberty, just like we don't force people to do certain other things even though it would be beneficial for them. People die because people don't donate their second kidney, should the state be able to force you to donate it?

":(1) Concerning the argument that there is a disanalogy between the violinist case that Thompson suggests and a pregnancy, since you choose to have sex whilst the violinist is kidnapped. The usual answer to this is to say that when it comes to the issue of legality at least, as long as you are the only person the violinist can be hooked up to, most people have the intuition that even if you chose to hook yourself up to him, you should still be legally able to unhook yourself later, that is, change your mind"

If you hooked him up yourself, you are still directly responsible for the violinists death, and for putting them in the position that means they will die unless you continue to provide what they need. I think in any real case, the death of the violinist would be prosecuted as murder rather than just making a choice that you no longer wish to be hooked up.

The key point to the analogy comes down to the fact that the violinist would not be there unless you had done things that (barring bringing rape into the analogy) would not have placed them in any danger if you had not decided to do them.

The argument that you have the right to disconnect yourself is about as valid as shooting someone is merely deciding to make a finger movement, and there is no law against flexing one's finger.

(2) In my experience metaphysics does not come into the argument as much as legality. It was my point, that humanness is not a factor. Once you get into the discussion, it is purely legal. The woman has a right. The unborn do not have a right. Therefore there is no reason the woman can't do whatever she wants for whatever reason she wants. The longer post was to show that this thinking is not restricted the the unborn only. The longer one argues to rename infanticide as post birth abortion, because of the authors feelings of what personhood should be. It becomes important as laws don't protect humans. Laws protect persons.

In fact, the idea that laws protect persons and not humans, historically isn't true either. There was a time in the recent past where woman were not persons under the law, but it was not legal to kill them. Corporations are persons. How would you define murder in regards to them.

In regards to Atheists, the existence of God is relevant in terms of the objection that God was wrong for the flood. The argument that one could not believe in a God that would kill children just because he wanted to makes such a God immoral. The comparison here is why pro-choice groups, that they may support, should be able to define personhood to support killing preborn humans (or it seems arguably post birth humans) and be perfectly within their "rights" but God is immoral.

It is not an argument that God exists. It pointing out that if God exists we are saying that humans have more rights than he does, while arguing that the unborn have no rights, would appear to be inconsistent, considering the flood in this case would equate to a large scale post birth abortion.

@Trent Collicutt (1)"If you hooked him up yourself, you are still directly responsible for the violinists death, and for putting them in the position that means they will die unless you continue to provide what they need."

I am not sure If I was clear enough, but when I said that "you are the only person the violinist can be hooked up to", the idea is not only that right now you are the only person he can be hooked up to, but rather that at the time when you first choose to hook him up to you, you are the only person in the world whose blood matches his, for example. If so you are still right that you are directly responsible for the death and for the situation, but it was presumably a free choice to hook yourself up in the first place? It is clearly not the case that you would be put in jail for not hooking yourself up, right? If so it seems strange to say that unhooking yourself is murder. I don't think you would be tried or convicted of murder in other words. I am not a lawyer though, what I am arguing is not whether it is legal, but whether it ought to be. Which I do. (2) If we are talking morality it is primarily a metaphysical term, if we are talking legality it is primarily, but not exclusively a legal term. Rights can also be moral or legal or both. But that is a detail I will not get into now.

I would say that a flood does not equal a large scale post birth abortion. First of all, the authors of that article may be mistaken, most people who are for abortion are against post birth abortions, moth morally and legally. So that is one difference, and if there is a relevant moral difference there is no inconsistency. It may still be WRONG of course, but it is not logically inconsistent to believe that two different situations are, well, different. The other, and in this case by far the most important difference, is that if you believe that fetuses are not persons, and the reason why you support abortion is that you believe fetuses are not persons, but you do believe adults are persons, then abortions are permissible but floods are not.

My point is in a sense a legal and ethical one. I am saying that it ought to be legal. The ought statement makes it a normative claim, and legal makes it a claim about legality also. I am not claiming that it is impossible for a state to make laws that protect or put duties on non-persons, all I am saying is that it is not logically inconsistent to say that there is a difference. You may believe animals should have protection even though they are not persons, and you may say corporations are persons (they are not in Norway) and therefore have rights and dutieas according to the law. But the fact that you believe animals ought not to have protection under the law does not logically commit you to believing persons ought not to have rights if the reason why you think there is a difference is their personhood status.

I am not sure I entirely get you last point. If I believe the locus of your rights are your personhood, and unborn human non-persons (according to random-pro choicer) have no rights by virtue of not being a person, and that the flood killed adults who are clearly persons according to me, where is the logical inconsistency? Once again, I can see tha one might argue against this view, I myself am more interested in potential personhood than actual personhood, but I do not find it inconsistent. Ihope this was an answer to what you were saying :)

Daniel,

There is a difference between something being human and something being a human - A piece of human elbow tissue is human but it is not a human.

And pointing out this very obvious fact helps you how? Further, who said otherwise? Did anyone say that human elbow tissue = a full human being? Maybe I missed that.

There is also a difference between being a human and being a person. A dead human is still a human, but it is not a person.

It’s a dead person. We have other terms too! Like corpse, cadaver, stiff…you know? So what? I will point out something else painfully obvious in addition to your human elbow tissue remark: you’ve just made a dead / alive distinction that has absolutely no bearing on what you’re trying to put forward.

Po-Tay-Toe…Po-Tah-Toe.

Why so blinkered,

The woman did not set out to kill a human. Through a set of bad decisions and carelessness, a woman has an abortion, causing death to occur.

Though on the way to the abortion clinic, the woman is indeed setting out to kill a human. The doctor performing the abortion, while grabbing the tools used to cut up the unborn child, is indeed setting out to kill a human.

This is a long way from intending to kill someone.

That’d be news to the woman needing the abortion who pencils in the procedure on her schedule. Or the doctor who ensures his tools of the trade are nice and sterile.

@KWM: (1) You asked, and I quote "what's the difference?". It may be very relevant since we kill human things all the time, if I kill some skin cells those skin cells are human but it is OK to kill them. An embryo/zygote/fetus has by some been said to resemble a few skin cells. If we accept that anything that has human DNA is human then, yes, a zygote, like the pieces of elbow cells, are human, but they are not necessarily a human. Depends on how you define a human. What I am saying however is that personhood is what is relevant. (2) You are right, of course, that we usually refer to a dead human as a dead person. But in the context we are talking about now a dead human is not a person, it is a technical term for something along the lines that Collicott mentioned. It is usually required for certain duties to be eligible for certain moral and legal rights, and is very often used by Christian philosophers, though they often argue for a wider definition than non-christian philosophers. No-one would Call a dead person a prson in this sense though, except maybe a few of the philosophers who are part of the personal Identity debate. It's too big of a Field to cover in addition to the question the article poses, but if you wish to learn what it means you could follow Shelly Kagan's online lectures on Death, which are available through Yale, Itunes U, etc. Or you could read:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/identity-personal/

I admit I might have been clearer though. I am not talking about the colloquial use of the term but rather the technical one. It has to do With what the necessary requirements for rights are, a dead body is not normally seen as having rights, though the no longer existent dead person does have a few. This is a larger metaphysical question though. I don't think the precise differences make much of a difference here, but the fact that someone is a person in the technical sense is relevant, and you might even beome a person metaphysically/ethically at a different time than you gain legal personhood. Legal personhood is, at least in Norway, set to 22 weeks, since that is when it becomes practically able to survive on it's own outside the mother's womb. Christians will say that metaphysical/ethical personhood is gained at conception, but pro-Choice advocates may argue that it is gained either at conception, 22 weeks, when pain becomes possible, when consciousness becomes possible, at birth, or even later.

You asked, and I quote "what's the difference?"

I sure did. As it relates to humans vs. persons (not elbow tissue vs. humans). And you still haven’t given an answer.

An embryo/zygote/fetus has by some been said to resemble a few skin cells.

“has by some been said”? Oh, well then that settles it. Please. Fetuses do not resemble a few skin cells. Fetuses have more resemblance to born babies than born babies have with elderly people. So what? Even if that were true (and it’s certainly silly to think it is), it wouldn’t matter. It’s what something is that matters. Have you seen anyone with severe elephant man disease? Are they persons? Since looks appear to carry weight with you.

You are right, of course, that we usually refer to a dead human as a dead person. But in the context we are talking about now a dead human is not a person

What context is that? Your context? Besides, the only distinction you’re making here is alive vs. dead. In other words, at the nanosecond before death a human is a person, but instantly at death, you claim the person is now just a human. What changed besides death and everything that comes with death? How in the world does alive vs. dead distinction help you?

a dead body is not normally seen as having rights, though the no longer existent dead person does have a few.

Don't you think that the reason a dead person doesn't have rights is because they can't, you know, exercise them?

Legal personhood is, at least in Norway, set to 22 weeks, since that is when it becomes practically able to survive on its own outside the mother's womb.

Does that settle it? What if Norway changed its mind and said a zygote was person? Would you accept that? Do you need to check to see what they say to answer my question?

And just to point out something that should be clear as it relates to rights (you never know):

A 3 month old has a right to not be harmed. This is not something that is “exercised” by the 3 month old in a traditional sense. This is the right that all alive human beings have, generally speaking.

KWM,

Though on the way to the abortion clinic, the woman is indeed setting out to kill a human. - No, the "decision" was already made.. The abortion is just the end result of a set of circumstances.

Nobody starts the day "I want to have an abortion, I'll get knocked up." - People start the day "A whole bunch of really bad crap has happened, the only way of fixing it is to have an abortion."

The driver of the car made a completely conscious decision to turn in to the the next lane without checking his mirrors, and continued to do so with no intention to change the situation - All that is different between the two situations is time scale.

Blaming the woman for murder is totally unacceptable...

Blame the rapist - for that was the person who caused the life to be created in the first place!
Blame the arsehole priest for not providing adequate sex education
Blame anyone BUT the woman.

The woman is the innocent victim in most of the situations in abortion.

Why punish the woman with a life sentance of childbirth? - The rapist will be out and free in 10-15 years, just when the woman is going throught the hell of raising a teenager.


The child has a right to live, yes... So does the woman!

The oversimplification of what "murder" is, is the cause of the inconistency in both sides of the argument.

Just my opinion, but ...


"If I believe the locus of your rights are your personhood, and unborn human non-persons (according to random-pro choicer) have no rights by virtue of not being a person,"

So historically, you would argue that women should have been able to be killed as they were not persons under the law?

Personhood is a legal status. It can be given and revoked. If the whole focus is on whether one is a "person", one merely needs to legally change the definition of person to exclude the group that you wish not to have rights. Presumably that is why we have bills of human rights, and not bills of person rights.

My take on the violinist analogy, as I usually see it presented to me, is if you use it as a comparison to pregnancy that you intentionally did something that put that violinist in a position to require your help. In that case, removing the help is a direct cause of death. It is not the case that there is a search for where to put a violinist and you just happen to be the only one it can be connected to. You literally did something that insured that there is a violinist that requires being connected to someone or die.


I'm reasonably sure that if I did something to you that put you in the situation that you could not live without my beneficence, and then decided I didn't feel like it anymore and walked off to let you die, the jury would not acquit me because I had the right to do whatever I wanted. It would depend on the prosecutor whether the charge is murder, depraved indifference, or just reckless endangerment.

In the analogy of abortion, one cannot equate pregnancy resulting from consensual sex with being physically assaulted and forced to sustain another individual against your will. You did something that resulted in the dependence of another on you for continuing life and then you make the decision whether you feel like allowing the other to live or not. You are, in fact, determining whether the continued existence of another human is convenient to you.

"that the flood killed adults who are clearly persons according to me," And to others the unborn are clearly people. To some (hopefully all) women were always people. But legally they were not. If I am not an ancient near eastern scholar, I can't say what person meant in that culture and if that granted any absolute right to life that was violated. We may be imposing a legal concept that may have been quite alien to those involved.

What I do see is a human reserving for themselves the right to determine if the continued existence of another human is convenient to them, and at the same time the creator of the universe being told he has a responsibility to continue the existence of certain humans purely on the argument that it is evil not to make the choice to let them continue.

"I would say that a flood does not equal a large scale post birth abortion. First of all, the authors of that article may be mistaken, most people who are for abortion are against post birth abortions, moth morally and legally."

If what most people cared about was important, the decision would be made at the legislature or the voting booth, and not the judge's bench. And as for not being post birth abortion, the only difference is how long after birth. Cultures have differed on how long after birth a parent is allowed to kill the child. We still have cultures where the killing of adult children, if not approved of, is still tolerated.

Why so blinkered,

No, the "decision" was already made.. The abortion is just the end result of a set of circumstances.

We’re talking intent here. You’re actually the one that brought up intent. Just you referring to a prior “decision” to have an abortion points necessarily to intent. Further, the woman could turn her car around and decide not to kill her unborn baby, correct? The woman isn't forced to have an abortion, correct? She is intent on having an abortion and she has made the decision to do so.

Nobody starts the day "I want to have an abortion, I'll get knocked up.”

So what that nobody starts the day like that? What does that prove?

The woman is the innocent victim in most of the situations in abortion.

Where in the world did you get that bad information? Not sure that further discussion is beneficial if you’re operating under such faulty assumptions.

KWM,

No person ever has the INTENT of having an abortion.
No person ever has the INTENT of killing a motorcycle rider.

A person can kill a motorbike rider through a bad decision - that decision was intentional (changing lanes without looking) - There was zero intent to kill anyone.

A woman who gets pregnant through rape has no INTENT on having an abortion. Abrtion is the outcome of being raped.

Death is the outcome of changing lanes without looking in your blindspot for a motorcycle, the driver has no INTENT on killing the motorcycle rider.

When a soldier kills an enemy, is that murder? - No. It is a result of a set of circumstances, of which many are outside of the soldier's control. Yes, the soldier pulls the trigger, the soldier is not a murderer.

Did she set out to get pregnant and have an abortion? - No.

Why so blinkered,

Abrtion (sic) is the outcome of being raped.

First, you need to understand the definition of intent. Even worse for you, you need to understand simple cause and effect. Of course, a woman who is raped did not intend to be raped, by definition. However, the act of having an abortion is a related but separate act and not caused by the rape. After all, a woman is not forced to have an abortion. Put simply, rapes do not lead to abortions by definition. Rape may be the reason one has an abortion, but they do not cause abortions.

But let’s be clear, you’re the one that brought rape into this. In your last comment you just sort of snuck it in there. That’s ok. It’s kind of hard not to do when you’re arguing from the weak position on this issue. Yell rape as an argument.

But let’s set aside the less than 1% of abortions that are performed due to rape or incest for a moment.

Take this much more common scenario:

A woman and a man have unprotected sex (or less likely failed protected sex). The reason for having sex is enjoyment, obviously. They do not want to get pregnant. But life is life. The woman ends up getting pregnant. The woman does not want a baby, or to be pregnant for that matter. She has an abortion. The doctor happily performs the abortion.

Now the question is:

How is this abortion not carried out with intent by both the woman and the doctor?

Answer:

It certainly is.

Again, judging by the misinformation you have in making comments like this:

The woman is the innocent victim in most of the situations in abortion.

I don’t think this discussion is going to produce anything meaningful. First go understand cause and effect. Then go understand intent. Then go understand the facts on abortion. I'd recommend that order too.

Please, Please, Please stop with the personhood defense. This way of conceiving (pun intended) of human development has been flawed from the beginning. It was abandoned by Plato ( see Parmenadis) Then dug up again in the 20th century. It is based on a flawed understanding of basic human fertilization and embryology. I do appreciate Peter Singer's honesty in admitting that this philosophical tenant allows us to kill any child that is deemed defective, and older adults as well. Is this really where you want to go? Not just pro-'choice', but pro-infanticide and pro-senicide?

Actually, this may make the point, that God's judgement for these very hideous acts, along with beastiality, brutality, etc. described in Genesis is quite reasonable compared to the cold-hearted murder of the kinds of human beings we just don't want to be around.

I find B.E. Hunt's comment very surprising. He says that the way of conceiving human development assumed by the personhood defense "was abandoned by Plato (see Parmenadis)... It is based on a flawed understanding of basic human fertilization and embryology."

Plato's "Parmenides" dialogue is one of his most difficult and puzzling. It probes difficulties with Plato's theory of forms. How does Hunt think that it applies to human development and personhood?

Of course Plato knew nothing about "basic human fertilization and embryology." His student, Aristotle, the founder of biology, did study chicken embryos by cracking open eggs at different stages. He came up with a theory of three different kinds of souls, vegetative (plants have them), sensitive (animals have them) and rational (humans have them). ("Psyche", his word for soul, also meant life. He defined it as the form of the body.) He thought that during development the fetus first has only a vegetative soul, then a sensitive, and finally a rational. That is, the fetus was not fully human to begin with, but only later. Aquinas, an Aristotelian, agreed.

I believe Aristotle's view -- that early human development progresses through very different kinds of beings -- is more consistent with modern embryology than the notion that only one qualitative change occurs, at fertilization. This has moral implications, and I think that most Americans, according to polls, agree that abortions at different stages of pregnancy are morally different. The later in pregnancy, the more morally serious. Most abortions, occurring early in pregnancy, put an end to something very unlike a person.

@KWM: Looks have nothing to do with personhood. I have not answered because, as I said, it is a difficult question. Here is a wikipedia article with a short overview. I'll put one version here just as a placeholder, but I'm not claiming that to be a perfect definition.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personhood#Western_philosophy

"According to the "naturalist" epistemological tradition, from Descartes through Locke and Hume, the term may designate any human (or non-human) agent which: (1) possesses continuous consciousness over time; and (2) who is therefore capable of framing representations about the world, formulating plans and acting on them."-Charles Taylor.

Skin cells resemble zygotes in that they are organisms that have human DNA but no consciousness or cognitive abilities, at least not at first. They are dissimilar in that fetuses are potential persons in the sense mentioned above. The point about the skin cells is just to say that the mere fact that something is human is insufficient for having rights.

Not my context, but in the context relevant for whether you are a person in the philosophical sense necessary for rights. The alive dead distinction pertains to the above definition of a person, a dead human does not have consciousness, etc. and does therefore not have ethical rights.

I am not claiming that whatever Norway says is true. I'm just pointing to the fact that legal personhood is gained at 22 weeks, but in the philosophical sense that does not mean that you are a person. Legal personhood is not the same as metaphysical or ethical personhood. The legal date of personhood is decided by a government and is relative to that country. Ethical personhood is something you get no matter what the state says, the question is when, which is harder to answer.

@ Trent Collicott: I am not saying you get your fundamental rights from your legal personhood status. You get certain rights from the state of course, but when it comes to whether or not you have a right to life for example, that comes from the metaphysical/philosophical concept of personhood, which far predates the legal one, which is derived from the philosophical one. Read the wikipedia erticle i provided in the last section if you want, they have some background. In other words I think women were persons before they were legal persons. The reason I think it should be legal to abort has to do with the limits of legitimate state power. there are certain times where one person's right to a life does not trump another's right to their own body. Like I alluded to when I mentioned that we don't force people to donate their kidneys even though it would save a life.

If the violinis case is supposed to be isomorphic to pregnancy the assumption is that you chose to make him dependent on you, yes, but the point is that your particular fetus would not exist if it were not for you, and you cannot remove it. Like I said, you are cetainly the cause of death, but you are also the cause of life. The fact that you are the only one who can help the violinist is supposed to be isomorphic to the fact that the fetus would not be alive if it weren't for you anyway. And if your point is that you were somehow responsible for the fact that the violinist needs your help, then no. That is not part of the thought experiment. the fact that only you can help is not your fault either if it is a fetus or a violinist :) In other words, there is a search and you are the only one he can be connected to. That is why I mentioned that you have to imagine that you originally chose yourself to be connected to him, but later change your mind. The important part is that no-one else can help, if someone else can help, and you rob the violinist of that chance by later changing your mind, yes then you would probably have done something illegal, and certainly immoral.

Concerning what would happen we simply disagree. I am quite certain that you would not have done anything illegal if you got up and left. My old professor in philosophy was formerly a law professor, and I had a chat with her about it.


All I was saying about the adults being people in the flood is that it is presumably more obvious that adults are persons than that fetuses are. I think most people would agree with that right? Everyone agrees adults are people, only some people think fetuses are.

If you really think thatyou have no right to reserve for your self the legal right to decide to keep your kidney then I get why you find it strange that pregnant women can do it. But if not then you too reserve the right to withold something you don't really need and they do. Same with bonemarrow and blood. But the flood case is about morality, not legality. You can be pro-choice and still believe abortion is evil. Therefore no inconsistency. And if you believe abortion is fine because fetuses are not people, then you are perfectly coherent if you think killing adults, who everyone believes are people, presumably even God, is wrong.

When I said I do not think the flood equaled a large scale post-birth abortion I meant that they were morally unequal, not necessarily different in kind. There are large moral differences, the metaphysical differences are not so great.

But they're not unequal at all, except in that a fetus will eventually become independent of it's mother but we will not be independent of God's sustenance. And moreover, we are deformed and rebellious, not innocent. If a woman is justified in killing a baby that is merely unwanted, how much more is God's actions towards humans?

KWM,

You are avoiding the primary point...

There is no choice not to have an abortion.

You are ignoring WHY kill a child? - Just like the atheist in the subject argument ignores WHY God allowed his son to die on the cross.

God had no choice - mankind needed saving
The solider had no choice but to kill

You are so blinkered to the singular event, that you are ignoring the context of WHY the child is being killed.

The child is being killed for a reason - it is not an indiscriminate, malicious act on the woman's part.

She is faced with two situations:
1) A life time of looking after a child that the woman doesn't want (For a reason - one that you choose to ignore)
2) Kill the child

There is NO GOOD outcome - BOTH outcomes are bad.

Killing a child is better than sentencing a woman to a life threatening (pregnancy is!) condition that then holds her hostage for a lifetime!

Do you not think that this is revolting in itself?

Where you want an alternative option, there is one - it is worse than killing a child.


Andrew,

"But they're not unequal at all, except in that a fetus will eventually become independent of it's mother but we will not be independent of God's sustenance."

At what cost?

It takes 20+ years (and getting ever longer) for a fetus to become independant of it's mother - the average cost of child raising is $300,000+

Are you willing to raise the unwanted child and pay for it? - No? - then why should the poor woman who didn't want it in the first place?

There are far more parents awaiting adoption than children available for adoption.

The Hard Cases Objection: Does Rape Justify Abortion?

By Scott Klusendorf

[From STR some time ago...]


How should we treat an innocent human being that remind us of a painful event? That one question clarifies everything.

Whenever possible, I take questions from the audience after my talks. I don’t need to guess what the first one will be because it’s nearly always the same.

“Okay, say a woman is raped. If she gives birth, the child will remind her of the rape—forever! Do you think abortion is wrong in that case?”

Two types of people ask about rape and abortion, the learner and the crusader. The learner is genuinely trying to work through the issue and resolve it rationally. The crusader just wants to make you, the pro-lifer, look bad. In either case, it’s our job to demonstrate wisdom and sensitivity. I begin with the following:

“That’s an important question and you are absolutely right: She may indeed suffer painful memories when she looks at the child and it’s foolish to think she never will. I don’t understand people who say that if she’ll just give birth, everything will be okay. That’s easy for them to say. They should try looking at it from her perspective before saying that. Even if her attacker is punished to the fullest extent of the law—which he should be—her road to recovery will be tough.”

Then, very delicately, I ease into my reply by asking one primary question, then a follow-up:

Given we both agree the child may provoke unpleasant memories, how do you think a civil society should treat innocent human beings that remind us of a painful event? (Pause and let the question sink in.) Is it okay to kill them so we can feel better?

Listener: Well, no, I guess not.

Me: And why is that?

Listener: Because they are human?

Me: That’s right. So if the unborn are human beings, how do you think we should treat them when they remind us of something painful?

Listener: Hmmm. I don’t know.

Me: Think of it this way. Suppose I have a two-year-old up here with me. His father is a rapist and his mother is on anti-depressant drugs. At least once a day, the sight of the child sends her back into depression. Would it be okay to kill the toddler if doing so makes the mother feel better?

Listener: No

Me: And that’s because he’s a human being?

Listener: Yes.

That first question—“How should we treat innocent human beings that remind us of a painful event?”—gets to the crux of the issue that must be resolved: What is the unborn? Only after clarifying the primary issue do I make my case:

Me: Here’s the point I’m getting at. If the unborn are human, killing them so others can feel better is wrong. Hardship doesn’t justify homicide. Admittedly, I don’t like the way my answer feels because I know the mother may suffer consequences for doing the right thing. But sometimes the right thing to do isn’t the easy thing to do.

Listener: These are hard things to think about.

Me: I agree. Here’s one more example that may help. Suppose I’m an American commander in Iraq and terrorists capture my unit. My captors inform me that in 10-minutes, they’ll begin torturing me and my men to get intelligence information out of us. However, they are willing to make me an offer. If I will help them torture and interrogate my own men, they won’t torture and interrogate me. I’ll get by with no pain. Can I take that deal? There’s no way. I’ll suffer evil rather than inflict it. Again, I don’t like how the answer feels, but it’s the right one. Thankfully, the woman who is raped does not need to suffer alone. Pro-life crisis pregnancy centers are standing by to help get her through this. We should help, too.

What I’ve said so far usually satisfies the learner. She may still feel uncomfortable thinking about the rape victim suffering for doing good, but she’s begun to grasp the moral logic that’s in play.

The crusader, on the other hand, will hear none of it. He’s out to score debate points. He appeals to the hard case of rape, but his appeal is flawed because it is not entirely truthful.

Here’s why. The abortion-choice position he defends is not that abortion should be legal only when a woman is raped, but that abortion is a fundamental right she can exercise for any reason she wants during all nine months of pregnancy. Instead of defending this position with facts and arguments, he disguises it with an emotional appeal to rape. But this will not make his case. The argument from rape, if successful at all, would only justify abortion in cases of sexual assault, not for any reason the woman deems fit. In fact, arguing for abortion-on-demand from the hard case of rape is like trying to argue for the elimination of all traffic laws because a person might have to break one rushing a loved one to the hospital.1 Proving an exception does not prove a rule.

To expose his smokescreen, I ask a question: “Okay, I’m going to grant for the sake of discussion that we keep abortion legal in cases of rape. Will you join me in supporting legal restrictions on abortions done for socioeconomic reasons which, as studies on your side of the issue show, make up the overwhelming percentage of abortions?”

The answer is almost always no, to which I reply, “Then why did you bring rape up except to mislead us into thinking you support abortion only in the hard cases?”

Again, if the abortion-choice crusader thinks that abortion should be a legal choice for all nine months of pregnancy for any reason whatsoever, including sex-selection and convenience, he should defend that view directly with facts and arguments. Exploiting the tragedy of rape victims is intellectually dishonest.

Pro-life advocates aren’t cruel when they insist that one human should not be killed to make another feel better. They’re simply refocusing the debate on the one question we can’t ignore: What is the unborn?

scbrownlhrm,

Considering the rough (exact numbers of abortions are hard to come by) number of aborts per year in the USA is 800,000.... There are certainly NOT enough people available to adopt unwanted children.

Adoption is a painfully slow process that is pretty much irrelevant to this discussion.

Adoption doesn't cover the medical bills and physical costs on the human body that birth produces.

Adoption doesn't resolve anything.


This quote merely echoes data which multiple state and local agencies echo. It's not "new" information:

Just over half of the nearly 100,000 children waiting in foster care for a permanent home in 2010 were adopted. In every year for the past decade, waiting children have outnumbered adopted children by about 2 to 1. The adoption gap is not due to lack of interest in adoption by families; surveys indicate there are more than enough interested families to adopt all children waiting in foster care to be adopted. The adoption gap is caused by barriers to adoption that could largely be eliminated through changes in policy and practice.

We are discussing INSTANCES OF RAPE

800,000 abortions due to rape each year?

Really?

Some rough numbers:


95% of abortions are done as birth control, 1% are done because of rape/incest, 1% because of fetal abnormalities, and 3% due to the mother's health problems.

We can probably fudge those a few points either way.

But it still does not change the issue at hand with respect to Scott Klusendorf's discussion.

Taken from the article:

"This pro-choice atheist was caught in a dilemma. She could not consistently condemn God for taking human life while advocating for a woman’s right to do it. Obviously, if a mere creature has the right to kill another creature, how can she logically think the Creator of every creature does not? "

The pro-choice atheist is using EXACTLY the same over-simplification of killing=murder that the pro-life arguments use....

All we need to do is reverse a couple of words and we have:
The pro-life argument was caught in a dilemma. She could not consistently advocate God for taking human life while condemning for a woman’s right to do it. Obviously, if a the creator of every creature has the right to kill another creature, how can she logically think the mere creature does not? "

KWM's argument exemplifies this by stating "But life is life."

IF taking life is by default murder, then by default God is a murderer. By your own definition.

OR

Killing does not have to be murder. Killing is sometimes an acceptable action.K
It was acceptable for God to flood the world BECAUSE....
It was acceptable for God to let his son die BECAUSE....

There are situations where killing is the lesser of two evils.

Discuss rape or otherwise, my points stand:

Adoption is a painfully slow process that is pretty much irrelevant to this discussion. Adoption doesn't cover the medical bills and physical costs on the human body that birth produces. Adoption doesn't resolve anything.

"95% of abortions are done as birth control"

Que???

100% of abortions are done as birth control - that's the sodding point of it!!

800,000 abortions due to rape.

Okay.

Yearly.

There was a brief moment of hope there that "what is the unborn" and "what is murder" was going to come into focus.

Oh well.

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