Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. The Abortion Debate Is Not About When Life Begins

 

shutterstock_139005974January 22, 2015 marks the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, yet the abortion discussion remains mired in confusion. The debate is too often framed as a debate over “when life beings.” That misleading phrasing obscures the two distinct questions, one biological and one philosophical, at the heart of the issue.

The biological question is not open to reasonable dispute. As shown below, an embryo created through human reproduction is indisputably a living member of the human species. Even many of the most ardent pro-choicers acknowledge this. The philosophical question is the real point on which pro-lifers and pro-choicers disagree. That question explores when a living human obtains full human rights. Is every living human entitled to human rights, or is there another requirement? Asking the question in that matter clarifies the actual dispute between pro-lifers and pro-choicers.

Absent the controversy over abortion, it is inconceivable that anyone would dispute that an embryo is a living member of the human species. This fact is reported without equivocation in embryology text books. For example, Medical Embryology 3rd edition, by Jan Langman, reports that “[t]he development of a human being begins with fertilization, a process by which two highly specialized cells, the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female, unite to give rise to a new organism.”

Pro-choice partisans routinely admit this fact. Alan Guttmacher, the founder of Planned Parenthood, wrote in this book Life in the Making that “we of today know that man is born of sexual union; that he starts life as an embryo within the body of the female; and that the embryo is formed from the fusion of two single cells, the ovum and the sperm. This all seems so simple and evident to us that it is difficult to picture a time when it was not part of common knowledge.” Sadly, despite the “simple and evident” nature of this fact, it remains shrouded in confusion to some Americans. Pro-choice philosopher Peter Singer similarly acknowledges the “scientifically accurate claim that the foetus is a living individual of the species Homo sapiens.”

There is no doubt that an embryo is alive. Embryos are made up of cells that work in a coordinated fashion, take in nutrition and turn it into energy, excrete waste, grow, move, and are sensitive to their surroundings. Single celled organisms like amoebas and paramecium are alive, bacteria are alive, weeds are alive, and so are human embryos.

There is simply no such thing as “potential life.” Nonliving things do not turn into living things: the theory of spontaneous generation has been discredited for centuries. Stones do not transform into mice. The creation of a new living human requires a living sperm and a living egg. The zygote formed by their fusion is alive as well. If an embryo dies, there is no way that it can mature into an infant, toddler, or adult. We have not yet discovered the secret of raising the dead. This may sound childishly obvious, and yet some people still frame the abortion debate as a debate over when life begins.

It is also indisputable that a living human embryo is a member of the species Homo sapiens, otherwise known as human. When two members of the same species reproduce in a natural manner, their offspring is not a member of a third species. Two elephants do not naturally produce a giraffe: they produce another elephant. Similarly, the product of human reproduction is another human.

The fusion of a human egg and a human sperm produces a zygote, which is a “new, genetically distinct human organism.” At that moment, the new human has 46 chromosomes like every other living human. His genes are distinct from those of his mother and father and immediately determine and control his growth and development. Under normal circumstances, that human zygote will mature through the natural stages of human life, eventually reaching adulthood.

Until this point there is no serious debate. The real discussion is over the consequences of those facts. The pro-life side maintains that full human rights, including the right not to be murdered, attach at the same moment that human life begins. The pro-choice side argues that “biological life is not sufficient to give the foetus the right to life.”

The pro-life argument does not depend on theological claims. It is has nothing to do with souls or God. It simply states that humans obtain their full rights at the very second they come into existence. No other factor or milestone is required. All humans, regardless of location, size, strength, intelligence, dependency, age, or health, are entitled to the same fundamental human rights.

According to the pro-choice side, “[m]erely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life.” In other words, human rights do not apply equally to all living humans. In fact, they may not apply to some humans at all. At least one other factor is necessary before a living human is entitled to a full compliment of human rights.

A popular pro-choice argument is that human rights only apply to a child once she is “viable” or capable of surviving outside of her mother’s womb. The child is alive prior to birth, but has no rights until that moment. Viability is not a fixed standard: it varies from human-to-human and generally moves backwards as technology improves. It is not a sudden change to the nature of the organism, as is fertilization, rather it is the product of a human’s gradual growth. It is impossible to imagine a compelling reason why human rights should depend on such a variable and arbitrary point.

Other pro-choicers argue that human rights are dependent on factors such “having wants and desires” or the capability “of attributing to her own existence some . . . basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her,” or a maternal choice. These positions are less arbitrary and more intellectually sound than viability, but they are morally abhorent.

Some on the pro-choice side acknowledge that — based on these approaches — some humans outside a womb also are not entitled to human rights. As two pro-choicers admit, in their view, “all the individuals who are not in the condition of attributing any value to their own existence are not persons,” including some “mentally retarded human individuals.” It is unnecessary to point out the ghastly implications of the pro-choice position as its proponents freely acknowledge them.

Once the abortion question is clarified in this manner, it is possible to have a more productive conversation. An honest pro-choice or undecided individual can no longer hide behind the claim that he cannot figure out when human life begins. At least in his own mind, he will have to grapple with the important philosophical question. Proclaiming oneself pro-choice necessarily means accepting the proposition that some living humans are not entitled to rights.

This will not cause the pro-choice side to disappear. There are intelligent people, cited above, who adopt exactly that position. However, many people who would have previously glibly proclaimed themselves agnostic on the question of “when life begins” will recoil from such a position.

It is impossible to debate a person who claims that he does not know when life begins. His position is based on ignorance or superstition rather than fact. However, it is possible to have an intelligent and productive conversation about the consequences of the undeniable fact that human life begins at fertilization. After 42 years, it’s about time that we started having an intelligent and productive conversation.

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  1. donald todd Inactive

    The abortion debate is over who is allowed to live. No guilt or innocence need be cited. In the pro-abortion position one person owns another unborn person and has decided that the owned unborn person needs to be killed.

    Various reasons may be offered, including those tendered by the pro-abortion churches, which are available on-line at the websites of those churches. They are willing to provide a reason to kill the innocent. We’ve come a long way in the wrong direction.

    • #1
    • January 14, 2015, at 3:40 PM PST
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  2. Howard Slugh Inactive
    Howard Slugh

    Donald, your mention of “pro-abortion churches” raises an important point. The pro-choice side loves to claim that pro-lifers rely on religious arguments. In reality, the pro-choice argument depends on the existence of a class of “non-person” humans that can only be supported by some sort of mysticism. The existence of such a class of humans certainly cannot be arrived at by looking at biology. 

    The pro-life argument relies on the biological fact that human embryos are living members of the human species. There is no religious component to that inquiry. The pro-choice side, on the other hand, says that biological reality is insufficient and that an additional and intangible criteria must be met.

    The pro-life side is not the side making religious claims.

    • #2
    • January 14, 2015, at 9:10 PM PST
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  3. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    Seeing a 1,200 word essay about abortion gave me the jitters as an editor, but this was very fine work, Howard, and a really excellent piece that explains the matter very well.

    I agree with almost everything you wrote, but this left me — as a reader, not an editor — frustrated:

    Howard Slugh: The pro-life argument does not depend on theological claims. It is has nothing to do with souls or God. It simply states that humans obtain their full rights at the very second they come into existence. No other factor or milestone is required. All humans, regardless of location, size, strength, intelligence, dependency, age, or health, are entitled to the same fundamental human rights.

    What is the basis for this statement? Why are rights — full rights, at that — co-extensive with human life? I could be misreading you, but it’s difficult for me to imagine an answer that doesn’t rely on a theological claim. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but it puts us back into unresolvable territory.

    • #3
    • January 15, 2015, at 5:57 AM PST
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  4. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    It seems to me to be at least relevant that what makes humans special are our abilities — at least as adults — to be self-aware and morally accountable. That’s what we find so fascinating about ourselves and certainly one of the prime things that separates us from all other extant creatures. As we’ve said in other contexts, humans are the only extant physical beings* capable of personhood.

    Now, simply because that’s what makes humans special and worthy of rights doesn’t mean we can or should treat anyone who comes short of that as mere things. Foreigners do not have the rights of U.S. citizens, but we treat them as if they did in most contexts, as not doing so could lead to monstrous behavior. I don’t see why it follows that simply because a fetus — or a severely mentally retarded person — doesn’t have rights that it follows that we should allow them to be treated badly. It’s certainly reasonable to say that we might grant them — as we do foreigners — some or all of the protections that we hold ourselves.

    One other thing: the kind of pro-life argument you presented doesn’t address how we should treat non-human beings capable of human-level intelligence and moral reasoning. This isn’t mere idle speculation: there’ve been other intelligent species on the planet before, and there are likely to be so again in the near future? Could an uplifted dolphin or a sentient AI have rights, despite not being human?

    * In a past conversation, a member referenced angels as also being persons; I’m not going to disagree with that, only say that it’s not something I can meaningfully address.

    • #4
    • January 15, 2015, at 6:17 AM PST
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  5. Spin Inactive
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I must be talking to the wrong people. I’ve never discussed abortion with someone who is pro-choice and who also believes that life begins at conception. I’m sure those folks are out there. I’ve never had a discussion with them, to my knowledge. I love to discuss abortion with pro-choice people, because I think the argument actually is about when life begins. My experience is that when you take the argument there, and away from a “woman’s right to choose”, it is easier to get at the heart of the matter: when do you think that thing in there becomes a human? On rare occasion I’ll get someone to admit “No, I don’t think life begins at conception.” Most of the time they’ll say the same thing but in reverse “I think life begins when the child is viable.” I’ve never heard “Yes, it’s a human life but it’s not worthy of natural rights just yet.” That may in fact be what they think, but I’ve never heard it articulated.

    I think the big problem in the abortion debate is that we almost never arrive at the point of disagreement. Not unless one side or the other is willing to push it. A few years ago I was discussing partial birth abortion with a friend and colleague. One observing the discussion might have thought he and I disagreed on the subject. In fact, even he believed we were in disagreement. We weren’t. I pushed him on the topic, and described what happens during partial-birth and late-term abortions. He said “I think I’ll have to read up on it.” I said “Come on, Dave, you don’t have to read up on it. You either think that is wrong, or you don’t. It’s either killing a human being, or it isn’t!” He admitted that he did, in fact, think that was wrong. See, he and I were arguing a point on which we both agreed, when it came right down to it.

    I think that a lively abortion discussion is much more effective if we can arrive at the point upon which we actually disagree. That is because when we find the real disagreement, we also find agreement. It would be wonderful if we stopped talking past each other and arrived at what I think is most Americans true position: late term abortions kill innocent human beings and should be illegal.

    We can move on from there, and move the ball forward.

    • #5
    • January 15, 2015, at 6:27 AM PST
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  6. Spin Inactive
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: It seems to me to be at least relevant that what makes humans special are our abilities — at least as adults — to be self-aware and morally accountable.

    I’m not inclined to think that it’s wholly relevant. Partially, yes. But one does not consider a 6 month old baby morally accountable. I mean, if they were, we’d punish them for waking us up in the middle of the night! Self aware, I am sure.

    I would say, rather, that there are traits that define personhood in the human being. Whatever those traits are, they are not fully present in the non-mature human. Even so, humans develop those traits through the process of maturing, and thus, all life which is biologically human possesses those natural, inalienable rights, regardless of their gestational age. I would take that further and say that all life which is biologically human possesses those natural right regardless of their viability. A boy with Down’s is every bit as human as me. A child born with no arms and legs, same. A 6 month old born with an incurable heart condition, same.

    • #6
    • January 15, 2015, at 6:34 AM PST
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  7. KC Mulville Inactive

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:What is the basis for this statement? Why are rights — full rights, at that — co-extensive with human life? I could be misreading you, but it’s difficult for me to imagine an answer that doesn’t rely on a theological claim.

    Not at all. The argument in abortion, although championed by religious folks, is not itself an argument based on theology. Religious folks are also against stealing, but no one portrays that as a theological statement. We’re against abortion because it’s wrong, not because it conflicts with any revealed utterances.

    The philosophical argument is pretty simple. We don’t argue that rights attach to abstract ideas or principles. Rights attach only to living human beings. Therefore, what matters is whether they are living human beings.

    Whereas different sorts of rights (freedom of speech, freedom of association, etc.) attach to human beings for different reasons, all of them attach only to humans.

    The right to life, after all, is about life. It only comes into question unless you have life. It is entirely a life-based right. It means that you have life, and you have a right to it. Think about this … does the right to freedom of association depend on any other quality, other than being human? Do we say that someone has no freedom of association because he can’t speak English, or can’t walk, or [any other quality]? No. We place no extra demand on that freedom, other than that the subject is a living human being.

    It’s funny … the Charlie Hebdo attack caused a lot of people to go back and look at the justification for essential rights, which now is causing people to revisit the notion of rights in general. That theory of what “rights” are is relatively recent, at least as we know the concept. The explanation of individual rights, and the demand for government to respect individual rights, has only risen to the level of “of course” within the last two or three hundred years.

    • #7
    • January 15, 2015, at 6:34 AM PST
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  8. KC Mulville Inactive

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:Now, simply because that’s what makes humans special and worthy of rights doesn’t mean we can or should treat anyone who comes short of that as mere things. Foreigners do not have the rights of U.S. citizens, but we treat them as if they did in most contexts,

    No. We respect the human rights of every human. Those rights come from the fact that they’re human, not from the fact that they’re American.

    The only rights we deny them are the rights that come from being citizens, not the rights that come from being human.

    • #8
    • January 15, 2015, at 6:38 AM PST
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  9. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Personhood is at the heart of the modern abortion debate. Nobody can reasonably deny that a “fetus” is anything other than an earlier stage of human development (not unlike the toddler years). The basis for slaughter of unborn children is the argument that they are not yet persons. It is the same argument used to “pull the plug” on our elders and severely handicapped.

    Too many people believe the “I think, therefore I am” concept of human value, conveniently ignoring that their born babies are not yet thinkers either. If the ability to reason was the basis of natural rights, then an adult chimpanzee or dolphin would have more value than a human baby.

    People sometimes cite a human baby’s potential as the source of value. But ask any respectable parents of a child that died as a child if they would rather he or she had never been born. Mothers of newborn children love their babies for who their children already are, not for who they might become.

    Arguments of personhood only arose after various other arguments became untenable, which suggests that the pro-abortion stance was only ever a desire in search of a rationalization. Generally, women abort because of fear. It is the “medical” staff facilitating abortions who kill on principles.

    It has not been any philosophical argument which has produced limited victories against abortion proponents. Rather, pictures of children in the womb and knowledge of the child’s experience in the womb has forced most mothers to acknowledge their precious children. Seeing is believing.

    That is why the last hurdle is stopping slaughters during the first trimester. It is easier to escape sympathy for the unborn when they look less like born babies.

    • #9
    • January 15, 2015, at 6:38 AM PST
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  10. KC Mulville Inactive

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:One other thing: the kind of pro-life argument you presented doesn’t address how we should treat non-human beings capable of human-level intelligence and moral reasoning.

    Why would it need to? It isn’t necessary if you don’t think that the right to life is based on intelligence.

    • #10
    • January 15, 2015, at 6:40 AM PST
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  11. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    By the way, this is the concept of inherent value which I believe.

    • #11
    • January 15, 2015, at 6:42 AM PST
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  12. KC Mulville Inactive

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:It seems to me to be at least relevant that what makes humans special are our abilities — at least as adults — to be self-aware and morally accountable.

    Why? Why do you assume that rights are based on what we do, rather than who we are?

    • #12
    • January 15, 2015, at 6:43 AM PST
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  13. The (apathetic) King Prawn Inactive

    What is the basis for this statement? Why are rights — full rights, at that — co-extensive with human life? I could be misreading you, but it’s difficult for me to imagine an answer that doesn’t rely on a theological claim. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but it puts us back into unresolvable territory.

    I would say that the three choices are two objective and one subjective: either all human life gets full rights; no human life gets full rights; or some subjectively determined subset of human life gets full rights. All humanity gets rights is the only morally sound option. Obviously no human having rights is out of the question. That is a worse state of affairs than the Hobbesian state of nature. The subjective option places us in an Orwellian world. No theology is needed to accept Howard’s statement as the only reasonable choice.

    • #13
    • January 15, 2015, at 6:43 AM PST
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  14. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    If personhood or any other measure of qualities is the basis for the right to life, then is it acceptable to err on the wrong side of that measurement? Is it acceptable to grant the right to survive only in view of certainty, rather than even a reasonable suspicion that a human person might be killed?

    It’s like a hunter shooting into bushes where he hears rustling. If he has the least bit of doubt that what stirs in the bushes is not merely some furry critter, the least suspicion that the creature could in fact be a human child, then to fire his gun into those bushes is to risk murder.

    How very sad that many people require a greater degree of certainty to justify an arrest or a seizure of property than they require for the killing of a human being.

    • #14
    • January 15, 2015, at 6:56 AM PST
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  15. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    KC Mulville: We place no extra demand on that freedom, other than that the subject is a living human being.

    Yes, but this strikes me as more a matter of practical application and heuristics, rather than a philosophical thing.

    Again, what is it about human life that makes it inherently special — which is what I take you to be arguing — other than it’s propensity to reach personhood upon development?

    • #15
    • January 15, 2015, at 6:58 AM PST
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  16. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    Spin: I’ve never discussed abortion with someone who is pro-choice and who also believes that life begins at conception.

    Spin, are you saying we’ve never really talked? ;)

    • #16
    • January 15, 2015, at 6:58 AM PST
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  17. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    KC Mulville:

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:Now, simply because that’s what makes humans special and worthy of rights doesn’t mean we can or should treat anyone who comes short of that as mere things. Foreigners do not have the rights of U.S. citizens, but we treat them as if they did in most contexts,

    No. We respect the human rights of every human. Those rights come from the fact that they’re human, not from the fact that they’re American.

    The only rights we deny them are the rights that come from being citizens, not the rights that come from being human.

    Right, I was using citizenship as an analogy to show that “anything goes” does not follow “has no rights.”

    • #17
    • January 15, 2015, at 7:00 AM PST
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  18. Mike H Coolidge

    Abortion is always a terrible thing. Practically no one should have one done. The people that go through with them often (but not always) seem like selfish morally-blinded individuals.

    Despite all this, it much remain legal. Enforcement would require rights violations by people who are currently innocent and unintended consequences.

    A conceived baby is human, but unfortunately there’s no morally tractable way to protect what rights it has (which are prima facie subservient to the mother’s).

    I’m sorry. I wish it were different.

    • #18
    • January 15, 2015, at 7:01 AM PST
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  19. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    Aaron Miller: People sometimes cite a human baby’s potential as the source of value. But ask any respectable parents of a child that died as a child if they would rather he or she had never been born. Mothers of newborn children love their babies for who their children already are, not for who they might become.

    See, to me, this underscores that the matter is inherently messy and hard to resolve in a clear, un-ambiguous way. As such, I think it’s a lost cause to try to come up with a wholly rational solution in either way. Sometimes, that’s just best.

    • #19
    • January 15, 2015, at 7:05 AM PST
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  20. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    KC Mulville: Why? Why do you assume that rights are based on what we do, rather than who we are?

    Again, because I think that’s what makes us morally distinct from animals. We can do and think in ways they can’t.

    As I’ve said, it doesn’t necessarily follow that we are, therefore, entitled to do what we want to anyone who lacks these features, any more than your position holds that it’s okay to torture animals because they’re not human.

    While we’re at it, can you try again to explain why rights are based on who we are, rather than what we do?

    My guess is that we’ve just got an irreconcilable difference on the matter.

    • #20
    • January 15, 2015, at 7:11 AM PST
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  21. donald todd Inactive

    Spin: #5 “We can move on from there, and move the ball forward.”

    While I enjoy reading Camille Paglia very much, she is an excellent writer and I enjoy good writing, she is an atheist and pro-abortion. She has cited the fact that the child is undoubtedly a human being, but denies that the child has an inherent right to life. I believe that there are a number of such persons, cognizant of the humanity of the unborn child but unwilling to cede that child rights.

    That we put a value on the child, which may be legal as in the innocent should never be punished and abortion is a lethal punishment, or may be religious in orientation as in we are made in God’s image and likeness, won’t count for everyone.

    There are some people for whom the ball will never move forward, no matter how good our arguments are.

    • #21
    • January 15, 2015, at 7:16 AM PST
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  22. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    Spin: A boy with Down’s is every bit as human as me. A child born with no arms and legs, same. A 6 month old born with an incurable heart condition, same.

    Yes, obviously. Moreover, I’d say that the people I’ve known who have Downs are persons in the same way that kids are.

    Now, if someone were to argue that a fetus (or a baby) may not technically qualify as a person but that it is still best to treat them as such, lest we slide into justifications for the worst manifestations of eugenics and euthanasia, I could completely understand. But that’s not quite what you’re saying.

    • #22
    • January 15, 2015, at 7:17 AM PST
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  23. Owen Findy Member

    Howard Slugh: The pro-life argument relies on the biological fact that human embryos are living members of the human species.

    I haven’t thought enough about the abortion question in some time. Are you saying that the pro-life argument does not also rely on some claim about the right to life of the fetus?

    • #23
    • January 15, 2015, at 7:24 AM PST
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  24. Probable Cause Inactive

    Of course, the current political question if much farther in the pro-choice direction than any of these questions. The current political question is: will the federal government fund Planned Parenthood?

    • #24
    • January 15, 2015, at 7:24 AM PST
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  25. donald todd Inactive

    Mike H: #18 “A conceived baby is human, but unfortunately there’s no morally tractable way to protect what rights it has (which are prima facie subservient to the mother’s).”

    1. Since the advent of Wade-Roe there are continuing efforts to define the rights of the unborn.

    2. Morally tractable? What does that mean?

    3. The mother and the unborn child are equal, at least in the eyes of many of us, with neither having a greater or lesser right to life than the other. That is why, if the mother is being treated for a disease in an attempt to preserve her life, and the child dies due to the medical efforts to save the mother (but is not directly targeted for killing as with abortion), there is no moral hazard involved. The child is dead, but not because someone wanted him or her dead.

    • #25
    • January 15, 2015, at 7:26 AM PST
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  26. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    Probable Cause: Of course, the current political question if much farther in the pro-choice direction than any of these questions. The current political question is: will the federal government fund Planned Parenthood?

    I imagine that everyone on this thread would staunchly hold that it should not.

    • #26
    • January 15, 2015, at 7:29 AM PST
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  27. KC Mulville Inactive

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Yes, but this strikes me as more a matter of practical application and heuristics, rather than a philosophical thing.

    Again, what is it about human life that makes it inherently special — which is what I take you to be arguing — other than it’s propensity to reach personhood upon development?

    No, that’s not what I’m arguing.

    Remember what a “right” is. It’s a concept based on what minimal behavior we, as human beings, owe to other human beings. The fact that we are talking about how we treat other human beings is built into the concept.

    It’s serendipitous that you ask what makes the human species “special.” Special means “of a species.” We consider human beings special because, yes, we are all in the same species.

    (By the way, quick side note about Christianity … remember that when Jesus urged his followers to treat the poor and the sinners with respect, he was doing so before any concept of human rights existed. These days, we all take for granted that we should help fellow human beings … but that wasn’t taken for granted during Jesus’ time. To a great extent, that started with Christianity.)

    • #27
    • January 15, 2015, at 7:31 AM PST
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  28. Godzilla Member

    Even humans who have reached maturity go through periods of not being able to think and act. For instance each evening when you are in deep sleep or through trauma and are in a comma, or medically induced during an operation you do not have the ability to think or act. No one would consider these adults not persons, as they have the potential to wake up. Just such a potential has a zygote, just on a longer time scale.

    Abortion is a matter of convenience for the adults.

    • #28
    • January 15, 2015, at 7:32 AM PST
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  29. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    KC Mulville: Why? Why do you assume that rights are based on what we do, rather than who we are?

    Again, because I think that’s what makes us morally distinct from animals. We can do and think in ways they can’t.

    As I’ve said, it doesn’t necessarily follow that we are, therefore, entitled to do what we want to anyone who lacks these features, any more than your position holds that it’s okay to torture animals because they’re not human.

    Sorry, I’m not following. We can’t just do anything, except kill genetically unique living human beings because they’re not self-aware or able to reason morally? How is that different from justifying torturing animals?

    And who among us has figured out exactly when, in the developing life of a human, he’s reached self-awareness and is capable of moral reasoning to a level that confers his human rights? I’d say there’s a huge portion of the “adult” human population with terminally flawed moral reasoning — although I don’t want to kill them for it. Not even Lindsey Graham, who must be one of the least self-aware humans on the planet.

    • #29
    • January 15, 2015, at 7:41 AM PST
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  30. Godzilla Member

    On wether a moral argument is religious, in the end analysis, yes. They are all based on assumptions that must be accepted or not. That is leaps of faith, which are inherently religious actions.

    Western civilization’s bestowing on humans the right to life come from Judao-Christian values. Those who currently reject that perspective, and want to invent a personhood, separate from humanity need to cite the rational basis from which they build this new moral understanding. I have yet to see any basis other than convenience.

    • #30
    • January 15, 2015, at 7:42 AM PST
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