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

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("Personhood itself is inherent in the zygote")
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:Please find something more effective than "it's the same thing you said before, therefore I'm not going to comment it". While some rights (such like the right to drink alcohol) is up to the society to decide, the right to life certainly is ''not''. --[[User:Earthland|Earthland]] ([[User talk:Earthland|talk]]) 17:11, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
:Please find something more effective than "it's the same thing you said before, therefore I'm not going to comment it". While some rights (such like the right to drink alcohol) is up to the society to decide, the right to life certainly is ''not''. --[[User:Earthland|Earthland]] ([[User talk:Earthland|talk]]) 17:11, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
::Then who is it up to?  {{User:Weaseloid/sigred}} 20:11, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
== The BMA Position ==
== The BMA Position ==

Revision as of 20:11, 19 January 2010

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"Personhood itself is inherent in the zygote"

Prove it. You state this as self evident but it's just a belief. Show incontrovertible proof that personhood, not just life, is inherent in the zygote and I'll take back al I've said. Bob Soles (talk) 16:27, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

Let's not forget proof that personhood wasn't present before the zygote formed. On a semi-related point, the essay also gives me the impression that people who were never conceived (to the point of zygotehood) had no right to be. ~ Kupochama[1][2] 18:05, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, this is EL's fundamental mistake. He's locked into "fertilisation <==> start of all human rights" and completely fails to see that this is what Collingwood would call an absolute presupposition. He's managed to convince himself that because it's where the human life cycle starts then everything else should start there. Then he goes off finding lots of supporting quotes which are either from heavy duty pro-life web sites or are supporting 'life cycle starts at conception' as opposed to 'all human rights start at conception' and this reinforces the illusion that this it the one and only truth, not a belief with no logical foundation. I notice that he's not responding to any of the latest challenges but continues to polish his jobbie of an essay with Ken like obsession. Bob Soles (talk) 22:03, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
Don't try to misguide people by "it's only the start of life cycle" (and that the start of "life" is another issue). When egg and sperm unite, they both cease to exist, because what’s created is a new organism, an individual human organism, a new human being. Do you actually know what is life cycle? I can provide you with a number of definitions:
Encyclopedia Britannica: Life cycle - in biology, the series of changes that the members of a species undergo as they pass from the beginning of a given developmental stage to the inception of that same developmental stage in a subsequent generation.
Merriam-webster dictionary: Life-cycle - a series of stages through which something (as an individual, culture, or manufactured product) passes during its lifetime.
The Hutchinson Dictionary of Science 1994, p 340: ”Life cycle – in biology, the sequence of developmental stages through which members of a given species pass."
I have, indeed, found "lots of quotes" that very clearly state that the zygote is a new human being (not that "life cycle" starts at conception). Take, for example, "For the first eight weeks following egg fertilization, the developing human being is called an embryo.” (The Gale Encyclopedia of Science 1996, v 3, p 1327). It clearly states that the embryo is a living being (only a living organism can develop) and also that this living being is a human being.
Or "Human development begins at fertilization. This highly specialized, totipotent cell (zygote) marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual." (Keith L. Moore, "Essentials of Human Embryology" 1988). It couldn't state more clearly that the zygote is a) a unique individual b) a living individual (it develops, therefore it is alive) and c) a human individual.
And YES, Bob, I do think that when the life of a new human individual starts, then human rights should start there. The vast majority of people who support abortion take that position with the firm conviction that life does not begin at conception. Or what do you mean by "everything else"? Other categories of life? That life obviously can't begin at one point in every sense? Such like social life, maybe? Or sex life?
Gary Cherone, in his letter to Eddie Vedder, raises the following question: "When is a woman not a woman? When is a right not a right?"
When does a woman become a woman? When she graduates from her class? Is it her first kiss? Or when her sex is discovered by a sonogram? Is it when her brain waves are detected after 40 days? The last two ones are just as arbitrary as the first ones, because the only objective answer would be: When she doesn't exist. A separate human individual, with her own genetic code, needing only food, water, and oxygen, comes into existence when the sperm and egg unite. A woman begins life as a single cell, a zygote — that stage in human development through which we all pass. And abortion is a violation of women rights also - ca 1500 women die trough abortion every day in USA only.
Why is personhood itself inherent in the zygote? There are two different ways how we can "view" personhood:
  • Pro-life people tend to ask, what it means to be a person? We hold that to be a person is a matter of what "kind" of being we are; we refer to "capacity" and "power". Does one definitely have to demonstrate personhood to be a person? Personhood can emerge only trough the body. The preborn has no such body, but it still has the capacity for free choice, and given time and sustenance, (s)he will eventually manifest it. (If we don't dismember it first). We insist that the zygote is the same kind of being as the adult, differing only in degree. And "being a person" is a matter of kind, not of degree.
  • And then there's another way how one can look at it. What does it mean to us that someone is a person? Pro-choice people aren't interested in the power of being a person, they insists one must demonstrate his or hers personhood so that they eventually believe that someone's a real person. This sort of view can be explained in two ways
A) It is a matter of an act in which we engage that makes us persons - it's how we demonstrate our personhood. But we know that those asleep and in coma are definitely persons and they do not engage in any sort of conscious act at all.
B) We "achieve" personhood at some certain developmental stage. But here are some problems. For example, if we take brain waves, is a horse embryo also a "person" when its brain starts "working"? Or is a dog fetus a person when it is born? Obviously not. But then, why humans? Because personhood is inherent in every human being.
The deeper meaning of this kind of reasoning is not only fallacious, it is also dangerous. A wise man once wrote an anti-utopia in wich each citizen would have to appear annually before a Central Planning Committee to justify the social utility of his or her (or its) existence, or else be painlessly "terminated." It's a direct analogy to abortion. (And even the name - Planned Parenthood, Central planning committee...)
--Earthland (talk) 20:04, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
I swear, if you use vague quotes from encyclopaedias as if that's the totality of ethics again I will come to Estonia and personally strangle you with a cushion. Mindless stupid Phantom! 20:52, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
Surely you'd use a cushion to suffocate him? Thin rope or cheese wire are much better for strangling. Redchuck.gif Генгисpillaging 00:32, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
Oh sure, if you want to do it the easy way. --Kels (talk) 15:10, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
Go ahead and waste the space by your super-funny ideas how to kill me.--Earthland (talk) 18:04, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
Uh, you still don't get it, don't you? At first, those quotes are anything but "vague", and although they tell us that the zygote is a human individual, they don't tell us if it is right or wrong to kill those individuals. It's just me who says that it is wrong to kill another human being... --Earthland (talk) 08:43, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes, it's just you. WěǎšěǐǒǐďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 13:22, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes, that's what I just said to you. Never mind what I say. --Earthland (talk) 18:04, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
Linked article on homicide doesn't mention abortion, although the article on justifiable homicide does. WěǎšěǐǒǐďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 18:14, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
(Irony, eh?) I didn't even mean to mention abortion, but "...the act of a human killing a human being." --Earthland (talk) 18:20, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
Irony indeed. If you didn't mean to mention abortion, why write never-ending essays on the subject? If this essay was titled "why I oppose homicide", there would be a lot fewer objections. WěǎšěǐǒǐďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 18:24, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
Maybe to let you see that the definition "killing a human being" goes for abortion also.--Earthland (talk) 18:26, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
To you it does. Others believe differently. That's what it comes right down to: your opinion, your beliefs. WěǎšěǐǒǐďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 18:34, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
Argument by assertion. Read my essay and refute it as much as you can, but please don't come up with such assertive nonsense.--Earthland (talk) 18:38, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
What specifically is assertive nonsense? That other people's opinions & beliefs on this subject differ from yours? Or that your opinions & beliefs are no more important or correct than theirs? WěǎšěǐǒǐďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 18:42, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
"To accept the fact that, after fertilization has taken place, a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion..." --Earthland (talk) 20:15, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

One mans opinion that it is not an opinion doesn't mean anything. My opinion that it is no longer merely an opinion that you are an ignorant, uptight sock, doesn't change the fact that it's still my opinion, does it? δij^{i.broke.it.} 20:31, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

Uh oh.... maybe you noticed that I didn't even give the source, because it wasn't really that important, I simply wanted to make clear what I mean by saying that it's not just opinion. But the person who said it, Dr. Jerome Lejeune, was not just "one man", he was pretty important scientist. And he simply summarised the general biological consensus, the one that you know nothing about. Now, as you have stated that you have "done feeding the troll", that I am a "retard" and that talking to me is like talking to a 2-years old child (it's like Andrew Schlafly telling people to open their minds), maybe you can get lost? --Earthland (talk) 16:03, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
Earthland, I'm not interested in debating whether the life cycle begins at fertilisation. The title of this section refers to "personhood" - i.e. an abstract societal concept. You appeal to biological definitions of "life", "human", "individual", etc. then apply them rigidly to ethics, society & law, insisting that the same definitions must apply there too. Personally, I cannot regard the unborn as members of society any more than I can the dead, and I do not believe that fetuses are entitled to human rights any more than animals are. You believe differently. That's OK; you're entitled to your beliefs. But what really gets my goat is the way you make out that your views are more objective & rational than anybody else's, & that only an idiot could think about these issues in different terms than you do. WěǎšěǐǒǐďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 21:04, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
And I answered the question of personhood. (You seem to ignore it). And pointed out that, even if preborn are not considered to be human "persons", abortion still remains purposeful destruction of another human being, and this is also the definition of "homicide".
"Personhood" is, indeed, a philosophical, not scientific term. But if the concept of "personhood" is that subjective, then we can’t say it has begun at birth, or at age five, or at 50. And I could murder you because there is no way to prove that you are a person.
Fortunately I do not think so... --Earthland (talk) 15:53, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
You're butchering words. If something isn't a person, terminating its existence is not homicide. Homo-man (person) cida-chop. Why are you still going over this anyways? You said you didn't want women who had abortions to be tried as murderers, so you've already conceded it's not murder. δij^{i.broke.it.} 16:04, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

I am not interested in talking to you, cgb, especially if you quote-mine me (or, actually, simply tell lies). I am willing to talk to anyone else here, except you. I won't answer to any of your posts. --Earthland (talk) 16:08, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

"And I could murder you because there is no way to prove that you are a person." - which is why we have august bodies that decide who has and who hasn't got the right to life. They have, across most of the Western world, decided that 20 weeks is about right. That's an opinion with a 'lot of weight behind it - not just one or two hand-picked scientists or uptight little boys with a chip on their shoulder. Bob Soles (talk) 16:10, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

Two hand-picked scientists - well, if you can show me one - just one - embryology textbook or encyclopedia that actually states something else, we can talk about it.

The number of people who believe in an idea is irrelevant to its validity. As I've said, history is littered with examples where “the majority” simply meant that most of the fools were on one side. If the majority thinks that human beings younger than five years are not "persons", would you approve of that? --Earthland (talk) 16:20, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

They all agree that life begins at conception. They do NOT agree that the right to life, or what we are defining here as "personhood". begins at conception. Until you can get your head around the FACT that these are different and are not logically linked you're stuck with your limited world view. Bob Soles (talk) 16:27, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
And if you want an authority
'The BMA agrees that in other than the most extreme cases, 24 weeks should be the upper limit for termination of pregnancy, and the figures show that this has already been achieved. It believes that to change the law now may pose legal and professional hazards for doctors.'

So the body that represent British doctors says that it agrees that abortion is morally OK up to 24 weeks. Bob Soles (talk) 16:31, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

"And I answered the question of personhood." - providing lots of quotes, from whatever sources, does not constitute logical proof - it's argument from authority. If we're going by argument from authority then the various judicial authorities around the Western world trump whatever you can provide. Game over. Bob Soles (talk) 16:19, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

Your responses to the personhood issue just reiterate the same old argument that "conception is the only objective point". But it's not objective - just look at all these people disagreeing with you! Human rights are not something that exist physically or were evolved biologically: they exist because humans have asserted their rights - i.e. they are a social construct or a meme. Obviously they are intended to be objective & universal (that being but the whole point of human rights) but there's no consensus about whether they should apply before birth. You can certainly believe that they should, but it is just your opinion & no less arbitrary than anybody else's, however many encyclopedias you quote. & Talking about some hypothetical dystopian society where people aren't regarded as people doesn't change anything - it's just a very weak slippery slope argument, & could equally be used to justify animal rights, rights for trees, or any other position. WěǎšěǐǒǐďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 19:05, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

That many people don't agree with something doesn't make it less objective, it only makes it less obvious. All the people of the world may share the view that our flat earth satys still, but it doesn't make it an objective view.
Please find something more effective than "it's the same thing you said before, therefore I'm not going to comment it". While some rights (such like the right to drink alcohol) is up to the society to decide, the right to life certainly is not. --Earthland (talk) 17:11, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
Then who is it up to? WěǎšěǐǒǐďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 20:11, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

The BMA Position

I recommend reading this but for those who can't be bothered the conclusion reads:-

While this section has set out some of the key stages of development that have been presented as being morally significant in terms of the status of the fetus, it would be inappropriate to assume that everyone's views fit neatly into one of these positions. Many people would have difficulty with pin-pointing the stage at which they believe the fetus achieves moral status and do not believe that the fetus has no moral status until a particular stage of development, after which it deserves full and absolute protection. As Raanan Gillon has said, 'The lack of clear dividing lines does not mean to say that there are no differences: the problem is that the borders are fuzzy.' The practical implication of this is that as the fetus develops, and therefore gains moral status, the greater the justification required for terminating the pregnancy. This view is reflected in the current legislation which permits different time limits for different grounds for abortion and has also been the basic approach adopted by the BMA.

Note that here the body representing British doctors who have a great deal invested in this decision fail to find EL's statement that "the fetus achieves full moral status at conception" compelling. Bob Soles (talk) 16:39, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

From the same paper
Through these procedures, the BMA has repeatedly since the 1970s agreed policy statements supporting the Abortion Act as a 'practical and humane piece of legislation' and calling for the legislation to be extended to Northern Ireland.
The Abortion Act it refers to is the UK legislation allowing abortions up to 24 weeks. "Practical and humane" tends to imply that they don't see abortion as murder. This is a statement from a body which represents all UK doctors, not just abortionists, and it should be noted that only 20% of those doctors take the freely available option for opt out from abortions on moral grounds. Bob Soles (talk) 16:48, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

The encouragement or assistance of a doctor does not change the nature, consequences, or morality of abortion.

That I use someone's quotes does not mean that I use it as "argument from authority". To claim that just quoting somebody is necessarily "argument from authority" is actually another dishonest debate tactic - straw men.

But to claim that some argument is wrong because you don't like the source where it came is ad hominem. I think calling someone an "uptight little boy" falls under that category, don't you, Bob?

Well - you admit that the zygote is a living human individual. I've repeated it countless times that I know that science doesn't tell us anything about human rights. On the other hand - there is nearly universal agreement on the value of respect for individual human existence, and from that premise we could conclude that the dispute over abortion is solely a dispute about facts. The vast majority of people who support abortion take that position with the firm conviction that life does not begin at conception - it even rhymes, don't you see?

However, you insist that only particular kind of human beings should be considered "persons" with right to life. That is a philosophical question. Hypothetically, if such arbitrary criteria is established, science could tell us whether or not a given organism fits them. Now, maybe you are that nice and actually read what I wrote about personhood, and maybe you even respond to it, without any of your favorite fallacies? (Ad hominem, appeal to consequences, straw men and probably some more.) --Earthland (talk) 16:57, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

Yes, we do insist that only a particular kind of human life constitutes "persons," and no, science cannot tell us what "fits" what is an entirely abstract and social construct. The brain dead are not persons. The anencephalic are not persons. Blastocysts are not persons. An excised tumour, despite being genetically unique, is not a person. All you've done, as repeated again and again by so many, is conflate "life" with "personhood," and then declared things about them without a jot of proof. PubliusTalk 17:08, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
And yes, different "persons" have different rights. Just as I have no problems with five-year-olds being deprived of the right to vote I have no problem with embryos being deprived of the right to life. Acquiring rights is an ongoing process throughout the life cycle. Bob Soles (talk) 17:11, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
To quote the BMA once again "Most people's views fall somewhere between the extremes described above, with many people taking more of a gradualist approach with the fetus being seen as gaining in moral status as it develops." Bob Soles (talk) 17:15, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

The thing is, that (you seem to understand it, Bob!) every organism is identical over the course of its entire lifetime. At no point does a "non-person" go away, to be replaced by a "person", even gradually not. Every one of us has been a prenate at the beginning of our lifespan. To take this gradualist approach about "moral significance" is to say that the right to life "increases" during one's lifetime, gradually with the psychological and physical development. It is to assume that there is some kind of "morally most significant person", whose physical and psychological development is almost perfect, probably Albert Einstein who won all the golds at the Olympic Games. All other people are inferior and deserve the right to life less and less. A thirteen years old boy is morally less significant than 20-years old person. Even the hypothetical sportsman Albert Einstein is "less person" when he is tired or asleep, but "more person" when he's on the stadion.

I really don't know why I'm wasting my time by talking to a person who compared the right to life with the right to drink alcohol.

--Earthland (talk) 17:06, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

Circular reasoning. The question at hand is whether people are instantly 100% "human", and if so, whether this is so at conception. It's not a given that humanity is binary (nor that implying otherwise makes Bob hopelessly wrong/immoral).
Also, if a superhero Einstein existed, his existence might carry more moral weight, since he could easily do great things...separate issue, though. ~ Kupochama[1][2] 17:28, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

Circular rasoning - could you explain it a bit more? (I know what is "circular reasoning", but I really don't think that I used it).
One can not be "more or less human", because non-human beings do not become humans by getting older and bigger. It is, of course, possible to argue that a human being can have "more or less" rights, and it is true, as we gain some positive rights (such like right to vote and drink alcohol) during our lifetime (because human beings can be more or less developed, but being less developed does not mean being less human), but they can not be compared to the most fundamental human rights. --Earthland (talk) 17:57, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
I compared the right to life with the right to drink alcohol as they are both rights we acquire during our life cycle. Maybe I should have used the right to vote which, ask any of the Tienanmen Square protesters, is almost as important. You then distort this argument out of all proportion but yes, a twenty year old does have more moral rights than a thirteen year old. (s)he has the right to choose to use their body sexually. That's the way it goes. However, this is not a steady ramp as you so ludicrously extrapolate. Rather it is stepped and most of the steps have been reached by the age of 18. Not all, in the UK I gain lots of rights when I'm 60.
So yes, all other rights are acquired in stages during the life cycle so why not the right to life. Exactly when is a difficult question with no simple answers. Indeed, putting a hard line on it is usually fallacious, even though legally necessary. Would I condone an abortion at around 30 weeks? Normally there is no way but if it is essential to save the life of the mother... Now it's harder, much harder. It is, however, the sort of question trauma specialists meet every day and they have to find real answers, answers that work, answers that can be applied. This is why the BMA, whilst normally suggesting the 20 week cut off point, doesn't make this a hard and fast rule. Bob Soles (talk) 18:14, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
"but they can not be compared to the most fundamental human rights. " - why not? Bob Soles (talk) 18:22, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

What's wrong with all this

1. This debate does not have a definite answer; it depends on your more fundamental beliefs. Still, I think the anti-abortion side is more likely to be logically consistent, although few people think about the consistency of all their beliefs (I do, of course). I myself lean philosophically toawrd the anti-abortion side, though in practice I would allow most abortions.

2. It's correct that personhood need not be conferred at one moment, but developes gradually. The problem with this is that such developement continues long after birth; I could not say it ends until the teens at least. So, according to that idea, it should be less serious (at least) to kill a young child than to kill an adult. But I am sure the leftists would show no reluctance to argue against that; the contrary, if anything, because of their emotional sympathy. Also, almost no one says even that infanticide (i.e. by the mother, or authorised by her) immediately after birth is OK, implying that the line must be drawn before birth. But there is no logical reason to draw only one narrow line, and that before birth. It's just more inconsistent emotional reasoning.

3. [removed because I know you feminists would censor it anyway]

4. (not written for this post, but I'll put it here anyway)

  • What kind of abortion law would I support, then? I outlined it before on usenet, and perhaps elsewhere, but here's a plan of what I think is the best compromise:
    • 1. There should be no 'abortion clinics'. All abortions, for any reason, should be conducted at regular hospitals approved to do so. In the case of a nationalised health care system (which I support), these would be government-administrated. They would all be done according to standard procedures with exceptions only for medical need.
    • 2. All elective abortions (which means those not due to medical indications or fetal problems) should require a 3-day waiting period (for convenience, the first doctor visit, that starts the waiting period, may be made anywhere).
    • 3. Abortions before 12 weeks shall be allowed for any reason. Abortions between 12 and 24 weeks shall be allowed only for medical reasons (non-elective).
    • 4. Killing the fetus after 24 weeks, which shall not be classified as abortion, shall be allowed only when absolutely necessary for medical reasons.
    • 5. Exceptions to #2 and #3 can be made for extraordinary medical and other reasons (I should not need to go into detail), but must be signed by 2 approved doctors spelling out the justification for it. The number of these exceptions shall not exceed one in a thousand pregnancies.

- Fall down