Talk:Fœtus

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This Abortion related article has been awarded BRONZE status for quality. It's getting there, but could be better with improvement. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.

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A fœtus (or fetus in Americn English) is a kind of parasitic infection of a female's reproductive tract, and with that, someone on this wiki blog has finally written something that I find kind of offensive. And that takes some doing. My hat is off to you. PFoster 15:26, 16 May 2008 (EDT)

Isn't "parasitic infection" of a reproductive tract contradictory? It suggests that reproduction is not the natural function of the tract. Lyra (ميصتنسثه) 15:30, 16 May 2008 (EDT)
How about "gamete-induced tumor"? Cranial Suppositorypull your head out of your ass 15:40, 16 May 2008 (EDT)
Its a bit much, but there some fascinating research in biology about the relationship between the foetus and the mother. The foetus generates vastly complex signaling molecules to pull out nutritional resources from the mother. This are way more complex than is needed, and a misbalance between there production and the mothers response leads to all kinds of terrible consequences (such as gestational diabetes). A popular theory looks at the differential value the foetus places on "future" offspring compared to the mother. To the mother all future offspring have the same relative value, but the the foetus they are only have as valuable (at the most) as itself. So the foetus is trying to extract more resources than the mother is willing to give. Leading to an evolutionary arms race between the signal molecules and suppression of the molecules.
An even more interesting aspect is intragenomic conflict between alleles on the parental chromosome versus the maternal chromosome with in the foetus. In species that are at least a little polygamous the parental chromosomes will devalue future offspring more than the maternal chromosomes within the same foetus. You can find evidence of an arms race between resource extracting genes between chromosomes in the same organism. Some fascinating work on cross-species breeding in mice between a relatively monogamous species and a polygamous species really highlights this. I will see if I can dig it up.
So there is something to be said about the way this is described. It of course only tells part of the story but there very much is a parasitic like relationship to some of the foetus/mother interactions. Particularly from the genes of the father! tmtoulouse oppress 15:40, 16 May 2008 (EDT)
Trent, you really need to dig up those sources. Sounds fascinating and probably worth including in the article in some form. Not that I don't like the snarkastic introductory paragraph, but it probably needs more justification. Scarlet A.pngnarchist 19:59, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

Oh, Rationalwiki, my love...[edit]

This article is disgusting, reality-denying, offending and so many, many things more, I doubt if I could find the right words.

At first, "unspecialized stem cell"? Encyclopedia Britannica says about fetus: "the unborn young of any vertebrate animal, particularly of a mammal, after it has attained the basic form and structure typical of its kind." A fetus, by definition, consist of specialized cells.

..."that act as a parasitic infection." Can't you make the difference between a parasite, an organism that associates with the host in a negative, unhealthy and nonessential manner which will often damage the host and detrimentally affect the procreative capacity of the host (and species), and a fetus, who is a human being that associates with the mother in a positive, healthful essential manner necessary for the procreation of the species? Or want more reasons?

A parasite is defined as an organism of one species living in or on an organism of another species (a heterospecific relationship) and deriving its nourishment from the host (is metabolically dependent on the host).

A human embryo or fetus is an organism of one species (Homo sapiens) living in the uterine cavity of an organism of the same species (Homo sapiens) and deriving its nourishment from the mother (is metabolically dependent on the mother). This homospecific relationship is an obligatory dependent relationship, but not a parasitic relationship.

A parasite is an invading organism - coming to parasitize the host from an outside source.

A human embryo or fetus is formed from a fertilized egg - the egg coming from an inside source, being formed in the ovary of the mother from where it moves into the oviduct where it may be fertilized to form the zygote - the first cell of the new human being.

A parasite is generally harmful to some degree to the host that is harboring the parasite.

A human embryo or fetus developing in the uterine cavity does not usually cause harm to the mother, although it may if proper nutrition and care is not maintained by the mother.

A parasite makes direct contact with the host's tissues, often holding on by either mouth parts, hooks or suckers to the tissues involved (intestinal lining, lungs, connective tissue, etc.).

A human embryo or fetus makes direct contact with the uterine lining of the mother for only a short period of time. It soon becomes isolated inside its own amniotic sac, and from that point on makes indirect contact with the mother only by way of the umbilical cord and placenta.

When a parasite invades host tissue, the host tissue will sometimes respond by forming a capsule (of connective tissue) to surround the parasite and cut it off from other surrounding tissue (examples would be Paragonimus westermani, lung fluke, or Oncocerca volvulus, a nematode worm causing cutaneous filariasis in the human).

When the human embryo or fetus attaches to and invades the lining tissue of the mother's uterus, the lining tissue responds by surrounding the human embryo and does not cut it off from the mother, but rather establishes a means of close contact (the placenta) between the mother and the new human being.

When a parasite invades a host, the host will usually respond by forming antibodies in response to the somatic antigens (molecules comprising the body of the parasite) or metabolic antigens (molecules secreted or excreted by the parasite) of the parasite. Parasitism usually involves an immunological response on the part of the host.

New evidence indicates that the mother does react to the presence of the embryo by producing humoral antibodies, but the trophoblast - the jacket of cells surrounding the embryo - blocks the action of these antibodies and therefore the embryo or fetus is not rejected. This reaction is unique to the embryo-mother relationship.

A parasite is generally detrimental to the reproductive capacity of the invaded host. The host may be weakened, diseased or killed by the parasite, thus reducing or eliminating the host's capacity to reproduce.

A human embryo or fetus is absolutely essential to the reproductive capacity of the involved mother (and species). The mother is usually not weakened, diseased or killed by the presence of the embryo or fetus, but rather is fully tolerant of this offspring which must begin his or her life in this intimate and highly specialized relationship with the mother.

A parasite is an organism that, once it invades the definitive host, will usually remain with host for life (as long as it or the host survives).

A human embryo or fetus has a temporary association with the mother, remaining only a number of months in the uterus.

ETC...

"If left untreated, fetuses can develop into full-blown cases of children."

A fetus, by definition, is already a human being and doesn't need to develop into one.

The Gale Encyclopedia of Science 1996, v 3, p 1327: ”For the first eight weeks following egg fertilization, the developing human being is called an embryo.”

"A pro-lifer is somebody who pulls out all stops to defend the lives of fetuses, but not anyone or anything else."

An offending and completely untrue statement.

Do not forget that you all have once been fetuses.

This article should be moved to fun namespace, if kept at all, as it doesn't contain anything true or anything funny. As I know Rationalwiki couldn't bear at least one truthful abortion article (such like this article claiming that a fetus is unique human individual) I vote do delete it.

--Earthland (talk) 20:48, 29 December 2009 (UTC)

"when a parasite invades a host, the host will usually respond by forming antibodies" That happens. Rh pos vs. neg can give rise to it, also a woman's body tries to fight off the "foreign" sperm cells - which is why semen has developed immune-suppressant qualities. By the way, pasting in all your favorite encyclopedia quotes in yet another place is not the way to make your case. Just because I don't bother typing endlessly over at your essay talk page doesn't mean I don't think you are wrong. You think that because you can find some quotes that back up your antecedent in your syllogism, that you are right, however, you are still assuming the antecedent. ħumanUser talk:Human 23:56, 29 December 2009 (UTC)
You are stuck in your silly assertions, and unable to produce any real argument against my arguments. "Some quotes"? These are still quotes from encyclopedias, and not merely "some encyclopedias" and "some quotes", all authoritarian encyclopedias agree on that question, and almost all experts - human embryologist. But of course, nothing is enough for you if you don't want something to be true.
Maybe you didn't read long enough - new evidence indicates that the mother does react to the presence of the embryo by producing humoral antibodies, but the trophoblast - the jacket of cells surrounding the embryo - blocks the action of these antibodies and therefore the embryo or fetus is not rejected. This reaction is unique to the embryo-mother relationship.
The article is still completely false, and not only this one statement, as I pointed out above.
--Earthland (talk) 09:43, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
Calling a fœtus a parasite is ridiculous in the extreme. Like the human extinction movement it assumes that reproduction occurring naturally is wrong in some way, in this case all species. - π 09:57, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
In fact calling a foetus a parasite is so ridiculous that it's hard to miss the irony and the associated lulz intended. Only someone with his head up his arse like Earthland could possibly take offence. Whether the joke is a good one, or even a joke in good taste, is another matter. However it was certainly not meant to be taken seriously. Bob Soles (talk) 11:01, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
Isn't this an inherent problem with "humour" in the mainspace? Fun, okay. Conservapedia, okay. Recipes, who cares? But if we want to be taken seriously having to explain what are jokes and what is the genuine consensus to the reader after they have complained is rather time consuming and undermines our credibility somewhat. When we were writing for ourselves satire and parody were okay because we knew what we ment, but it does not translate well in text to others. - π 11:20, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
Fun-o-lize it. -- Nx / talk 11:23, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
Fun-o-lize - wasn't that a song by Rolf Harris (can you guess what it is yet?) Bob Soles (talk) 11:26, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
The comparison to parasite is common amongst pro-choice movement - for example, here one pro-choice author says: "In fact, the biological definition of "parasite" fits the fetal mode of growth precisely..." and "the parasitic relationship of a fetus to a woman means...". Also, the first five comments on this talk page sound quite serious...
You remind me Ray Comfort, who claimed that his banana fallacy was meant to be parody from the beginning, because people were laughing so bad at him...
--Earthland (talk) 11:46, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
Fair cope that. - π 11:49, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
No it's not - he's quote mining again. From the same link - "I'm not trying to disparage fetuses with the negative connotations of the word parasite; in fact, parasites and their hosts often enjoy mutually supportive relationships, and this would include most pregnancies." Bob Soles (talk) 12:10, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
Actually my point was badly made. Using the term 'parasite' in the article in question is obvious parody. This is reinforced as the article steadily progresses into ever more extreme positions. The article that EL quote mines references does not call a foetus a parasite but compares the relationship between foetus and mother to that between parasite and host. As such he is comparing chalk and cheese. So, I repeat, it's not 'a fair cop' at all. Bob Soles (talk) 12:54, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
Note also the implied ad-hom where EL says that The comparison to parasite is common amongst pro-choice movement implying that us pro-choicers are so evil that we consider a human being a mere parasite - in fact a quick Google of foetus as parasite fails to return many hits from the pro-choice side but rather a series of medical papers using the comparison between the mother/foetus and host/parasite. So, once again, EL is throwing out unsubstantiated allegations. Bob Soles (talk) 13:07, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

Earthland's parasite points one by one[edit]

  1. "A parasite is defined as an organism of one species living in or on an organism of another species" - there are those who do not insist on the differentiation by species - it's the relationship between the parasite and host that determines the term, not the differentiation by species.
  2. "A parasite is an invading organism - coming to parasitize the host from an outside source." - Err... has anyone told you how a foetus starts! Half the genetic information is forcefully injected into the recipient host by an invader - even if it is welcomed at the time.
  3. "A parasite is generally harmful to some degree to the host that is harboring the parasite. " - Plain wrong. A parasite does not contribute to the host but there is nothing in the definition or common usage to say that a parasite is detrimental to the host. There are plenty (billions) of parasitic organisms living in and on me - and any other normal healthy human being - right now and they certainly do me no harm.
  4. "A parasite makes direct contact with the host's tissues, often holding on by either mouth parts, hooks or suckers to the tissues involved (intestinal lining, lungs, connective tissue, etc.)." Calling the umbilical chord 'indirect contact' is disingenuous. The foetus is connected to the mother and received nutrition via that connection. The parallel is valid.
  5. "When a parasite invades host tissue, the host tissue will sometimes respond by forming a capsule (of connective tissue) to surround the parasite and cut it off from other surrounding tissue (examples would be Paragonimus westermani, lung fluke, or Oncocerca volvulus, a nematode worm causing cutaneous filariasis in the human)." But there are plenty of other examples where the body does not. Arguing from a few specifics to the general is fallacious.
  6. "A parasite is generally detrimental to the reproductive capacity of the invaded host. The host may be weakened, diseased or killed by the parasite, thus reducing or eliminating the host's capacity to reproduce." See point 3 above.
  7. "A parasite is an organism that, once it invades the definitive host, will usually remain with host for life (as long as it or the host survives)." But, during the time when the foetus is resident within the mother it's relationship could well be described as 'parasitic'. The length of duration does not affect the relationship whilst it exists.

Bob Soles (talk) 14:05, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

Uh, was it you who just minutes ago claimed that calling a foetus a parasite is ridiculous and I must have my "head up in my arse" if I missed the irony? Then why is it suddenly so important to you?
Even sharing some (but there are still many essential differences) characteristics do not make a fetus parasitic, because it can't be scientifically classified as one.
And still, there are no examples of a parasite living in its own kind in the nature. Fetus is an offspring. There is no scientific classification that would put offsprings in parasitic catagory. Fetus is a functioning individual organism that genetically belongs to the species Homo sapiens. If fetus can be called parasite, we all are parasites - actually almost every single form of life could be called parasitic.
--Earthland (talk) 14:42, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
And a foetus is LIKE a parasite, not a foetus IS a parasite. Why is it so important to me - because I dislike seeing your one sided nonsense going unanswered. Bob Soles (talk) 14:48, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
And why is it so important to say that two beings share some characteristics, if it is known that they are two different beings? You are very much like Andrew Schlafly, and yet the only purpose of saying that is to be offensive and arrogant.
--Earthland (talk) 15:05, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
Offensive and arrogant! Wow! Now we are finding out just where you come from.
Lets have one more try. The article you linked to saying that it said that a foetus IS a parasite actually said that a foetus IS LIKE a parasite. The article for which this is the talk page calls a foetus parasitic which means LIKE A PARASITE. You then go off on one of your long rants about how a foetus is not a parasite but get all upset when I point out that a foetus is like a parasite and, in both cases, once informative, once ironic, the word is valid. Bob Soles (talk) 15:26, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
Fetus and parasite share some pretty random characteristics, but are essentially absolutely different beings and one can definitely not claim that fetus is like a parasite.
Bye.
--Earthland (talk) 16:31, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
Here are examples of autoparasitism: anglerfish; autoparasitism in wasps, autoparisitism in plants, more hymenoptera.--Martin Arrowsmith (talk) 16:54, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
The links clearly indicate that offsprings are never considered to be "parasites". "There appears to be no published record of oviposition by an insect in the body of another of its own species. This interesting phenomenon, however, occurs in Nemeritis canescens..." Although the eggs of ovoviviparous animals develop entirely inside the female, they are never thought to be "parasites"... --Earthland (talk) 17:04, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
I was addressing the false claim that a parasite must be an organism of one species living in or on an organism of another species. Male anglerfish parasitize female anglerfish; Nemeritis canescens (which normally lays eggs in the flour moth) occasionally lays its eggs in other Nemeritis canescens; parasitic plants like dodder and mistletoe parasitize others of their same species, and in Coccophagous scutellaris the female lays female parasitic eggs in a scale insect but male parasitic eggs in the female C. scutellris larvae in already-infected scale insects. The male egg parasitizes and kills the female larva. This invalidates your subsequent claim that "offsprings are never considered to be parasites".--Martin Arrowsmith (talk) 19:59, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
Hey, jackass. Explain to me how a fetus cannot be seen to the like the following: "parasite |ˈparəˌsīt|nounan organism that lives in or on another organism (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the host's expense."
Please note: YOU are the one who claims a fetus is alive. If it is alive, it is certainly LIKE a parasite. One has to deny that a fetus is alive (take my position that a fetus is a POTENTIAL for life) before they can claim that a fetus is not like a parasite. Now, sit in you corner and STFU because you have no idea what in the hell you are talking about. δij^{i.broke.it.} 16:57, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
In its current form this probably would be better as a fun article. It's a clever and funny idea, but it doesn't really cover the subject in any depth. I think it should only remain unfunny if it's expanded a bit to include information relevant to the abortion/stem cell debates. Some background information on foetal development would be interesting, but I know bugger-all about that. --ConcernedresidentAsk me about your mother 17:21, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

There's a good chance that sexual reproduction itself developed as a form of parasitism - a second party injecting some genetic material into the reproductive organs of the first party. Works best when the genetic material is just 1/2 of the chromosomes and grabs a "half nucleus" during mitosis. As time goes by, the survival advantages to gene-mixing aided the process becoming highly specialized. PS, EL, what's your take on cuckoos? ħumanUser talk:Human 19:54, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

Human, that theory is not a very good one all but debunked. Sexual reproduction is most likely a continuation of plasmid exchange. δij^{i.broke.it.} 23:09, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
I wasn't presenting it as a theory, it's just something I was thinking about last night. Oh well, too bad it was wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. :) ħumanUser talk:Human 00:14, 31 December 2009 (UTC)

Mission/fun[edit]

This article is obviously over-the-top parody or satire in places, but that doesn't disqualify it from the mainspace, IMO. We have many other such examples. Really, only one editor is truly bothered by it from what I can see. "The fetus is also the subject of a cult of sanctimonious religious and political fetishism." might need expansion, but clearly moves the article into 2 or 3 mission categories (authoritarianism, fundamentalism). I'd like to move for de-fun-o-lizing (removing the template) after a bit more discussion. ħumanUser talk:Human 20:01, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

""The fetus is also the subject of a cult of sanctimonious religious and political fetishism." might need expansion, but clearly moves the article into 2 or 3 mission categories (authoritarianism, fundamentalism)"
That is to say that the only people who care about the fetus are anti-freedom fundamentalists. Completely untrue. (Did you know there are even anarchists for life?)
--Earthland (talk) 20:09, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
It doesn't say that. ħumanUser talk:Human 20:15, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
Then why is it so important that fundamentalists also oppose abortion? Religious people are certainly the most outstanding group from all pro-lifers, mainly because media likes to create stereotypes. Most religious people who oppose abortion are not fundamentalist. And though most people who oppose abortion may be religious, why is that so important? I mean, it's not like creationism or something. --Earthland (talk) 20:22, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
Oh, that's right, you're not American. It's a really big deal to the fundies here, and there are a lot more here than most other places. ħumanUser talk:Human 21:06, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

My vote goes here. δij^{i.broke.it.} 23:11, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

I support keeping it in the mainspace. Researcher (talk) 20:10, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

Revisiting[edit]

I thought this might be worth flagging up again. There's a serious scientific subject and definition under the politics that needs addressed. The satire is obvious (and funny for what it is, IMHO, although I'm also thrown reading it), but easily open to some misinterpretation and reads quite angrily - cf. the above screed where the joke makes a whoosing sound as it flies over Earthland's head. Scarlet A.pngnarchist 17:42, 30 September 2010 (UTC)

Liberal yet PC enough?[edit]

So here you go. I've not yet copy edited, and i need tons of citations, especially about the laws in various states. but i wanted to get my ideas out into the field, so everyone could say "god, Godot, you are so fucking stud". ;-) in all seriousness, looking at the talk page, this page drew lots of ire. being one that does see teh fetus as a parasite unless wanted (and isn't that always the key here), I wanted to use that language, but still keep it inoffensive enough to not send away sensitive or sensable readers in shock. --Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot 02:26, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

Every definition of parasite I have seen says that it is the member from a different species. From an evolutionary point of view the mother carrying the child is a symbiotic relationship that will propagate her genes further. - π 02:40, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
I have made my pedantic arse happy. - π 02:45, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
Sorry. i would have caught that tomorrow. I did intend to keep the "like" in there. my bad. thanksSun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot 03:05, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
herefrom colorado state on pathology, stating embro is parasite by all definitions except the "same species" which is specifically there to prevent definition of a embro as a parasite. ie., a gay marriage cannot be a marriage because they are gay, even if they are committed, the law says they are gay, and their own church says they are gay. Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot 03:11, 21 June 2011 (UTC)