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[P]
The Paradox of Fetal Homicide Laws

By catseye in Op-Ed
Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 02:47:52 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

Fetal homicide has been brought back into the spotlight, now that the bodies of Laci Peterson and her unborn child have been found. How can one reconcile the paradox of fetal rights with the right to have an elective abortion? How can a fetus be both a person and a non-person?


In California, where this crime occurred, if the murder of a pregnant woman results in the death of her fetus, it can be treated as a double homicide. In that and 20-something other states that have fetal homicide laws, an attack on a pregnant woman that results in a miscarriage can be treated as a homicide or at the very least aggravated assault against a fetus, especially if the intent was to cause the woman to miscarry. Laws vary with regard to the age of the fetus. In California, for example, the law goes into effect if the fetus is 7 weeks or older; however in Pennsylvania and Idaho one can be charged with murder for killing a fetus of any age. In some states, such as Florida, the most a person can be charged with for killing a fetus is manslaughter, because Florida does not recognize the 'personhood' of a baby not born alive.

One thing that all these state laws have in common is that exceptions are made in the case of consensual abortion. This article does not seek to debate the ethics of abortion or even the ethics of fetal homicide laws, although I'm sure that will happen in the comments, but rather the relationship between the two.

I cannot see how to reconcile fetal homicide laws and the legal right to elective abortion. (There is no reconciliation necessary for abortions which save the life of the mother, as killing another individual in self-defense is legal.) If a pregnant woman wants to kill her fetus, it's deemed an elective abortion, yet if a third party kills the fetus against the mother's wishes, it's murder. Nowhere else in laws pertaining to individual citizens is there such a paradox. If the unborn child is wanted it's a person, but if the unborn child is not wanted it's not a person? What if someone kills the fetus of a pregnant woman on her way to an abortion clinic? What does the perpetrator get charged with? Assault? Murder? Or should he just get thanked for saving the woman $500?

Some feminists are opposed to fetal homicide and fetal rights laws, even with the exclusion of consensual abortions, due to the paradox and the potential for limiting reproductive rights. Mavra Stark, Morris County National Organization for Women's Chapter President, was recently quoted as saying, "If this is murder, well, then any time a late-term fetus is aborted, they could call it murder." The American Civil Liberties Union came out against Fetal Rights in a 1996 article entitled, "A Look at Fetal Protection Statutes and Wrongful Death Actions on Behalf of Fetuses." In their article they also bring up the issue of policing pregnancies and the possible prosecution of pregnant women who drink, smoke, use drugs, or engage in dangerous activities. Now, everyone would probably agree that pregnant woman shouldn't drink, smoke, take drugs, or skydive... but should it be a criminal offense?

Pro-choice groups suggest ulterior motives for fetal rights laws, saying that conservative lawmakers are passing them in order to slowly whittle away at abortion rights, but the average citizen who supports fetal rights laws probably does so because they want someone who kills/injures a fetus to suffer greater punishment than if they were just charged with the murder/assault of the mother alone. That can be accomplished by harsher sentencing and additional or more serious charges, without the need to assign 'personhood' to a fetus.

If we want to keep elective abortion legal, then we need to get rid of fetal homicide laws. Instead, charge the perpetrator of the crime with a more serious charge -- Assault Resulting in the Death of a Fetus instead of just Assault or Homicide and Assault Resulting in the Death of a Fetus instead of just Homicide -- and have harsher sentencing. If we want to keep fetal homicide laws, we need to make elective abortion illegal.

Regardless of anyone's personal beliefs on abortion or when a unborn child becomes a person, rational people must agree that a fetus cannot be designated as both a person and a non-person at the same time, or flip-flop based on the feelings of the mother that day. Personhood is far too important a designation to be left to an individual's whim.

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Related Links
o Laci Peterson
o quoted
o A Look at Fetal Protection Statutes and Wrongful Death Actions on Behalf of Fetuses
o The Scott Peterson Conundrum
o NY Needle Attack Case Reflects Nationwide Fetal Crime Law Debate
o Pro-Choice Groups Agonize Over Fetal Murder Law
o Idaho's Fetal Homicide Law Takes Effect
o States With Laws that Criminalize Harm to a Fetus
o Also by catseye


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The Paradox of Fetal Homicide Laws | 385 comments (366 topical, 19 editorial, 0 hidden)
A Thought (4.81 / 11) (#1)
by randinah on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 12:37:12 PM EST

Nowhere else in law is there such a paradox

How about: If a man chooses to kill another man, he will get punished if he gets convicted.

Yet if the government decides to kill that man by using capital punishment - it's okay.


"Why waste time learning when ignorance is instantaneous?"
Hmmm Good point (3.60 / 5) (#2)
by catseye on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 12:40:09 PM EST

I'll change that to paradox for a private citizen. Governmental entities always have different rules. Thanks.

----------
How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]
A fine point, indeed. (3.00 / 1) (#13)
by engine16 on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 01:29:58 PM EST

One to which this guy agrees.

Ape Infinitum

[ Parent ]
Re: A Thought (4.50 / 2) (#60)
by Qarl on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 03:42:05 PM EST

> How about: If a man chooses to kill another man, he will get punished if he gets convicted.
>
> Yet if the government decides to kill that man by using capital punishment - it's okay.

Your initial premise is flawed. If a man chooses to kill another man in self defense or in defense of another, he will not be punished. Our laws allow for conditional evaluation of the action "to kill" -- so that capital punishment can be seen as in defense of society (as a whole or as each of its members individually), or simply as yet another condition. Individuals are convicted for murder, not for all instances of killing, and not everyone sees capital punishment as murder.

--Carl
[ Parent ]

How is that any different? (2.00 / 2) (#102)
by dipierro on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 06:13:23 PM EST

Our laws allow for conditional evaluation of the action "to kill" -- so that capital punishment can be seen as in defense of society (as a whole or as each of its members individually), or simply as yet another condition.

Likewise the fact that a fetus has not been born can be seen as in defense of the doctor, or simply as yet another condition.



[ Parent ]
That isn't any different. (none / 0) (#292)
by Qarl on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 09:02:33 AM EST

I was addressing the comment on capital punishment directly, not relating to the issue of abortion.

--Carl
[ Parent ]
Answer (5.00 / 4) (#61)
by Ken Arromdee on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 03:42:34 PM EST

When killing someone via capital punishment, the state claims that killing a particular person is justified. It *doesn't* claim that capital punishment is okay because the prisoner is not a person at all.

The same is true for, say, self-defense laws. Killing a person in self-defense is okay because it's justified, but you still *are* killing a person. We don't have self-defense laws which say "if you kill someone in self-defense they're not a person"--the law recognizes that they're a person and puts the exception in the rules about when you can kill a person, rather than in the rules about what a person is.

Solving the abortion/fetal death paradox that way would mean having the abortion laws say that the fetus is a person that you're allowed to kill, not that the fetus isn't one at all. If the abortion laws say a fetus isn't a person, and the fetal death laws say one is, that's a genuine contradiction.

[ Parent ]

Where does it say that? (3.00 / 1) (#101)
by dipierro on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 06:11:36 PM EST

If the abortion laws say a fetus isn't a person, and the fetal death laws say one is, that's a genuine contradiction.

OK, but is this the case in any state?



[ Parent ]
well (2.50 / 2) (#122)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 07:27:27 PM EST

California for one...

It's the whole subject of the Article.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

I see no quote (5.00 / 1) (#195)
by dipierro on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 12:21:48 PM EST

from California law where it says that a fetus isn't a person, nor do I see a quote where it says that a fetus is a person.

The law says that killing a fetus under certain circumstances is murder, perhaps, but that's not the same thing as saying that a fetus is a person. Nor does saying that a doctor committing an abortion may not be charged with murder mean that a fetus is not a person.

If you're asserting such a contradiction, I'd like to see quotes from the law which back it up.



[ Parent ]
Also war (3.00 / 1) (#152)
by Gord ca on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 01:30:50 AM EST

The nation can decide to effectively murder many enemy soldiers. Though this does have differences too... They don't murder specific people, just whoever ends up in the bullet's way. Those who surrender are spared (or they're supposed to be).

There are also difficult-to-inforce international laws that specify that nations can't go to war - unless one is about to go to war with the other (this would be analogous to the justified kill for self defence clause).

If I'm attacking your idea, it's probably because I like it
[ Parent ]

What about a false conviction? (none / 0) (#260)
by Rk on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 09:57:30 AM EST

If somebody is convicted of murder and is executed, and later that person is conclusively proved to be innocent, does that make the state a murderer?

I think that is one of the big arguments against capital punishment, but it applies against mere imprisonment too, since false imprisonment is a serious crime in most Western countries, so if some is imprisoned for a significant period of time, say ten years, before their innocence comes to light, does this make the state guilty of violating its own laws? Granted, most people who are found innocent after being imprisoned are paid compensation, but can this make up for the ten years of their lives that has been unfairly denied to them? And should this not also give criminals the right to pay compensation to their victims and so escape imprisonment?

[ Parent ]

Counter Thought (none / 0) (#308)
by CENGEL3 on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 05:08:39 PM EST

If a man decides to imprison another man against his will it's called "kidnapping" and he can be punnished.

Yet if the government decides to imprison that man against his will it's called sentancing - it's ok.

Obviously you can see where following that line of thinking can lead.

Regardless of your opinions on Capital Punishment it's important to realize that our "inalienable" rights are only "nearly inalienable"... we can surrender them ourselves by attempting to usurp the rights on another...in which case our own become forfiet.


[ Parent ]

Intentional Paradox (2.00 / 3) (#3)
by RyoCokey on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 12:47:16 PM EST

It is my opinion the "fetal homicide" laws are a slippery slope attempt to slowly swing the balance in favor of banning abortion.



"Seems to me the whole world has lost a basic virute, that of patients." - travlight
hmm... (3.00 / 2) (#12)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 01:27:26 PM EST

however most fetal homocide laws existed before abortion became acceptable, so I don't think they were intentional.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]
Check again. (5.00 / 1) (#63)
by ti dave on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 03:48:01 PM EST

I think if you research that topic, you'd find that wasn't true.
I will wager you'll find that prosecutors used the death of the fetus as an aggravating factor in sentencing, not as a separate offense.

I don't recall this type of law existing prior to the Reagan administration and it wasn't common outside of the Bible Belt.

I'd like to put a bullet in your head, Ti_Dave. ~DominantParadigm
[ Parent ]

I disagree... (3.00 / 2) (#121)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 07:25:45 PM EST

It may never have been needed to be written into law before, but I think the intent of the law to consider the murder of a pregnant woman as two counts of murder was pretty well established.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]
Well established? (5.00 / 1) (#164)
by ti dave on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 04:01:39 AM EST

Minnesota enacted one of the Nation's first Fetal Homicide laws in 1986.
That point negates your statement that "most fetal homocide[sic] laws existed before abortion became acceptable".

If what you're asserting is true, then why aren't the current laws
against Homicide and Manslaughter adequate?

The precedent was already set. The fetus had not been traditionally considered a "person" for the elements of proof for Homicide, so the legislators decided to close the loophole.

I'd like to put a bullet in your head, Ti_Dave. ~DominantParadigm
[ Parent ]

A fetus (3.12 / 8) (#6)
by heng on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 01:10:24 PM EST

A fetus is parasitic on the mother. If the mother chooses to withdraw that assistance then that's one thing. It is completely different for someone else to remove the parasite without consent of the parasite or the host.

When does it stop being a foetus? (3.00 / 2) (#7)
by Peter Vile on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 01:15:46 PM EST

And start being a small human?

Withdrawing assistance after birth is generally treated as murder.  You are held responsible for the survival of your children.  At precisely what point before birth do you think that starts applying?

---
rusty made nowhere near $80K this year for posting diaries about how fucking great it is spending our money.
[ Parent ]

what? (none / 0) (#14)
by heng on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 01:30:36 PM EST

I'm not debating whether or not the withdrawing of assistance is murder, or whether the mother has the right to abort (those views are irrelevant). I'm simply pointing out the difference between the mother aborting the fetus and someone else doing it without her consent. It's quite a clear difference.

[ Parent ]
Yes, but... (none / 0) (#20)
by catseye on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 01:47:22 PM EST

Laws acknowledge consent issues in almost everything. You can humanely kill your own pet, but someone else can't shoot your pet. You can throw away your possessions, but someone else can't steal them.

The key here is that in the above examples, we're talking about property, not a person. If it is a person, then by our current laws against murder, the mother shouldn't be allowed to kill it any more than she can kill her 5 year old child.

If it's not a person, then someone who does kill it cannot be charged with murder, but should instead be charged with a different crime.

----------
How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]

A person (none / 0) (#381)
by ckaminski on Thu May 01, 2003 at 05:31:43 PM EST

While I'm not pro-abortion, I am certainly pro-choice, and I've commonly held the view that until said fetus is disconnected from it's mother's umbilical cord, it is nothing more than an extra organ causing her bloated weight, pain, headaches and morning sickness.

Until such time, the mother can chose to abort at any time.  Hence the legality of the so-called "partial birth abortions".  While I detest them, I accept them.  Attempting to define when exactly a fetus becomes a human is literally asking us to play god with something that we barely understand.  So we pick a relatively macrocosmic event (severing the umbilical) as a determinant.  

And I'm not sure I want it any other way.  

[ Parent ]

but in other cases that's not acknowledged (3.00 / 2) (#39)
by Delirium on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:26:54 PM EST

If a mother kills her 1-year-old child (either directly or by withdrawing support, such as food), she is considered guilty of murder, exactly the same as if she had killed someone else's children (sometimes it's even considered worse). Why is there a difference in the case of a fetus that doesn't exist in the case of a small child?

[ Parent ]
As for today, this one is easy (none / 0) (#51)
by tetsuwan on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:47:10 PM EST

The only one that can sustain the life of a 15 week old fetus is the mother, no-one else will do. Anyone can keep the 1 year old child alive, its survival is not depending on one specific person.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

there are still obligations though (5.00 / 1) (#67)
by Delirium on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 04:15:27 PM EST

Even with a 1-year-old child, others can support it, but the parents are legally obligated to do so (unless they agree to put the child up for adoption). For example, a father is not the only one who can support his child, but he is legally required to make child support payments, even if he doesn't want the child and would rather have it put up for adoption. I don't see why forcing the mother to support a child against her will should be any different; in both cases, it's a parental obligation.

[ Parent ]
It is different (1.00 / 1) (#98)
by dipierro on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 06:01:44 PM EST

For example, a father is not the only one who can support his child, but he is legally required to make child support payments, even if he doesn't want the child and would rather have it put up for adoption.

But he won't be charged with murder for refusing to pay child support.

I don't see why forcing the mother to support a child against her will should be any different; in both cases, it's a parental obligation.

So women who commit abortion should be charged with refusing to pay child support?

It is different. That's why the law is different.



[ Parent ]
I wasn't arguing it was identical (5.00 / 2) (#105)
by Delirium on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 06:20:16 PM EST

Merely that both are an instance of refusing to provide support to one's offspring. Clearly they're different instances, but I don't see why one (abortion) should be permissible, while the other (declining to monetarily support your child) is impermissible.

[ Parent ]
Child Support vs murder (none / 0) (#270)
by mcgrew on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 02:31:43 PM EST

But he won't be charged with murder for refusing to pay child support

No, and ironically (and pathetically) there are men spending longer prison terms for non-support than some murderers.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Genetic obligations (5.00 / 2) (#17)
by engine16 on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 01:35:26 PM EST

are outmoded. If there is no better reason available for caring for children, then there is little reason to care for children. We either need to accept that we are animals and move back into caves or we need to develop genuine reasons for the things we do. Nature does not care if your child survives -- until we determine the genuine reasons why we do, no valid answers can be found for such conundrums.

Ape Infinitum

[ Parent ]
when it stops being parasitic (none / 0) (#9)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 01:19:10 PM EST

a mother is still held responsible... so I'm not sure how that can be supportive.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]
by the way... (5.00 / 1) (#11)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 01:25:55 PM EST

calling a fetus a 'parisite' aknowledges that it is a seperate entity, a seperate human entity at that, which would be the same as me killing the hobo who I found sifting through my garbage...

the 'parasite' argument is not a good pro-choice argument.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

of course it is (none / 0) (#16)
by heng on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 01:34:56 PM EST

It is a seperate entity, but it's not a developed human, so its not a seperate human entity. If you kick out the hobo, he/she will not die. If you reject the fetus, it will die. Withdrawing assistance is entirely different to actively killing.

[ Parent ]
hmm... (5.00 / 1) (#18)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 01:42:08 PM EST

But if you withdraw assitance knowing that it will result in death, it is actively killing.

Once again,as pointed out in the article, like all abortion arguments, this comes down to whether or not the fetus can be considered a person. Even if it can't, it's surely worthy of some distinction.

If I left a puppy out in -40 weather I could be charged (rightly, IMO) with animal cruelty... yet if I was a pregnant woman and cut off my support to my living unborn 'entity' inside me, nothing happens...

I can't support that.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

no (none / 0) (#29)
by heng on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:04:17 PM EST

But if you withdraw assitance knowing that it will result in death, it is actively killing.
no its not. It quite clearly is not active. It is about as clear as one can be.

[ Parent ]
Sure about that? (5.00 / 1) (#34)
by DesiredUsername on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:21:59 PM EST

Is refusing to feed a quadrapalegic murder or not?

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
no (none / 0) (#40)
by heng on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:28:24 PM EST

Why should it be murder. If a quadriplegic turned up on my doorstep and asked for food, it would be a shitty thing to do, but there is no reason why I should feed him/her.

[ Parent ]
that's not analogous (5.00 / 3) (#46)
by Delirium on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:33:14 PM EST

The analogous situation would be if you were the quadraplegic's caretaker and had been feeding him or her for the past three months, and then decided to stop feeding him or her, which resulted in death. I think many would consider that either murder or something very much like murder.

Furthermore, your argument seems like it could easily justify infanticide, at least up until the point where the child is reasonably self-sufficient.

[ Parent ]

what if... (5.00 / 1) (#47)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:35:05 PM EST

that quad was under your care... let's say he's your son...

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]
hmm... (none / 0) (#41)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:28:57 PM EST

I'd say that although you may think so, the law clearly disagrees with you.

Quick Google Search


It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

no (none / 0) (#48)
by heng on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:36:30 PM EST

there is nothing on the page detailing the choice not to assist. Even if I lived in Utah (or indeed the US) then that wouldn't make not doing something an action, regardless of what the law said (if it said that - which it doesn't seem to).

[ Parent ]
are you dense? (none / 0) (#50)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:46:35 PM EST

I don't live in Utah (or the US) either, but this is pretty standard stuff:

acting under circumstances evidencing a depraved indifference to human life

Withdrawing assistance to someone under your care is acting with an indifference to human life...

or homocide.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

who said anything about care? n/t (none / 0) (#53)
by heng on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 03:07:56 PM EST



[ Parent ]
you did (5.00 / 1) (#54)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 03:15:27 PM EST

If you reject the fetus, it will die

your words not mine.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

That's sometimes legal (none / 0) (#93)
by dipierro on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:55:20 PM EST

which would be the same as me killing the hobo who I found sifting through my garbage...

In Texas you're allowed to do that.



[ Parent ]
How do you jump.. (5.00 / 1) (#116)
by Kwil on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 07:04:42 PM EST

from this:
that it is a seperate entity

to this:

a seperate human entity

In the space of a comma when that very issue is the one that is so much in debate?

Or do you just figure if you gloss over it fast enough, most people won't notice?

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
what jump? (5.00 / 1) (#120)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 07:23:09 PM EST

In this case, the word human is an adjective.

It is a seperate entity. It is a seperate human entity.

I added it the second time round to underline the fact that the 'parasite' is actually the same species as the host.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

US Centric (3.80 / 5) (#8)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 01:17:49 PM EST

I remember a few years back there was a case in Winnipeg, Canada that brought up this exact same legal paradox.

I'm too lazy to link, but as I remember it, a disturbed mother to be was charged with attemped murder for trying to kill (abort) her unborn baby with a pellet gun. (I told you she was disturbed)

Long story short, the justice in that case sited Canada's abortion laws (or lack of one, actually) in absolving her of the offence, because the unborn baby was not a person in the eyes of the law, hence cannot be murdered.

There was an uproar for a bit, but most of the attention from pro-women groups shifted to the plight of the mother, rather the nearly brain damaged child to be. I believe the child was born and adopted.

Of course, I think this just highlights an interesting paradox in the Pro-Choice position, really...

Of course, most (I must say most, since I am not included) Pro-Life positions are equally paradoxical, since these tend to be the same folk that support capital punishment...

Either way, a decent explination has yet to be given to me to support abortion or CP, so in this case, the paradox doesn't affect my views.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown

Justification for abortion... (none / 0) (#87)
by tang gnat on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:39:37 PM EST

Suppose we have some single mother who was stupid enough to get pregnant. She suddenly gains a shred of intelligence and realises the huge impact that a child will make on her life. TT To restore her previous freedom, she destroys the baby. How is that not a justification?

[ Parent ]
well... (3.66 / 3) (#117)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 07:06:50 PM EST

the mother's own stupidity does not justify killing a baby.

just my opinion.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Well, think about it... (3.00 / 2) (#124)
by Verax on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 07:34:48 PM EST

She suddenly gains a shred of intelligence and realises the huge impact that a child will make on her life.

Suppose this realization occurred to her after the baby was born. Would she still be justified in killing the baby?

You seem to ingore the choice of putting the child up for adoption. This would also restore her freedom without staining it with the knowledge that she had allowed her offspring to be killed.

p.s. sounds like you have a really low view of women and motherhood. Why is that?



----------------------------------------------
"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
I'm just joking of course (none / 0) (#140)
by tang gnat on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 10:41:26 PM EST

A lot of people think of babies as accidents or problems or leeches. I'm just exaggerating this.

Indeed, adoption is a superior alternative to abortion in most cases, but I think at least a few remain:

  1. It's just inconvenient to carry the baby for the last few months, and then to go through labour.
  2. The mother doesn't want anyone to know she became pregnant.
  3. Abortion would save her life.

The first and second are questionable. Should her wishes of ease and vanity be fulfilled when the cost is a human life? If those three reasons are the only intelligent ones, then it makes sense to outlaw abortions except for life-saving.

[ Parent ]

I agree. (none / 0) (#148)
by Verax on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 11:38:44 PM EST

I'm just joking of course [...] A lot of people think of babies as accidents or problems or leeches. I'm just exaggerating this.

Sorry. I often don't know what to take at face value.

Running through your cases:

  1. Inconvenience of carrying the baby for the last few months and going through labor. I'm sure that new parents can easily testify that caring for a newborn is mighty inconvenient as well (waking up in the middle of the night, crying for no apparent reason, etc.) However, I don't think most people would agree that inconvenience is a reason to kill your child (although I'm sure, especially where teenagers are concerned, it's quite a temptation. :)
  2. The mother doesn't want anyone to know she's pregnant. After giving birth, a child is still evidence of a pregnancy, but she would not be justified in killing the child to hide that fact.

  3. Abortion would save the life of the mother. The only abortions which would do this (at least in the United States) are indirect abortions (such as for ectopic pregnancy), where the death of the fetus is not intended.

The first and second are questionable. Should her wishes of ease and vanity be fulfilled when the cost is a human life? If those three reasons are the only intelligent ones, then it makes sense to outlaw abortions except for life-saving.

So, I agree, the outlawing of direct abortion does make sense.



----------------------------------------------
"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
attempted explanation (3.00 / 2) (#127)
by Verax on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 07:45:29 PM EST

Of course, most (I must say most, since I am not included) Pro-Life positions are equally paradoxical, since these tend to be the same folk that support capital punishment...

Either way, a decent explination has yet to be given to me to support abortion or CP, so in this case, the paradox doesn't affect my views.

Here's my explanation, although you'll have to be the judge of whether it's decent.

The reason that capital punishment could be (but isn't necessarily always) justified whereas direct abortion is not has to do with this: It is never morally justified to deliberately kill an innocent human being.

In the case of the unborn, the direct abortion is deliberate, and the baby is clearly innocent. Indirect abortion (e.g. ectopic pregnancy) is not deliberate, and therefore is justified. In the case of capital punishment, presumably the person being killed is not innocent, and presumably the govornment is legitimate with legitimate laws. But it is also justifyable to not apply the death penalty, since it is irreversable, and too many criminal cases are not very clear.



----------------------------------------------
"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
I don't agree with you... (none / 0) (#207)
by Run4YourLives on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 02:30:02 PM EST

but I modded you up because truth vs death is mod-storming.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]
Thanks and ... (none / 0) (#238)
by Verax on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 12:16:31 AM EST

You may have noticed that I have modded you up as well. However, in most, if not all cases, I actually did agree with you.



----------------------------------------------
"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
But that was the point (4.00 / 6) (#15)
by the on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 01:32:59 PM EST

rational people must agree that a fetus cannot be designated as both a person and a non-person at the same time
But that was the whole point of introducing the bill - to deliberately generate an inconsistency, and hence an instability, in the law.

Things that are unstable are easier to redirect (as modern jet fighter designers will tell you) and the ultimate goal is to outlaw abortion. It's an interesting strategy but it's pretty well understood all round that this was the intention.

--
The Definite Article

Vice Versa (4.50 / 4) (#28)
by thelizman on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:03:37 PM EST

Roe v Wade established that womens right to have an abortion was a privacy issue, and that privacy was constitutionally protected. Now, a layperson who looked into the issue would discover that there is no "right to privacy" in the Constitution, and regardless the right to privacy has nothing to do with killing. But the issues were introduced gradually throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s in order to facilitate legalization of abortion.

Maybe when the world stops playing games, we can admit two things: (1) Any time you abort a fetus, you are killing a baby, and (2) there are often cases where it is necessary to abort a fetus (greater good, et al).

This is why the "a" word is such a fiery topic. One side doesn't want to deal with the concept of being a killer or killer by proxy, and the other side doesn't want to deal with the concept that sometimes its better to off a baby than force a grown woman to die.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Versa Vice (5.00 / 2) (#58)
by Pihkal on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 03:32:54 PM EST

Maybe when the world stops playing games, we can admit two things: (1) Any time you abort a fetus, you are killing a baby, and (2) there are often cases where it is necessary to abort a fetus (greater good, et al).

Except that people on both sides don't consider it a game, and statement (1) is very much under debate. You're saying (correct me if I'm wrong) that every time one kills a fetus, one is killing a human being. And what pro-choice people are saying is that every time one kills a fetus, a human being is NOT what is killed.

The problem is that legally, socially, and ethically, we are ill-equipped to handle the idea of a sliding scale of humanity, preferring to define a cutoff point between human and non-human. Catholic doctrine says the cutoff is conception. Many of scientific bent consider this silly, since at conception, the embryo is nothing more than a small cluster of cells that do not resemble a human in any way. On the other hand, by the end of the pregnancy, the fetus is probably capable of surviving outside the womb, and should be considered human. This view is like that of a house guest: you can't kill someone to get them out of your house.

The primary problem for most people comes in figuring out what is ethical in the gray, middle region. There are several possibilities. One is a view based on neural activity, i.e., that before the central nervous system (which includes the brain) has started firing, the fetus is definitely not human, since it is, for lack of a better term, "on". This is a similar situation to that of a corpse; all the right ingredients are there, but it is not alive, since there is no brain activity.

Another argument relies upon the difference in intelligence of the organism. After the brain has started firing, one may compare the intelligence level with that of an animal. As it is generally considered acceptable to kill animals (for food, to prevent preying, to euthanize old pets, etc.) one can compare the fetus to "merely" an animal, and kill it purely on discretionary terms, like one would kill a cow for beef. This has several implications, though. One is that you can make similar arguments for newborns, as they are not especially smart, either.

Another point under consideration is that of the potential of the organism. If one considers the potential the organism has as important, then the organism's current status should be irrelevant. By this standard, any abortion from the moment of conception on kills something with the potential to be human. And yet, this does not really address the concern of what exactly is killed at the time of abortion, nor of what value the standard of potential really has. To use a somewhat artificial example, with cloning technology (either now or in the future), ANY of my cells has the same fundamental potential as a fertilized egg to become another human.

I don't really see the abortion arguments as "playing games". Nor would I agree with your contention that pro-lifers do not wish to deal with the possibility of abortion in self-defense. I suspect the majority of them are willing to concede that. To me, the fundamental issues in abortion revolve around the definition of humanity, and the basic arguments arise from using different definitions. Until definitions are agreed on, debate over abortion will continue to be with us.



"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered!"
-- Number 6
[ Parent ]
Some thoughts... (none / 0) (#123)
by Verax on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 07:27:49 PM EST

I think your post is pretty well written. I realize that some of what you put forth are just the arguments that are out there, and that they are not necessarily your own. So I will argue aganst some of them, but it's not directed at you personally.

Except that people on both sides don't consider it a game

Ain't that the truth.

The problem is that legally, socially, and ethically, we are ill-equipped to handle the idea of a sliding scale of humanity, preferring to define a cutoff point between human and non-human. Catholic doctrine says the cutoff is conception.

The truth isn't the truth because we've arrived at it by voting. What if the Catholic Church is actually correct? Then we would be ill equipped to handle a "sliding scale of humanity", because, in truth, there really is no such thing.

Many of scientific bent consider this silly, since at conception, the embryo is nothing more than a small cluster of cells that do not resemble a human in any way.

The problem is that there's a conflict of interests there. It's convenient to exclude members of our species, Homo Sapiens, from the human race, if their cells could provide interesting research directions.

On the other hand, by the end of the pregnancy, the fetus is probably capable of surviving outside the womb, and should be considered human.

So many people say that. But, as any mother will tell you, infants and toddlers can not survive on their own. They require a tremendous amount of effort on the part of other people to survive. Yet we acknowledge infants and toddlers as human beings. The same could be said of someone confined to a hospital bed; a paralyzed human being is still human. So "survivivng" is not a correct metric for being human.

There are several possibilities. One is a view based on neural activity, i.e., that before the central nervous system (which includes the brain) has started firing, the fetus is definitely not human, since it is, for lack of a better term, "on". This is a similar situation to that of a corpse; all the right ingredients are there, but it is not alive, since there is no brain activity.

I hear this one a lot. The thing is that a human fetus (or embryo for that matter) is already human and "on". The cells that make up the body are alive and actively going through a morphological process. Human capabilities are potential (speach, logic, physical skills, etc.), but that potential does not make the fetus itself potenially human; it is already human. As you already pointed out: a newborn baby can't do those things, and it's brain activity is inferior to some adult animals on the planet, the infant is still human, and those animals are still not human.



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"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
The truth (5.00 / 1) (#161)
by linca on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 03:50:38 AM EST

Actually, there is no "true" meaning of the noun "Human". It is a word, a concept, and as such its meaning is decided by the English speaking society. Including in its legalese acceptance.

/but that potential does not make the fetus itself potenially human; it is already human/

An interesting argument that was used (by the catholic church) to make all forms of non-procreation sex a sin. It applies quite well to spermatozoides.

/Yet we acknowledge infants and toddlers as human beings/

It is a matter of setting the beginning of the white line. The Romans presented the child to the father only when he reached three, and up to that point the father could reject him, directly aborting the kid. Our mores changed, that's all.

[ Parent ]

abstract and legal vs. the real world (5.00 / 1) (#233)
by Verax on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 11:42:15 PM EST

Actually, there is no "true" meaning of the noun "Human". It is a word, a concept, and as such its meaning is decided by the English speaking society. Including in its legalese acceptance.

Well, at face value I must agree. However, in some sense, everything boils down to "just a concept". But, in spite of the changing law and english langquage, there are still some practical concerns. Is it ok for me to shoot someone else's kid? Yeah, "kid" is just a word, and homicide is a concept, but, the grief of the parents is just nerotransmitters floating around in some grey matter. But, in the end, we still live in the real world, and in the real world, there is more to it than that. (I lost my 4 year old nice in a violent freak accident, and believe me, it didn't (and still doesn't) seem like just "a concept".

It is a matter of setting the beginning of the white line. The Romans presented the child to the father only when he reached three, and up to that point the father could reject him, directly aborting the kid. Our mores changed, that's all.

I think that's historically accurate, and, from a purely legal standpoint, I agree with you. But I'm not talking about the law. I'm talking about objective truth. The United States Supreme Court, in the Dred Scott decision said that a black man is only 3/5 human, and therefore does not have the right to sue his owners for his freedom. So, legally, a black man was 3/5 human. But, in objective truth, black people always have been, are now, and always will be 100% human, no matter what any law says. So what I am after is, whether, in fact (independent of the law) human life begins at conception. So far as I can tell, the scientific and medical evidence says "yes".

Of course, that leads to some really horrible conclusions that I'm sure many people can't bring themselves to accept. It means that millions of innocent human lives are deliberatly thrown (often literally) into the garbage via abortion, in vitro fertilization, and embryonic stemm cell research. I think that it is easier for most people to rationalize otherwise than accept that ugly truth. I think that rationalization hurts many women and sentences many of them to lives of severe depression. I think that people running around calling them "murderers" does even more damage. Personally, I find it heartbreaking.



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"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
Which argument was that? (none / 0) (#234)
by Verax on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 11:44:01 PM EST

An interesting argument that was used (by the catholic church) to make all forms of non-procreation sex a sin. It applies quite well to spermatozoides.

That does sound interesting. Which argument was that? I don't think I've heard it.



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"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
murderer! (none / 0) (#251)
by linca on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 02:57:18 AM EST

You're killing 15 millions living, human beings, for no purpose at all! Only acceptable sex is procreation! Let sperm fulfill its purpose!

That's the gist of it.

[ Parent ]

Sources and questions (none / 0) (#321)
by Verax on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 08:32:56 PM EST

You wrote:

An interesting argument that was used (by the catholic church) to make all forms of non-procreation sex a sin. It applies quite well to spermatozoides.[... The Catholic Church's argument is: ]You're killing 15 millions living, human beings, for no purpose at all! Only acceptable sex is procreation! Let sperm fulfill its purpose!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church covers most of the official teaching of the Catholic Church. Consulting paragraph 2370:

2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods[my emphasis], is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. [...] These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom.

Clearly, the Catholic Church does not say that the only acceptable sex is for procreation; It is also for the good of the spouses.

I would also add that a sperm cell does not constitute a human being; half of the necessary chromosomes are missing. Therefore the death of a sperm cell is not the death of a human being. Your argument does not sound like that of the Catholic Church. Where did you hear it? What is your source?

Am I correct in sensing that you're not happy with the Catholic Church? If so, why is that?



----------------------------------------------
"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
Catholic dogma (none / 0) (#374)
by linca on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 09:05:47 PM EST

It is subject to regular changes. I'm talking about the repressive 18th and 19th century vulgarisations of the dogma of the time, which has changed now. (At the time, it was commonly thought that sperm was the source of human life, the seed to be planted in the fertile woman's bosom...).

With enough meddling, spermatozoides could certainly be turned into full fledged humans. The only bad aspect would be the lack of redundancy in the genes, causing any recessive illness to show.But Parthenogenegis exists in other complex organisms.

Though not enough ; the pope, with his insistance on the badness of condoms, is participating in the spreading of AIDS is many places, but mostly in Africa.

I am not happy with the Catholic church for the above reason, and many others which have to do with the way centralized authorities inevitably become oppressive, among other thing.

[ Parent ]

Doctrine and discipline with respect to time. (none / 0) (#378)
by Verax on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 11:51:06 PM EST

Catholic dogma [...] It is subject to regular changes. I'm talking about the repressive 18th and 19th century vulgarisations of the dogma of the time, which has changed now. (At the time, it was commonly thought that sperm was the source of human life, the seed to be planted in the fertile woman's bosom...).

Well, Let's be clear by making a distinction. The word "dogma" has come to take on many different meanings to many different people. The Church puts forth two categories of things: doctrine and discipline. Doctrine covers only matters of faith and morals, not science. Doctrine is true for all time, and can not change because the truth can not change. Discipline is the way things are carried out, and that can change from time to time. For example, whether or not a priest may marry.

So, yes, at some point in history, everyone (not just those in the church) thought that sperm was the source of human life. But that is a matter of science, not faith and morals. I agree that some scientists can be quite arrogent, assuming that the current model of things is infallable (most good scientists that I know don't engage in that sort of thing.) But that's got nothing to do with the Church.

With enough meddling, spermatozoides could certainly be turned into full fledged humans. The only bad aspect would be the lack of redundancy in the genes, causing any recessive illness to show.But Parthenogenegis exists in other complex organisms.

A spermatozoon is haploid; it does not have enough chromosomes to constitute a human being. Any spermatozoon would either have an X or a Y chromosome. Human beings have either XX (female) or XY (male). From a single sperm cell, if it's chromosomese were copied, I suppose one might be able to make a female, but not a male. And yes, there would the recessive gene difficulties. But then you could use more than one spermatozoon. And in that case, they wouldn't have to come from the same man, so that could be a way around the recessive gene problem. As for Parthenogenesis, that is only for an ovum, not a spermatozoon. But what does any of this have to do with your view of the Catholic Church?

Though not enough ; the pope, with his insistance on the badness of condoms, is participating in the spreading of AIDS is many places, but mostly in Africa.

Let's take a look. If someone refrains from sex until a permanent and monogamous marriage, that's a 100% no-AIDS guarantee for them and their children who do the same. Condoms do not guarantee no disease transmission. In fact, they don't protect against chlamydia, which has a significant chance of causing cervical cancer. Pope John Paul II is celibate and does not have HIV; he is not spreading AIDS. He is also not advocating the behavior which is spreading AIDS. Why not put the responsibility where it belongs?

I am not happy with the Catholic church for the above reason, and many others which have to do with the way centralized authorities inevitably become oppressive, among other thing.

Certainly, some people in the Catholic Church have done some very bad things. But those bad things have never been taught as being correct. We should not confuse the bad behavior of a few individuals with the overall group. Otherwise, we'd have to condemn the whole human race.

There are many centralized authorities in the world. Are you arguing that they are all equally bad, or have you singled out the Catholic Church for a particular reason?



----------------------------------------------
"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
"Life begins at 40" (none / 0) (#272)
by mcgrew on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 02:45:17 PM EST

So I guess it's ok to kill you ALL!

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Sort of yes, but lacks precision. (none / 0) (#114)
by Verax on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 07:03:17 PM EST

Maybe when the world stops playing games, we can admit two things: (1) Any time you abort a fetus, you are killing a baby, and (2) there are often cases where it is necessary to abort a fetus (greater good, et al).

(1) Any time you abort a human fetus, you are killing a member of the species homo sapiens. (2)Indirect abortion is morally justified, but direct abortion is not.

The Catholic Church says that it is never morally justified to deliberately kill an innocent human being. Intent matters a great deal. Indirect abortion would be an ectopic pregnancy. The baby dies no matter what; it is not within the capability of medical science to save that life. The abortion in that case is indirect, because the intent is to save the mother's life, not to kill her offspring. Direct abortion would be elective abortion, where the primary objective of the abortionist is the death of that offspring.

Indirect abortion is not really a "concession", in the sense that it does not compromise the truth. But why not view it as a concession, and move along to prevent the deliberate killing of innocent members of our species, Homo Sapiens? So, I think it's fair to say that what you've put forth is true, and the Catholic Church already agrees. (Unless indirect abortion is not what you meant.)



----------------------------------------------
"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
that is quite a statement (none / 0) (#266)
by ethereal on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 12:40:16 PM EST

Now, a layperson who looked into the issue would discover that there is no "right to privacy" in the Constitution, and regardless the right to privacy has nothing to do with killing. But the issues were introduced gradually throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s in order to facilitate legalization of abortion.

Are you prepared to back up this claim that ideas about a right to privacy were introduced solely to make it easier to legalize abortion?

The modern concept of a right to privacy can be seen quite clearly in the 4th Amendment, although of course it didn't use the word "privacy". So I think you're stretching things if you say that privacy only became an issue in the 1950s and thereafter.

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Drug laws are illegal? Yep! Don't matter. (none / 0) (#271)
by mcgrew on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 02:42:05 PM EST

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Sure sound libertarian to me!

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Or maybe (none / 0) (#355)
by John Milton on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 07:59:54 PM EST

Or maybe not all of us agree with your cynical and sterile view of humanity. Maybe when I get married, my wife and myself shouldn't be denied calling murder what it is if someone attacks her. Maybe we shouldn't be forced to put a tombstone down and have to call it a thing because the law listens you.

Food for thought


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


[ Parent ]
I may be obtuse on this one (3.80 / 5) (#21)
by bob6 on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 01:47:41 PM EST

I fail to see the paradox. In the case of fetal murder a stranger kills the subject of an educational and family project. Such intent is obviously missing in the case of an abortion.

Cheers.
well (4.00 / 2) (#24)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 01:52:04 PM EST

If the fetus is not a person in an abortion situation, why is it a person in a fetal homocide situation, and how and when does it change status?

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]
D'oh (none / 0) (#27)
by bob6 on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:02:27 PM EST

The foetus is a person since and because the mother plans to raise the child. I'm not American so I may be missing a patently crucial aspect of the American legal system.

Cheers.
[ Parent ]
OK (5.00 / 1) (#30)
by engine16 on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:10:19 PM EST

By your rationale, anything could be a person, given the plans of another to raise and care for it. Certainly there is a better reason than this, even outside of America.

Ape Infinitum

[ Parent ]
A foetus certainly isn't "anything" (none / 0) (#35)
by bob6 on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:22:14 PM EST

Legiferating is hard enough without generalizing it to anything. When (if) we're definitely done with foetuses, then we may question the cases of murdering pets (you'll notice some people already do) or whatever.

Cheers.
[ Parent ]
I would call (1.00 / 1) (#44)
by engine16 on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:30:28 PM EST

something that is both flushable and exalted, wherein the distinction is determined by will alone, "anything." it seems you want it to be more, but are unwilling discard your oddly reasoned perspective in order to do so. As long as you maintain that the only distinction between a human foetus and a mass of well organised cells, is the perspective of its incubator, it will not be possible to discredit such claims.

Ape Infinitum

[ Parent ]
It seems odd... for you. (5.00 / 1) (#57)
by bob6 on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 03:32:28 PM EST

[...] "anything." it seems you want it to be more [...]
I found difficult to parse your sentence, so notice me if my answer doesn't match your objection.
By "a foetus isn't anything", I meant you can't assimilate a foetus to an adult (nor even a child for that matter). It seem odd -for me- to treat them all with the same laws.
As long as you maintain that the only distinction between a human foetus and a mass of well organised cells, is the perspective of its incubator, it will not be possible to discredit such claims.
That's not exactly my position. I believe the well organized stack of cells is a human foetus but the pregnant woman's intent is the only distinction between a rightful abortion and a criminal murder. My stance is not generalizable because I think there is no situation like pregnancy.
Furthermore my point of view is compatible with abortion considered as a crime: it depends on one's beliefs and I won't argue on that because, as said in the article, it's off topic.

Cheers.
[ Parent ]
so... (2.50 / 2) (#33)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:21:46 PM EST

If I decide that I don't want to raise my 2 yr old anymore, it's no longer a person?

You can't change what something is based on what someone else wishes to do with it.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Exactly (5.00 / 1) (#49)
by bob6 on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:43:40 PM EST

A cat's a cat, a foetus's a foetus and a child's a child, no matter what your desires are. That's why it makes no sense to seek to apply the same laws and rules for foetuses.
It seems to me the formulation of this paradox is yet another attempt to negate the uniqueness of the relationship between a pregnant woman and the foetuse(s) inside. The situation is extremely specific, therefore we should frame specific legal tools in order to deal with it.

Cheers.
[ Parent ]
then (none / 0) (#52)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:52:38 PM EST

If I punched a pregnant woman and caused her to lose her baby, I should be charged with assualt and "causing the death of a fetus" not murder.

Incedently, a woman having an abortion should also be charged with "causing the death of a fetus".

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Why? (none / 0) (#69)
by dipierro on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 04:23:26 PM EST

Incedently, a woman having an abortion should also be charged with "causing the death of a fetus".

If I kill your dog, I'm charged with "causing the death of a dog," but if I kill my own dog, I'm not charged with anything.



[ Parent ]
what planet are you on? (nt) (3.00 / 2) (#115)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 07:04:33 PM EST



It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]
Planet Earth, apparently, where are you from? (5.00 / 1) (#183)
by wierdo on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 08:07:10 AM EST

Since we're generally speaking of the US, I'll gently remind you that in most places in the US, it is perfectly legal to shoot your dog. However, if you kill my dog, it is an illegal taking. I think something similar could easily be applied to fetuses. No matter how much you'd like it not to be true, a fetus really is different than a child. A fetus cannot survive outside of the womb without extraordinary medical care.

Before you whine about our treatment of older people, let me say that I'm completely in support of their right to choose to end their own lives, even if the law isn't. Besides, what is turning off life support but the same murder you're extending to a fetus? A fetus is unable to survive without help, and sometimes actual humans are as well...yet we don't charge the family member responsible for telling the hospital to "turn it off" with murder, even though the person may have been "alive". Similarly, given our current legal treatment of children as being without the capacity to choose, I support the right of the mother to end pregnancy at any time before the fetus is capable of surviving without extraordinary medical care.

Simple isn't it?

For the not so simple explanation, can't you grasp that a parent who does not want a child will generally speaking raise it quite poorly, thereby most likely leading it into a life of crime due to neglect? Why would you advocate subjecting a child to such horrors, when we could prevent it before a child becomes a child?

-Nathan



[ Parent ]
Absolutely... (1.00 / 1) (#205)
by dipierro on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 02:13:57 PM EST

Similarly, given our current legal treatment of children as being without the capacity to choose, I support the right of the mother to end pregnancy at any time before the fetus is capable of surviving without extraordinary medical care.

I'm not sure about that... If you've never seen a third trimester abortion, I'll tell you it's not a very nice process. I'd support limiting most late stage abortions under the same line of reasoning as I support cruelty laws. It's not murder, but I think the state has a right to stop it from happening except under extraordinary circumstances.

Now maybe that already falls under "capable of surviving without extraordinary medical care."



[ Parent ]
Murder (5.00 / 2) (#26)
by catseye on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 01:54:24 PM EST

By legal definition, you can only murder a person. You cannot murder a cat, a plant, a dog, a chimpanzee or any other life form. So, if you can murder a fetus, that makes a fetus a person.

Killing people, except in self defense, is illegal, therefore by that logic, any abortion except one where the mother's life is in immediate physical danger should be illegal.

Either it's a person whose life is protected and is illegal to kill under any circumstances except self defense, or it's not a person and can be killed humanely as people are allowed to humanely kill other life forms.

----------
How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]

Imvho (none / 0) (#31)
by bob6 on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:12:32 PM EST

If you can murder a foetus, then it makes that particular foetus a person, not all of them. I think the difference lies on the mother's intention to raise a child. I'm quite ignorant of the US legal system, however I'm fairly confident intent somehow matters.

Cheers.
[ Parent ]
intent can't create personhood (4.50 / 2) (#42)
by Delirium on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:29:40 PM EST

The mother's intent to raise a child cannot be relevant to the personhood of the fetus (or at least, I don't see any reasonable way one could argue it is). Either the fetus is not a person, and anyone may kill it without being guilty of murder (though they may be guilty of some lesser crime, such as unauthorized termination of a pregnancy), or a fetus is a person, and no one may kill it except in self-defense (or capital punishment).

[ Parent ]
Lesser crime? (4.00 / 1) (#68)
by dipierro on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 04:18:11 PM EST

though they may be guilty of some lesser crime, such as unauthorized termination of a pregnancy

A lesser crime? Lesser by whose standards? You're not implying that "termination of a pregnancy" needs to have a shorter punishment period than murder, are you?



[ Parent ]
I think it should (none / 0) (#71)
by Delirium on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 04:41:42 PM EST

In my mind at least, terminating a pregnancy against the consent of the mother is certainly a crime, but not the same level of crime as murder. To fully justify this (in either direction) would require a developed ethical theory of why murder is wrong, but a vague utilitarian sketch is as follows: murder is wrong primarily (if not exclusively) due to its effects on other people. Killing a person generally has several effects: 1) if permitted, it causes people incredible distress as they fear for their lives; and 2) it has disastrous effects on people close to the killed person. I would argue that (1) does not apply to the case of termination of pregnancy, and if it does, it applies at least as much in the case of abortion. (2) does apply I think, and applies more in the case of unlawful termination of pregnancy (since in the case of abortion presumably the deleterious effect on the mother is not a factor we need to consider, since it was her decision). However, I think it applies significantly less than in the killing of a person; a fetus is more a potential person in my mind, and so killing it deprives a family of a potential person, which is a lesser offense than depriving a family and friends of an actual person with whom they are already acquainted and have an existing history.

Of course, one might make this argument for 6-month-old children too, but I think not nearly as successfully. But the whole thing is a gray area; there's no clear-cut "this is when it's ok, and this is when it isn't" dividing line.

[ Parent ]

Well... (4.00 / 1) (#78)
by dipierro on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:21:42 PM EST

I just don't buy it. Taking away the fetus of a mother can hurt just as much as taking away her newborn child. And mothers everywhere are just as distressed and fear for the life of their fetus.

But hey, I agree it's arguable.



[ Parent ]
how about in this case (none / 0) (#107)
by Delirium on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 06:22:33 PM EST

Where the mother is dead? Clearly trauma to the mother isn't a consideration, so why is killing the mother and her fetus a greater crime than merely killing the mother and letting the fetus survive (if in fact for some reason it did survive)?

[ Parent ]
because of this case (none / 0) (#112)
by Verax on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 06:39:56 PM EST

Where the mother is dead? Clearly trauma to the mother isn't a consideration, so why is killing the mother and her fetus a greater crime than merely killing the mother and letting the fetus survive (if in fact for some reason it did survive)?

I think it's broader than just how other people feel about a person. I think it is right to value members of our own species simply because they are members of our own species. I think this runs deeper than just "they're on our team".

So, to sort of answer your question, it would be wrong for the same reason as finding an orphan who grew up as a hermit in some mountains somewhere, and killing him becaus nobody knows him, and nobody would be affected by his death. Even if we can't always articulate it, it still ain't right.



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"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
I somewhat agree (none / 0) (#118)
by Delirium on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 07:07:01 PM EST

I disagree in this case though, because I don't think a fetus is a full-fledged person. At best it's a potential person, and I don't think killing potential people should be considered murder. If it were, killing anyone not infertile would kill potential people; the difference here is only in that the potential person is further along on the path towards becoming a person.

[ Parent ]
(obvious correction) (none / 0) (#119)
by Delirium on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 07:08:19 PM EST

Killing anyone infertile would result in multiple murder charges -- the person themselves obviously, and the potential people killed by killing their sperm or eggs.

I don't think a fertilized egg should automatically be conferred personhood any more than sperm should be.

[ Parent ]

What is it that is potential? (none / 0) (#131)
by Verax on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 08:37:17 PM EST

A human infant has the potential to learn how to speak, how to feed his/herself, how to think, how to walk, and so on. It has the potential to do human things. However, the baby is not a potential human being; it is an actual human being. The same is true for a human fetus or a human embryo. They already are human, from the moment of conception. Their capabilities are potential, but their humanness is actual from the beginning. They are members of Homo Sapiens.

Sure, an unfertilized egg could be considered a potential human. And because the potential human is not human, there is no need for discussion of human rights. But once conception happens, the humanness is all there. There's nothing which constitutes human being which is added from conception onward. Because nothing constitutive is added, from conception to birth, and because a newborn is a human being, so is the conceptus.



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"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
I disagree (none / 0) (#136)
by Delirium on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 09:28:54 PM EST

I do not think simply possessing the DNA of the species Homo Sapiens makes one a person; if this were the case, any strand of human DNA would be a person.

Sure, no genetic information is added from conception to birth, but no genetic information is added to a cell of any organism before a clone is born. Should, therefore, all strands of human DNA be considered actual persons, as an actual person can be created from them without any additions?

Or are you referring to something other than DNA? If that's the case, I'd challenge the claim that "nothing which constitutes a human being is added" -- in fact, essentially everything except the bare DNA is added from that point onwards.

[ Parent ]

That's not what I was suggesting. (none / 0) (#144)
by Verax on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 11:28:45 PM EST

I do not think simply possessing the DNA of the species Homo Sapiens makes one a person; if this were the case, any strand of human DNA would be a person.

I do not think that either. There is human DNA in human eggs and sperm cells as well, but they are not people. There is human DNA in dead skin cells as well. But there is more to a fertilized egg than just the DNA. A fertilized human egg is not the same as a human skin cell. The skin cell can not naturally undergo a morphological process to take on the form of an adult human being.

Sure, no genetic information is added from conception to birth, but no genetic information is added to a cell of any organism before a clone is born. Should, therefore, all strands of human DNA be considered actual persons, as an actual person can be created from them without any additions?

An isolated strand of human DNA is not a human being. However, once you've got a complete human zygote, then you do have a human being. Whether that zygote was formed from a human egg and human sperm or from a human egg and DNA from some other human cell, or the splitting of two cells (as is the natural "cloning" case for identical twins), doesn't change anything. A clone of a human being is still a human being.

Or are you referring to something other than DNA? If that's the case, I'd challenge the claim that "nothing which constitutes a human being is added" -- in fact, essentially everything except the bare DNA is added from that point onwards.

Yes, but water and nutrition, and warmth are not uniquely human. Dogs and Cats and carrots need those too. So what I mean by constitutive is what make a human being a human being. No humanness ingredient is added. The zygote is human from the beginning. Any potential for human abilities is already there. The potential for reasoning, for autonomy, for language, etc. is already there. These potentials are not added later in pregnancy. And because these capabilities are potential does not make the zygote/embryo/fetus not human. A newborn is human and has not realized these potentials yet either.

I think the problem here is the lack of clarity in my communication. But if you still disagree, then please explain to me what is it that makes a being a human being (i.e. what is constitutive) that is added at some point after conception.



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"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
humanness (none / 0) (#177)
by Delirium on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 06:48:46 AM EST

I'd say there's no clear-cut line on what makes something human. If I were forced to pick some criteria, things like reasoning ability would probably enter into it. It's true that they may exclude some things normally considered humans, such as infants, but I'd argue these are considered humans more "for all practical purposes," because they are potential humans. So I think it's more of a humanness by association or superficial similarity than actual humanness in those cases. That doesn't make killing infants acceptable of course, though I do happen to think that killing infants, while very unacceptable, is less heinous a crime than killing adults.

[ Parent ]
Logic inconsistency (depending on what you meant) (none / 0) (#231)
by Verax on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 11:00:09 PM EST

I'd say there's no clear-cut line on what makes something human. If I were forced to pick some criteria, things like reasoning ability would probably enter into it. It's true that they may exclude some things normally considered humans, such as infants, but I'd argue these are considered humans more "for all practical purposes," because they are potential humans. So I think it's more of a humanness by association or superficial similarity than actual humanness in those cases. That doesn't make killing infants acceptable of course, though I do happen to think that killing infants, while very unacceptable, is less heinous a crime than killing adults. [my emphasis added]

Perhaps not acceptable in the same sense as killing your neighbors cat. However, in terms of murder, of homicide, you are not consistent. If babies really aren't human, then killing them is no worse than killing an animal. Peter Singer at Princeton holds this view. He says that babies aren't human, so it is acceptable to give birth, decide whether or not the baby is worth keeping (whether there are any birth defects, or such), and then kill the baby if it is not. I find that incredibly repugnant, but at least it's logically consistent with the reasoning that consciousness is a necessary condition of being human. To me, this would be a disproof of that condition, via a reduction to absurdity, but he doesn't see this as absurd. At least he goes where his argument leads.



----------------------------------------------
"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
I don't think that follows (none / 0) (#237)
by Delirium on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 11:57:17 PM EST

I don't think saying babies aren't human means it's acceptable to give birth and then decide whether to keep them or not. Perhaps this is also because I consider it unacceptable (and worthy of a jail sentence not much more lenient than murder) to kill your neighbor's cat.

In any case, I'm not arguing that infants are not humans; I'm merely arguing that killing all humans is not equal. Killing an adult human is, in my eyes, a worse crime than killing a newborn infant, just as killing a newborn infant is a worse crime than aborting a fetus.

[ Parent ]

Actually I disagree (1.00 / 1) (#202)
by dipierro on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 01:15:51 PM EST

So, to sort of answer your question, it would be wrong for the same reason as finding an orphan who grew up as a hermit in some mountains somewhere, and killing him becaus nobody knows him, and nobody would be affected by his death.

Well, I can't disagree with whether it is right/wrong, but that's a moral question. As for the legal question, there is no reason to have a crime against something which doesn't affect the living. Just because something is wrong doesn't mean it should be illegal. Most people agree that lying is wrong, for instance. A lot of people feel that smoking cigarettes is wrong. But most of us don't want to pass a law against it.



[ Parent ]
Greater tragedy to the family (1.00 / 1) (#201)
by dipierro on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 01:08:52 PM EST

Clearly trauma to the mother isn't a consideration, so why is killing the mother and her fetus a greater crime than merely killing the mother and letting the fetus survive (if in fact for some reason it did survive)?

It is a greater crime due to trauma to the father, family, etc. And don't now say what about the trauma of the father in an abortion. Because trauma is not the only requirement for there to be a law. If I kill someone in self-defense that's certinaly going to cause a lot of trauma to that person's family, but it's still justifiable.



[ Parent ]
why is it greater trauma to them? (none / 0) (#210)
by Delirium on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 05:31:30 PM EST

There was no baby, they had never seen it, etc. The only thing they had was anticipation of having a baby born. But you can have that even without an actual fetus; by that logic an attack that renders someone impotent should be "murder" as well.

[ Parent ]
Why? (none / 0) (#213)
by dipierro on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 06:38:36 PM EST

Are you seriously asking me why it is a greater trauma to lose a wife and a fetus than to lose a wife and gain a child? I really don't know how to answer that, I think it's obvious.

But you can have that even without an actual fetus; by that logic an attack that renders someone impotent should be "murder" as well.

No, by that logic an attack that renders someone impotent is more traumatic than an attack that doesn't render someone impotent.



[ Parent ]
Not the comparison I was making (none / 0) (#219)
by Delirium on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 08:10:30 PM EST

I was asking why it is a greater trauma to lose a wife and a fetus than to lose a wife who is not pregnant. My reasoning was that the fetus is still a potential person, not one with which anyone is yet acquainted (except perhaps the mother, who is dead and thus can't suffer from its loss anyway). Thus the potential father loses his wife in both cases, and in one case loses a potential child, not an actual child. The only difference I see between this and his wife becoming impotent is that his potential child was closer to actually being born here.

[ Parent ]
I don't see the point (none / 0) (#261)
by dipierro on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 10:37:40 AM EST

I was asking why it is a greater trauma to lose a wife and a fetus than to lose a wife who is not pregnant.

I'm not sure you can really compare trauma there. I mean, is it a greater trauma to lose a wife and a newborn, or to lose a wife when you have no newborn? I don't really think the two can be compared.

We can't really have laws saying once you ruin someone's life you don't get penalized any more for ruining his life further though, can we? I mean, I don't feel sorry for a murderer who is being charged with a double murder instead of a single murder just because a woman happened to be pregnant. And it's not like it makes a real difference anyway. At sentencing you can pretty much sentence the same thing for a double murder as for a single one.



[ Parent ]
Disastrous effects (5.00 / 1) (#88)
by catseye on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:42:09 PM EST

Losing a baby via miscarriage, injury, accident, whatever, has disastrous effects on the woman. A web search for "miscarriage support group" brings up 400 hits.

My mother miscarried twice and was devastated each time.

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How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]

I didn't say it had no disastrous effects (none / 0) (#106)
by Delirium on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 06:21:29 PM EST

Merely that they're less. I think most people would agree that while a miscarriage causes trauma to the mother, having her 12-year-old son murdered would cause significantly more trauma, as there is much more emotional attachment. In addition, the murder of the 12-year-old son would likely cause trauma to many more people besides the mother.

[ Parent ]
Agreed. Intent can't create personhood (none / 0) (#329)
by bob6 on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 06:31:20 AM EST

The paradox assumes that the question of personhood is relevant to lawmakers and courts. I think it is not, it's an old yet interesting academic question somewhat related to what's human, etc. Obviously, from that persepective, intent alone doesn't make the person.
Otoh courts and law makers can (and are required to) make the distinction between crime and not-crime. Their position toward abortion and fetal murder raises the question: does the woman's intent to rise a children count?
I feel it does. It is a personnal opinion, from my guts, guided by my ideology. I sense however, people who accept there's a paradox don't want to say loud and clear they think that the woman's plan about the fetus inside her womb is irrelevant.

Cheers.
[ Parent ]
Was it humane? (none / 0) (#66)
by dipierro on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 04:15:26 PM EST

or it's not a person and can be killed humanely as people are allowed to humanely kill other life forms.

With permission of the owner, which this person obviously didn't have.



[ Parent ]
Regeya... (3.25 / 8) (#23)
by catseye on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 01:51:13 PM EST

Regarding your editorial post: Had you done your research, you'd understand how that particular law works--if the death is by the mother's wishes, blah blah blah it's abortion, but if it's something like this, it's homicide. There's no paradox, no problem, legally.

I wanted to answer this, but I wanted it to be topical.

I do understand how the law works. In fact, I acknowledged that in the 1st sentence of the 2nd paragraph. The paradox is that of classifying something as both a person and a non-person. Basically, these laws say that a fetus is only a person if the mother wants it. If the mother does not want it, it suddenly, mysteriously, becomes a non-person.

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How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?

The law might divide them but he's right (5.00 / 1) (#70)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 04:36:43 PM EST

morally, it's hypocritical to insist that a fetus is a person unless it's mother decides it's not.


--
Fishing for Men, Trolling for Newbies, what's the difference?


[ Parent ]
Schrodinger's Fetus?? (3.50 / 6) (#32)
by daishan on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:21:37 PM EST

Sorry I couldn't avoid the title. It seems simple enough to compromise and say life begins when the mother says so, thereby avoiding the paradox.

What? (3.50 / 2) (#36)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:22:57 PM EST

Life begins when the mother say so?

What happens if the mother says it begins when a baby can talk, and kills her newborn?

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

It's an example of something worse than paradox (4.60 / 10) (#38)
by Jman1 on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:26:53 PM EST

It's an example of the government trying to add stronger charges in order to punish someone more severely for any given crime. Calling the killing of a fetus a homicide, trying juveniles as adults, charging a child molester with sodomy in addition to child molesting, etc. They can't get away with punishing as severely as they want to for the actual crime, so they try to redefine the act which already took place as a bigger (or additional) crime. In my opinion, it's completeley contrary to the spirit of law. Additionally, this sort of thing allows the government to unfairly discriminate against the accused -- they can capriciously choose to bring more or fewer charges, stricter or more lenient charges, based on how they feel about the individual, regardless of the actual crime committed.

The Second Paradox (5.00 / 3) (#163)
by DarkZero on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 03:57:45 AM EST

It's an example of the government trying to add stronger charges in order to punish someone more severely for any given crime.

Actually, I had read about these laws when they were first being suggested and implemented, and this did not seem to be the primary rationale for the law. The primary rationale for the law, at least in the eyes of its non-pro-life advocates, was that the justice system was failing pregnant mothers who had had their babies' targeted by people that wanted to attack them. There were several stories about drunken boyfriends and such specifically targeting the womb in an effort to kill only the child and then being charged with nothing more than assault because they hadn't killed an actual person. Obviously, their attack was far more than just an assault on a woman because it did far more damage to her than a simple cut or bruise, but the law didn't allow for anything more at the time.

This creates a second paradox for the fetal homicide laws. In the rare cases that gave the laws their non-pro-life backing, these new laws would have seen proper punishment given to people that committed a unique attack on a pregnant woman. In general practice, however, these laws just lower the threshold for the death penalty and create a loophole that artificially lengthens the prison sentence of someone that only murdered one person. Thus, instead of a miscarriage of justice, we have a proper punishment for some criminals and an unreasonably extreme punishment for others... which is arguably a miscarriage of justice.

The second paradox could've been avoided by making it so that the charge only applied if the fetus and NOT the mother was killed, but then again, that would've just added another level to the original paradox. A fetus isn't a person if it's aborted, is a person if it's killed, but isn't a person again if it's killed at the same time as its mother? That doesn't make sense. And what if the fetus was killed x amount of time before the mother is killed? The fetus was a person at the time that it was killed, but retroactively became a non-person eighteen hours later when its mother was killed? That's just insane.

[ Parent ]

This brings up a different point (4.00 / 1) (#274)
by mcgrew on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 02:55:40 PM EST

What if the mother wants an abortion but the husband/father doesn't? Why should he not have equal rights?

The laws are all sexist, in the woman's favor.

If you get her pregnant ans she dowsn't want the baby, she has the "right" to abort that fetus, even if you believe she is killing your baby.

If she lies and says she's taking contraceptive and gets pregnant, you're goint to pay child support for 18 years.

Note that there is no male birth control that isn't either permanent, or requiring the consent of the mother.

She can have her cake and eat his too.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Virtually impossible to resolve... (none / 0) (#310)
by Gooba42 on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 05:38:12 PM EST

The only way for a father to assert equal rights over a fetus is for him to be able to take custody of the fetus and choose a surrogate to carry it to term.

There's no reason she should be forced to carry it to term because the father doesn't have the stomach for an abortion. Besides, if he did force her to carry it to term and she maliciously injured/damaged the fetus in some manner how does the court deal with this? He wanted the kid, if it's born handicapped somehow then as his ward it's his problem, right? Or does he get to arbitrarily decide to return it like defective merchandise?

[ Parent ]

Oh well (none / 0) (#318)
by mcgrew on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 07:54:24 PM EST

Another 20 years they'll be growing them in tanks, like Dune.

Oh wait, the "tank" was a big fat woman, wasn't it?

Shit!

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Were they sentient? (none / 0) (#343)
by Gooba42 on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 01:49:22 PM EST

Everything so far suggests that the general public is relatively accepting of the idea of cloning as long as they don't clone the human head. Does an Axlotl tank need a head?

[ Parent ]
Yes, I think so (none / 0) (#383)
by Cheetah on Fri May 02, 2003 at 10:46:35 AM EST

because in the book it referred to the temptation to RMs to become Axlotl tanks, and I don't think they'd allow themselves to be beheaded for that privilege.

[ Parent ]
Black & White, add some Grey! (none / 0) (#382)
by Cheetah on Fri May 02, 2003 at 10:43:13 AM EST

A fetus isn't a person if it's aborted, is a person if it's killed, but isn't a person again if it's killed at the same time as its mother? That doesn't make sense.

Of course it doesn't!

What seems to be wholly missing from this whole debate is that maybe, just maybe, there might be some grey area between person and non-person!  Perhaps a fetus is just ... a fetus?

Don't take the analogy too far here, but consider that our legal system punishes assault, abuse, and murder of many animals, yet these crimes are not treated in the same way as a similar crime on a person would be treated.

Also, why do laws on the punishment of abuse & murder of a fetus have to center around whether or not the fetus is a person?  It is obvious from the debate that this is a very hazy issue, probably best left to the philosophers.

Why not sidestep the whole issue and distinguish a fetus as a distinct entity, throw in some of the standard legal-isms regarding the intent of the perpetrator of a crime, and have some sensible laws.

Some ideas:


  1. Assaulting a fetus is a crime, killing it is a worse one
  2. Assaulting a woman is a crime
  3. Psychological abuse of a woman (through threatening/abusing/killing her fetus) is a crime
  4. Killing a woman who is visibly or known to the perpetrator to be pregnant, is a worse crime than just killing a woman
  5. Killing a woman that is pregnant, but not visibly or known to the perpetrator to be so, is probably not as bad a crime as if it is visible/known, but this is debatable, especially considering the effect of losing the potential child on her surviving family

As far as abortion is concerned, you can make all the moral arguments you want for or against it, but when it comes down to it, until it is demonstrably aware, it is a body of living flesh attached to and inside its mother, and thus, as far as I am concerned, subject to her will as to whether she wants it there or not.

[ Parent ]

What if a fetus... (4.00 / 8) (#43)
by McMasters on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:30:00 PM EST

..kills a person? Can they be charged as an adult?

Perhaps... (none / 0) (#259)
by snewpy on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 08:25:36 AM EST

Only in Texas though :)

[ Parent ]
Perhaps. (none / 0) (#314)
by vectro on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 06:25:48 PM EST

Though we have a practice in the US of not trying people for crimes after their death. Since it's unclear how the fetus would kill someone other than the mother, and since the death of the mother would result in the death of the fetus, you would never see a trial for that in the US. Other countries do try people post-mortem, so you could theoretically see this sort of thing.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
Killing a fetus of any age? (3.33 / 3) (#55)
by fluffy grue on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 03:18:51 PM EST

Damn. There's a couple of 20-year-old fetuses I wouldn't mind giving an extremely-late-term abortion to.
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I love you.

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]

You're in luck! (5.00 / 3) (#56)
by jt on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 03:25:23 PM EST

Contact the Sweetwater Post-Natal Abortion Clinic today!

[ Parent ]
You joke, but... (none / 0) (#178)
by joecool12321 on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 06:55:46 AM EST

This position, or one like it, is not far off from some people's view. Peter Singer, for example (an ethicist at Princeton), suggests that until an infant is self-aware (varies, but about 6 months) it is acceptable to kill it.

[ Parent ]
You counterpoint, but... (none / 0) (#194)
by fluffy grue on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 12:18:24 PM EST

You seem to assume that I disagree with that view.
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I love you.

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Roe v. Wade (3.66 / 3) (#59)
by epepke on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 03:36:20 PM EST

Roe v. Wade doesn't protect abortion on demand for fetuses in the third trimester. Laci Peterson was eight months pregnant. While there may be some problematic cases (the links are unsatisfyingly vague about this) for deaths to a fetus during the second trimester, there isn't a conflict during the third trimester.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


Difference between Second and Third trimester? (none / 0) (#75)
by Verax on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:04:53 PM EST

Roe v. Wade doesn't protect abortion on demand for fetuses in the third trimester.

What was the distinction between the second and third trimester? What's different between the two / why would a third trimester human fetus be more protected under the law than a second trimester human fetus?



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"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
Assuming this is a genuine question (5.00 / 1) (#76)
by epepke on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:12:29 PM EST

The justices that did the Roe v. Wade decision spent a lot of time trying to figure out when human life began. To do this, they used a lot of medical science (of the time) and also religious viewpoints, including the idea of the "quickening." They concluded that the important time was during the second trimester. Therefore, their opinion was that abortions during the first trimester should not be restricted, abortions during the third trimester could, and abortions during the second trimester should be up to a medical professional on a case-by-case basis.

I think I probably have to say in such a controversial environment that I am not advocating. I am simply explaining the court's reasoning at the time. If you want more information, read the opinion.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Yeah, it's a genuine question. (none / 0) (#96)
by Verax on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:58:04 PM EST

Thank you for the link and the summary.

I know you're not arguing a position, so I'm asking K5 in general: Doesn't it seem strange to define human life in terms of various religious viewpoints and science of a particular period in history? I doubt all religions will ever agree 100% on anything. And science is always advancing.

I think it's scary how easily someone can be defined out of the human race based on politics and/or convenience.



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"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
You're welcome (none / 0) (#108)
by epepke on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 06:23:23 PM EST

I apologize for the suspicion.

I think it's scary how easily someone can be defined out of the human race based on politics and/or convenience.

The justice system basically exists to try to figure out an answer to these hard questions. You or I may not like particular decisions, but the decisions have to get made.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
The justice system. (none / 0) (#130)
by Verax on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 08:28:24 PM EST

I apologize for the suspicion.

With a number of trolls running about and an issue that easily inflames passions, suspicion is certainly understandable.

The justice system basically exists to try to figure out an answer to these hard questions. You or I may not like particular decisions, but the decisions have to get made.

Certainly decisions have to be made; the alternative is paralysis. However, once a decision has been made, one shouldn't assume that it is correct. The supreme court's Dred Scott decision said that because a black man is only 3/5 of a human being, he does not have the right to sue his owners for his freedom. That may have been a "tough decision", but it was also wrong; the "justice system" was unjust. I am suggesting that Roe v. Wade was another wrong decision from the supreme court.



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"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
I agree (none / 0) (#184)
by wierdo on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 08:16:51 AM EST

I am suggesting that Roe v. Wade was another wrong decision from the supreme court.

I agree, but most likely for a different reason. I am limitedly pro-Choice, but I still think Roe v. Wade was a legal abomination, despite its effectively legalizing fetal abortion. Really, it's a case of agreeing with the ends, but not the means.

-Nathan



[ Parent ]
Do you mind my asking... ? (none / 0) (#232)
by Verax on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 11:19:20 PM EST

I am limitedly pro-Choice[...]

Could you elaborate on that?



----------------------------------------------
"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
Maybe, maybe not (none / 0) (#236)
by epepke on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 11:56:10 PM EST

But the article was about whether fetal homicide laws worked with respect to other laws, such as the laws on abortion. I pointed out that according to existing law, there isn't any conflict if the fetal homicide laws are about fetuses in the third trimester.

Now, you're certainly entitled to disagree with existing law, but that's a separate issue.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Well... (4.00 / 1) (#128)
by dr thrustgood on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 07:50:59 PM EST

I think it's scary how easily someone can be defined out of the human race based on politics and/or convenience.

It's interesting that you don't place a specific mention of religion in there.

I find it strange that a lot of Christian groups in America are anti-abortionist despite the fact that NOWHERE in the bible are children guaranteed a place in heaven. Quite the contrary in fact.

--
Mutter mutter mutter King Crimson Mutter mutter mutter
[ Parent ]

Wouldn't that have the reverse effect? (none / 0) (#146)
by zakalwe on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 11:35:08 PM EST

I find it strange that a lot of Christian groups in America are anti-abortionist despite the fact that NOWHERE in the bible are children guaranteed a place in heaven.
Wouldn't that be a good reason for protesting abortion? If children aren't guaranteed a place in heaven, then theres all the more reason to make sure that they're born and baptised so they at least have a chance.

[ Parent ]
nah (none / 0) (#169)
by zerth on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 04:44:17 AM EST

better to kill them early so they'll get the benefit of doubt and don't get the chance to do something really damning.

TWAJS

Rusty isn't God here, he's the pope; our God is pedantry. -- Subtillus
[ Parent ]
You can only base the law on... (none / 0) (#252)
by irrevenant on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 04:04:50 AM EST

...available information at the time.

Yes, that can turn out to be wrong, but the law isn't carved in stone. As society changes and newer information becomes available, laws can be revised.



[ Parent ]
Third Trimester (none / 0) (#82)
by catseye on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:30:11 PM EST

Because a third trimester fetus is viable outside the womb, although obviously the longer it stays in the better.

----------
How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]
Ok. But as medical technology improves? (none / 0) (#92)
by Verax on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:51:42 PM EST

Because a third trimester fetus is viable outside the womb, although obviously the longer it stays in the better.

Thanks for the answer. I have to ask, though: Haven't some prematurely born second trimester babies survived? As medical technology improves, what will happen when first trimester babies can survive?

Why should someone's ability to live in a certain place determine whether or not he/she can be legally killed?



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"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
Obviously (none / 0) (#104)
by Anonymous 7324 on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 06:19:55 PM EST

what you're asking is essentially the question that everyone has been furiously debating for at least the past several decades, if not longer: when does a fertilized egg become a human?

My two cents are that there's no real black and white here, and the question won't be answered until we figure out a variety of hard things (like what exactly 'human' means.)

As for the medical technology stance: I don't think of it that way. By a reductio ad absurdum, does the existence of full, entirely mechanical system for the incubation of sperm and egg into a viable baby somehow make the fertilized oocyte a human?

[ Parent ]

How we look at the issue. (none / 0) (#129)
by Verax on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 08:16:45 PM EST

what you're asking is essentially the question that everyone has been furiously debating for at least the past several decades, if not longer: when does a fertilized egg become a human?

My two cents are that there's no real black and white here, and the question won't be answered until we figure out a variety of hard things (like what exactly 'human' means.)

Why should it be such a tough question? What's wrong with the following? A human being is a member of the species Homo Sapiens.

I would say that I can't understand why people don't see it this way, but I've come to realize that this definition is really "inconvenient" for many different reasons for various people.

As for the medical technology stance: I don't think of it that way.

Why not?

By a reductio ad absurdum, does the existence of full, entirely mechanical system for the incubation of sperm and egg into a viable baby somehow make the fertilized oocyte a human?

For "reductio ad absurdum", doesn't something have to become absurd? I think that the answer to your question is not necessarily immediately obvious, but that's not the same as absurd.

If the offspring of a human mother and a human father is not human, then what is it? It can't be feline, bovine, or delphinium.



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"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
Heh (5.00 / 1) (#149)
by Anonymous 7324 on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 11:46:59 PM EST

A human being is a member of the species Homo Sapiens.

What is Homo Sapiens? Is my DVD of the human genome and my protein expression system a human being? Given enough molecular biology, why not? Does the potential not exist? So when does potential to be a human turn to the reality of an infant?

What about a sperm and egg that haven't fused yet? Are they humans? What about the egg before it undergoes meiosis II? And that's just the beginning.

When does a human come into being? At the moment of ejaculation? If there is a time when a given human does not exist, and at some later time, he is observed to exist, then at some intermediate time, he obviously sprung into existence. For issues like abortion or murder charges, when a person springs into existence is crucial.

Whether we argue that there's some magical cutoff in time when sperm and egg suddenly becomes a human, or we believe that the process of making a human occurs over 9 months (or whatever floats your boat), legally speaking, the choice is either to establish a strict cutoff, or decide on a case-by-case basis based on commonly-agreed upon criteria (good luck find those, however.)

I'm not quite sure why you're confused that many think the definition is inconvenient, unless you mean that it's either unclear, or a tautology.

For "reductio ad absurdum", doesn't something have to become absurd? I think that the answer to your question is not necessarily immediately obvious, but that's not the same as absurd.

If the offspring of a human mother and a human father is not human, then what is it? It can't be feline, bovine, or delphinium.

It's absurd to base cutoffs on viability, because it's obviously that as medical technology advances, the cutoff moves to earlier and earlier dates: this gets you on the slippery slope to "potential," the point at which preventing two people from having sex somehow constitutes murder of some unconceived child, because medical technology could have nurtured the child "to term" entirely without biological assistance from either parent. Obviously, this would be absurd.

Secondly, the absurdity with the idea of using medical assistance as a criteria lies in the fact that even with healthy human fetuses, they cannot survive without external assistance, and require endless care from their parents. The idea that care from highly trained medical workers is somehow "different" than care from ordinary parents and should be used as a criterion for whether one is human or not is again, absurd and illogical.

[ Parent ]

A few clarifications, and I agree. (5.00 / 1) (#155)
by Verax on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 02:06:08 AM EST

What is Homo Sapiens? Is my DVD of the human genome and my protein expression system a human being? Given enough molecular biology, why not? Does the potential not exist? So when does potential to be a human turn to the reality of an infant?

Homo Sapiens is a species; a very specific classification of animal. My distinction for what is and is not a human being in the early stages of life is whether or not it would unfold into the form of an infant, given nutrition, hydration, and appropriate protection from exposure. So, no, the DVD is not a human being, just as a blueprint is not a building. And a protein expression system is not a human being, in the same way that a pasta extruder is not dinner. Could those two be used to create something which, when given nutrition, hydration, and protection from exposure, could unfold into a human infant? Maybe some day. By my definition that would be a human being.

What about a sperm and egg that haven't fused yet? Are they humans? What about the egg before it undergoes meiosis II? And that's just the beginning.

My biology is a bit rusty. If you are referring to the process that occurs within females to produce eggs, then the egg is unfertilized, could not unfold into the form of a human infant with only nutrition, hydration, and warmth, (because it would not have a complete set of chromosomes), and would therefor not be a human being. However, if you are referring to the steps of cell division within a zygote (fertilized egg), then yes, that is a human being according to the nutrition/hydration/exposure protection distincion.

When does a human come into being? At the moment of ejaculation? If there is a time when a given human does not exist, and at some later time, he is observed to exist, then at some intermediate time, he obviously sprung into existence. For issues like abortion or murder charges, when a person springs into existence is crucial.

Yes, when you've got a human being really does matter. A human being, comes into existence at conception. Nothing constitutive is added later on. Nutrition, hydration, and suitable protection from exposure are needed by us as well in order to survive. Those do not constitute our humanness, however.

So, looking at ejaculation: those are just sperm cells; they do not have a complete set of chromosomes, and can not unfold into the form of a human baby given only nutrition, hydration, and protection from exposure.

Whether we argue that there's some magical cutoff in time when sperm and egg suddenly becomes a human, or we believe that the process of making a human occurs over 9 months (or whatever floats your boat), legally speaking, the choice is either to establish a strict cutoff, or decide on a case-by-case basis based on commonly-agreed upon criteria (good luck find those, however.)

I agree. Except for that part about "magical". Why is conception not correct?

I'm not quite sure why you're confused that many think the definition is inconvenient, unless you mean that it's either unclear, or a tautology.

Well, if, at the point of conception, you have a new human being, then certainly this human being is innocent. And it is never justifyable to deliberately kill an innocent human being. So, if someone wants to procure an abortion, or harvest some stem cells, then that's just not morally justifyable. However, if you can conveniently define this member of Homo Sapiens out of the human race, then there's no obstacle to abortions and harvesting stem cells, and performing experiments on human fetuses.

I have pressed a number of people as to why they say life begins where they say it begins. Occasionally this leads to some really good discussion. But usually it leads to flawed logic, either during the reasoning process, or from incorrect predicates. From there, either the issue gets dropped out of frustration, or the reason for saying life begins at a certain point is admitted: "because it's convenient".

It's absurd to base cutoffs on viability, because it's obviously that as medical technology advances, the cutoff moves to earlier and earlier dates: this gets you on the slippery slope to "potential," the point at which preventing two people from having sex somehow constitutes murder of some unconceived child, because medical technology could have nurtured the child "to term" entirely without biological assistance from either parent. Obviously, this would be absurd.

I agree whole heartedly.

Secondly, the absurdity with the idea of using medical assistance as a criteria lies in the fact that even with healthy human fetuses, they cannot survive without external assistance, and require endless care from their parents. The idea that care from highly trained medical workers is somehow "different" than care from ordinary parents and should be used as a criterion for whether one is human or not is again, absurd and illogical.

Again, I am in complete agreement with you.



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"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
Still the same problem (5.00 / 1) (#150)
by zakalwe on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 11:59:05 PM EST

A human being is a member of the species Homo Sapiens.
That doesn't help. Is my fingernail a human? Its made of pure Homo Sapiens cells. How about an unfertalised egg? A sperm cell thats in close proximity? One that penetrates the cell wall? A fertilised egg? The cluster of cells after the first few cell divisions? At what point does it stop becoming a cell cluster maintained by the mother, and become a seperate person?

Its certainly before birth, but I'm pretty sure its also much after conception - I've organs in my body that are far more complex than an early foetus. I'd argue that its a person when it becomes self aware, a prerequisite of which is when it starts thinking. Actually this leads me to think that the current term allowed for abortions is too long, and I would agree to reducing it as far back as the first trimester on the basis that its better to err on the side of caution when life is at stake. On the other hand, "personhood begins at conception" seems as ludicrous as "Personhood begins in the egg - make sure every female is constantly pregnant to minimise loss of their lives"

For "reductio ad absurdum", doesn't something have to become absurd?
I'd agree here. For a proper reductio ad absurdum it should go one step further. Suppose you make a machine with seperate sperm and egg that is capable of using them to bring a child to term (including performing the fertilisation stage) Is this machine+sperm+egg device now a human, since it can produce one without the help of the mother?

[ Parent ]
A straightforward distinction. (none / 0) (#154)
by Verax on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 01:43:56 AM EST

Is my fingernail a human? Its made of pure Homo Sapiens cells.

No. A fingernail, given nutrition, hydration, and protection from exposure will not naturally unfold into the form of an infant.

How about an unfertalised egg? A sperm cell thats in close proximity?

No. For the same reason as the fingernail.

One that penetrates the cell wall?

If the sperm cell is still a sperm cell, then it is not a human being; it lacks the full set of of chromosomes. Of course, at some point the genetic contents of the sperm cell mix with the genetic contents of the egg, and the egg is said to be fertilized. This period of time for this transititon is, I think, on the order of seconds. But I do not see how it is useful to say exactly at what point within those seconds the transition from sperm and egg to zygote (human being) takes place.

A fertilised egg?

Yes. Given nutrition, hydration, and protection from exposure, the zygote (fertilized egg) is a human being. It will naturally unfold into the form of an infant.

The cluster of cells after the first few cell divisions?

Yes, for the same reason as the zygote.

At what point does it stop becoming a cell cluster maintained by the mother, and become a seperate person?

I'm not sure what to make of this question. You and I are still cell clusters. Up until kindergarten, (and even in some cases until their late 30's and beyond ;) people are often maintained by their mothers. As for being "separate", why does physical contact change anything? As someone here at K5 once pointed out, you can't superglue a child to yourself, then claim it's part of you, and therefore claim the right to "terminate" it.

Its certainly before birth, but I'm pretty sure its also much after conception - I've organs in my body that are far more complex than an early foetus. I'd argue that its a person when it becomes self aware, a prerequisite of which is when it starts thinking. Actually this leads me to think that the current term allowed for abortions is too long, and I would agree to reducing it as far back as the first trimester on the basis that its better to err on the side of caution when life is at stake.

I agree that it is best to err on the side of caution when human life is involved.

On the other hand, "personhood begins at conception" seems as ludicrous as "Personhood begins in the egg - make sure every female is constantly pregnant to minimise loss of their lives"

I agree that the latter is quite absurd. However I disagree with the former based on the reasons given earlier. An unfertilized egg, given nutrition, hydration, and protection from exposure can not naturally unfold into the form of an infant, and is therefore not a human being. However, given those same things, the conceptus will unfold into the form of an infant.

Suppose you make a machine with seperate sperm and egg that is capable of using them to bring a child to term (including performing the fertilisation stage) Is this machine+sperm+egg device now a human, since it can produce one without the help of the mother?

I think the earlier distinction still holds. Until the sperm fertilizes the egg, there is no human being. Once conception takes place, there is a human being. Without a mother or your proposed machine, that human being will die, but it's still a human being.



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"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
still arbitrary (5.00 / 1) (#160)
by NFW on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 03:42:12 AM EST

Given nutrition, hydration, and protection from exposure, the zygote (fertilized egg) is a human being. It will naturally unfold into the form of an infant.

Given a sperm cell, nutrition, hydration, and protection from exposure, the egg (unfertilized) is a human being. It will naturally unfold into the form of an infant.

Given an egg cell, nutrition, hydration, and protection from exposure, the sperm is a human being. It will naturally unfold into the form of an infant.

By this line of reasoning, potential human beings are demolished every time my girlfriend and I don't have sex.

Not that I have more persuasive theory, mind you. This is, and probably always will be, a question of what postulates you subscribe to, not what truths you can derive from an agreed-upon set of axioms. Conversion from one side of this debate to the other does not happen because new conclusions are drawn from solid facts; it happens when an individual chooses to change religious (or at least metaphysical) beliefs.

Discussions that attempt to change another person's position by appealing to logic are no more fruitful than exhibitionistic wankery. Sure it's nice to get something out of your system once in a while, but nothing really gets accomplished.

That said, someone once suggested that we use brain activity to determine where life begins. We already use it to determine where life ends, so there's precedent. It's still not quite binary due to varying degrees of brain activity and varying degrees of sensor technology, but it's probably the least metaphysical distinction that I've heard yet, so I find it interesting. YMMV.


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

You've missed my point (but that's my fault). (none / 0) (#227)
by Verax on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 10:35:45 PM EST

Sorry, I left out something important.

The point is that infants, adolescents, and adults are human beings. Nothing which constitutes being human has to be added, because they are already human beings. The only things they need to survive are nutrition, hydration, and protection from death by exposure.

So, what's the difference between a human infant and a human zygote? If the zygote is not human, then somthing constitutive must be added. However, the only things that are added are nutrition, hydration, and protection from death by exposure. But, as we've already seen, those three things are not constitutive. Therefore, if nothing constitutive is added, the human zygote is, in fact, a human being.



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"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
Oops! (I'm sorry!) (none / 0) (#228)
by Verax on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 10:42:38 PM EST

Gah! I forgot this before hitting "post".

Given a sperm cell, nutrition, hydration, and protection from exposure, the egg (unfertilized) is a human being. It will naturally unfold into the form of an infant.

So, the sperm cell has 1/2 of the set of human chromosomes. The other 1/2 set of the chromosomes are in the egg. Those chromosomes are constitutive, without them, you don't have a human being.

Take an egg, add only nutrition, hydration, and protection from exposure, the egg will not unfold, because just an egg does not constitute a human being.

Take a sperm cell, add only nutrition, hydration, and warmth, it can't unfold into the form of an infant. A sperm cell alone does not constitute a human being.

Take a fertilized human egg (a zygote), add only those three things, the unfolding process begins. A zygote does constitute a human being. And, as in the parent of this post, those three things are themselves not constitutive.



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"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
Not so fast, please / law vs. truth (none / 0) (#229)
by Verax on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 10:50:41 PM EST

Not that I have more persuasive theory, mind you. This is, and probably always will be, a question of what postulates you subscribe to, not what truths you can derive from an agreed-upon set of axioms. Conversion from one side of this debate to the other does not happen because new conclusions are drawn from solid facts; it happens when an individual chooses to change religious (or at least metaphysical) beliefs.

Discussions that attempt to change another person's position by appealing to logic are no more fruitful than exhibitionistic wankery. Sure it's nice to get something out of your system once in a while, but nothing really gets accomplished.

That's not true. Although some people may change their view based on religion or such, I know of several people who, upon seeing the medical and scientific evidence, have come to realize that life begins at conception. So you can't truthfully say that never happens.

That said, someone once suggested that we use brain activity to determine where life begins. We already use it to determine where life ends, so there's precedent.

You are correct that there is legal precedent. But I'm not talking about legal precedent. I'm talking about absolute truth. There is legal precedent that black people are only 3/5 human (U.S. Supreme Court Dredd Scott decision). But that was, in absolute truth, wrong. Black people are 100% human, and have always been, and always will be, regardless of what the law says. What I'm after is whether or not, in truth (not legaleze) human life begins at conception.



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"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
Hmmm.. (none / 0) (#185)
by wierdo on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 08:24:04 AM EST

You've repeatedly stated that you think a fertilized egg is human. I take it then that we should be arresting and imprisoning doctors who perform in vitro fertilization and proceed to discard some of the fertilized eggs? If I cared that much, I might argue that we really should be, since it's easily proven that many fertilized eggs do survive, and a person is making a choice to destroy that precious "potential life." Wouldn't you agree?

-Nathan



[ Parent ]
Well, no and yes. (none / 0) (#226)
by Verax on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 10:30:26 PM EST

I take it then that we should be arresting and imprisoning doctors who perform in vitro fertilization and proceed to discard some of the fertilized eggs?

It is possible to do something gravely wrong without breaking the law. And it would be a bad idea to start arresting people who haven't broken the law. So, in that sense, no, we should not arrest those people.

However, this is a holocaust of a different kind, and I think precisely because it is so ugly and widespread, many people refuse to think it's actually going on. If we can just convince ourselves that these little human beings are just "potential", then nothing bad is going on under our noses, and all is well with the world.



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"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
To put it bluntly... (none / 0) (#307)
by wierdo on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 03:50:40 PM EST

As far as I'm concerned, a fetus is like a wart..or a kidney, perhaps. We don't seem to have moral hangups about having warts frozen off, so why the hangup about removing a day to several week old clump of cells, often no larger than a grapefruit? If used for research, it's all the better!

A scenario: Say you're the type that would have sex with a steady girlfriend, using a condom. Say the condom breaks. Assume that for whatever reason you do not want the infant borne to term, even if you could give the baby up for adoption. Is it morally wrong, in your estimation, to take what is commonly referred to as a "morning-after pill," knowing that there is the possibility that an egg was fertilized? Please state your reasoning.

-Nathan



[ Parent ]
Education (none / 0) (#309)
by catseye on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 05:09:37 PM EST

If you're going to make statements like "several week old clump of cells" and comparing things to grapefruit, then you need some education.

First, pregnancy "starts" on the date of a woman's last menstrual period. So, three weeks have passed before ovulation even occurs. So, at 3 weeks, you have a zygote, or fertilized egg.

Based on your language, I'm assuming you're talking several weeks after fertilization, so let's say 6-8 weeks into the actual pregnancy.

Here are some photos of fetuses (feti?) in utero.

http://www.allaboutmoms.com/usgallery.htm

A grapefruit is about 4" in diameter and weighs around a pound. That's about the equivalent of a 24 week old fetus. Technically, a fetus of that weight can survive outside the womb with proper medical care, although it will have issues.

Regarding the morning after pill, it works by keeping the fertilized egg from implanting into the womb. Medically speaking, a pregnancy does not occur until implanation. The morning after pill, then, is no different from any other form of birth control that keeps eggs from implanting, like IUDs. Some birth control pills may even work that way. In the event an egg is released, the hormones just aren't right for implantation.

----------
How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]

But it's conceived! (none / 0) (#316)
by vectro on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 06:29:10 PM EST

I think the point being made here is that by preventing the fertilized egg from implanting, we are de facto carrying out an abortion, because we are in fact causing the death of a member of homo sapiens.

I don't think wierdo actually beleives we should ban this; it's more of a reductio ad absurdum.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

Uh.. (none / 0) (#332)
by wierdo on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 08:15:11 AM EST

You're right, medically speaking there is no pregnancy until implantation. Many commenters to this story, however, seem to believe that "abortion" is wrong. I was merely pointing out that there are many different levels of "abortion," from condom use (to some Catholics) all the way to killing day old children. There's a lot in between. It seems that many here would prefer to not engage their brain, and merely repeat what they've been told. It's hard for them to do that when you make them think, wouldn't you say? :)

-Nathan



[ Parent ]
No difference (none / 0) (#192)
by zakalwe on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 11:10:21 AM EST

A fingernail, given nutrition, hydration, and protection from exposure will not naturally unfold into the form of an infant.
Just like a fertilised egg - it needs a huge set of very specific conditions and supplied nutrients that the womb provides. Similarly, cloning shows that the same can be accomplished for any other cell - provide the right conditions, alterations etc and you can get a child. Why is the egg special just because it happens to be in a place that does supply its needed resources? What makes the sperm any different from the thousands of other things that must be supplied in order for it to grow?
As for being "separate", why does physical contact change anything? As someone here at K5 once pointed out, you can't superglue a child to yourself, then claim it's part of you, and therefore claim the right to "terminate" it.
I never made any claims that "seperateness" or dependance was in any way a factor - my criteria was self awareness. I don't think a person can be aware without thought, and the earliest thing even remotely approaching brain activity is after around four months. I'd really doubt its really aware until significantly later than that, but as I said, I'd prefer to err on the side of caution.
I think the earlier distinction still holds. Until the sperm fertilizes the egg, there is no human being.
Why? Given nutrition, hydration, and protection from exposure the machine will cause a human to be formed - exactly like an egg in the womb. Why is it different just because one stage that gets automatically performed is fertilisation?

[ Parent ]
Human (none / 0) (#301)
by catseye on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 01:13:02 PM EST

Once the zygote/embryo/whatever in question has its own separate genetic code, then it's human.

The issue is not when it becomes human... that can be determined by knowing when it becomes genetically different from the mother.

The issue is when it becomes a person, and that's something totally different. For example, corpse is still a human, but no longer a person in the eyes of the law.

----------
How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]

Medical Technology (none / 0) (#294)
by catseye on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 10:09:02 AM EST

I think if medical technology ever grows to the point where artificial wombs are possible, then there will rarely be a need for abortion. The fetus can just be removed from the mother if she doesn't want it any more.

As for abortions performed due to gross deformities or abnormalities of the fetus, I'm assuming that if our technology is advanced enough to transplant a fetus into an artificial womb, it can take care of most other medical issues that might arise.

----------
How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]

Third option (none / 0) (#170)
by joecool12321 on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 04:45:26 AM EST

Both catseye and epepke gave good answers, but there could be a third reason: they have to pick a date. Right, I mean, why 65 and not 60 or 70mph for the speed limit? Why 18 and not 16 or 21 for the age of legal adulthood? The law simply cannot look at every individual case and has to establish broad generalizations.

--Joey

[ Parent ]

third trimester abortions (none / 0) (#220)
by bolthole on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 09:11:00 PM EST

Roe v. Wade doesn't protect abortion on demand for fetuses in the third trimester.

But unfortunately, third trimester abortions are still apparently legal, if you get your doctor to sign off in the appropriate places. For example, there are clinics in LA that will do abortions in "special circumstances" (or some other magical phrase) where if the child has downs, or some other "deficiency", they will go ahead and do the abortion. They publically admit on their website of doing it at the very beginning of the third trimester. I wonder how late they really are willing to do it.

[ Parent ]

suicide/homicide (3.66 / 3) (#62)
by blurp on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 03:46:15 PM EST

I don't know how to phrase this so it doesn't either offend or insult everyone and still have a relavent point.  But consider the difference between a rational (mentally-stable) person committing suicide and homicide.  The difference in punishment between those who attempt murder and those who attempt suicide most clearly showing an 'inconsistency' in the law.  Clearly you can't extend the comparison very far though.

I think carrying the fetus, its life dependent on the mother,  gives the mother special responsiblities and rights when it comes to her fetus that other people shouldn't have (including termination).

-blurp

Question about that "right". (none / 0) (#72)
by Verax on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:00:31 PM EST

I think carrying the fetus, its life dependent on the mother, gives the mother special responsiblities and rights when it comes to her fetus that other people shouldn't have (including termination).

I agree about the special responsibilities, but I must ask about the right to "termination".

Infants, toddlers (and even in rare cases people in their 30's :) are also dependent on their mothers. For example, Andrea Yates' children depended on her. But if having someone dependent on you gives you the right to "terminate" that someone, then why is Andrea Yates incarcerated, and why did her story make the news?



----------------------------------------------
"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
Here's a difference (none / 0) (#208)
by tonedevil05 on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 02:53:13 PM EST

Prebirth children are dependent on their mother specifically, without extraordinary medical intervention they will perish. Post birth children are dependent on someone, but it can be anyone willing to provide food, clothing, shelter. During gestation the mother is the child's environment. The child lives on food the mother eats and air the mother breaths.

In the case of Andrea Yates her children depended on her exclusively before they were born, in fact lived off her body parasiticly, but they only depended on her not to systematicly drown them when they died.

[ Parent ]

Suicide is illegal (3.00 / 1) (#100)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 06:11:33 PM EST

I once met a gentleman who went to jail because he tried to shoot himself in the head and missed.

I have heard that there were times when attempting suicide brought the death penalty. Apparently the position was that only the state had the right to take a human life.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

Sucseed and get of the hook. (5.00 / 1) (#175)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 05:32:19 AM EST

Of course. The great irony is, if you do sucseed in breaking the law, you get off scott-free!

Anyway. Back to the topic on hand. I still thing the suicide point stands, because a lot of us here at K5 hold moral laws instead of legal laws, and I think that most people would agree that suicide is not immoral.

[ Parent ]

Then... (5.00 / 1) (#193)
by Ken Arromdee on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 12:16:33 PM EST

I think carrying the fetus, its life dependent on the mother, gives the mother special responsiblities and rights when it comes to her fetus that other people shouldn't have (including termination).

Then they should make a new crime called "violation of a woman's rights towards her fetus" and punish people for that, not for murder.

[ Parent ]

Who cares? (3.00 / 2) (#65)
by dipierro on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 04:10:24 PM EST

Instead, charge the perpetrator of the crime with a more serious charge -- Assault Resulting in the Death of a Fetus instead of just Assault or Homicide and Assault Resulting in the Death of a Fetus instead of just Homicide -- and have harsher sentencing.

Many states have done exactly that. But pro-life advocates oppose those laws. So sometimes the easiest way to get the law passed is to call it something other than what it is.

Who cares what it's called? I certainly don't.



Well, let's look at the other side of this ... (4.33 / 9) (#73)
by pyramid termite on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:00:55 PM EST

If I'm a pregnant mother who wants her baby, why should I give up the law's protection of that baby as a human being, as my CHILD, just so others can have abortions without worrying about "legal paradoxes"? What about MY right to control MY body to produce a child I want? What about MY child's right to live?

Am I being overly simplistic here? Maybe you should ask some expectant parents about it and see what kind of overly simplistic feelings they would have if someone killed their child and the law didn't recognize it as murder. It may well be one thing for people to have the right to abort their fetuses - but don't, for one minute, tell us that this means that WE have to give up our right to see our children born without the interference of careless idiots or murderers. If we, meaning the parents of this "fetus", recognize it as a human being then we have every right to demand that the law and our government recognize it too. Remember - freedom to choose means freedom to choose both ways. If your laws do not defend our children then what the fuck good are they?

Yes, I'm a parent. And yes, I would have seen as murder if someone had killed my daughter before she was born. And quite frankly, if you don't like it, you can kiss my ass.

That's all I'm saying - I await my modding down to -30 eagerly.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
Legal/cultural schizophrenia. (3.66 / 3) (#83)
by Verax on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:30:31 PM EST

If I'm a pregnant mother who wants her baby, why should I give up the law's protection of that baby as a human being, as my CHILD, just so others can have abortions without worrying about "legal paradoxes"? What about MY right to control MY body to produce a child I want? What about MY child's right to live?

I agree that your child is in fact, a living member of our species which should have the human right to live. The problem is that our laws (abortion vs. fetal homicide) and our culture have a schizophrenic view of the fetus. On the news, they report a life saving intrauterine surgery as saving a "baby", but they report the constitutional "right" of abortion as applied to a "fetus".

  • If we kill it, it's a fetus.
  • If we save it, it's a baby.

Clearly it can't be both. I believe that you are correct, and that, for whatever reasons, those who support abortion can not bring themselves to realize that "choice" is really "choice to kill one's offspring". Even if I were to procure an abortion, recommend one to someone else, or know and care about someone who has participated in abortion, calling it a "choice" is still an incorrect rationalization. I think it's better to face the ugly facts, forgive what needs forgiving, begin healing, and get back to living life.



----------------------------------------------
"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
No (4.00 / 3) (#126)
by dr thrustgood on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 07:43:48 PM EST

Clearly it can't be both. I believe that you are correct, and that, for whatever reasons, those who support abortion can not bring themselves to realize that "choice" is really "choice to kill one's offspring".

What rot.

The problem is pregnant couples getting overly sentinmental over a clump of cells.

--
Mutter mutter mutter King Crimson Mutter mutter mutter
[ Parent ]

you have the right to your child (none / 0) (#95)
by asad on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:56:54 PM EST

but not to other people's bodies or unborn children. How many of those unwanted children are you going to adopt ? That's without even getting into rape/incest victims. You have the right to choose, you can have the baby someone else might feel differently. I belive that's exactly why this pardox exists.

[ Parent ]
Born children vs. unborn children? (2.00 / 2) (#99)
by Verax on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 06:07:14 PM EST

you have the right to your child but not to other people's bodies or unborn children.

We had the right to try and convict Andrea Yates, didn't we? Except her children were born. In cases of severe child abuse, we do have the right to other people's children, for their own safety. What makes the unborn any different? Why should a child's location determine whether or not it has the human right to live?



----------------------------------------------
"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
Your gender... (2.00 / 1) (#187)
by wierdo on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 09:01:09 AM EST

Are you male or female?

I look forward to the answer to my question, as it may shed light on your viewpoint.

Thanks,
-Nathan



[ Parent ]
Humerous Aside (none / 0) (#200)
by joecool12321 on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 01:00:00 PM EST

In a thread largely about the rejection of categorizations and black/white dichotomies, I found this post hilarious.

[ Parent ]
Hmm.. (none / 0) (#209)
by wierdo on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 04:02:37 PM EST

Apparently you are unaware of the biological differences between males and females which cause them to often come to conclusions based on emotions, rather than expediency or logical thinking, especially when related to reproduction. Granted, many women overcome such feelings, but many do not, so it is often helpful in the evaluation of another poster's position to know their gender.

Also, was that really what this thread was about, or did you respond to the wrong post? Perhaps I'm going senile already...

-Nathan



[ Parent ]
You will become an expert on reproduction... (none / 0) (#283)
by beijaflor on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 05:46:32 PM EST

if you have a rational thought each time you wank.

[ Parent ]
Perhaps I'm dense... (none / 0) (#306)
by wierdo on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 03:39:15 PM EST

Unfortunately, I could not find a point. Perhaps you could be more clear about what you are trying to say?

-Nathan



[ Parent ]
Shed light on the viewpoint? (none / 0) (#300)
by Viliam Bur on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 12:06:11 PM EST

Or just possibly make the "ad hominem" arguments easier?

[ Parent ]
More about convenience than anything else. (none / 0) (#225)
by vectro on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 10:19:35 PM EST

You ask why a child's location is relevant. The answer is that we must define a point at which human rights begin. The consequences of defining human rights too early are relatively few, but the consequences of defining them too late are great --- at that point we wrongfully deny a person his or her rights.

At what point does one become able to exercise one's right to life? To answer that, we must first look to the reason we grant a right to life in the first place: Namely, that without law against murder society would be poor: There would be little to no incentive to invest in the future, and we would all live in fear. I would suggest that one is able to exercise a right to life if one can understand what it would mean to lose one's life.

But that definition is difficult to apply in practice. So we use instead a rather conservative statement that rights begin at birth, because birth is a well-defined point in time. I think there is little argument that anyone before that point can understand death.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

Adoption. (2.00 / 2) (#103)
by Verax on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 06:14:38 PM EST

How many of those unwanted children are you going to adopt?

Is this perhaps a sort of red herring? Those children are, in fact, wanted. My sister lost one of her young daughters in a freak accident in Oregon. They are unable to have more children, and would like to adopt so that their remaining child does not grow up as an only child. But there aren't many children put up for adoption, so the wait is two years. In Minnesota, the waitlist is even longer. It's even over a year for babies with aids or birth defects such as down's syndrome. There's no such thing as an unwanted baby.

Whether or not I personally would adopt (and I might), has nothing to do with whether or not it is morally justifyable to deliberately kill an innocent member of our species.



----------------------------------------------
"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
No. (4.00 / 1) (#224)
by vectro on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 10:14:33 PM EST

The waitlist is long if you want a healthy, newborn, white baby. If you'll accept anything else there will be little to no waiting.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
Support? (5.00 / 1) (#235)
by Verax on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 11:50:26 PM EST

The waitlist is long if you want a healthy, newborn, white baby. If you'll accept anything else there will be little to no waiting.

Again, the waitlist, even for babies with AIDS, Spina Bifida, or Downs Syndrome is still at least a year in Minnesota. I don't know about other states.

Which state or states are you referring to, and can you be more specific than "little or no waiting"? I don't think anyone can adopt in one day, so I don't think that "no waiting" is 100% accurate. Can you support your assertion?



----------------------------------------------
"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
Exception vs. the rule. (2.50 / 2) (#109)
by Verax on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 06:23:49 PM EST

That's without even getting into rape/incest victims.

Rape and incest account for less that 3% of the abortions that occur in the United States. Why should this exception decide the law for the other 97%+ cases?

Even then, looking at the exception, how is the offspring resulting from rape or incest guilty of those crimes? It is medically safer to have the child than abort it. If the child really is guilty, why not wait for it to be born before killing it, thereby minimizing the risk to the mother's body and psyche?

From the phsychological standpoint, rape/incest are terrible offenses against the dignity of a woman. But asking her to live the rest of her life with the grave knowledge that the additional crime of direct abortion will not make her feel better. Killing her offspring will not undo the rape or incest; she has to live with those grave injustices either way. An additional grave injustice can't make things all rosy again.



----------------------------------------------
"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
How about if you're a pregnant mother (none / 0) (#147)
by michaelp on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 11:35:52 PM EST

and you drink too much and kill your fetus, should you then be prosecuted for murder?

I guess if I'm the father, I shouldn't give up my rights to the law's protection of my fetus, so if I get a woman pregnant and she won't stop drinking or clean up her diet or take her pre-natals, I should report her to the child welfare services folks so they protect the fetus.

Or does it only become murder if both parents want to assert their rights to see the fetus protected?

These are some of the "legal paradoxes" that a fetal homicide law raises.

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

[ Parent ]

All I can say ... (3.00 / 1) (#153)
by pyramid termite on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 01:35:41 AM EST

... is that it's not my responsibility to justify actions that I don't agree with and would not participate in. How people, legally or morally, justify these, and other situations without descending into paradox is a problem they have to solve, not I. It may well be unsolvable. This will not stop me from insisting that an unborn child of mine is a human being and that the government should recognize it as such.

Isn't it the most important function of a society to ensure that people be able to have children, so the society may continue? What is more important - the avoidance of legal paradoxes or the recognition and protection of the biological necessity of reproduction, for those who are willing to do so?

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Paradoxes (none / 0) (#159)
by DarkZero on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 03:37:12 AM EST

Isn't it the most important function of a society to ensure that people be able to have children, so the society may continue? What is more important - the avoidance of legal paradoxes or the recognition and protection of the biological necessity of reproduction, for those who are willing to do so?

Avoiding legal paradoxes isn't what is being seen as important. What is being seen as important is the fact that many legal paradoxes are eventually resolved, and, somewhat paradoxically, contribute to their own resolution. If these laws become widespread and are held up in court, then they could be used as a precedent in a future Supreme Court case reviewing legal abortion. The fact that the laws were passed and upheld could provide ammunition against legal abortion in that case. However, if the laws are struck down either in the courts or in Congress, then that too could provide a precedent for a future Supreme Court case reviewing legal abortion and be used to defend legal abortion.

So while this well-meaning paradox could provide us with twenty or thirty years of legal sanity and protection for the choices of all mothers, it could eventually be used to walk all over the rights of one side or the other, either banning abortion or setting a Supreme Court precedent against any sort of protection for fetuses. That's why this matter has to be approached very carefully, and I would not dare to come up with any sort of answer for it right now.

[ Parent ]

Right to privacy? (1.00 / 1) (#204)
by dipierro on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 01:53:35 PM EST

So while this well-meaning paradox could provide us with twenty or thirty years of legal sanity and protection for the choices of all mothers, it could eventually be used to walk all over the rights of one side or the other, either banning abortion or setting a Supreme Court precedent against any sort of protection for fetuses.

That's a good reason why the Supreme Court should get involved at all.



[ Parent ]
No. (none / 0) (#230)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 10:57:41 PM EST

Isn't it the most important function of a society to ensure that people be able to have children...?
No, it isn't.



[ Parent ]

unborn children and tax evasion (none / 0) (#286)
by lactose99 on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 11:25:43 PM EST

This will not stop me from insisting that an unborn child of mine is a human being and that the government should recognize it as such.

If this were the case, you could then claim your unborn child as a dependent on your tax returns.



[ Parent ]
What is the basis of law? (3.00 / 1) (#223)
by vectro on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 10:13:21 PM EST

If law is based on religion or some other idea of objective morality, then I think we'll have to agree to disagree and leave it at that.

But if you accept the idea of subjective morality, then surely you must just as easily agree that it is not the purpose of government to enforce morality. Whether you think goverment should instead strive for greatness of quality of life, freedom, or property rights, or some combination of these is, I believe, immaterial to the discussion at hand.

In the abscence of an objective morality, why should we ban murder? The simple answer is that in a society where murder is legal, people would be forced to live in fear, there would be little incentive to invest in the future, and overall things would be rather poor.

What of a fetus? It is ill-equipped to exercise any of the benefits of living in our society. Thus it does not matter from a society position whether or not a couple decides to terminate their fetus.

The problem with this line of reasoning is that one could easily apply it to e.g. those with mental illness or low intelligence. The only response I can give is that it would be poor policy to allow the government to determine one's eligibility for property rights with such disction. Choosing a well-defined point in time (for example, birth) is much less subject to corruption.

What, then, of a third party's killing a fetus? The parents might rightfully be upset, but this action is not and should not be considered murder. Rather, it is more akin to vandalism; the perpetrator has indeed property rights, but those of the parents rather than the child.

You say that you would be very upset if someone killed your unborn child. I think we would all feel the same. But is that feeling fundamentally different from the feeling an artist might have upon seeing his work destroyed? I think it is not.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

Well-defined (5.00 / 1) (#264)
by pyramid termite on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 10:50:51 AM EST

Choosing a well-defined point in time (for example, birth) is much less subject to corruption.

Wouldn't the point in time that a woman realized that she was pregnant and wanted the baby also be well-defined? My wife and I certainly remember that moment. Therefore, I do not see how there could be any corruption possible.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Not well-defined, and we can do better. (none / 0) (#273)
by vectro on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 02:54:37 PM EST

A reasonable suggestion, I think, but not a good one, for two reasons.

First, it's not well-defined. You may remember an exact point in time, but that's certainly not to say that everyone does. And human psychology is very curious: We tend to want and not want things at different levels, and to also oscillate with other considerations. Also, if the woman is dead, who is to say whether or not she wanted the baby? We'd have to depend on the testimony of her relatives, which would certainly be unreliable. And even if the woman has stated that she wants the baby, such is not immediately obvious to outsiders.

Second, the whole point of this exercise is to define a good lower-bound for some development of self-consciousness. If we already have birth as a well-defined point, such that self-consciousness never occurs earlier, then there is no reason to move the marker to anything before that. Similarly, if someone develops a foolproof measure for afterwards that is similarly unsusceptible to corruption, I would support that.

Recall that under the system of governance I'm suggesting, the purpose of a law against murder is to protect society by providing safety. The emotional considerations of those related to the dead human may be of concern, but such concerns are inherently secondary. As the example I gave, is the grief felt by parents having experienced a miscarriage any different from that felt by one whose life's work was destroyed by a natural disaster?

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

Two points (5.00 / 1) (#282)
by pyramid termite on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 05:44:31 PM EST

And even if the woman has stated that she wants the baby, such is not immediately obvious to outsiders.

But I can take your argument further - someone kills someone, without any witnesses and claims he did it because the person told him they didn't want to live anymore. If "the woman wanted her baby" isn't a reasonable assumption, why is "the woman wanted to live"? After all, people kill themselves all the time.

Second, the whole point of this exercise is to define a good lower-bound for some development of self-consciousness.

That could be more dangerous than you realize. I've seen some argue that there is no self-consciousness - that our minds trick us into thinking we are, but the decisions we make are already make at a subconscious reaction level and then our minds tell ourselves that we "meant" to do that. I don't believe that, but note that I can't disprove it, either.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
... and they are very good ones. (4.00 / 1) (#284)
by vectro on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 08:19:07 PM EST

I'll concede that from a pragmatic standpoint it might be valid to assume that the mother wanted the child. But we still have a situation where the child's rights can appear and disappear at another's whim, which kind of defeats the whole idea of defining a point when the right to life starts.

With respect to consciousness, it is certainly possible that the universe is deterministic and there is no such thing as free will. My response to this is to agree with Stephen Hawking: Even if our actions are predetermied, chaos theory ensures that there is no way to determine what, exactly, it is that we are predestined to to. So we can use free will as an abstraction; it may not be the underlying rule, but is more useful to us. This is not different from using terms like pressure and temperature to represent statistical phenomena.

Despite this, it may be that at some point in the future, a new technology will be able to predict one's future actions with great precision. In that case, we would have to reconsider many of these jurisprudential issues. But let us not base our arguments now on the existence of technology that may or may not appear.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

Exactly... (5.00 / 1) (#250)
by curunir on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 02:35:47 AM EST

It's the mother's decision, plain and simple. The fetus recieves all the protections that a baby would recieve up until the point the mother makes the decision to abort her pregnancy. Should she decide to abort her pregnancy and be murdered on the way to the clinic, the fetal murder charges should not apply to the killer.

There is no inherant contradiction in allowing a mother to be the sole person who can abort a pregnancy. The mother is the sole person capable of suppling the nutrients necessary for the fetus to grow. The mother is the sole person capable of suppling the oxygen necessary for the fetus to survive. The mother is the sole person capable or providing the environment necessary for that fetus to become a living, breathing baby. No one should be forced to provide those resources, but only the provider of those resources has the right to decide.

[ Parent ]
No, killing an innocent in self-defense is illegal (3.33 / 3) (#74)
by splitpeasoup on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:03:54 PM EST

There is no reconciliation necessary for abortions which save the life of the mother, as killing another individual in self-defense is legal.

No. Killing a would-be perpetrator in self-defense is legal. Killing an innocent is not, even if it is to save your life.

E.g. if my life is threatened by a robber, it is illegal to kill an innocent bystander and use the confusion to escape, even if that act is necessary and sufficient to save my life.

Thus if a foetus is the same as a person, life-saving abortions will be illegal.

-SPS

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

What is that? (none / 0) (#77)
by Verax on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:12:47 PM EST

Thus if a foetus is the same as a person, life-saving abortions will be illegal.

What is a "life-saving" abortion?



----------------------------------------------
"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
Life-saving (5.00 / 1) (#79)
by catseye on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:27:44 PM EST

A life saving abortion is one in which if it is not performed the mother will die.

Ectopic pregnancy, for example. In that case, the zygote implants itself in the fallopian tube, not the uterus. There is no cure. The embryo must be removed or the woman's life is endangered when the tube is ruptured.

If the mother develops aggressive cancer while pregnant, she may have to choose between her own life and the pregnancy. Chemo/radiation therapy and pregnancy don't mix.

Accidents occur in which injuries to the mother/fetus are severe and sometimes only one can be saved.

----------
How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]

Why would those require direct abortion? (none / 0) (#89)
by Verax on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:44:28 PM EST

A life saving abortion is one in which if it is not performed the mother will die.

Thanks. That looks like a clean definition to me.

Ectopic pregnancy, for example. In that case, the zygote implants itself in the fallopian tube, not the uterus. There is no cure. The embryo must be removed or the woman's life is endangered when the tube is ruptured.

This makes sense to me. However, this is an indirect abortion, in that the goal is to save the life of the mother, not to kill the human embryo. Since there's no deliberate attempt to kill an innocent human being, there is no moral dilemma. It is beyond our medical capability to save her offspring, so there is nothing else that can be done. Abortion or no, the offspring will die.

If the mother develops aggressive cancer while pregnant, she may have to choose between her own life and the pregnancy. Chemo/radiation therapy and pregnancy don't mix.

The abortion, in this case, does not meet your above definition of "live saving abortion". Whether or not the abortion takes place, the mother's survival depends on the chemotherapy/radiation, not the abortion.

Accidents occur in which injuries to the mother/fetus are severe and sometimes only one can be saved.

For all practical purposes, given our medical technology, the choice of mother or fetus does not happen in the United States. It can happen in third world countries, in which case the mother should be given priority (unless she wishes otherwise). But in that case, it is a matter of trying to save both lives. If one can not be saved, the resulting death would not have been intended. Again, this would be an indirect abortion. There is no moral problem with this kind of abortion; it can't be helped. But direct abortion, where the goal is to deliberately kill the fetus, is quite different: it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being.

I think that some people confuse direct and indirect abortions, which clouds the abortion issue unnecessarily.



----------------------------------------------
"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
I agree, and I think this will become clearer (5.00 / 1) (#110)
by Delirium on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 06:26:17 PM EST

As medical technology advances, I think the issues will become much clearer. It will relatively soon be within our power to remove the fetus from the mother at relatively early stages of pregnancy and prevent it from dying (this is already possible sometimes as early as six months or so, maybe earlier). In that case, the only possible justification for abortion would be a direct argument that the mother has the right to kill the fetus, since if her argument is only that she no longer wishes (or for medical reasons, no longer can) continue to provide it sustenance in her womb, then there are alternatives to abortion (namely, removing it and placing it in an incubator).

And given that the vast majority of abortions in the United States are wholly voluntary (undertaken because the mother does not want a child, not due to any other consideraitons), the development of this choice will cause significant problems for most abortions.

[ Parent ]

Not really the situation, though (none / 0) (#84)
by dipierro on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:31:11 PM EST

E.g. if my life is threatened by a robber, it is illegal to kill an innocent bystander and use the confusion to escape, even if that act is necessary and sufficient to save my life.

This is a bit different though. There is no robber, unless you're going to consider the fetus the robber.

If a newborn child is about to shoot you, and you kill the child to save your own life, are you guilty of murder?



[ Parent ]
In the Bible (4.28 / 7) (#81)
by tang gnat on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:28:55 PM EST

IIRC, in the Old Testament it says something like: "If someone harms a pregnant woman and her unborn child is killed as a result, they must pay X money." Clearly, it is only viewed as a property crime, and not a murder.



Bible... (4.00 / 4) (#85)
by catseye on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:31:46 PM EST

The laws of a barbaric culture thousands of years ago should have little bearing on laws today.

----------
How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]
it should have a little bearing, indeed [nt] (5.00 / 1) (#94)
by tang gnat on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:56:06 PM EST



[ Parent ]
OTOH (3.00 / 1) (#167)
by joecool12321 on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 04:31:48 AM EST

Whereas the laws of a barbaric culture today should have a tremendous influence?

[ Parent ]
Barbaric? (5.00 / 2) (#189)
by ph317 on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 09:32:58 AM EST


Oh, please.  I'm not even Christian and I don't buy that.  Read the 10 commandments some time.  The first four are religious-specific and don't have any bearing on secular morality, but the last  six are:
  1. : 'Honor your father and your mother.'
  2. : 'You shall not murder.'
  3. : 'You shall not commit adultery.'
  4. : 'You shall not steal.'
  5. : 'You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.'
  6. : 'You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.'
These seem to me to be the laws of a people who desired to be a lot less barbaric than we are today.  The mostly starkly contrasted one is probably "honor your Father and Mother", that's probably a good indicator of a healthy non-barbaric society, and what percentage of the US population do you think actually honors their parents throughout life?  Sure some of them have reasons not to, but that further points to our overall lack of developed society.

[ Parent ]
Unfortunately, this is true. (4.00 / 1) (#265)
by tkatchev on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 11:01:59 AM EST

The ancient Jews were very ignorant and barbaric people. Most were content to worship Moloch and Mammon instead of the God that delivered them out of slavery.

Christ himself made this very clear.

P.S. Though there should be made a clear and unambigious difference between "the Jews" and the teachings of the Old Testament.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Unborn children and women... (none / 0) (#86)
by dipierro on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:33:18 PM EST

Both were regarded as property in the bible.

[ Parent ]
Not true (5.00 / 1) (#91)
by tang gnat on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:49:10 PM EST

IIRC, the punishment for killing a woman was the same for a man. A man could not kill his wife and justify it with, "Well, she was *my* wife. None of your business."

It is true that their culture was primitive, but certainly not in this area.

[ Parent ]

Good solution, regardless of source (5.00 / 1) (#125)
by bobpence on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 07:38:24 PM EST

I seem to recall that killing a slave was a property sitch, but don't care to remember what the case was for a free woman. I'm worried enough about people who want to impose stupid 1400-year-old laws, much less 3500-year-old ones, albeit slightly less nutty.

But treating property and people similarly is not new in our legal system. There are many laws where damage to buildings and injury to persons are treated as the same level of crime. Therefore punishing someone for damaging an unborn child does not require calling it a person. Severe punishments could still be imposed, but those who really wish to blur the line (self-described pro-lifers) would do well to limit the continuum of punishment to preclude the death penalty for any crime.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]

Missing Premise (5.00 / 1) (#168)
by joecool12321 on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 04:40:08 AM EST

I'm not quite sure where I fall in on this issue, but I tend to play the contrarian. So let's be sure to give both side their due.
  • If someone harms a pregnant woman and her unborn child is killed as a result, they must pay X money.
  • Clearly, it is only viewed as a property crime, and not a murder.
I think you have a premise and a conclusion, which I've never seen before. I think you need:

  • If somone must pay money, it is only a property crime
However, I see no reason to accept this premise, and so reject the conclusion that the Bible only sees the death of the fetus as a property crime.

[ Parent ]
On second thought, you may be right. (5.00 / 1) (#173)
by tang gnat on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 05:28:13 AM EST

Perhaps the penalty for murder is reduced from the usual death penalty because the fetus' death is accidental in these cases.

[ Parent ]
Not the bible (5.00 / 1) (#206)
by coljac on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 02:19:08 PM EST

I think that particular law is from Hammurabi's code (recently smashed in Baghdad) although there may be similar laws in the bible - I believe the penalty for rape is a fine of 5 shekels (and you have to marry the victim!).



---
Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
[ Parent ]

You don't recall correctly. (none / 0) (#380)
by yallop on Thu May 01, 2003 at 12:28:29 PM EST

Exodus 21:
22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, 24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.


[ Parent ]
Interesting implications (4.50 / 4) (#90)
by wumpus on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:44:47 PM EST

I'd love to see the Bush administration's response to a lawsuit against a polluter for wrongfull death (of a fetus). In Northern Virginia (and I believe in Maryland to), there has been a large increase in misscarriages. This is just asking for some ambulance chasers.

Wumpus

What is a Fecal Homicide Law? (1.33 / 6) (#97)
by A Spineless Liberal Commie on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:58:55 PM EST

Death by a pile a steaming shit? Please explain.

Moral law (3.40 / 5) (#113)
by adiffer on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 06:47:47 PM EST

It's very hard to render moral code into legal code.  It's made more difficult by the fact that many of us don't use exactly the same moral code.  In these complex situations, I prefer the legal code remained silent and let the people use their own judgement.

As an example of this, I am most comfortable when the Mother of an unborn baby decides its personhood.  Who better can do it?
--BE The Alien!

Why? (4.00 / 2) (#132)
by StormShadow on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 08:42:40 PM EST

Short of impregnation due to rape, abortion should be outlawed at the point the fetus could survive outside the womb with modern medicine. I don't know what that is today but I think it is 6 months. Every time I hear someone yell about women's rights and deny the personhood of a fetus I think about the plantation owners of the deep South who yelled about owner rights and denied the personhood of blacks.

What makes the mother a better judge of what constitutes 'personhood' than science or the State? How can anyone say with a straight face that aborting a fetus is not the murder of a human being? Is there some sort of magical transformation that occurs which renders a baby a person 1 microsec after birth but not before?


-----------------
oderint dum metuant - Cicero
We aren't killing enough of our [America's] enemies. Re-elect Bush in 2004 - Me
12/2003: This account is now closed. Password scrambled. Its been a pleasure.


[ Parent ]
Nice strawman (none / 0) (#215)
by wierdo on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 07:25:47 PM EST

It sickens me that you would compare the biologically induced situation of pregnancy with the forced slavery of millions. If I didn't know that trolls aren't usually that stupid, I'd call you a troll.

When we start issuing "Conception Certificates" in lieu of birth certificates, I might be forced to agree with your position. Until that time, there is a legal implication that something does happen at the instant of birth, namely the bringing into the world of another human being. Even popular use of language supports this.

-Nathan



[ Parent ]
You're a class A dumbass (3.50 / 2) (#245)
by StormShadow on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 01:35:46 AM EST

It is not pregnancy that's being compared to slavery but the murder of a human being with the claim it is not a human being and/or that the mother owns the person. Ever popular language supported that position for centuries. Doesn't that ring a bell?

Second, the law is very vague about what it considers a human being. Many states have laws that allow a person to be charged with two murders if that person kills a pregnant woman. So the mother killing the fetus is not murder but a random person is?


-----------------
oderint dum metuant - Cicero
We aren't killing enough of our [America's] enemies. Re-elect Bush in 2004 - Me
12/2003: This account is now closed. Password scrambled. Its been a pleasure.


[ Parent ]
Nice logic! (none / 0) (#305)
by wierdo on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 03:36:23 PM EST

Perhaps if you had read my comment, you would have grasped that my point was that a fetus is in it's position for a much different reason than a slave was in "it's". You see, a fetus comes to be inside a woman by a biological process, much the same as a wart, or any other part of their body. A slave, on the other hand, comes to be in it's position as a slave by force of violence. Comparing the two is simply idiotic.

-Nathan



[ Parent ]
Actually... (5.00 / 1) (#253)
by irrevenant on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 04:27:07 AM EST

...he compared the right to kill your slave with the right to kill your foetus on the basis that they 'aren't really human'. The fact that this was fallacious for slaves doesn't mean that it is fallacious for foetuses, but the analogy is sound.

Re: your second paragraph, the whole focus of this discussion is on whether or not the law in this case is correct. As such, showing that the law agrees with you by citing birth certificates is just begging the question and resolves nothing.

[ Parent ]
Problems I see (5.00 / 1) (#218)
by delducra on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 08:08:18 PM EST

If we are to use viability as our basis - what happens when medical technology reaches a point where the entire process - conception to "birth" - can be sustained outside the womb? Furthermore, if we are going stop Short of impregnation due to rape then where is the line there? If we follow your argument, doesn't that imply that any person conceived in an act of rape can be killed at any point in their life, without being guilty of murder?

[ Parent ]
two ideas (5.00 / 2) (#254)
by adiffer on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 04:32:22 AM EST

Well...

I can pick at your point with a technical detail first, but it isn't really the one I'd stick with in the long run.  Try this on for size.  Suppose we do use the viability measure as the definition of personhood for a fetus.  The moment you do, you will run smack into a statistical ambiguity.  If you take 100 nearly identical babies-to-be in nearly identical wombs and artifically induce birth at nearly the same time for all of them, some will make it and some won't.  The later you wait, the higher the percentage of survival will be.  You could change your definition to include a meaningful percentage, but that too will vary with the economic conditions in which the mothers find themselves.  The doctors will never agree on a single definition since it is their job, by defintion, to save all lives where they have the power to do so.  The doctors may know their chances, but most will try anyway.

When it comes down to it, the only person I am inclined to trust when defining the personhood of their fetus is the mother of that fetus.  If she says it is a person, it is a person.  If she says it isn't and I have no reason to think she is mentally unsound, then it isn't.  My rule of thumb doesn't solve anything on the grand scale, though.  Many people take it as given that a mother who would abort a fetus is mentally unsound.  I do not take that as a given.
--BE The Alien!
[ Parent ]

Silence is not neutrality (3.66 / 3) (#165)
by joecool12321 on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 04:26:09 AM EST

There are three major flaws with your position. First is the idea that the law should be silent in any complex situation in which people disagree. The problem here is that people disagree on nearly every issue. You may get, under your system, a law passed which says "torturing small babies for fun is illegal" but that is about the only law you will pass. I would posit that simple disagreement is a bad barometer to decide when to be silent.

The second problem is that silence is not neutrality, which is what I assume you're aiming for when you say "let the people use their own judgment". People disagree about Affirmative Action. However, having a 'silent' system quite obviously is making a choice about whose moral code is right--silence affirms that Affirmative Action is unnecessary. This position is anathema to many who support it.

Ultimately, the law does have moral implications, or draws from moral presuppositions. The correct response is not to ignore or obfuscate the methodology, but to critically asses the appropriateness of the law in reflecting the moral decisions we think are appropriate. To a certain extent, this means there will be 'tyranny of the majority'. I would suggest such a system is better than the tyranny of the few, or the one. I would also suggest that the Federal system, when appropriately implemented, provides a great check on abuse and allows for the widest expression of ideas*.

Finally, you suggest that "the mother of an unborn baby" could best determine its personhood. I would suggest that this is silly. That's like saying the best person to diagnose a lump under your skin is, well, yourself. Obviously responsible people don't really think this--they go to a doctor or some other expert, they don't self-diagnose. If a person wants to fix their computer, they take it to someone who knows, or gain the knowledge themselves. They don't simply opine and decide to flip switches on the motherboard. In the same way, experts in ethics are best handled to answer this question. (Obviously, I think we ought to examine their answers, and should never blindly follow anyone. I would do the same thing with a doctor: find a second opinion.)

In conclusion, while I appreciate the importance of individual liberty, there is an extent to which that liberty must be checked. Our responsibility (or opportunity) as informed citizens is to examine that system, find where it is wanting, and effect change.

* I would contend that the steady decline of State power is ultimately detrimental to liberty. When states are diverse, those with a more conservative perspective can move to South Dakota, and leave California alone. Unfortunately, the rise of Federal power means that diversity is limited, and the tyranny of the majority is more severe.

--Joey

[ Parent ]

fair points (none / 0) (#256)
by adiffer on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 04:55:19 AM EST

You have some fair points.  My full position on this would probably take a great deal of soul searching and a lot of words to write down if I could even find them.  The first flaw you found is mostly due to the brevity of my comment.  I agree with you on that one.  As a clarification, I add that some social issues tend to cause a fairly large minority if not an even split.  Some of those issues have applicable law, yet the minorities feel so strongly that they break them and justify themselves on moral grounds.  Those are the issues over which we must be very careful since that kind of legal code leads to social engineering.

I'm not opposed to social engineering, though.  It is my preference that society take care of this without codifying the rules because the rules are likely to change from year to year.  This only happens, though, when members of society take actions that create that engineering.  Most do not.  When those who should are too timid to act, we are left with the obvious need to codify social morals.  The legal structure provides a seed crystal that may produce the needed action and make it unnecessary in the future.  Affirmative Action is an excellent example of this cycle.  Is it necessary today?  Probably yes and possibly no.  Some would argue that the society has picked up its moral duty and others would say not enough has been done.  The real truth, I would guess, is that both are right in particular areas.

Regarding your analogy linking the mothers decision regarding the personhood of her fetus to self-diagnosis, I find your chain or reasoning to be absurd.  A moral decision regarding the life of the baby she could bring into the world or not is not even close to the kind of educated guess a diagnosis must be.  Every single person is already equipped with what they need to make their own moral decisions as long as they aren't judged to be too mentally damaged by those educated doctors.  Morality decisions absolutely must be made by a person contemplating an action with such a dimension.  To avoid these decisions is an act of moral abdication.  Down that path lies atrocity.

(Don't take this in a accusatory way, though.  I say it to point out why I see your analogy as absurd.)
--BE The Alien!
[ Parent ]

Community Responsibility (none / 0) (#280)
by joecool12321 on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 05:11:09 PM EST

First, I generally distinguish between calling me absurd and calling my argument absurd. You're probably only right if you do the first one :D (kidding, of course). Let me first address the third argument, the analogy, then move into cultural discussion.

The Analogy

I don't think the analogy is all that absurd. I think every single person is already equipped with the capacity to self-diagnose. On a day to day basis, most people diagnose most of their problems just fine. In the same way, most people make most moral decisions just fine. On the whole, people do not steal, lie, cheat, or murder.

However, all self-diagnoses are not acceptable. In fact, humans have second-level diagnosis capacity. That is, again on the whole, people can determine whether or not they can determine what is wrong with them. For example, if I experience chronic back pain, that signals to me that my taking Advil may not be enough, and so I go to see someone who has specialized in the field of medicine. I am in no way abdicating my responsibility, instead I am fulfilling it.

In the same way, all self-decided moral actions are not acceptable. In more difficult ethical situations, I would consult an expert in the field. And just like medical arts have subsidiary specializations, so to do ethical questions. I may ask an expert in media ethics one question, and an expert in bioethics a different question. In fact, to ask a media ethics expert a question on bioethics, and accept their decision without any corroboration, would be like asking an ears, nose, and throat doctor about my pancreas. Now, some information will be helpful, but consult the expert. And again, humans generally* have the capacity to activate their second-order ethical guidelines to determine what to do. Again, it's not abdicating, but fulfilling, my moral responsibility.

Law and Society

I'm not completely clear on your second paragraph. I think you're saying that the law can provide an impetus to make change on a social level. If this is what you're saying, I don't think I could disagree more.

I said once that, "Law is both a mirror of and a map to the society which it governs." I think this view is largely correct. The laws cannot fundamentally change a persons ideology. It can stop them from acting on that ideology, true. But I would contend that until a persons mindset is changed, the true change necessary to revolutionize a society will not occur.

As support of this view, I would contend that CLS, or Critical Legal Studies/Scholarship has this correct: the law serves to mask underlying problems. Racism is no less rampant today than in the past, but it is harder to find. It's harder to find because of the legal checks masking its expression. I would contend that this masking is ultimately detrimental to society. Dealing with the symptoms, and not the causes, is no way to solve a problem.

--Joey

* The rise of ethical liberalism has widely established the idea that we can alone be our moral compass. As a result, the second-order realization that one cannot answer this moral dilemma alone has been somewhat silenced. However, one can see it still active when we ask or friends or spiritual guides about what we should do in a given situation. It indicates that we realize that we alone cannot answer all questions. Instead of being humiliating, I find this idea incredibly exciting, because I know I'm not smart enough to deal with all the problems I have.


[ Parent ]

I see (5.00 / 1) (#322)
by adiffer on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 11:16:33 PM EST

You have a good angle on your explanation of the analogy.  That leaves the difference between us a matter of who we trust to deliver expert advice and when to go ask for it.  While I agree a monther could go ask for such advice regarding her fetus, I'd be loathe to impose upon her a law subordinating her 'diagnosis' to that of some chosen expert.

Regarding my second paragraph, I didn't explain it well enough.  However after reading your follow on, there isn't much to debate between us.  As usual, when most people spend long enough to describe their positions and do it without the emotional heat some writers use, what they lay out is pretty reasonable.  Disagreements may occur on minor details, but you and I are actually pretty close on the major structure.  I am inclined to occasionally use law as a lever to bring about social change, but I know past experience has proven it to be inefficient.  I prefer to use social interactions to bring about social change, though.  That is why I prefer the law to remain silent on some contentious issues.  Our politicians serve us, but on some issues, there isn't much they can do for us until we decide what we want them to do.

I would argue that affirmative action has had some positive effect, though.  The change it has produced isn't to eliminate the social tendency toward racism.  What is has done is given moral support to those of us who think the rest of society is behaving abominably when they engage in discrimination.  Reinforcing one side of an old argument is a dangerous thing to do, but I think it is worth it in situations where the contending groups are willing to resort to violence.  Its a long gamble either way.  Look at how long prohibition was planned and tried in the US before the decision was made that it had failed as an example of that.
--BE The Alien!
[ Parent ]

Interesting! (3.66 / 3) (#133)
by Kasreyn on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 09:12:42 PM EST

I've never noticed this aspect of it before (mostly because "fetal homicide" laws have never been brought to my attention before), but I see no way out of the paradox. Unless we assume that one person's personhood can depend on another person's "wanting" them or not. In which case, since I really don't want psychologist, can we kill him? Oh, we can't? Gee.

Agree with you on all points. I also like how you (mostly) avoided showing your particular bias on the abortion issue; this will make it 10x easier for your article to post, since most people on the abortion issue prefer to act emotionally rather than rationally, and k5 is only slightly exempt from that.

My personal opinion is that a fetus is a person from the moment of conception and no one has the right to decide it is not, but I suppose that's irrelevant to the topic. Even if my thinking was reversed, I'd still agree with you that this paradox is irreconcilable.

+1 FP, good work.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
you're a fundamentalist (1.50 / 2) (#138)
by circletimessquare on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 10:18:08 PM EST

congratulations for having no appreciation for subtle complexities of life.

congratulations for applying simplistic clodhammer solutions to complex problems.

you are unaware of how thinking like yours makes everyone- and everything, suffer.

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Subtle complexities... (none / 0) (#141)
by Kasreyn on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 10:47:40 PM EST

...as opposed to thinking a living being with a certain genetic identity only becomes a seperate being with its own genetic identity after a more or less arbitrary three month period?

I propose that you take a step back, reread some of my posts (you can find them in my k5 info, of course), and try to get your head around my actual *arguments*, rather than lashing out emotionally on an issue that pushes your peeve buttons. It's called "rational debate", and even on such a highly-charged issue as abortion, it is possible. Unless, of course, you'd rather make more ad hominem attacks on me and call it a night. ^_^


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
replies (none / 0) (#143)
by circletimessquare on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 10:57:06 PM EST

http://www.kuro5hin.org/comments/2003/4/25/123058/982/135#135

http://www.kuro5hin.org/comments/2003/3/17/182136/212/25#25

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Oh no... (none / 0) (#176)
by jjayson on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 05:56:48 AM EST

Your posts lately have been so much better than just a few months ago. Please don't devolve.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
look (1.00 / 2) (#179)
by circletimessquare on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 06:59:21 AM EST

if i wanted aseptic impassionate discussion i would get a frontal lobotomy and cut my balls off.

the guy pisses me off with his simpleton thinking. he deserves to be grabbed by the collar and have some sense slapped into him. so i do it.

i act on my gut and i need explain myself to no one. i could care less what people's impressions of me are. honestly.

so fuck off, dad.


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

And of course... (none / 0) (#197)
by Squidward on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 12:37:36 PM EST

You have the right to decide who thinks right and who doesn't.

Anyway, my (off-topic) point is this: If you could care less about something that means you care more than the minimum amount. Maybe you even care a great deal about people's impressions of you.

Perhaps what you're trying to say is that you couldn't care less? Because that would make more sense in the context of your post.

I, sir, protrude my tongue in your general direction.

[ Parent ]

whatever man (none / 0) (#214)
by circletimessquare on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 07:03:57 PM EST

who gives a shit

so many clingy people in the world

grow some independent thought and maybe you wouldn't need to be amazed at a show of passionate debate

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

What is the "paradox?" (1.00 / 1) (#203)
by dipierro on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 01:43:40 PM EST

I've never noticed this aspect of it before (mostly because "fetal homicide" laws have never been brought to my attention before), but I see no way out of the paradox. Unless we assume that one person's personhood can depend on another person's "wanting" them or not.

Actually there's a really simple way out of the "paradox." A fetus is a "person," but some "people" can be killed justifiably.

There's a second way out of the "paradox." A fetus is not a "person," but it's illegal to kill a fetus without the permission of the mother anyway.

Personally I'd argue for the second solution. But it's really just a matter of terminology (as are most "paradoxes."



[ Parent ]
That complicates things (none / 0) (#217)
by delducra on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 07:54:18 PM EST

If we do take "the moment of conception" as the start of life, there is huge fallout. Is each menstration to be analyzed for the possible existence of life - with the necessary death certificates, investigations, etc. that go along with that? Is a woman who has sex one day and later engages in activities that inhibit/interfere with the attachment to the uterean wall guilty of criminal neglect or murder?

These are extreme examples, yes. However, if we insist on putting a pin-point definition to "the start of a human life" as the moment(?) of conception - these issues will have to be addresses.

[ Parent ]
Unfortunately, there MUST be a definition. (5.00 / 1) (#258)
by Kasreyn on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 08:06:18 AM EST

When we are speaking of such things as legal definition of humanity for the purposes of preventing murder, there HAS to be a sane, logical, and universally accepted definition of what a human being is. You can't apply laws to a thing (laws being a rational process we've applied to the chaos that is reality), unless you can say for sure what the thing is that the laws are applying to. And yet, there is no such universally accepted definition, despite our species being possibly two million years old, and human civilization possibly as old as 10,000 years. Despite all that time we've spent pondering our origins, we still haven't unanimously reached a definition of what makes a human human; at least not one that is satisfactory to everyone. That is to say, we can't agree on what we are. And without such an agreement, ALL these arguments are really kind of pointless, because we're not on the same wavelength. It's like a kind of conceptual Tower of Babel.

I realize that drawing the line at conception opens up a lot of other hairy ethical and, yes, procedural and cultural problems. But where else is a good point to draw the line? Is there a better place? Because, frankly, the time is past due to draw it.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Practicality and Jurisprudence. (none / 0) (#285)
by vectro on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 08:53:36 PM EST

It's pretty easy to agree what a human being is: Let it be a member of the species homo sapiens. That argument is a biological one.

A far more interesting and relevant question, on the other hand, is that of what beings and entities should be entitled to legal protection. This has traditionally been a moral question, but I argue that in a secular world we cannot fall to the crutch of objective morality. Neither can we allow each individual to have his or own morality, for that would be equivalent to the banishment of the rule of law.

A third option is to take a pragmatic approach to law. For example, murder is illegal not because it is immoral but because without protection of one's right to life, we lose incentive to invest in the future, to participate in government, and ultimately live in fear.

Using this reasoning behind murder, I think few could argue that there is a strong societal interestin protecting an unimplanted, fertilised egg. Similarly, I think most would agree that there is a societal interest in protecting a healthy and reasonable 40-year-old. The question then becomes one of drawing the line: At what point along this 41-year progression does one become eligible to exercise one's right to life?

My preferred qualification is that if a being can understand what it means to die then its life should be protected. No-one, I think, would apply this definition to a fetus. But neither would one apply it to a newborn child, for at the very least some number of months. Nor will the age at which one falls under this rule be the same for all members of homo sapiens. And any attempt to apply this rule in practice will be far to susceptible to corruption and dilution.

To counteract these problems, we might choose a well-defined lower bound. This would be an easy-to-determine point in time such that no one before the chosen time would be eligible. One such choice might be the time of birth. Not because it marks a milestone in self-consciousness, but because the practicalities of jurisprudence make the demarcation useful.

Finally, with respect to the question at hand, the loss of an unborn child is (or should be) merely one of property rights. The grief felt by parents who suffer a miscarriage is the same in type (and perhaps degree as well) as that experienced by an artist whose life's work is destroyed in a natural disaster.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

Intelligent debate AT LAST. =) (none / 0) (#287)
by Kasreyn on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 12:42:53 AM EST

I'm overjoyed to find someone who's willing to rationally and calmly discuss these issues without bringing irrelevancies into the argument.

It's pretty easy to agree what a human being is: Let it be a member of the species homo sapiens. That argument is a biological one.


Well, yes, this is true. But in the context at hand, I was more concerned with: at what point does a pregnant woman CEASE to be one person with a growth of her own cells in her uterus, and BECOME a person with another person inside her uterus?

A far more interesting and relevant question, on the other hand, is that of what beings and entities should be entitled to legal protection. This has traditionally been a moral question, but I argue that in a secular world we cannot fall to the crutch of objective morality.


Finally, someone who understands this concept. These things must be decided on a rational basis; there is no other way to have sufficient justification for the law's actions. Everyone has a different ethic and a different morality; it is the law's job to apply a singular morality to society as a whole (at least, that is my understanding).

A third option is to take a pragmatic approach to law. For example, murder is illegal not because it is immoral but because without protection of one's right to life, we lose incentive to invest in the future, to participate in government, and ultimately live in fear.


I try to avoid the pragmatic approach to law (and life, in general). IMO, it's where Marx and Engels went wrong. =P Instead, I like to extrapolate my ethics (and legal views) from the basic rights assured by the Constitution of the U.S.A.: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. In that exact order, therefore the right to life must take precedence over liberty (you can't be free if you don't exist); liberty over happiness (you can't truly be happy without at least a measure of freedom), and happiness last (when life and liberty are assured, it's time to strife for a good life). This is why the laws say I cannot stop a KKK member from saying his thing in a Klan rally: his right to liberty supersedes my right to happiness.

My preferred qualification is that if a being can understand what it means to die then its life should be protected. No-one, I think, would apply this definition to a fetus. But neither would one apply it to a newborn child, for at the very least some number of months. Nor will the age at which one falls under this rule be the same for all members of homo sapiens. And any attempt to apply this rule in practice will be far to susceptible to corruption and dilution.


Hmm. Well, I agree with you that the line needs to be drawn firmly to avoid "corruption and dilution", and confusion in general, which leads to mistakes. There's no room in this debate for wishy-washy, have your cake and eat it too people. But I disagree with you about the understanding of death being the requirement; if this were the case, there would be no comatose vegetables wasting resources in our hospitals. No Alzheimer's patients would be receiving any care from HMO's. These are examples of people who no longer can show, in any way, that they retain an understanding of what it is to die. Are we to stop considering them human? It's a tough call to make, and skirts dangerously close to the concept of "you're human until you're no longer useful to society", which is the path Stalin seemed to take.

To counteract these problems, we might choose a well-defined lower bound. This would be an easy-to-determine point in time such that no one before the chosen time would be eligible.


A good idea, and commendable. Some of those without your qualifications would be wrongly protected, under this plan, but it is better that that happen than one who WAS qualified for protection be killed. I still disagree with your qualification, but I agree that a safe margin must be left to avoid accidental injustice.

One such choice might be the time of birth. Not because it marks a milestone in self-consciousness, but because the practicalities of jurisprudence make the demarcation useful.


Birth is practical, but in no other way is it scientifically a good point to determine when a person becomes a seperate human (except to the simple-minded). After all, some people are not born. There's clearly nothing about being squeezed through a birth canal that turns a non-human into a human (or, to use your terms, a human ineligible for protection into one eligible for it). Besides, not all children are born at the same time - a friend of mine was 3 months premature, while I was 2 weeks late. Birth seems altogether too random and ill-defined an "event" to base this sort of thing on, at least to me.

Finally, with respect to the question at hand, the loss of an unborn child is (or should be) merely one of property rights.


Under current law, this is indeed how it is treated. I would rather the loss of an unborn child be treated the same way as the loss of a child who has been born: with grief over the unique, never-again-to-be-repeated human potential which has been forever lost.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Curios reparenting. (none / 0) (#312)
by vectro on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 06:18:07 PM EST

See reply here

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
My point of reference is simple (none / 0) (#325)
by I Robot on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 12:14:43 AM EST

If you don't monkey with it, will those cells become a human being or something else? If they would (unimpeded) become a human later, they are human now. Not a dandelion. Not a zebra. A human.

[ Parent ]
The moment the sperm penetrates the egg (none / 0) (#358)
by Merc on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 02:02:04 AM EST

You're picking that as the moment it becomes a person? How very odd.

So you're saying that the 4th amendment to the US constitution should apply to a fertilized egg? That it should be "secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures"? How about the fundamental freedoms of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Should a fertilized egg be granted "freedom of peaceful assembly"?

How does your definition of a person apply to eggs fertilized in a lab? If someone is doing research on fertilization drugs and ends up fertilizing then destroying 100 eggs a day, is this scientist a mass murderer? If the drugs the scientist develops helps hundreds of couples conceive and have happy, healthy babies, do you still see the scientist as an evil person whose hands are drenched in blood?

While a fertilized egg might qualify as a "life form", I don't see how you can count it as a person, but if you can argue your case, I'd like to hear it.



[ Parent ]
i'm going to get flamed for this, but so what... (4.43 / 23) (#135)
by circletimessquare on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 09:28:47 PM EST

i think the double standard is perfectly acceptable, and here is why:

some say a human being is not a human being until they are born. some say a human being is a human being at the moment of conception. or implantation in the uterine wall. or at cell division 64. or the second trimester.

whatever. ten tons of hot air has already been wasted on when an agglomeration of cells/ fetus/ baby is alive or dead.

the truth is more fleeting.

the truth is that human life is not binary. it gradually comes into being through natural processes of conception and birth. it is a sine wave, not a vertical wall of "alive/ not alive."

human life gradually fades as well.

to get my point across without nitpicking the abortion issue to death (sorry), consider this: when is a human being truly dead?

when their brain goes due to alzheimer's? when they stop breathing? when their heart stops? when their last synapse fires in confusion at it's isolation? when their last cell metabolizes their last store of atp? when their last macrophage gives up the fight against foreign invaders of decomposition?

the answer is not binary. it is a gradual process.

but we human beings like to think in terms of logic: hard choppy binary blocks: on/ off. true/ false. there is no room for the the subtle organic curves of life where "truth" is twisty, not hard as a rock.

so the truth is that we all have diverging opinions on such an important matter. we fall at various points on the bell curve that passes for "truth" on questions of life, organic and fleeting as it is, so are our opinions.

the morality of abortion is the minefield it is exactly because human life is not binary. it gradually comes into being, and gradually fades, through natural processes across which being alive or dead is of transient understanding.

but since life is so dear to us, our emotional acceptance of this fact is fraught with trauma. and so our wars over the morality of abortion will wage for a long time. "right!" "wrong!" whatever. we believe passionately in life, so our passions will be at war over abortion for a long time.

my point? i think it is perfectly appropriate that the asshole who killed his wife in california have the death of his fetus count against him, while at the same time i think it is perfectly appropriate that mothers who do not want children be able to abort fetuses that cannot survive on their own outside their mother's bodies (subtle hint to my personal bias of what a living human being is right there).

and to me, this double standard is perfectly appropriate, because the "truth" on the issue of human life is organic and twisty, not binary and solid.


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Digital: no. But analog shouldn't toss the issue (4.66 / 6) (#157)
by Verax on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 02:58:14 AM EST

human life gradually fades as well.

to get my point across without nitpicking the abortion issue to death (sorry), consider this: when is a human being truly dead?

when their brain goes due to alzheimer's? when they stop breathing? when their heart stops? when their last synapse fires in confusion at it's isolation? when their last cell metabolizes their last store of atp? when their last macrophage gives up the fight against foreign invaders of decomposition?

the answer is not binary. it is a gradual process.

but we human beings like to think in terms of logic: hard choppy binary blocks: on/ off. true/ false. there is no room for the the subtle organic curves of life where "truth" is twisty, not hard as a rock.

I was with you up until here. Yes, death is a sort of gradual process, but that's not to say that it's a long gradual process. Although some cynics might say "good health is merely the slowest possible way to die", death of the body happens more quickly than that. If someone's sitting there, talking to you, they're clearly alive. And if a body has flowers growing out it's eye sockets, and is filled with little wormies with indigestion from overeating, the someone's clearly dead. So, even if we can't specify an instant in which death occurs, we can do a pretty good job of narrowing it down, and we can always wait a short while for a conclusive answer.

Likewise, at conception, there is some time between the sperm entering the egg, and when there is a definite zygote. Yes, this is not instantanious. It takes some seconds or perhaps a few minutes. But, in spite of not having an exact answer, we can say for sure in which range of time life begins. Furthermore, it makes sense to err on the side of caution. So even if life does not begin the picosecond after the sperm cell enters the egg, we know there is life within a few minutes.

I think that science has advanced enough that most educated people no longer argue that the conceptus is not alive (clearly the cells of which it is composed are actively dividing and metabolizing nutrients; these cells are not deat), or that it is not human (a quick DNA test will show that it is a member of the species Homo Sapiens. Instead we start cooking up terms like "person" and "potential person" and such.

I think the real problem is not a lack of scientific understanding, but rather an attachment to abortion or harvesting stem cells. Now I doubt that anyone loves abortion for its own sake. But I think that direct or indirect involvement has lead many people into extreme rationalization because the reality is so awful to face. So the problem is not lack of scientific knowledge, but the collective rationalizations of a huge percentage of our population.

So many people are ready to say how wonderful "choice" is. But who will tell us truthfully of the tremendous pain in the hearts of women who went through with abortions? Post abortion suicide statistics provide a hint. But the human misery runs so much deeper. Having angry people calling these women murderers certainly doesn't help. But neither does rationalizing.



----------------------------------------------
"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
good points (4.66 / 3) (#162)
by circletimessquare on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 03:57:15 AM EST

but what is missing in all of the debate over the life of the zygote is the life of the pregnant woman.

i submit that the detrimental effects of having a child on the life of the pregnant woman outweighs the life of a zygote in a decreaing way on a daily basis. there is a point- we can debate when that point is until we are blue in the face, but there is a point, at which the life of the mother being more important than the life of the zygote switches to their lives being equally important.

the devil is in the way mother nature has crafted our reproductive process. the life of mother and child is bonded biologically, so the rights of one cannot be considered uniquely from the rights of the other. women don't lay eggs and walk away. combined with breastfeeding and basic childrearing, it is a bond of many years that gradually relaxes from an initial starting point of mortal, biological inseparability.

so maybe instead of talking about the gradual way in which we live and die, it would have been more appropriate to talk about the gradual, organic way in which we go from cellular agglomeration to adult human beings. and so, being a gradual process, there are no binary "on/off" state of being and independence. and so our morality and laws should reflect that nuanced fact rather simplistic notions and idealistic, childlike morality.

to equate a nonviable fetus with the life of an adult equally is simplistic and essentially ignorant of reality. it is blind adherence to funndamentalist moral dogma which offers no happiness to anyone, including the potential life of the fetus.

i think abortion is evil, and vile, and unfortunate. but sometimes, it must happen. and the decision should be left to the mother, not the state.

a good rule of thumb is surviveability outside the uterus. of course this changes with medical technology. who said the answer was ever set in stone?

so if the fetus could have survived on its own, and the mother aborted it, then she should be punished.

but before that time of surviveability, it is as the mother wishes. it is her body. all of us debating wisemen and ignorant pricks and everyone in between here on kuro5hin... or in the government, or in gossip at the laundromat, or sitting in the almighty church: we have no right to judge. period.

we have the right to butt out and nothing more. when we cross that line, we debase the free will of a woman.

a woman is a human being whose reproductive imperatives should not be twisted into tools of her debasement. giving the fetus rights expanded beyond the prudent and practical and responsible way of thinking about things- entering the realm of fundamentalist, idealistic notions in other words, is tantamount to suppressing womens rights. to not see how woman and child are connected in this way is just naive.

to not understand that overinflating the rights of zygotes and nonviable fetuses suppresses the rights of women is to be a simpleton, with no real understanding, merely a child's simplisitic, innexperienced morality.


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I'm just slow (3.00 / 1) (#166)
by joecool12321 on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 04:29:44 AM EST

I'm really trying to understand your position, but I'm having a hard time. I understand the 'fuzzy logic' approach you're trying to take, I think. What I don't understand is the nature of the thing while it's neither nothing nor a human being. What exactly is it, what is the essence of an embryo?

[ Parent ]
the essence of an embryo (5.00 / 1) (#171)
by circletimessquare on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 04:47:46 AM EST

according to me, which doesn't necessarily mean much...

from time of conception to independent viability: at the discretion of the mother's free will.

after the time of independent viability: to abort the fetus means the mother deserves some sort of punishment, but not necessarily equivalent to that of murdering an adult/ child.

"independent viability" meaning modern technology can support it (so that's a moving target).

"discretion of the mother' free will" meaning if the mother decides to abort the fetus during this time, that is entirely up to her... society, government, opinionated or gossipy folk like us, the church, etc.: we all have the right to butt out, and no more.

why do i frame it like this? well, to question the mother's decision making and her right to decide as she sees best is to impinge upon the free will of the mother. and i think to do that is to do more damage to society and a moral sense of right and wrong than it is to inflate the rights of the nonviable fetus during the early period of it's existence. others may call the situation as they see it different. but that's just how i see it.

and if this sounds not right to you, then how do you frame the rights of the fetus and the mother separately? taking into account that they are biologically connnected as they are?

it really is a hard and complicated question, fraught with individual opinions. that is why the debate rages as it does.

if women laid eggs and walked away, it would be a lot simpler. but that's just not the case. we work with what mother nature dealt us... pun partially intended. ;-P


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

not the essence (4.00 / 1) (#172)
by joecool12321 on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 04:54:37 AM EST

Yeah, I want "according to you" because it's an interesting view, and if it's good enough for you to hold, it might settle some questions for me.

Unfortunately, you didn't answer my question, or (more likely) I phrased my question poorly. You told me how to treat the fetus, but you didn't tell me what it is. The anti-abortionist would say it's essence is human-ness. That is, the "is"-ness of the embryo is human: that's what it is. The pro-abortionist would say either it is a human and it's ok to kill it, or say it's not a human: it's essentially a 'growth' inside the mother. My question is this: from your viewpoint, from your advocacy, what is the essence or is-ness of the embryo: what is it?

[ Parent ]

ummm (4.00 / 1) (#174)
by circletimessquare on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 05:32:07 AM EST

again, it's just my opinion, but i would say that an embryo is almost a person

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
OK (3.00 / 1) (#180)
by joecool12321 on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 07:00:16 AM EST

Yeah, interesting.

The problem I see, though, is that it's not an "almost person" because, according to you, the mother could say it actually is a person, whereas another mother could say it actually isn't a person. I think your view as presented is logically contradictory. You're not actually saying it's a sine wave, you're saying it's binary based on the mother's choice, which is completely different. Or maybe I'm missing something.

[ Parent ]

Not (3.50 / 2) (#181)
by gyan on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 07:07:30 AM EST

A fetus isn't an human. It's an organism that's developing towards becoming a human. Hence the gestation period in the carrier before nature is ready to dump you out in the real world.

********************************

[ Parent ]
do you know any physics? (5.00 / 1) (#182)
by circletimessquare on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 07:12:35 AM EST

what is a photon: a particle or a wave?

quantum mechanics says that at some point, both are true.

you can't really tell whether a fetus is a person or not without the mother's input, indeed: think of my assertion as the heisenberg uncertainty principle of life. that the observer changes what is observed... they are entangled phenomenon, inseperable from each other as independent units of what is true or false or curved.

schroedinger's fetus? ;-P

we're getting really weird here.


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

At birth, a baby is 1.0 humans (5.00 / 1) (#191)
by Sze on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 10:43:07 AM EST

At conception, it is 0.1 humans and gradually increases over 9 months or so to 0.99 humans at which point the mother enters labor. The mother, and her doctor, are granted an option of excercising a one-time only -0.4 humans event on the potential child. At 0.6 humans, it is possible for the potential child to exist outside of the womb with medical assistance. This 0.6 human will either suddenly jump to 0.0 humans or will gradually increase to 1.0 humans inside of an incubator.

Scott Peterson exerted a -0.85 humans event on his potential child, which is, rightfully so, against the law.

[ Parent ]

Hrm (none / 0) (#199)
by joecool12321 on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 12:56:16 PM EST

I don't think this is the same thing circletimessquare was saying. But what I don't understand is how something can be part human, and what makes it so. Is a monkey .4 human?

[ Parent ]
animal rights (2.00 / 2) (#211)
by circletimessquare on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 06:18:17 PM EST

how many fetuses is a chimpanzee worth? how many fetuses is a mountain gorilla worth?

how many fetuses is a beloved family pet dog worth? how many fetuses is a rabid wolf worth?

the answer?

now different measurements and guidelines come into play.

i think it is a little weird to talk about animal rights in terms of fetus units,  so how about simply talking about animal life in terms of right and wrong? the relative merits of fetus life can be talked about in terms of right and wrong as well, and some sort of correlation can be made that away instead if you like. direct comparison between fetuses and animals is not a matter of being unappropriate, it is simply a matter of being arcane and not very instructive.

i think a person can kill as many cows as they want to, infinite cows: provided they intend to eat them. but they can show no cruelty. if they kill a cow with no intention of eating it, or they kill a cow with cruelty, then they should be punished.

at the same time, if someone knowingly kills the last of a species on the planet earth- say they knowingly kill the last mountain gorilla in the world, i honestly think that person should be executed. the life of an entire species is more valuable to us than the life of a person. honestly.

i think red necks have the right to go hunting and kill deer. but they have to indend to kill it quickly and painlessly as possible when they aim at the deer. no cruelty. and THEY HAVE TO EAT IT. if they don't eat it, or they are cruel, they should be punished.

they cannot use the deer for skins: we have superior synthetic alternatives nowadays. the deer need not lose its life for this purpose.

but an inuit in nunavut can kill for skins. their access to the most appropriate clothing for their environment is more easily accessible in nature, in animals, than in their access to walmart. so they can kill for skins.

however, native americans on the west coast cannot hunt whales. they don't need to. they can get their food at the grocery market. the ego of their identity be not fed with the blood of cetaceans anymore.

likewise, japan and norway can NOT hunt whales. the health and vibrancy of these cetacean populations should be allowed to rebound to historical levels before they can hunt whales again. that might take hundreds of years of amnesty before anyone can hunt whales again.

rich bitches in fur coats should be outlawed. the fur, fox, etc, industry should be smashed. we have superior synthetic alternatives. you have no need to parade your stupid display of wealth in dead animals in modern society anymore. you are simply cruel and crude to do so.

so you can kill as many animals as you want without punishment, provided: the species is not in danger, that you do it without cruelty, and you do it because you intend to eat it. if you are cruel or kill threatened species, or kill without using the dead animals body for sustenance, then you should be punished

and in extreme cases like killing the last of a species, you should be executed.

a human life, a fetal life, is not worth as much as the last of an animal species. but a human life, a fetal life, is worth an infinite amount of cow or chicken lives, provided they are killed without cruelty and killed for food.


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Wacky reasoning (3.00 / 2) (#290)
by synaesthesia on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 08:18:13 AM EST

they cannot use the deer for skins: we have superior synthetic alternatives nowadays. the deer need not lose its life for this purpose.

Er... we have vegetarian food these days.


Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

hey dude (2.00 / 2) (#295)
by circletimessquare on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 10:10:06 AM EST

how are you feeling about our sars bet?

have you ever had the feeling you were going to win a bet and you felt bad about it? i do ;-(

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I suppose so... (1.00 / 1) (#297)
by synaesthesia on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 11:21:28 AM EST

But if you thinking you've won the bet and you actually winning the bet were the same thing, I wouldn't have made the bet, would I?

I feel quite confident, thank you... as far as I know, there still isn't a case of SARS which can't be connected to the original outbreak, and we're only somewhere between a sixth and a twelfth of the way through our bet.

So... how are you feeling about the point I made about vegetarian food?


Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

i changed the subject for a reason (2.00 / 2) (#298)
by circletimessquare on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 11:36:45 AM EST

trying...
to care...
about vegetarians...

can't resist urge...
to purge...
subject matter...

soylent greens anyone?

seriously, we were made to eat meat, we are omnivores, it is part of a healthy diet.
vegetarianism is like utopianism... it would be a nicer world if we were all pastoral bunny rabbits... but we're not, end of story.

we're mean, meat-chomping, flesh-craving, naked apes.

cows and chickens everywhere: fear for your lives.

lol ;-P


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

You will never cease to amaze me. (1.00 / 1) (#299)
by synaesthesia on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 11:56:07 AM EST

You might as well argue that "we are made to wear fur" (observation: we have evolved with hairless skin).

Whether or not you care about vegetarianism is neither here nor there. The point is, you've made the "it's unnecessary" argument about fur; now apply it to food.

Let me give you a clue: you cannot kill an animal without cruelty. You do not need to kill animals in order to eat healthily. We have risen above many of the barbaric ways of our ancestors.

The reason you changed the subject is that you like eating meat. You know full well that you don't need to eat meat, but you like it too much to acknowledge that fact in your argument.


Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

reasons why you are wrong (2.00 / 3) (#302)
by circletimessquare on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 01:20:33 PM EST

the ECONOMICS of clothing us in petroleum byproducts and cotton is cheaper than it is to do in furry woodland creatures, that's why the fur argument makes sense.

now if you were smart, you would make your argument based on economics- that the cost of acreage needed to raise a cow is heftier- on the environment, on pocketbooks, etc., then it is of the acreage to grow soybeans to turn into soy-wannabe-meat.

instead oyu talk about "suffering". "cruelty". jesus christ, as if any of that matters compared with human hunger for flesh.

or maybe we could grow real, bonafida meat in giant hydroponic vats when we get the genetics right- synth chicken.

but right now, we don't have the genetics right, and people don't like their vegeburgers- they like MEAT. lip-smacking savory FLESH. so they are willing to pay a PREMIUM to get their mouths on sweet, sweet animal flesh. ;-P

so don't argue with me. argue with millions of years of evolution and basic human craven HUNGER.

think of it as a drug addiction: if we can't reign in alcohol or marijuana use, how do you expect to break the human animal from its heebie jeebie hankering for flame-broiled muscle tissue?

"well if we were all vegetarians cute little bunnies wouldn't have to suffer."

whatever dude. cute little bunny suffering be damned. i need my FLESH. lol ;-P

your whole argument on animal suffering versus human desire for eating flesh: you do the math. you figure out what snowballs chance in hell your argument has against human tastes which are basically programmed into our genetic code since before we even evolved into humans.

what are you going to do next? picket lions and tigers and bears oh my?

this is mother nature. the real world. big fish eat little fish. birds eat bugs. savannah carnivore prey on gazelles.

at least as human beings we can minimize the suffering involved. do you think a gazelle suffers much as a lion asphyxiates it with it's bite hold on the animal's neck?

that's MOTHER NATURE dude. that is the way the FUCKING WORLD IS DESIGNED.

THINGS EAT THINGS. get it? that's just the way the goddamn world works. and the prey suffers. mother nature doesn't seem to give a fuck about that. we humans MINIMIZE the suffering and cruelty involved. yes, that actually counts for something.

your beef is not with me (pun partially intended). your beef is not with cargill or mcdonalds. your beef is with mother nature.

your vegetarian arguments have a long, long uphill road to travel before they actually convince anyone to stop eating animal flesh. and if you actually want to make progress, talk economics. not suffering. eyes will glaze over if you stick to that. you will have a better chance of convincing people.

and get to work in the lab and the pantry getting that soyburger to taste oh so right and the synthetic meat growing in those vats.

then you will get somewhere with your pov.

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Hello? (1.00 / 1) (#303)
by synaesthesia on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 03:17:13 PM EST

Have you ever thought about seeing a specialist about your lack of critical analysis?

instead oyu talk about "suffering". "cruelty". jesus christ, as if any of that matters compared with human hunger for flesh.

No, it was you who brought up the subject of cruelty:

"i think a person can kill as many cows as they want to, infinite cows: provided they intend to eat them. but they can show no cruelty. if they kill a cow with no intention of eating it, or they kill a cow with cruelty, then they should be punished."

Think you can remember back that far in the discussion?

"THINGS EAT THINGS. get it? that's just the way the goddamn world works."

Mmm-hmmm. Vegetarians eat vegetables. Hey, guess what? SPECIES DIE OUT. ANIMALS KILL FOR FUN. Your beef is with mother nature.

Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

whatever dude (2.00 / 2) (#304)
by circletimessquare on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 03:35:46 PM EST

why did you bring up vegetarianism?

just to point out logical contradictions on my part?

i won't address said accusations of contradicitons, i will say this:

eating animal flesh is enjoyed by the vast majority of all races, all nations, all ages, all lifestyles.

it's nutritious. it's delicious.

you are in no position to be chastizing me or to be smug, when your pov is so very nonpersuasive to the vast majority of us.

do you actually believe vegetarianism is superior? if you do, then you will evangelicize it appropriately. you are failng in that regard.

you are arguing a pov that has a lot to prove to us. i have nothing to prove to you.

i will not indulge your fantasy utopianism. you will indulge us as to the how and why of your utopian vision. we are skeptical. you are fringe.

so the burden is on you, not me.

vegetarianism is high-minded impossible utopianism. it's not even a good diet for good nutrition.

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

That was a pretty poor attempt (3.00 / 2) (#311)
by synaesthesia on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 06:15:21 PM EST

why did you bring up vegetarianism?

just to point out logical contradictions on my part?

Of course.

i won't address said accusations of contradicitons

Aw, diddums. The word you're looking for is "can't".

i will not indulge your fantasy utopianism

You'll indulge your own, though: in which people aren't cruel to animals. Cruelty is just as 'natural' as eating meat.

vegetarianism is high-minded impossible utopianism. it's not even a good diet for good nutrition.

In what sense is vegetarianism "impossible"?

Remember, before you reply: I never said that you ought to be a vegetarian. I said that eating animals was more cruel than not eating them. It was you who said that we should avoid pursuits which are cruel to animals.

Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

fun stuff (2.00 / 2) (#315)
by circletimessquare on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 06:28:04 PM EST

so you don't want to talk to me, you want dissect me.

you didn't bring up vegetarianism to promote it, which is what i thought you were doing, you just bought it up to make a point on what cruelty is.

well, i wish you were more straightforward to begin with.

and for the record, minimizing cruelty means something. there is a difference between killing an animal slowly and painfully, and quickly and mercifully. one is cruel, the other isn't. there is a meaningful difference and you can't, i mean, you won't negate it by calling both ends of the spectrum cruel. no. one end is cruel, and the other end is merciful.

so i don't even know what point you are trying to make.

be more direct, stop playing games. you can't be vague about your points and then criticize me because i grasp at your straws. my only alternative is to just stop grasping at what you are trying to say and ignore you for being so sketchy.

so i'll make you a deal. i'll be direct and lucid, and you be direct and lucid, and we will... sorry, we can forget all about things i say about things you didn't even mean because you weren't very direct in the first place.

and fuck off with the won't/ can't semantics. you know what i mean. don't play stupid verbiage games.


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

A bit one-sided, though. (1.00 / 1) (#317)
by synaesthesia on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 07:19:09 PM EST

you didn't bring up vegetarianism to promote it, which is what i thought you were doing, you just bought it up to make a point on what cruelty is.

You mean to say... you thought that this:

they cannot use the deer for skins: we have superior synthetic alternatives nowadays. the deer need not lose its life for this purpose.

Er... we have vegetarian food these days.

was my choice of starting point for a random, offtopic, impromptu promotion of the vegetarian diet?

I obviously credited you with much more intelligence than you deserve.

and for the record, minimizing cruelty means something. there is a difference between killing an animal slowly and painfully, and quickly and mercifully. one is cruel, the other isn't. there is a meaningful difference and you can't, i mean, you won't negate it by calling both ends of the spectrum cruel. no. one end is cruel, and the other end is merciful.

Ah, but "quickly" is not the at end of the spectrum, it's in the middle somewhere. At the merciful end is "not even killing the animal at all".

so i don't even know what point you are trying to make.

be more direct, stop playing games. you can't be vague about your points and then criticize me because i grasp at your straws. my only alternative is to just stop grasping at what you are trying to say and ignore you for being so sketchy.

Well, you could always just stop playing dumb.

so i'll make you a deal. i'll be direct and lucid, and you be direct and lucid, and we will... sorry, we can forget all about things i say about things you didn't even mean because you weren't very direct in the first place.

and fuck off with the won't/ can't semantics. you know what i mean. don't play stupid verbiage games.

Explain to me why you think it's a game, rather than just me pointing out that you can't refute the accusation of contradiction? (aside from that explanation, a proper refutation of the accusion would be ideal).



Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]
humor takes over (2.00 / 3) (#320)
by circletimessquare on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 08:13:54 PM EST

Explain to me why you think it's a game, rather than just me pointing out that you can't refute the accusation of contradiction? (aside from that explanation, a proper refutation of the accusion would be ideal).

No, I won't refute the accusation of contradiction. lol ;-P

Ah, but "quickly" is not the at end of the spectrum, it's in the middle somewhere. At the merciful end is "not even killing the animal at all".

but not killing the animal is not an option. you can't gnaw on it's leg/ wing while it is still walking around. people eat animals. get used to it. there is no reason for them to eat animals (well, nutritionally, i could argue there is, but i'll drop it to avoid another ad nauseum), but they LIKE to. they WANT to. on a very deep, primal level, ingrained into our very psychological and genetic being.

i don't have to argue with you. i have the weight of an immoveable reality on my side. people ate animals. people are eating animals. people will eat animals.

argue against the eating of animals all you want. that parallel universe you desire does not exist. so your position is untenable. so the basic error here is in your attempt to argue from your pov on killing animals. so there is no need to refute you. all i have to do is fold my arms and tap my toes and just stand by and yawn and watch the weight of reality sink in and crush your pov.

that's the meat of our dispute. lol ;-P


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Just keep on laughing... (1.50 / 2) (#330)
by synaesthesia on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 07:01:06 AM EST

No, I won't refute the accusation of contradiction. lol ;-P

You can't even deny that the reason you won't refute the accusation is because you can't. You just keep lolling around... I can imagine you rocking back and forth, cackling to yourself...

Let me put this another way. You are not able to refute the accusation of contradiction. Or to restate it slightly differently, refuting the accusation is something you cannot do. Put simply, refuting the accusation is beyond you. Indeed, no-one in your position would be able to refute the accusation. Let me remind you why:

you have no need to parade your stupid display of wealth in dead animals in modern society anymore. you are simply cruel and crude to do so.

[you] talk about "suffering". "cruelty". jesus christ, as if any of that matters compared with human hunger for flesh.

at least as human beings we can minimize the suffering involved.

mother nature doesn't seem to give a fuck about that. we humans MINIMIZE the suffering and cruelty involved. yes, that actually counts for something.

Make your mind up. Either we humans can rise above nature's cruelty, or we can't.

I've started to think that you might be beyond stupid, and into the realm of mental disorder. Your thinking is the kind that can be used to justify to yourself pretty much anything you feel like doing, on the basis that "life is harsh" and "acting according to principles is just a utopian pipedream".

Perhaps you should think about seeking help, before you become a danger to yourself and others?

that's the meat of our dispute. lol ;-P

No, it's not. Look back on what we've been writing to one another. Not once have I advocated vegetarianism . I have merely pointed out that the logical conclusion of your "we should minimise cruelty" argument is that we should not rear and kill animals for meat. You and I both know through observation (BTW, what makes you think vegetarianism is "my" point of view?) that it's perfectly possible to live without eating meat (for most people; perhaps not for Innuits and the like).

Since I know you like to champion democracy, I'd like to point out the following. Democracy is a relatively new ideology. It's spreading because people are participating in it. At one stage, the evidence of the status quo against democracy must have appeared overwhelming. So, appealing to numbers is not a good defense of an ideological position.


Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

why am i talking to you? (3.00 / 2) (#333)
by circletimessquare on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 10:14:43 AM EST

i have nothing to prove.

people eat meat.

get used to it.

you have a lot to prove to me.

so why do i feel like i am being framed by you as the one with the untenable position?

you are promoting vegetarianism over meat-eating.

therefore, you have a lot to prove to me. i don't have anything to prove to you.

i'm not going to sit here and justify meat-eating.

you are going to justify to me NOT eating meat.

and i am going to do nothing: i have nothing to defend!


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Lunatic (1.00 / 1) (#334)
by synaesthesia on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 11:12:43 AM EST

you are promoting vegetarianism over meat-eating

No, as I have already explained, it's you who's doing that. I merely pointed out that vegetarianism is less cruel than eating meat; it's you who espouses taking courses of action which are less cruel.

Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

i have absolutely no idea what your problem is (nt (1.66 / 3) (#335)
by circletimessquare on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 11:43:30 AM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
That's why I'm saying... (1.00 / 2) (#336)
by synaesthesia on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 11:48:17 AM EST

...you should see a shrink.


Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]
and why should i see a shrink? (1.66 / 3) (#337)
by circletimessquare on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 12:11:51 PM EST

because i can't follow what the hell you are trying to say?

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
No. (1.00 / 1) (#338)
by synaesthesia on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 12:32:26 PM EST

Because you won't follow what I'm saying, as in, you refuse to. You close your mind because you can't deal with the contradictions in your argument.

Here's a summary of your position: "Vegetarianism is impossible utopianism, because lots of people aren't vegetarians."

My counterpoint: "Vegetarianism is obviously possible, because plenty of people are vegetarians."

Your response: "I don't have to listen to you, because I'm not a vegetarian, and nor are most other people."

Here's a summary of my position:

  1. Not eating meat is less cruel than eating meat.
  2. Not being cruel is better than being cruel.
  3. Not eating meat is possible.
  4. Therefore, not eating meat is better than eating meat.
I've even now numbered these, so that you can easily state which one or more of my premises 1, 2, and 3, or the conclusion, 4, you disagree with.

So go ahead, circletimessquare. Prove you're not stir crazy.


Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

#3 (2.00 / 2) (#339)
by circletimessquare on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 12:59:04 PM EST

"Not eating meat is possible."

it's not possible.

it really isn't.

the source of our confusion is that somehow you think i have to defend this position. i don't. it is something humans have been doing since before we were even humans. enjoyed by the vast majority of peoples the world over. and it's nutritious.

a vegetarian diet requires strict adherence to a not necessarily enjoyable diet that is marginally nutritive. if not rigorously adhered to in terms of legumes eaten, etc., then you could stunt children's growth and hurt adult iqs. and you could hurt people in ways we don't understand because our nutritrition science is not up to par yet. i mean we just discovered a new vitamin last week for crying out loud! pqq.

and you want to mess with millions of years of evolved feeding habits to satisfy your idealized morality? and hurt basic nutrition? we have evoled to eat meat. removing it from our diets has possible longterm negative health effects. you are in no position to responsibly promote vegetarianism based on incomplete nutrition science.

the benefits of vegetarianism is greatly outweighed by its risks.

plus, even based on the assumption that the nutrition is sound, how the hell do you propose to defeat the human craving and desire for meat? shame them with idealized morality?

let's see how far you get with that game plan: idealized morality versus basic human craving.

uh huh.

so your cruelty? it will go on and on and on. and you don't have a problem with me for arranging things that way. you have a problem with mother nature. that is the way she designed us. to eat meat. we are omnivores. get used to the fact.

don't shoot the messenger.

we need genetically modified chicken cells to grow breast meat in hydroponic vats if you have a problem with cruelty. that's about the only solution.

dude, there is no argument here. there is no i won this argument, or you won this argument. the fact is that you are attacking a boulder the size of mount olympus. there is nothing for me to argue with you because meat eating just is. we will not "evolve" out of eating meat out of appeals to idealized morality.

you are in the realm of science fiction if you honestly believe you will somehow convince mankind to stop eating meat. and it has nothing to do with morality. it has to do with evolution and basic nutrition. we have EVOLVED to include eating meat in our diet. it is a fundamental basic human craving. how are oyu going to fight that?

to remove meat from our diet is to perhaps stunt our growth and our iqs, or hurt our health in other ways, and neither you nor i understand the issue completely because the science is incomplete. it is irresponsible for you to promote vegetarianism.

now if you will excuse me, it is lunch time. all fo this meat talk has made me hungry.

and in your honor, i am going to Wendy's to get me a 3/4 lb. Classic Triple® Hamburger.

mmmm... juicy, seared flesh. dripping congealed fats and bloods. MMMMMMMMM. FLESH.

HAHAHAHAHAHA

;-P

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

So, you claim that... (3.00 / 2) (#342)
by synaesthesia on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 01:38:41 PM EST

...not eating meat is not possible. And you wonder why I think you're delusional? Look around you, buddy: vegetarians exist, no matter how tightly you shut your eyes and sing to yourself.

I'm not talking about the pragmatics of turning mankind as a whole vegetarian. I'm talking about the ethics of one person turning vegetarian. Just as you were not talking about the pragmatics of making sure not a single human on the face of this earth wears fur when you said:

you have no need to parade your stupid display of wealth in dead animals in modern society anymore. you are simply cruel and crude to do so.

You were taking an ethical stance. Do I say you're wrong, on the basis that someone, somewhere, will continue to wear fur? Of course not! I'd have been wrong in the head to say something like that!

to remove meat from our diet is to perhaps stunt our growth and our iqs, or hurt our health in other ways, and neither you nor i understand the issue completely because the science is incomplete. it is irresponsible for you to promote vegetarianism.

Aha! The scaremongering doomsayer returns.

I think you'll find that statistics about the many vegetarian cultures in the world generally show that they are more healthy. Heart disease is one of the biggest killers in countries which eat a lot of meat (hint: most cultures eat far less meat than America, whether for religious, economic or other reasons, and they're doing just fine), and eating lots of animal fat is scientifically linked to an increased incidence of heart disease.


Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

better solution to this impasse (1.66 / 3) (#344)
by circletimessquare on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 02:19:45 PM EST

it is intellectual charity for me to argue with you. there is no debate here. it is nutritious, it is delicious. it is enjoyed by the vast majority of peoples the world over. it is not going away. nor should it.

turn off your mouth. stop debating me. you get nowhere.

get in the lab. start working on meat grown in vats. then we both win. i get my nutritious delicious meat. you get your ideal world where no animal suffers to be eaten by humans.

then we both win. meat eating continues. and you get to stop worrying about the suffering of chickens and goats.

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Denial ain't just a river in Egypt. (3.00 / 2) (#345)
by synaesthesia on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 02:42:32 PM EST

there is no debate here

I'm not debating whether the practice of eating meat is going to go away. You're either too stupid or too deluded to realise that.

I'm debating whether it's possible for one person to become a vegetarian. Are you claiming that's impossible?

Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

another river in egypt (2.00 / 2) (#346)
by circletimessquare on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 02:48:45 PM EST

being argumentative

what exactly is your point?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

My point is... (1.00 / 1) (#347)
by synaesthesia on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 03:08:24 PM EST

...that you are either too stupid or too deluded to realise that you can't answer the questions I raise.

Is it, or is it not, possible for a person to become a vegetarian?

Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

possible, dangerous in some cases, not advisable (2.75 / 4) (#348)
by circletimessquare on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 03:24:22 PM EST

i mean, it is possible to become a raelian, and join their great alien worshipping sex orgy circus, but it's not advisable.

it is not nutritionally advisable to become vegetarian.

well vegan, really. i think lactoovarian vegetarianism is passable.

there are 2 diets: adult diets and child diets. adult diet is maintenance. caloric restriction and fasting actually lengthens life, so lactoovarian vegetarianism is barely passable for adult maintenance diet. barely passable because you skimp on nutrition. and you would definitely skip a proper diet if you were vegan.

you can be very careful, but you still might miss the proper balance of nutrients, known and unknown, that are required by human physiology, honed from millions of years of eating meat, to maximize physiology and mental functioning.

so you could be an adult vegan, but you would probably be scrawny, weak, and you would probably lower your iq over a span of a few years.

face it, the human body is maximized for survival on meat as part of a balanced, omnivorous diet.

and as far as a child diet, it is definitely dangerous, and should be punished. a child's diet is not a maintenance diet, it is a growth diet. lots of need for protein and calcium. you need animal meat to satisfy that need. you just can't graze on low-protein vegetables all day as a child. yes, legumes are high in protein, but not of a sufficient BALANCED type. you would miss certain types of amino acids in the proper proportion.

balanced means equal to human needs for growth, which is optimized for animal meat consumption. do you doubt this?

that balance of proteins is what we were evolved to subsist and grow on. our bodies are evolutionarily maximizied and optimized for it. a child raised on a vegan diet would be of stunted growth, weak bones and muscles, and would definitely be more stupid than if they were raised on a meat diet. low iq, back bent over from a weak spine, short. this is what you want?

are you promoting the vegan diet for children?

you are irresponsible.

but i guess we already established that in our other debates.

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

First of all: (3.66 / 3) (#350)
by synaesthesia on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 04:09:21 PM EST

Let's stick to lacto-ovo vegetarianism, also known as 'not eating dead animals'. Otherwise, someone might think that you were of trying to shift the goalposts, which wouldn't help your credibility at all.

Secondly, would you care to provide any reason why you think it's not possible to get your the nutrition your body requires without eating meat, in the face of evidence to the contrary (i.e., whole cultures which do exactly that)?

Thirdly, if it is possible to get the equivalent nutrients by other means than eating meat, would you care to explain why you don't feel the the meat-eater's diet is in fact inferior, being, as it is, higher in animal fat, which we've determined is unhealthy?

Thanks.

Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

snore... (3.00 / 3) (#351)
by circletimessquare on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 04:21:47 PM EST

Let's stick to lacto-ovo vegetarianism

ok, let's change the subject.

you're just argumentative dude. try butting your head against the wall. more satisfying for you, wastes less of my time.

(i.e., whole cultures which do exactly that)?

which ones. show me.

would you care to explain why you don't feel the the meat-eater's diet is in fact inferior

ok. happened less than a month ago:

http://www.nynewsday.com/news/local/queens/nyc-vegan0404,0,4950875.story?coll=ny c-topheadlines-left

3rd find on google with search phrase "vegan diet child". in between the screaming vegan propaganda. some of which you probably have been swallowing. literally.

maybe the lack of nutritious meat in your diet has stunted your iq. i suggest a hearty surf and turf. fish. beef. pinks up those brain cells real fast. mmmm... tasty flesh. lol ;-P


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Bats in your belfry (3.00 / 2) (#352)
by synaesthesia on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 05:53:38 PM EST

you're just argumentative dude.

Pot calling kettle: it takes two to tango.

which ones. show me.

I don't suppose you've ever heard of Hindus? Buddhists?

Try starting here (search down the page for 'Campbell').

ok. happened less than a month ago: [...] 3rd find on google with search phrase "vegan diet child"

Not only are you too dense to see the difference between a scientific study and a sample of one particular case of neglect (children who were fed only bacon butties would be malnourished too, of course)... you're can't even find a single example without changing the subject to veganism again.

Vegetarianism. NOT veganism. Come on, monkey boy, you can do better.


Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

discussion has moved (2.00 / 2) (#357)
by circletimessquare on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 01:14:53 AM EST

to this story:

http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2003/3/25/234827/379

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Holy linkfest batman! (3.00 / 2) (#359)
by synaesthesia on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 04:30:28 AM EST

No, it hasn't.

Let me help you out here: in the long run, those who admit defeat look less pitiful than those who try to employ desperate diversionary tactics.

Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

you win (1.66 / 3) (#362)
by circletimessquare on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 09:59:35 AM EST

i am SOOOOOO wrong

you have pummeled me into oblivion with your painfully searing insights and i scream at my terrible humbling to your extreme victory over my entirely indefensible position

congratulations! how does it feel to be so 100% correct in the face of such absolute morons such as myself?

i'm off to see that shrink you suggested... thanks dude! ;-P

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Wow! (1.00 / 2) (#363)
by synaesthesia on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 10:44:37 AM EST

I was expecting some sort of empty, sarcastic response. Instead you've made your most insightful comment so far on this thread. Congratulations! Perhaps in light of this revelation, you might not need to see that shrink after all.


Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]
stop (1.66 / 3) (#364)
by circletimessquare on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 10:50:15 AM EST

the weight and the pain of your extreme rectitude in light of my complete derision and rational collapse is too much to bear.

you won!

i've been utterly defeated by your insights. please, please, please. do not gloat at your time of complete victory. i cannot to bear to live any longer if the very foundation of my being has been cast into doubt. and you have done that for me. i stand completely humbled to you.

;-P

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Winking and saying that two plus two makes five... (2.33 / 3) (#365)
by synaesthesia on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 10:59:35 AM EST

...doesn't mean that two plus two makes five.


Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]
no more fish (2.00 / 2) (#367)
by circletimessquare on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 11:32:59 AM EST

http://edition.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/europe/04/30/fish.fear/index.html

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
No more vegans (1.00 / 1) (#368)
by synaesthesia on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 11:56:56 AM EST

http://www.landoverbaptist.org/sermons/vegans.html


Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]
lol ;-P (nt) (1.66 / 3) (#369)
by circletimessquare on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 12:13:59 PM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
(nt) (1.00 / 2) (#370)
by synaesthesia on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 12:39:48 PM EST



Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]
more trolling pleasure for you ;-) (1.66 / 3) (#371)
by circletimessquare on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 01:00:08 PM EST

http://forums.fark.com/cgi/fark/comments.pl?IDLink=514847

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
No thanks (2.33 / 3) (#372)
by synaesthesia on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 05:56:56 PM EST

I'm done with pleasuring trolls for now. :)


Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]
howabout this? (1.66 / 3) (#375)
by circletimessquare on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 11:05:21 PM EST

buahahahahaha!

;-P

http://news.excite.com/odd/article/id/322324|oddlyenough|04-30-2003::09:23|reute rs.html


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Rating 1 because ... (2.33 / 3) (#376)
by Stavr0 on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 11:06:26 PM EST

I don't see what trolling and arguing for/against vegetarism has anything to do with 'Fetal Homicide laws'.

And BTW synaesthesia got all those 1 ratings too. You Troll and troll-feeders suck.
- - -
Pax Americana : Oderint Dum Metuant
[ Parent ]

hey asshat (3.00 / 2) (#377)
by circletimessquare on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 11:46:59 PM EST

fux0r off

it's a free world

of course it has nothing to do with the top thread

WHO FUCKING CARES ASSHAT

ARE YOU THE FUCKING KURO5HIN SUBJECT POLICE?!

you have some nerve


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

So it's slightly offtopic? (3.00 / 2) (#379)
by synaesthesia on Thu May 01, 2003 at 04:37:34 AM EST

Whoopee shit. It was a natural progression from a discussion about fetal homicide. We didn't insist you had to read it!

You're what people call 'an interfering busybody'. You've know the kind of person: bit of a gap in their own life, so they try to make it their business to pick the most minor of faults in other people's lives.

Guess what? circletimessquare and I are never going to stop arguing. We've done it before on several occasions. Go back through our comment histories. Give us more 1 ratings. It won't change anything: we'll still have more arguments about whatever the topic at hand leads us into. Just as it has changed nothing this time (comment ratings above 0 only change the relative order in which replies to threads appear, in case you hadn't noticed).

It is an accurate expression of your ultimate impotence. Go back to computer games, they'll give you a greater sense of really making a difference in the world.


Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

A monkey... (none / 0) (#212)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 06:29:28 PM EST

... is 1.0 monkey. (Go tautologies.)

Interestingly, genetics offers an exchange rate on humans that is "1.0 human = roughly 0.98 common chimp + 0.02 other". Those are approximate, I don't know/recall the latest on how big genetics currently says the "other" part is. If you want a little more "other", you can trade a human for some other type of primate. If you want a lot more, exchange for a fruit-fly.

However, morality does not have an established exchange rate that I know of. And basing moral exchange rates solely on genetic exchange rates seems like a category error.



[ Parent ]

Dangerous (none / 0) (#240)
by joecool12321 on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 12:21:16 AM EST

What about people with genetic defects? I refuse to say that a hermaphrodite is more or less human than I am because their DNA is longer or shorter than mine.

[ Parent ]
I'm going to stick... (none / 0) (#242)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 01:15:27 AM EST

... with the tautologies on this one and say that quite definitively, "a hermaphrodite human is exactly equal to 1.0 human." I'm pretty sure that was my position when I wrote before, and I don't see how I said anything but that.

Now there does exist an exchange rate of genetic stuff between any human and any human. Usually that exchange is only exactly equal to a 1 to 1 ratio when the two humans on the two sides of the exchange rate is actually the same human. However, in this day and age, we should allow that the exchange could be 1 to 1 if there were some careful cloning involved.

Still, when exchanging a human for a human, you always end up, at the end of the exchange, with a human. Even if the genetic exchange rate is not 1 to 1. The un-neat mesh between the two domains is a symptom of that category error stuff I mentioned.



[ Parent ]

Decision Calculus (none / 0) (#244)
by joecool12321 on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 01:29:25 AM EST

I'm with you on the category error. Why I don't understand is how you decide which category to put things in. It seems like you're being inconsistent when you say both DNA determines human-ness and at the same time say that genetic aberrations are also human. Well, how aberrant can the DNA be and still be human?

What woudl I suggest? I think I would suggest "anything born of a human is a human". I think.

[ Parent ]

I put things in as many categories... (none / 0) (#247)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 02:13:27 AM EST

... as they belong. Starting with any categories in which it will fit at all, then taking it out of any in which it makes some nonsense or contradiction(s) or sometimes just ugly parsimony.

Since most anything you run across can have multiple descriptive grammatically and semantically correct sentence patterns about it, one often finds oneself juggling multiple categories.

Am I a human? Sure. So I get treated as one human no matter what else I might get described as in other category domains. Further, it is my DNA --expressed through various levels of behavior, growth, my form, and function-- which leads to me to being a human. Just as I imagine it is for all humans. No matter how aberrant from me their DNA, it is not aberrant from human DNA. That is, it is the same as some human's DNA... save maybe in some bizarre sci-fi scenarios--imagine, taking out all of someone's DNA and replacing it with some nanotech that mimicked the functions, so that cellular processes didn't notice the loss, but without the central molecule...wild--.

Your "how different is different enough" puts me back a while to my days of study about the philosophy of biology. Lots of good stuff is built on the extended versions of that question. My answer is to reference/appeal-to the systematists and leave them to sort it out. :-)



[ Parent ]

Yeah, but (none / 0) (#257)
by joecool12321 on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 06:08:55 AM EST

I'm not limiting the number of categories into which an object can belong. I'm just trying to get at what gets something into the human category, and I would say that DNA is not enough.

[ Parent ]
DNA alone isn't enough. (none / 0) (#276)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 03:00:30 PM EST

It takes any one of a number of DNA strands, in the proper setting, allowed to take its course, to be enough to typically result in a human (sometimes two). The proper DNA has, so far, been a necessary condition of being human.

And it turns out that it can be a very reliable indicator of humanhood. Given that you are dealing with a full, functioning organism, and not a tiny ball of cells, or some sci-fi weirdness.



[ Parent ]

One more little change (none / 0) (#249)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 02:20:22 AM EST

I think I would suggest "anything born of a human is a human". I think.
My addition to this to get something I would take as a first order approximation would be the clause ", unless it is obviously not a human."

Second order, add, "or it is very powerful and wishes not to be called a human."



[ Parent ]

It is an old question... (5.00 / 1) (#216)
by delducra on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 07:39:02 PM EST

I love how this conversation has shifted slightly sideways into the philosophical question about the isness of a human (not a fetus - but a human). What designates an object as a human? Is it a specific grouping or organs (heart, liver, kidneys,etc.)? If so, does removing a kidney make me less human? Is it DNA? If so, this assumption taken to its extreme would also clasify the hairs in my bathtub drain as human? This may seem somewhat unimportant, but I think it is very important. Why? We have murder laws that apply when a human is killed. We have animal cruelty laws when a non-human is killed. As a society, we seem to have no problem with this distinction, yet we have no concrete, legal description of what a "human" is. In our collective minds, we have no problem determining the difference between human and non-human. Might we also someday arrive at a similiar agreement determining the difference between baby and non-baby?

[ Parent ]
I think you've nailed it (5.00 / 2) (#239)
by joecool12321 on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 12:20:32 AM EST

Yeah, people always talk about religious objections to abortion, which I've never understood. I'm trying to answer the question from philosophy, and it's a bit harder than the black/white of religion. I would suggest that the "fetus isn't a human""fetus is a human" demonstrates that we haven't reached  a collective decision on what a human is.

My problem, I guess, is what you point out--removing a kidney doesn't make me /less human. Most ethicists would say even being in a vegitative state doesn't mean you're not human, it just means that heroic measures aren't necessary to revive you, and that's OK.

I guess my question to "what is a human" is basically Plato's answer: a rational soul*. I don't mean soul in some Christian or Buddhist sense, but just in the sense of an 'animating spirit'. Dawkins would call it the 'flame eternal' I think. The difference between a cell and a collection of molecules demosntrates what I mean by soul. The difference between a cell, which works to stay alive, and a random collection of atoms is that we would call the cell alive. The alive-ness of the cell is the soul. In somewhat the same sense, the human soul combines together all the different parts of the body. But it is not contingent on the body to exist. That is, if I lose a finger, my soul isn't somehow weaker.

So it seems to me that if I accept circletimessquare's position, I also have to say, "Well, this person is functionally worse than this other person, so it's less of a person." This reeks of Arianism or Elitism, which I simply cannot accept. Note: I'm not saying circletimessquare is suggesting this. Rather, it seems a natural outcome of the position advocated by circletimessquare.

* For Plato, the term rational means more than just 'thinker' - it means emotions, as well. 'Rational' mereley means (probably) 'beyond instinct'.

[ Parent ]

i don't know what i am saying (none / 0) (#241)
by circletimessquare on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 12:38:47 AM EST

all i know is that this is a good discussion ;-)

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
elitism and this discussion (5.00 / 1) (#354)
by tichy on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 06:59:47 PM EST

As I've said before in a previous discussion I agree with circlematissquare's gradualist position, I think it's dead on. The mythical point at which a collection of cells becomes a human being does not exist in nature, because conception is a gradual process. Therefore this point is necessarily conventional, i.e. it is decided by us.

I too met the essentialist objection, but I think the objection itself is relatively easy to clarify, because there are no essences. The physical universe is what really exists, and it only contains molecules arranged according to millions of different patterns. That's it.

I made an analogy that I think is still useful: when you cook a steak there will be a point at which you say it's cooked. However this point is conventional, it does not exist in nature. This is because steaks don't exist only in two states, cooked and raw, but in many states ranging from completely raw to hopelessly charred. In this sense, pregnancy is like a steak, so it does indeed make sense to say that a 3 month old is "half human", the same that it makes sense to say that a steak can be half cooked, more or less cooked than another, etc. Because it is very clear to us that nature does not proceed in this binary way for steaks. And it does not proceed in this way for human conception.

The background complaint about elitism however is a good one because once the possibility exists that some things be deemed less human than others there is the potential that undesirable people be deemed not human or not human enough and that would be very bad, so this is a big problem.

What I think is that ultimately all our gradualist argument does is rightfully invert the terms of the reasoning by which rights operate. In other words, it's not that we give rights to naturally occurring things called humans, which we just detect. Rather, for very nebulous reasons, we decide to give rights to collections of molecules that do occur in nature, and that's why we call these arrangements humans. We don't detect humans, not in any way that compels us to give rights, instead we detect things like, this organism can feel pain, it can make decisions, etc.

So this gradualism need not lead to elitism, because it brings the reasons why we give rights to the center of the discussion where they belong and extricates them from biology, casting them in their purely moral nature. IOW these reasons should stop being nebulous, and they are not really based on biology, but merely take biological facts as variables into the decision.

For example its common to say, let's not abort at 7 months old because the baby feels pain, so he is human. But this is wrong. The way it works is closer to this: Biology tells us that at 7 months old a baby feels pain, and we make the moral decision that something that feels pain should have rights, therefore lets not abort at the 7 month. We need to know all those moral decisions that we've irrationally made in the past, bring them to light and make sure they are consistent.

I've not gone that far yet to be honest, but my as of yet still pretty nebulous demarcation line is not far from your Plato's "rational soul" view. I think things like mentally challenged people are not really a problem to include, since they can feel pain, can make decisions etc, more problematic are things like people in suspended animation or the possibility of people without pain receivers, etc. And as for the issue of zygotes I think it'd be hard to make them fit.

OK... hope that made some sense.

[ Parent ]

Why a scalar? (none / 0) (#288)
by grzebo on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 01:58:11 AM EST

Monkey would be 0.0 human, because it cannot become one. Why use a scalar number, when you can use a vector: baby is moving toward human, at a certain speed, and until it has gone more than 0.4 of the way, mother can send it back. Once it gets to the 'human' waypoint, it's consiedered 1.0 human, and nothing can change it (except death).


"My God, shouts man to Himself,
have mercy on me, enlighten me"...
[ Parent ]
Hmm, so does this mean... (none / 0) (#255)
by irrevenant on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 04:32:51 AM EST

... that the sentence should be a regular murder sentence pro-rataed by the foetus' age?

[ Parent ]
Potential person? (4.00 / 4) (#188)
by gidds on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 09:08:30 AM EST

Well said. We humans think by categorising and labelling, which is fine until we come across situations where that won't work. And the we distort the situations to fit our labelling schemes...

Maybe one way around this is to treat the foetus as neither a person nor a non-person, but as something in between: a potential person. Would that help the legal interpretations, do you think?

Andy/
[ Parent ]

Unless you add in religion (3.75 / 4) (#198)
by dipierro on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 12:50:51 PM EST

the truth is that human life is not binary. it gradually comes into being through natural processes of conception and birth. it is a sine wave, not a vertical wall of "alive/ not alive."

I know what you're getting at, but alive/not alive is not really the question. I don't think many scientists are going to argue with the fact that a fetus is alive. The question is whether the fetus exists as a separate life from that of the mother. And the question is much more difficult than just pointing to the fact that the two are connected. For instance, when a pair of siamese twins are born, we say that two separate lives are born.

Of course here your comment about human being categorizing things shines. We recently have decided that a 10 square kilometer section of forest floor is a single organism. But when dealing with an ant farm we choose to call it a superorganism. Cut certain worms in half and you get two worms. Does that mean if you cut it in half first that you're killing two worms, instead of one?

The law has to be more specific than that. You can't let a judge or a jury decide what is life and what isn't in every single case. We might still have slavery. So we choose birth. If you drop the religious connotations, we could just as honestly have chosen 6 months old, at least with permission of the father and anyone else who had formed an attachment. Except perhaps for the destructive tax avoidance consequences.

And that, religion, is really what keeps this debate raging on. It's only a personal God who would be so black and white with respect to morality. Physics, as we now know, is much more approximate.



[ Parent ]
Letting a Murderer Walk to Make a Point (5.00 / 3) (#186)
by localroger on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 08:30:02 AM EST

Right now it seems pretty obvious that Scott Peterson murdered his wife. He has been his own worst enemy in creating this impression, acting like the kind of sociopathic self-proclaimed "master criminal" who thinks he will sail above it all.

That said, the case against him is not that strong. While you can convict someone for murder on circumstantial evidence, it's quite a bit harder than convicting someone who you can clearly link to the crime -- and so far the police have nothing to directly link Scott to the murder, just a chain of damning circumstantial acts.

Now they are going for the fetal murder charge mainly because you can't ask for the death penalty in California for a single murder. Thus, by including the fetus they get to make it a death penalty case. After the much-publicized search and the months of waiting it seems appropriate to maximize the penalty, and this kind of thing gets better headlines for the prosecutor.

The problem is that precisely because it is a death penalty case the standards for proof become tighter. The same jury that would gladly send Scott Peterson up the river for many years for no better provable reason than that he is an asshole may blanch at telling the State to stick a needle in him.

Prosecutors are political creatures and this prosecutor is grandstanding. He has a very shaky but probably winnable case but he is playing double or nothing for the death penalty -- and it is very possible that Scott Peterson could walk out of the courtroom a free and exonerated man because of it.

Of course they're still looking for evidence and they may make the case tighter before it's tried. But I'll sure be looking to see which network hires O.J. Simpson to do commentary. He knows a lot about how cases like this can end up.

I can haz blog!

this seems to be a common belief (5.00 / 1) (#243)
by FisheBulb on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 01:16:45 AM EST

It seems to be a commonly held belief that scott peterson is the murderer.   I know the prosecutor and the police think it is him. but then again they have much more reason.

I hope he is the one that did it, A) he was arrested for it, B) the murderer is still not out there.

But why does everyone believe he is guilty.  He has not had a trial yet.  AND even more, there is very little evidence that has been released.

Basically because of some in my opin, possibly explainable coincidences.  ie, 10G's in cash, the change in appearance (he was wellknown), then some less explainable, IE the mexico trip, the bro's id.

but people seem to KNOW he is guilty, based on very little info.  I really wish people would wait until they hear some substantial evidence, prior to making the assumption he is guilty.  and in this case, less is known than other cases.  

[ Parent ]

Thus the waffle word "seems" (5.00 / 1) (#267)
by localroger on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 01:59:26 PM EST

I agree that it is possible Scott Peterson didn't do it. It is also possible for 20 consecutive spins of any particular Roulette wheel to all come up the same color. In eight years of gambling I did see that -- four times. But I wouldn't bet on it happening again unless you gave me really good odds.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

of course (5.00 / 1) (#279)
by FisheBulb on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 04:57:38 PM EST

i was simply refering to the very little information that even points to Scott Peterson that is available to the public.  The general public have already found him guilty.    There is very little evidence at this point to make any type of judgement.  From what is known at this point, i would conclude that it is possible Scott Peterson did do it, because i dont have any facts to say he did.  Acting suspicious does not mean that much when it is the majority of whats known.

[ Parent ]
Not necessarily... (none / 0) (#248)
by curunir on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 02:19:43 AM EST

That said, the case against him is not that strong. While you can convict someone for murder on circumstantial evidence, it's quite a bit harder than convicting someone who you can clearly link to the crime -- and so far the police have nothing to directly link Scott to the murder, just a chain of damning circumstantial acts.

The Modesto police have not released the results of their search of the Petereson residence. If they've have found evidence that the murder happened there and that he took her to the bay area to dump the body, then the fact that he's basically placed himself in the location where the body was found becomes all the more damning.

There's also other evidence that has yet to come to light. For instance, the DNA results on the blood found in Scott's truck haven't been released. If the blood ends up belonging to his wife, it would make his explanation (his own frequent injuries) less believable.

[ Parent ]
This is true (none / 0) (#268)
by localroger on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 02:02:26 PM EST

However, it is usual in a high-profile case for police to release the slam-dunk proof they have obtained. If the knife with the wife's DNA is found in you house it is not unusual for you to find out by watching the news.

When such evidence isn't released it is always because there is a hole in the case. Either the evidence isn't that good, or it isn't good enough by itself and releasing it will undermine some other aspect of the case they're building. In other words, they don't have slam-dunk proof. I suspect Peterson is a self-styled "master criminal" who was very careful and who was probably very surprised when the body floated up, thus the hasty attempt to flee to Mexico. But he may not have left many other loose ends.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

There are tons of possibilities (none / 0) (#275)
by curunir on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 02:59:51 PM EST

Scott could be a self styled "master criminal" or he could killed her in an act of rage and then tried to cover it all up later. Or he could be innocent. For us to draw any conclusions at this point would be speculation and I was just pointing that out. Especially since we don't have all the information.

There's only one person who knows the extent of Scott Peterson's involvment in this case and he's sitting in a Modesto jail (his lawyer may know as well). One would assume that the next most informed person would be the prosecuting attorney. This case is under a microscope and he will no doubt be feeling the political pressures you've mentioned. But to accuse him of grandstanding by seeking the death penalty is unfair until you know the extent of his evidence.

I just hope, for the sake of our justice system, that they're able to find jurors who are capable of keeping an open mind given the efforts of the media to draw a conclusion before all the facts have come to light.

[ Parent ]
While we can't know, we can assign odds (none / 0) (#277)
by localroger on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 04:38:30 PM EST

If we knew absolutely nothing about the case the best we could do would be to say it's even money; there are two possibilities, guilt and innocence, equally borne out by the evidence.

But we know quite a bit. He did visit the marina. He was having an affair. He did attempt to flee. (I do not subscribe to any alternate explanation of being found headed toward Mexico with new hair and ten thousand dollars.) These things have been released precisely because they are more or less established.

If Peterson killed Laci it is very unlikely that it was in a fit of rage, unless he flies into very careful rages. If he didn't, it reopens the very interesting question of who might have. Further, it opens up the question of why he fled.

It is remotely possible that someone else killed Laci and just happened to dump her at the Marina he frequents, possibly in an attempt to frame him. (But then, why conceal the body so well? For a frame-up you'd want the evidence to be discovered.) It is then possible that Peterson, understanding how the situation looked, undertook to flee because he knew he had no chance in court.

All these things are possible and more besides. That is why there is a non-zero chance Peterson is innocent. I'll be generous and admit it's as high as 10%.

On the other hand everything Peterson has done is consistent with a certain class of ego-driven murderers. Such a person would have correctly seen that Laci's baby would be the end of managing any graceful exit from the marriage. Such a person might have felt justified in pre-empting this permanent change in status. Such a person might have been very methodical about it, being basically a sociopath. It would be in perfect character for such a person to produce the marina receipt (they'll never catch me) and to sell the car and do the other suspicious things (they can't pin a thing on me). Ironically, the only fly in this theory is that he ran. He would have to be a particularly fast-learning example of the species to see that the game was up instead of bulling it through.

That is the possibility I give 80%. I reserve the other 10% for even wackier Peterson-did-it scenarios, like the "fit of passion."

The jury will see a different set of data than we do -- more complete in most respects but also deliberately edited in others. I agree that it's important to find jurors who are willing to be open-minded about it. But the facts I've stated should be introduced because they are relevant, and absent some really surprising counterweight they are damning.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

Two parts to every trial (none / 0) (#281)
by tarpy on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 05:15:54 PM EST

If memory serves, in California guilt and penalty are two separate phases. The jury can convict him and then refuse to execute...so they wouldn't have to "let him off" because they don't want to execute.


Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]
Matter of intent (4.50 / 2) (#190)
by drsmithy on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 09:43:43 AM EST

It would appear to be a similar difference to that between manslaughter and murder. Difference in intent == difference in "crime".

In this particular case (2.50 / 2) (#196)
by dipierro on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 12:28:02 PM EST

intent is crystal clear. When you try to kill one person, and someone else dies incidentally, that's murder, not manslaughter. In fact in most states if someone dies incident to your commission of a felony, that's also murder. So if you rob a bank and a customer has a heart attack, that's murder. The only intent necessary is the intent to commit a felony.

[ Parent ]
Intent (none / 0) (#221)
by drsmithy on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 09:44:18 PM EST

To start with, I should just clarify my original post - I meant the *principle* of a difference in intent would appear to be a basis for reconciling the two issues, not the specific difference between murder and manslaughter (deliberate vs accidental killing).

Also, I'm not American, so I don't know details of their laws.

The only intent necessary is the intent to commit a felony.

Rubbish. If that were true there wouldn't be any need to mark the differences between "degrees" of murder. Or even between murder and manslaughter if there was another crime being committed at the time.

Intent (annd degrees of intent) is a *critical* part of the justice system. Both in determining guilt and punishment.
Kill someone accidentally because they run in front of your car and you probably won't be punished.
Kill someone accidentally because you were talking on a mobile phone and you'll probably get a big fine, licence suspension and maybe a short jail sentence.
Kill someone accidentally because you were driving drunk and you're in big trouble.
Kill someone deliberately by running them down and you're probably going to gaol for some time.

With these fetal homicide laws (which appear to me are just being introduced as a step in attacking abortion laws), the same principle appears to apply, only the intent in question is that of the mother - if the mother wants to keep the child, then killing the fetus is considered a murder. If she doesn't, it isn't.

I don't know the beliefs of the article writer, but to me this seems to be a simple issue to understand unless someone happens to be in the "abortion is bad, always" camp. Personally, based on my beliefs, I consider a much more difficult question to be: should the father of a child have a say in whether or not an abortion is allowed ?

[ Parent ]

first degree murder (in California) (none / 0) (#262)
by dipierro on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 10:48:14 AM EST

The only intent necessary is the intent to commit a felony.

Rubbish. If that were true there wouldn't be any need to mark the differences between "degrees" of murder. Or even between murder and manslaughter if there was another crime being committed at the time.

No, I don't think you understand what I'm saying. The fact that you are committing a felony automatically elevates your crime to first degree murder. If you kill someone accidently while robbing a bank, you're guilty of first degree murder. If you commit arson and a firefighter has a heart attack fighting the blaze, you're guilty of first degree murder. Here's a quote about the law in California.

First-degree murder in California includes a killing that is "willful, deliberate, and premeditated," or that is committed in the perpetration, or attempt to perpetrate, certain felonies, including burglary, and not including the petty offense of shoplifting. Cal. Penal Code S 189.

I was somewhat incorrect that any felony would qualify. But certainly murder would!



[ Parent ]
Are you sure? (none / 0) (#360)
by melia on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 06:58:55 AM EST

Although I know nothing about the law, I don't think that's what your quote means. Basically this is saying that there are two cases of first degree murder.

a) Where you intend to go and kill someone

b) Where you intend to commit a felony, and in the act of committing the felony kill someone in a heated moment, or accidentally

So, if you're in the bank, and someone stands up and screams, you might panic and shoot them. That wouldn't be a premeditated murder, because you never planned to kill someone when you decided to rob the bank. However, because you committed the felony of trying to rob a bank, you've also committed first degree murder. So it's not quite the same as a case where you don't plan to kill anyone but get wound up and accidentally shoot someone. (i'm just trying to illustrate a murder that's not premeditated) That's the distinction this law is trying to make, i think.

So, if you walk into a bank with a banana in a bag, and someone has a heart attack, you probably won't be accused of first degree murder. Equally, one could suppose that if you torch an empty warehouse and a fireman gets killed fighting the blaze, you might not be done for murder, but to be honest I can't work this out from the semantics of the quote.
Disclaimer: All of the above is probably wrong
[ Parent ]
Well (5.00 / 1) (#361)
by dipierro on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 09:03:11 AM EST

Admittedly I was throwing in some of my prime-time television knowledge into the mix, but after a brief search my assumptions seem to be true.

Felony Murder Rule - States that any death which occurs during the commission or attempt to commit certain felonies, which include arson, rape or other sexual offenses, burglary, robbery or kidnapping, is first-degree murder and all participants in the felony can be held equally culpable, including those who did no harm, possessed no weapon, and did not intend to hurt anyone. Intent does not have to be proven for anything but the underlying felony. Even if, during the commission of the underlying felony, death occurs from fright, a heart attack for instance, it is still first-degree murder.

Now presumably the prosecution would have to show that the heart attack was caused at least in part by the added stress of being involved in a bank robbery. So if you walked into the bank with a banana in your hand, and someone had a heart attack which was completely unrelated, that probably wouldn't qualify. As for the firefighter, I'm not sure if this is an actual precedent or not, but I do know that cardiac arrest is the number one killer of firefighters yearly. It's generally considered due to the stress, but I'm not sure if the felony murder laws would reach that far.



[ Parent ]
Another Abortion Paradox: Child Support (3.00 / 2) (#222)
by tz on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 09:56:53 PM EST

The other unresolved paradox is that if the woman chooses to abort, the Father has no say to prevent it, but if her choice will result in two decades of liability, he must pay - and more than the cost of the abortion.

As long as abortion is entirely the choice of the woman, no man should have to pay more than the going rate for an abortion.  He does not and legally can not choose anything about the existence of the child.

----
The original point of this article makes me wonder what they did before the civil war when slaves were killed - was it in the manslaughter/murder category or was it a property crime?
----
And for those who would legalize prostitution, it would create another paradox if rape isn't reduced to the encompassing battery and theft of service.


responsibility (none / 0) (#246)
by Space on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 01:49:54 AM EST

Child support is about responsibility not liability. A man is responsible for the welfare of a child he fathers by law. He's not liable for the welfare of children he may father in the future. Liability is assumed before the fact while responsibility is assumed afterwards. But hey this is the risk society and all law is moving in the direction of liability as corporate law and insurance enterprise expands. Perhaps soon somebody will make child support law liability based and people will be able to get pregnency insurance and men will have to give a abortion deposit before copulation! Perhaps not.
<recycle your pets>
[ Parent ]
Abortion. (1.00 / 1) (#263)
by tkatchev on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 10:50:05 AM EST

"Pro-choice" is a religious belief, and a very totalitarian and unreasonable one.

Read a bit on why Carthage was wasted and who Moloch was.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.

Life has no paradoxes. Just politics. (3.00 / 3) (#269)
by mcgrew on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 02:23:16 PM EST

It's word games when you start talking about "fetal rights." A fetus has no rights.

This is about parental rights.

If they didn't call it "murder" it would be a non-issue.

If the law says it's a woman's right to have an abortion, then it's her right. I don't think anybody would say it's right to force her to have one- except maybe in China.

A pregnant woman who elects to have an abortion, for whatever reason, obviously does not consider the fetus as anything more than her own flesh.

A pregnant women who wants the child thinks of it not as her flesh, but her baby. And if she miscarries, she and her family will grieve as if the baby had been born and then died.

It's just word games, and political ones at that.

"Pro Choice. Pro Life." Bullshit.

How can someone who is "pro choice" be against a woman's right to smoke crack or shoot up heroin? Why should it be a choice to remove something from your body, but not put something in? Pro choice, my ass.

Why (and how) is it that most of those who are "pro life" also for the death penalty? Why is it that they are against a woman's right to have an abortion until the fetus grows up and murders someone? It's wrong to "kill" someone who never was born, but OK to kill an adult? I don't get it.

I am personally pro choice and anti abortion. I would not want a loved one to have an abortion, and don't like the idea of them, but think the decision should be between the fetus' mother, father, doctor, and God. It's not my place to judge you, and it isn't Pat Robertson's place to judge you, either. Even if that political wolf in sheep's clothing thinks it is.

I'm also against the death penalty, but not for the reason most anti-death people are. I'm against the death penalty simply because it's too humane. We are all under a death penalty, and few of us will die as comfortably, peacefully, and easily as someone who skins children alive, or drills holes in people's heads before dismembering and eating them.

No, let the bastard rot in jail for the rest of his life, thinking about what he's done. Then let him die of alzheimer's or aids or cancer or any of the other horrible ways most people die.

Consider this- if you are a Christian, then you believe Tim McVeigh, the fellow who blew up the building in Oklahoma and killed all those men, women, and children, is in heaven right now. McVeigh was a Christian, and he had a chance to repent those murders.

Fucking bleeding heart conservatives!

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie

Despite our emotion, Heaven doesn't work like that (none / 0) (#296)
by haydentech on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 10:58:14 AM EST

Consider this- if you are a Christian, then you believe Tim McVeigh, the fellow who blew up the building in Oklahoma and killed all those men, women, and children, is in heaven right now. McVeigh was a Christian, and he had a chance to repent those murders.

Entrance to heaven is not graded on a scale. You can't be "good enough" to get in. You are either a sinner or a sinner saved by the grace of God. If Mr. McVeigh falls into the latter category, then despite our human reaction of repugnance to what he did, he still falls under the grace of God. In fact, that's the beauty of what Christ accomplished, in a nutshell.

[ Parent ]
Yes, that is what I said (none / 0) (#319)
by mcgrew on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 08:08:42 PM EST

McVeigh can be in heaven. And being a Christian, probably is, assuming he really believed that Christ is his Lord and savior.

You are not judged for your sins. Jesus paid the tab, you're off scott free.

However, your GOOD WORKS determine how heavenly heaven will be.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Scriptures please (none / 0) (#324)
by I Robot on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 12:08:03 AM EST

McVeigh can be in heaven. And being a Christian, probably is, assuming he really believed that Christ is his Lord and savior.

You are not judged for your sins. Jesus paid the tab, you're off scott free.

However, your GOOD WORKS determine how heavenly heaven will be.
-----------
Would you care to support ANY of this with scriptures? According to Revelations, we are judged by our acts. McVeigh is a murderer. That will not get you into heaven.If he really believed that Jesus (Christ simply means "anointed") was his Lord and savior, he should have done as Jesus commanded him to do. Or, at the very least, committed "acts befitting repentance". To my knowledge, he did neither. Jesus said that a man might give up his life for his friends ... and then he followed that up with the observation that we are his friends if we follow his commandments.

There are no gradations of heaven mentioned in the Bible so "how heavenly heaven will be" is utter drivel.

I realize he left behind family members who loved him but McVeigh is dead. He may be resurrected. But he certainly isn't in heaven at this moment.Neither is he roasting in some make-believe hell.

[ Parent ]

Yes, I would care to. (none / 0) (#385)
by mcgrew on Fri May 02, 2003 at 07:16:04 PM EST

According to Revelations, we are judged by our acts

Indeed we are. We are judged for our good works.

Would you care to support ANY of this with scriptures?

Matthew 20:1-16
Revelation 6:5-6

McVeigh is a murderer. That will not get you into heaven.

Indeed, you are correct. Murder is a sin and will not get you into heaven. The greatest sin I ever personaly committed (and I am a sinful man) was to participate in the slaughter of thousands- I gave ground support to bombers during the Vietnam war (the last 4 days of it). That makes me a murderer, no better than McVeigh. Jesus is the only thing that will get you into heaven, as YOU are a sinner, as McVeigh was. If not for Christ I would be doomed. As would you, as would we all.

he should have done as Jesus commanded him to do.

As should you have. But you haven't. You have coveted, you have harbored evil thoughts, you probably stole, you committed any number of sins. As have we all.

If you want to reach heaven, you MUST beg forgiveness for all the nasty shit you have done to others. If you believe that you have never sinned, you are in great danger of hellfire.

Cheering McVeigh's executioner on makes you a party to the murder of McVeigh. Being for the death penalty makes you a party to it.

Actually, I doubt very much McVeigh made it to heaven. But only God knows whether or not he did.

Finally, John 8:4-12

They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

How screwed up is that... (none / 0) (#341)
by tkatchev on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 01:15:18 PM EST

I hope you realize how heretical your statement is...

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

You misunderstand (none / 0) (#384)
by mcgrew on Fri May 02, 2003 at 06:44:56 PM EST

He isn't going to heaven BECAUSE he is a murderer, he can get there DESPITE being a murderer, so long as he repented his murder and begged God for forgiveness.

WTF do you think He let His sone be nailed to a piece of wood for? Don't you think an entity that could create the entire universe could get His son down?

One of Christ's disciples was a murderer; now known as "St Paul". Formerly known as Saul, his job was killing Jews. He was about to slice Jesus' head off and was struck blind, fell down and begged forgiveness. And was forgiven, and given his sight back.

THAT WAS THE WHOLE POINT.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

pro life & death penalty (none / 0) (#349)
by bigdavex on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 03:40:35 PM EST

Why (and how) is it that most of those who are "pro life" also for the death penalty? Why is it that they are against a woman's right to have an abortion until the fetus grows up and murders someone? It's wrong to "kill" someone who never was born, but OK to kill an adult? I don't get it.
Because the fetus hasn't committed a heinous crime, it's wrong to kill it. It's not a paradox to believe some people deserve to die and others not.

[ Parent ]
Different shades of gray. (1.00 / 2) (#278)
by Work on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 04:39:06 PM EST

Life would be easy were we not human, and were everything black and white, right and wrong.

But abortion and fetal murder are different shades of gray. One is illegal, the other controversial. Therefore the two can, and do, co-exist. Simply because the world (and humanity in general) isnt black/white nor right/wrong.

Sounds like we mostly agree. (5.00 / 1) (#289)
by vectro on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 02:21:30 AM EST

... which may have something to do with our shared enthusiasm enthusiasm for this discussion.

With respect to the case of a vegetable at the hospital: I do think that if there is no possibility of a person returning to consciousness, then there is little reason to keep property rights (including the right to life) around. Not that the individual is not human (again, that's a biological question); rather, that he or she is no longer able to exercise even the most basic of property rights. The only problem is that there may be new technology developed later that could save the person. Also, as we discussed, corruption and bias can make the application of this sort of complicated rule problematic. The more important the right, the more clear the rule must be.

There is, I think, some ultimate value judgement upon which government must rest. We have already agreed that that should not be religion, though there are many that would disagree with even that. With respect to life, liberty, and happiness: I think these are things worth preserving. But only because they are useful, not because they are axiomatic.

Life is one sort (perhaps the most essential sort) of liberty. And liberty is useful because it serves as an antidote to tyranny, and because it encourages personal responsibility and accountability, which are in turn useful for a good society.

I don't disagree with the methodology of Marx and Engels; I do think the pragmatic approach is the best one. But even in such an approach we must assume that people are fallible; the essential problem with communism is that it assumes people will work for the common good, and while it might be possible to have a society that satisfies that requirement it would be, I think, quickly exploited by outsiders. Part of pragmatism is assuming that power structures will actively attempt to subvert any established rules limiting power or accountability.

With respect to the point at which we consider a human able to exercise his or her right to life: There is indeed nothing special about being born (or removed surgically, as I was). And it is certainly the case that some will spend more time in the womb than others, just as it is the case that some spend more outside than others. The only reason I suggest birth (or equivalent process) as the demarcation is that it satisfies the two requirements of being well-defined for any given individual, and a conservative bound for everyone. It is not fair, in the sense that some will receive more needless protection than others, but it does not need to be --- indeed, it is probably impossible to have a policy that were both fair and enforceable.

Grief over a lost unborn child is sometimes appropriate for individuals, but not for the legal system. This cannot be the case for every concieved human: as an earlier poster (I believe a cousin thread to this one) pointed out, are we to grieve every time a released egg goes unfertilized? If it fails to implant? And, again, is the grief any different from that felt by one whose life's work is destroyed?

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger

Curious reparenting. (none / 0) (#313)
by vectro on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 06:18:48 PM EST

This is a reply to this message.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
Closing statements. ^_^ (none / 0) (#326)
by Kasreyn on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 12:57:37 AM EST

"... which may have something to do with our shared enthusiasm enthusiasm for this discussion."


Hehe, yeah... it's always nicer to talk to someone who isn't screaming at me, ignoring me, calling me a spawn of hell, or doing all three at once (which is the usual in abortion "debates").

"With respect to the case of a vegetable at the hospital: I do think that if there is no possibility of a person returning to consciousness, then there is little reason to keep property rights (including the right to life) around. Not that the individual is not human (again, that's a biological question); rather, that he or she is no longer able to exercise even the most basic of property rights. The only problem is that there may be new technology developed later that could save the person."


The trouble is, as far as I know the law currently recognizes these people are still having their right to life. To me, this is evidence of the law being inconsistent with itself (because of the correlation with abortion). Either the law must be changed to consider "vegetables" ineligible for right to life protection, or else the unborn cannot be disqualified on that basis.

"The more important the right, the more clear the rule must be."


Definitely. We send people to jail or execute them for murder, we sue them and win cash settlements for infringing our freedom of speech, and no court in the world will do anything about some asshole driver pissing me off (and thus infringing upon my "happiness". Clearly, a geometrical progression is at work. =P

"There is, I think, some ultimate value judgement upon which government must rest. We have already agreed that that should not be religion, though there are many that would disagree with even that."


I may be confused about your phrasing here: do you mean religion should not be the basis of the value judgement made by government, or do you mean a more general condemnation of religion (which I would not agree with)?

"With respect to life, liberty, and happiness: I think these are things worth preserving. But only because they are useful, not because they are axiomatic."


Well, yes. They are only valuable because they are proven to be a good. It would be circular to say they are valuable because they are rights!

"I don't disagree with the methodology of Marx and Engels; I do think the pragmatic approach is the best one. But even in such an approach we must assume that people are fallible; the essential problem with communism is that it assumes people will work for the common good, and while it might be possible to have a society that satisfies that requirement it would be, I think, quickly exploited by outsiders."


Sadly true. Socialism in general (of which I see communism as a more militant sub-category) suffers from pipe-dream syndrome: it fails not because it is unworthy of man, but because man is unworthy of it. "...and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."

"...Part of pragmatism is assuming that power structures will actively attempt to subvert any established rules limiting power or accountability."


Agreed. The only part of the pragmatic view that I disagree with is the view that human rights and lives can be weighed and measured in terms of usefulness to society, an idea which I think strips us of our humanity. In the novel "Darkness at Noon", which is a deliberate parallel to the Moscow Trials, the main character justifies his agreement to falsify a confession with the reasoning that his sacrifice is most useful to the Party and to society as a whole. I view any movement or viewpoint which sees the individual as subordinate to society in this manner as treading dangerously close to this kind of Orwellian thinking.

"...indeed, it is probably impossible to have a policy that were both fair and enforceable."


Well, I don't know. I used to think it was impossible to have a calm, intelligent debate over such an emotionally-charged issue as abortion, but you've proved me wrong. ;-) Maybe other things we think are impossible can happen.

"Grief over a lost unborn child is sometimes appropriate for individuals, but not for the legal system."


Right; I didn't mean to imply that the government should grieve. In fact, it would be best for the government to experience as few emotions as possible, so it can get on with its duty of faithfully making and applying the laws without bias.

"This cannot be the case for every concieved human: as an earlier poster (I believe a cousin thread to this one) pointed out, are we to grieve every time a released egg goes unfertilized? If it fails to implant?"


This is one of the main problems with my "genetic identity" take on abortion. The other main problem is identical twins (who would under a strict interpretation of my logic, be counted as the same person!). These are two snags which irk me, because if I cannot puzzle them out, they will demolish my theory - yet I don't know of any theory which fits the facts better. =( Any suggestions?


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Likewise. (none / 0) (#386)
by vectro on Sat May 03, 2003 at 04:44:16 PM EST

The question of vegetables is perhaps an inconsistency in the application of the law, but not the principle. The idea is that vegetables are ineligible to the right to life, but that as a principle of jurisprudence it is too dangerous to allow legislature to define "vegetable". So we grant vegetables the right to life not because it is due, but because otherwise the exception would be too easily compromised.

My point about value judgements is that in any discussion about the proper place of government there must be at some basis an agreement about what exactly it is that government is to accomplish. We have agreed that it is not the purpose of government to promote particular religions, though there are those who would disagree. Nonetheless, it is not clear that we have agreement about the ultimate purpose of government.

Your point about immoral behaviour for the benefit of the greater good is well-taken. But I think there is a distinction to be made between institutions and individuals. Individuals ought to behave in a moral fashion (though it is not perhaps the purpose of government to enforce this), whereas institutions are not bound by morals; rather, institutions should strive to accomplish whatever goals they are created to realize. This may seem to justify immoral behaviour on the part of corporations; presumably in the cases where this behaviour is detrimental to the public, it would be the purpose of government to step in.

With respect to the definition of human, that is a rather uninteresting biological question. But it is certainly the case that one human can become two: Other species, such as some starfish and many plants, have this property. Why ought not humans to have this ability at a certain point in their lives? But this issue is immaterial to the question at hand, because we ought to find a definition for "person", rather than "human".

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

There is a good arguement (4.00 / 1) (#291)
by swagr on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 08:23:28 AM EST

For the 9 months before it's born it is part of the organism known as its mother, and she has the right to do whatever she wants to her body. It would be silly to think I should have the right to plug myself into any random human and live off their body unless they gave me permission.

Permission (4.00 / 1) (#293)
by catseye on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 10:00:06 AM EST

Any woman that gets pregnant by having consensual intercouse is giving permission for a pregnancy to occur, even if birth control is used, because no method of birth control other than sterilization or abstinence is 100% effective.

If a woman doesn't want to get pregnant, isn't ready to sterilize herself, and still wants to have sex, then there are plenty other ways to go about it that don't involve vaginal penetration.

----------
How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]

Another perspective (none / 0) (#323)
by swagr on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 12:01:08 AM EST

I should be accountable for my actions, not their consequenses.
Anything other system is completely arbitrary: we're accountable for some consequences but not others (think chaos theory and "gray areas").

If a woman unlocks the front door she welcomes the chance of getting raped. If she drinks some alcohol she may have a lapse in judgement. Perhaps the woman in question is un-educated and believes that some contraceptives are 100% effective. Maybe her boyfriend lied to her about getting a vasectomy. Maybe her doctor said there was no possibility of her getting pregnant. Maybe she hasn't the faintest clue how reproduction works.

So who gets to draw the line in these and every other gray area? The mother seems to be the only sensible choice. This leaves us where we started.

Really what it boils down to is this: the woman shouldn't have the right to kill the fetus. But she should have the right to have it removed from her body. The cause of the dilemma here is the current state of medical technology.

[ Parent ]

Some consequences (none / 0) (#366)
by zakalwe on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 11:04:54 AM EST

I should be accountable for my actions, not their consequenses.
I think we should be accountable for the consequences we should reasonably be expected to predict. If I hand a loaded gun to a 5 year old, I think I'm responsible for the consequences if he shoots himself, or someone else.

If a woman unlocks the front door she welcomes the chance of getting raped.
Theres no legal or moral consequence for the woman's action here - she's the victim. Practical consequences (like getting raped) are not subject to any law, and theres no-one to hold you accountable.

The woman shouldn't have the right to kill the fetus. But she should have the right to have it removed from her body. The cause of the dilemma here is the current state of medical technology.
Does she have the right to refuse to support it after its born? Carrying the child to term is the least of the consequences of having a child. The reason for abortion is usually that the parent does not want a child - not just their reluctance to carry it. Medical technology alone won't solve this. Adoption is usually presented as a solution here - but would there be enough people to adopt if every one of todays abortions now needed adoption?

[ Parent ]
Put shortly. (none / 0) (#340)
by tkatchev on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 01:13:02 PM EST

There is no universal right to sex.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

yeah right... (none / 0) (#373)
by Danse on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 07:13:59 PM EST

because no method of birth control other than sterilization or abstinence is 100% effective.

Tell that to Jesus' mom.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Exodus 21:22 Addresses this Very Issue (none / 0) (#327)
by OldCoder on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 02:58:30 AM EST

In Exodus 21:22 (in the Jewish and Christian Bibles) there is a fascinating and hard-to-understand description of the case of an accident causing a woman to either give birth prematurely or to miscarry, and the punishments that follow. Unfortunately, the various translators do not agree! The punishment is pretty clear, but the offense is understood to be either accidentally causing a miscarriage in some versions and causing a premature delivery in other versions.

Here's the Revised Standard Version, there are other translations:

21:22 "When men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no harm follows, the one who hurt her shall be fined, according as the woman's husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

21:23If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life,

21:24eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,

21:25burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.



--
By reading this signature, you have agreed.
Copyright © 2003 OldCoder
By the Way (none / 0) (#328)
by OldCoder on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 03:48:35 AM EST

It's also pretty clear from this quote that the whole "eye for an eye" idea was never meant to be a literal return of harm for harm, since clearly none of the two men can be aborted or delivered. Eye for an eye means balance, measure for measure, let the punishment fit the crime.

--
By reading this signature, you have agreed.
Copyright © 2003 OldCoder
[ Parent ]
Contradictions? Of course. (none / 0) (#331)
by Caton on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 08:00:25 AM EST

Most European countries limit lawful abortion to fetus with no brain activity. The idea is that if life ends when there's no brain activity, then it starts with brain activity. That definition of death is accepted by most anti-abortion militants: if a 7-months fetus does not show any brain activity, they will agree that fetus is dead, and they won't oppose unplugging a brain-dead corpse either. But they will not accept the exact same definition for life because it would allow abortions during, say, the first 12 weeks of pregnancy -- when there is no life.

The reason for this apparent contradiction is that the opposition to abortion is religious. And religions are not supposed to make sense.



---
As long as there's hope...
Stealing investments (none / 0) (#353)
by niku on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 06:33:57 PM EST

Say I take $100 and give it to my investment broker and ask them to invest it into an amazing stock that I found that shoots up the next day and turns my $100 into $1000. I decide to sell my investment, but find out when I call that my investment broker stole the original $100 and never invested any of it. Did he steal $100 or $1000 from me? Could one consider a fetus and investment, the return being a person?

--
Nicholas Bernstein, Technologist, artist, etc.
http://nicholasbernstein.com
The Paradox of Fetal Homicide Laws | 385 comments (366 topical, 19 editorial, 0 hidden)
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