Difference between revisions of "Essay talk:Why I oppose abortion"

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(Biologist perspective)
(Biologist perspective)
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--[[User:Earthland|Earthland]] ([[User talk:Earthland|talk]]) 14:23, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
--[[User:Earthland|Earthland]] ([[User talk:Earthland|talk]]) 14:23, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
:Still quoting Richard Stith - if you're going to argue from authority then don't choose quacks. [[User:Bob Soles|Bob Soles]] ([[User talk:Bob Soles|talk]]) 14:40, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
:Still quoting Richard Stith - if you're going to argue from authority then don't choose quacks. [[User:Bob Soles|Bob Soles]] ([[User talk:Bob Soles|talk]]) 14:40, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
::Talk, talk, talk - but even here you can make useful contributions and say something smart. --[[User:Earthland|Earthland]] ([[User talk:Earthland|talk]]) 14:46, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

Revision as of 14:46, 30 December 2009

Huge massive archive! Get yer huge massive archive here!

"There has been a noticeable lack of serious discussion on the topic."

Seriously? On abortion? Or do you just mean about you & what you happen to think about it? WeaseloidWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 17:49, 25 December 2009 (UTC)

I meant this talk page here.--Earthland (talk) 17:56, 25 December 2009 (UTC)
Could just be that we don't care what you think? I am eating Toast& honeychat 17:58, 25 December 2009 (UTC)
Seconded. It's arrogant to assume that because people don't bother debating with you personally that they have no interest in or opinion on the issue and no confidence in their convictions. This is a very divisive issue & most people have strong opinions. Your essays are not likely to change their opinions, & most people can recognise that they're not likely to change yours. WeaseloidWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 18:04, 25 December 2009 (UTC)
Toast:Yep, I think you're absolutely right. And yes, I put that sign up because people don't bother debating me but still come here to say that "they have heard all of it for thousand's of times" or that I'm a "troll" or that if I don't like abortion then I shouldn't have one, which is arrogant and stupid.--Earthland (talk) 18:49, 25 December 2009 (UTC)
LOL. That is all. WeaseloidWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 19:04, 25 December 2009 (UTC)
A more exact wording makes you "laughing out loud"?--Earthland (talk) 20:08, 25 December 2009 (UTC)
In this case, yes. There's a huge difference in meaning. Why is it so important to you for people to debate about what you believe rather than what they do? WeaseloidWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 20:13, 25 December 2009 (UTC)
I never meant to say that people don't discuss the topic of abortion seriously. But there has been no serious discussion on this talk page, and yet it's not empty - simply full of garbage that I'd like not to see, and that's why I put up that sign (and corrected the wording) --Earthland (talk) 20:17, 25 December 2009 (UTC)
Regarding "garbage that I'd like not to see", see my comments in the section below. You can't control what other people say any more than you can control what they think. Personally, I'll be happy not to comment on any of your essay talk pages again. WeaseloidWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 20:31, 25 December 2009 (UTC)

Biologist perspective

This is a great pre-festivities topic for me, so I decided to chime in. I want to start by saying that I am heavily bias (in that I think we should stay the fuck out of people's lives unless they need help). I am pro-choice for several reasons:

  • Like stated above, I want to stay out of people's lives.
  • Since history tells us that expectant mothers are going to get abortions anyways, I'd prefer a MD does them so as not to terminate the mother's life as well.
  • If a mother is willing to go through with the procedure, she obviously feels the child is not going to be well taken care of (point: there are worst things in life than death).
  • It's not my damn body.
  • Added bonus: it pisses off the far-right.

The biology textbook definition of life is that it starts at birth and ends at death. The reason for this classification is there is a marked difference (especially in the animal world) between a fetus and an infant. The trouble with defining life outside of the scientific definition is that there is no clear place that it starts. If a zygote is "life", then so is a gamete. If a gamete is alive, you're murdering human life every time you shed a skin cell.

A point was attempted to be made earlier that a baby could theoretically be alive without ever having been in a womb. Problem is, that isn't a natural life, that is an artificial life (created using artificial means) and, therefore, the definition of life is going to be different there. I've noticed that straw-man in use before in a debate and lament the fact that the biologist didn't go after the person using that in debate. The distinction between natural and artificial is being blurred and we need to separate the two very different concepts.δij^{i.broke.it.} 19:15, 25 December 2009 (UTC)

Could it be that you are a parodist or you simply didn't read the essay but still "chimed in"? As I've addressed all these questions in my essay, then maybe you actually want to read it? --Earthland (talk) 20:07, 25 December 2009 (UTC)
Earthland, what the hell are you looking for here? Check the other personal essays & their talk pages. There are very few which have run to eighteen sections of discussion. & Yet you seem disappointed with the level of debate here. You are contemptuous of anyone whose attitude is "I've heard it all for thousands of times and I could easily refute everything you said, but I won't", & yet, when somebody disagrees with you, your own attitude is "I've heard it all for thousands of times and I could easily refute everything you said, but I won't". Think about why editors might find it a waste of time to debate with you. WeaseloidWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 20:22, 25 December 2009 (UTC)
I don't care how much people talk about my essay ... unless they talk but still say nothing, as we can see here on the talk page.
My attitude is not "You said a PRATT & I won't discuss it", but if someone "chimes in" in way that the only thing I can to is to copy & paste extracts from my essay (which is pointless) because the person obviously didn't read it ... Is it part of "constructive dialogue"? --Earthland (talk) 20:44, 25 December 2009 (UTC)
I can't speak for that user, but the way it looks to me is that he/she disagrees with you & wanted to debate the issue. Whether he/she has read every word you've already written on the subject seems to me irrelevant. Rather than assume good faith, you insult & patronise the editor, & make a wild accusation of parody. I find your attitude that you've already said all you need to on the subject & can therefore respond with "just read my essay" to be particularly conceited, especially in light of the whole "I've heard it all for thousands of times" rhetoric. WeaseloidWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 21:01, 25 December 2009 (UTC)
If Cgb07305 wants an answer...
  • You say that you want to stay out of people's lives? By that you say that the issue is not abortion, but choice. But it would mean that what’s being chosen is irrelevant. It definitely is not. We cannot let people make their own choices to rape, rob, defraud, write hot checks, etc. By definition, the goal of every law is to deny someone the legal ability to choose a particular activity. As for abortion, it is the government’s role to protect one individual’s choice to kill his fellow human beings. So the question is definitely not "choice" but abortion and what it actually means.
  • Your second point. I've probably said that for countless times for now, but that harmful acts against the innocent will take place regardless of the law is a poor argument for having no law. The question is not whether abortions stop or not, the question is whether abortion is moral or not. You can not pretend that the law does not influence whether women choose to have abortions - the law can guide and educate people to choose better alternatives. Of course an illegal abortion imposes a greater risk for mother, but we must not legalize procedures that kill the innocent just to make the killing process less hazardous - the central horror of illegal abortion remains the central horror of legal abortion.
  • Read this.
  • It's not the mother's body that is going to be terminated by abortion - only half the patients who go into an abortion clinic come out alive. But it is indeed not your body. But would you support a law that tells we can kill all Chinese people, simply because it's not your damn body that would be in danger?
  • "Biology textbook"? What biology textbook? Please read this.
--Earthland (talk) 21:08, 25 December 2009 (UTC)
  • "You say that you want to stay out of people's lives?"
>You accuse me of not reading and yet you don't finish reading the sentence you copied back to me. Nice. What I said was that I want to stay out of people's lives UNLESS THEY NEED HELP. Victims of rape, thievery and bank fraud all need help, no? The only person abortion hurts (potentially) is the mother of the fetus. Frankly I don't give two shits if someone wants to hurt themselves. I find tattoos ugly, disgusting and vile, but I don't dream of banning them. If some idiot wants to pay a mint to get hepatitis and screw up their skin, more power to them.
  • " that harmful acts against the innocent will take place regardless of the law is a poor argument for having no law"
>So that is how an idiot thinks about that? The point wasn't that they'll do it regardless of the law. The point was THE LAW WOULD MAKE THINGS WORST. Can you comprehend that or am I going to have to go back and explain it to you slowly?
God knows why but you seem to think life begins at conception. Personally, I think this is stupid from every point of view possible. Have you taken a biology class? ...ever?
Now I have a question for you: since you believe they are terminating human life, do you think that every woman who has had an abortion should be charge with and convicted of murder in the first degree and face the death penalty (in most states)? The only way for you to not be a hypocrite and answer the question would be for you to want to put every woman who has had an abortion to death (because that is the penalty for anyone else who commits the crime you allege).
As for calling me a parodist: I find that charge humorous coming from someone who crapped out an essay, calls out people to debate him, then gets offended when his straw-man bullshit is blown away (example strawman: "Why we never see pro-choice advocates, such like Planned Parenthood or NARAL, explaining where they believe life begins?"-Earthland Planned parenthood's response: "Most medical authorities and Planned Parenthood agree that it starts when a baby takes its first breath." (taken from plannnedparenthood.org's q&a page). You obviously took no time to bother doing any research. You believe all the propaganda "pro-life" hate groups spew at you. This is why I don't take you seriously at all. Quite simply, you are a brain-washed idiot that doesn't deserve the time of day until (at least) you do a bit of research ON YOUR OWN!δij^{i.broke.it.} 03:32, 26 December 2009 (UTC)
At Cgb07305, yes. Yes. ħumanUser talk:Human 04:41, 26 December 2009 (UTC)

Cgb, as medical textbooks and scientific reference works consistently agree that human life begins at conception, then maybe you haven't taken a biology class? (Look at the end of the first section in the essay).

What is birth? There is nothing about birth that makes a baby essentially different than he was before birth - it simply changes the location of baby: inside or outside of the uterus. The fetus is viable (can survive outside of the uterus) months before woman normally gives birth to her child. So how can it be "not alive" before birth? But if you somehow think that viability is the "beginning of life", click here.

A child’s “breathing,” its intake of oxygen, begins long before birth. I can't see, however, how it is associated with the beginning of life. It's extremely arbitrary, I could say that life begins when child first eats meat as well.

As for you first point, fetus is another human being who is going to be killed by abortion, and therefore needs help.

Law does not make things worst if the unborn are human beings. Or maybe you simply didn't understand me.

I have never supported death penalty, no matter what the crime is. Laws prohibiting abortion target the abortionist, not the woman. "Doctor" is the person who kills the fetus, not woman (and, except in the extremely unlikely event that a woman is actually caught in the act of having an illegal abortion, a conviction against her would be virtually impossible).

--Earthland (talk) 09:13, 26 December 2009 (UTC)

"Cgb, as medical textbooks and scientific reference works consistently agree that human life begins at conception"
Wrong. Dude, I have a degree in biology (animal physiology emphasis) and I'm getting my medical doctorate, I have yet to read a scientific book that defines mammalian life as starting at any time but birth. Can you cite ONE textbook that any reputable science/medical program uses that states life begins at conception? There are hack scientists out there that will publish anything one wants to hear, provided they are paid well for it (i.e. the hacks at The Institute for Creation Research), but NO ONE in the scientific community takes these people seriously. Life starts at birth. Conception is the continuation of a sperm and egg's POTENTIAL FOR LIFE. If I put a 2 week old infant under liquid nitrogen, I kill it. When I put a 2 week old embryo under liquid nitrogen, I can revive cell devision and, in 9 months, have a living, breathing person.
"There is nothing about birth that makes a baby essentially different than he was before birth - it simply changes the location of baby: inside or outside of the uterus."
You fail to see that this is a drastic change in the environment? Plus, you answered your own question, retard. What is different? The location of the stack of cells! If you fail to realize that location of cells makes a big fuck difference in biology, explain to me your definition of conception. The ONLY difference is the internal vs. external location of the sperm, right? Therefore we should believe that every mother is pregnant...because you can't fucking tell the difference between their uterus and the rest of the Goddamn planet. Seriously now. Are you mentally competent?
"Law does not make things worst if the unborn are human beings. Or maybe you simply didn't understand me."
I'll explain it like I would to a two year old:
With legal abortion: fetus is extracted from expectant mother who choses to terminate the potential for life inside her.
Make abortion illegal: Same as above except now expectant mother has to do it in a back alley and many die of disease due to the unclean practices of using a coat hanger.
Do you see the difference? Instead of just terminating the fetus, many women also die. This is why history (and reading it every now and again) is important. When abortion was illegal in the 50's and 60's in America, this is what was happening. This is why I say I don't want to go back to the way things were. Apparently unlike you, I have learned a thing or two from the past.
"As for you first point, fetus is another human being who is going to be killed by abortion, and therefore needs help."
A fetus is not a human being, any more that a skin cell is. A fetus is a potential for life. Life has to exhibit the characteristics of the species in its viable form. A fetus does not do this.
As for me: I am done feeding the troll. My hope and goal is that people educate themselves on the issue...and they don't believe the lies being spread by hate groups with a massive financial interest in the outcome one way or another. People are dirty thieves and will lie, cheat and steal to earn a buck. It's sad that, in the interest of selling books, science has been all but abandoned in the United States. People like Earthland are the gullible fools that make this all possible. I'm not sure who to be more upset with, the dishonest assholes that feed people like Earthland this crap, or the jackasses like Earthland who confuse science with personal belief and are utterly adamant about a position they can't possibly be right about. δij^{i.broke.it.} 20:31, 26 December 2009 (UTC)

Cgb, I doubt you even know what biology is, since I've never heard someone actually defending statement that life begins at birth. This is completely ridiculous and I actually do think that you're a parodist. What does environment mean? Environment doesn't change the baby itself. What is conception? After conception we have a new individual with unique DNA and that individual begins to develop as human being.

And oh well, let's go it trough again...

Encyclopedia Britannica 1998, v 26, p 664: ”A new individual is created when the elements of a potent sperm merge with those of a fertile ovum, or egg.”

Encyclopedia Britannica 1998, v 26, p 611: “Although organisms are often thought of only as adults, and reproduction is considered to be the formation of a new adult resembling the adult of the previous generation, a living organism, in reality, is an organism for its entire life cycle, from fertilized egg to adult, not for just one short part of that cycle.”

Scott Gilbert, Developmental Biology: ”Traditional ways of classifying catalog animals according to their adult structure. But, as J. T. Bonner (1965) pointed out, this is a very artificial method, because what we consider an individual is usually just a brief slice of its life cycle. When we consider a dog, for instance, we usually picture an adult. But the dog is a “dog” from the moment of fertilization of a dog egg by a dog sperm. It remains a dog even as a senescent dying hound. Therefore, the dog is actually the entire life cycle of the animal, from fertilization through death. [...] The life of a new individual is initiated by the fusion of genetic material from the two gametes-the sperm and the egg.”

Keith L. Moore (a respected human embryologist): "The Zygote results from the union of an oocyte and a sperm. A zygote is the beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm ... unites with a female gamete or oocyte ... to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual."

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.”

You can also read Wikipedias article.

A fetus is not "potential human life", because it definitely is alive and it definitely is individual human being. Even in the earliest stages of pregnancy, sonograms show movements and heartbeats that do not belong to the woman. If you mean that fetus is potential "human", it would have to have the potential of becoming either a human being or some other form of life. Perhaps a parrot or a spider. Of course, the problem is that there is no record of such a thing having ever occurred.

I actually have one question for you: How old are you? --Earthland (talk) 20:55, 26 December 2009 (UTC)

You question MY credentials, then quote encyclopedia Britannica as a biology or medical textbook. PHAIL. And deserving of mockery.
I'm 23...I have no idea why or how that matters. I will add that the only source you have that contradicts what I have said is encyclopedia Britannica. The other sources actually repeat what I have said. Zygotes are the POTENTIAL for life..."beginning of each of us as a unique individual.", "the developing human being is called an embryo" and "The life of a new individual is initiated by the fusion of genetic material from the two gametes-the sperm and the egg.” are all ways of repeating exactly what I said.
Maybe you'll understand it this way. I'm going to build a car. I have a frame, and I tack some suspension on to it. It is going to be (in the future) a car, but I ask all my buddies to come out to my garage to look at my car. Is what is sitting in the garage a car? No. Am I wrong to call it a car? No. Its a potential car, it is car parts, but it is not a car. This is where biology training of any sort i helpful. We have key words that help us distinguish between a bunch of metal sticks and a car. Key words like what I just quoted. No competent biologist would say that a fetus is a live human being. It's not. δij^{i.broke.it.} 01:17, 27 December 2009 (UTC)

Cgb, you are also developing human being - don't forget that human beings develop for their entire lives. A fetus is less developed than a newborn just as a child is less developed than an adult. But being less developed than an adult does not mean that a child is any less a human being. That’s also true of the unborn.

Keith L. Moore and T.V.N. Persaud.: ”Human development is a continuous process that begins when an oocyte (ovum) from a female is fertilized by a sperm (spermatozoan) from a male.” (1993. The Developing Human, 5th Ed. p. 1. W.B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia.)

Also, how does the "the dog is a “dog” from the moment of fertilization of a dog egg by a dog sperm." sound like "potential life"?!

Do not forget that Encyclopedia Britannica is written by more than 4,000 expert contributors and is widely regarded as the most scholarly of encyclopaedias. But want some more encyclopedias to support Britannica?

Van Nostrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia 2002, v 1, p 1290: ”Embryo. The developing individual between the time of the union of the germ cells and the completion of the organs which characterize its body when it becomes a separate organism. [...] At the moment the sperm cell of the human male meets the ovum of the female and the union results in a fertilized ovum (zygote), a new life has begun.”

Van Nostrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia 2002, v 1, p 1291: ”The period of pregnancy begins with the union of the sperm and egg. At the moment of fertilization of the egg (conception), a new life begins.”

Collier’s Encyclopedia 1987, v 9, p 121: ”The new individual is established at the time of fertilization, and embryonic development simply prepares this individual for the vicissitudes of adult life, and the development of future embryos.”

Collier’s Encyclopedia 1987, v 9, p 117: ”The fused sperm and egg, called zygote, is a new individual with full capacities for development in a normal environment.

You didn't pay attention to wikipedia either, didn't you?

As for your last paragraph...

Just think of something being constructed (fabricated, assembled, composed, sculpted – in short, made), such as a house, or a scholarly article – or take a car on an assembly line. When is a car first there? At what point in the assembly line would we first say, “There’s a car”? Some of us would no doubt go with appearance, saying that there is a car as soon as the body is fairly complete (in analogy to the fetus at 10 weeks or so). I suppose that most of us would look for something functional. We would say that there is a car only after a motor is in place (in analogy to quickening). Others might wait for the wheels (in analogy to viability) or even the windshield wipers (so that it’s viable even in the rain). And a few might say, “It’s not a car until it rolls out onto the street” (in analogy to birth). There would be many differing opinions.

However, one thing upon which we’ll probably all agree is this: Nobody is going to say that the car is there at the very beginning of the assembly line, when the first screw or rivet is put in or when two pieces of metal are first welded together. Two pieces of metal fastened together don’t match up to anybody’s idea of a car.

I think that this is exactly the way that many people see the embryo, like the car-to-be at the very beginning of the construction process. In the first stages of construction you don’t have a house, you don’t have a car, you don’t have a human individual yet. You don’t ever have what you’re making when you’ve just started making it.

It is in fact not true that the bodies of living creatures are constructed, by God or by anyone else. There is no outside builder or maker. Life is not made. Life develops.

In construction, the form defining the entity being built arrives only slowly, as it is added from the outside. In development, the form defining the growing life (that which a major Christian tradition calls its “soul”) is within it from the beginning. If Corvette production is cancelled, the initial two pieces of metal stuck together can become the starting point for something else, perhaps another kind of car, or maybe a washing machine. But even if you take a human embryo out of the womb, you can never get it to develop into a puppy or a guppy.

Living organisms are not formed or defined from the outside. They define and form themselves. The form or nature of a living being is already there from the beginning, in its activated genes, and that form begins to manifest itself from the very first moment of its existence, in self-directed epigenetic interaction with its environment. Embryos don’t need to be molded into a type of being. They already are a definite kind of being.
Richard Stith

--Earthland (talk) 10:28, 27 December 2009 (UTC)

This is quite funny, though: "No competent biologist would say that a fetus is a live human being."

In fact, no competent biologist would say otherwise.

"Virtually every human embryologist and every major textbook of human embryology states that fertilization marks the beginning of the life of the new individual human being." - Dr. C. Ward Kischer ,Professor Emeritus of Human Embryology of the University of Arizona School of Medicine, American College of Pediatricians.

--Earthland (talk) 10:31, 27 December 2009 (UTC)

There's no fundamental difference between something that "is created" and something that "creates itself", particularly when living things require such excessive amounts of help to grow (DNA, food, shelter, reproduction, not being aborted, etc).
As for the "life begins at conception" quotes, the physical and moral definitions of life still aren't the same. "Ensoulment" and "potential to be human" aside, what exists in a mother isn't sentient for a considerable amount of time, even if it's technically a unique organism. ~ Kupochama[1][2] 08:32, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
Embryo doesn't "create itself", it already is and now it develops.
Here is a non-biological example of development. Suppose that we are back in the pre-digital photo days and you have a Polaroid camera and you have taken a picture that you think is unique and valuable – let’s say a picture of a jaguar darting out from a Mexican jungle. The jaguar has now disappeared, and so you are never going to get that picture again in your life, and you really care about it. (I am trying to make this example parallel to a human being, for we say that every human being is uniquely valuable.) You pull the tab out and as you are waiting for it to develop, I grab it away from you and rip it open, thus destroying it. When you get really angry at me, I just say blithely, “You’re crazy. That was just a brown smudge. I cannot fathom why anyone would care about brown smudges.” Wouldn’t you think that I were the insane one? Your photo was already there. We just couldn’t see it yet.
Richard Stith
--Earthland (talk) 10:26, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

If you imagine development as just a sort of “self-construction,” an embryo’s identity can appear to be limited to the form so far constructed, ignoring its future development. Reframing development as self-construction does not in the end, however, provide a good argument against the embryo’s humanity. The embryo must already be human in order to construct itself as human. A non-living entity under construction lacks the identity of its final form because that form must still be imposed from the outside. But the embryo supposedly “constructing itself” possesses the fundamentals of that form within itself from its beginning, giving it a human identity.

To call the embryo a merely potential in the future is highly misleading. For example, yes, a piece of wood may be potentially a beautiful sculpture, but it gets no credit for that beauty until the potential has been realized. An embryo might not seem to deserve “credit” for a development not yet realized. This kind of reasoning is fallacious because the wood is a wholly passive potential, its form lies wholly in the future. The humanity of the embryo, however, is already present and active.

--Earthland (talk) 10:44, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

If being sentient is what makes us human, then those who are in a coma could be killed at any point during their coma? This is arbitrary characteristic, absolutely arbitrary characteristic. You could also ask when is the baby enough sentient to be human? For example, newborn humans are physically and mentally less capable than virtually all other mammals, as many aspects of brain development occur after birth and many or even most aspects of newborn personality do not emerge until weeks to months after birth. Maybe they are only technically unique organisms, and maybe that's what matters? --Earthland (talk) 10:53, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

  • "Grows" would've been more accurate than "creates itself", just not quite as neat. Anyway, my point was that the manner in which something comes to be is not a moral factor: things that develop of their "own" volition (for which things inevitably require a helpful environment) are not inherently better than things that are blatantly pieced together and constructed.
The photo development metaphor isn't exactly relevant, in my opinion. I'd be mad if someone tore up my undeveloped photo because it would later be a photo, and I want a photo; The photo itself has no moral right to exist, so if I didn't want it, it wouldn't matter. (Because it's a photo. An embryo's rights aren't so unanimous.)
Basically, I consider it meaningless to say something has the right to exist when it doesn't exist. The fact that it may exist in the future, i.e. develop into something "human", does not give it substantially more right to exist than humans who haven't yet been conceived.
As for what "human" means, that's the only meaningful question at hand, really. It hasn't been decided that genetic material becomes human the moment it combines.
  • Post/point 2, finally: again, there is I see no inherent value it something being guided by DNA/etc to construct itself. Suppose humans did not develop in any "natural" way, but were simply built by others: stopping development halfway would therefore be morally permissible, which is seems rather arbitrary.
The wood-vs-embryo theory is the same, suggesting that there is a difference in something based on how it acquires its form(s). There is no physical difference in an object based purely on how it is assembled, and things either exist or do not, physically speaking.
I suppose a case could be made for the moral right of something to exist if it will hereafter "guide" its own development (and is also sentient/human, since we don't really respect plants' right to grow or exist, etc). It just presumes the inherent importance of human intent (a common belief, granted), seems kind of strained, and isn't exactly universal enough to justify abortion denial.
  • Post/point(s) 3: While we're at it, you could suggest I might deny people's right to live whenever they're asleep...both sleep and comas are a bit different from the usual "permanent coma or brain death" example, though brain activity results may vary.
Personally, I don't see any clear distinction between abortion and death, nor between being aborted and never being conceived. In each case, a person is denied a certain span of life. There are an infinite number of people who could've lived if only parents had been willing to conceive, technology were more advanced, more resources existed, etc; this seems no better than abortions from a non-religious perspective, so to speak.
I also grade life based on quality, i.e. believe an extremely torturous life is not better than death, etc. As such, I only see so much loss in the (allowed) death of permanently comatose/brain-dead people. If the person has a chance to recover mental activity, or does have some amount, it increases the value proportionately, and so on. Since sleeping people have a >99% chance of immediate recovery, I find it rather awful to consider their execution for personal gain.
Infants are a bit difficult to place as such, since they have a great deal of largely assured life but are fairly dependent on others for it. (That, and I have a great deal of arbitrary sympathy for suffering infants/animals.) Since I give higher priority to things that technically exist, I tend to frown on infanticide.
  • Damn I wrote too much. Anyway, personal issues aside, the idea that anything has the right to exist depends on the moral belief system being used. It's completely arbitrary in terms of physical reality, which is why the statement "this usually becomes human without much intervention" doesn't make abortion morally wrong. The concepts of "humanity" and "potential/destined/incoming life vs current life" are the basis of abortion discussions (ideally) and are pretty ancient, convoluted branches of philosophy.
I should probably say something else, but I'm going to sleep instead. Hope this is readable, in various ways. ~ Kupochama[1][2] 10:11, 29 December 2009 (UTC)

"things that develop of their "own" volition (for which things inevitably require a helpful environment) are not inherently better than things that are blatantly pieced together and constructed."

I can't follow you. I mean, "better"? The argument was not that an embryo is better than something that is being constructed, the argument was that embryo does not need to become human being because it already is. But, logically, there is a radical difference between things that are constructed and things that already exist and are simply developing.

The central argument against abortion is equivalent to the following logical syllogism:

  • First premise: It is wrong to take innocent human life.
  • Second premise: From conception onwards, the embryo or fetus is innocent, human and alive.
  • Conclusion: It is wrong to take the life of the embryo or fetus.

Those who do not generally think abortion is wrong attack the second premise, suggesting that the fetus becomes a "human" or "alive" at some point after conception. Therefore, the beginning of human life is the heart of the abortion debate.

And I think you got it all wrong, awfully wrong, if you thought that the argument was "it is wrong to take the life of the embryo because it comes to be human trough development not trough construction". The argument was that an embryo does not need to "become" human because it already is human; it already is a definite kind of being.

If you agree that from the moment of conception we have a "technically unique organism", you can't say that this is not a human being. If it is technically a human individual, it doesn't become a "real" human by getting older and bigger; whatever is human is human from the beginning (here lies the difference between construction and development).

Even you require a helpful environment - you need oxygen, food and a lot more stuff around you all the time. However, it is ridiculous to say that you are constructed by food and oxygen...

I'm simply so bored to write more....

--Earthland (talk) 20:14, 29 December 2009 (UTC)

Perhaps "better" wasn't the right term. My position is that the organism that exists during the early stages of pregnancy is not a human. It becomes human gradually during its development. Regardless of whether it is "constructed", it is what it currently is; it does not have a claim to its future self any more than the metal on a construction line is already a car, etc (nor is either's development guaranteed in any way). There is no physical connection between an entity's past and future selves. If an embryo dies, I consider it something of a shame because the person it might have been never actually came to be.
For the record, I disagree with the first premise, too...mostly because of the terms "innocent" and "human", but still. It's also pretty accurate to say I'm constructed of food and oxygen, since very little (if any) of my body is made of the same pieces it was before I was born; this is another issue with defining living things. ~ Kupochama[1][2] 02:26, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

Scientifically speaking, you have been a zygote yourself. And it is impossible that you started your life as something nonhuman and then became human.

Or well, even if the unborn "gradually" becomes human, I suppose there still must be some point when it its "enough human" to have a right to life? Let's go trough some traditionally suggested "benchmarks":

  • The fetus is enough human when it "looks human". But appearance is not a sufficient or even a necessary condition for determining what is or is not fully human. Mannequins in stores resemble humans and they are not even remotely human. And at the same time some might think that human oddities such as the elephant man or the bearded woman closely resemble nonhuman primates, but they are fully human. They are functioning individual organisms that genetically belong to the species Homo sapiens. An early embryo, though not looking like a newborn, does look exactly like a human ought to look at this stage of his or her development!
  • "Quickening" - the first movement of the unborn felt by her mother. Current biology demonstrated that a biologically living human individual is present from conception. (Funnily, the ability to feel the unborn's movement is contingent upon the amount of the mother's body fat....)
  • The fetus is fully human when the brain starts functioning. Supported by the fact that at brain death a human being "goes out of existence", and so we can conclude that the presence of a functioning human brain is the property which makes one fully human. But it still has some fundamental problems; brain death indicates the end of human life as we know it, because the dead brain having no capacity to revive itself. But the developing embryo has the natural capacity to bring on the functioning of the brain. And there are differences between a dead person and a person whose brain has not yet started to function. The unborn has interests of itself, in a straightforward, non-projective way, that go beyond the interests of its component parts—cells, tissues, etc, just as I as a living organism have interests that go beyond the interests of my component parts—ears, nose, teeth, etc. The growth of the fetus is in its own interest and is the realization of its intrinsic potential, in which realization its identity is preserved. On the other hand, the corpse has no interests beyond those of its parts. The component cells may have an interest in continuing to live, but the corpse itself has none. For example, there would be no loss in the corpse's organs, all being donated to different patients (imagine donating every living cell if you prefer), whereas in a living fetus's being chopped up for spare parts its own interests would be sacrificed. The implanting of a new brain into a brainless corpse would constitute the genesis of a new organism with its own new telos and interests where there were none.
  • Viability - I wrote about in the essay.

That is to say, since none of the decisive moments above can be shown to eradicate the full humanness of the unborn entity at any stage of its development, it follows that there are no philosophical, scientific, or moral grounds by which to say that the unborn gradually becomes fully human. For it would still need to achieve full humanness at some decisive moment. That is, someone who is fully human cannot gradually become more fully human.

In short, non-humans can't change into humans. Even if a living being could undergo a radical, essential change in its nature during its lifetime, it must have been biologically inevitable from conception, and therefore this change is not a change in essential nature, because it must be in its nature from the beginning to do so. If it is in its nature to do so, then despite any changes in such characteristics as independence, place of residence, physical development, or demonstration of mental ability, what the being is in later life is what the being is from the beginning of its life.

It's like this old pro-life.. um, verse:

You did not come from a zygote.
You once were a zygote.
You did not come from an embryo.
You once were an embryo.
You did not come from a fetus.
You once were a fetus.
You did not come from an adolescent.
You once were an adolescent.

Consequently, each one of us has experienced these various developmental stages of life. None of these stages, however, imparted to us our humanity.

--Earthland (talk) 14:23, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

Still quoting Richard Stith - if you're going to argue from authority then don't choose quacks. Bob Soles (talk) 14:40, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
Talk, talk, talk - but even here you can make useful contributions and say something smart. --Earthland (talk) 14:46, 30 December 2009 (UTC)