The Right To Abort vs The Right To Exist.

reed's picture
Submitted by reed on Sat, 2007-09-08 23:52

In another thread the term "abortion rights" was used. Abortion is a big topic so I am starting this thread rather than hi-jacking the other.

Do objectivists agree (with each other) that there is such a thing as "abortion rights"?
If so what are those rights, how are they derived and where are the lines drawn?
How do objectivists integrate this with the right to exist?

My perspective is if the mothers life is truly at risk then, and only then, it is ok to end the babies life.


( categories: )

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reed's picture

An interesting problem for considering the beginning of a human life as happening at fertilisation is that identical twins come from the same fertilised egg. And, zygote division may occur up to 15 days from fertilisation.

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No abortion law in Canada | third trimester

William Scott Scherk's picture

There is no criminal law on abortion in Canada, since our Supreme Court tossed out our old one (much similar to present NZ law) in 1988**. Since the toss out, only one attempt has been made to write a new one.

At present then, the decision to abort is made between a woman and a medical doctor. The cases of third trimester abortion are exceeding rare, and the greatest obstacle to such late-term abortions is the unwillingness of any medical staff to perform such an operation.

In the absence of law, Canada seems to have let medical ethics be trump.

WSS

** "Forcing a woman," wrote the Chief Justice, Brian Dickson, "by threat of criminal sanction to carry a foetus to term unless she meets certain criteria unrelated to her own priorities and aspirations, is a profound interference with a woman's body and this a violation of her security of the person."
-- from Family Law | Abortion in Canada

-- see also "Abortion in Canada" at Wikipedia:

"The right to liberty... guarantees a degree of personal autonomy over important decisions intimately affecting his or her private life. ... The decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy is essentially a moral decision and in a free and democratic society, the conscience of the individual must be paramount to that of the state."

Very slippery, Reed...

Jameson's picture

"I don't have a complete answer for you"

An incomplete one would be adequate. How about an indication on a minimum sentence? Ballpark figures... 5 years, 10 years, life...?

Of course, the experimenting biologist doesn't fall into 'pain and suffering' at all, so he should be an easy one to nail.

Reed

Mark Hubbard's picture

"Non mercy killings of innocent humans is unjust"

I don't disagree with this statement, although I do disagree with your position. As you will know from reading all of my posts from the other two similarly themed threads, I believe that the ethics of this turns on timing: at some stage the foetus becomes human, so, leaving for now when that stage is - other than stating it is not the day after conception - once it is human (aware, perhaps 'viable' in Scott's posts combined with suitable defining brain activity in Claudia's post on this), then yes, killing is unjust, before that stage we are not dealing with a human, thus there are no issues and abortion is 'just'.

1) The mother didn't know she was pregnant until is was an actual baby.

This won't change my position above. If it is human, then should be taken to term, birthed, then adopted, if not wanted, through private agency (or even 'extracted', to be cared for by adoptive parents - no State involvement).

2) The baby will be a burden to someone.

If, again, we're talking a human, then this does not change my stance above.

3) The baby is the product of a rape.

Can't change the basic stance, again, although this should not be an issue (as it is for you), because pursuant to my position the rape victim would have had plenty of time to abort the foetus before this ever became an issue. Thus, this one a red herring: the rape victim's right to abort is quite as it should be.

4) The baby is retarded (but not so retarded as to be considered not human).

This is a complex one for me. To quote myself from another thread:

The more interesting situation is that of the brain impaired foetus, compared to the brain dead person, as we are dealing then with the issue of euthanasia of both, however, I feel, but perhaps not altogether reasonably, that the issues surrounding the foetus, in this instance, are still not exactly on all fours with the brain dead - adult - person. As I've consistently stated in my posts, Claudia's argument for euthanasia in this instance (of the foetus) is convincing, although I do have some personal issues with it on which I am still undecided. That is, one of my sister's, now in her fifties, is intellectually handicapped, yet my observation would be that she has lived a life that has value, and I can certainly vouch for her general happiness and fulfillment. The problematic issue thus concerns my parents, whose lives obviously have been something completely different to what they would otherwise have been - although I could not say whether for better or for worse, which is significant, and I don't think they could either.

At this stage, I am tending toward, in severe cases, most certainly, a termination of the foetus in order to 'free' the mother/parents. But it is by no means clear cut, and I do struggle with it, and am thankful I've never been in the dreadful position of having to make this decision, given I know that through the termination of such a foetus, there will also be a loss to the parents.

5) The baby's lungs are at an underdeveloped stage and it would die if outside the womb.

This gets back to what is human again, and the position between myself and Scott's of what is a viable foetus. I would tend toward a definition of the human that places emphasis on awareness, thus, brain activity - if this exists, then back to my central position at the beginning of this post.

6) "Legal minds" have mistakenly determined it is not human.

Irrelevant. The only applicable test of 'human' must be a scientific one, what lawyers say, (or what God would say), is completely irrelevant.

Ahem...

reed's picture

A question for those that agree with the statement "Non mercy killings of innocent humans is unjust"; Do any of the following contexts change the truth of that statement?

1) The mother didn't know she was pregnant until it was an actual baby.
2) The baby will be a burden to someone.
3) The baby is the product of a rape.
4) The baby is retarded (but not so retarded as to be considered not human).
5) The baby's lungs are at an underdeveloped stage and it would die if outside the womb.
6) "Legal minds" have mistakenly determined it is not human.

So the haloed Reed, utlising

Lance's picture

So the haloed Reed, utlising branding from Edmond's flour...

Sure To Resurrect?

Self raising ... Just like

Mark Hubbard's picture

Self raising ...

Just like the big C - of course, most appropriate. I'd missed the actual significance Smiling

That background is off the

reed's picture

That background is off the Edmonds cornflour packet isn't it

Self raising flour actually.

Reed

Mark Hubbard's picture

That background is off the Edmonds cornflour packet isn't it Smiling

Vis a vis your stated reasons for it, a very good idea.

Glenn - In your world, what

reed's picture

Glenn -
In your world, what would the punishment be for a) the abortionist, b) the mother, c) the rape victim, and d) the biologist experimenting with fertilized eggs?

Unfortunately, my plans for world domination are not that far advanced and I don't have a complete answer for you but, just like any other unjust killing, it would depend on the circumstances. Developmental stage is not a circumstance that directly affects how I would determine the severity of punishment. Pain and suffering of the victim might affect how I would determine the severity of the punishment so indirectly the developmental stage may have an effect.

Aaron - ...but I have to

reed's picture

Aaron -
...but I have to congratulate you on that (blasphemous?) new photo!
Thanks Aaron, I don't think it is blasphemous. Changing my picture might backfire but I am hoping to remove the need for folks to prove that I am a "religious nutter" so that we can just focus on the issues at hand and the arguments.

Cheers,

Reed

Saint Reed! I don't agree

Aaron's picture

Saint Reed! I don't agree with you on abortion, evolution, or probably a lot of things - but I have to congratulate you on that (blasphemous?) new photo!

"I prefer not to leave questions unanswered..."

Jameson's picture

Great!

Reed: "If I ruled the world it would be illegal and there would be a punishment for it."

In your world, what would the punishment be for a) the abortionist, b) the mother, c) the rape victim, and d) the biologist experimenting with fertilized eggs?

A question for those that

reed's picture

A question for those that agree with the statement "Non mercy killings of innocent humans is unjust"; Do any of the following contexts change the truth of that statement?

1) The mother didn't know she was pregnant until is was an actual baby.
2) The baby will be a burden to someone.
3) The baby is the product of a rape.
4) The baby is retarded (but not so retarded as to be considered not human).
5) The baby's lungs are at an underdeveloped stage and it would die if outside the womb.
6) "Legal minds" have mistakenly determined it is not human.

Glenn -
I prefer not to leave questions unanswered - even if they are rhetorical.
The following are legal terms for unjust killings (from wikipedia) that are not generally considered murder nor are they considered "killing with kindness"... Voluntary manslaughter, Involuntary manslaughter, Intoxication manslaughter, Death by dangerous driving, Reckless manslaughter, Criminal Homicide, Culpable homicide, Negligent homicide and Criminally negligent homicide.

Murder without malice...?

Jameson's picture

"Malice is not present so "murder" is not the word I would use..."

Killing with kindness perhaps?

No Rocket Surgeon

HWH's picture

Yep Reed, as I said before, not everyone is born a rocket surgeon. Smiling

It was long division that got me..."how long before the next feed?"

I admit that reason is a small and feeble flame, a flickering torch by stumblers carried in the starless night, -- blown and flared by passion's storm, -- and yet, it is the only light. Extinguish that, and nought remains.- - Robert Green Ingersoll

 

Scan to PDF

All - If you consider non

reed's picture

All -
If you consider non mercy killings of "the aware" unjust, how do you determine that awareness is not present to ensure that you are not condoning unjust killings by your own standard?

Hilton - ... As soon as the

reed's picture

Hilton -
... As soon as the baby is hardwired and aware and capable of differentiation and integration ...

Geez Hilton... I was a teenager before I was capable of differentiation and integration!

Claudia - If the foetus is

reed's picture

Claudia -
If the foetus is "normal" then I would call it murder to have it aborted. But if the foetus is brain damaged, I would call it "mercy killing"... merciful to the mother. That's why I've been reluctant to call late abortions murder.

I'm not sure if you are proposing degrees of being human or if the brain damage you are talking about is so severe that the baby is not aware and therefore not human.

Are you proposing that it is just to kill an innocent retarded human for the sole purpose of preventing another person's loss?

Glenn -... you'd send the

reed's picture

Glenn -
... you'd send the biologists and rape victims to trial on a charge of murder?

If I ruled the world it would be illegal and there would be a punishment for it. Malice is not present so "murder" is not the word I would use but I do consider those situations unjust killings of humans.

From your perspective, would it be unjust to grow humans, keeping them in a coma to prevent awareness, and then dispose of them after several years growth?

Jesus, Reed, I knew Christians could be twisted and malicious, but I didn't expect that from you.
Victims are capable of injustices too and in determining what is just and unjust we should be neither malicious nor sympathetic.

So, if you were Attorney General

Jameson's picture

you'd send the biologists and rape victims to trial on a charge of murder?

Yes.

reed's picture

Yes.

Well...

Jameson's picture

that's where our interpretations of humanity most certainly depart! Smiling

Okay, so in your opinion a fertilized egg is human and to destroy it is murder.

Got that.

What if it were created and destroyed outside the womb, in a laboratory dish, as was the case of the in vitro egg I posted below? Do you believe the experimenting biologist also commits murder?

Glenn -Yes, I even consider

reed's picture

Glenn -
Yes, I even consider this human.

I recognised that you were aiming for reduction to absurdity but I'd already answered the question before it was asked so I considered it appeal to ridicule.

Reed

Mark Hubbard's picture

You could have been clearer if you unequivocally said something like "Non mercy killings of innocent humans is unjust and by human I mean 'a human capable of awareness'"

My position, before Claudia's post below, would most certainly have been agreement with this. Once there is a human (with brain hooked and awareness), then a non mercy killing would be 'unjust'. Claudia's post raises some interesting issues surrounding the mercy killing aspect, and also abortion into awareness that I want more time to think on.

 

However, you appear to have two positions. 1) It is human once aware. 2) It is part of the womans body and therefore none of your business.

Sorry, clarification. Up until there is an aware human (and that is certainly NOT the day after) then this is entirely in the purview of the woman,the man has no stake in the decision to abort whatsoever. But yes, after there is awareness, then this does change, but, again, I still want time to digest Claudia's last post, as when reading it I was pretty comfortable with it, but I think (I can't read if from the screen I'm in at the moment, and haven't the time just yet to search it out), my position above may be changed by its implications. (Although only in the detail, rather than the quantum.)

 

It doesn't sound like you have a conviction other than that I am wrong.

Well yes, we can certainly agree on that latter point. I think anyone who believes the morning after pill is murder is in serious need of re-checking all their basic premises as it is a demonstrably insane, almost Humean (see, I'm learning), position to take, relying as it does on a fatuous leap of faith, with no connection to the reality in which we live.

Reductio ad absurdum

Jameson's picture

"... Someone whose existence was caused by rape is as human as anyone else."
.

So, to clarify, Reed:

.

You're saying this 'someone'...

... is as human as this 'someone'?

It appears it's Claudia with whom I agree...

Jameson's picture

"At 26 weeks (6 months) the fetus has neurological activity that makes it able to feel pain and be conscious of its surroundings. By 30 weeks it has normal brain wave activity similar to an adults and if born at this time, has the ability to be able to breathe on its own (with difficulty)."

Why not?

Olivia's picture

I've just written a whole post which I ended up deleting because my thinking clarified as I wrote it... and I realised that I was confusing 3 separate issues: 1) aborting healthy foetus' in the third trimester, 2) aborting unhealthy foetus' in the third trimester and 3) euthanasing brain damaged babies.

If the foetus is "normal" then I would call it murder to have it aborted. But if the foetus is brain damaged, I would call it "mercy killing"... merciful to the mother. That's why I've been reluctant to call late abortions murder.

In most Western countries today, it is legal to abort a third trimester foetus if it is found to be brain damaged. But some babies are born and get severely retarded during the birth when they are deprived of oxygen to the brain. They cannot be euthansed legally under any circumstances that I'm aware of... it's murder in everybody's book.

I think that retarded infants... who many will say are still also human beings... should be gently euthanased if their mothers do not want to raise them. It's a humane death and one that I believe should be legal.

Lindsay - I note that no one

reed's picture

Lindsay -
I note that no one took me up on my third trimester thing.
I did... but you forgot to answer my questions.

What difference does it make how long the mother has had to think about it?

What if the mother didn't find out until the brain was active?

If it is proven the brain is "hooked up" before the third trimester would you change your mind?

Mark -
How can I have been any clearer...
You could have been clearer if you unequivocally said something like "Non mercy killings of innocent humans is unjust and by human I mean 'a human capable of awareness'"

However, you appear to have two positions.
1) It is human once aware.
2) It is part of the womans body and therefore none of your business.

You are choosing to ignore what you might consider murder by your own standard. It doesn't sound like you have a conviction other than that I am wrong.

Doesn't change anything with you though, does it, because your view of the human is something mystical and not approachable by reason, to admit any different is a slight on God (for you), and thus is not possible.

To tell me I'm wrong you have to deny strong Christian belief.

You're thinking of someone else.

Claudia -
What's wrong with the argument already given?
You have more than one defining point of when someone becomes human, no definition of what human is and you have not indicated if you agree with the statement "Non mercy killings of innocent humans is unjust".

Attains the identity of man

HWH's picture

I'm also with you on this one Linz. As soon as the baby is hardwired and aware and capable of differentiation and integration, it has become distinctly human, and if so deemed, it should be terminated before that occurs.

Hilton

I admit that reason is a small and feeble flame, a flickering torch by stumblers carried in the starless night, -- blown and flared by passion's storm, -- and yet, it is the only light. Extinguish that, and nought remains.- - Robert Green Ingersoll

Reed:

Jameson's picture

"Appeal to emotion is not going to alter my opinions either. Someone whose existence was caused by rape is as human as anyone else."

So I'll take that as a "Yes, rape victims who take the morning after pill are murderers."

Jesus, Reed, I knew Christians could be twisted and malicious, but I didn't expect that from you.

I've often thought any cut-off point to be somewhat arbitrary, but I have to agree with Lindsay and the hard-wired concept. Six months is plenty enough time to make up one's mind.

When self-defence becomes murder ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

As for the third trimester being the "murder" point... I'm not sure about that now either. Murder implies the malicious taking of a life. Abortion, even of a third trimester foetus, is not a malicious taking of life but the sacrifice of a lower value for a higher one. It may be cold and heartless but murder?? I don't think so.

After six months, to repeat, the cerebral cortex is hooked up. That is now a human life. The thing is hot-wired to think. It's not simply a "lesser value" the mother may choose to dispose of. It's now a human being! The mother's had six months to accept or reject it in its pre-human form. At the point it becomes human she kills it. That's both cold and heartless and murder.

Not so, Claudia? Why not!!

Go watch that abortion and say it isn't murder.

Once again...

Olivia's picture

Appealing to ridicule is not going to change my considered opinion about what constitutes being human enough for protection from harm however a decent argument for another standard for human life might.

What's wrong with the argument already given?

Once upon a time the actual birth of a baby... the umbilical cord being cut and its lungs filling for the first time and breathing of their own accord constituted the beginning of a human life.

I have no problem with that being a clear deliniation marking the beginning of a human being's life... except that with the advancement of medical science infants can be viable at a much earlier stage than they once were. Premature babies used to die. Now they don't. So the goal posts, at least in my mind, have been shifted.

As medical science advances even further I'm sure that these issues will be hotly debated... morally, as they should be. But I find your position on abortion Reed to be so basic that it equates to laziness. You can't be bothered doing the thinking - you'd just ban the whole thing... right down to rape victims having to go through with a pregnancy they neither asked for nor unwittingly chose.. talk about turning a woman into a sacrificial animal for the sake of what...? An unformed, mindless, potential human being!

I do not think it wrong to kill. What makes it right or wrong depends entirely on the context.

As for the third trimester being the "murder" point... I'm not sure about that now either. Murder implies the malicious taking of a life. Abortion, even of a third trimester foetus, is not a malicious taking of life but the sacrifice of a lower value for a higher one. It may be cold and heartless but murder?? I don't think so.

Well ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Reed is entitled to his view of things, which I respect.

I respect his right to his view, but I certainly don't respect his view. It's contemptible.

I note that no one took me up on my third trimester thing. Or agreed with it. Scared of the Ayn magpie in the tree? Smiling

Reed

Mark Hubbard's picture

How can I have been any clearer: there is no human until the brain is hooked up and there is awareness. Aborting before that stage is of no consequence, afterward it is.

For me, the issue if very simple. Simpler than even that, for me, it is the woman's body, none of my business, I would remove myself from the equation unless my counsel was wanted by a loved one.

Doesn't change anything with you though, does it, because your view of the human is something mystical and not approachable by reason, to admit any different is a slight on God (for you), and thus is not possible.

To tell me I'm wrong you have to deny strong Christian belief.

So, tell me I'm wrong.

 

[And now you turn 'reasonable' Elijah. Pleeease.   Smiling

There

Elijah Lineberry's picture

have been several dozen posts on this topic...and yes, Reed is entitled to his view of things, which I respect. Smiling

"I create nothing. I own"

Mark, Claudia, Glenn and

reed's picture

Mark, Claudia, Glenn and others
Appealing to ridicule is not going to change my considered opinion about what constitutes being human enough for protection from harm however a decent argument for another standard for human life might.

Appeal to emotion is not going to alter my opinions either. Someone whose existence was caused by rape is as human as anyone else.

Can any of you agree with the following?

Non mercy killings of innocent humans is unjust.
Killing non humans is not unjust.

In the context of the above statements a human is...[insert definition here]

If you can only define your perspective in terms of being opposed to the "religious" perspective then I suggest your reasoning is religious in nature. Perhaps, Mark and Claudia, in your efforts to shed religion you merely changed your beliefs.

Cheers,

Reed

Glenn, you are now at least

Mark Hubbard's picture

Glenn, you are now at least the fourth person on this thread to put this bluntly to Reed, however, Reed does not seem to be in a position to be able to accede to its indisputable logic, as he is being irrationally blinded to same by a little voice in his head called God. Until he can throw his crutch at Same, and be re-born into the glorious light of reason, this argument seems to have become pointless.

Am I right Reed?

(And for the record, of course euthanasia should be legalised, if we were a compassionate society, however, we're not, thus this injustice goes on. )

 


Also...

Jameson's picture

"My perspective is if the mothers life is truly at risk then, and only then, it is ok to end the babies life."

So you think a rape victim becomes a murderer when she takes the morning after pill?

That's sick.

Can't believe you're still discussing this...

Jameson's picture

Reed: "My belief about abortion being unjust is based on these two premises...
A) Killing innocent humans is unjust.
B) Humans begin life as a single cell."

Why not reduce it further and say life begins when the sperm and the egg are created, and make masturbation and periods murder?

Because it's ridiculous, right?

A sperm without an egg is only a potential. An egg without a sperm is only a potential. A zygote without a host is only a potential. Or are you suggesting something entirely magical happens at the point of human conception that makes it sacred?

OK, let's not forget

reed's picture

OK, let's not forget euthanasia.

Do you agree with the following statements?

Non mercy killings of innocent humans is unjust.
Killing non humans is not unjust.

In the context of the above statements a human is...[insert definition here]

Well...

Olivia's picture

We are all dependent on something to survive. Are you suggesting it is the nature of what we are dependent on or the nature of our dependence that determines if we are human or not.

I’m saying that in this context, it is the nature of what we are dependent on that determines if we even become a human being or not – and rightly so.

And let us not forget euthanasia since we’re on the topic of the right to exist vs the right to be put down. Sometimes killing is the preferred course of action - a decision made by the life, and at times, those whom it is dependent upon. Although different, euthanasia is an interesting comparison… because people in the final stages of a harrowing disease often describe feeling “inhuman” remaining alive in that condition. (Leslie Martin wrote that book about her mother’s death and titled it “To Die Like a Dog.” For indeed, that is exactly how she died. Killing in this context is a merciful action – for both parties).

I salute Leslie Martin for her guts and her honesty… and the pro-lifers who protested outside her court case were vampires of the highest order. They deserved to be shot, along with her fat, useless, Martha-moany-guts of a sister.

I'm not really concerned

reed's picture

I'm not really concerned about justifying my definition of human and I am prepared to discuss the topic with another definition. What is the definition of human that makes both of these statements true for objectivists.

Killing innocent humans is unjust.
Killing non humans is not unjust.

Claudia - An embryo doesn't

reed's picture

Claudia -
An embryo doesn't even have a brain yet.

You seem to be suggesting that the absence of a brain should make a difference to my definition of human yet the presence of a brain appears to make no difference to your definition of human.

Your "position" is that a brainless, yet unformed entity should be awarded rights that out-weigh that of a woman who is fully alive.

As a result of this discussion I now doubt that people even have inherent rights, I'm even more doubtful that some have more inherent rights than others.

I now realise that I see things as "just", "unjust" or "neither just nor unjust". What we have been calling "rights" are simply things that I consider "not unjust".

I think there isn't even such a thing as the "right to exist" (i.e. death is not an injustice). I consider the "right to abort" is even less likely.

On what basis do you believe this?

My belief about abortion being unjust is based on these two premises...
A) Killing innocent humans is unjust.
B) Humans begin life as a single cell.

And my position on defining "human" is based on when I consider I existed.

If you agree with premise A you should be able to accurately identify what you consider "human" otherwise you won't know if you are condoning what you consider injustices or not.

Cheers,

Reed.

Reed...

Olivia's picture

An embryo doesn't even have a brain yet.

Your "position" is that a brainless, yet unformed entity should be awarded rights that out-weigh that of a woman who is fully alive.

On what basis do you believe this?

Ross - Your assertion. Prove

reed's picture

Ross -
Your assertion. Prove it.

I'm not able to prove it and I am not trying to convince anyone of it either.
I presented my argument so that if anyone wants to prove me wrong they have the information required to do so. If I can't be proved wrong then it is possible I am correct.

It is preferable that someone proves their position but we may have to be satisfied with conclusions that are dependent on their premises.

You could always put forward a logical argument for your perspective.

Cheers,

Reed.

Claudia - We are all

reed's picture

Claudia -
We are all dependent on something to survive. Are you suggesting it is the nature of what we are dependent on or the nature of our dependence that determines if we are human or not.

Cheers,

Reed.

I

Elijah Lineberry's picture

was being serious, Reed, in showing a 'potential' situation...throwing out all your clothes and buying new clothes which are several sizes smaller and do not fit, because of a 'potential' weight loss...and how silly that would be.

Similarly, considering a 'potential' human...an unborn child..to have 'rights' which trump the Mother's rights is also silly.

The Mother may suffer a miscarriage, the baby may end up stillborn, or whatever.

With regards to what I consider determines whether someone is human or not..Sticking out tongue..(gosh, how tempting it is to have fun answering this by going off on a tangent of 'class', money, RP accents etc!) Eye ...but seriously, I think it is best to wait until a 'live birth' takes place.

I understand and accept the arguments about a pregnancy at, say, 6 or 7 months and various characteristics being clearly identified...but as the baby has not been actually born..(with possible miscarriage, stillbirth, the Mother is run over by a bus etc)...I prefer to wait.

Like buying clothes because you intend to lose 20kgs is going off half cocked...so is an unborn baby having 'Abortion Rights' which trump its Mother's rights.

Mark - ...your position can

reed's picture

Mark -
...your position can only be explained by the superstition of Christian faith...

My position is dependent on the condition presented and the soundness of the logic, I'm not aware of anything (superstitious or otherwise) that defines being human that I am compelled to accept. If you were to convince me that it is awareness that makes us human then I would not oppose abortions prior to awareness and it would not contradict my beliefs.

I thought you were in agreement with this position further down this thread?

I indicated my respect for "awareness" as defining our humanity and as a logical basis for drawing conclusions from. I have a different opinion which I am unable to prove or disprove. I am also unable to prove or disprove the awareness position for the moment.

I consider Lindsay's position to be reasonably concrete and if I were to accept the "awareness" standard as defining being human I would end up with a similar point of view.

What is your aim?
I'm not sure I have an aim. It's an important topic but I consider that the only mind I can change is my own. I think the exercise is beneficial to myself and hope that it is of use to others too. Also, if something as simple as a discussion has the potential to prevent someone from being murdered or becoming a murderer then that is a good thing too. Even if I discovered I was wrong I would still be better off for having had the discussion.

Do you consider it unjust to kill an aware fetus?

Cheers,

Reed.

Elijah - I can't tell if you

reed's picture

Elijah -
I can't tell if you are being serious or what point is being made. A recurring theme for you Smiling

It's good to see you haven't been banished.

Can you tell me, without upsetting anyone, what you consider determines whether someone is human or not?

Cheers,

Reed

Reed

Ross Elliot's picture

Your proposition is that a human exists at conception--a fertilised egg, a zygote--and that's why you consider the use of the morning after pill to be murder.

What qualifies a zygote, or a blastocyst/embryo, as human, and therefore in need of protection from murder?

Your assertion. Prove it.

Reed...

Olivia's picture

If killing innocent humans is unjust and a 12 week old fetus is an innocent human then killing a 12 week old fetus is unjust.

A 12 week old foetus is not a human being yet. It is a potential human being. If the woman dies, the foetus dies and there's nought that could be done to save its life. It has not an iota of living ability outside the woman's being. Giving it "human being" status is ridiculous and irrational.

This thread has been bugging

Mark Hubbard's picture

This thread has been bugging me since I wrote the below. Not related to the argument, as such, but an annoyance to me Reed: I wrote in my last post that I thought you were 'stuck on a position that can't be justified because it is only approachable by a leap of faith that has no grounds in reason (or compassion, therefore)'.

My chief beef with the pro-life (Christian) lobby is that it seems to be mainly men (because Christianity is patriarchal?) who are taking a position about another persons body, (that is, none of their business), and worse, a position that is completely devoid of any sort of compassion.

On a most basic level, I just 'don't get' pro-lifers. What is your aim?

 

 

More about me: http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~mhubbard/

Reed

Elijah Lineberry's picture

let me put it this way...

Let's say you wanted to lose some weight.

As part of this you threw out all your clothes and purchased new clothes 3 sizes smaller (which do not fit you at the moment) because you 'intend' to lose weight into the future and at that point the clothes will fit you.

This is what a 'potential' situation is like....and with clothing it would be ridiculous, the same with a 'potential' human having the same 'rights' as an actual human a couple of weeks after conception.

My argument regarding the

Mark Hubbard's picture

My argument regarding the morning after pill... If killing innocent humans is unjust and an embryo is an innocent human then killing an embryo using the morning after pill is unjust.

I don't get this Reed, (of course, as your position can only be explained by the superstition of Christian faith).

The morning after pill is bad? This is crazy!

We are not talking about a conscious human entity here, we're not even talking anything above the cellular level which have barely split yet. Indeed, if you're going to take potentiality to this absurd extent, then you're going to make me have babies when there is only the glint in my eye as I see Mrs Hubbard across a crowded room for the first time.

I thought you were in agreement with this position further down this thread - that abortion only became an ethical issue once the brain was 'connected' and there was awareness, ie, a human? As it is,  I think you're stuck on a position that can't be justified because it is only approachable by a leap of faith that has no grounds in reason (or compassion, therefore).

Claudia -I

reed's picture

Claudia -
I wasn't thinking there was any anger directed at me, don't worry about being diplomatic.

Maybe your position is founded on logic but to me it looks like an ad-hoc justification, which makes me think it is either constructed from desired ends or in opposition to something you oppose; The only evidence I have to judge by are your posts which lead me to think it is the latter. I think that you have anger toward religion and that that is the basis for your position.

However, whether I am bound by religion or you are bound by anger toward religion is irrelevant when considering the soundness of our arguments.

My answer to your 12 week challenge is this...
If killing innocent humans is unjust and a 12 week old fetus is an innocent human then killing a 12 week old fetus is unjust.

My argument regarding the morning after pill...
If killing innocent humans is unjust and an embryo is an innocent human then killing an embryo using the morning after pill is unjust.

Cheers,

Reed.

Note: If you can present your position as a sound logical argument then I will concede that it is not an ad-hoc justification based on being anti religious.

Oh Reed!

Olivia's picture

Hmm... I'm sensing anger, maybe it's clouding your judgment and causing you to oppose the positions of those you are angry with.

I'm not angry... actually, funny thing to me is, that was me being diplomatic! Smiling

All I'd like to say to you Reed is that there is nothing like a belief in god and scripture to cloud one's judgment.

Both of us have a conviction that humans have rights, the argument of what defines our humanity is not a religious one (for me anyway).

You say this about most arguments that you put forth, yet you totally parrot the christian party line every time. Eg... anti abortion even to the point of being anti-morning after pill... no one without a religious conviction would take such an irrational view.

If you start with the premise that it's not actually you who owns your own life but god... individual rights will not be seen by you as a very high value.

I've put forth my arguments for why I think what I do.

How about you? Give me one *reason* why the morning after pill is "wrong."

Give me one *reason* why a 12 week foetus should have the "right" to develop into a human being inside the body of a woman who does not want it.

Matty - It would make you

reed's picture

Matty -
It would make you nuts!
That's for the courts to decide.

OK, seriously though I'll try to be civil. Morning after pills? What's the real difference between banning those and banning condoms? I don't think sperm is any more human than what's inside the womb the day after it's been fertilised.
You can try to convince me that I existed and was human at this stage but I don't understand why you would consider my biological argument inferior to the awareness argument or the "ability to breathe" argument. You could be right and I may be too "nuts" to see why I am "nuts".

Claudia -
... just bound by superstitious religious convictions. I was once the same way, which is why I feel compelled to judge it. I've earned that right.
Hmm... I'm sensing anger, maybe it's clouding your judgment and causing you to oppose the positions of those you are angry with.

Both of us have a conviction that humans have rights, the argument of what defines our humanity is not a religious one (for me anyway).

And you would be evil to an

reed's picture

And you would be evil to an orthodox objectivist too, right?

Reed

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I also oppose abortive "contraception" like the day after pill. That would make me evil (or oevil), ay

Yes. Thoroughly.

I

Elijah Lineberry's picture

am waiting for someone to advocate 'chastity' as a novel anti abortion method Sticking out tongue

Correct...

Olivia's picture

As far as I know the abortions that I oppose (all but life saving) are already illegal but the law is not enforced.

Abortion is technically illegal in NZ. They are performed through a legal loophole.. that of - to progress would be mentally or emotionally damaging to the woman's life.

I also oppose abortive "contraception" like the day after pill. That would make me evil (or oevil), ay.

Not evil Reed... just bound by superstitious religious convictions. I was once the same way, which is why I feel compelled to judge it. I've earned that right.

Smiling

It would make you nuts!

Matty Orchard's picture

OK, seriously though I'll try to be civil. Morning after pills? What's the real difference between banning those and banning condoms? I don't think sperm is any more human than what's inside the womb the day after it's been fertilised.

Lindsay - Rights derive from

reed's picture

Lindsay -
Rights derive from man's nature as a thinking being. After two trimesters, the cerebral cortex, the literal "gray matter" which enables man to think, is hooked up. That's a human being...

That is what I expected the objectivist position to be, are you at odds with objectivism here or is this just not well known?

... and the mother's had long enough to think about it by then, I would have thought.

What difference does it make how long the mother has had to think about it?
What if the mother didn't find out until the brain was active?

... in my view abortion should be considered murder in the third trimester. This puts me at odds with the orthodox Objectivist position. So talk me out of it, someone.

I'll try to talk you out of it Eye
If it is proven the brain is "hooked up" before the third trimester would you change your mind?

Elijah and Lindsay -
As far as I know the abortions that I oppose (all but life saving) are already illegal but the law is not enforced.

I also oppose abortive "contraception" like the day after pill. That would make me evil (or oevil), ay? Smiling

Cheers,

Reed

Six

Elijah Lineberry's picture

months to make up her mind seems a fair point.

As I said, I am personally against abortion but feel dear ladies have the 'rights' in this matter.

Reed

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Are you advocating the banning of abortion from conception?

Rights derive from man's nature as a thinking being. After two trimesters, the cerebral cortex, the literal "gray matter" which enables man to think, is hooked up. That's a human being, and the mother's had long enough to think about it by then, I would have thought. Legal minds can wrestle with the borderline cases, but in my view abortion should be considered murder in the third trimester. This puts me at odds with the orthodox Objectivist position. So talk me out of it, someone. Smiling

A

Elijah Lineberry's picture

baby having actually been born seems a sensible line in the sand.

It avoids all manner of variables and may or may not happen.

One question for Reed..are you advocating making abortions illegal?

It means...

Olivia's picture

in this context... a fetus that if born could live outside the womb.

LOL, what does that

reed's picture

LOL, what does that *actually* mean?

Reed...

Olivia's picture

an *actual* life.

Claudia - Oh... I consider I

reed's picture

Claudia -
Oh... I consider I existed as a single cell and I am currently a potential geriatric. Eye
So what is your definition of the "more" that determines the possession of the right to exist?

Reed...

Olivia's picture

I propose that the product of conception is a human and has human rights - is there a flaw in this position?

Yes, there's a flaw. As you pointed out we also are a cluster of cells... and more. At conception, a fetus is ONLY a cluster of cells, nothing more. It doesn't even have a primitive form of brain yet. There is nothing "human" about it except its potentiality.

Reading the discussions on

reed's picture

Reading the discussions on this site and the lexicon entry leads me to believe there isn't a fundamental basis for objectivist reasoning regarding abortion. I think the reason why objectivists' justifications vary stems from not defining what it is about being human that gives us rights.

Some thoughts for discussion...

Pregnancy is a natural consequence of having sex. The mother and/or the father are responsible for the situation.

At some stage the resulting life has the same rights to life as the mother, for the same reasons as the mother - identifying the reasons identifies when those rights start.

Each of us is a "cluster of cells", so to say "it is only a cluster of cells" is a non argument; It needs qualification to become an argument.

IMO you only have the right to use force in proportion to the threat, additional force is a violation of the other's rights, eg. if your local store owner short changes you, you do not have the right to shoot them.

Throwing somebody overboard at sea with no hope of reaching land would rightly end in a murder charge irrespective of how bad they made you feel or how much food they ate.

The lexicon entry suggests there is an obligation on the parents after birth but not before without any discernible rationale.

Is there is an objective developmental stage where we become human and our rights start? I realise awareness has been proposed as a possibility.
Do some never reach this stage of development (eg. the handicapped)?
Can some lose their humanity and their rights (eg. the brain damaged, comatosed or spivs)?

I propose that the product of conception is a human and has human rights - is there a flaw in this position?

While the baby

Jameson's picture

may not appear in the charges, its life is undoubtedly accounted for in the sentence. Remember Charles Manson and his pack of psychopathic butchers? They'll never get parole.

There was a case in NZ

reed's picture

There was a case in NZ several years ago where a potential father hit his partner in the stomach with the intention to end the life of the one in the womb and he was charged with murder and convicted.

The justification reported by the media was that the mother intended to have the child.

[Edit: I'm pretty sure his motivation was that he didn't want to have to pay child support.]

Can

Elijah Lineberry's picture

someone clarify the following...

If a pregnant woman is murdered..is the murderer charged with just her murder, or the fetus, too?

(I am fairly sure it is just her murder)

Reed

Suma's picture

A blob of cells (fetus) is not the same as a person or a baby, so I don't think you can extrapolate anything from your scenarios. However, here are my answers.

If the unwanted passenger or baby with Downs syndrome is endangering my life, they go overboard. If they are merely an expense (assuming I can afford it), once ashore I'll send the bill for their stay to the passenger/his parents, or the pirate as appropriate.

So as Aaron said...no one has a right to live as a parasite upon another. To that I'll add that I also think I do not have a right to sacrifice others for my life. In your scenarios the passenger and pirate are responsible for the life threatening situations. However, I don't have a right to throw overboard a guest on a whim because the yacht is my property, or a right to a post-natal abortion.

Suma - How would the rights

reed's picture

Suma -
How would the rights of the unwanted passenger differ if it was a baby with downs syndrome that had been left behind by a pirate that had just attacked you?

Doesn't happen everyday, I know, but my experience is this question always comes up eventually when discussing this type of property rights.

If they are stealing my

Aaron's picture

If they are stealing my food, making me sick, or causing me expense and risk to my health, then overboard they go.

Suma's ponderings - if technology was such that removing a fetus and making it viable with essentially no expense or risk to the mother were possible - are where it would become interesting. Given the real world now it's not that complicated though; no one has the right to live as a parasite upon another.

Property rights

reed's picture

Suma -
You are on your luxury yacht, miles from land, and you discover an unwanted passenger.

Do you have the right to dismember them or evict them to certain death?

Do they have the right to stay on board until it is safe to get off?

Reed

Suma's picture

I can understand the argument that "no awareness means no rights" but what is the argument that leads to one having greater rights than another?

I mean in the sense of your rights end on my property.

Also, in my previous post one should replace genome with chromosomes.

Suma -With the current

reed's picture

Suma -
With the current arguments based on rights of mother greater than rights of fetus...
I can understand the argument that "no awareness means no rights" but what is the argument that leads to one having greater rights than another?

Elijah - I said, Reed, I am

reed's picture

Elijah -
I said, Reed, I am personally opposed to abortion...but yes, I would be against a law change which would tell someone (the Mother) how to live [their] li[ves].
That's still too subtle for me. I see that you are suggesting the unborn child is an individual but I can't tell if you are suggesting that the rights are the same as if the child has been born.

I like James' argument on

Suma's picture

I like James' argument on the other thread, I wonder if it can be extended to address the following kind of scenario.

Say, in the future with advances in biotechnology, we have a very easy/cheap procedure to remove the fetus from the womb and grow it outside:

  1. Should abortions be banned, because there is no need for the mother's property - the womb?
  2. Should abortions be banned if there is someone else willing to pay the cost of the procedure?
  3. Should abortions be banned if someone else is not only willing to pay for the procedure, but will also adopt and bring up the child?

With the current arguments based on rights of mother greater than rights of fetus, the answer would have to be yes. My answer to all of the above is NO, but it is a bit of a gut reaction, and I do not have much of an argument. The start of my argument is along the lines: The mother contributed 1/2 the genome to the fetus, which is the mother's property and she should get to decide what happens to her property. The only other person with a say in this matter is the father who contributed the other 1/2 of the fetus' genome.

It may sound like I am a bit attached to the genome - treating it like property. But if we don't what happens in a case like: the eggs/cells/sperms of a person are stolen, and (clone)fetuses created - can the owner of the egg/etc claim ownership of the fetus, if so on what basis, else can they have the (clone)fetuses destroyed - for e.g. because they don't want their replicas all over the place? I do think that treating fetus as property should only apply as long as it is not self-aware, after which point it is its own person.

Thoughts?

As

Elijah Lineberry's picture

I said, Reed, I am personally opposed to abortion...but yes, I would be against a law change which would tell someone (the Mother) how to live [their] li[ves].

Mark -... it's simply an

reed's picture

Mark -
... it's simply an issue of consciousness.
I can understand that position and it provides a logical starting point which conclusions can be drawn from.

Although as a male I never normally involve myself in the abortion debate, as I feel it is singularly a woman's issue as it is her body? What do others/you think on that?
If the rights of the individual is your business then this is your business.

Elijah -
I think you would agree with the following...
If someones action violates the rights of others then intervention is appropriate to prevent that action.
Your argument about telling people how to live their lives implies that you believe the unborn have no right to life but I can't see what your reason is.

Claudia -
I'm not sure how you are using the term "Primitive".
If you are suggesting that any stage from conception is less complex than a fully grown human then I would have to disagree... or... are you suggesting that intellect should be a determining factor for the right to life?

Reed...

Olivia's picture

I don't get the rationale behind the viability or the right to end the life of a dependent arguments.

For me it comes down to whether a life form is primitive or not.
A fetus, before it develops full neurological activity, is a very primitive life form... like that of a fish. Retarded infants that are brain damaged and will never develop a properly functioning mind are a primitive life form also. I have no problem with a woman deciding she doesn't want to spend her entire life saddled with that kind of incumbent being. If she wants to... that's another story, but if she doesn't, then she should have the right to choose. It is her life that will take the impact.

Reed

Elijah Lineberry's picture

the line which would be crossed by changing our Abortion laws which would concern me is it would be effectively telling people how to live their lives.

On the subject of abortion, I should point out that the largest number of abortions ever carried out in New Zealand was in 1943 when the American troops were here.

If you start doing the mathematics, and assume that the Women did not make the same mistake twice..(i.e a woman did not have two abortions)...and the American troops were not billeted in certain parts of the Country due to remoteness, you get a figure of about 1 in 6 females of childbearing age had an abortion during 1943. Shocked

What I find particularly galling about all this is it takes 'two to tango', so you had the American soldiers, and the New Zealand females all taking part in the quaint post war church going, moralistic, middle class, protestant, puritanical societies which were their respective Countries during the 1950s and 60s, where they no doubt tut-tutted about drinking, dancing, Elvis Presley, juvenile deliquency, rock and roll, pornography, gay sex, drugs taking and 10001 other matters, whilst conveniently and hypocritically forgetting their own behaviour and its consequences 15 to 20 years earlier.

I've not read the other

Mark Hubbard's picture

I've not read the other thread, but:

What is the difference between this and ending the lives of young children?

It's simply a question of consciousness isn't it? No, I'll rephrase that: it's simply an issue of consciousness. A foetus is just a blob of flesh, it isn't thinking, thus I have no issues with aborting that. For me it would simply come down to knowing when the baby is self-conscious, or at least conscious of its surroundings, for at that stage he/she becomes a human and has the right to life (though, not all the other rights of adults). So it is at whatever stage in the pregnancy that this becomes so.

(Actually, I am going to restrict the above to being self-aware, only, as opposed to 'conscious of surroundings'. )

Although as a male I never normally involve myself in the abortion debate, as I feel it is singularly a woman's issue as it is her body? What do others/you think on that?

So what is it about being human that grants us rights?

We are self aware, and thus it would be pretty stupid not to surely, unless one becomes a Greeny. I don't know the philosophical answer, but this is self evident to me regardless - without rights how are we to live, or attempt to live, in a state of freedom, responsible for ourselves and our own happiness? The answer is that would be impossible, and without same attaching to the individual, it would enslave us to the collective or the tyrant in every case. It is a base line survival issue, as without rights we have no ability to live.

Claudia & Landon - Thanks

reed's picture

Claudia & Landon -
Thanks for the links.

I don't get the rationale behind the viability or the right to end the life of a dependent arguments.
What is the difference between this and ending the lives of young children?

Elijah -
I agree with the NZ abortion law as it is written (AFAIK it is the same as my position) but disagree with how it is implemented.

Abortions are prevented in NZ in some situations anyway, what line would you be concerned about crossing if abortions were prevented in more situations?

Everyone -
So what is it about being human that grants us rights?

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