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August 07, 2016

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In addition to the events you list, it's perhaps worth mentioning one additional time of ensoulment which has historical existence. In medieval Europe, the Church took the position that ensoulment occurred at the time of baptism -- which typically took place several days after birth. Given infant mortality rates at the time, that meant a significant number of births occurred which, at least in the theology of the time, did not result in a human being.

Of course theologies change over time, even in religions which say they are eternal and unchanging. Which makes for a seriously moving target.

From what I remember the Roman Catholic Church adopted the Aristotelian view of ensoulment with slightly changed numbers, i.e. 40 days after conception for boys and 80 for girls. Punishment for abortion before that was more lenient since no soul was condemned to hell (the unborn are unbaptized and therefore cannot enter heaven [St.Augustine's doctrine*]. Dante's idea of the Limbo was at his time still heretical, so embryos went into the fiery pit too). The idea that ensoulment took place at the date of conception did not even enter the serious discussion before the dogma of the immaculate conception got passed and even then the Aristotelians held the field for a long time. In the end it was the conception of Christ that shifted the theology from 40/80 to 0 based on the absurd notion that Mary could theoretically have aborted a soulless Christ otherwise.

*maybe the most insidious result of that was that for a long time women who died during pregnancy were not allowed to be buried in the churchyard but outside with the other hellfodder unless the unborn got cut out first. In Scandinavia the state had to make laws forbidding this ghoulish practice.

G'day,

In Japan, the bodhisattva Jizō is close to being a God/deity/saint of Miscarriage. Many Japanese temples have rows of little statues with red cloaks, each commemorating a miscarriage:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mizuko_kuy%C5%8D

Abortion in Japan is a very interesting topic. It's illegal except for health reasons or financial reasons, something which emerged from the post war period. However, Japanese women don't have to specify their reasons, so it is de facto legal. However, it is not covered by National Health, so ObGyn can charge more and I believe that the JMA (Japan Medical association) has made sure that it remains in this quasi legal state so they can continue to profit from it. If it is because of identifiable reasons of health, it is covered by National Health, but if it is for financial reasons, perversely, it is not covered.

The abortions thru administered drugs are also not available in Japan, constrained by the same forces. I think the figure is an average of 200,000 abortions per year here( dropping since the 90's with the availablity of low dosage birth control)

I think because of the ubiquity of abortions here, it seems to me that Buddhist temples which encourage women to pay for a Mizuyo Kuyo ceremony, there is a line in the wikipedia article, but I think there's a lot more debate about it.

I am not certain how you conclude their choice is Bulls hit, after making a case that their choice is as valid as anyone else's.

While the term "rare cases" may be inaccurate, it doesn't change the point for those that do make it through the first few weeks. Their life still started at conception and continues uninterrupted.

The twins problem is simply a red herring, since something happening different in the growth of the baby doesn't negate what happened at conception.

It seems that the battle to "scientifically" prove life doesn't start at conception gets harder all the time.

It seems that the battle to "scientifically" prove life doesn't start at conception gets harder all the time.

Do you mean legally respectable human life, as in "personhood"? Why does anyone have to prove that "life" (as you're using the word) doesn't start at conception? Shouldn't those who want to limit what women can do with their own bodies prove when it does start? (And then justify why this new life has dominion over another.)

Give it time and the champions of the unborn will come up with "scientific" reasons to defend the unconceived.

Come to think of it, the opponents of contraception must have some sort of basis for their opposition. But I have not heard them ground it in "science". Yet.

--TP

I am not certain how you conclude their choice is Bulls hit...

Because 'scientific'.
Science doesn't really have an accepted definition of life, let alone when human life 'begins'. This is an argument about beliefs and isn't reducible to empirical testing - otherwise why the horror of human cloning ?

I love that word dominion. It's like the child appeared from nowhere and started ordering the Mom around. Wait, that's not an unfair description of what I have observed.

I am not overly concerned about the prolife discussion. I was commenting on this:

Science-based arguments can be made for putting "the start of respectable[2] human life" at a number of different times during development: conception, heartbeat, movement or "quickening" (traditional), brain formation, brain development, birth (another traditional point), etc.

Which is a basis for a discussion. Rather than a more traditional dismissal of conception as even a possible science-based alternative.

I an happy to have any discussion about prochoice, women's rights having dominion etc. I just prefer it when people don't start by asserting a "scientific fact" that makes their position easier to defend, that isn't one. And a large number of abortion discussions I have had start with, "life doesn't start at conception" defined as a fact, often pretty self righteously.

So I appreciate the candor in the statement. Even though I suspect that Doc doesn't count life as beginning at conception, the recognition that some level of science-based argument for that is possible makes any next step in discussion easier. I think.

I love that word dominion. It's like the child appeared from nowhere and started ordering the Mom around. Wait, that's not an unfair description of what I have observed.

Legal dominion, involving other people ordering the pregnant woman around on behalf of the fetus (if it's even that far along when people start ordering the pregnant woman around).

I just prefer it when people don't start by asserting a "scientific fact" that makes their position easier to defend, that isn't one. And a large number of abortion discussions I have had start with, "life doesn't start at conception" defined as a fact, often pretty self righteously.

I agree. A science-based argument doesn't necessarily mean the assertion of a scientific fact. But maybe there have been times when someone said that it wasn't a scientific fact that "life" did start at conception, but you heard that they said it was a scientific fact that "life" didn't start at conception.

But, again, what's at issue isn't life - or even human life - but legal personhood. Human life, which animates us all, started however many (a hundred or more?) millennia ago.

Yes, but will he supply the tax dollars, his and ours, for cradle to grave care worthy of human life for the Zika-infected children, let alone vote to fund a full program of Zika prevention:

"Sen. Marco Rubio said Saturday that he doesn’t believe a pregnant woman infected with the Zika virus should have the right to an abortion — even if she had reason to believe the child would be born with severe microcephaly.

“I understand a lot of people disagree with my view – but I believe that all human life is worthy of protection of our laws. And when you present it in the context of Zika or any prenatal condition, it’s a difficult question and a hard one,” Rubio told POLITICO.

“But if I’m going to err, I’m going to err on the side of life.”

Rubio is worse than Trump. He's a shitheel Cuban fuck murderer.

He doesn't even believe Hillary Clinton is human life.

This is an argument about beliefs and isn't reducible to empirical testing - otherwise why the horror of human cloning?

Just out of curiosity, if life begins at conception, when does it begin for a clone? There is, after all, no conception event. No new mix of DNA. So does that mean that a clone would not be a human being?

Or, I suppose, some of the horror that some people feel about cloning could be precisely because they can't fit it into their mental structure around when life begins...

Marty, are pluripotent stem cells persons, with a right to life?

The BEST part about fundamentalists and in-vitro fertilization is how a pimpled dweeby lab tech, with one drop from a pipette, can FORCE an omnipotent deity to 'ensoul' dozens of zygotes.

Whether said lab tech crows "Yahweh, you my B*TCH!" when performing IVF is not recorded.

Doc, thanks for raising this topic. I'll address your comments, but I'm also trying to figure out what the question(s) is/are.

1. At some point prior to birth, does a fetus become human? If yes, then at what point?

2. Is a fetus ever a human being?

Doc's commments:

1. "Scientifically" life does not begin, it is transmitted. There is no non-living link in human reproduction. The scientific answer to "When does life begin?" is "Three billion years ago."[1] For "When does human life begin?" the answer is "About 100,000 years ago."

I'm not sure there is a scientific consensus that this is the case. It looks like semantics to me. A child is a new and different life, not a continuation of his/her parents' lives.

The question ethicists ask is, 'when--if at all--during gestation, does a new human's life begin?'

It's not an unreasonable question and should have a fairly straightforward answer.

2. Not all humans have new and unique DNA: identical twins are people, too.

And this disproves the notion that life begins at conception in what material way? Seems like nit-picking to me.

3. Conversely, some individual humans are chimeras: they contain two different sets of "new and unique DNA", when two distinct embryos (in your thinking, two distinct human lives) have merged in utero. If you start with 2 human lives and end up with one individual, does this mean that one of those human lives ended? Which one?

Several questions: who cares and how is this relevant, in any material way, to the vexing question of when does a human being begin to exist while inside the womb?

4. The statement that life will continue from the point of conception to birth "except in rare cases" is false. On the contrary, it's been estimated that only 30% of human conceptions progress to live birth. About 25-30% never make it to implantation (which is the start of pregnancy), another 30% die during the first week or so, 10-15% are recognized as miscarriages, and 1% are stillbirths.

In addition to nit-picking, is this even relevant? If the author had said, instead, "in the vast majority of cases, a viable fetus*, if left alone, will proceed to live birth", would that have made any difference? How does the fact that 60% zygotes fail to achieve viability and another 10-15% miscarry validate, for example, a second trimester abortion for no better reason than a child isn't convenient at that time?

5. Saying "life will continue from that point unless interrupted". No, without the active support of a human uterus the death rate for human embryos is 100%. An embryo's life doesn't just "continue", it needs ongoing contributions from the mother to stay alive.

I think everyone agrees that a fetus is entirely dependent on its mother to survive the womb. And that may be the rationale for justifying abortion: it's the mom's body, she gets to decide and whether the fetus is human or a person or what have you is beside the point.

IOW, even if a fetus is 100% human, 100% a person, it doesn't matter. If the woman wants to abort, she can and it's her call and hers alone.

I think this is the bottom line: Pro Choice people do not care, i.e. it is irrelevant, whether a fetus is human or not or a person or not. If the mother wishes to abort, that is her right, period full stop.

Pro-lifers come at it from a different angle: it is a human being and it should be allowed to live unless allowing that threatens the mother's life or materially threatens the mother's health, or is the result of incest or rape.

I agree Zika and other outlier concerns such as massive and deblitating birth defects present a problem. Fine, we can have a chat about that too.

But, in the meantime, taking the Doc's statistics, several million children who were past the 60% cut off and who were net of the 10-15% miscarriage rate had their lives terminated. You can crack wise about ensoullment or other digressions, but when millions of lives--or lives that would have been--are taken, it's not unreasonable or pig ignorant to raise a question or two.

* A 'viable fetus' means one that, but for an abortion, would go to term and be born. It does not mean viable outside the womb.

But, McKinney, Doc Sci also wrote this:

Science-based arguments can be made for putting "the start of respectable[2] human life" at a number of different times during development: conception, heartbeat, movement or "quickening" (traditional), brain formation, brain development, birth (another traditional point), etc. Some of these arguments may well be stronger than the ones for conception.

I think all the things you're objecting to are in response to a specific argument (or category of arguments) being made for "life" (i.e. personhood) beginning at conception. They aren't dismissals of any and all arguments for "life" starting at whatever point before birth.

A child is a new and different life, not a continuation of his/her parents' lives.

There are many scientifically valid senses in which that assumption really is not true though. Maybe more senses than it is true.

You're just a big clump of more-or-less cooperating tissues after all, tissues composed of cells and organelles with a lineage that ultimately goes all the way back to the same primitive self replicating clump of molecules clinging to an ocean vent or wherever. And a child is just a calved off clump of more or less exactly the same stuff.

So it'd actually be valid-ish to say that there is only ONE life on the whole planet (so far as we know).

Or alternatively, that a person is made of of trillions of lives. (Not all of them even having the same DNA - chimerism aside, there's quite a few pounds of symbiotic microbial cells in you, some of them probably every bit as vital as the "human" cells in your spleen or wherever, not to mention random snippets of viral DNA, activations and de-activations caused by cell differentiation, etc.)

And then somewhere in between, there are categories like "species". Most individual "lives" would be even shorter without other individuals to share the burden and dangers, and certainly wouldn't span generations without a few other members of their species to, ahem, interact with. (AFAIK, sciences like population genetics study individual genes and species-level divisions, but more or less skip right over individuals.)

The question ethicists ask is, 'when--if at all--during gestation, does a new human's life begin?'

The problem is that there is no single definition of "human life" -- see above. In particular, there's not necessarily any scientific definition of "human life" which stands above the rest and also manages to match up at all well with the intuitive pre-scientific concept of a "soul".

So the framing of that question seems inextricably tied up in the historical baggage of "ensoulment", which is obviously about as non-scientific as you can get.

I think if you want an ethical question that is going to have some kind of reality-based answer, it's going to either have to have a much broader focus, maybe something more like, "what is the definition of person/individual which is most beneficial to human society as a whole?" or a much narrower one, like, "does procedure X cause any pain?"

I just prefer it when people don't start by asserting a "scientific fact" that makes their position easier to defend, that isn't one. And a large number of abortion discussions I have had start with, "life doesn't start at conception" defined as a fact, often pretty self righteously.

Well, on the other hand, I'm not too fond of those who assert, often self-righteously, that "life" begins at "conception" and that the fetus, at any stage, is a human with (some? all?) legal rights, and that its relationship to its life provider is subject to state intervention. These assumptions are also commonly advanced as "fact", are they not?

So it is this basic talking past each other that makes debate on this issue (see also Israel-Palestine)so intellectually draining.

The problem is that there is no single definition of "human life" -- see above. In particular, there's not necessarily any scientific definition of "human life" which stands above the rest and also manages to match up at all well with the intuitive pre-scientific concept of a "soul".

I disagree. I'm pretty sure I qualify as a human life. I'm pretty sure our grandson, when he is born late this October, will be human as well. The 'soul' thing is for theologians.

IMO, it is obtuse/evasive to refuse to engage on the simple question: at what point, in the womb, does the fetus become a human being?

We can discuss what rights, if any, the human being has afterwards.

"what is the definition of person/individual which is most beneficial to human society as a whole?"

To illustrate why this has a lot of problems, suppose a committee of experts determines that society benefits when "person" is defined as a "human being capable of and actually supporting him/herself." This definition excludes the unemployed, many of the elderly and almost all children. But, if we are going to leave it to *someone* to propose a definition, we have to accept that it may be a completely arbitrary definition that many of us would revolt before accepting.

So, rather than impose a shifting, subjective standard on what it means to be a human being, why not engage and answer objectively?

Well, on the other hand, I'm not too fond of those who assert, often self-righteously, that "life" begins at "conception" and that the fetus, at any stage, is a human with (some? all?) legal rights, and that its relationship to its life provider is subject to state intervention. These assumptions are also commonly advanced as "fact", are they not?

No one is asserting anything at this point. Rather, the question is being asked, "at what point, in the womb, does a fetus become a human being?"

It's a fair question.

IMO, it is obtuse/evasive to refuse to engage on the simple question: at what point, in the womb, does the fetus become a human being?

Continuing to insist that there must be an answer to this question does not make it so.

It is, fundamentally, a mal-formed question. There is, as far as science can detect, no such thing as a soul, so there is no objective basis to decide when one mass of human and microbial cells developing inside some other masses of human and microbial cells acquires one and becomes a "human being". It's a continuum, and any such "point" must be picked arbitrarily.

Besides which, calling something a "human being" is nowhere near as incisive as you appear to think it is.

I mean, suppose we do arbitrarily deem a newly conceived zygote a "human being". What does that actually mean? It's not as if even all "human beings" have the same rights - a zygote obviously isn't going to be allowed to vote, for example.

Less facetiously, the "right to life" is not inviolable in even what are clearly already fully formed, thinking, feeling, talking human beings. Consider conjoined twins requiring surgery that will save one and doom the other. Or consider a simple blood transfusion - we do not generally accept that it would be ethical to force me to provide one to you, even if it's no more than an inconvenience to me and will save your life. And yet I will concede that you are certainly a "human being". (Let's not even open the whole capital punishment can of worms.)

What we really want to know are things like "will this do harm" and "does a woman have a right to make decisions about her own body" -- semantics doesn't actually answer those questions.

what the question(s) is/are.

1. At some point prior to birth, does a fetus become human? If yes, then at what point?

2. Is a fetus ever a human being?

Isn't the second merely a subsidiary possibility in response to the first question? If "at some point prior to birth", then yes, a fetus is a human being at some point. Or, to take it from the other side, if a fetus is not a human being until birth, then it's not.

So, rather than impose a shifting, subjective standard on what it means to be a human being, why not engage and answer objectively?

I think jack l. answered this quite well. You keep asking for an "objective answer" to a loaded question. But then we have our loaded questions, too. I'm sure they'll come up!

You seem to say you want bright lines (i.e., be objective), yet when one is presented (the first cell in the primordial ooze is when life began) you demur.

Why is that response unsatisfactory?

IOW, even if a fetus is 100% human, 100% a person, it doesn't matter. If the woman wants to abort, she can and it's her call and hers alone.

I think this is the bottom line: Pro Choice people do not care

Really? You have met pro-choice people who say that they agree that a fetus is human, but an abortion should be allowed anyway? Really?

If so, I think I'm glad that I don't move in the same circles you do. Certainly that's very different from the views of the pro-choice individuals that I know.

McTx: once you resolve the perplexing question of "at what point, in the womb, does the fetus become a human being?", could you turn your attention to "how many stones make a 'heap'?"

I'd prefer a precise numerical answer.

"When does the fetus become a human being" is a valid question, but it's not a scientific question. It's an ethical and/or legal question, and science can at best inform it. No scientific investigation is going to find a bright line.

Drawing the legal line at birth is obviously arbitrary, but it has the excellent advantage of being a relatively unambiguous milestone that can be seen by all, and also avoids many terrible ethical dilemmas.

But Matt, If you draw the line there, then then next question is, "why not 30 seconds earlier? Why not a minute? An hour? A day? A month? Three months? Haven't you seen the pictures? Are you telling me those are not humans?

To give an answer in the frame they insist on is to give away the game. You lose.

To give an answer in the frame they insist on is to give away the game. You lose.

I think this is right. You really have to find a way to change the question or admit that thirty seconds before and 6 weeks before and... it's a human being.

Then you have to ask the second? question hsh asked, when does it have dominion over the choices of the mother? When does society have the right to protect her/him? If never then, I am voting for a guy who says not until after birth, say that's the reason.

Why is that response unsatisfactory?

I'd prefer a precise numerical answer.

Because, it is obvious that at some point in the process, the zygote becomes human. It may be when the head breaches the womb; it may be when the conditions are met such that the fetus will go full term absent the 10-15% chance of miscarriage; it may be when the fetus is 'viable' outside the womb albeit with medical assistance.

But, it happens: the fetus becomes human. It either happens in the womb or out of the womb. Yes, no, too hard to answer because the first cell--the Mother Cell--was formed 3-4 billion years ago?

You can quibble about the early stages of pregnancy, but viability attaches at what, 21 weeks, 24 weeks? There's no gray area after that.

And even 'viability' is a technicality, the transition being more or less analogous to puberty.

Please.

Why does everyone dodge the question?

Really? You have met pro-choice people who say that they agree that a fetus is human, but an abortion should be allowed anyway? Really?

If so, I think I'm glad that I don't move in the same circles you do. Certainly that's very different from the views of the pro-choice individuals that I know.

Eventually, I'm going to tease some answers out.

Yes, I have. But most do what we see here: they won't answer the question.

Examples of admitting humanity and allowing abortion:

Gen. Wesley Clark, when running for president some time back said a woman had the right to abort right up until the child had either entered or exited the birth canal (I can't remember). Regardless, very late in the process. That would be one example of a pro choice person believing a human could be aborted, or denying that a child in the birth canal was human.

The NYT wrote a very thoughtful, pro-choice editorial opus magnum on the topic and agreed that the process ended a human life.

So, there's another example.

WJ, the only interpretation I can place on the folks you know is that they deny a fetus is human. And, if they admitted that a fetus was human, they'd have to reverse their position on abortion.

So, your circle of friends seems to have answered the questions: fetuses are not human while in the womb. Fine. Seems a bit arbitrary to me, but helpful from a conscience standpoint if you're going to sign on to abortion.

But maybe I'm missing something.

Right now, I'm trying to find out when, if ever, the pro-choice people here will recognize a fetus as a human.

Skipping around the question or carrying on as if it can't be answered are cop outs. If you are going to agree that a pregnancy can be aborted, you ought to at least *face up* to what you are consenting to. Give it some thought, roll it around, look at it from all sides, etc.

Pro-choicer's frequently ask/challenge pro-lifer's to accept the consequences of their position.

Ok, the tables are turned: do pro-choicer's even concede that an abortion has consequences?

The Doc's stats clearly show that before a woman even knows she's pregnant, the fetus has a 85-90% chance of going full term. Those are pretty good odds.

If left alone, you get a baby. Every time.

The baby is a human being.

When does that baby transition from fetus to human being?

It's a fair question.

I was challenged recently to own a position I'd never taken.

I own my pro-choice position and have owned it all my life.

I acknowledge the impact my position has on others.

So, why isn't turnabout fair play?

Why shouldn't pro-choicer's own their position?

It's a fair question.

Well, no, it is not.

What is your pro-choice position?

What if I say fetuses don't become human until after birth? Or Viability? What is the point of this?

I failed to finish the Doc's post, particularly the last paragraph:

The current "pro-life" movement doesn't date respectable human life from conception because that's scientifically irreproachable (it's not). They *chose* that point for non-scientific reasons, then picked the science to support it. It's dishonest, and follows a tradition of ignorance and bullshiting in the movement. I'm using "bullshit" in philosopher Harry Frankfurt's sense, to mean that they're not consciously lying, they just don't care about the truth.

Lovely. I'm waiting for a thumbs up or thumbs down on whether a fetus ever becomes a human and it turns out the entire pro-life movement is a bunch of non-lying but dishonest jerks who "just don't care about the truth."

Here are a couple of reasons why holding that life begins at conception makes sense:

1. It is conceptually easy to understand AND, by the time a woman realizes she's pregnant, the zybote/embryo/fetus has gotten past the first week and is in the 10-15% category for miscarriage, so we aren't talking about 'conception', but rather a viable person-in-process who will most likely go full term if left alone.

2. Conception is the first stage of forming a new human being. It isn't tricky. No biology degree is needed. The purpose of a condom is to prevent conception because conception, once anyone realizes it is taken place, means a baby is on the way.

So, no Doc, hanging our conceptual hats on conception isn't arbitrary. It isn't dishonest. It isn't ignorant. And, the science is exactly as you say, within a week, the chances of going full term are quite good.

I could just as easily snark and say pro-choicer's won't confront the humanity question because it calls into question their own moral probity and, really, they are dishonest about the impact of their preferences and they don't care if they are killing another person.

That would be uplifting, wouldn't it?

Well, no, it is not.

Why is it unfair?

I have to say, that pro-choice people cannot or will not engage on this pretty straightforward question is really quite something. Quite something.

Everyone seemed so totally on board with Doc dissing the dumbass pro-lifers, but when the table gets turned, time out!

Why shouldn't pro-choicer's own their position?

Let me own my position. Human sperm and human eggs are human life. They carry the potential to become a human being if "the right circumstances" exist. One of the early circumstances is fertilization. That creates a human zygote, and then embryo. These too are very early forms of human life, although "the right circumstances" have to exist to make a fully formed human child. As time goes on, in "the right circumstances", an embryo becomes a fetus. Again, "the right circumstances" have to take place before the child is born. Finally, there is the drama of birth, which definitely requires "the right circumstances" in order for a fully formed human being to emerge. Even after the baby is born, "the right circumstances" have to be provided until a child is somewhat independent. Even then, "the right circumstances" have to exist for continued survival.

The difference between before and after birth, "the right circumstances" have everything to do with the woman carrying the cells inside her. "The right circumstances" are very dependent on a woman's capacity to care for herself. It's not true that 'If left alone, you get a baby." if a woman has no food, you don't get a baby. If the woman has cancer, you sometimes don't get a baby. If a woman has a variety of other health or psychological issues, you don't get a baby. You get a baby if the mother has an accommodating body, and an attitude that will help her carry the pregnancy. And during birth, a lot of things can go wrong "if left alone". Then, of course, even if all has gone well, someone takes care of the baby until it's independent.

Frequently (probably usually), a woman who allows a pregnancy to proceed past early stages wants to see the pregnancy to succeed. But sometimes fate intervenes to cause a woman to reevaluate - say, if she find out the "baby" will be stillborn, or will only live a few painful minutes because of a birth defect.

McKinney, and other folks, IMO, can't decide for a woman what all "the right circumstances" are. They are most welcome to pitch in once it's not all about the woman and her body. McKinney, pitch in when the baby is born. There are plenty of folks who could use help (especially financial) with a newborn.

it is obvious that at some point in the process, the zygote becomes human.

Ah, but is that really obvious?

At one point in life, you are a child. At a later point, you are an adult. Is there "some point" at which you become an adult? I mean that in other than the strict legal sense (which actually has multiple age thresholds).

Or do you gradually grow up, with becoming an adult being a process rather than just an occurrance.

the only interpretation I can place on the folks you know is that they deny a fetus is human. And, if they admitted that a fetus was human, they'd have to reverse their position on abortion.

Actually, no. They would agree that a fetus is human at some point -- but not from the moment of conception. (Which point is, unsurprisingly, a matter of debate among them, just as it is being here.)

"Pro-lifers come at it from a different angle: it is a human being and it should be allowed to live unless allowing that threatens the mother's life or materially threatens the mother's health, or is the result of incest or rape."

That may be your position, but the antiabortion position is not monolithic. Many famous antiabortion politicians (Rubio, for example) do not favor those exceptions.

Serious question: If you do believe that abortions should be allowed in the case of rape, why is that? If you genuinely believe a fetus is a human at X time of development, why should the fact that a rape produced that fetus matter? For example, you wouldn't allow a woman who was raped and delivered the child produced by that rape to later murder that child consequence-free, right? So if there's no different between a post-delivery child and a pre-delivery fetus, then why do you (or why does any antiabortion person) accept that abortions should happen in the case of fetuses produced by rape/incest?

Right now, I'm trying to find out when, if ever, the pro-choice people here will recognize a fetus as a human.

If by "when" you mean, "when, in the course of this debate," then you may be pleased to recall that many of us already have long since.

If by "when" you mean, "at what point between conception and birth," you should recognize that "the pro-choice people" are not a monolith on that point. There are lots of discussions around that . . . when they aren't dealing with absolutist "at conception" individuals. My personal take (not necessarily for attribution to anyone else who is pro-life) is that the right moment is the point at which the baby can survive outside the womb without massive medical intervention.

Not because I think that is a rock-solid threshold. But because, as is clear, any threshold that you come up with (including conception) is going to be unsatisfactory to some degree. I can't see putting the threshold later. And I can't see a strong case for putting it earlier.

Hope that helps.

I agree with nearly every point McKinney Texas makes, but I'm pro-choice up until the 20-week line and in the event of the fetus posing a threat to the health and life of the mother.

I have no problem saying right our loud that I'm therefore allowing the taking human fetal life by keeping abortion safe and legal under those restrictions.

Though I would protest if a woman I impregnated chose to abort, I wouldn't attempt to veto the decision. It might end the relationship, but ... tell me what ridiculously more trivial motivations don't end relationships?

Women whom I have not impregnated are none of my business, but they require a choice, because they will make it anyway, and I'd rather it be antiseptic and well-lit.

Why? Because abortions have always happened, especially for the well-off, and the poor were subjected by and large to horrific conditions.

No one was counting.

We're not going back to that. If we want to jail women and men who choose to abort, good luck with that.

They have guns too, which seems a miscalculation on the part of those who seek to limit the choice.

Add in lots small print regarding sex education, including regarding chastity (yup, it doesn't work, but mention it anyway, just in case it impacts even one couple) and making birth control available everywhere and to everyone.

There is my position.

Fully fund Planned Parenthood. Free prenatal (sure, a small fee is OK) care and especially cradle to grave healthcare for fetuses brought to term, those born children so many of whom are ignored, with deductibles, copays and the lot as the fetuses get jobs and start horsing around and creating new fetuses like the randy shitheads we are.

I would even let the State intervene with male and female multiple-repeat pregnancy-without-taking responsibility offenders, perhaps even with medical procedures to halt the bullshit.

That would make everyone mad.

But everyone is already mad.

I think perhaps we can all agree on one thing: the "life begins at conception and abortion should be illegal except in cases of rape or incest" position is massively hypocritical. Regardless of whether you think we have a human being at conception, at birth, or anywhere inbetween.

The only way to justify it is to admit that you care more about political expediency than about the morality of the issue. That is, you make the exceptions and sacrifice some of those who you maintain are children, based on something which is entirely external to them.

Abortion in the event of rape -- the sole choice of the woman.

The point of viability as the beginning of the state's interest also makes no sense. The state's interest in all fetuses is basically the same--what difference does viability make?

Though I would protest if a woman I impregnated chose to abort....

A woman doesn't necessarily confide in her unsupportive partner about this decision. Certainly, daughters aren't going to be reporting to their dads. This is what I find somewhat amusing about this whole issue.

A woman's body is a pretty private matter. Once a woman is "showing", she is probably extremely invested in the pregnancy herself. Before that, you really probably don't have a clue, guys.

"Certainly, daughters aren't going to be reporting to their dads. "

Yes, yes they do. Not always but mine did. My wife too. What kind of relationships do you have?

I almost have no opinion about abortion, other than that it generally sucks. It's pretty much always part of some larger failure. As far as I can tell, nobody really wants one, if they have one it's pretty much always because that's the lesser of some number of other evils, real or perceived.

The reason I have almost no opinion is because, it seems to me, understanding what it actually *is* depends on having answers to questions that are, as far as I can tell, fundamentally mysterious.

Not "ooh, spooky" mysterious, but mysterious in the etymological sense. Hidden, inscrutable, not available to ordinary understanding.

Are we obliged to protect a living organism, per se? Or, does the organism have to achieve some kind of distinguishable human personhood before ending life is wrong?

Are we talking about actual life, or potential life? Actual personhood, or potential personhood?

What is a person?

I don't know, I don't know, I don't know, and I don't know. More to the point, I don't know how to know. Certainly not in the sense of knowledge that can be demonstrated to the satisfaction of other people.

What you think about abortion is, I think, inextricable from what you think and believe about a thousand other things.

The median opinion seems to be that it's generally sad, and folks who find themselves in the position of considering one generally find those circumstances to be regrettable and unfortunate. And, the median opinion seems to be that there are circumstances where it is, however unfortunately, a credible, justifiable, and understandable option.

As far as the religious point of view, the apparent consensus among Protestant Evangelicals that it is irredeemably wrong is, I believe, relatively recent. If I'm not mistaken, that position was seen by at least some as being more of a Catholic thing, until, say, 30 or 40 years ago.

The Catholic tradition can point back all the way to the Didache, which basically equates it with infanticide and considers it a reprehensible and pagan practice. That takes us back to the apostolic days.

I'm pretty sure it's seen as a bad thing by mainstream Buddhists, although they don't seem to combine it with the same degree of moral judgement that is characteristic of the common Christian position.

I do know some Unitarian Universalists who think it is, in a nutshell, wrong, but like the Buddhists, don't combine that with a heavy dose of moral judgement. Within the UU community, they're kind of a minority, but they exist.

Don't know about anybody else.

What kind of relationships do you have?

I'm glad that your significant others had the trust in you to report their abortions, even though you don't seem to be supportive. Many relationships do not have that degree of trust.

The reason I have almost no opinion is because, it seems to me, understanding what it actually *is* depends on having answers to questions that are, as far as I can tell, fundamentally mysterious.

Also, because you're a dude, and you've never worried that you might be pregnant at a time that you really couldn't see having a child. Just saying.

Also, because you're a dude

With respect, no.

And, also with respect, it is not always the case that decisions like this involve only the mother, or affect only the mother, or are made only by the mother with nobody else's input or concern.

As far as I can tell, and as far as I have been able to observe, there is no simple way to characterize, boil down, or reduce the complexity of the issue.

Most folks know somebody who has had to make these kinds of choices. I don't know, but am pretty sure, that what I've seen is largely true of most cases.

Specifically, I don't know any women for whom the choice, or the understanding of the issues, was either simplified or clarified by the fact that she bore the literal burden of the pregnancy.

With that, I'll likely bow out on this topic. I'm not sure I have anything to offer here other than my observation that it's a profoundly difficult and complex question, and not one for which I think anyone can provide answers for anyone else.

And, also with respect, it is not always the case that decisions like this involve only the mother, or affect only the mother, or are made only by the mother with nobody else's input or concern.

Okay, true, it's not always the case at all. Often, couples are close, and they make decisions together. I also agree that the decision is usually a sad one.

What I don't agree with is:

With respect, no.

It is incredibly frightening and immediate when a woman believes she is pregnant, and it's a situation that is not good for whatever else is happening in her life. For whatever times you've been there, there are times when women have not had you, the supportive partner. Or maybe there's a partner who's supportive of a pregnancy, but not of a woman. Lots else.

Because, it is obvious that at some point in the process, the zygote becomes human.

No. No, it's really not obvious at all.

- Biologically, the zygote is already human. Or at least a lot more human then it is jellyfish or tree fungus. The gametes were human too, as were the testes and ovaries they came from, etc. etc. The cells in that lineage have been identifiably human for about a quarter million years.

- Historically/traditionally, it's probably on pretty shaky ground until at least several weeks to a year or so out in the world breathing air. Somewhere around there is the point (assuming it survived) at which many cultures -- even fairly recent ones -- would finally have bothered to give it a name, baptize it, etc. And that's not even counting all the of cultures in which infanticide (by exposure, sacrifice, or otherwise) was totally normalized. According to the great wiki of questionably sources, Western European women were throwing babies into rivers in broad daylight at least as late as the 12th century. In medieval, Christian, Germany, women had a legal right to leave their infants out in the woods if they didn't want them.

- Intellectually, the zygote/embryo/fetus/infant/child won't be a "human" in the sense of "a human I can have a conversation about Spanish literature with" for AT LEAST another 3 or 4 years on the low end, and maybe a few decades on the high end. That's probably a little strict, but it'll still take at least a little while before it can pass simple tests like demonstrate recognition of itself in a mirror - or according to some, even remember or properly process pain stimulus.

- Medically, if one arbitrarily insists that becoming human is something that happens between conception and birth, there are probably a couple hundred "points" one could pick - formation of a neural groove, first traces of brain structures, traditional "quickening", etc. etc. But those all occur at different points, and no single one of them seems to have much in particular to do with being "human". Picking one is, in case I haven't made this clear, totally arbitrary. A fetus with a partially formed heart bulge doesn't seem any more or less "human" to me than the same fetus a few minutes later after that bulge has started to beat a little.

- Becoming human doesn't count for much anyway: Legally, it will never, at least in jurisdictions with capital punishment, be "human" enough to have an inalienable right to not be deprived of life. In many places it won't even any particular right to normal medical treatment. It certainly will never have the right to demand life-giving sustenance from the body of another human.

Forgot to mention:

The point at which it develops white skin is of course the point where it becomes "human" enough not to be shot by the police with impunity.

For whatever times you've been there, there are times when women have not had you, the supportive partner. Or maybe there's a partner who's supportive of a pregnancy, but not of a woman.

Im sure that all of that is so.

Basically, on this topic, I don't know what to do except defer to people's conscience about what is right for them.

Beyond that, I really got nothing. Or, not much.

One thing I'm not entirely clear on is whether or not any given person is discussing the theoretical morality of abortion or the practical matter of what rules, specific to abortion and aside from whatever laws and regulations regard the practice of medicine generally, should be enforced by law.

Scratch the "or not" from that comment.

The "pro-life" position is essentially a political and social claim masquerading as a moral assertion, i.e., the claim that taking a human life is immoral.

Of course, as far as this killing thing claim goes, there is a nearly infinite array of caveats and exceptions (rape, incest, just war, self-defense, "it was an accident", capital punishment, health of the mother-but only sometimes and when we say so...on and on and on), leaving one with the impression that this is not so much a logically self consistent and irrefutable moral claim as a jerry built thought structure meant to reinforce pre-existing beliefs, predispositions, and prejudices. I mean really, billions and billions of precious zygotes never get past the post (see Dr. Science above), and the pro-life side's reply is.....nothing. No public policy to bring this number down. Nothing. The love of life appears to be rather contingent.

But a few million abortions, and only if you are poor....mass murder.

God's commandment says, "Thou Shalt Not Kill". There are no exceptions listed. So, unless you are some kind of saint, you are some kind of woeful sinner.

Own it.

Let the woman decide. Let her decide always.

It's pretty darned simple.

a fetus/infant/child won't be a "human" in the sense of "a human I can have a conversation about Spanish literature with" for AT LEAST another 3 or 4 years on the low end, and maybe a few decades on the high end. That's probably a little strict, but it'll still take at least a little while before it can pass simple tests like demonstrate recognition of itself in a mirror

OK, now we've got something we can work with! All that's left to resolve are the design details of a Turing Test for children -- I was going to say "children under 5" but perhaps we should just skip the age specification.

As someone notes above, what we have here is a moral / ethical issue masquerading as a scientific one. That doesn't make it invalid issue. But it does mean that, if you insist on a science-based decision, you are acting to guarantee that you will fail.

For those who love theological absolutism and consistency, enjoy this
http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/13/resolution-on-abortion
(It's an example, not an attempted attribution to anyone here. So don't get worked up unless the shoe fits.)

[...] could you turn your attention to "how many stones make a 'heap'?"

I'd prefer a precise numerical answer.

I'd say the answer is 4 (minimum), i.e. the smallest number for a pyramid, otherwise it would be at best a stack.

Thank you Hartmut! I was beginning to think that I had hallucinated a 'classic philosophical conundrum'.

One stone: not a heap, everyone agrees.
A million stones, pile up: yes, a heap, everyone agrees.
In between: ? lots of room for disagreement.

Unfertilized egg: not a human, everyone agrees
Teenager who borrows your car: human, dammit, everyone agrees.
In between: ???

The 'heap' discussion doesn't have the political/ethical/moral/religious/emotional poison loaded into it, so one can more clearly see that it's a matter of perception and semantics. Without the 'HOW can you say that a bunch of stones ONE STONE LESS than a heap should not be treated as a heap???', IOW.

All that's left to resolve are the design details of a Turing Test for children -- I was going to say "children under 5" but perhaps we should just skip the age specification.

We should absolutely skip the age specification. This is an interesting proposal, and may be usefully applied to Trump supporters in November.

That thought had occurred to me as I was falling asleep: make you take a Turing Test as part of the ballot.

The problem arises in this. You have to make the test simple and straight-forward enough that most people can pass it. However, if passing the test is what is required, how do you justify not letting children vote, if they pass it?

Or do you come up with a second test which somehow looks for mature judgement? And how do you get that passed all of the current voters who lack it?

This has been a good discussion. I'd like to make it a little less abstract. My spouse and I are doing an IVF cycle right now. We recently completed one a few weeks ago. After the cycle is complete, the doctor walks you through the gamete sheet, explaining what happened.

It starts on day 0 with 15 eggs extracted and then shows 12 of those eggs fertilized. So on the first day, we've got a dozen live human embryos. Post conception.

Over the next 5 days, some die, or fail to develop. They get graded by the lab techs every day. Two of them make it to day 5. At this point, they've got a hard outer shell that the techs remove with a laser (!). They then extract a single cell and send it to a special lab for genetic screening. Both embryos are then frozen.

Two weeks later, the lab says that one of them is genetically abnormal and the techs unceremoniously toss it into the medical waste bin.

So, according to the life-begins-at-conception crowd, I watched as 11 of my children died. I ordered the killing of one of them. Does that make me a murderer? Should I hold 11 funerals?

I'm a real live human person who has made real-life decisions. So, life-being-at-conception folk, what say ye? Tell me what kind of person I am.

You're a person who's going through a series of difficult and emotionally demanding steps, and whose partner is going through even more because of the hormonal craziness, and both of you are having to deal with fear, disappointment or (hopefully eventually) elation at unpredictable times. I've made it clear in previous threads that I'm pro-choice in almost every situation, while feeling uncomfortable about embryos which could already be viable, so of course my opinion may not count. Good luck.

You are and your brood are unwitting fundraisers for Marco Rubio, who will employ the cash to stay in genocidal power and make sure sugar baron Fanjuls continues to pour baby-harming runoff into Florida's waterways and then cut off Obamacare and Medicaid subsidies to lower middle class pregnant mothers who develop diabetes as they bring their babies to term, who Rubio will send to the meat grinder in the Middle East as soon they come of age for adult-onset abortion by other means, but with red, white, and blue bunting.

Other than that, you seem a decent sort, Turb.

I suspect Turb that you duplicated some of what goes on inside a woman's body, although I claim no detailed knowledge of the truth of that.

I think most people recognize the fragility of life at conception, I do. I believe that there is life at conception, and like many species the number of successful births is a varying subset of those lives, an evolutionary reality that provides for survival of the species. Cicadas do that by pure numbers once every thirteen years, as do sea turtles where tens of thousands of hatchlings don't make it from the nest to the ocean each year where tens of thousands more don't make it to open water.

These numbers and percentages give me pause. It makes me believe that protecting, to the extent possible, each of these lives is incredibly important. They are the few who survive.

We walk the beaches every year(not me, my friends and wife) and take stranded baby sea turtles that get confused by light and don't make it to the water, keep then wet all day so that at sunset we can walk them out into the water and release them on the hope they make it until morning. But sometimes when they are found they just didn't make it out of the nest alive.

All that is to say that a judgement on the type of person you are would, for me, not include your stance on abortion. I can strongly believe we should protect every life we can, and accept that circumstances don't allow us to protect them all.

It is the why I believe the bar should go up as a baby achieves each month of survival, and there is a point, before birth that the mother has accepted the responsibility to care for the child until it is born.

There are lots of other snarky comments in this thread I would normally respond to, but I will leave it at that.

And I can't tell you how much my thoughts are with you and your spouse and the child you are willing to work so hard to bring into this world. It will surely be a lucky kid.

Marty wins the thread.

"It is the why I believe the bar should go up as a baby achieves each month of survival, and there is a point, before birth that the mother has accepted the responsibility to care for the child until it is born."

This, with the usual boiler plate exceptions.

Marty wins the thread.

Yes. Turb, all the best and what GFTNC said, too.

I was going to say you need four stones to make a heap, but it depends on their shape. Three could do it if the two that form the base are long and roughly cylindrical. You might even be able to put one stone on top of another, but semantically my instinct is that this would not be a heap.

Let the states decide, or the consciences of individual stonemasons or Yankee farmers attempting to clear their fields.

This, with the usual boiler plate exceptions.

For sure. And 'this' is what just about always takes place except in those places where abortion is criminalized.

So why all the sturm and drang?

I was going to say you need four stones to make a heap, but it depends on their shape.

seems that you could make a 'heap' with three bags of stones.

It is the why I believe the bar should go up as a baby achieves each month of survival, and there is a point, before birth that the mother has accepted the responsibility to care for the child until it is born.

As a matter simply of moral judgment or also as the law is concerned?

I personally would be comfortable leaving it entirely between a pregnant woman and her doctor as a matter of law, knowing that the vast majority of the time, a woman and her doctor will act according to that same general moral reasoning, even if not compelled to by law.

I would also be willing to accept, short of my ideal preference, that the same general moral reasoning be reasonably codified as law - which it more or less already is in many places in the United States. (Some states have enacted laws that I think are overly restrictive.)

Whether this general moral reasoning is enforced by law or left to individuals, I suspect the outcome would be largely the same.

Say science/engineering stipulates that it takes three bags of stones to make a heap, but then a guy comes along and kicks the heap-in-progress over and you exclaim "Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, you've aborted my heap before it was done!"

Are you invoking religion to justify/protest what science stipulates? Does that make you a hypocrite?

Say you drop one stone carelessly on the ground as the beginning of an unintended heap. You meant to construct the heap later when you were good and ready and could afford heap upkeep. But, there lies the stone, not to mention the rub. You look at it and think I want a heap but not now and you pick up the stone and skip it across a nearby pond. The late Jerry Falwell, reincarnated as a fetus with genes which predispose him to like other boys, Mario Rubio, a priest, a guy with a shotgun, and three heap engineering code inspectors from the local government jump out of the bushes and arrest you under the charge of Heap Abortion. You counter that it is more likely "Heapus Interruptus".

They march you off to jail and later burning Hell, but not before emptying the remaining stones from the bags and the rocks from their heads and stoning you to within an inch of your life. Then they bomb Iran.

Say, you are a female teenager and your boyfriend (Uriah Heep) has been (reverse this order 50% of the time for the modern world) pressuring you to pile up a bunch of stones. C'mon, you know you want to. It'll be fun. You demure, saying what happens if we end with a heap (not only that but your State has recently criminalized heap termination from the first pebble) and your parents would kill you if they found out. Your boyfriend quickly, too quickly, places the cornerstone, has a cigarette and then lights out to bowl with his buddies and brag about stone piling and without any known contribution from you, the stones keep emptying themselves from the bags and piling themselves into a heap. You run home and call your girlfriend, whose older sister has experience with unintended heaps and you get the name of a heep demolition expert who, disgustingly, has a dingy upstairs office on the wrong side of town has dirty fingernails, smokes like a fiend, and doesn't seem to possess any of the tools one would associate with heap termination and the ones he has look like they haven't been cleaned in years.

You seek out a cleric of unknown denomination who listens quiet to your story and then asks" What makes you think this is an engineering problem?"

Now what?

Given the world as it is, you return for another visit to the cleric, who seems understanding and makes interesting points regarding the sanctity of heaps, and he even points out that some heaps become ziggurats and churches one day.

Halfway through this meeting, you notice a framed autographed photograph of Roger Ailes on the cleric's desk. Soon after, the cleric, a gentle man, places his hand on your knee and asks haltingly, "When you and you friend were creating this sacred heap, what were you wearing?"

You run like Hell to the heap and kick it over, against what your conflicted conscience is telling you and with great shame, only to learn years later that you destroyed the wrong heap and YOUR heap survived to house Muslims, Jews, gays, and Mexicans slated for gassing and burning by the Latter-Day HEAP Protection Society of America, chaired by Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and Mike Pence.

hsh, the law as it is in most places is pretty close to what I think is reasonable to codify. I think it does what lots of laws do, reflects the compromise position that works best in our society.

Marty,

So why do we need the law?

bobbyp, I don't see this as some tit for tat political issue. We have a law because the majority of Americans, still in many states, were against legalizing abortion and the Courts stepped in and defined the limits of those laws, drawing the very line where the child becomes protected legally that keeps getting discussed here. Why should we not have one?

"Why should we not have one?" sort of mushes the external and internal (my just-now made-up terminology) questions together. The internal question is "What are the benefits and costs of this law, unto itself, were it to be enacted and enforced?" The external question is, "How did this law come into being in our semi-democratic system of government and is it constitutional?"

A law that literally everybody wants and that doesn't run afoul of the constitution (I'm not saying whether or not any particular abortion law does or doesn't) may still not be good for the function of society.

So whether a law reflects the will of the people, was enacted properly, and does not violate the constitution and whether a law "works" are two different things. The same law may be "good" in either respect while also being "bad" in the other.

Thanks for the very kindhearted comments TGFNC and Marty and McTex. I really do appreciate it.

But since the personal is political and all, I was hoping we could all agree that this life begins at conception stuff is just nonsense. I ain't gonna be buying eleven tiny headstones. We're not gonna be hosting eleven funerals. No one is gonna arrest me or my spouse or our lab techs. All of us have the decision that 6 day old embryos are not human beings.

And since we've all decided that here, as applies to my situation, it would be nice to extend that same courtesy to young women going to a clinic who are in the same boat.

My opinion is coloured by an aunt who had a deep congenital malformation. She never learned to speak and had an intellectual age of a three-year-old. Essentially, I have read stories about trained gorillas doing tasks she was uncapable of. Yet, I think she was a human: capable of joy and anger, love and even some semblance of religious feeling. (Just like the gorillas, too.)

So, I hate to have a too narrow a definition for humanity. In practice I think that viability, that fleetingly ambiguous stage, is a definition for humanity: if a fetus is viable outside the womb and the pregnancy needs to be terminated, the method selected should aim to save the life of the fetus, unless it endangers the mother. (There are situations where the only safe way to terminate the pregnancy involves killing the fetus.)

The question of what level of care is needed for "viable" fetus after it leaves the body is then a complex question of medical technology, overall health of the fetus and the resources available. I would say that 35 weeks is almost consistently "viable" and 22 weeks rather consistently non-viable.

To Jack Lecou, I would note that your conception of no one being entitled for help from other people is not universal. Many European countries actually have bad Samaritan laws, which criminalise not helping others. If I see a fellow human in danger, or an accident in progress, the Finnish law obligates me to help to the best extent of my abilities. Not doing so is, if it is about a person in danger, a felony meriting several years in prison. So, your argument that there wouldn't be any duty to care for a fetus that can be considered a human is only a parochial notion.

Trump pimps for the murder of Hillary Clinton to stop her Supreme Court nominees, suggesting the "Second Amendment people" carry out the killing, otherwise known as those whose mothers were raped by Cossacks and should have been aborted long ago, not that it's too late now.

https://www.balloon-juice.com/2016/08/09/second-amendment-people/

Wish you all the best Turb; by which I mean "may you be getting NO SLEEP starting in about 9 months"

Count: any 'scientific' definition of a 'heap' has to take into account The Angle of Repose. Even if you're a Reform Heapian, that insists on using those newfangled 'degrees' to measure it.

Many European countries actually have bad Samaritan laws, which criminalise not helping others. If I see a fellow human in danger, or an accident in progress, the Finnish law obligates me to help to the best extent of my abilities. Not doing so is, if it is about a person in danger, a felony meriting several years in prison. So, your argument that there wouldn't be any duty to care for a fetus that can be considered a human is only a parochial notion.

There are also some US jurisdictions which require something similar, at least in some circumstances.

Neither is relevant though, because, at least as far as I'm aware, none of these laws would compel even minimally invasive medical procedures. (E.g., require that a bystander give a pint of blood that is required by an accident victim. Request for a volunteer? Certainly. Compel? No.)

Mandatory blood donation might even make sense in some circumstances. It could potentially save many lives. Yet it's not covered by bad Samaritan laws, and I'm not aware of anyone seriously proposing it anywhere.

The closest parallel out in the wild might be the compulsory organ donation which is apparently widespread in the Chinese capital punishment apparatus. But I think the ethical consensus generally runs against that particular practice - as it should be. Same goes for outright organ theft (to the extent it's not urban-mythical) and other, more-conventional, crimes that violate the integrity and autonomy of our bodies, like rape or slavery.

And yet blood donation (or possibly even, e.g., kidney donation) is a relatively safe and convenient process compared to the demands and risks of nourishing a growing fetus with your own body tissue for 9 months.

well said marty.

best of luck turb!

Finland sounds like a lovely place.

Jack,

please note that I was not against abortion as such. A zygote is clearly not a person of any kind. An early-stage embryo is comparable to any low-level non-vertebrate organism. Terminating a 12-week-pregnancy is by any means OK.

What I am protesting against is a late-stage abortion. It is unconscionable that there may be two adjacent rooms. In one, a prematurely born baby is getting desperately urgent invasive care. In another, a fetus that was exactly the same age is discarded as medical waste. (This does not happen in US where abortions are usually done at specialised clinics, but may well happen in Europe where they are done at normal hospitals.)

If you terminate a pregnancy with a live, viable fetus at such a stage and condition that the fetus would be given urgent medical care if prematurely born, the aborted fetus should already be given the same shot at life, and the method to remove it should allow this unless the risk to the mother is too high.

russell,

I am sorry for a mistake. I checked the law. The maximum punishment for neglecting the duty to rescue is six months. Two years is the maximum in case you caused the distress or had a duty to take care of the person. (Earlier, until about a decade ago, it was eight years.)

The law is not unreasonable though. If you try to rescue a person or even property of someone other, you are fully covered by the state. Any damage to your property will be reimbursed by the state, and if you are injured, the medical care and any pensions for injury-related medical retirement are covered as if you had been a civil servant at the time of injury.

I am sorry for a mistake.

No worries, even with the correction it still sounds like a lovely place.

A friend of mine, a specialist in child development, was in your country this past summer, studying the reforms and innovations that you folks have put in place in your public schools.

You guys are doing a lot of things right. Well done.

Lurker, there *might* be some similar laws in US states, but (AFAIK) only applicable to people who have the training/licensing to help.

For example, a currently licensed EMT (emergency medical technician) might be legally obliged to help at an accident scene, even when off duty or on vacation. Goes with the license.


So, according to the life-begins-at-conception crowd, I watched as 11 of my children died. I ordered the killing of one of them. Does that make me a murderer? Should I hold 11 funerals?

You asked for a response. I'm in a bit of a rush, but didn't want anymore time to pass.

There is a lot I could say, all of it in the vein of: we are talking apples and oranges. The difficult calls people have to make during IVF are not in the same universe as whether or not a fetus at some point is a human being prior to birth.

You and your wife are trying to have a child, to create a life. We know that most joinings don't survive. There is inherent fragility in the very early stages. Electing to not go forward with a genetically abnormal child in the very earliest stage of pregnancy begs the question, what was the abnormality? Regardless, if it was an abnormality detectable at that stage, it sounds as if the fetus/zygote (I'm never clear on the terms for the different stages) was non-viable.

No, no funerals, so headstones. That was no part of anything I've said. If you and Mrs. Turbulence succeed, you will tell people you are having a baby. You will know the sex, you will put together a nursery (we did that for our daughter and son in law last weekend) and so on. You will see that fetus as a human being. Not anything else. I seriously doubt you will do as Planned Parenthood would have you do and refer to your child as a fetus.

McK, why are you responding to something prefaced with this:

...according to the life-begins-at-conception crowd...

with this?

That was no part of anything I've said.

You just wrote something that suggests you don't believe that "life" begins at conception.

we are talking apples and oranges.

So when does the apple turn into an orange?

If human life is defined to be uniquely precious, and if taking it out is immoral, at what point does this magical transformation take place?

You have asked all to 1)accept your assumptions, and then 2)draw a line.

Your line has been distinctly MIA.

It is the so-called pro-life movement that throws around moral manhole covers declaiming that "life begins at conception" with the clear implication that even a drug that prevents implantation is exactly and precisely the same as "killing babies".

So, from the above, we now know that, per McKinney, throwing zygotes in the trash is not murder.

What about the >90% of abortions that take place prior to the 13th week? Because when you throw out red meat about "millions of innocent deaths" that is what you are talking about.

bobbyp, I don't see this as some tit for tat political issue.

Disagree. Women’s reproductive and economic freedoms do not, and have never, existed separately.

boppyp,

My biggest problem with the pro-life crowd is that their opposition to abortion and, frankly, also to contraception, is not really based on morals of the abortion itself. The sanctity of life is just a thin veil for the maintenance of antiquated social hierarcies and systems.

The current state of the contraceptive and reproductive technology allows very efficient prevention of a non-wanted pregnancy. If teenagers are properly educated, they can have sex with relatively low risk of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases by using condoms, preferably backed up by other contraceptives. People who trust each other not to catch STDs from others can skip the condom and rely on other contraception methods. Any mishappenings with the contraception can be corrected with day after -pills and if necessary, abortion.

This allows women to have sexual freedom, and challenges patriarchal social structures very effectively. In a society without contraception and genetic paternity testing, pre-marital sex is an astonishingly stupid choice for a woman, and social structures preventing it are quite justified. At our technological level, this is no longer the case. (Of course, it does not protect against heartaches, but that's life. You can have a heartbreak even without sex.)

So when you are opposing sex ed at schools and restricting abortion, you are essentially promoting social structures that are no longer necessary, because technology allows us to surpass them.

"My biggest problem with the pro-life crowd is that their opposition to abortion and, frankly, also to contraception, is not really based on morals of the abortion itself. The sanctity of life is just a thin veil for the maintenance of antiquated social hierarcies and systems."

Oh, yeah.

An actual "pro life" position would promote widespread availability of sex-ed and birth control, free (or heavily subsidized) pre-natal care, OB/GYN services, paid maternity leave, free (or heavily subsidized) child care and pediatric coverage.

With the goal that no woman, no family, ever has to say "I just can't afford this next kid". There may be other reasons , such as medical reasons, for terminating a pregnancy, but society at large can have a HUGE impact on the economic motivations.

But that would put the "choice" in "pro-choice", and also give freebies to THOSE PEOPLE who BREED LIKE RABBITS, so can't have that.

Hey, how about this modest proposal: abortions can be prevented, on a "one-to-one" basis, if for every woman seeking an abortion a surrogate is designated (over 21, freely volunteering, sound mind, etc). The pregnant woman doesn't get her abortion, but the surrogate gets a large cantaloupe forcibly shoved up their anus without anesthetic.

Perhaps someday it will be considered to be a qualification for higher office in Texas.

that would . . . give freebies to THOSE PEOPLE who BREED LIKE RABBITS, so can't have that.

Which attitude is definitely part of the problem. Even though, teaching and using birth control technology would precisely STOP them "breeding like rabbits." Which makes one wonder if even that demographic panic is real or not.

Sometimes it seems like the stumbling block is more panic that their children might want to do the kinds of things that they did at the same age. And then get away with it, since pregnancy wouldn't be looming as a threat.

It's not an orgy. It's a toga party!

"Sometimes it seems like the stumbling block is more panic that their children might want to do the kinds of things that they did at the same age"

Or maybe they look at their thirteen year old son and 12 year old daughter and realize how emotional unprepared for sex they are.

The only way to diminish that is to try to reduce the emotional impact of sex, which is both impossible and an unwanted feature.

Maybe arming them with what they perceive as knowing everything they need to know on the subject and giving them birth control is tantamount to approval.

Which is a stupid thing to communicate.

And maybe the subject in real life is more complex than your silly platitudes and insulting dismissal of parents fears and challenges.

The assumption that a twelve or thirteen year old is mature enough to make all those choices appropriately is ridiculous. So they may or may not have sex, they may or may not use other birth control, they may or may not use a condom, they may or may not communicate that to you even if you have what you consider an awesome relationship, and that's after they have actually thought about it.

And every child will make all those decisions differently, so on that decision tree there are lots of dangers that "don't have sex" avoids.

So it is not a bad default position, no matter how much you realize it is only delaying the inevitable.

And maybe the subject in real life is more complex than your silly platitudes and insulting dismissal of parents fears and challenges

You know Marty, we've had this discussion before, and although we disagreed completely, it certainly doesn't further the conversation to insult people who disagree with you. In the previous discussion, which involved multiple digressions into aquatic metaphors, the salient point that sticks with me is Snarki asking you whether you think parents own their children. You, as a responsible-sounding parent, get to decide how far to take the "don't have sex" policy with your kids, and as far as I understand it "don't have sex" is the prevailing message given to almost all young teens in the US (and the UK), but kids are people, in loads of different kinds of family situations, who get to consider how far to listen to their parents and how much attention they pay to their advice. Of course, kids will often make mistaken decisions, and whichever way it plays out there will be some bad outcomes, but it seems to me that fear of pregnancy doesn't always (or maybe even often) stop teens who want to have sex, and that the availability of sex ed and contraception doesn't make teens have sex if they don't want to. And it looks undeniable to me that premature pregnancy is likelier to be damaging than premature sex.

MORE damaging.

GftNC,

I couldn't agree more. Asserting that a parents decision or someones point of view is based on "panic that they might do what you did" certainly is insulting. And stupid may have been an overreaction but it is exactly how I feel about demeaning those parents.

One of the more amusing parts of Marty's comment (and I'd really like him to specify how and where that "insulting dismissal of parents fears and challenges" occurs, cause I don't see it), is that just substitute "driving" for "sex", and parents should also be very concerned.

Yet they don't seem to want to skip Drivers-Ed before the kids start to drive.

Okay, maybe they do in NJ.

I was not intending to be insulting, and I apologize if it came out that way.

It also occurs to me, beyond that, that when I used "you" in the generic sense, it could have been taken as intended at someone here. That was not my intent, and I should have come up with better phrasing. Sorry.

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