20 questions, pro-lifer style

A pro-lifer has put up “20 questions” for pro-choicers. Here are my answers.

1. At what point do you think that a human being, with human rights, comes into existence? Is it at birth, or earlier?

The first point that a human being comes into existence, with some (but only some) rights is at birth. Remember, newborn infants don’t have a right to vote, don’t have freedom of religion (does a Jewish baby choose circumcision?), can’t speak, so can’t particularly exercise freedom of speech. Of the three basic rights, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, a baby doesn’t have the second two, but I’ll give the first one based on the benefit of the doubt.

2. Pro-choice people argue that the lack of consensus about when life begins implies that abortion should be legal until birth. By why only until birth? Why not after birth–that is, why do we not allow infanticide?

Why do we allow 18-year-olds — even illiterate, uneducated, intolerant ones — the right to vote? Because we have to draw the line someplace, and 18 corresponds to the end of government-sponsored education that’s supposed to prepare them to vote. Similarly, an infant has reached the point where it is no longer physically dependent on a single individual. Many people can give life-sustaining support to an infant, but only one person can do the same for a fetus. But, of course, this is an arbitrary line. Some fetuses can survive outside the womb after a premature six months of pregnancy. Similarly, some 16 year olds are probably better equipped to vote — more educated, with a better understanding of government and the candidates — than many 50-year-olds, but as a policy, we have to draw the line somewhere, and the end of formal education just makes sense. Some 3-month old babies that were the result of a 9-month gestation are less “viable” than some 6-month fetuses, but we have to draw the line somewhere, and birth just makes sense.

3. Suppose someone were to argue as follows: “There is a lack of consensus about when human life begins; therefore, abortion should be prohibited throughout pregnancy.” Why is this argument any more, or less, reasonable than the argument that: “There is a lack of consensus about when human life begins; therefore, abortion should be allowed throughout pregnancy?”

Well, first of all, it’s easy to determine the end of pregnancy: it’s the point of birth (or caesarian, yadda yadda). The moment of fertilization is much more difficult: there are no overt signs that it has occurred. Second, there’s much more consensus that infanticide is wrong than there is consensus that “killing” a fertilized egg is wrong. I’d argue that, properly educated about what a fertilized egg is and what infanticide is, fewer than 15 percent of Americans would believe the former has “rights,” while fewer than 1 percent would believe the latter is acceptable.

4. You hold that women should be free to choose what they think is right regarding abortion: if a woman’s conscience tells her that abortion is in her case permissible, then she should be free to choose to have an abortion. This position has plausibility, because it seems to show respect for the woman’s conscience. But I wonder whether this is just an appearance. What do you think about cases where the woman’s conscience tells her that abortion is not a good thing–because she thinks she is killing her baby–but she wants an abortion anyway. Why should these abortions be allowed?

Ummm… because she chose to have the abortion. What if someone thought shooting animals was wrong, but was starving to death and chose to shoot an animal to survive? Should we punish that person for acting against her conscience? Similarly, we shouldn’t punish the person who doesn’t shoot the animal and thus starves to death.

5. I’m paraphrasing here: the question is something like, “shouldn’t pro-lifers be allowed to engage in any sort of protest they like, since they believe abortion is murder”?

They should be allowed to protest in any form allowed by the constitution. So, for example, they shouldn’t be allowed to kill, harrass, or threaten abortion doctors or patients. If they go beyond what’s allowed by the law, they should be willing to accept the punishment, just like anyone else. Yeesh.

6. How should we regard a forced abortion of a pro-life woman’s fetus? This happens, of course, in China every day.

Well, obviously, we should regard this as a violation of her human rights. But it is the pro-life movement which has denied U.S. support of the U.N. organization working to end China’s one-child program by replacing it with more effective voluntary family planning.

7. Suppose a man and woman have intercourse, she becomes pregnant, and the man, who is pro-life, thinks of the fetus as a human being, but the woman gets an abortion. Why is the abortion not tantamount to murder in this case? Why is it only the female parent’s opinion which determines the status of the child?

1. It’s not a child.
2. Men and women are different.
3. It’s not murder in this case because abortion is not murder.
4. Next question.

8. Suppose a woman who wanted an abortion were first to observe her unborn child through ultrasound technology. In such images, the hands and feet of the child are typically discernible, and even within the first trimester, it is common to see the unborn child sucking his or her thumb. I ask the pro-choice person: why aren’t such images shown to woman, as part of informed consent preceding abortion?

I think the question you’re really asking is “why aren’t women forced to view photos of fetuses before abortions”? I suppose because it’s completely random and irrelevant. Should they be shown pictures of nice, full breasts before they undergo a mastectomy? After all, they’ll be losing those wonderful breasts! Shouldn’t they be required to learn what they’ll be losing? Why not show pictures of barbie dolls to women about to undergo abortions? Barbie looks sort of human, too, so doesn’t this also demonstrate what a woman might lose in an abortion?

9. If you think abortion should be allowed, can you consistently maintain that there any human rights at all?

Yes. See answer to Question 1, where I point out that even infants don’t have all human rights. We’re perfectly happy to deny rights in all sorts of instances. When one right conflicts with another, we have to determine which takes precedence. For example, right to life takes precedence over right to vote. So if a voting official (wrongly) tells me I can’t vote because I don’t have ID, I still can’t shoot him.

10. Another paraphrase: “Since the pro-slavery argument can be rephrased to sound like the pro-choice argument, isn’t the pro-choice argument wrong?”

That has got to be the lamest argument of the bunch. Are you saying slaveowners would have been pro-choice? What if slaveowners were pro-life? Would your argument be wrong? After all, the Old Testament is awfully pro-slavery, and tends to come down against abortion.

11. Does anyone wish that his mother had chosen abortion for him? And, if not, then how can he consistently wish that any mother choose abortion for anyone else?

Well, the answer to the first question is yes (c.f. suicide), but I’ll answer the second question anyway, for the benefit of those who answered no to the first one. The second question is clearly a trick: a woman doesn’t choose abortion for a human being, but an assemblage of cells with no consciousness or conscience. The “you” that you are now wasn’t in existence when your mother had the choice to have an abortion. After I was born, my mother started using birth control. Is it a tragedy that I never had a little brother or sister? Absolutely not — my older sister and I were poor enough as children. What if my mother had chosen abortion before I was born? Then I wouldn’t be around to regret it. It’s not to me to say whether her life was better, though, because that was her choice. My mother could have made any number of decisions that would have resulted in my never existing, so the question is really irrelevant.

12. I don’t see a question here, but the implied question appears to be “aren’t pro-choice women against equal rights, since they don’t believe that the next generation has as many rights as their own?”

If that’s the case, then we all are, for no one grants children the same rights as adults. See question 1. Silliest non-question yet.

13. Developing the analogy with slavery even more, we can ask: Why isn’t legal abortion outright discrimination? Suppose a mother and her newborn baby are stranded on a desert island. The baby is completely dependent upon her. How does it follow that the mother has a right to kill the baby?

The answer to the first part is, because a fetus is not a living human being. The second part is really an entirely different question. I don’t exactly see how it’s related to the abortion question — when people are in dire circumstances such as on a desert island, the usual rules tend to be abandoned fairly quickly. But technically, I’d argue that the woman doesn’t have the right to kill the baby.

14. Pro-choice people admit that abortion might be tantamount to killing another–because they admit that we don’t know that life doesn’t begin before abortions take place. So then, until you reach greater clarity, shouldn’t you agree that it is morally wrong, should also be legally wrong?

Which pro-choice people admit that? I certainly don’t. If we’re talking about late term arbortions, some of these arguments might come into play, but in the first trimester, never. This is the fallacy that pro-lifers engage in all the time: they act as if every abortion is a late-term abortion. Then they place so many restrictions on abortions that many more late-term abortions occur. If late term abortions are so bad, why not make sure women have the opportunity to get them sooner?

15. Another paraphrase: Abortion is like killing puppies, and who wants to kill puppies?

If the choice was really to kill a newborn puppy or force a woman to go through 9 months of pregnancy, then excruciating hours of labor and childbirth, I’d kill the puppy. The humane society kills millions of full-grown dogs every year. I also eat meat, as do most pro-lifers. If I was a vegetarian who believed killing animals was wrong, I’d still be pro-choice, because the rights of an adult woman supersede the “rights” of a fetus.

16. Why is an abortion traumatic, but an appendectomy is not? If the fetus really is just a clump of tissue, why should there be any fuss about abortion? Indeed, if an abortion were in reality just like an appendectomy, how would it be possible for pro-life people to get others agitated about it? The very fact that there is a dispute at all about abortion seems to show that the pro-life view is correct and that abortions should not be performed.

This question now qualifies as the most ridiculous of the bunch. I could just as well turn it around and say “The very fact that there is a dispute at all about the pro-life position seems to show that the pro-choice view is correct and that abortions should be allowed.” And, in fact, an appendectomy is traumatic.

17. Why is it that doctors are allowed to do abortions? Just as we do not allow doctors to administer injections for capital punishment, shouldn’t we also bar doctors from doing abortions?

Should we also bar doctors from removing parasites? After all, a parasite is a living thing, too. This clearly is only a problem for someone who believes a fetus is a human life.

18. Suppose a genetic marker for homosexuality is found, and a test is devised for this, and couples begin to abort fetuses with this marker. Should this practice be made illegal? If so, then why not sex-selection abortions also? And why not abortions for handicaps? But if some abortions are wrong and should be illegal, this implies that abortion is not in every case to be allowed simply because it was decided upon by the mother. But then aren’t there also other reasons for abortion that are clearly unacceptable?

So this is the “abortion leads to designer babies” argument: If designer babies are wrong, then so is abortion. But, if someone devised a “gay test” for fetuses, and society found this objectionable, we wouldn’t need to ban abortions, just the test. It’s not necessary to intertwine the “designer babies” argument with the abortion argument. In fact, the best way to achieve designer babies would be through in vitro fertilization. Why don’t we see a massive movement against in vitro fertilization, if that’s what the pro-life movement is really opposed to?

19. Another paraphrase: What if Roe v. Wade had been ruled the other way? Then pro-choicers would lose their constitutionality argument.

Pro choicers support Roe v. Wade not because they blindly submit to the will of the Supreme Court, but because they know it’s the best way to preserve choice. But they can also argue that the court made the right decision. Nothing wrong with that.

20.

There is no 20. I have no idea why this document claims to be “20 questions.”

For another set of answers to these questions, see here.

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22 Responses to 20 questions, pro-lifer style

  1. Mary says:

    “Why don’t we see a massive movement against in vitro fertilization, if that’s what the pro-life movement is really opposed to?”

    In fact, pretty much all pro-lifers are opposed to the practice of in vitro fertilization. Partly because of the “designer baby” argument, but mostly because the practice creates so many extra embryos. These embryos are eventually destroyed. Opposition to this practice, and to the stem cell research which relies on it, are evidence that pro-lifers are sincere when they say it is the destruction of human (by their definition) life that concerns them, and nothing to do with sex.

    There’s nothing sexy about in vitro fertilization, and its usually only mature couples serious about wanting a child who will go through the rigors and the expense. So opposition to it has nothing to do with lifestyle choices, and everything to do with the definition of human life.

  2. dave says:

    Good points, Mary, though I’d be interested to know what percentage of people who are opposed to abortion are also opposed to in vitro fertilization. It’s certainly not a case that’s actively pushed by the pro-life movement.

    My main point is that “designer babies” can be separated from the abortion debate, and so isn’t really relevant to the case against abortion.

  3. Jivin J says:

    Hi Dave,
    You assert in your reply to question 13 that a fetus isn’t a living human being. Do you have any evidence from science to back this assertion up?

  4. dave says:

    Jivin,

    Clearly at some point in the pregnancy, from a purely scientific perspective, the fetus becomes a living human being, in the sense that it is viable outside the womb. Of course, when this occurs is a moving target, since technology for rescuscitating premature infants is constantly improving. Eventually, there may be a technological way to raise a human from a fertilized egg outside of the womb, so this answer is unappealing from an ethical perspective.

    That’s why I argue in Question 1 that the logical beginning of human life is the end of the full term of pregnancy.

  5. MosBen says:

    Thanks for the link Dave! Both I and my coblogger Noumena over at Staff of Ra give out takes, he better than me surely, but to shortly summerize what I think we both agree on: There are differing opinions on when the fetus becomes a human being, but these differences are not ultimately determinative of what the legality of abortions should be.

  6. Jivin J says:

    Dave,
    Since when does whether something can survive outside the womb make it a living human being? If it can’t survive, then it dies. Things that aren’t alive already, can’t die.

    If the time of viability is always moving as technology grows then isn’t viability a rather poor criteria to decide if something is a living human being or not. Since when does a culture’s level of technology decide whether an entity is a living human being or not? Whether something is a living human being or not sounds more like a question for biology.

    If the logical beginning of life is the end of a full term pregnancy (39 weeks) then children who are born premature (sometimes as early as 24 weeks) wouldn’t be living human beings. That doesn’t sound very logical to me.

  7. dave says:

    Since when does whether something can survive outside the womb make it a living human being?

    I didn’t say that, I said “viable.”

    If it can’t survive, then it dies. Things that aren’t alive already, can’t die.

    You see, you’ve contradicted yourself here. It’s not alive, and so it doesn’t die.

    If the time of viability is always moving as technology grows then isn’t viability a rather poor criteria to decide if something is a living human being or not.

    Exactly. Which is why I said that scientific criteria are unappealing from an ethical standpoint.

    Whether something is a living human being or not sounds more like a question for biology.

    Ummm… no. It means that the biological criteria for life don’t really help much when making ethical decisions.

    If the logical beginning of life is the end of a full term pregnancy (39 weeks) then children who are born premature (sometimes as early as 24 weeks) wouldn’t be living human beings. That doesn’t sound very logical to me.

    Logical might have been a poor choice of words on my part. What I’m getting at is that since it’s difficult to make a precise judgment of when a fetus is viable, and since that point varies from individual to individual (as well as depending on technology), the moment of birth, whether by natural or artificial means, is a good point of demarcation.

    What’s disingenuous is to suggest that since we’re not sure about 39 versus 35 weeks, that we might as well ban every artificial method of preventing unwanted pregnancies, starting the moment after ejaculation.

    As I’ve said before, my view is that life begins at the end of full term, but I’d be willing to compromise on allowing unconditional abortions through the first trimester, with abortions afterward to protect the health of the mother.

  8. Red 2 says:

    I don’t think the issue is whether or not the baby is alive. Sure it’s alive. I think you could make a compelling argument that sperm and egg are alive. So what?

    The issue is how do you get it out if the mother is going to kill it. What about killing the mother – is that okay?

    What is the role of a civilization in policing abortion? Do you prosecute doctors who have abortions? Do you prosecute mothers who have abortions (how do you know what is and isn’t a miscarriage)? What about fathers of women who have abortions (seriously, when)? Do you prosecute back alley abortionists (how)? Do you incarcerate someone who you believe will have an abortion? Do you monitor them? Do you stop pregnant women from smoking, drinking or doing drugs? What about eating a lot of fish which retain mercury? Not taking folic acid? Not sleeping enough or eating enough? Do you conduct blood tests to see if they have taken any abortifacients, including natural herbal ones of which there are several? What about if a mother poisons the baby? Do you prosecute people for certain sexual activity? Do you sterilize women who repeatedly have abortions? Men who father babies who are aborted?

    If the mother dies in childbirth can a father have the baby imprisoned for manslaughter? Reckless endangerment? Can a mother sue her own baby for ill effects of pregnancy? Permanent disability due to pregnancy? Lost wages?

    And more to illustrate a point than suggesting this happens. How do you punish a pregnant woman who walks into the woods and takes her own life? Murder charges for the death of the child? Charge her with suicide/murder?

  9. dave says:

    Good points, Red2.

    I disagree with you that a sperm and egg are alive, however, since they can’t metabolize food.

    Regarding your questions about enforcement, I don’t think it’s as difficult as all that. When I say that I’d be willing to compromise on the first trimester/woman’s life level, I mean at the constitutional level: this would be protected as a civil right. Some states might then choose to allow all abortions, and other states might choose to penalize people who perform abortions outside of the constitutionally protected period.

    Ideally, of course, we’d live in a society where comprehensive science based sex education was available to all, and where unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases were very rare, but where women had the right to choose an abortion at any time during their pregnancies. Since those goals now appear unrealistic, that’s why I’d accept a compromise.

  10. Jivin J says:

    Dave,
    Viability is the word to describe when a child can survive outside the womb. That’s what viable means.

    I didn’t contradict myself. I merely pointed out that if the unborn aren’t alive then they can’t die. It doesn’t make sense to me to base whether something is alive or not on whether it will die if removed from the womb since death implies that it was alive since things that aren’t alive can’t die.

    The point I was trying to make is that viability isn’t a scientific criteria for whether the unborn are living human beings. It’s a poor philosophical one.

    I thought we were talking about whether fetuses are living human beings. You’ve asserted they aren’t. I’m asking if we should use biology to determine whether the fetus is a living human being or not as opposed to some other criteria. Whether the fetus is a living human being isn’t an ethical question, it’s a biological one. Just like whether an entity is a cat isn’t an ethical question but a biological one.

    my view is that life begins at the end of full term

    But how can you hold that view when it makes no sense. Do believe that a child born at 30 weeks (not full term) isn’t alive until 9 weeks after birth? And if so, should it be legal to kill that child, who according to you, isn’t alive?

    Why would you compromise at the first trimester? What changes take place (to the woman or the fetus) the day after the end of the first trimester?

  11. dave says:

    “Whether the fetus is a living human being isn’t an ethical question, it’s a biological one.”

    The biological definition of life is based on the lifespan of an organism. When “life” begins is really outside the realm of biology. From the biologist’s perspective, it’s all alive. But so are trees, and grass, and weeds. Should someone be charged with murder for harvesting a tomato? For cutting their toenails? These, after all, are living things.

    No, the question is an ethical one: when should we grant the right to life? I don’t think we should grant it to tomatoes, toenails, or fetuses.

    “Do believe that a child born at 30 weeks (not full term) isn’t alive until 9 weeks after birth?”

    No, I don’t believe that. But I believe that a fetus at 31 weeks is not a living human being, and does not have the right to life. However, I acknowledge that others might disagree, which is why I’m willing to compromise as I’ve outlined above.

  12. dave says:

    Oh, I should add, in response to your last question: The first trimester is completely arbitrary. However, it is late enough that few women would be unduly restricted from having an abortion once they realize they have an unwanted pregnancy.

  13. dave says:

    One more thing: to be viable and to survive are two different things. Viable means capable of living, surviving means continuing to live. Something which survives is alive, something which is viable isn’t necessarily alive.

  14. Jivin J says:

    Dave,
    I certainly agree that trees, grass and weeds are alive and that being alive doesn’t necessarily make an organism worthy of the right to life but those are different questions than whether a human fetus is a living human being. I’m not currently trying to argue that a human fetus has a right to life. I’m trying to work through what a human fetus is because I think it’s important to first accurately understand what something actually is (in the biological sense) before deciding whether it deserves the right to life or not.

    Would you agree that a human fetus is an organism? And if so, what type of organism would the human fetus be? And if so, is that organism currently living or dead?

    What do you mean when you put “” around the word life?

    So a fetus at 31 weeks isn’t a living human being but a child born at 28 weeks is? I’m not understanding the logic or viewpoint here. Does a mere change of location determine whether something is alive or dead?

    Regarding viability – Merriam Webster defines viable as “capable of living; especially : capable of surviving outside the mother’s womb without artificial support.” (emphasis mine)

    Here’s a hypothetical scenario: say a child is born prematurely at 22 weeks and is placed in an incubator. Since she is so premature, she struggles with her ability to breathe and eventually (after a couple of days) doesn’t make it. Was that child a living human being or not? She didn’t survive and wasn’t viable – was she alive?

  15. dave says:

    “Would you agree that a human fetus is an organism? And if so, what type of organism would the human fetus be? And if so, is that organism currently living or dead?”

    I assume you’re asking this based on my point about the “lifespan of an organism.” My point is that the biological definition of “life” includes concepts that cannot be determined at a particular instant. For example, reproduction. A 7-year-old human is not capable of reproducing. Is a 7-year-old alive? That’s why the biological definition of life is not appropriate for determining whether a fetus has the right to life. Whether a fetus is an organism, therefore, is subject to the same problems.

    The quotation marks around life were meant to distinguish between the biological concept and the ethical concept.

    Your Webster’s definition of “viable” confirms my point. Once it is outside the womb, it is now in the process of “surviving.” Inside the womb, “survival” is not possible, because it is not yet living.

    Regarding your hypothetical question, yes, she was “alive” for those two days. Whether it was worth the effort to keep her alive is a separate ethical question: millions of dollars are spent attempting to “save” premature deliveries that might be better spent elsewhere.

    As I have said, the distinction between inside the womb and outside is a label of covenience, but it also demonstrates the difference in the relationship between the unborn fetus and her mother and the living child and her mother. After the child is born, she is no longer dependent on her mother, and can be supported by others. Thus, the mother no longer has “choice” about whether to allow the child to consume her bodily resources.

  16. Red 2 says:

    It can be human. Any concept of viability presupposes the fetus can be extracted intact from the mother, which is not a valid supposition, unless you first strip her of her rights.

  17. Jivin J says:

    Dave,
    Again I didn’t think we were currently talking about whether a fetus has a right to life (ethical/metaphysics) but whether a fetus is currently a living human being in the biological sense. You seem to keep trying to assert that a fetus doesn’t have a right to life when we seem to be still struggling with determining whether a fetus is a living human being or not (in the biological sense). The biological definition of life certainly wouldn’t say that a 7 year-old isn’t an organism, would it?

    From my understanding of the reproduction part of the definition of biological life (and I could be wrong) – it has more to do with having the ability to reproduce (copy and grow) individual cells and not necessarily the ability to reproduce another organism. And the ability to reproduce another organism would usually refer to the organism’s species in general, not individual members (since that strict definition would eliminate everyone younger than 10, most women over 50, anyone whose is infertile, etc.)

    So are we talking biology or ethics? When you said that a fetus isn’t a living human being were you making a biological claim (saying that the fetus isn’t a living member of the species homo sapiens) or a ethical claim? (saying that regardless of whether the fetus is a biological human being, I don’t think they have a right to life). Those seem to be two separate claims but I get a sense you are equating them.

    How does the Webster definition confirm the point of someone who said that surviving wasn’t part of being viable? How does a nine-inch journey down the birth canal make an non-living entity (the fetus) into a viable (regardless of whether or not the child survives or not according to your definition of viable) and living human being? How does that nine-journey change whether the entity is alive or not and whether the entity is a human being or not? Do other non-living things turn into human beings by a mere change of location?
    Again with the “”. Was she biologically alive? Numerous fetuses could be removed from their mother and not survive (die within minutes or days) but according to your definition they’d be viable and alive as long as they were outside the mother’s body. It just makes no sense to me.

    The born child is still dependent. I don’t see why being dependent on one person matters while being possibly dependent on a bunch of people doesn’t with regards to whether an entity is biologically alive or not. It should also be noted that many children who are raised by single mothers are virtually solely dependent on their mother for everything – I’d guess you wouldn’t call these born children non-living simply because they are solely dependent on their mother.

    Doesn’t it seem rather odd to base your position on criteria which you yourself call “completely arbitrary” and a “label of convenience?” You seem to be undermining your whole position. I (and I would hope most people) am not going to be persuaded by arguments based on criteria which are completely arbitrary and labels of convenience.

  18. dave says:

    “From my understanding of the reproduction part of the definition of biological life (and I could be wrong) – it has more to do with having the ability to reproduce (copy and grow) individual cells and not necessarily the ability to reproduce another organism.”

    Yes, you are wrong about that.

    “When you said that a fetus isn’t a living human being were you making a biological claim (saying that the fetus isn’t a living member of the species homo sapiens) or a ethical claim?”

    An ethical claim.

    “I don’t see why being dependent on one person matters while being possibly dependent on a bunch of people doesn’t with regards to whether an entity is biologically alive or not.”

    It doesn’t. But ethically, it makes a huge difference.

    “I’d guess you wouldn’t call these born children non-living simply because they are solely dependent on their mother.”

    No, I wouldn’t, because if their mother died, someone else could take care of them. If a pregnant mother dies, with few exceptions, her fetus will not live either.

    “Doesn’t it seem rather odd to base your position on criteria which you yourself call “completely arbitrary” and a “label of convenience?” You seem to be undermining your whole position. I (and I would hope most people) am not going to be persuaded by arguments based on criteria which are completely arbitrary and labels of convenience.”

    No, because they are less arbitrary than the position that a fertilized egg has the same rights as an adult human. Any point along the spectrum is arbitrary, but I argue that the point of birth is a better point to make the decision than any other.

  19. Red 2 says:

    1. Chromosomal humans at conception. Philosophically, human rights come into play at that time, but are constrained by the human rights of the mother.

    2. After birth, in the case of the unwilling mother, you do not necessarily have to assault the mother in order to protect the child.

    3. It is reasonable, it just eviscerates the human rights of women to control their own bodies.

    4. Because the mother had dominant rights.

    5. Those allowed by law. Or those which they can make a case for a change in the law.

    6. As a violation of the woman’s rights and likely the child’s.

    7. For the same reason a woman has to give consent to have a child removed from her body and a man does not.

    8. I can’t think of any medical procedures where the doctor shows you images of something removed from your body before the fact. But if a woman wants to see them I don’t see any reason to disallow it.

    9. Yes. Abortion is a conflict of human rights, with the mother’s rights predominating for obvious reasons.

    10. No. In this case you must enslave someone. Either the mother or the child. Choose. In slavery, everyone could be free.

    11. Since my mother chose not to abort me I am happy. If my mother chose to abort me, presumably I would be indifferent. Only if my mother had wanted to abort me and had not would I be unhappy.

    12. The premise of this question is in error. Pro-choice women believe the following generation should have precisely the same rights, including the right to abort their children.

    13. It doesn’t, but presumably she does have the right to save or kill herslf.

    14. Not when it is justified. Criminalizing abortion is also replete with serious enforcement issues, not like any other crime except suicide.

    15. No answer

    16. No. It shows that there is a recognition that a conflict of rights is involved.

    17. Because it is a medical procedure. Doctors should be allowed to administer injections for capital punishment, presuming we retain capital punishment.

    18. I’m not convinced abortion on these grounds should be illegal.

    19. If we are throwing out the right to privacy, I have a few questions you must answer. If we are throwing out the right for women to control their own bodies, I’d like to have an application for the group controlling them.

  20. Jivin J says:

    Hi Dave,
    Here’s a link to the Wikipedia page that defines reproduction with regards to an organism’s life by saying, “# Reproduction – The division of one cell to form two new cells is reproduction. Usually the term is applied to the production of a new individual (either asexually, from a single parent organism, or sexually, from two differing parent organisms), although strictly speaking it also describes the production of new cells in the process of growth.” So I guess we’re both right in a way.

    So if you were making an ethical claim shouldn’t you say “person” not living human being, since human being to many people means a member of the species homo sapiens and not “person?” Using these terms (one biological, the other philosophical/ethical) and not differentiating between them can certainly confuse the issue.

    Let’s say if the mother died – no one else could take care of them. For example, let’s say a mother and her small child live in Canada and are snowed in. They have enough food and water to survive but the mother needs to use her bodily resources to feed the child. If the mother dies, the child will eventually die as well. Is the child then not a living human being?

    How is it less arbitrary? How can something be less arbitrary than something which you admit is “completely arbitrary.” That’s an assertion with no argument to back it up.

    To strengthen your position, you should first recognize that the unborn are biological human beings. Numerous pro-choice people (usually the ones that can argue about abortion the best) can accept this basic biological fact. You could then attempt to argue that the unborn aren’t “persons.” By creating some category that would allow you to discriminate against one group of human beings (the unborn).

  21. dave says:

    The equating of reproduction with growth is a serious problem in the wikipedia definition of life. Why have two separate categories if reproduction and growth are indistinguishable?

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