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Monday, March 17, 2014

Debating abortion with other secularists

Last week Pro-Life Humanists' Kristine Kruszelnicki wrote a blog post featured on Hemant Mehta's Friendly Atheist blog ("Yes, There Are Pro-Life Atheists Out There. Here's Why I'm One of Them.")

I was pleased and impressed to see that Hemant posted the piece. In my experience working with Secular Pro-Life, pro-choice secularists tend to be very hostile toward pro-life secularists. They're not just angry that we're pro-life; they're angry we are pro-life and secular. Often times they will imply or outright insist that we are lying about our secularism, that we are secretly religious and we're pretending to be secular to trick people into... something. Listening to us, I guess.

In any case, even if they begrudgingly admit secular pro-lifers exist, they don't believe we should have a voice in secular communities. So since Hemant gave Kristine a platform he's gotten a fair bit of backlash (examples here). (By the way, if you are a pro-life secularist, feel encouraged to contact Hemant and thank him for giving our side a voice.)

But most of the backlash focuses not on Hemant, but on Kristine's piece itself. I'm sure there are a lot of responses to Kristine piece that I haven't read, so I don't expect the following will cover every objection. Still, here's a quick overview of some of the reactions.

1. Libby Anne: 


The Friendly Atheist created quite the brouhaha lately by publishing a guest post by Kristine Kruszelnicki, president of Pro-Life Humanists. This post was titled “Yes, There Are Pro-Life Atheists Out There. Here’s Why I’m One of Them.” My response? Thank you, Captain Obvious. 
No seriously. Are there really people who think that atheists can’t be against abortion?  I do not understand this reasoning. Is there supposed to be a litmus test, that if you’re an atheist you’re automatic and by definition a-okay with abortion?
I mean... apparently. Yes. We've got one set telling us we are only pretending to be secular, that we're secretly religious (or, at minimum, "infected by religious ideas"), and then we've got another set telling us it's so obvious that atheists can be pro-life that it's foolish to bother pointing it out?

Note that you rarely hear people claim Hitchens was "infected" by religion.

Actually, overall I like Libby Anne's piece; of course she and I don't agree on everything, but she makes a lot of good points, talking about how so many issues don't hinge on religion, and how
[Kristine's] "secular" argument against abortion is no different from the arguments I and other evangelical kids like me grew up hearing. In my experience, the only point where God enters the evangelical equation is the idea that we should value all human life, from conception to natural death, because God values all human life. Atheists who believe life is inherently valuable can build this argument the same way.
I'm not sure why she put "secular" in quotes--is she implying Kristine's argument isn't really secular? (Ha ha ha) I thought one of the main points of Libby Anne's post was it's obvious you can be secular and pro-life, so that's a bit confusing.

But anyway, she's right. Many religious people grow up with, and use, the same or very similar arguments to the ones Kristine put forth in her post. Most secular pro-choicers claim the arguments are therefore religious, but that doesn't follow. That's like saying because most Catholics think birth control is morally acceptable, anyone who accepts birth control must be Catholic. (This mistake--thinking if a premise is true, its converse must be true--is actually a very common logical misstep.)

So no, just because a lot of religious people use an argument doesn't mean the argument is inherently religious, and Libby Anne recognizes the distinction. I appreciate that. If more people realized the difference, perhaps Kristine wouldn't need to be so explicit about the fact that she is both an atheist and pro-life. So far, though, that's not the case.

2. Greta Christina: 

This piece is not a response to Kristine's post specifically. It's a response to a larger trend Greta Christina sees in the atheist community--the trend in which people she respects and thinks of as allies (such as Hemant) act as if there's room for reasonable debate among atheists on abortion. You can get an idea for how Christina feels about said trend here:
See, here’s the thing. I don’t see a lot of atheist leaders and bloggers suggesting that we have a calm, reasonable debate about whether homosexuality is a mental illness and gay people should be locked in mental institutions. I don’t see them suggesting that we have a calm, reasonable debate about whether or not black people are human beings or are some other sub-human species who should serve white people. I don’t see them talking with reporters about those arguments, or giving them space in their blogs without comment. I don’t see them saying that because we’re freethinkers, because we support free inquiry and the free exchange of ideas, that therefore we should freely inquire into the issue of whether black people and gay people are fully human with the basic right to bodily autonomy. I don’t see them saying that the “be willing to question anything and everything” spirit of skepticism applies to questions that have dehumanization built into their very core. I see them recognizing these arguments as morally reprehensible on the face of it.
So why is abortion a special case? 
Christina certainly isn't the only one making these points--there were plenty of comments on Kristine's original post along the same lines:

(Click to enlarge.)

So some pro-choicers think being pro-life is as reprehensible as wanting to lock up homosexuals and enslave black people. I'm sure this comes as a surprise to PLAGAL and the 40% of Black non-Hispanics who think abortion should be illegal.

These nasty comparisons make sense... as long as you assume the fetus is irrelevant. If you believe the pregnant woman is the only human worth any moral consideration in the abortion debate, it makes sense to feel bewildered and betrayed by people saying maybe her right to abortion isn't absolute. You don't see why people would acknowledge a controversy because you're omitting one of the most fundamental questions of the entire debate: what is the fetus?

There's no comparison between the abortion debate and these other issues, because freeing the slaves and fighting for gay rights don't require looking the other way while hundreds of thousands of humans (or, depending on your stance, "potential humans") are killed each year. If you ignore this profound moral concern, it makes sense to be confused and angry that other people see a debate worth having.

3. PZ Myers:

So. This guy.

I saved this post for last because I think it's on a whole different level than the other entries. Libby Anne talks about what it means to be an atheist, and Greta Christina works through her anger over what she thinks people think about women. Those are big issues. Complicated issues. Issues that merit serious discussion.

But PZ Myers is not taking on complex social and philosophical issues. He's waffling about simple facts. Kristine pointed out that human organisms--including the zygote, embryo, and fetus--belong to the human species. Based on this point (and a whole lot of twisting of her original post), PZ claims Kristine is "lying" about science.
But what about this claim that science can tell us who among us belongs to the human species?
First question I have is…which species concept are you using? There are a lot of them, you know; I daresay we might be able to find a few, that when inappropriately and too literally applied, would define away my status as a human, which simply wouldn’t do. There are also a lot of non-scientific or pseudo-scientific definitions of what constitutes a human that have been historically abused. Were the Nazis being scientific when they defined sub-species of humans and classed Jews, Gypsies, and Africans as something less than fully human? What, exactly, is Kruszelnicki’s "scientific" definition of human, that she’s using so definitively to declare a fetus as completely human? 
Do you know what you just read, guys? This is what desperation looks like.

If PZ could give a commonly accepted definition of "species" that debunked the idea that human organisms--including zygotes, embryos, and fetuses--are part of the human species, he would. If he could give a commonly accepted definition of "organism" that did not include zygotes, he would. But he doesn't give those definitions. He can't. Because zygotes are organisms, and human organisms are part of the human species. PZ can do a bunch of hand wavy complaining about how he's not sure what Kristine means (and try to assert that his alleged lack of understanding equals her dishonesty), but that's all he's got. There's no substance here.

He's right that there are many ways of thinking about the concept of "species." But Kristine's perspective doesn't rely on some obscure, slippery definition. How about a group of organisms having common characteristics and capable of mating with one another to produce fertile offspring? You can find that description on the lying, anti-woman, secretly religious website: Biology Online.

Kristine claims "science defines a fetus as a biological member of our species." PZ tries to brush off Kristine's perspective as "traditional and colloquial" (as if those attributes, in themselves, make an idea anti-scientific), but in reality Kristine's assertions rely on a very common--and scientific--species concept: the biological species concept. UC Berkeley's "Understanding Evolution" website describes the biological species concept as the concept used "for most purposes and for communication with the general public." How dare Kristine fail to define that for someone like PZ--he only has decades of background in developmental biology. That must have been very confusing for him.

I wonder, does PZ call people liars when they say they are members of the species Homo Sapiens? You know, because they haven't clarified which species concept they're using? Would he think it "dishonest and more than a little annoying" for a pregnant woman to say her fetus is a member of her species? Please.

No amount of swearing or bold, italics, and ALL CAPS will make up for the fact that PZ's indignant objections are utter nonsense--political rantings smothered with enough science-y words to mollify the readers who want him to be right to begin with. (He said "totipotent" and "multicellularity," guys! I guess his blog post must be logical and fact-based.) See Amanda Marcotte, Greta Christina, and Avicenna reference PZ's science "education," or recall when Matt Dillahunty dodged a question by throwing it to PZ.

Thank goodness the pro-choice side has people like PZ Myers to steer them clear of Kristine's "anti-scientific" claims. Otherwise they might get confused and start believing crazy things--like the idea that human organisms belong to the human species.

Bottom line.

These three blog posts are just a sampling of the reactions secular pro-life ideas like Kristine's often get in atheist circles. Yet, despite the inevitable backlash, Kristine continually puts herself and her message out there. My hat goes off to her.

351 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 351 of 351
sara said...

Ah, yes the dark side...that is, vegetarianism. Welcome!

KB said...

I love this! I would harvest Dick Cheney's organ's to save a spider :)

But on a serious note, I am tired of people waving this banner of "bodily autonomy trumps all". No it doesn't. A child can have surgery against his or her will (but under the will of the parents), conjoined twins can't go through separation surgery unless both consent.

If we are going to place one right other others, I see absolutely no reason why that right shouldn't be the right to life. It is the right from which all other rights are derived.

KB said...

"If my mother had decided to abort me when I was a zygote or a foetus, there would be no harm done in my opinion . Nobody but her and people in on the knowledge that she was pregnant would miss me. I would simply not be. There's no punishment in non-existance. I didn't exist before I was born, I and I don't experience any negative side effects of that. I wouldn't be here to mourn the fact of my non-existance."

Yeah, a serial killer could murder you right now, and this paragraph would still hold true. You wouldn't be here to mourn your non-existence, you would still have no-punishment in non-existence, and the only people made to suffer would be those who had knowledge of your existence prior.

sara said...

Yep :)
Good points!

KB said...

Hear hear.

WithinThisMind said...

Wow, that's a lot of words to show that you don't think of women as actual people, and that you don't give a shit about consent.

See, sex is to rape what a wanted pregnancy is to an unwanted pregnancy.

I've yet to see a single 'pro-life' argument that doesn't work equally well as a pro-rape argument.

Nobody has the right to use a woman's body against her will. Not a grown man. Not a fetus. Nobody. If they attempt to do so, she has the right to use potentially lethal force to stop them.

You seem to disagree. In your world, if someone wants to use a woman's body, the only option allowed to her is to lie back and think of England, because she absolutely may not defend herself in any way and thus risk harm to the one using her body.

My hat doesn't off to Kristine any more than it goes off to folks like Heartiste, Esmay, and Roosh of the MRA fame. She's on the same moral level they are, and spouting shit just as unjustifiably stupid. Spewing misogyny doesn't make someone brave, it just makes them a misogynist. And Kristine is a misogynist who doesn't think women deserve basic human rights.


I see a lot of posts saying 'gee, I wish you'd listen to us pro-lifers'. The problem is that we have listened, and we reject your opinions. We find your 'facts' to be falsehoods. We find your 'arguments' to be irrational at best, pathetic and bigoted at worst. We find your tactics to be deplorable. And we have found that if you are allowed to have your way, women will be enslaved, chained to beds, arrested, and left to die horrible and easily avoidable deaths.



Why do you persist in thinking my basic human rights should be up for debate or discussion? You have no scientific standing. You have no moral standing. You have nothing but lies and tactics that borrow from terrorism.

Simon Jm said...

I think it is a bit more complex than that. The amount of resources needed to intervene and try to 'save' spontaneous abortions would I imagine be immense, combined with a low chance of success.

On the other hand many abortions occur for otherwise healthy fetuses for financial and inconvenience reasons. If single mothers and poor families where given the sort of financial assistance which covers basic positive human rights i.e healthcare daycare etc. That is already covered in other advanced countries so would be easily covered by the US.

The US also has a pitiful per capital overseas aid program it could if it wanted save many more lives that way or if it didn't try to skew trade in its favour allow developing nations to help themselves develop more quickly.

Simon Jm said...

I agree to the extent we should give similar considerations to animals along the lines of Singer. But I ultimately find he is also speciest. I also think a 'Future like ours' entails we expand the circle to many more animals though I'm still on he fence about taking a secular Jainist POV.

Simon Jm said...

While it maybe the case, I'd be surprised if they were substantial to matter on a policy level. & while I do find him very ranty and rude, at least he is consistent, at least as far as infanticide. Many PC's won't bite that bullet.

Clinton said...

That's not proof at all. In fact, this argument just begs the question because it assumes that one must have a brain to be able to think. But if supernatural beings exist, there is no reason to think that they must have a brain to be capable of thought. In order to prove there is no afterlife, you have to prove that there is no immortal soul. Incidentally, it is the soul that guides one's development from fertilization. DNA contains all the information that the organism needs to develop, but there is nothing in the human being's DNA to run the program. The soul is necessary for that. The brain connects the soul to the body, and if the brain is damaged then the soul can't communicate properly. But the brain controls everything, so to say that just because we need a brain to think proves there is no afterlife is short-sighted, since our thoughts are obviously not confined by our brain. If our brain is damaged a certain way, we also cannot move our limbs. But it doesn't follow from that that our limbs are the same thing as the brain. Plus, the fact that we have thoughts proves that the soul is separate from the brain. We can think about cars, but our brain does not become a car when we think about one.

Chris P said...

Total unscientific nonsense. There is no such thing as a soul. Everything is controlled by the two brains. The main one contains all our memories.

ockraz said...

He's my least favorite horseman, but you just made me like him a bit more. Can you source the quote, because I think I'd like to use it myself.

Johnny said...

Considering it's a secular website, it's nothing to do with religion at all.

This website doesn't take a position on the rape exception and focuses on the 99% of abortions where that doesn't apply. And in the tragic cases where the mother and child can't both survive, the priority must be to save the mother's life even when that results in the child's death.

As for why? For the same reason as they want to outlaw the deliberate killing of humans at any stage of their life. Do you feel that all laws against deliberately killing humans are to satisfy a goal of controlling other people?

We live in a world where millions of preborn girls are killed specifically because they are girls. And those girls are subject to the whim of others

There are a lot of humans on this planet, but that doesn't justify the deliberate killing of any of them.

Chris P said...

Really - you go around killing insects and animals all day without too much compunction. Forcing women to do what YOU think is right not knowing their circumstances is wrong. Being a well off person in a well off country doesn't give you the right to dictate to others how they run their lives.

Johnny said...

Compare Ireland where the preborn child's right to life is respected and the nearest comparable country Britian, where preborn children can be deliberately killed. The % of pregnancies that end in abortion is several times lager in Britain than it is in Ireland.

Johnny said...

I replied to each of your questions but you ignored mine.
Do you feel that all laws against deliberately killing humans are to satisfy a goal of controlling other people?
Your assumptions about me fall under the ad hominem fallacy.

Chris P said...

I like all laws against killing humans. A fetus is not a human. It is a human fetus - a potential human that is physically part of the mother.

Johnny said...

A fetus is not part of her/his mother. She/he does live inside her/his mother but is a distinct separate organism.
She/he has her/his own distinct DNA. She/he also grows, feeds, respires, moves etc.
By what justification is a fetus not a human?
A human fetus like a human neonate, a human preadolescent, a human peripubescent, a human geriatric are all humans. They're just terms for humans at different stages of their lives.

Clinton said...

So if I understand you correctly, you're defining "unscientific" as "anything that doesn't agree with me?" I gave you an argument for the soul. Your response essentially boils down to "nu uh."

Chris P said...

You gave no argument for a soul at all. You are controlled by your brain. I have never seen an article or paper proving the existence of a soul and there is no indication that there is one. People's character's are changed by chemistry.

Chris P said...

Wow such moronic idiocy I have ever seen. I was freaking there to see that my daughter had to be physically CUT from her mother. She was attached and not separate. A fetus is not a human because two cells are not a human - that is the definition.

LN said...

Yes, it does. Another human being's life is at stake. Bodily autonomy is not absolute, and so defending human life is certainly a situation where curbing that right is reasonable.

LN said...

"Aborting a fetus is not the same as allowing people to kill."


Since the fetus is a living human being, and abortion ends his/her life...yes it is by definition killing.

LN said...

"No, the definition provided *in this articleII* excludes zygotes, foetuses, infertile people, etc. Your definition, not mine. As PZ pointed out, defining species is a tricky business."

No, it doesn't, and no, it's not -- if you understand that the definition is talking about inherent capacity *of that same organism* for traits they can or will develop. For example, the species definition that talks about being bipedal and using language and complex tools is still an apt way to distinguish our species from others, and it is still inclusive towards newborns if you accept that it is about your average organism's inherent capacity.

This isn't even a moral argument, it's about defining scientific terms. This isn't tricky and it's not complicated. It's very simple and people are trying to make it more complicated than it is because the thought of doing what we would do with *any* other organism -- that is, call an offspring organism part of their species regardless of its location and level of development -- is suddenly politically threatening with human beings. If you think there's no connection between a scientific classification system and the morality of killing an entity, then why do people rail against -- why are they so anti-scientific -- when it comes to simple things like "what species is the zygote"? Just concede the science and argue that it has no connection to morality. Two different arguments.

LN said...

That's fine, I have no problem with people disagreeing and saying our arguments are bad. That's your opinion. It's not the same as saying that because they are crap they MUST be religious. That's just illogical.

Clinton said...

I will repeat the argument. If you have more than just "nu uh," I will consider it. But if you're just going to continue to be unwilling to engage with the argument, then I think we're done here:

In fact, this argument just begs the question because it assumes that one must have a brain to be able to think. But if supernatural beings exist, there is no reason to think that they must have a brain to be capable of thought. In order to prove there is no afterlife, you have to prove that there is no immortal soul. Incidentally, it is the soul that guides one's development from fertilization. DNA contains all the information that the organism needs to develop, but there is nothing in the human being's DNA to run the program. The soul is necessary for that. The brain connects the soul to the body, and if the brain is damaged then the soul can't communicate properly. But the brain controls everything, so to say that just because we need a brain to think proves there is no afterlife is short-sighted, since our thoughts are obviously not confined by our brain. If our brain is damaged a certain way, we also cannot move our limbs. But it doesn't follow from that that our limbs are the same thing as the brain. Plus, the fact that we have thoughts proves that the soul is separate from the brain. We can think about cars, but our brain does not become a car when we think about one.

Clinton said...

In fact, you're clearly lying when you say I gave no argument because you did recognize that I gave an argument. You just waved it away by calling it "unscientific nonsense." But that's not a defeater for my argument. It's barely even a response.

Clinton said...

I'm not a big fan of him either, but then again, I'm not really a fan of any of the horsemen because their arguments against religion are ridiculously bad. Though they are good writers and clearly knowledgeable in their fields, it's just when they leave their fields and try to do philosophy that it turns into a train wreck.


I will try to dig up the source for that quote.

LN said...

Sounds like you don't know the correct definition. Actually sounds like you donn't know basic bio -- a fetus is not "two cells", what are you even talking about? That's the zygote stage. A fetus is millions of cells. And it is a living human organism according to *scientific definition*. Here I'll even source it. I guarantee you won't and can't source any rebuttal to this.


"Fertilization is a sequence of events that begins with the contact of a sperm (spermatozoon) with a secondary oocyte (ovum) and ends with the fusion of their pronuclei (the haploid nuclei of the sperm and ovum) and the mingling of their chromosomes to form a new cell. This fertilized ovum, known as a zygote, is a large diploid cell that is the beginning, or primordium, of a human being."

"Embryo: the developing organism from the time of fertilization until significant differentiation has occurred, when the organism becomes known as a fetus."

^ Fetus is an organism. It is also human (check the DNA). Thus it's a human organism, i.e. a human "being". Scientifically.

"The development of a human being begins with fertilization, a process by which two highly specialized cells, the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female, unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote."

^ Again, demonstrating that the zygote is an organism. It is not of another species; this organism is of the human species.

"Biologically speaking, fertilization (or conception) is the beginning of human development...The result is a single-cell embryo called a zygote, meaning "yoked or joined together," and it is the first cell of the human body."

"At the moment the sperm cell of the human male meets the ovum of the female and the union results in a fertilized ovum (zygote), a new life has begun."

"Although life is a continuous process, fertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed."

^ Hear this? A Human Organism. Not a somatic cell like a skin cell. An *organism*. HUGE difference.

"Almost all higher animals start their lives from a single cell, the fertilized ovum (zygote)."

http://www.princeton.edu/~prolife/articles/embryoquotes2.html

http://www.ehd.org/dev_article_unit1.php#fertilization

LN said...

Holy crap you really can't get past this religion thing. She hasn't made a single religious point. She's reiterated this. Damn it's like talking to a brick wall. I'm an atheist and I would argue the SAME points as her -- now how do you dismiss me? Yeeesh

LN said...

Someone's clearly living in the stone age. Have you even taken a biology class ever? I mean this stuff is even accessible on the web. Educate yourself man.

LN said...

...Still waiting for that definition. Pick one. I'd love to see the one that says skin cells are organisms!

Acyutananda said...

I don't know why she didn't answer it, but maybe she just didn't take sailor's thinking seriously about where opposition to abortion leads. sailor said: "study after study shows that banning abortions does not stop them, it just makes them unsafe." sailor's following sentence suggests that banning abortions even causes higher abortion rates. Do you consider it factual that banning abortions does not stop them (at all), or that it even causes higher abortion rates? If you do, can you document either of those assertions?

Jay said...

Banning something will never stop it. Cite one example where a ban has led to a complete stop.
As for causing higher rates, i don't think so, in fact probably the opposite.
However, neither of you has answered the question posed by sailor, where will banning abortion lead?

Johnny said...

Yes, fetuses live inside their mother and are attached to their mother via the umbilical cord. Conjoined twins are also attached to each other but they are still 2 humans.

Which part do you dispute, that a human fetus is a distinct organism? Or that that organism is human?

Pick up an embryology textbook. During the process of conception, a new human organism, is formed and this stage of life is known as a zygote. She/he begins life as a single celled organism and begins growing and developing from there.

And 2 cells in relation to abortion is really misleading. Even by implantation, the has far more than 2 cells. By the time even relatively early abortions occur, she/he is a lot larger.

For example at 4 weeks, she/he is growing at a rate of one million cells per second.

Jay said...

Since you believe humans are special, than would it not also be incumbent upon special humans like yourself to protect all innocent lives? Especially those of defenseless animals. This would be the natural outcome of your morality if you believe it is upon you to fight for the defenseless.

Jay said...

That's because most of the Irish women went to England to have their abortions.

http://www.ifpa.ie/sites/default/files/documents/briefings/abortion-and-ireland-factfile.pdf



So would you like to reconsider?

Jay said...

Do you hold that this Clinton's position should lead to vegetarianism you you wish not to plead special position for humans?

Jay said...

Ok, newborns are excluded. What exactly is your point?

Jay said...

Simon, I would be interested in seeing your reply/comments to Sounders comment below.

Chris P said...

You had no facts to support your argument.

Jay said...

Why is this limited to a full moral worth being only? And whose morals anyway?

Chris P said...

More weasel words. They are not "humans" because they are not complete. Gene expression changes in the womb and the fetus and host interact.

Jay said...

by the logic of many PC's she would also be within her rights to kill the child or allow it to starve



A simple yes.

Jay said...

I don't need to. I will answer again, for the bodily autonomy argument, she is well within her rights to kill that baby.


And also, from your "fully moral being" arguments, she is fully justified in killing the baby.


So how does this help your pro-life stance?

Chris P said...

Who the hell do you think you are trying to redefine the English language.

Jay said...

I politely disagree. Does that make feel better?

Chris P said...

"Shea hasn't made a single religious point".
Clearly almost everything she says and her whole lifestyle is based on her religion. Sorry you cannot see that.

Chris P said...

But the definition of organism includes the fact that it is SEPARATE and a fetus is NOT.

Chris P said...

In decades of reading science journals I have never seen one that shows the existence of "soul". We are run by our brains.

Clinton said...

I gave you facts to support my argument. The problem is you're trying to define words like "science" and "fact" so narrowly that it will necessarily not include anyone with a differing view of your own. I gave you the facts of human development as an argument for the soul, because while DNA is information, nothing except for the soul accounts for how this information is run so that you can develop your parts.


I also gave you the fact that thoughts are not the same thing as the brain to argue that the soul is separate, and the fact that the brain controls your body but it doesn't follow from that that your brain *is* your body, or *is* you.

Acyutananda said...

"Cite one example where a ban has led to a complete stop."

1. Slavery in the US.

2. Bullfighting in Argentina.

3. Sati in India.

4. Gladiatorial fights in Italy.

Sati does still rarely occur in India, for example. But the fact that eradication may not be complete does not mean that a barbaric practice should not be outlawed. Any reduction is better than nothing. (I would not call any necessary abortion barbaric, of course.) Little by little the world is becoming more civilized.

"where will banning abortion lead?"

I think that carefully-designed unborn child-protection legislation will lead, as you also predict, to lower abortion rates. The unjustifiable abortions which the laws will target will not be
completely eradicated, no; and much more so than with outlawing the above four practices, there will be bad side effects. But if we have the power to reduce the overall violence and death, can we let
ourselves fail to do so?

I think that ending the psychological denial of the wrongdoing we have
been tolerating will have a valuable consequence for the mental health
of society, also. It humanized us (those of us who are white) to come
to see other races as persons; it humanized us (those of us who are
men) to come to see women as persons; it humanized some of those of us
who are Americans to come to see the Vietnamese as persons; and it
will humanize us to come to see the unborn as persons. That step,
crossing that last civil-rights frontier, will humanize us more than
any other, because of the subtlety of thought involved.

Chris P said...

Gene expression accounts for how DNA is "run" to develop our "parts". In a fetus that is controlled by both the fetus and the mother.

Clinton said...

First, it's not controlled by the mother. The child develops on his own; the mother's body is used to send oxygen and nutrients to the unborn child. But the child develops independently of the mother.


Second, gene expression refers to the information that the gene sends out, hence the term "expression." You haven't yet answered the question of how the information is run in the first place to allow the genes to express themselves.

Chris P said...

Rubbish - they exchange genetic material. The woman gets some material from the fetus and passes some of that on to the next fetus. Sorry that you don't understand what goes on.
The information is not "run". The cells multiply and depending on the environment get expressed differently.

King Rat said...

Here is some more science to add to your knowledge base:

http://www.edge.org/conversation/genomic-imprinting

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/18/science/a-tumor-the-embryos-evil-twin.html?_r=0

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110925185434.htm

Clinton said...

Granted I am not a biologist, but I understand enough about human development to understand that living organisms develop individually. You may not agree, but you're not an expert on human embryos, either. Embryologists are, and they consistently agree that human life begins at fertilization. Pro-life AND pro-choice embryologists do. So the fact that you disagree doesn't bother me.


Your statement that they exchange genetic material is something that I am perfectly aware of -- but it doesn't mean the mother's body controls embryonic development, any more than it means the embryo controls the mother's development by giving her genetic material.

Chris P said...

Human life does not start at fertilization because you don't know that you are going to get a human life at that point. The fact is "life" never stopped to start in the first place.
The Mother DOES play a major role in the embryonic development. So it does control but not 100%.

Chris P said...

The last article was fascinating - thanks. Wonder how the DI would explain that.

Clinton said...

Human life absolutely does begin at fertilization:

"Although life is a continuous process, fertilization (which, incidentally, is not a 'moment') is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte."

-- Ronan O'Rahilly and Fabiola Müller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 3rd edition. New York: Wiley-Liss, 2001. p. 8.

"Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.”

--Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th edition, Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2003. p. 16.

“Human embryos begin development following the fusion of definitive male and female gametes during fertilization... This moment of zygote formation may be taken as the beginning or zero time point of embryonic development."

--William J. Larsen, Essentials of Human Embryology, New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1998. pp. 1, 14.

And I could give you many more quotes. Life is a continuum, but fertilization is the time at which each new, unique, individual human beings. Just because you may not "know" that you are going to get a human life (after all, it could be a choriocarcinoma or hydatidiform mole) doesn't mean human life doesn't begin at fertilization. It just means you can't tell yet. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Baa Baa Black Sheep, and the Alphabet Song all begin the same way, but it doesn't follow that just because the first couple of measures are the same that they're all intrinsically the same song until they diverge.

Chris P said...

Your use of the English language is wrong. "A" new human life MAY be started at fertilization.

Human "life" did not stop to restart.

Simon Jm said...

As long as someone is civil and can back up what they say my feelings are irrelevant. It's not about feelings but about respecting the your opponents and actually be open to constructive debate, not personal rants.

Simon Jm said...

1st I'm not Pro-Life.


& If bodily autonomy trumps all -especially since late terms aren't persons- a woman should in principle have the right to do it for whatever reason even if it is rare or doctors in fact don't want to do the procedure. You're sidestepping he issues.


Also you like most choicers fail to appreciate how person-hood is said to ground full moral worth and that late terms baby's and many infants by this logic have no moral worth.

& by my argument her bodily autonomy may still give her the right to protect her bodily autonomy; just like a drink driver who caused the victim to need their kidney but wouldn't be forced to give it. But she would still be morally responsible for the dependency and death, so she has the choice of paying the compensation or going to jail like the drunk driver.

Again I'm not Pro-Life just applying moral precepts that both sides say they accept but won't consistently apply.

Simon Jm said...

At least you are honest about a in principle support for infanticide, I actually respect people who will bite that bullet though I don't think people fully grasp what that fully entails.

Simon Jm said...

Will do Jay just come off night shift but will catch up later.

Simon Jm said...

Catholic Grammie how can I contact you? I'm having a discussion with another biologist about the species designation of the zygote would love your input.

Simon Jm said...

Is this just splitting hairs?

A genetically unique organism starts developing, sure its expression isn't sorely from its DNA -after all much of our development occurs through learning after birth- and yes it can twin or develop faults. An infertile adult Homo sapeins is still considered part of the species even though being able to breed is an important species designator.

& sure in some regard we are all expressions of replicators that never truly died one long chain of life.

Nonetheless the biological system still has self organizing/assembling teleonomical goals from its DNA, to express and form a particular form of life.

If we wanted to be so restrictive in looking for final expression one could easily argue none of us are Homo Sapiens until fully developed and ready to bread.

Simon Jm said...

Easily explained by historical precedent. Just like slaves and women weren't considered worthy of being citizens by historical precedent.

Simon Jm said...

I agree that comparisons on value are apples and oranges and animals interests are its own and makes no sense to say are 'worth' less.

Simon Jm said...

Does this mean no one is a homo sapiens until mature enough to reproduce?

Simon Jm said...

Jay as I said I'm not PL and actually lean more towards a secular Jainist position using Don Marquis' A future like ours. Pointing out since we are harmed by being deprived of simple pleasures -among other things- that applies to many other animals as well. So yes I advocate cattle shouldn't be slaughtered.

Simon Jm said...

I saw this and? Our goose is cooked yes?

GEIxBattleRifle said...

Anyone with simple observations skills can see that there are WAY MORE then the four differences you said. Ignorance has already shot down the ''SLED'' acronym. It is on his site at 97.2.2. For some reason, I can't paste. So it's at http://fightforsense.wordpress.com
As for you playing the ''moral'' game you need to explain WHY it would be wrong to kill a ''innocent'' human which a unborn human is not based on the actions it does in the womb and can be killed just like when a tapeworm get's inside the women's body. Look at #27 of that website. If someone came up to you and said what Jay said, does that mean it is now completely valid? Of course not

Chris P said...

I didn't write the definition.

Catholic Grammie said...

Simon Jim - You can reach me at katzemailz@yahoo.com - sorry, I just went through my emails and saw your request. Hope this isn't too late.

Guest said...

Embryology textbook > some dead shock jock.

Simon Jm said...

Np, I'm actually starting a discussion with some biologists maybe I'll post how it goes in an article here.

John Bates said...

If I remove the invective from your comment, am I right in representing your position as follows? A fetus is comparable to a rapist in its desire to use a woman against her will. Non-acknowledgement of this will result in the enslavement of women. Pro-life argumentation that this position is incorrect are untruthful and deplorable.

John Bates said...

How do you feel when you read an article about the brutal death of a young baby? I'm guessing (hoping) very upset. For some reason we've come to normalize the death of the pre-born and be outraged by the death of the newly born. It's difficult to make a cogent argument for the distinction.

Simon Jm said...

NP Jay. If you mean the comments about parental obligation concerning care food and shelter ok. Pls excuse the length.

Offspring have full moral value, they cannot care for themselves and the parents created this dependency; so most of society sees this as creating moral obligations.

The way i see if if you create a being with full moral value you do have obligations from creating its existential dependency. So in general society expects the parents to care for their children and if not, be prepared to transfer care. Which for most cases is possible.

Now in general because of bodily autonomy we aren't considered to owe or are obligated to use of our body or organs when it comes to disease, injury etc for children. Also we as a society don't enforce Super Good Samaritans ethics/laws or weak Samaritan laws either for that matter.

But what should happen when care cannot be transferred, the body is the means of care and the mother -plus father- caused the existential dependency?

For many PL's it just seems strange to say just because someone has to use their body to provide that care that they AUTOMATICALLY can walk away from this Moral Being Creation obligation.

That's where island, blizzard and baby making machine analogies come in. We need to negate care transference, and then ask when a parent has no chance of care transference what do we do?

My solution was just to apply legal and conceptual precedents concerning harm/dependency and the payment of compensation. I'm not looking at pregnancy but at the underlying principles.

Now we don't have bodily compensation laws on the books because it would be so rare. Having a drunk driver or mugger injuring the victim in such a way that they need the offenders kidney just doesn't happen. But say it did happen what then?

Many people would still object to strapping him down and taking the kidney so my option is, pay the compensation like we do in other situations or go to jail.

Chris P said...

It's difficult to make an argument for guns when so many people are killed needlessly that are already alive and have families
The death of a fetus happens all the time for many reasons. Appealing to emotion does nothing. We kill things all the time. I'd rather women had control over there lives than a bunch of mostly religious nuts that behave like radical PETA members. It's part of the woman - I don't tell you not to pick your zits.

magicthighs said...

There are no people who have knowledge of me as a person prior to my mother aborting me. I'm sorry if you don't understand that difference between an actual person and a blob of cells.

magicthighs said...

"Abortion is high usually when there is poverty, lack of access to contraception, poor education, or laws like the one-child policy"


Maybe you should focus on those issues before addressing abortion itself then?

magicthighs said...

"preborn children"


Another example of deliberately using emotional language to cloud the issue. A zygote is not a "preborn child", just like an acorn is not a "presprouted tree"

WithinThisMind said...

Why don't you try reading my post and see for yourself what my position is? I was very clear.


I'm sorry you think I should be nice and polite and kind and well-mannered to people who want to treat me as a subhuman walking incubator incapable of making a rational decision regarding my own body, but frankly, I'm fucking tired of assholes making with that tone-trolling bullshit so I don't actually give shit.

Jay said...

Part of the answer I am looking for is this:
After you have banned abortion, what will you do to women who have an abortion. To people who help perform the abortion.
To people who use Plan B?


What will be the burden of proof that a woman had a miscarriage and not an abortion?


What will her punishment be?

Jay said...

None of your examples are natural acts or consequences of natural acts.


Drug taking still occurs.


Read up on prohibition.


There are counties that have outlawed adultery and masturbation. You think the don't occur? At pretty high rates?

Jay said...

Simon, I am glad to see that you are honest with the positions you hold.

Jay said...

When you take into account all the women who go to there from countries that have outlawed abortion?

Acyutananda said...

I'm traveling without good internet access, and not free to write much right now. Here on my own blog --

http://www.noterminationwithoutrepresentation.org/personhood/#comment-234

-- I replied (as "Facilitator") to a commenter asking similar questions.

Will try to reply to your more specific questions later.

Chalkdust said...

And my point was that the arguments about abortion, in almost all cases, apply just as strongly as arguments about mandatory organ donation. Making abortion illegal can have disastrous consequences, sufficiently rich women can work around anti-abortion laws, etc. You want to change the law so that abortion is illegal after week 12. Do you also want to change the law so that post-mortem organ donation and registering bone marrow is mandatory? My argument is that making the first change without making the other is morally indefensible.

If you also have a cutoff point (which many pro-choicers do, at the
point of viability usually) wouldn't that also be forcing a woman to let
the fetus use her body, albeit in a narrower time-frame?

No, it wouldn't be.

You see, the thing about viability is this: after viability, the fetus can survive outside the womb. After viability a woman can exercise her right not to be pregnant by inducing labor and/or a caesarean rather than by having an abortion. I think that women should have the right not to be pregnant. That only gives them the right to cause the death of their fetuses up until the point when there is a way for them to stop being pregnant without causing death.

[A] fetus is 100% forced into the
environment of the womb by a woman's free will (barring rape of course).

Ah, yes, the responsibility argument. I have seen many arguments for why it's okay to stick women with the huge burden of unwanted pregnancy and leave men without even the minor inconvenience of mandatory bone marrow registration. The responsibility argument is the only one that is both secular and not completely stupid. Not completely stupid---I still think it's wrong.

The principle seems to be that if you hurt someone, you are required to do everything in your power to make it better. This is why reckless drivers are routinely and successfully sued by the people they hit---they hurt them, they must pay for the medical treatment to fix them.

But we don't ask people to take responsibility for all their actions, but rather, for their harmful actions. If I tutor a friend all through high school, and as a result they get into a better college, I am not obligated to continue to help them with their harder classes. If I save someone's life by donating blood, and they have another accident a few years down the road, I am not obligated to give them another donation.

Sex brings the z/e/f into existence.* Is this a harm to it? Would the z/e/f have been better off if its parents hadn't had sex? No. Sex grants the z/e/f the favor of existence, and while harms impose additional responsibility, favors do not.

* I am trying to phrase things this way, but in all honesty, I do think of fertilization as "saving the egg cell's life by giving it a sperm cell", not "a new member of the human species comes into existence". In other words, I don't see a break in continuity at fertilization; I still existed before fertilization, I was just in two places, my mother's Fallopian tubes and my father's testicles.

GEIxBattleRifle said...

You mean dumb mere animals right?

GEIxBattleRifle said...

Exactly if you don't like slavery don't own a slave. Never OWNED a cat or dog before? Since a unborn human has less brainpower then the entities listed together, they fall under that category to.

GEIxBattleRifle said...

''I choose to believe that the planet is not overpopulated and that human beings are our greatest natural resource''

Human ''beings'' are our greatest natural resource? Abortion can help to stave off a Malthusian Catastrophe. The faster that the total human population grows, the faster it will reach a “hard limit” regarding the world’s finite supply of resources, needed to sustain that population. Since it is Mathematically Impossible for unlimited growth to be compatible with finite resources, there most definitely is a hard limit to growth, even if nobody knows exactly where that limit is. Logically, therefore, the more abortions that are done, the more it can reduce the rate-of-increase of the overall human population –and the longer it will take to hit that hard limit.

This is from ignorance's website btw

GEIxBattleRifle said...

SO? If a women had a tape or hook worm inside her body she is FREE to kill and remove that body just like in the case of the unborn human. Unless of course, your stupidly prejudiced towards ''human life'' like most pro lifers are.

GEIxBattleRifle said...

If I caused a leach to need my body resources through actions willingly taken do I have an obligation to let it use my body resources?

Simon Jm said...

Fair question.

I think many people -if they sat back and thought about it -would agree creating any entity with full moral value, creates moral obligations for the creators until the care can be passed on or the being can look after itself. I would argue this is generally what grounds parental obligations to children.

If a fetus has full moral value it is owed this consideration, or corrective justice compensation by being existentially dependent on another humans body.

If a drunk driver caused the victim to need one of his kidneys this principle would hold.

But even if a person attached a leach to themselves, arguably it doesn't have full moral value, apart from the fact it could be removed without needing to kill it.

So it isn't owed the sort of compensation that a fetus "may' have.

GEIxBattleRifle said...

''I think many people -if they sat back and thought about it -would agree creating any entity with full moral value, creates moral obligations for the creators until the care can be passed on or the being can look after itself. I would argue this is generally what grounds parental obligations to children.''

This is where the problem is at as this depends on culture all together. Back in the roman times, the women gave birth and the newborn human was placed on the ground. If it was picked up by the head of the family which was the father, the newborn human was accepted while if it wasn't, they were left outside to die or other family came and got them. So most ''people'' back would say there are no ''parental obligations'' to a newborn human.

''But even if a person attached a leach to themselves, arguably it doesn't have full moral value, apart from the fact it could be removed without needing to kill it.''
Which is nothing more but stupid prejudice towards ''human life'' which is why I made the leach comparison to illustrate the point. It could work with a tick or guinea worm also.
But thanks for not calling me ''sociopathic'' though for making the comparison not sure if it was a completely good one but oh well = )
Also I have this you can read as well. I can post the link but it is a website called http://www.fightforsense.wordpress

Simon Jm said...

I actually lean towards a secular Jainist POV. and you might need to slightly alter your analogy to make it closer to abortion. A religious or secular Jainist could still remove the leach and still be ok because after-all they didn't kill it.

Lieutenant Nun said...

I like the Jainists. They are the only group that is really consistent about valuing all life.

Simon Jm said...

I think any ethically non speciesit account will necessarily expand the ethical circle. It still gives self defense but I'm not sure how to work it regarding plant life and below.

Lieutenant Nun said...

Some things have to die so others can live. But, we can only do our best to minimize harm, no?

Simon Jm said...

Yes to a point but as I see it is if one of the reasons we don't harm other humans is that we acknowledge their well-being interests and as other life forms also have well-being interests; unless we are privileging our own kind we would have to avoid harming them for similar reasons.

We wouldn't after all say some humans can die so other humans can live. One wonders how consistent and practical Jainists are not to forget to exist means you are taking resources that other being could use so in a indirect way they are also killing other life forms by just living.

Lieutenant Nun said...

Good point

Johnny said...

I didn't say there were no abortions from Ireland. I'm aware that women from Ireland do go to Britain to abort children. But here's a link to show that the percentage of pregnancies that end in abortion is several times lower in Ireland taking that into account. The NHS in Britain record the number of women who travel from Ireland to have abortions there. http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/ab-unitedkingdom.html
http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/ab-ireland.html

Johnny said...

By the time any abortions take place, she/he is far passed the zygote stage anyway.
Fetus is a latin word derived from Latin which meant offspring.
The preborn child is a human who is the biological child of her/his mother and father.
Fetus is a latin word derived from Latin which meant offspring.
Clinical scientific terms are often used to try and dehumanised certain kinds of humans.
Like how homosexual is used instead of gay by people who are anti-gay. Homosexual is a technically accurate term but it is often used to try and dehumanise gay people and define them by sexual acts.

Coyote said...

"I've yet to see a single 'pro-life' argument that doesn't work equally well as a pro-rape argument."

The responsibility argument. Here you go.

Coyote said...

"To be in favor of banning abortion is completely non-productive since study after study shows that banning abortions does not stop them, it just makes them unsafe. Countries that have legal abortion, good sex education and contraceptive availability have lower abortion rates than those that ban abortions."

There appears to be a problem with your argument here, since as you yourself said, there are differences other factors (such as good sex education and contraceptive availability) between various areas. If all of these other factors were equal (for instance, if all areas taught comprehensive sex ed and promoted contraception to the same extent, et cetera), then the abortion rate in the areas where abortion is illegal would probably be lower than in the areas where abortion is legal. After all, not all females who want abortions actually get them if abortion is illegal.

Coyote said...

"Well, if a fetus is a human being, how come the census doesn't count them?"

Censuses (in practice) only count human beings after birth.

"If a fetus is a human being, how come when there's a miscarriage they don't have a funeral?"

I don't see why one shouldn't be able to demand a funeral after a miscarriage. That said, simply because one lacks emotional attachment to something or to someone does not necessarily mean that this individual is not a person.

"If a fetus is a human being, how come people say "we have two children and one on the way" instead of saying "we have three children?""

This depends on how one defines "child". Also, simply stating something does not necessarily make it true--for instance, I can say that I don't exist right now, but this would not make it true.

"People say life begins at conception, I say life began about a billion years ago and it's a continuous process.""

You appear to be strawmanning these people here. By "life", they mean a new human life.

Coyote said...

Basically, the response to this is that human beings either have or will have greater mental abilities than many non-human animals.

Coyote said...

"Maybe you would. But the law wouldn't let you. Cases such as this have been tried in the past, and it's been concluded that Dick Cheney cannot be legally compelled to give up his organs,not even if a child will die without them. We don't harvest dead people's organs without their consent, either; Dick Cheney's organs cannot be legally taken,even if he's already dead."

This might be an appeal to authority fallacy.

"If you change the law so that abortion is actually not possible to obtain, and make no other changes, then the result would be that men would never be forced to let someone else use their organs,even if someone would die from it,even if they were dead and no longer really using them anymore."

It depends on how you define "men" here. For instance, do you consider Thomas Beattie (sp?) to be a man? What about (in the future, once we will have better technology) a trans-woman who was born male? Also, keep in mind that:

1. We might be able to make males pregnant in the future even if these males will not get sex changes.
2. This inequality in practice here is due to biological differences. This is similar to how it is unequal in practice that males never have a say in regards to whether or not their prenatal offspring are aborted (and yet I don't see you complaining about this). My point here is that both pro-lifers and pro-choicers support some of these inequalities in practice (if not in theory) since biological differences in regards to this inevitably result in inequalities in practice in some way or another, if you get what I mean.

"Meanwhile, about 1 in 3 womenwould, at some point in their lives, be forced to let someone else use their organs. (Specifically, they would be forced to let someone else use their uterus, take their blood on a continuous basis, and inject them with chemicals that suppress their immune systems.)

Anti-abortion laws impose a huge burden on women that they do not impose on men, and that is deeply unjust."

Please see what I wrote right above.

Coyote said...

"And my point was that the arguments about abortion, in almost all cases, apply just as strongly as arguments about mandatory organ donation. Makingabortion illegal can have disastrous consequences, sufficiently rich women can work around anti-abortion laws, etc. You want to change the law so that abortion is illegal after week 12. Do you also want to change the law so that post-mortem organ donation and registering bone marrow is mandatory? My argument is that making the first change without making the other is morally indefensible."

I myself support changing the law in order to allow postnatal body part donations in certain cases as well.

"No, it wouldn't be.

You see, the thing about viability is this: after viability, the fetus can survive outside the womb. After viability a woman can exercise her right not to be pregnant by inducing labor and/or a caesarean rather than by having an abortion. I think that women should have the right not to be pregnant. That only gives them the right to cause the death of their fetuses up until the point when there is a way for them to stop being pregnant without causing death."

I am not entirely sure that your point here is particular strong. After all, unless the birth is quicker than the abortion, you would have females have their bodies be used against their will for a longer time period than is necessary.

"Ah, yes, the responsibility argument. I have seen many arguments for why it's okay to stick women with the huge burden of unwanted pregnancy and leave men without even the minor inconvenience of mandatory bone marrow registration. The responsibility argument is the only one that is both secular and not completely stupid. Not completelystupid---I still think it's wrong.

The principle seems to be that if you hurt someone, you are required to do everything in your power to make it better. This is why reckless drivers are routinely and successfully sued by the people they hit---they hurt them, they must pay for the medical treatment to fix them.

But we don't ask people to take responsibility for all their actions, but rather, for their harmfulactions. If I tutor a friend all through high school, and as a result they get into a better college, I am not obligated to continue to help them with their harder classes. If I save someone's life by donating blood, and they have another accident a few years down the road, I am not obligated to give them another donation."

I am not sure that your college example here is the best one, since this friend of yours did not have to go to this better college even if she was accepted there. Likewise, for this blood donation, you were responsible for having this individual continue living--you were not responsible for having this individual need a new blood transfusion later on.

"Sex brings the z/e/f into existence.* Is this a harm to it? Would the z/e/f have been better off if its parents hadn't had sex? No. Sex grants the z/e/f the favorof existence, and while harms impose additional responsibility, favors do not."

Ah, OK--I see what your argument here is. Frankly, I need to think it over a bit more. That said, let me try responding to it right now as well:

I would think that the main distinction between your blood donation scenario and sex here is that in your blood donation scenario, you are not the one who has the final say in regards to whether or not a situation with a dependent individual is created (this individual himself and/or the driver of the other car would have this say several years later). In contrast, the woman and her sexual partner are the individuals which have the final say in regards to whether or not a situation with a dependent individual is created after both of them have legally consensual sex.

Coyote said...

"* I am trying to phrase things this way, but in all honesty, I do think of fertilization as "saving the egg cell's life by giving it a sperm cell", not "a new member of the human species comes into existence". In other words, I don't see a break in continuity at fertilization; I still existed before fertilization, I was just in two places, my mother's Fallopian tubes and my father's testicles."

I think that the point here is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts (as is the case for, say, a car).

Coyote said...

It depends on how one defines "child".

Coyote said...

The response to this would be that humans either have or will eventually develop mental abilities which are superior to those of many/most non-human animals.

That said, if you completely ignore future abilities and if you are completely in favor of species equality, then it raises the question of why exactly human infants should be treated any better than non-human animals with equal or greater current mental abilities than these human infants?

Lieutenant Nun said...

If bringing the zef into existence harms it, then any pregnancy gone wrong or miscarriage is immediately manslaughter. If you harm a person by running over them with your car, and they eventually die of their injuries, you are guilty of manslaughter.

Coyote said...

"and are trying to strip women of any right to determine when and how she becomes a mother."

Nope, because you become a mother at the point of conception/fertilization.

Coyote said...

Yes, this is indeed a tautological issue. (not sarcasm)

Coyote said...

"If bringing the zef into existence harms it,"

I didn't say that.

"then any pregnancy gone wrong or miscarriage is immediately manslaughter."

I don't think so--after all, why exactly should one be held any more responsible for this than for the natural death of one's offspring after birth (in cases where this offspring died due to something which was out of your control)?

"If you harm a person by running over them with your car, and they eventually die of their injuries, you are guilty of manslaughter."

Yes, that makes sense.

Lieutenant Nun said...

By creating the zef you have imposed harm an d suffering that it did not consent to. If you run a person over with your car you have created an existential dependency - they are in a weakened state, all because of you. Create a zef, and it is in a weakened state - if it dies, or is injured due to its weakened state, you are as guilty of manslaughter as you are in the case of the car accident. If you harm someone and they die of their wounds you are guilty of creating the situation that lead to their death. Pregnancy is to put an innocent human being in grave and mortal danger. Infertile women who implant multiple embryos knowing that many will die are guilty of putting innocent life in harms way to meet their own selfish desires.

Coyote said...

Again, I need to think this over a bit more.

That said--couldn't your arguments here also be used to justify holding parents responsible for *all* deaths of their offspring (regardless of when these deaths occurred)?

Lieutenant Nun said...

The zef is incredibly vulnerable due to it's location. it is the most vulnerable of all humans

Coyote said...

Even more vulnerable than someone who got drafted to fight in a deadly war?

Anyway, I am not entirely sure that this is relevant. Otherwise, where exactly should we draw the line in regards to this?

Lieutenant Nun said...

Yes because the zef is at the mercy of the pregnant person. it is completely helpless. At least a sentient sapient man can defend himself.

Coyote said...

"At least a sentient sapient man can defend himself."

A child can't do this, though.

Also, where exactly are prenatal humans supposed to be located other than a uterus? After all, AFAIK, there is literally nowhere else where can be located and still survive.

Lieutenant Nun said...

They are uniquely vulnerable due to location.

Coyote said...

Yes, but again, there is currently no other available location for them *at all*.

Coyote said...

No, but it might make this fact irrelevant here.

Lieutenant Nun said...

Whether or not there is another place for it to go does not change the fact that conception harms it by creating the most vulnerable creature on the planet

Coyote said...

OK; please let me think this over more and discuss this with some other people.

Also, couldn't a similar rationale/argument be used to justify giving *all* males a full, complete opt-out from paying child support?

Chalkdust said...

This might be an appeal to authority fallacy.

If I'm arguing that abortion should not be forbidden by our legal system, then it is not fallacious to point out that forbidding abortion is inconsistent with other legal rulings regarding autonomy/life issues. There is a huge amount of debate regarding what a legal system should be, but I think that "consistency" or "fairness" is something we can agree a legal system should have.

It depends on how you define "men" here.

You are correct and I have edited the comment accordingly. Criminalizing abortion without requiring organ donation still gives cis men, a large and already-privileged group, an unfair additional privilege.

We might be able to make males pregnant in the future even if these males will not get sex changes.

They still won't get pregnant by accident, though. I'm not campaigning against pregnancy; I'm planning to try to get pregnant in about a month. I am campaigning for people's right to decide when they get pregnant. Most of the people harmed by abortion bans did not ever decide, "I want to be pregnant"; they tried to prevent pregnancy and their efforts failed.

This inequality in practice here is due to biological differences. This
is similar to how it is unequal in practice that males never have a say
in regards to whether or not their prenatal offspring are aborted.

And the proper response of a just society to biological inequality is to provide accommodations to minimize the impact of biological differences as much as possible. That's why businesses in multi-story buildings may not just say, "Oh, it's not my fault, it's just your biological inequality that means I can't serve you" to customers in wheelchairs, they must provide wheelchair ramps. The proper response to the fact that cis women get pregnant and cis men don't is not to tell women, "Oh, we're forcing this medical condition on you and not him by biological necessity", it is to try to minimize the extra burden on people with uteruses---and a crucial step to that is to make sure no person with a uterus has to accept that burden when they don't want to.

I think it's highly unfortunate that fathers have no say in their children's fate before they are born. The problem is, I can't see any way to fix that that isn't worse. If the decision should be all in the hands of one partner, it should obviously be the pregnant partner. The alternative is to pick a default response, that is, to say that abortion (or pregnancy) may only happen if both parents consent. Allowing non-pregnant parents to force their pregnant partners to remain pregnant is a violation of bodily autonomy, and forcing women to have abortions. . . well. . . I don't think anyone wants that.

That's why I do consider myself obligated to discuss my reproductive options with my partner, since I have most of the power to decide whether he has children---if he desperately didn't want a child now, or if he was horrified by the idea of his baby being aborted, I would take that into consideration. This is how functional relationships work. The "pregnant person has all the power" isn't a good way to resolve dysfunctional relationships, but it seems to be the least bad option.

Chalkdust said...

I myself support changing the law in order to allow postnatal body part donations in certain cases as well.

Do you support changing the law to require it, which is the distinction bodily autonomy advocates care about?

I am not entirely sure that your point here is particular strong. After
all, unless the birth is quicker than the abortion, you would have
females have their bodies be used against their will for a longer time
period than is necessary.

In practice, late-term abortions usually involve dilating the cervix, which takes about a day, so late abortions aren't much quicker (if at all) than induction. (Some not-quite-as-late term abortions literally are labor induction.) I also do accept some sort of "reasonable accommodation" standard, and I do think that "have an induction instead of a late-term abortion" is (usually) a reasonable accommodation to ask a pregnant person to make, in a way that "let someone else use your body for two more months" is not.

I would think that the main distinction between your blood donation
scenario and sex here is that in your blood donation scenario, you are
not the one who has the final say in regards to whether or not a
situation with a dependent individual is created (this individual
himself and/or the driver of the other car would have this say several
years later). In contrast, the woman and her sexual partner are the
individuals which have the final say in regards to whether or not a
situation with a dependent individual is created after both of them have
legally consensual sex.

Does your thought process change if you consider someone who needs several transfusions (or other transplants) in a row, so the person giving them the first blood donation knows that they will definitely need a second? My partner and I are not planning to create a zygote in a state of dependency, we are planning to create a zygote in the only state possible, and I don't see how you can give us more moral responsibility than a donor who gave blood to put the patient in the healthiest state possible when that state wasn't healthy enough for them not to need more help.

Here's another way to think of this. The responsibility argument generally says that if a person with a uterus consents to sex, then she is morally obligated to carry the pregnancy to term; by having sex she has incurred a responsibility not to use her right not to be pregnant.

(This version usually comes up with people who accept the bodily autonomy argument for people pregnant via non-consensual sex but raise the responsibility counterargument in the case of people pregnant via consensual sex.)


The contrapositive is that if a person with a uterus has decided that she will not carry to term, then she is morally obligated not to consent to sex.

Now let's picture a woman who will absolutely have to have an abortion if she gets pregnant---she has a medical condition that makes pregnancy life-threatening, if she has another baby she will get fired and her existing older child will starve, whatever. If we accept the responsibility argument, then she is obligated not to have sex. So she should tell her husband, "Yes, I'd like to have sex with you, but we mustn't! If we do, something horrible might happen!" Pause for a second. Who exactly will be worse off if she has sex, conceives, and has an abortion than if she just doesn't have sex? The z/e/f? Would it really be better off never existing than coming into existence and then being aborted?

Coyote said...

Also, for the record, I want to point out that even in the event of an abortion ban, females would still be able to get abortions if they are able to find providers and/or et cetera. They might (and should) simply get prosecuted for doing this (of course, I myself am very pragmatic on this, but for practical reasons; I can elaborate on this later). This is similar to someone being able to punch someone else in the face but also to get prosecuted for doing this afterwards (if he or she actually does this).

wahwahwah said...

That's true that not all the women who want abortions get them if it's illegal. Wealthy women, women with connections, women who can access the black market, do get abortions regardless of legality. Even wealthy and middle-class women in the US avoid Planned Parenthood clinics and go to private gynos or travel out of country.

I doubt that illegality, or much of anything else, will influence that demographic to any significant degree. People who are able to travel and pay for what they want often do just that, for a myriad of reasons. Mostly because they can.

Clinton said...

I take issue with your Premise 1. It can't be true, unless you're going to tell me that it's as wrong to kill a cockroach as it is to kill an adult human being.

Clinton said...

Not at all. My argument entails that human beings are relevantly different from animals (especially pigs) in that killing one is a serious moral crime, in a way that killing animals is not.

Clinton said...

Look, I've actually perused his site and his rebuttals to these arguments are just incredibly bad. Also, I've supported on this site numerous times why it is seriously wrong to kill human beings (as opposed to animals), so it's not like I don't mention it. I have given a pretty robust defense of just why it's wrong to kill human beings.

Coyote said...

"And if the woman dies or is permanently maimed/injured you have effectively sentenced her to death/disability for having sex. "

Not necessarily, considering that I *do* support exceptions to abortion bans. Also, as a side note, I want to point out that even in the event of an abortion ban, I will oppose using force to physically prevent a woman from getting an abortion. Rather, I would simply support punishing her provider, as well as her if she doesn't cooperate with the authorities afterwards, if she actually does end up getting an abortion and this fact becomes known to the authorities afterwards.

"We don't even treat criminals that way, not unless they have cruelly murdered someone."

Maybe we should treat them this way, then.

As a side note, though, I want to point out that my position on the abortion issue right now is grayer than it was before. While I still lean politically anti-abortion, I do have sympathies towards the pro-choice side when it comes to the personhood issue.

purrtriarchy said...

Death and disability and permanent injury from pregnancy cannot be predicted. Doctors don't have crystal balls. The woman can die during/after birth.

Coyote said...

I agree with this, but a chance of dying which is less than 1% pales in comparison to the 99+% chance of dying which prenatal human beings have in abortions.

purrtriarchy said...

Well if the woman gets the death penalty/disability/injury for the crime of having sex, then the man should suffer the same.


She dies...he gets lethal injection.


She gets diabetes, he is injected with things that cause diabetes.


She becomes incontinent from pregnancy - we do the same to him.


She becomes depressed, psychotic, suffers ptsd, we torture him.


Only fair that both suffer the same punishment for their crimes.

Coyote said...

"Only fair that both suffer the same punishment for their crimes."

This premise would only be true if I thought that greater gender equality in practice should be achieved at all costs, which I don't (and which some/many pro-choicers don't as well).

purrtriarchy said...

Nothing to do with gender equality. You do the crime you suffer the punishment - both man and woman equally guilty before the law. She gets the death penalty for having sex then he should too.

Coyote said...

But I never said that sex was a crime, because it isn't.

purrtriarchy said...

If a woman dies from an unwanted forced pregnancy you are treating her like a criminal. For the crime of ovulating while having sex.

Coyote said...

Not quite, because this outcome in this case would be the unfortunate result of protecting the life of the prenatal offspring. In contrast, when one causes the death of criminals (by executing them), then one is not doing this in order to protect someone else's life, but rather as a punishment.

purrtriarchy said...

Which in practical terms = a death sentence for having sex whilst fertile.

Chalkdust said...

"You chose to have sex. A foreseeable consequence of having sex is conception. Therefore, this isn't really a case of
someone using your body for survival without your consent; you
consented when you had sex."

"You were wearing a low-cut dress. A foreseeable consequence of wearing a low-cut dress is that someone will be sexually attracted to you and decide to have sex with you. Therefore, this wasn't really a case of someone using your body for sexual pleasure without your consent; you consented when you put on a low-cut dress."

The responsibility argument doesn't just parallel a pro-rape argument; it parallels the canonical "legitimate rape" justification.

Coyote said...

This appears to be a very poor comparison, considering that with sex, the people having sex had the final decision in regards to whether or not a pregnancy occurred, whereas with wearing a low-cut dress, the rapist made the final decision in regards to whether or not a rape occurred. Also, this is not to mention that pregnancy is simply a possible biological result of sex. This is something which is not applicable to wearing a low-cut dress and to rape.

Also, I think that I previously responded to your point about greater equality between the genders/sexes a while back and gave you and your movement some suggestions about how you can actually improve the situation in regards to this. Please respond to that post of mine whenever you are able to, if you can find it.

myintx said...

No one should be able to kill an unborn child, unless their life if truly endangered from the pregnancy. An unborn child is a human being and deserves a right to life.

Chalkdust said...

The parallel is the entitlement: a woman takes an action (having sex/wearing a low-cut dress) that has a totally foreseeable consequence (she gets pregnant/someone is uncomfortably sexually aroused) and the argument can be made that it is her responsibility to deal with the consequences (by carrying to term/having sex with him). It's a question of whether the fetus/aroused person is entitled to use her body; whether the other party has the volition to choose or not choose to take what it considers itself "entitled to" is irrelevant.

I'm not saying that this is a good argument for rape, because, let's be clear here, there are no good arguments for rape. I'm saying that it is a parallel argument to the anti-abortion responsibility argument, which I also don't accept, and also that there are people in our culture who do make this argument or others like it. I think this is what WithinThisMind is getting at above.

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