The point of viability »« When is it ok to legalize murder?

Blood drives

The last time I gave blood, there was a sign outside that says, “Giving blood saves lives.” As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, I’d like to ask a question. If giving blood saves lives, why don’t we have people roaming the streets, grabbing healthy-looking individuals, and taking their blood by force? I think most people know the answer: it’s because each of us has a sovereign right to bodily autonomy that no one else has the right to violate, even if it might mean saving someone else’s life.

This to set the stage for a question posed in a couple comments by NotAnAtheist on yesterday’s post, concerning my remark about how the unformed child does not become a person until later on.

When does this “becoming a person” happen? … The child that is 1 hr from being born, anatomically, genetically, and in all other senses I know of, is the same child right after birth (If someone knows of some big difference, let me know).

If there is that similarity, how can it be that the child after birth is a “person”, and the child before is not? Or is it just that the idea of “personhood” has no objective referent and is simply up to the whim of the court?

I’m glad you asked.

The problem is not that personhood has no objective referent, but rather that it lacks sharply-defined boundaries, developmentally speaking. The qualities that make us persons are qualities that emerge gradually, through slow accumulation of the necessary biological structures and functions. There’s no magic wand that waves at precisely 5:23AM on Tuesday and poof, some non-human lump magically Pinnochios into a real boy. Just as cake batter, sitting in a hot oven, gradually transforms into a cake, the unformed child gradually transforms into a real child, without there ever being any sharply-delineated cutoff point where you could say, “Not a person before, person after.” It’s a smooth, continuous biological process.

And incidentally, the same thing is true of conception itself. A lot of people mistakenly refer to a “point” of conception or a “moment” of conception, but biologically conception is neither a point nor a moment. It’s a process that involves one mass of organic molecules (the sperm) approaching another mass of organic molecules (the egg), and certain molecular bonds break and new bonds form and the positions of various molecules shift around and re-arrange themselves in complex patterns that continue to shift and re-form until we say that the egg has been fertilized. When did the egg change from unfertilized to fertilized? There is no single point in the process where it’s definitely one thing before and something different after. It’s a process.

Consequently, any line we draw between pre-person and person is an arbitrary line. Personhood does not happen by magic, but by gradual biological processes that continue to operate well beyond birth. That’s not to say that personhood itself is imaginary or lacks an objective referent, but only that there’s no objective referent for the “official” dividing line between before and after. The cake comes out of the oven and is a cake. The baby is born and is a baby. But in the early stages of the process, neither has yet become what it eventually turns into by the end.

Someone might say, “Well then, we should protect the life of the unformed child as early as possible, so that we don’t inadvertently commit murder by failing to detect when the unformed child crosses the line into personhood.” That’s a common objection, even when you’ve just explained that there is no line to cross, and that it’s aprocess. But the problem with this objection is not just that it is based on a misconception about the beginning of personhood, but that it also fails to recognize that there are other rights at stake here too.

This is why I brought up blood drives at the beginning. It’s not “safer” to say we should draw an imaginary line at the so-called point of conception; rather, it’s a violation of the woman’s sovereign right to bodily autonomy, at a point where we know the unformed child is not yet a person. We don’t have vampire gangs roaming the streets stealing people’s blood to potentially save the lives of others, because the right to bodily autonomy is a sovereign right, and the fact that you might be saving someone else’s life is not sufficient to overrule that sovereign right. In the same way, you can’t justify violating the woman’s sovereign right to her own body just by claiming that your imaginary line gives superior rights to an unformed child.

The earliest point at which it makes sense to draw a legal line would be viability—the point where the child is formed enough to survive on its own outside the womb. At that point, if the woman wishes to terminate her pregnancy, then she can do so without killing the child, and nobody’s rights need be violated. Granted, that still involves a certain amount of medical proceedings for the woman, but that’s just life, sometimes you have to put up with the sub-optimal.

The real solution to abortion, of course, is birth control. Make sure that women at risk have ready access to contraception and birth control, and abortion won’t even be an issue. On that point, the evidence is clear and unmistakable. If biological processes and the absence of clear-cut lines disturbs you, then give away free birth control and avoid the whole problem altogether.

Comments

  1. Forbidden Snowflake says

    Birth control can reduce the need for abortion, for sure, but it can never eliminate it altogether, anymore than dental floss can eliminate root canals altogether.
    I don’t think there’s a solution that will satisfy both sides. Outside of sci-fi scenarios with artificial wombs and the like, abortion should always be available, or people will get hurt.

    • No Light says

      Exactly. While pregnancy exists we need abortion in the case of catastrophic foetal defects, or danger (of any sort) to the mother.

    • Steve R says

      If a reliable exowomb were developed, the pro-misery cults would wail as loudly as they did when obstetrical analgesics were introduced. Don’t you know that women are supposed to SUFFER in childbirth? The Holy Babble says so!

  2. says

    I’d like to ask a question. If giving blood saves lives, why don’t we have people roaming the streets, grabbing healthy-looking individuals, and taking their blood by force? I think most people know the answer: it’s because each of us has a sovereign right to bodily autonomy that no one else has the right to violate, even if it might mean saving someone else’s life.

    sorry, but no. If it were a question of simply getting as much volume as possible then paying people for donation would be a lot easier than doing it by force. The reason blood donation centers do not pay (or force) donors is because it encourages dishonesty, which in turn taints the blood supply and hurts other people.

    I know what you are driving at but this is a very poor comparison. The way that blood donation is done is based on the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people, something that is the opposite of arguing for rights that exist regardless of if they harm someone.

    • Ysanne says

      Um, actually, in Germany people get paid for blood donations (typically around $25) and donors also get a free snack and drinks. And yes, some people do go and donate blood when they need a bit of extra money. (There are health checks before someone can donate, obviously.)
      Still, there are shortages every now and then, particularly with the less frequent blood types.

      • Bungoton says

        Blood shortages happen more often in places where blood can be bought. Countries which outlaw the sale of blood and rely on donors have fewer shortages. This is a bit strange but I have seen this myself in Canada which relies on blood donors and the USA and Philippines which buy blood. A church in Cebu City, Philippines organized a blood drive to find donors willing to give blood for free and they were overwhelmed with volunteers.

      • im says

        There is a wierd psychological effect where making something paid, but not very high paying, takes away the altruistic warm fuzzies. An alternate option might be to invite people who donate blood to the Feast of Heroes.

  3. NotAnAtheist says


    Someone might say, “Well then, we should protect the life of the unformed child as early as possible, so that we don’t inadvertently commit murder by failing to detect when the unformed child crosses the line into personhood.” That’s a common objection, even when you’ve just explained that there is no line to cross, and that it’s aprocess.

    Do I agree its a process? Yes, but at some point as someone is becoming “more” of a person there will be a point in which they have become enough of a person such that their rights must be taken into account, just as much as the rights of the mother must be taken into account. Is this point a line? Probably not. But legally, and just logistically, some sort of line is required.


    The earliest point at which it makes sense to draw a legal line would be viability—the point where the child is formed enough to survive on its own outside the womb. At that point, if the woman wishes to terminate her pregnancy, then she can do so without killing the child, and nobody’s rights need be violated.

    Well, that’s only true if the fetus is a “nobody” up until viability then afterwards its now suddenly a person, a “somebody” with rights to be violated. It can’t be both ways. If you say that before a certain point, you are certain that “nobody’s” rights are being violated and afterwards you declare abortion to be wrong, then you are drawing a line at viability.


    The real solution to abortion, of course, is birth control. Make sure that women at risk have ready access to contraception and birth control, and abortion won’t even be an issue. On that point, the evidence is clear and unmistakable. If biological processes and the absence of clear-cut lines disturbs you, then give away free birth control and avoid the whole problem altogether.

    I agree.

    • wholething says

      Well, that’s only true if the fetus is a “nobody” up until viability then afterwards its now suddenly a person, a “somebody” with rights to be violated. It can’t be both ways. If you say that before a certain point, you are certain that “nobody’s” rights are being violated and afterwards you declare abortion to be wrong, then you are drawing a line at viability.

      Several years ago, I read an article that said a brain couldn’t get enough oxygen through the placenta to fully function. It was when the baby could draw its first breath to draw oxygen through its lungs that kickstarted higher brain function. I have never seen any follow up about whether this idea was confirmed or refuted.

      It might be possible to test this by comparing the breathing of a woman before she went into labor with the sum of her breathing plus the baby’s breathing to see if more oxygen is being consumed after.

      On the other hand, it doesn’t seem reasonable to grant personhood at conception, either. Being clean-shaven and having a beard are different things but there is no demarcation in the biological process between the two. Would you grant beardhood to facial hair the instant a man stopped shaving just to be on the safe side?

      • Len says

        Exactly. So you can answer the question without having to worry about any accompanying emotional baggage.

      • NotAnAtheist says

        Ok. Here’s my answer then. Since there’s absolutely not even the possiblity of harm to anyone, no matter what I decide, my decision is meaningless.

      • wholething says

        When you say “life”, are you equivocating between biological life and the life we associate with mental activity? We can harvest the organs of people after brain death because their organs still have biological life. A fertilized egg or a clump of undifferentiated cells have no mental activity because they don’t have a single brain cell. The clump has biological life but not conscious life.

        Your argument makes no sense when it conflates biological life with conscious life.

        Nevertheless, the real question is whether a person has autonomy over their own body. If it were possible to transplant a fetus and placenta from an unwilling mother to a man or woman who was concerned about the right-to-life of the fetus, how many pro-lifers would volunteer for the procedure? My guess would be fewer than the number of pro-lifers who adopt the children given up for adoption. This would show that pro-life is more concerned about controlling the sex life of women than whether fetus rights.

      • Nepenthe says

        Fetal arterial oxygen saturation is around 65%, a level that causes mental impairment in people.

      • NotAnAtheist says

        By the very wording of your comment, you acknowledge that the mentally impaired are in fact people. If you do in fact acknowledge that, then what’s the point of the comment? The fetus may have the same oxygen saturation as a (perhaps severely) mentally impaired person.. but this does not stop them from being a “person” does it?

      • Forbidden Snowflake says

        Mentally impaired people have the same oxygen saturation levels as everyone else. The point of the comment was that the oxygen levels in a fetus are not enough to sustain conscious existence. The fetus is not compared to a mentally impaired person. It’s not mentally anything.

      • No Light says

        As Forbidden Snowflakes said, there’s nobody alive and walking about with o2 saturation of 65%. It’s not compatible with life. 65% is the level at which brain damage happens during a traumatic event.

        Think about this -when you’re being born your whole body is assailed by hours of powerful contractions. Sometimes so forceful that they literally squeeze the shit* right out of you.

        Then. your head has to be squished to ten centimetres to fit through the cervix, as the contractions force you down and out.

        After your head gets through your body has to follow, again, fitting through a ten centimetre gap. Sometimes your shoulder gets stuck on your mother’s pubic bone** and you need help getting out. Try and imagine being pushed through a small window by an unstoppable force, but your shoulder’s snagged because it’s too wide to get through.

        Often you and your mom are just exhausted and you won’t budge. The doctor grabs either a metal clamp*** or a vacuum pump**** and either clamps/suctions your head, and then pulls as hard as possible until you’re free.

        Now imagine if you had to go through up to three days of that while fully conscious. How could a 7lb baby get through all of that and survive if they were totally conscious? That’s not to mention months of being bounced and jostled 24/7 leading up to birth. Imagine what your mother going up and down a flight of stairs would be like?

        The twilight state induced in utero is there to ensure that humanity survives through to birth.

        * Meconium is the baby’s first faecal output. It’s everything they’ve swallowed in utero, like their body hair.

        ** Shoulder dystocia

        *** Forceps

        **** Ventouse.

      • NotAnAtheist says

        The point of the comment was that the oxygen levels in a fetus are not enough to sustain conscious existence. The fetus is not compared to a mentally impaired person. It’s not mentally anything.

        Wait. So at first we have:


        Fetal arterial oxygen saturation is around 65%, a level that causes mental impairment in people.

        And now we have that it its not enough to sustain conscious existence. Maybe I’m just not seeing it, but “mental impairment” is not the same as “no conscious existence.”

      • Forbidden Snowflake says

        Once again, slowly. Here are the claims, as I understood them (Nepenthe may correct me if I’m wrong):
        1. An arterial oxygen saturation level much higher than 65% is required to sustain consciousness.
        2. Because of #1, people who experience a temporary state in which their oxygen saturation level drops to 65% suffer brain damage, which causes mental impairment.
        3. Because of #1, we know that a fetus isn’t conscious, and that birth (and the beginning of autonomous breathing) brings about a big change in the state of brain/mind.

        It doesn’t say that a mentally impaired person is comparable to a fetus, or that mental impairment is the same as an unconscious state. #2 simply illustrates #1.

      • Nepenthe says

        *facepalm*

        Causes mental impairment in children and adults. Given the state of development in a newborn, there’s not a lot there to be impaired.

        Not that this fucking matters, because the only time a near-term pregnancy is aborted is when a) the woman carrying it is about to die or b) the fetus has a condition incompatible with life. Anencephalic newborns emphatically are not conscious, unless you believe that consciousness is some woo-woo process like the presence of a soul.

        Talking about whether it’s ethical to abort at 39 weeks is an obnoxious red herring used to derail discussions about actual abortions, virtually all of which take place when the embryo or fetus has no theoretical possibility of consciousness.

      • NotAnAtheist says

        Talking about whether it’s ethical to abort at 39 weeks is an obnoxious red herring used to derail discussions about actual abortions, virtually all of which take place when the embryo or fetus has no theoretical possibility of consciousness.

        I disagree. If you’re “pro-choice”, and you think that abortion is perfectly ok up and until birth, then its worth talking about abortions performed at 39 weeks, or whenever.

        To say that we should allow all abortions up to and including 39 weeks, because really so few people abort at that time and almost everyone aborts really, really really early and after all its just a couple of cells then misses the point just as much as acting as though all abortions were performed at 39 weeks and its a child and a person.

      • Nepenthe says

        Well, no it’s not quite that simple. The effect of hypoxemia on human brains is dependent on duration of the hypoxemia. It’s also dependent on a host of other factors, like a person’s particular physiology and temperature. (Hypothermic people, especially children, can often survive pretty incredible periods of hypoxemia. As the old saw goes, you’re not dead until you’re warm and dead.)

      • Nepenthe says

        Didja miss the paragraph right before the one you pulled out? I know you’ve had some trouble with the reading thing in the past, so I’ll reiterate in the hopes that you’ll pay attention this time. Abortions at 39 weeks when the fetus is viable do not happen. At that point, it’s called induction or Cesarean section. No medical licensing board in the history of ever would allow that sort of thing, regardless about what I think about it.

      • No Light says

        FoetusesForJesus NotAnAtheist

        - Do you know what HELLP is? What anencephaly is? I can only assume you don’t.

        Have you heard of a missed miscarriage/incomplete abortion*? The foetus dies, but for some reason does not trigger the uterus to evacuate it’s contents. Occasionally this happens in a pregnancy involving multiple foetuses. So what is the solution there?

        You’re taking a simplistic, unilateral approach to a problem that affects no two women in the same way. And I’m sorry, but anyone that can demand that a foetus be given more consideration than a living, loved, productive person? I have to wonder what the hell would cause such cold, callous disregard for the life of women.

        *I’m using “abortion” in the medical sense of the word, the end of pregnancy. Spontaneous abortion is known as miscarriage or stillbirth in lay terms, and elective abortion or therapeutic abortion are the deliberate removal of a foetus, even one that has recently died.

      • NotAnAtheist says

        Nepenthe,

        I guess you missed what I said. I said up to and including 39 weeks. Not just 39 weeks. That’s ok. It’s missing the point of what I said completely though, to gripe that no abortions occur at 39 weeks.

        If you’re going to say that any and all abortions are perfectly ok up to (and I guess not including) 39 weeks, then its meaningful to look at those abortions that occur at 38 weeks, or 37 weeks, or even 36 weeks 2 days 7 hrs and 6 minutes and not just act as though all abortions occur 2 days after conception and any talk about what the fetus is like later in the pregnancy is an “obnoxious red herring”.

      • NotAnAtheist says


        Have you heard of a missed miscarriage/incomplete abortion*? The foetus dies, but for some reason does not trigger the uterus to evacuate it’s contents. Occasionally this happens in a pregnancy involving multiple foetuses. So what is the solution there?

        What’s the problem? Women miscarry, that’s true. Last time I checked, a miscarriage was not a woman intentionally deciding to kill her child (or fetus, or whatever terms makes you feel better).


        You’re taking a simplistic, unilateral approach to a problem that affects no two women in the same way.

        I see. And your approach that all abortions for any reason are ok and must be completely unrestricted and free is obviously complex, nuanced, and multi-lateral.

        Tell me. What exactly is my approach since you claim to know what it is? Or are you just spouting your mouth off convinced that I’m some ignorant Christian no nothing hick?

        To give you a hint, just because I claim to not be an atheist, doesn’t make me a Christian.

        I’m using “abortion” in the medical sense of the word, the end of pregnancy.

        Ah, I see. You are changing the term “abortion” to refer to pretty much anything that has to do with a fetus, then reacting in anger when its clear that I’m not using the term in the same way.

      • Forbidden Snowflake says

        I see. And your approach that all abortions for any reason are ok and must be completely unrestricted and free is obviously complex, nuanced, and multi-lateral.

        Do not confuse having a nuanced approach with reaching a centrist conclusion. Neither of these things implies the other.

      • NotAnAtheist says

        Do not confuse having a nuanced approach with reaching a centrist conclusion. Neither of these things implies the other.

        Fair enough. Please explain how your approach is either nuanced or centrist.

        So far as I can see, the idea that:
        that all abortions for any reason are ok and must be completely unrestricted and free

        Is neither centrist or nuanced. Perhaps this is not your view?

      • Forbidden Snowflake says

        So far as I can see, the idea that:
        that all abortions for any reason are ok and must be completely unrestricted and free

        Is neither centrist or nuanced.

        It certainly isn’t centrist, in the simple sense that one can’t be any more pro-abortion that that.
        It is nuanced in the sense that it has a sound basis in legal precedents, medical knowledge and historical experience, is part of an internally consistent moral outlook, and leaves maximal leeway for actual pregnant women and their doctors to navigate the complex and variant situations in which abortions are required.

  4. No Light says

    Starting a new comment to NotAnAtheist here, because the threading is screwing it up.

    OK. Onward.

    My comment:

    Have you heard of a missed miscarriage/incomplete abortion*? The foetus dies, but for some reason does not trigger the uterus to evacuate it’s contents. Occasionally this happens in a pregnancy involving multiple foetuses. So what is the solution there?

    NAA:
    What’s the problem? Women miscarry, that’s true. Last time I checked, a miscarriage was not a woman intentionally deciding to kill her child (or fetus, or whatever terms makes you feel better).

    Is English your second language? I can simplify things if you wish, because your reading comprehension is appalling.

    So, broken down, yes? Here we go:


    Have you heard of a missed miscarriage/incomplete abortion*? The foetus dies, but for some reason does not trigger the uterus to evacuate it’s contents.

    Do you grasp what that means? It means that the dead, decomposing foetus remains in the uterus. It remains connected to it’s mother’s bloodstream.

    Moving on:


    Occasionally this happens in a pregnancy involving multiple foetuses. So what is the solution there?

    What’s the problem? Women miscarry, that’s true.

    No, it is a *missed* miscarriage. In utero, rotting. So what do you do, given that there are other foetuses and a sentient human carrying. them?


    Last time I checked, a miscarriage was not a woman intentionally deciding to kill her child (or fetus, or whatever terms makes you feel better).

    Do you know why spontaneous abortions (or miscarriage, or whatever. termses makeses you feels betters) occur? Because of a problem. They are a Blue Screen of Death, followed by a reboot. Just as a Windows box BSODs to prevent further damage to hardware, the body spontaneously aborts a foetus if it’s genetically incomplete, damaged, or unable to be supported by the mother due to genetic incompatibility.

    Spontaneous abortions are awesome, an amazing evolutionary step to protect women. Sometimes stuff goes wrong. Sometimes your pc doesn’t BSOD in time, and your hardware gets fucked. Sometimes foetal death or molar pregnancy (look it up) or blighted ovum occurs, and the body carries on regardless.

    So, if a triplet dies and poses a risk to the two remaining foetuses and the mother, what do you do?

    WRT “kill[ing] their baby”, one, the vast majority of terminations happen before nine weeks. There’s no tiny little rosy-cheeked minibaby, looking like a Hummel figurine.

    NotAnAtheist – Meet NotABaby – http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/stem_cell/images/9-week-human-embryo-from-ectopic-%20pregnancy.jpg

    TRIGGER WARNING FOR DISCUSSION OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

    Not all women are terminating out of choice, Perhaps they need a category X medication to live, or would die as a result of pregnancy. But IDGAF why anyone terminates an UNWANTED. pregnancy. You know why? As a former healthcare worker and psychologist, I saw the consequences daily. Raped kids, beaten kids, starved, pimped out and murdered kids. Sadly it seems like all the people chanting “Save the baybees rahrahrah!” are curiously hard to find when foster care, adoption, money andhelp are needed for children who were never wanted.

    Look at a six month old baby with vaginal and anal trauma, bruises to her face and head, not weighing much more than her birth weight. Look at Peter Donnelly. Then tell me how evil abortion is.

    To give you a hint, just because I claim to not be an atheist, doesn’t make me a Christian.

    So why not “NotARodeoClown” or “NotAShetlandPony”?

    What is your affiliation then? Because if you’re not religious then your impersonation skills are awesome.

    I’m using “abortion” in the medical sense of the word, the end of pregnancy.
    Ah, I see. You are changing the term “abortion” to refer to pretty much anything that has to do with a fetus, then reacting in anger when its clear that I’m not using the term in the same way.

    Anger? Me?

    Hint: I am not “changing” anything”. Abortion always has, and always will be, the correct medical term for the evacuation from the uterus of the products of conception.

    Spontaneous abortion occurs naturally, elective, therapeutic and induced abortions are initiated using medical or surgical means.

    If you see the doctor with gastrointestinal distress, does he say “Wow NAA, that’s a bad case of the green apple splatters dude!”. If you slice your palm and go to the ER, would they write “NAA got a bad booboo on his handy”?

    Babies, and miscarriages, wombs and abortion (without qualification) are lay terms when talking about pregnancy. I laugh in the face of anyone so disingenuous and wrapped up in a world of chubby ickle womb angels and evil sluts and murderous gynaecologists (you probably Know them as “abortion doctors” lol) , that they quail at the use of correct and established medical terms to refer to a legal medical or surgical procedure.

    • NotAnAtheist says

      Abortion always has, and always will be, the correct medical term for the evacuation from the uterus of the products of conception.

      By this definition, giving birth is an abortion.

      • NotAnAtheist says

        I see. So if someone says “I had an abortion, here it is” and then shows you her 5 yr old kid (who is alive).. that’s absolutely fine word choice right?

        I mean if abortion = giving birth = killing a fetus = a miscarriage = … it seems fine to me.

  5. Nepenthe says

    Tell me. What exactly is my approach since you claim to know what it is?

    Well, above and in the last thread you appeared to be arguing that personhood begins at conception, so I assumed that your approach was consistent with that: no therapeutic abortions without exception, laws regarding what pregnant women may ingest or do lest it harm the person inside them, bans on any form of medication or device that might prevent implantation of a fertilized zygote-American, any fertile woman or trans man, whether engaging in PIV sex or not, who does not want to become pregnant would need to be sterilized (as birth control is not 100% effective and any woman could be raped), and anyone wishing to bear children would have to be cognizant of the fact that their life or health may be forfeit should something go wrong.

    But please, do share what your actual approach is.

    • Anonymouse says

      Apparently NAA’s approach is to believe that women everywhere are pregnant for 39 weeks, then just randomly decide to abort, and skip merrily to…somewhere unspecified…and get an abortion, WHHHEEEE. Because they’re just SO MUCH FUN! Also, these Slutty McSlut-Sluts get THEMSELVES pregnant, with no outside contributions. Fascinating.

      • Nepenthe says

        I don’t think that’s a fair characterization of what they’ve said at all. Their stated arguments are silly enough on their own; no need to exaggerate them.

      • NotAnAtheist says

        Apparently NAA’s approach is to believe that women everywhere are pregnant for 39 weeks, then just randomly decide to abort, and skip merrily to…somewhere unspecified…and get an abortion,

        Again, incorrect.

        I’ve been pretty clear in what I’ve said, so I’m a bit puzzled as to why people seem to feel its necessary to twist what I’ve said into some cariacture just so they can act all angry about it.

    • NotAnAtheist says

      Well, above and in the last thread you appeared to be arguing that personhood begins at conception

      I have not been arguing that.

      • Nepenthe says

        Then please, by all means, lay out your position as I invited you to do. It would significantly hamper your ability to act as an obnoxious contrarian rather than a good faith arguer, but we can’t always get what we want.

  6. says

    I think most people know the answer: it’s because each of us has a sovereign right to bodily autonomy that no one else has the right to violate, even if it might mean saving someone else’s life.

    Though I recommend everyone speak to their doctors, and suggest they get vaccinated after becoming informed, this is why I think opt-out vaccinations are immoral. And this is why I think the herd immunity argument, while scientific, is usually irrelevant.

    I had a disease such that the CDC tells doctors not to vaccinate me. So I rely on herd immunity. And please, get your vaccination.

    But I will not mandate people get a vaccine to save my life or anyone else’s. I will not mandate opt-out programs. I will not mandate kids get vaccinated or be home schooled, and I think it’s wrong for doctors to not treat kids who are not vaccinated.

    I think most people know the answer: it’s because each of us has a sovereign right to bodily autonomy that no one else has the right to violate, even if it might mean saving someone else’s life.

    If you do not agree with me, Deacon Duncan, can you explain why you would prefer opt-out vaccination programs, or other mandates that remove informed consent and force vaccinations and how that comports with sovereign right to bodily autonomy even if it might mean saving someone else’s life?

    • says

      I don’t think that vaccines are fully analogous to blood drives.

      When you give blood (or organs) you’re giving them (ultimately) to people who are suffering from something you presumably had no control over. You bear no responsibility for the person who benefits from your tissues.

      A big part of the purpose of vaccines, however (and you reference this yourself by saying you’re dependent on “herd immunity”) is to prevent the spread of disease to others.

      In the same vein, no one would force you to drive someone to the hospital. You are, however, required to take safety classes and driving lessons (or at least demonstrate competency) before you’re allowed to drive any car unsupervised.

    • Forbidden Snowflake says

      You seem to believe that laws mandating vaccination for children attending school exist to punish non-vaccinating families rather than to protect the rest of the children.

    • captainahags says

      If kids want to attend public school, paid for by tax dollars and run by the state or other gov’t organization, then I think it’s fair that the state require they have the basic level of immunization required to prevent the spread of childhood and other diseases around the school. Just as the school can prevent sick children from attending while sick, so can they prevent children who are potential carriers of disease.

  7. Deacon Duncan says

    The reason the 65% oxygenation level is significant is that oxygen levels that low are damaging to a person, but are not damaging to a fetus. The fetus does not need full oxygenation because it has not yet developed into a state that has all the characteristics and needs of personhood.

    • naturalcynic says

      To give an accurate physiological argument, the saturation level of the fetal circulation is not the relevant measure, the arterio-venous oxygen difference is. The sigmoid saturation-desaturation curve of fetal hemoglobin [Bohr effect] is shifted to the left [lower partial pressure of oxygen] compared with adult hemoglobin. This allows fetal Hb to operate efficiently to deliver more oxygen at lower oxygen partial pressures in fetal tissues. The question of consciousness in the perinatal period cannot be simply answered by looking at a low O2 saturation. To find this out for sure, some very unethical experimental measures would have to be done.

      • Nepenthe says

        Thank you for the information. I admittedly know very little about organisms with brains and circulatory systems, let alone ones that can become sapient and was having trouble finding clear explanations.

  8. im says

    I find the deontologial ethics here tiresome.

    I think maybe it’s a PROBLEM that we don’t have coerced blood donations, AND that abortion should still be legal. Whence cometh bodily autonomy? It seems to be a kind of an arbitrary cultural dividing line, something we set up to keep society running but could be in a variety of different places, sort of like how we allow the government to coerce taxes, but only on a very specified and predictable plan, but not anybody else.

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