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Mar 12 2014

An atheist can be pro-life only by lying about the science

Hemant Mehta let an anti-choice atheist romp about and make her secular pro-life argument, but since he thinks it’s important to give a forum to bullshit but doesn’t think it’s important enough to criticize, I guess I have to. It’s by Kristine Kruszelnicki, president of Pro-Life Humanist, and we’ve dealt with her before; she’s the one who debated Matt Dillahunty in 2012, and lost miserably. She acknowledges that right at the beginning of her post, and then proceeds to make the same stupid argument.

Before we address the question of bodily autonomy in pregnancy, let’s meet the second player. What does science tell us that the preborn are? To be clear, science doesn’t define personhood. It never could. When I debated Matt Dillahunty on the issue of abortion at the 2012 Texas Freethought Convention, I’m afraid that as a first-time debater I really wasn’t clear enough on this point — and was consequently accused of trying to obtain rights from science. Science can’t tell us whether it’s wrong to rape women, torture children, enslave black people, or which physical traits should or should not matter when it comes to determining personhood. Science may be able to measure suffering in living creatures, but it can’t tell us why or if their suffering should matter.

Notice what she’s doing here. She recognizes that she totally got skewered on her claim that Science says abortion is wrong, so she’s nominally distancing herself from making moral claims with science. But guess what her very next sentence is?

However, science can tell us who among us belongs to the human species.

She’s doing it again. She’s claiming that science justifies her position.

She is at least aware that the right of women to autonomy is an extremely strong argument against her position — it’s how Dillahunty slammed her in the debate — and the entire post is about how she gets around that tricky problem of denying women control of their own bodies. Her solution? Simply decree by fiat, with the stamp of approval of her version of science, that the fetus and the woman have fully equal status as human beings, and that all discussion has to grant the fetus every privilege we do the woman.

If the fetus is not a human being with his/her own bodily rights, it’s true that infringing on a woman’s body by placing restrictions on her medical options is always a gross injustice and a violation. On the other hand, if we are talking about two human beings who should each be entitled to their own bodily rights, in the unique situation that is pregnancy, we aren’t justified in following the route of might-makes-right simply because we can.

At least this time, she didn’t sprinkle photos of bloody fetus parts in her post, and she avoided the most egregiously absurd elements of her position. This is my summary of what she said at the debate:

She made it clear that she opposes a whole gamut of basic rights: birth control methods that prevent implantation are wrong, because that’s just like strangling or starving a baby; no abortion in cases of rape or incest, because the baby doesn’t deserve punishment; she did allow for abortion in cases that threaten the life of the mother at times before fetal viability, simply because in that case two fully human lives would be lost.

She sounds like a very liberal Catholic atheist.

But that’s the entirety of her argument, both in that piece and on the pro-life atheist web site: the fetus is fully human from the moment of conception, and science says so.

When it comes to normal human reproduction, sperm and ovum merge to form a new whole. They cease to exist individually and become a new substance that is not the mother and not the father but a new body altogether, one that is also human and has the inherent capacity to develop through all stages of development.

When we talk about rights and personhood, we leave the realm of science for that of philosophy and ethics. History is ripe with examples of real biological human beings whose societies arbitrarily decided they didn’t qualify as equals, on account of criteria deemed morally relevant. At one point (and still, in many ways, today), it was skin color, gender, and ethnic background. Now, we can add to that list consciousness, sentience, and viability. We haven’t evolved so fast in 50 years as to be immune from tribalistic us vs. them thinking. If science defines a fetus as a biological member of our species, is it possible that our society is just as wrong in denying them personhood?

What happens when both a woman and her developing fetus are regarded as human beings entitled to personhood and bodily rights? Any way you cut it, their rights are always going to conflict (at least until womb transfers become a reality). So what’s the reasonable response? It could start by treating both parties at conflict as if they were equal human beings.

You get the idea. If she repeats that the conceptus becomes fully human at the instant of fertilization, and that science says so, over and over, we surely must be persuaded that she’s right, and we have to concede that she’s making an entirely secular argument, because SCIENCE. Unfortunately for her, she’s not actually using SCIENCE, but has mistaken BULLSHIT for science.

Let me tell you what science actually says about this subject.

Science has determined that development is a process of epigenesis; that is, that it involves a progressive unfolding and emergence of new attributes, not present at conception, that manifest gradually by interactions within the field of developing cells and with the external environment. The conceptus is not equal to the adult. It is not a preformed human requiring only time and growth to adulthood; developmental biologists are entirely aware of the distinction between proliferation and growth, and differentiation. So science actually says the opposite of what Kruszelnicki claims. It says that the fetus is distinct from the adult.

Of course, science also has to concede that because there is a continuum of transformation from conception to adulthood, it can’t draw an arbitrary line and say that at Time Point X, the fetus has acquired enough of the properties of the adult form that it should be now regarded as having all the rights of a member of society. That’s a matter for law and convention. But we already implicitly recognize that there is a pattern of change over time; children do not have all the same privileges as adults. Third trimester fetuses have fewer still. First trimester embryos? Even less. We all understand without even thinking about it that there is a progressive pattern to human development.

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?

She doesn’t say. She can’t say. She’s not applying a scientific test, but a traditional and colloquial one, which she’s then claiming by implication as synonymous with an unstated scientific definition. That’s dishonest and more than a little annoying.

Reading between the lines on her horrible little website, I’m guessing that she’s using a trivial and excessively reductive definition of human: it’s human by descent. The cells come from the division of human cells, so it is by definition not a monkey or a llama or a beetle cell, it’s a human cell.

Of course, that’s not enough: by that definition, sperm and eggs would be fully human, and women would be committing murder every time they menstruate, and men would be committing genocide every time they ejaculate. So she has a patch to work around that:

There is no such species as “sperm” or “ovum”. Sperm and ovum are not distinct unique organisms. They are in fact complex specialized cells belonging to the larger organism, namely the male and female from which they came. In other words, they are, like skin cells and blood cells, alive and bearing human DNA but nonetheless parts of another human being, even when mobile like the sperm.

There is no such species as “man” or “woman” either; we can always find some characteristic of an individual to distinguish them from a species (well hey, just the fact that they are an individual is enough). Her waffling about the status of sperm and ovum is ridiculous; I can give you species definitions that would recognize haploid gametes as fully human. If your restriction is simply that one is a complex, specialized cell belonging to the larger organism, well gosh, the zygote fits that, too! A fertilized egg is not a generic human cell: it is incredibly specialized and complex.

I can’t help but notice that multicellularity isn’t part of her definition of “human”. Nor does it include any craniate characters, like having a notochord or a brain or branchial arches. There are a lot of scientific definitions of our species that the zygote fails!

If we’re going to emphasize the “not part of a human being” aspect of her fuzzy definition, then we have another problem. If you pooped this morning, that turd contained shed human epithelial cells, now swimming free. I could actually say, with full scientific accuracy, that that was a human turd. Why aren’t you giving it full legal protection?

She has an escape clause for that, too.

Sperm and ovum lose their individual identity and their function as sperm and ovum once they have merged. Instead of being parts carrying 23 chromosomes from two different human beings, the unification and merging of their chromosome pairs has now created a new whole with a new set of chromosomes and a cellular structure that now contains the inherent capacity to grow and develop itself through all stages of human development. This of course is something that neither sperm nor ovum parts had the inherent capacity to do on their own. It’s something that only whole human beings can do.

Oh. So here’s her full definition of a fully human being: it is a totipotent cell with the capacity to develop into a human being. Alas, her last sentence is wrong. Whole human beings cannot do that. It means I am not human, only a few small bits of me can aspire (in vain! I’m done with that) to someday fuse with another haploid cell and briefly become fully human, in the few days of happy cleavage before their cells become committed to specialized fates, which then are not fully human.

The only logical scientific conclusion one can make from Kruszelnicki’s hopeless definition is that blastocysts are fully human, but people are not.

Which actually doesn’t surprise me at all, and fits quite well with what I hear from the fetus-worshippers.

As I said before, there certainly are secular arguments for all kinds of nonsense — “secular” is not a synonym for “good”. We have to do more than simply accept arguments because they don’t mention gods, we also have to apply logical, reasonable philosophical and scientific filters to those secular arguments. The one obvious conclusion from any examination of these so-called “pro-life” arguments is that they are sloppy and dishonest, and not deserving of recognition by reasonable secular people.

Being atheist is not enough. One of the implications of an absence of gods is that revelation is invalid, and that we have to rely on reason and evidence to draw conclusions…and further, I would add, that we have to define values that we consistently and rationally apply, and we have to assess whether our methods appropriately serve those values. I choose to value the equality of a community of living, fully-born human beings, and when irrational superstitious attachment to status of a blastocyst compromises the autonomy and worth of members of that community, I choose to reject that belief. It helps quite a bit, though, that the “pro-life” position is so incoherent and anti-scientific.


Another take: even if you accept Kruszelnicki’s premise that a conceptus is “fully human” (I don’t), her argument doesn’t work and was dismantled over 40 years ago.

395 comments

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  1. 1
    SallyStrange

    As I wrote over at Patheos:

    I can’t wait for the continuation in this Mehta-hosted series of “Lousy Secular Arguments for Anti-Humanist Positions.”

    Next week, the godless argument for white supremacy.

    After that, how to justify slavery without relying on Leviticus.

    Then we can talk about secular reasons to deny women the right to vote.

    Finally. Freeze peach will really come to the atheist movement. Thanks Hemant!

  2. 2
    PZ Myers

    I should have also mentioned that she’s fond of the argument from authority: she very much likes to claim that Hitchens also favored giving more rights to embryos. As if Hitchens was never ever wrong about anything.

    I can think of a few things.

  3. 3
    Reginald Selkirk

    If the fetus is not a human being with his/her own bodily rights, it’s true that infringing on a woman’s body by placing restrictions on her medical options is always a gross injustice and a violation.

    And if a fetus is a human being, it is still true that a woman has a right to bodily autonomy.

    On the other hand, if we are talking about two human beings who should each be entitled to their own bodily rights, in the unique situation that is pregnancy, we aren’t justified in following the route of might-makes-right simply because we can.

    Characterizing the argument of a right to bodily autonomy as “might makes right” – Wowza.

  4. 4
    Kevin Alexander

    She forgot to mention that humans have penises so if you don’t have one you’re not human.

  5. 5
    Xanthë, Amy of my threads

    The rate for spontaneous abortion of non-viable embryos is another measure that giving rights to a blastocyte just because it happens to be a human cell is simply not sensible on moral or scientific grounds.

  6. 6
    Dunc

    Wait a minute… She’s claiming that a blastocyst has “the inherent capacity to grow and develop itself through all stages of human development”? Well, that simplifies the matter a great deal… Just evict it, and let it get on with development all by itself. Problem solved.

  7. 7
    johnrockoford

    If pregnancy is just two persons sharing space and resources, then one is clearly trespassing since both space and resources belong entirely to the one person that’s providing them. The other is an uninvited trespasser.

    It seems to me that the conservatives who argue for fetal personhood — and are the same ones who push for freedom as principally property rights and pass repugnant laws like Stand your Ground — should appreciate that abortion is nothing more than the eviction of a trespasser. Surely, deadly force in this case if more than justified.

    Does anyone know where Kruszelnicki stands on property and gun rights?

  8. 8
    csrster

    Weirdly the “Stand your Ground” argument is, more or less, the rabbinic justification for abortion in cases where the mother is at physical risk. The foetus is given the same legal status as an attacker, and one is therefore allowed to kill it in self-defense.

  9. 9
    rq

    become a new substance that is not the mother and not the father but a new body altogether

    Yah, I’d have to agree – sounds very catholic, indeed. The trinity, anyone??

    the inherent capacity to grow and develop itself

    Well, if it’s so capable of doing so all by its lonesome, why doesn’t it? Why does it need a person with a uterus at all?? Aha…
    (Though I suppose to some, once that first lump of cells is in there, the person part around it disappears…)

  10. 10
    PZ Myers

    I’m also getting a little worried for poor Hemant.

    I’m one guy plugging away — you guys drive all my co-bloggers away, screaming — and I do OK. Hemant has a constant stream of guest bloggers and co-bloggers and whatever, and he’s still so desperate for content that he picks up dreck like Kruszelnicki’s.

    Maybe we ought to have a fundraiser for him, before he sinks so low as to start tapping writers from the slymepit.

  11. 11
    Sagar Keer

    She reminds me of S.E. Cupp
    Wouldn’t be able to tell her apart from wingnuts until I heard “I’m an atheist! I’m an atheist!”

  12. 12
    rq

    Atheists can be wingnuts too!!!

  13. 13
    Sagar Keer

    @rq Agreed! I meant the Bible-thumping kind

  14. 14
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Is there anybody on Pathos safe Libby Anne and maybe Hank Fox with a shred of decency?

    As for Ms Kruszelnicki: She should strive to outlaw sex between fertile couples and fight for mandatory sterilization. Because most fertilized eggs fail to implant all by themselves (no nasty killer contraception needed), of those that do about 20% spontaneously abort again and then there are late miscarriages and stillbirths. It is clearly immoral to let so many innocent children die a horrible death just so that a few can exist.

    Oh, and no, she’s not calling for equal rights, she’s calling for special rights.

  15. 15
    xaverius

    What if she defined a human being as anything that is or arises from a a totipotent cell ? That’s what I think she meant.

  16. 16
    Bronze Dog

    It’s absurd definitions of “human” like this that makes me preemptively weep for the rights of sapient AIs. Or any non-human sapients we may someday produce/encounter. It’s not the DNA, the development procedure, and such that makes us value human beings. It’s about our intelligence, consciousness, emotions, thoughts, individuality, and so forth. Those features may be fuzzy and complicated to define, but they clearly matter to most of us far more than taxonomy, heredity, or whatever.

    Zygotes lack those features, and without involving time travel, their potential future selves don’t exist to experience human suffering from having rights violated. Until that potential human becomes an actual human, we’re talking about an idea. Anti-abortion proponents are essentially claiming a specific hypothetical future human who might one day feel a certain way has rights that override the rights of an actual, thinking, feeling human who can be verified to exist right here and now.

  17. 17
    Parse

    Johnrockoford @ 7:
    An uninvited trespasser? Butbutbut, by having sex, she invited the baby in! Even if she was using birth control methods and they failed!
    I’m sure if somebody broke through the wall of her house, she wouldn’t consider them a trespasser at all! And I’ve never heard of people calling the police to remove people from places – they have an invite, and every right to be there, no matter how much trouble they cause!
    Next time I go to a hotel, I’ll only pay for one night, and stay for nine months, because they let me in! How dare they decide they just don’t want me there and kick me out!

  18. 18
    Sastra

    “Potential” or “Capacity” is not an actual trait that anything has. A person in a coma is conceded to be a member of the human species — but we remove life support when they are “brain dead” because there is no person. If we used the same measurement for pulling the cord on fetuses which we use when pulling the plug at the other end of life, Kruszelnicki’s dilemma resolves itself.

  19. 19
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    I should have also mentioned that she’s fond of the argument from authority

    Well then she should fit in just fine with the current atheist movement, amiright? In fact, I think I just saw our “leaders” shove some people into traffic in their haste to recruit her!

  20. 20
    loopyj

    Let’s grant it all: Fetuses are fully human persons who have all the rights of legal and moral personhood. And it still makes no freakin’ difference to whether abortion is permissible, because no person has the legal or moral right to live inside another person’s body, and no person should be compelled to allow another person to live inside their body. The privilege of living inside (and off of) another person’s body requires that person’s ongoing consent.

  21. 21
    PZ Myers

    What if she defined a human being as anything that is or arises from a a totipotent cell ? That’s what I think she meant.

    The zygote is a full human being because I’ve defined it as a full human being, you mean?

    I leave it as an exercise for the logicians to see the flaw in that.

  22. 22
    PZ Myers

    Let’s grant it all: Fetuses are fully human persons who have all the rights of legal and moral personhood.

    No.

  23. 23
    rq

    Parse @17
    Make sure to cause some damage while you’re there – a broken window, some clogged pipes, etc. After all, it’s your place now!

  24. 24
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    As someone wondered on Mehta’s blog, I too wonder when he’ll be allowing a guest post from an anti-gay atheist? Or a racist atheist? Or a pro-slavery atheist? Or an anti-gay marriage atheist? Or a transphobic atheist?

    What makes him think it’s okay to allow a guest post by an anti-choice misogynist when I suspect that he’s never give his platform up to guest posts about any of those other things? What makes Mehta think that abortion is reasonably up for debate?

    Does he believe that women aren’t fully capable of making their own decisions? That they shouldn’t have full bodily autonomy? Is there something about women making a choice to abort a pregnancy that allows him to think there’s some room for debate about abortion?

    What is it?

    Because if he won’t allow a post from some malignantly bigoted atheist with an argument as to why trans* people should be treated as, if not forced to be, the sex/gender with which they were born, I fail to see how it was considered appropriate to invite a guest to post an insipid, manifestly misogynistic defence of forced birth!

    Fuck you, Mehta.

  25. 25
    Amphiox

    What if she defined a human being as anything that is or arises from a a totipotent cell ? That’s what I think she meant.

    Well, she could do so, but let’s not forget that the abortion question (and pretty everything else in regards to human rights) is based on TWO premises.

    They are:

    1. This is the definition of what a human is.

    2. All humans, ie all beings satisfying the criteria for definition 1, are entitled to this set of rights.

    But 2 is dependent on 1. It is a tenable position ONLY if the criteria used to define human in 1 are criteria that make it reasonable to grant the rights referred to in 2.

    So if you define a human as a totipotent cell, you render the argument that all humans deserve certain rights much weaker if not non-sensical. You furthermore degrade the relative value of a lot of real humans when you define things so that they are equal in value to a totipotent cell.

  26. 26
    atheistblog

    These Pro-life, anti abortion ideas or thinking or whatever you call it, it has nothing to do with neither ethics nor reasoning. It is just like frigging gun culture, just because abortion was brought into the society by the church culture or christian culture, people cling on to it.
    Abortion is normal, it prevailed in human society through out the entire course of history, and there never rose any ethical paradoxes.
    Only where Christianity is a major cultural force, that’s where only this anti abortion is prevalent. All civilized societies never consider abortion as unethical. There is no suffering nor consciousness involved here. Just like gun culture, just because its been prevailed in the society, people just make up stuff and make false reasoning to justify those BS.
    Don’t call yourself atheist or scientist then justify christian false propaganda called pro-life / anti abortion.
    I am just sick and tired of this christian culture.

  27. 27
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Thomathy

    What makes Mehta think that abortion is reasonably up for debate?

    Probably the same that makes David Silverman think that pandering to conservatives is more important than women: sexism.

  28. 28
    Gregory in Seattle

    I will say it: I oppose abortion. BUT….

    I am male, and will never have to make such a decision. And as a gay man, it is quite unlikely that I will ever be a party to such a decision. I fail to see why my opinion should set public policy. I would be very irate if complete strangers tried to dictate my health care decisions, and so I have no right dictating the health care decisions of complete strangers.

    Aside from which, the genie is out of the bottle and there is no way it’s going back gracefully. Three generations of women have had (in theory, at least) access to safe abortions, guaranteed (in theory, at least) as a basic human right. It is far too late to recriminalize it, and doing so doesn’t make any difference except to bring back the back alley chop-shops and do-it-yourself attempts that cause far more harm than a legal abortion possibly could. I’ve heard that this is already happening in a number of states because of repressive laws. This will NOT end well for anyone.

    The resources being poured into this pointless effort to recriminalize abortion would be much better spent reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies. Subsidize various methods of birth control, insure that all such methods are easily available, and educate everyone young and old on their proper use and why it matters. And just as importantly, expand programs like WIC and SNAP, and programs that help to subsidize pre-natal and pediatric medical care. We should be working to make every pregnancy a wanted pregnancy, and a world where every child will have the chance to grow up healthy.

    THAT is the way to reduce the number of abortions in this country.

  29. 29
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    Giliell, that test wasn’t for you!

  30. 30
    PZ Myers

    We should be working to make every pregnancy a wanted pregnancy

    Can’t be done. I agree that increasing availability of and education about contraception reduces the frequency of abortions, but accidents will happen, and not wanting to be pregnant is a valid reason for an abortion. One can also want to be pregnant, and then change one’s mind…and that too is a perfectly valid reason to get an abortion.

  31. 31
    dcase1500

    Your original question ask can an atheist be pro life..well why does GOD have to come in to a question such as this.
    I , in my own humble opinion believe we should respect life in general and we should be responsible for our own actions and try to do no harm..so, conception prevention is better than death afterwards…ok ok not death because it isn’t alive…still how about preventing cancer instead of trying to treat it.

    Also, if a women gets to choose whether “my Children” are born, should I be liable for their upbringing.
    Don’t I have a right to have the baby, zygote, cellunion evicted, since I sort of started it, with mutual cooperation?

  32. 32
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    dcase1500, ‘the fuck are you on about?

  33. 33
    Becca Stareyes

    PZ@ 22

    I assume that loopyj@ 20 is saying ‘even assuming the premise ‘fetuses are human’, that still doesn’t make the case for anti-abortion laws or ethics without showing they have more right to the ‘host’ body than its owner’. In other words, not only does Kruszelnicki have to demonstrate humanity, she also has to make a case why one’s right trumps another’s, especially when in similar cases, the opposite is true.

    If I don’t donate blood, it’s generally assumed that as a human adult, I have weighed the harm to me versus benefit to others to be too unfavorable, and that I generally have the right to say what my blood and organs and various body bits are used for, even once I cease to exist*, that outweighs even my own genetic family’s desire or need to use them. Hell, even in cases where people think I’m being selfish about it, it’s not illegal for me to do so.

    * If I make my wishes clear beforehand, since ‘ceasing to exist’ makes it hard to make decisions known.

  34. 34
    sqlrob

    @Thomathy, Gay Where it Counts, #32

    dcase1500, ‘the fuck are you on about?

    I think that post was brought to you by the letters “M’, “R”, and “A”

  35. 35
    Gregory in Seattle

    @PZ Myers #30 –

    I agree that increasing availability of and education about contraception reduces the frequency of abortions, but accidents will happen, and not wanting to be pregnant is a valid reason for an abortion. One can also want to be pregnant, and then change one’s mind…and that too is a perfectly valid reason to get an abortion.

    Which are among the reasons why I oppose recriminalization. Ideally, every pregnancy is a wanted pregnancy, and I believe firmly that we, as a society, should be working towards that goal. I also realize that we live in a world that falls far short of any ideal.

    There are many reasons to keep abortion legal. The lack of contraception, ignorance on how to use it correctly, and the all too real problems caused by a lack of food, safe housing and basic medical care should not be among those reasons. If we address these issues, the number of abortions will decrease.

  36. 36
    PZ Myers

    #31, dcase1500:

    So you don’t like abortion, but you want the right to force women to have them?

  37. 37
    Amphiox

    I , in my own humble opinion believe we should respect life in general and we should be responsible for our own actions and try to do no harm..so, conception prevention is better than death afterwards…ok ok not death because it isn’t alive…still how about preventing cancer instead of trying to treat it.

    Are you aware of a conception prevention method that is 100% perfect?
    Do you think that the medical profession should focus exclusively on cancer prevention and devote NO resources to cancer treatment?

    It ain’t a zero-sum game, you know.

    Also, if a women gets to choose whether “my Children” are born, should I be liable for their upbringing.

    Liability for upbringing does not involve bodily autonomy, and so is judged on a separate and different metric.

    Don’t I have a right to have the baby, zygote, cellunion evicted, since I sort of started it, with mutual cooperation?

    If it was inside your body, you have the right to evict it. If it is inside someone else’s body, you have no right to do anything to it.

    It isn’t about “who started it”, it is about whose body is affected by what we choose to do.

  38. 38
    cswella

    Don’t I have a right to have the baby, zygote, cellunion evicted, since I sort of started it, with mutual cooperation?

    Do you have the right to tell your wife that she can/can’t transfuse blood to your 4 year old? Biology is not fair sometimes, deal with it.

    Also, if a women gets to choose whether “my Children” are born, should I be liable for their upbringing.

    Well, until the system is to the point where a single mother wouldn’t need financial support from the state AND a “mutually cooperative partner”, I’d say child support is a necessary band-aid.

  39. 39
    Nick Gotts

    They cease to exist individually and become a new substance – Kristine Kruszelnicki [emphasis added]

    This Thomist use of “substance” tells you exactly where she’s coming from: I reckon she’s a Catholic, lying for Jesus and the baybeez; at best, she is still captive to the essentialist drivel of Catholic philosophy.

  40. 40
    dcase1500

    did i MISS something, can we not have a difference of opinion without

    ‘the fuck are you on about?
    logic..what you do is you business as long as your action causes no harm to others..so fucking yourself is ok, don’t fuck me.
    see simple logic.

  41. 41
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    Also, if a women gets to choose whether “my Children” are born, should I be liable for their upbringing.

    Yes. Your parental duty is to the child. The mother’s choice to bear it is irrelevant. (And she has the exact same liability as you at the point of birth, by the way).

    Don’t I have a right to have the baby, zygote, cellunion evicted, since I sort of started it, with mutual cooperation?

    No. You are not the owner of every woman you have sex with. Her body is her own and can only be used (whether for sex or gestation) with her consent.

  42. 42
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    PZ

    So you don’t like abortion, but you want the right to force women to have them?

    I think that dcase is probably talking about the “financial abortion”, which some dudes think should be avaiable to them when women they fucked make reproductive choices they don’t like, because having to pay child support is the exact same thing as having to share your body with somebody else.

    I wished that our societies would simply switch to tax financed general child support, because children (you know, actual independent beings with minds, feelings etc) don’t deserve to depend on such assholes.
    I also wished that women would stop fucking these guys.

  43. 43
    WithinThisMind

    Once again, the forced-birthers prove that they are pro-rape and slavery.

    As I said previously, if you believe women are actually people, there is no ‘pro-life’ argument that will convince you.

  44. 44
    ivyshoots

    I recommend the book When Abortion Was a Crime, by Leslie J. Reagan, for the history of how abortion in the US was criminalized, beginning in the mid-19th century. People don’t generally realize that abortion was perfectly legal and considered a woman’s choice before that.

  45. 45
    sqlrob

    @dcase1500, #40

    what you do is you business as long as your action causes no harm to others.

    What you proposed in your original does demonstrable harm to women. So you disagree with yourself?

  46. 46
    WithinThisMind

    Mehta’s blog has been doing a lot of fucked up shit recently. Never did get an answer as to why I was banned and a month of my posts deleted when the person who threatened to hook me up to a car battery got to stay and play.

  47. 47
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    What is so damned hard for MRA types to understand about: 1)”Your rights end at your nose.”

    As to the whether you are responsible for lives you bring into the world–there’s the adage: 2)You are responsible for your actions and the messes you make.

    Do you get a decision in whether to terminate? Nope. See rule #1).

    If you don’t understand this, you should have flunked kindergarten.

  48. 48
    dcase1500

    PZ Myers, thanks for the blog site for this exchange of Ideas, I was trying to play both sides wasn’t I.

    Amphiox, you are right, child welfare is separate from gestation rights, perhaps another blog for that argument.

    wow, you all have really thought this through. Hopefully I never have to make the choice that some women must make with pregnancy.
    I really like seeing how different we all think about the same issue. Thank goodness (nature) we are all individuals.

  49. 49
    mhph

    The saddest part is that she’s denying the value of true, a priori, philosophical reasoning, and pretending that the role that it has is properly taken up by science (Scientism!).

    However, science can tell us who among us belongs to the human species.

    Look, Science is not appropriate here. ‘Who’ and ‘among us’ are clearly terms that can only apply to not just members of the human species but full moral persons to boot. Lizards and rocks are not ‘who among us’ in moral discussions, even ones about the extent to which lizards and rocks have moral status or value. Rocks and individual cells, at the very least, and not ‘who among us’. They are ‘what in the general area’.

    The discipline that can tell us which humans belong to the human species is formal logic, not biology.

  50. 50
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    that all discussion has to grant the fetus every privilege we do the woman.

    And we DON’T grant women the “right” to use another living person’s body to keep themselves alive without that person’s consent, so the claim still fails, and I don’t think we should ever fail to make this point. :/

  51. 51
    Nick Gotts

    can we not have a difference of opinion without

    ‘the fuck are you on about? – dcase1500

    It depends what the difference of opinion is about. If your “opinion”is that you have rights over another person’s body, as #31 indicates, then no, we can’t.

  52. 52
    dcase1500

    sorry I’m so stupid, what does MRA mean.

  53. 53
    Crimson Clupeidae

    Thomathy, dcase1500 appears to be an MRA. I will be gladly shown to be wrong.

    As to the post on FA, if ya’ll haven’t, you should read this post at Almost Daimonds.

  54. 54
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Giliell #14
    Slacktivist seems a decent sort, AFAIK he’s still on Patheos.

    #27

    Probably the same that makes David Silverman think that pandering to conservatives is more important than women: sexism.

    I’m inclined from his other remarks to think that he feels pandering to conservatives is important because he considers them his compatriots. The sexism is part and parcel of that, of course.

    dcase1500
    You’ve lost before you start. You’ve got nothing. Just stop.

  55. 55
    nrdo

    I can’t help but think that this lady makes many of the same philosophical blunders that Sam Harris does, in a different context. A secular humanist system of ethics requires science to verify facts, but it’s a massive corruption of science to say that it addresses concepts like personhood. It’s a job for philosophy and as far as I’m aware, there are no valid philosophical arguments supporting the idea that a fetus is a person.

  56. 56
    Amphiox

    can we not have a difference of opinion without

    ‘the fuck are you on about?

    That depends entirely on whether or not the opinion expressed is one where the response ‘the fuck are you on about?’ is an appropriate one.

    Just because a response may have some aspect of emotion in its tone does not make it inappropriate to express.

    And never assume that expressing “an opinion” about someone else’s bodily autonomy, particularly if it is in a realm of endeavour where you yourself will never have to personally experience, is a benign, non-threatening, non-aggressive act.

  57. 57
    RickR

    Is there anybody on Pathos save Libby Anne and maybe Hank Fox with a shred of decency?

    I’ll offer up Slacktivist (Fred Clarke’s blog).

    (Though he really really needs to assign moderator powers to one or two of his regular commenters the way PZ did, and for the same reason- Fred is sometimes way too busy to boot obvious, malignant trolls. Add to that his general hands-off approach to the comment threads, and things can get ugly fast.)

  58. 58
    gog

    @Giliell #42

    I wished that our societies would simply switch to tax financed general child support

    I think Sweden and (to a lesser extent) Norway do this.

  59. 59
    moarscienceplz

    her argument doesn’t work and was dismantled over 40 years ago

    The trouble with using J. J. Thompson’s violinist argument is that it can also be used as an argument against taxing billionaires to pay for food stamps.

    Beyond PZ’s point that embryos cannot be considered fully human, which I totally endorse, I find Kruszelnicki’s idea that death is a punishment to the fetus to be absurd. If a being doesn’t yet have the neural equipment to be self-aware then death is no punishment.

  60. 60
    vaiyt

    Is there any argument that defines abortion as murder, that doesn’t also define miscarriage/failed implantation as involuntary manslaughter?

  61. 61
    cuervocuero

    While I wouldn’t put it past people to be the abortion argument equivalent of the Discovery Institute to bolster religious arguments against abortion with ‘secular’ concerns that help their numbers and influence, maybe that’s just me referring to “no true atheist”.

    Like many people have said, Atheist doesn’t mean evidence-based stands. Authoritarians and authoritarian followers are a core psychology with many venues to populate.

  62. 62
    Inaji

    become a new substance that is not the mother and not the father but a new body altogether

    :Gently slams head into desk:

    I’ll say again: a mother is a person with a child, not a person with a fetus. I am very tired of the autoassumption of “mommy!” whenever there’s a discussion of a woman who is pregnant. It’s a way of immediately erasing individuality, along with giving the impression that every single woman who gets pregnant is going to be jumping with joy, anticipating parenthood.

    We’re still very stuck with the two identities of woman who commit the egregious sin of having PiV sex: mommy or slut.

  63. 63
    Marcus Ranum

    the conceptus becomes fully human at the instant of fertilization

    What, like it has a “soul”???

  64. 64
    RickR

    @54 Dalillama, Schmott Guy-

    D’oh!!

  65. 65
    gog

    @vaiyt #60

    Miscarriage and failed implantation are acts of God/nature/providence. The only way it could be possible to define at as involuntary manslaughter is if you could connect it to negligence on the part of the host.

    Naturally, given the level of misogyny that anti-choice people seem to harbor, I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried…

  66. 66
    gog

    @Marcus #63

    There’s an SMBC for that

  67. 67
    sqlrob

    @Marcus Ranum, #63

    the conceptus becomes fully human at the instant of fertilization

    What, like it has a “soul”???

    And even further, instant? Doesn’t it take a little while?

  68. 68
    Leo Buzalsky

    She’s doing it again. She’s claiming that science justifies her position.

    Gonna have to disagree slightly here. It seems to me what she may be trying to do is to claim that her morality comes from another source, but then science informs her as to where to apply that morality.

    In other words, she could get the moral position, say, that no human should be enslaved, from somewhere else. But then she turns to science to tell her who is and who is not a human.

    That said, I don’t really buy it. It’s hard to buy it when we so often see pseudoscience used to justify positions. I’ve seen similar crap from homophobes. Like the excuse that two guys shouldn’t be allowed to marry because such a couple wouldn’t be able to reproduce. It’s made to look like they are saying couples who can’t reproduce can’t marry and that it’s just science that’s telling them who can and can’t reproduce…but we know better.

  69. 69
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Gog

    Miscarriage and failed implantation are acts of God/nature/providence. The only way it could be possible to define at as involuntary manslaughter is if you could connect it to negligence on the part of the host.

    Well, I do have a thyroid condition which means that there is an increased risk of miscarriage, therefore me having sex could be seen as reckless behaviour…

  70. 70
    Pierce R. Butler

    I’m told that philosophers wrestled for generations over the question of “being” and “becoming” before abandoning the issue in exhaustion. Just imagine the gratitude they must all feel at having the hyperchristians resolve for them that there simply is no such thing as “becoming”!

  71. 71
    gog

    @Giliell #69

    If we outlaw thyroid conditions, only outlaws will have thyroid conditions.

  72. 72
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    moarscienceplz

    The trouble with using J. J. Thompson’s violinist argument is that it can also be used as an argument against taxing billionaires to pay for food stamps.

    No, it can’t. Money =/= body, being less obscenely wealthy =/= dying, and only a disingenuous tool would pretend for a moment that they are.

  73. 73
    Johnny Vector

    K. K. Gumby:

    History is ripe with examples of real biological human beings whose societies arbitrarily decided they didn’t qualify as equals, on account of criteria deemed morally relevant. At one point (and still, in many ways, today), it was skin color, gender, and ethnic background. Now, we can add to that list consciousness, sentience, and viability.

    (emphasis mine)

    Wait, what? Anything with human DNA is now considered a person with full human rights, regardless of consciousness, sentience, and viability? Quick, arrest me for setting fire to my father-in-law. Ran him right through a crematorium, we did. He was not conscious, sentient, or viable, but apparently that no longer matters. He looked very much the same as he did a week before, maybe a bit more pallid and stiff, but by this definition of human, he certainly qualifies.

    Better dig up all those humans in the cemetery. They’re being oppressed.

  74. 74
    mhph

    > moarscienceplz

    The trouble with using J. J. Thompson’s violinist argument is that it can also be used as an argument against taxing billionaires to pay for food stamps.

    Um… no. The right to bodily autonomy does not apply to taxation. And Thomson is really pretty clear about the fact that the relevant right of the mother is the right ‘to decide what shall happen in and to her body’. Unless the taxation of the rich involved involves confiscation of limbs or something this right is completely unaffected. You might be thinking about the right to private property, but these two things are distinct. (They are distinct even if one is derived from the other, as per Locke.) And Thomson’s argument most certainly does not rely on the right to own private property.

    Even if it was the same, though, the right to private property does not exempt one from taxation, no matter what silly libertarian arguments get levied against that. If there is a moral right involved it is a very abstract one, like the right to due process, which does not determine absolutely any particular set of rules regarding what property means – and it does mean different things in different countries. The right of a society in which one is cooperating and the laws of which are actively protecting one to require a contribution to the continued maintenance of that society is not a violation of one’s right to own things, no matter how much very wealthy people would like to get those things for free or be subsidized by people less benefited by that society.

  75. 75
    Amphiox

    History is ripe with examples of real biological human beings whose societies arbitrarily decided they didn’t qualify as equals, on account of criteria deemed morally relevant. At one point (and still, in many ways, today), it was skin color, gender, and ethnic background. Now, we can add to that list consciousness, sentience, and viability.

    Well geez, then, why should we have ANY criteria at all? Why stop at the species delineation? It’s an arbitrary line anyways. Science uses more than 150 different species definitions after all. Why not include bananas? They share FIFTY PERCENT genetic similarity with us! That’s HALF, folks. HALF! And they’re actually viable, too!

  76. 76
    Jadehawk

    The trouble with using J. J. Thompson’s violinist argument is that it can also be used as an argument against taxing billionaires to pay for food stamps.

    unless anyone is carving these taxes directly out of the flesh of those billionaires, no, no it can’t.

    So. Fucking. Sick. Of assholes who think their wallet should have the same rights as me.

  77. 77
    chip

    #31, dcase1500:

    If you don’t want to pay for the potential consequences of having sex, then obviously you shouldn’t have sex. I’m sure I’ve heard that argument used somewhere before….

  78. 78
    Amphiox

    Hell, science tells us that all life is linked by common descent. Go back from any individual human, back to when they were a zygote, back to the two cells that made up the zygote, back to when each of those two cells were themselves a zygote, all the way back to LUCA.

    Then go forward, cell by cell, generation by generation, all the way to the E. coli in your gut. It is an UNBROKEN string of living cells, living cell to living cell. At no point in this string, at no point in space or time is there ever a moment when the string was not alive.

    So clearly science tells us that bacteria must be human too! We must now immediately prohibit the wiping of asses, to preserve the human dignity and bodily autonomy of intestinal flora.

  79. 79
    lumen

    PZ, Thank you for pointing out the idiotic paragraph she wrote about Hitchens.

    Hitchens was a great speaker and fantastic writer, but he was far from perfect, and had more than a few moments where he made statements that were completely idiotic (sometimes funny and amusing but no less wrong). I’ve been growing increasingly worried about the wide eyed, credulous “Hitchens Worship” that has caught on.

    We don’t need blind hero worship in the secular movement. When she referred to him as our “beloved Hitchens” I rolled my eyes and almost stopped reading.

    I don’t give a crap if Hitchens was pro-life, being dead he’s no longer entitled to an opinion on the matter. More importantly he’s not the one writing a piece about humanism and abortion. I felt like she should have had some damned self respect for her own intellect and present HER argument for her beliefs, rather than pull this bizarre argument from authority into the picture.

  80. 80
    chris61

    I can see where a developmental biologist would see big differences between a fetus and an adult but a geneticist, maybe not so much.

  81. 81
    rq

    Johnny Vector @73
    Thanks. I nearly died laughing at that comment, and was this close to being among the oppressed. :)

  82. 82
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)
    Is there anybody on Pathos save Libby Anne and maybe Hank Fox with a shred of decency?

    I’ll offer up Slacktivist (Fred Clarke’s blog).

    Adam Lee is usually pretty good.

  83. 83
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    The trouble with using J. J. Thompson’s violinist argument is that it can also be used as an argument against taxing billionaires to pay for food stamps.

    Only if you’re too fucking stupid to differentiate between “your assets in terms of an arbitrary, fiat-valued medium of exchange which, to the extent they aren’t simply made up Just Because, you generated using the machinery of society and the efforts of others” and “your body.”

    Are you that fucking stupid?

  84. 84
    rpjohnston

    Pasting my comment from that site.

    If the fetus is not a human being with his/her own bodily rights…if we are talking about two human beings who should each be entitled to their own bodily rights, in the unique situation that is pregnancy,

    And why should pregnancy be considered “unique”? If everyone has bodily rights, and that includes the right to use ANOTHER’S body (as you are arguing), then why shouldn’t one adult be allowed to harvest another adults kidney if they want it? I doubt that anyone argues that fetuses do not have bodily rights – as you are strawmanning with – but as always, those rights end where another’s begins. “Might makes right” is BS. This means that a fetus has no more claim to a woman’s uterus than a 40 year old has to her kidney.

    The self-awareness stuff is malarkey. Discussing it implies a concession that a woman loses control of her body at some point. This is BS. A woman has complete autonomy.

    human beings should be granted the common right to continue their lives as human persons, regardless of their age, stage, gender, sexual orientation, race, or physical form and abilities [as long as they do not require the nonconsensual use of another's body].

    You forgot a bit there. The RELEVANT bit. You purposely made it sound like a fetus exists independently, erasing the woman. How slimy.

    “Human society has determined that parents have an obligation to nourish and protect their dependent offspring.” Not legally, no. This is why child care services and adoption exist. A woman who is unable to care for her BORN child can GIVE IT AWAY. This argument is BS.

    Your arguments consist of erasing the woman, pretending the fetus is autonomous, and abrogating her rights when you do acknowledge she exists. It’s really simple: No person, under any circumstances, has claim to the use of another’s body. No person, under any circumstances, is required to provide their body for another’s use.

    I can go on about equivocating a clump of cells with actual, existing people, but that’s really beside the point and wasn’t addressed in anything you said.

  85. 85
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I can see where a developmental biologist would see big differences between a fetus and an adult but a geneticist, maybe not so much.

    Even a geneticist could see the difference. He can directly see the woman, but not the fetus. It isn’t hard to find real evidence, it just is not what you want with your presuppositions.

  86. 86
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    chris61 #80
    So much wrong with that statement I don’t know where to start. Didn’t you get your ass kicked badly enough on the last thread?

  87. 87
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    She seems very fixated on the idea that science proves that foetuses are humans. Sure it does, for certain definitions of “human”. It proves they are members of the species Homo sapiens sapiens, yeah. But Human =/= Person; not under that definition, anyway.

  88. 88
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    I can see where a developmental biologist would see big differences between a fetus and an adult but a geneticist, maybe not so much

    ROFL :)

  89. 89
    Rey Fox

    I can see where a developmental biologist would see big differences between a fetus and an adult but a geneticist, maybe not so much.

    What did I tell you in the last thread about trying to sound smart?

  90. 90
    Nick Gotts

    I can see where a developmental biologist would see big differences between a fetus and an adult but a geneticist, maybe not so much. – chris61

    What is your evidence that geneticists are that stupid?

  91. 91
    Amphiox

    I can see where a developmental biologist would see big differences between a fetus and an adult but a geneticist, maybe not so much.

    Geneticists are acutely aware that small variations result in BIG differences.

  92. 92
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) @ #83

    “your assets in terms of an arbitrary, fiat-valued medium of exchange which, to the extent they aren’t simply made up Just Because, you generated using the machinery of society and the efforts of others”

    I’m of a mind that there shouldn’t be anything about abortions that could be cause for a discussion (for lack of imagination) anything like the sort we’re having right now. If there is, however, to be a silver lining to having to engage on this ‘issue’, then it’s that a pithy definition for the 1% has been coined.

    There’s something profound about that. It says nothing good about the arguments on the wrong side of this discussion that economics somehow become a point of comparison to women’s bodily autonomy, but it’s certainly profound. I just can’t put my finger on what that is. Something like …they’re this fucking wrong. Where an italicized ‘this’ is a measure from women’s bodily autonomy to economics.

    In any case, I will be stealing that, Azkyroth.

  93. 93
    irisvanderpluym

    vaiyt @ 60, gog @ 65: already happening:

    Hundreds of women around the country are currently imprisoned under the aegis of “best intentions” laws. What this means is that feticide and fetal murder laws can now be used to charge, imprison and penalize pregnant women at the discretion of legislators and law enforcement officials.

  94. 94
    Jason Ballard

    I have always believed that science will put this debate to rest at some point. We are pretty close now on setting a line in the sand by understanding when the capacity for consciousness exists. When that happens the fetus becomes an unborn person. The next step is deciding what rights an unborn person has.

    We currently believe consciousness is centered around the neo-cortex, the neo-cortex forms around 20 weeks. Logic suggests that if consciousness does exists at 21 weeks an abortion after that point must consider the rights of the un-born person if our laws decide this person has rights.

    If/when the day comes where we can tap into or detect consciousness the conversation will be interesting. I do believe that abortion is a very poor form of birth control, however to a point this should always be the pregnant woman’s decision.

  95. 95
    Rey Fox

    Logic suggests that if consciousness does exists at 21 weeks an abortion after that point must consider the rights of the un-born person if our laws decide this person has rights.

    You mean like the right to parasitize an adult human being? No actual alive independent human being has that right.

  96. 96
    Inaji

    I can see where a developmental biologist would see big differences between a fetus and an adult but a geneticist, maybe not so much

    Imagine a room. It’s completely empty except for two chairs. A woman sits in one chair. A fetus is placed on the other chair. In walks a geneticist…

  97. 97
    ButchKitties

    If a blastocyst is a person, then what the hell does that mean for monozygotic twins? Which twin is the original person? If neither is, then where did that original person go? Are they both the original person? Obviously the blastocyst didn’t die, so we can’t say that the original person died. Maybe the original person vanished even though, physically speaking, no part of that original person was lost. Because of reasons.

    Or what about chimeras? Do we let them vote twice? Make them get two drivers’ licenses, one for each set of DNA? Both blastocysts, with their individual and complete sets of DNA, lived and were born, so obviously one chimera is two people per Kruszelnicki’s science.

  98. 98
    jd142

    There’s a very simple refutation to this argument. Hold up an egg. Ask the person if it is a chicken. Hold up an acorn. Is it an oak tree? Now, is an embryo a human being?

    What would someone say if you told them you ate three pureed chickens for breakfast followed by a couple of dozen almond trees. It’s like these people are so far removed from actual living things that they don’t understand the way living things reproduce.

    My mother raised chickens when I was a child. We had roosters and hens, so I know I’ve eaten fertilized eggs in scrambled eggs. No one in their right mind would say I ate pureed chickens. In fact, I’ve seen partially formed chicks from dropped eggs. I once asked my mom what she would do if she cracked open an egg and a partially formed chick fell into the skillet. We stopped having scrambled eggs after that and not long after stopped raising chickens.

  99. 99
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @Jason Ballard

    We currently believe consciousness is centered around the neo-cortex, the neo-cortex forms around 20 weeks.

    Define consciousness, then explain why possession of such a thing grants you rights. Both these questions have to be answered before anything like your hypothetical can happen.

  100. 100
    Amphiox

    We currently believe consciousness is centered around the neo-cortex, the neo-cortex forms around 20 weeks. Logic suggests that if consciousness does exists at 21 weeks an abortion after that point must consider the rights of the un-born person if our laws decide this person has rights.

    “Forming” is not the same as being fully connected. Just having a neo-cortex is not the same as being conscious. Rats and mice have neo-cortices too. Neural connectivity matters.

    And in fact completion of neocortical connectivity does not finish until well past 20 YEARS.

    But that is mute. Viability is the developmental point that is important, not consciousness. Viability is the point where a fetus becomes potentially autonomous.

  101. 101
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    Jason Ballard, fuck you.

    I have always believed that science will put this debate to rest at some point.

    No.

    We are pretty close now on setting a line in the sand by understanding when the capacity for consciousness exists.

    Ugh, what? No.

    When that happens the fetus becomes an unborn person.

    No, it doesn’t.

    The next step is deciding what rights an unborn person has.

    No, it isn’t.

    We currently believe consciousness is centered around the neo-cortex, the neo-cortex forms around 20 weeks.

    So the fuck what if it does? How does that affect the personal decision of a pregnant person to not be pregnant?

    Logic suggests that if consciousness does exists at 21 weeks an abortion after that point must consider the rights of the un-born person if our laws decide this person has rights.

    The fuck it does. Logic demands nothing. It’s a tool. You’re using it incorrectly. Stop breaking logic!

    If/when the day comes where we can tap into or detect consciousness

    Tap into? What does that mean? You’re going to ask a foetus with a just formed neocortex with virtually no brain development and certainly no mind how it feels? Why are you hedging anyhow? You seemed pretty sure a paragraph ago that this science thing can do anything, even answer a moralistic argument by completely sidestepping the actual issue.

    the conversation will be interesting.

    Insipid, actually.

    I do believe that abortion is a very poor form of birth control however to a point this should always be the pregnant woman’s decision.

    The only thing you’ve said that matters at all is that last phrase and that’s where this begins and ends. Neocortex in a completely undeveloped brain or not.

    Fuck, why are people so …ugh!

  102. 102
    Amphiox

    It’s really very simple. The woman’s human right to bodily autonomy gives her the right to decide what goes in and what stays in her uterus, and for how long.

    As for the fetus, the question is simply this: if it is removed from the uterus at this instant, can it survive on its own? Can it become a baby? If yes, then our first option is to try to satisfy the considerations of both with induced birth, terminating the pregnancy, removing the unwanted entity from the woman’s uterus as the woman’s right to bodily autonomy demands, AND preserving the fetus so that it can become a baby and then have the full suite of human rights. If our first option is not available for whatever reason and we are forced to choose, then we choose the woman, because an ACTUAL autonomous human will always be worth more than a POTENTIAL autonomous human.

    And if the fetus cannot survive outside the uterus at that moment, then it is NOT a human person, has NO potential, at that moment, of becoming an autonomous human person, and need be afforded no consideration.

  103. 103
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Jason Ballard @94:

    Logic suggests that if consciousness does exists at 21 weeks an abortion after that point must consider the rights of the un-born person if our laws decide this person has rights.

    So you have decided that 21 weeks into gestation is the moment at which a woman no longer has the rights of an adult human being? EVEN IF we were to accept that a fetus, at 21 weeks, has full human rights, why do the human rights of the woman suddenly end?

  104. 104
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    We are pretty close now on setting a line in the sand by understanding when the capacity for consciousness exists. When that happens the fetus becomes an unborn person. The next step is deciding what rights an unborn person has.

    No. Full persons do not have the right to take over and live in or from someone else’s body. Full stop.

    I do believe that abortion is a very poor form of birth control,

    Who cares that you think that? You don’t even know what you mean, except that you want to express vague discomfort at women’s bodily autonomy. Shut up.

  105. 105
    Inaji

    Jason Ballard:

    Logic suggests that if consciousness does exists at 21 weeks an abortion after that point must consider the rights of the un-born person if our laws decide this person has rights.

    You seem to be yet another person who is utterly unaware that birth is a termination of a pregnancy. You really shouldn’t use the phrase ‘logic suggests’, either, as you fall down on thinking things through. I suggest you read this post: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/03/08/theres-a-secular-argument-for-wearing-underpants-on-your-head-so/comment-page-2/#comment-763008

  106. 106
    chris61

    #96 Inanji

    Walking into a room no doubt there would be no doubt. Cells under a microscope or doing DNA in a test tube and the differences would be less apparent. In any case I wasn’t looking to start an argument, just making a comment that there are at some fields of biology in which the similarities between a fetus and an adult human are more obvious and their differences less so.

  107. 107
    jetboy

    I think the defining thought, for me, at least, is this: The rights and choices of an actual human being cannot be trumped by others acting on behalf of a potential human being, ever. That which exists, and has independent life, is of infinitely greater importance than that which does not exist, or cannot exist in any capacity outside of a host. The arbitrary declaration of a clump of cells as “human” is just that, arbitrary, and as such can be summarily dismissed. I’d like to see this argument made more often, frankly.

  108. 108
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    I am starting to have a real problem with the forced birthers and how they feel they can talk past everyone on the matter of what an abortion is. They don’t get their own definition.

    An abortion ends a pregnancy. I can think of a few names for things that also end pregnancies under a variety of circumstances that aren’t abortions. Some result in the death of that which is aborted and some don’t.

    I don’t think I’m going to stand for anyone trying to frame this argument in terms of killing or death anymore. I don’t have time for it and I don’t have to. Because that’s not what it’s about. It’s about ending a pregnancy.

    And they know that. It makes them liars and worse. And it perfectly frames their collective name: forced birthers. They’re interested in taking away a woman’s right to end a pregnancy. It’s the only way in which to understand why some of them seem to be okay with abortions that result in a pregnancy ending and a baby being born. They interested in that last bit only.

    Fuckers.

  109. 109
    carlie

    drcase1500 – if you’re really interested in exploring the topic, check out the posts for the last few days here. We’ve been having this discussion over several hundred comments. You can read all that your brain can handle. It’s ok to be interested, but please don’t ask us to go over it all again when we just did and it’s right there.

  110. 110
    irisvanderpluym

    Jason Ballard 94 said:

    I do believe that abortion is a very poor form of birth control, however to a point this should always be the pregnant woman’s decision.

    Abortion is an absolutely magnificent form of birth control (particularly when other forms have failed): 14 times safer than childbirth, and virtually 100% effective.

    I want to know, though, at what point, exactly, abortion should not be the pregnant woman’s decision according to Jason Ballard. Actually no. I really don’t want to know that.

  111. 111
    PZ Myers

    We are pretty close now on setting a line in the sand by understanding when the capacity for consciousness exists.

    O RLY?

    Perhaps you can tell me how you would demonstrate scientifically that I am conscious? Or that you are?

    We currently believe consciousness is centered around the neo-cortex, the neo-cortex forms around 20 weeks. Logic suggests that if consciousness does exists at 21 weeks an abortion after that point must consider the rights of the un-born person if our laws decide this person has rights.

    I keep learning surprising new things about neuroscience from the commenters here.

    How do you know that consciousness is centered around the neo-cortex? Do you even know what the neo-cortex is, or are you just tossing around sciencey words? You do realize that the neo-cortex is a rather large chunk of the human brain, right?

    This is rather like saying “We currently believe consciousness is centered around the brain. All we have to do is show that the embryo has a brain, and we’ve demonstrated that it has consciousness.”

    Also, think about this: all mammals have a neocortex. Do you eat beef, pork, or mutton? Birds do not have a neocortex. Do you think they are just flying robots?

  112. 112
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    John Ballard @94:

    however to a point this should always be the pregnant woman’s decision.

    At what actual point is a woman who is pregnant denied human rights? What point in a pregnancy does the right of a fetus outweigh the rights of an adult human?

  113. 113
    Inaji

    the conversation will be interesting.

    No, Jason, it won’t. You see, us women, we don’t much care for assholes like yourself treating the subject of whether or not we deserve full human status to be intriguing and wonderful. When you are a person who finds themselves in a situation where others decide to legislate and mandate what can happen to you, it’s really not amusing.

  114. 114
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    History is ripe

    Rife.

  115. 115
    PZ Myers

    I can see where a developmental biologist would see big differences between a fetus and an adult but a geneticist, maybe not so much.

    But…but…my background is in both!

    And aren’t you taking an extremely reductionist approach? Since when is a human being simply their genome?

  116. 116
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    SC, nah. It’s decaying. It’s pretty ripe.

  117. 117
    irisvanderpluym

    Ogvorbis – are you sure you really want to know? I don’t. There is no potential answer I can conceive of that won’t make me go blind with rage.

  118. 118
    Inaji

    Jason Ballard:

    I do believe that abortion is a very poor form of birth control, however to a point this should always be the pregnant woman’s decision.

    Goodness me oh my. Why in the fuckety fuck fuck would you think that women use abortion as a method of contraception, a la “oopsies, knocked up again, off to the abortuary!”? FFS, contraception fails, you know. Also, do you have any idea of the cost involved in obtaining an abortion these days? Where I live, there is only one operating clinic in the whole state. Not only does the money for an abortion need to be at hand, but travel time, a place to stay, and monies for all that jazz. That’s if a woman can take that time off, and time it with a doctor being at the clinic, all that. Also, this must be done in a very narrow window – by the time a woman finds out she’s pregnant, she has about two weeks.

  119. 119
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    irisvanderpluym@117:

    are you sure you really want to know? I don’t. There is no potential answer I can conceive of that won’t make me go blind with rage.

    Yeah, I do. All these self-avowed pro-choicers who are okay with “reasonable restrictions”, all these assholes who keep declaring that at a “point” a woman loses bodily autonomy, these rectal-cranially inverted specimens of manhood who claim to be pro-choice but are willing to come up with arbitrary time restrictions as to when an abortion can be performed are blind to the idea that, when they do this, they are declaring that a woman is not rational enough to make a decision, is no longer fully human and no longer deserving of full human rights. So yeah, I do want to know what the point is that a pregnant woman goes from being an adult human to something else. And I want to know what it is that they think she becomes?

    And, if I ever get an actual answer (never have), it will, most likely, lead to rage. But it may wake up some of those who claim to be pro-choice “but”.

  120. 120
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    Chris61: “I can see where a developmental biologist would see big differences between a fetus and an adult but a geneticist, maybe not so much.”

    Given the wanking you are doing here, then by your logic, your hypothetical geneticist would accuse you of taking mass murder in hand.

  121. 121
    atheistblog

    I don’t know why people talking about consciousness, consciousness, consciousness,….
    The fetus doesn’t have self-consciousness, consciousness is not just a single entity or single stage in brain development, there is consciousness or self consciousness develop in human being only later after birth, then there is subconsciousness or unconsciousness intuition it exists in whole lot other beings, there is no single or clear cut definition for consciousness. Actually subconsciousness is the most part of the consciousness which guides or directs most of the life, and self consciousness in human beings is only small part of consciousness.
    The fear of height, fear of a reptile, snake, fear of fast moving things are all part of subconsciousness mind, those are the one develops in fetus, not self consciousness. If you want to stop abortion of fetus because of that development of subconsciousness, then you gotta stop killing each being. And anyone who is advocating pro-life better be ultra vegan, otherwise you are frigging giving bad name for hypocrisy.
    Abortion is legal, abortion is ethical, abortion must be safe to the host. If you say anything otherwise you are absolute zero degree kelvin moron.
    Please tell me why frigging only christian or past christian turned atheist or christian cultural atheist or anything related to christian only argue BS against abortion ?
    This total BS christian ethnocentrism, indirectly BSing that you are better. No you are not. In Rest of the world abortion is safe, ethical, and legal, only in frigging christian culture it is disputable. Grow up christian culture.

  122. 122
    lostintime

    I’m a bit nonplussed by this post and it seems at places as if PZ has missed the point entirely. Why is everyone freaking out about the idea that fetuses are human? In fact, why are we making the philosophically incoherent distinction between ‘human’ and ‘fully human’ at all? Fetuses are human beings, and trying to defend abortion by attacking the definition of human is so wrongheaded that it completely misses the point. The fact that fetuses are human is totally irrelevant to the discussion – what matters, from the point of view of the fetus, is whether it *wants* to on living, and as it has no personhood at all, even less than that of a non-human animal, there is no great harm in ending its life. Trying to draw a circle around ‘fully human beings’ as opposed to everything else is offensive and it’s never going to work.

  123. 123
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    There’s good eating on a fetus!!

    And I guess we could have interesting conversations on the subject. For instance, we could discuss the fact that being pregnant is really fucking dangerous to the pregnant person. Also since some people are so interested in potentiality, the truth is that little crotch-spawn could grow up to be HITLER!!! or even a libertarian. So maybe it would be interesting to discuss whether or not abortion shouldn’t actually be the default unless there’s an affirmative opt-in to deal with it. Maybe we should talk about giving pregnant people huge amounts of free shit if making babies is so goddamned important, especially considering the hazards. Hell, we could make a case for retroactive abortion up to a couple of years out of the womb if the little shit machine isn’t working out.

    Those might be interesting conversations. Conversations about whether or not pregnant people should be treated as first-class incubators and second-class citizens? Not so much.

  124. 124
    rq

    abortion must be safe to the host person undergoing the procedure

    Just a small typo.

  125. 125
    David Marjanović

    If you pooped this morning, that turd contained shed human epithelial cells, now swimming free. I could actually say, with full scientific accuracy, that that was a human turd. Why aren’t you giving it full legal protection?

    …Bad example, given that shed cells are dead.

    I’m one guy plugging away — you guys drive all my co-bloggers away, screaming — and I do OK. Hemant has a constant stream of guest bloggers and co-bloggers and whatever, and he’s still so desperate for content that he picks up dreck like Kruszelnicki’s.

    It seems to have worked, in any case – as of yesterday the post had 670 comments, and right now while I was looking the count changed from 1542 to 1543.

    A fundraiser seems to be a good idea!

    Is there anybody on Pathos safe Libby Anne and maybe Hank Fox with a shred of decency?

    Hank Fox, as I found out the hard way, is a hero-worshipper. Doesn’t mean he has no shred of decency… but I wonder…

    What if she defined a human being as anything that is or arises from a a totipotent cell ? That’s what I think she meant.

    Would still run into problems with HeLa cells.

    (A few people have in fact argued that HeLa cells are not human, and have coined the name Helacyton gartleri for them. At only 2350 ghits for Helacyton, most people seem to be ignoring this, though…)

    It’s absurd definitions of “human” like this that makes me preemptively weep for the rights of sapient AIs. Or any non-human sapients we may someday produce/encounter.

    I’m quite fond of the Star Trek usage of “people”. “Human” is simply a red herring, as Sastra has explained in comment 18 and Amphiox in comment 25.

    So you don’t like abortion, but you want the right to force women to have them?

    Yes, and then he wants to blame them for it.

    This Thomist use of “substance”

    *lightbulb moment*
    I was wondering!

    Mehta’s blog has been doing a lot of fucked up shit recently. Never did get an answer as to why I was banned and a month of my posts deleted when the person who threatened to hook me up to a car battery got to stay and play.

    Argh. This sounds like the two of you were confused! *headdesk*

    The discipline that can tell us which humans belong to the human species is formal logic, not biology.

    Don’t misappropriate the word species for that. It’s a (sad attempt at a) technical term, we biologists own it.

    he really really needs to assign moderator powers to one or two of his regular commenters the way PZ did

    PZ never did that. The list of people at the bottom of this page has the power to send him e-mails he will actually read, and this way they can alert him of trolls and other nastiness; yet, PZ alone wields the banhammer.

    [...] I find Kruszelnicki’s idea that death is a punishment to the fetus to be absurd. If a being doesn’t yet have the neural equipment to be [...]aware then death is no punishment.

    Good point.

    There’s an SMBC for that

    Awesome idea!

    We currently believe consciousness is centered around the neo-cortex, the neo-cortex forms around 20 weeks.

    Ridiculously granting all your other premises, when does the suddenly hyphenated neocortex get enough oxygen for consciousness to actually happen?

    Probably not before birth. Looks like your digression isn’t even correct on its own terms.

    Besides… do you seriously believe consciousness is an either-or thing? Line in the sand???

    The fear of height, fear of a reptile, snake, fear of fast moving things are all part of subconsciousness mind

    Fear of snakes is by no means universal (I lack it, and I’m by no means the only one!), and “reptile” hardly even means anything.

  126. 126
    PZ Myers

    If fetuses are human beings, then so is an anal polyp.

  127. 127
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    WHOOOSH!!!!!!

    Hey, lostintime, did you see that point? It just went flying overhead!

  128. 128
    Inaji

    lostintime:

    Fetuses are human beings

    No, they aren’t. They are fetuses. As for people ‘freaking out’? Well, because all those who want to talk about fetuses being human mean to say that a fetus has rights which supercede that of the human being involved – the woman. Some of us just aren’t happy about that notion.

    Trying to draw a circle around ‘fully human beings’ as opposed to everything else is offensive and it’s never going to work.

    If I, as a woman, ever achieve full human status, I’ll get back to ya.

  129. 129
    Amphiox

    Re: 106;

    Well Chris, isn’t it fortunate that neither geneticists nor developmental biologists, nor those poor souls like PZ who are both and who evidently need brains twice as big and skulls twice as thick as the rest of us to contain the mutually incompatible concepts without exploding, nor the sciences of genetics nor developmental biology, are required to restrict themselves solely that what can be seen under the microscope, and that after looking through the microscope, the geneticist or developmental biologist can step into the next room and observe the respective donors of the microscopic samples he or she has just examined, at a somewhat different scale? Or seek another avenue by which information from said scale could be obtained (like, for example, the label on the presumably properly labelled microscope slide specimens)?

  130. 130
    John Horstman

    @moarscienceplz #59: No, it can’t. It’s about bodily fucking autonomy. Taxes have NOTHING to do with that subject. Money is not the same thing as your body.

  131. 131
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    dcase1500 @40:

    did i MISS something, can we not have a difference of opinion without

    ‘the fuck are you on about

    This is a textbook example of someone who values TONE over CONTENT.
    The tone of your comments is civil inasmuch as there are no swearing/cursing/profanity/harsh words, sure. But the content of your comments is deeply offensive.

    You said:

    I , in my own humble opinion believe we should respect life in general and we should be responsible for our own actions and try to do no harm..so, conception prevention is better than death afterwards…ok ok not death because it isn’t alive…still how about preventing cancer instead of trying to treat it.

    1- Abortion is a responsible decision.
    2- We’re not talking about cancer. We are talking about a fetus residing in and making use of the body of a pregnant woman. If the pregnant woman does not want the fetus there, she has the right to get an abortion.
    3- No method of contraception is foolproof. Moreover, a lot of women either don’t have access to contraception or they lack sufficient Sex Ed.
    4- You’re wailing and gnashing your teeth about the poor, poor fetus, and seem to have no sympathy left for the pregnant woman. Your priorities are showing, and that’s before I even get into the MRA BS you spout later.

    Yet you complain about Thomathy using the word fuck in his response to you.

  132. 132
    Rey Fox

    In any case I wasn’t looking to start an argument,

    Bullshit.

  133. 133
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    The fear of height, fear of a reptile, snake, fear of fast moving things are all part of subconsciousness mind, those are the one develops in fetus, not self consciousness.

    Fear of heights is known to develop considerably later than birth, subsequent to the ability to crawl.

  134. 134
    Pteryxx

    Jason Ballard:

    I do believe that abortion is a very poor form of birth control,

    By some standards, abortion’s an excellent form of birth control. Abortion doesn’t have weird hormonal side effects like the pill or implants, which for some patients can be risky or life-threatening. It doesn’t have to be taken at the same time every day. It doesn’t rely on the person having a constant supply of pills or access to a prescribing physician and money for a doctor visit multiple times per year. There’s no latex barrier that could get misplaced, sabotaged, or ruined by using the wrong kind of lube; no spermaticidal chemicals that could cause allergic reactions; no excessively heavy bleeding and pain month after month for years as can sometimes happen with an IUD. Early abortion, at least, can be performed safely in five minutes, with inexpensive hand-held equipment, by nurses and physician’s assistants in a walk-in clinic setting (or even a portable clinic, as is done in some very poor regions of the world) and has a complication rate around 1 percent.

    Source

    Birth control method comparisons via PP

    Abortion isn’t inherently expensive and difficult to obtain, requiring of travel time and waiting periods and wads of cash on hand at short notice, running gauntlets of protesters, vandalism insurance for clinics, and stigma surrounding even the teaching of the techniques to medical students. Without all the artificial barriers, shaming and lies, it’d be almost as simple as a routine Pap smear.

  135. 135
    Inaji

    The fear of height, fear of a reptile, snake, fear of fast moving things are all part of subconsciousness mind, those are the one develops in fetus, not self consciousness.

    Yeah, my goodness, those things are just so gosh darned well developed that small children never, ever do things like run to cliff edge, climb high up in trees, dart out into the street, or try to indiscriminately play with a snake they came across outside.

    Parents, you can stop teaching sprogs about those things, stat!

  136. 136
    Inaji

    Pteryxx:

    Without all the artificial barriers, shaming and lies, it’d be almost as simple as a routine Pap smear.

    As I’ve mentioned before (indeed, in the previous thread, even), that’s how it was when I had an abortion in the ’70s. It was quick, safe, no hassle, no fuss. This was before people thought I and other women should be legislated as to what we were allowed to do.

  137. 137
    gussnarp

    Her whole argument boils down to the same argument she admits she lost on at the outset. She knows science can define personhood, that’s the realm of philosophy, but science can tell us that the smallest blastocyst has a unique new set of human DNA, therefore it’s human life, therefore it’s a human being, therefore it has all the rights of an adult.

    For all the reason you noted, this is bullshit. But first and foremost because she already admitted that it’s bullshit, then she turns around and pretends that if she uses different words for the exact same thing no one will notice that she’s making he same discredited argument. As soon as she argues that a blastocyst has human rights she’s crossed that same line leaving science behind and entering (bad) philosophy. It makes no difference if she says “personhood” or “human being” or “human body” or “human” or “human life”. she’s still telling the same lie.

  138. 138
    Gregory Greenwood

    Before we address the question of bodily autonomy in pregnancy, let’s meet the second player. What does science tell us that the preborn are?

    (Emphasis added)

    Argumentum ad Dune?

  139. 139
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Jason Ballard @94:

    I have always believed that science will put this debate to rest at some point. We are pretty close now on setting a line in the sand by understanding when the capacity for consciousness exists. When that happens the fetus becomes an unborn person. The next step is deciding what rights an unborn person has.

    We currently believe consciousness is centered around the neo-cortex, the neo-cortex forms around 20 weeks. Logic suggests that if consciousness does exists at 21 weeks an abortion after that point must consider the rights of the un-born person if our laws decide this person has rights.

    If/when the day comes where we can tap into or detect consciousness the conversation will be interesting. I do believe that abortion is a very poor form of birth control, however to a point this should always be the pregnant woman’s decision.

    Here is another example of someone not using harsh/mean/naughtywordsyourpastordoesn’twantyouusingbecauseitmakesbabyjesuscry. The *tone* is civil.
    The content, OTOH, is offensive, because it expresses the idea that women should not have full bodily autonomy.

    Jason, you need to recalibrate your morality meter. Women have these things called “rights”. Just like all other human beings. Stop trying to deny them these rights. It makes you a Category 5 Shitstain.
    Now, you appear to think that consciousness determines personhood. Let me repost my comment from another thread:

    michael:

    http://www.psych.upenn.edu/~mfarah/Neuroethics-Personhood.pdf
    The earliest explicit definition of personhood came
    from the sixth-century philosopher Boethius, who equated
    a person with “an individual substance of a rational nature”
    (Singer 1994). Cognitive capacities such as rationality have
    remained important features of most subsequent accounts
    of personhood,
    1
    including the two most influential accounts
    of personhood, those of John Locke and Emmanuel Kant.
    For Locke, there were three essential characteristics of
    personhood: rationality, self-awareness, and the linkage of
    this self-awareness by memory across time and space. In
    his words, a person is “an intelligent being that has reason
    and reflection, and can consider itself the same thinking
    being in different times and places” (Locke, 1997). Kant’s
    formulation also includes intelligence, but mainly for its
    role in enabling one to act morally. At the heart of moral
    action, for Kant, was the ability to distinguish between
    persons and things and treat them accordingly. Whereas
    things may be valued because they are desirable or useful,
    persons have an intrinsic value, in Kant’s terms a “dignity.”
    In his words “ every rational being exists as an end in
    himself and not merely as a means to be arbitrarily used
    by this or that will . . . rational beings are called persons
    inasmuch as their nature already marks them out as ends
    in themselves” (Kant 1948)

    {…}

    A few other contemporary definitions of personhood
    will be quoted here for the sake of indicating their funda-
    mental similarities, both in the human traits singled out as
    relevant to personhood and in the difficulty of translating
    any of these sets of traits into operational criteria for decid-
    ing which entities are persons and which not. From Tooley
    (1972): something is a person “if it possesses the concept of a
    self as a continuing subject of experiences and other mental
    states, and believes that it is itself such a continuing entity.”
    From Feinberg (1980,189): “persons are those beings who
    are conscious, have a concept and awareness of themselves,
    are capable of experiencing emotions, can reason and ac-
    quire understanding, can plan ahead, can act on their plans,
    and can feel pleasure and pain.” From Englehardt (1986,
    107): “What distinguishes persons is their capacity to be
    self-conscious, rational, and concerned with worthiness of
    blame or praise.” From Rorty (1988, 43): “A person is
    …(a)
    capable of being directed by its conception of its own iden-
    tity and what is important to that identity, and (b) capable of
    interacting with others, in a common world. A person is that
    interactive member of a community, reflexively sensitive to
    the contexts of her activity, a critically reflective inventor of
    the story of her life.

    [...]

    Please note that there is no definition of ‘personhood’ that is agreed upon universally. That said, there are several qualities of personhood that can be agreed upon. How many of the various qualities of personhood does a fetus possess?

    The question was posed to a forced birther who believes that there should be restrictions on abortion.
    How do you answer the question?

  140. 140
    ButchKitties

    Considering that I’m already at high risk for stroke, abortion is a much better form of birth control for me than anything that involves hormones.

  141. 141
    lostintime

    #128 Inaji

    All those who want to talk about fetuses being human mean to say that a fetus has rights

    I don’t ascribe rights to something just because of the species it belongs to, and being human isn’t intrinsically significant. Fetuses, and certainly those, let’s say, in the third trimeseter of pregnancy, are human beings – tell me what else they could be? But that doesn’t give them Rights (in fact, I’m not sure natural rights even exist). If an 8 month old fetus is not human, does it magically become human if it’s prematurely born? It’s classic speciesism to attach moral significance to something just because it is or isn’t Human, and focussing on that all-or-nothing category is almost religious in nature. The so called sanctity of human life is an explicitly religious idea – it’s time to move away from this, and challenging the definition of human is not the way to do so.

  142. 142
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    lostintime:
    I think you’re muddying up the conversation because a lot of people conflate human being with person. Even if a fetus is a human being, it is not a person. Human persons have rights.

  143. 143
    gussnarp

    I’d say the really fun examples of things that are not embryos but consist of human cells are tumors. I’m specifically thinking of, for example, Henrietta Lacks. Her tumor seems to have been pretty unusual (though I’m not qualified to say if it’s really that unusual, or just unusual for tumors that happened to get picked up for use by scientists). I’ve heard of tumors, and I believe Lacks’ was one, that can be differentiated from the host cells by their DNA, which is a bit different (again, correct me if I’m wrong, I’m entirely going of my memory of an NPR story that may have had deeply flawed science behind it in the first place). At any rate, at least on NPR, there was some pondering about whether tumors actually constitute a new organism, and would that organism be human? Does a tumor have the same rights as its host?

    And what about bacterial cells? Every human being walking around has more bacteria cells than human cells in their body and could not function normally without them. These bacteria affect not just our immune systems and digestion, but even our brain function. Are we fully human without them? Yet most of them are acquired at the moment of birth. Obviously I’m not saying if you lose your bacteria, you lose your rights. I’m just pointing out that it’s actually kind of complicated considering which cells actually make up an organism, and acquisition of bacterial helpers is just another stage in that continuous process of development.

  144. 144
    bcwebb

    So if I dump a bag of acorns in front of some clinic protesters and they walk on them, I can sue them for destroying my stand of oaks?

    Actually the oaks don’t need to be attached to the mother tree while they grow…

  145. 145
    Inaji

    Tony:

    Even if a fetus is a human being

    Except that a fetus isn’t a human being, no matter how much some wish it so. Human being is another way to say person or individual. As PZ noted, if a fetus can be classed as a human being, so can an anal polyp.

    It is not in the interest of anyone, let alone women, to let this sort of shit slide.

  146. 146
    gussnarp

    We haven’t brought up the in vitro fertilization argument. We know there are many religious anti-choicers who oppose in vitro because so many fertilized embryos are destroyed. How does the “secular” anti-choice side feel about this?

  147. 147
    Travis Odom

    Given the acknowledgement of a continuum of development and the need for a convention to acknowledge ‘personhood,’ is there a strong objective argument that conception should not be that line? For me, this is the real question.

    Additionally, given similar acknowledgement of a continuum of privileges granted, should not the right to exist be the last to fall away, or conversely the first to be granted?

  148. 148
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    I hate these hypothetical “line in the sand” arguments about when a fetus becomes viable. This ignores the real world situations that women. And in the US, the situation is dire. Trap laws that are meant to close down clinics that provide abortions. Violence is committed against doctors, nurses and others. This scares people from entering the field and drives up the cost because of the need for protection. This violence also drives up the rent because property owners do not want to deal with the headache. This makes abortions time consuming because of the lack of facilities, time taken away from jobs because of travel and the added financial costs on top of the abortion itself.

    So it takes time to raise the money, to travel, to sit through the “waiting period” that are part of most trap laws. And yet we have those who want to set a time limit where abortions cannot be preformed.

    How fucking dare you disingenuous creeps make that argument when it is becoming increasingly difficult to even get an abortion in the first trimester. You get your way and abortions are effectively outlawed in the US.

    Oh, wait, that is the fucking point.

  149. 149
    lostintime

    @ Tony #142,

    I agree with that, what matters really is personhood and fetuses are not persons.

  150. 150
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    Travis Odom

    should not the right to exist be the last to fall away, or conversely the first to be granted?

    How about you first tell us why it ‘should’ be. That there is a continuity does not mean that there isn’t a difference between a woman and a blastocyst.

    Also, you don’t get to focus this argument on the possible death of the thing being aborted. This is about aborting pregnancies. That’s what abortion is. We’re talking about women. You don’t get to change the focus onto the foetus and expect an answer to an obviously inane question.

    You have a problem if you acknowledge a continuity without seeing the blastocyst at one end and a woman at the other.

  151. 151
    gussnarp

    @Travis Odom: An objective argument that conception shouldn’t be that point? Have you been reading the thread at all?

    Let’s start with the fact that the only way to tell a human embryo from a non-human embryo for a considerable time after conception is to slice it open, culture some cells, stick them in a blender, and examine the DNA under a high powered microscope.

    How about the fact that 20% of fertilized embryos will never implant and never develop.

    How about the fact that another 20% of those that implant will miscarry.

    How about the fact that the miscarriage rate drops with developmental age.

    How about the fact that there’s no brain.

    As to which rights trump which other rights, that cannot be viewed separately from the developmental process. A clump of cells with no features even remotely resembling organs doesn’t have rights at all.

  152. 152
    Pteryxx

    is there a strong objective argument that conception should not be that line? For me, this is the real question.

    where ‘objective’ means assuming zygotes and fetuses just float in a (spherical) void, there is no such condition as pregnancy and no such beings as women. (Should the products of philosophical wanking be considered persons? *ponders*)

  153. 153
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Inaji:
    Ok, I understand what you (and PZ) are saying (I was under the misconception that fetuses were genetically human beings).

    ****

    Travis Odom @147:

    Given the acknowledgement of a continuum of development and the need for a convention to acknowledge ‘personhood,’ is there a strong objective argument that conception should not be that line? For me, this is the real question

    Yes, there is a continuum of development.
    No, fetuses do not have the right of personhood.
    As you think otherwise, please review my comment @139 and list, say 4 of the qualities of personhood you think a fetus has.
    Also, that should not be the “real question” because even if the fetus had full personhood, no human being has the right to the use of anyone else’s body. Moreover, granting fetuses personhood undermines your argument, as there are currently no human beings who have been born who have the right to make use of the body of another human being without consent. Why? Because all human beings–AND THIS INCLUDES WOMEN–have the right to bodily autonomy. Even if you grant the fetus personhood, that doesn’t confer upon it the right to make use of the pregnant woman’s body.

    Stop framing this in terms of the fetus. This is an issue of a woman’s right to bodily autonomy.

  154. 154
    truthspeaker

    I disagree, PZ.

    An pro-life atheist could understand the science and just not give a shit about women.

  155. 155
    SallyStrange

    Abortion is a fucking fantastic method of birth control, in part because it expands my options for birth control from preventing conception to preventing birth even after I have become pregnant. I love that about abortion.

    Given the acknowledgement of a continuum of development and the need for a convention to acknowledge ‘personhood,’ is there a strong objective argument that conception should not be that line? For me, this is the real question.

    A strong objective argument that a blastocyst is not a person? If one undifferentiated cell qualifies as a person then the term “person” loses all meaning. Anyway, this is a question of law, ethics, and morality–”objectivity” is not in play. Inter-subjectivity is where it’s at. Objectively speaking, however, we can observe that a blastocyst possesses zero of the many various attributes that have been offered as prerequisites for personhood.

    Seriously? That’s what is the most important question to you? Okay…

  156. 156
    SallyStrange

    Or, in other words:

    Given the acknowledgement of a continuum of development and the need for a convention to acknowledge ‘personhood,’ is there a strong objective argument that conception should not be that line?

    Given the acknowledgement of a continuum of development and the need for a convention to acknowledge ‘adulthood’, is there a strong objective argument that birth should not be that line?

  157. 157
    rq

    Oh, look over there, it’s a blastocyst! With nothing around it! Ever! It floats in the comfort of a uterus in space, with nothing supporting it at all, as it develops itself into a perfectly viable perfect baby.

    Woman? What woman?

  158. 158
    Menyambal

    Travis Odom, there is a spectrum, yes, but it has no clear beginning, if we get into conception, fertilization and such. The only clear event, along those definitions of life, is birth.

    Birth is a natural event, that can be documented easily, and rendered official with a birth certificate. Birth is the obvious beginning of life. Heck, we celebrate birthdays, and cast horoscopes, and even remember where it happened.

    For you to start bringing definitions that can’t be defined, dates that can’t be documented, and arguing for a continuum, is just silly. Birth is the best.

  159. 159
    SallyStrange

    Oh, look over there, it’s a blastocyst! With nothing around it! Ever! It floats in the comfort of a uterus in space, with nothing supporting it at all, as it develops itself into a perfectly viable perfect baby.

    Woman? What woman?

    Exactly!

    The Forced Birth Brigade are like, “Just leave the poor fetus alone!”

    I’m like, “That’s the point of an abortion–to leave it alone.”

  160. 160
    praestans

    “that it involves a progressive unfolding and emergence of new attributes, not present at conception, that manifest gradually by interactions within the field of developing cells and with the external environment. The conceptus is not equal to the adult.”
    And nor is the infant to the adult. and I suppoz wunce I see the hed coming out, and the the legs are still in the wum..the legs are less of a human being than the hed…… not as ‘human’ as the hed’s that out – they’r still “manfest gradually by interactions&c”…
    Dearie me Pee-zed. Such artful blustr duz not bekum u.

    That’s whot growth is. hullo –wher’s the real sensibl scientific peezed gon sans crass obfuscations and prolix gesticulations?
    (u having been hackt by……old Kent Hovind prchans? )
    Human beings; let’s stop the obfuscation, let’s have the scientific definition of a human being. Go on Peezed, let’s hav sum substans, pleez.
    I saw that debate as well: Matt Dillahunty verily got excoriatid. When’s a human being not a human being..when they’r not a pursun. Gerrit?

    ‘science’ is not a sentient being. so science sez this and that is disinjenus. I’m sure ther’r scientists hu’r anti abortion, siuntifkly. not just upiniunz.

    btw – his dabating skill arn’t all that admirabl: he recenly debatid david robertsun, a mouth foming evangelical jesus hu promisiz tu smear animal excrimunt on faces moral god [malachi 2:3]..and yet dillahunty still lost.

    cheers.

  161. 161
    monad

    @ Travis Odom:

    Given the acknowledgement of a continuum of development and the need for a convention to acknowledge ‘personhood,’ is there a strong objective argument that conception should not be that line?

    Yes, it doesn’t make any sense. First and foremost there are the biological reasons that other people have pointed out. But if you somehow are using “objective” to mean ignoring such aspects of reality, and only looking at what might be consistent in theory, you still fall down on identical twins. Twins share conception and not personhood, so you can’t consider them the same thing.

    And like many have said, the personhood of the fetus would still be only one of two questions that matter here. The other is if people can be compelled to give up their body fluids to other people.

  162. 162
    Inaji

    Dearie me Pee-zed. Such artful blustr duz not bekum u.

    Learn to English, Cupcake.

  163. 163
    Amphiox

    Breasts of examination is a useful method of controlling cancer. Tamoxifen chemotherapy is also a useful method in controlling cancer. Is it in any way sensical to talk about one being superior to the other when they address different aspects of the disease at different times and both should be used together?

    Is it therefore in any way relevant or coherent to talk about whether abortion is a better or worse form of birth control than methods that prevent conception, when the usage applies to different stages of the process, and both should be available and used when needed?

    At the time when a OCP can be useful as birth control, I agree that abortion would not be particularly effective. At the time abortion is needed for birth control, I can assure you that the OCP would not be very effective.

  164. 164
    Inaji

    Amphiox:

    Breasts of examination

    This is just so full of win. Should be the title of a sci-fi book. Something.

    /derail

  165. 165
    PZ Myers

    praestans: You could be the first person I ban for obnoxious illiteracy. Knock it off.

  166. 166
    chigau (違う)

    So, not a sockpuppet, then?

  167. 167
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Praestans shows a lot of dedication.
    It takes a lot more work to write such gibberish than to write plain [insert language of your choice]

  168. 168
    Amphiox

    Re 164;

    It’s only a matter of time before Apple’s autocorrect wins a Pulitzer or a Hugo. Sky net will not be far behind!

  169. 169
    Travis Odom

    These have been some very interesting responses. Mostly, they seem to point up the fact that nature is often a poor fit for our compulsion to philosophize about it.

    Two main things seem worth mentioning:

    1. I’ve seen no proposed definition of ‘person’ which would differentiate a newborn as such – this seems problematic to any assertion of relevance to the question, regardless of whether the qualities in question could be theoretically tested.

    Considering a newborn to have no more rights or value than a fetus seems unworkable as a moral position, but then again perhaps some of you do in fact feel such a view is justified. If so, would you assert any justification other than “person-hood is not relevant?”

    2. The other major argument seems to be, “The question of whether people are dying here is irrelevant, because other concerns take precedence.”

    I find this argument intriguing, as from a certain perspective, it can certainly be argued that if the death of one person alleviates the suffering of others it is justified, even morally required. This leads down a path where objective reasoning is very difficult, and therefore I think any consensus is unlikely.

    If all pregnancies were a product of deliberate choice, this would be far clearer. Given that they are not, this is difficult indeed.

  170. 170
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)
    Breasts of examination

    This is just so full of win. Should be the title of a sci-fi book. Something.

    Or an Artifact in a D&D campaign..

    Aren’t one or two people running one?

  171. 171
    SallyStrange

    “The question of whether people are dying here is irrelevant, because other concerns take precedence.”

    Yes, the possible death of actual persons is a more compelling concern than the actual death of possible persons.

  172. 172
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I find this argument intriguing, as from a certain perspective, it can certainly be argued that if the death of one person alleviates the suffering of others it is justified, even morally required. This leads down a path where objective reasoning is very difficult, and therefore I think any consensus is unlikely.

    Bloody fucking hell, there’s nothing difficult about it. If you don’t even have the right to force someone to donate blood (hint: you don’t), then you don’t have the right to force someone to donate a uterus. If uteri weren’t (in the overwhelming majority of cases, and I doubt very much that the non-overlap is acknowledged by an appreciable number of antichoicers) organs “only” possessed by women, no one would ever have even SUGGESTED it be made an exception.

  173. 173
    Alan Boyle

    @147 Travis Odon

    should not the right to exist be the last to fall away, or conversely the first to be granted?

    Since the rest of your post has been thoroughly addressed already, let me ask–why should “existing” be elevated above other rights? The right to choose to exist, or not, is greater on the face of it. But one has to exist and have the capacity to choose prior to earning that right. If existence is a right, then every moment each of us spends not reproducing is just abusing the rights of each and every hypothetical human being there could be, is it not?

    “Never existing in the first place” is bottom of the list of ills a person can suffer in this world, frankly. Yet the anti-choicers elevate this right all the way to the top.

  174. 174
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Considering a newborn to have no more rights or value than a fetus seems unworkable as a moral position, but then again perhaps some of you do in fact feel such a view is justified. If so, would you assert any justification other than “person-hood is not relevant?”

    Gee, only folks who say stuff like the above are people trying to pretend that significant changes don’t happen with birth. First, the fetus is expelled/removed and is no longer dependent on the woman, and this is extremely significant. Second, some irreversible changes happen, like breathing air, changes and hemoglobin, which in turn allow oxygen to become available for the brain to be activated. Which is why birth is a reasonable dividing line for personhood, unlike conception or any other point inbetween.

  175. 175
    PZ Myers

    I’ve seen no proposed definition of ‘person’ which would differentiate a newborn as such – this seems problematic to any assertion of relevance to the question, regardless of whether the qualities in question could be theoretically tested.

    Your problem is that you’re looking for a boundary definition where there isn’t one. You can look at color strip with shades of gray from black on one end to white at the other, and we have no problem saying “that end is black” and “that end is white”, while not demanding a strict specification of one specific point along the way as being the transition point from black to white.

    You insist that there must be such a definition. You’re wrong.

  176. 176
    Inaji

    “The question of whether people are dying here is irrelevant, because other concerns take precedence.”

    Oh, indeed. Going off that often cited philosophical maxim b!tchez ain’t shit, naturally women dying every day is of no import.

  177. 177
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Travis Odom @169:

    1. I’ve seen no proposed definition of ‘person’ which would differentiate a newborn as such – this seems problematic to any assertion of relevance to the question, regardless of whether the qualities in question could be theoretically tested.

    Personhood is only relevant to this discussion because many forced birthers attempt to justify their anti-choice position by asserting that fetuses are people. It is an argument that distracts from the more important point–women are human beings possessed of bodily autonomy and therefore have the right to decide at any point in their lives what happens to their body.
    A discussion on whether or not newborns are persons, while a perfectly reasonable topic of discussion, isn’t relevant because newborns do not infringe on a woman’s bodily autonomy.

  178. 178
    ChasCPeterson

    If fetuses are human beings, then so is an anal polyp.

    Because, what, Science?

  179. 179
    Amphiox

    re: 169;

    There was an episode of MASH, iirc, where a mother smothered her crying newborn so that its cries would not alert enemy soldiers and result in the whole group of refugees being found and killed. Cultures have practiced infanticide when babies are born in tough times and caring for them would mean starvation for the tribe.

    In real life there are no absolutes.

    But in real life we also don’t have to deal with absolutes in isolation. The abortion situation is not one of fetal status in isolation, it is a comparison of value between the woman and the fetus. And an actual person outweighs a potential person every time.

    With babies, by lieu of their bodily autonomous status that is conferred to them by successful birth, there really is no equivalent situation wherein the baby is an imposition on the bodily autonomy of a more mature human being such that sussing out the differences in relative humanity between the two is an exercise with any practical utility, except in very rare and unusual cases, which can be examined individually as they actually, rather than hypothetically, arise.

  180. 180
    consciousness razor

    PZ:

    She sounds like a very liberal Catholic atheist.

    Doesn’t sound liberal to me.

    Let’s grant it all: Fetuses are fully human persons who have all the rights of legal and moral personhood.

    No.

    Wait … no? Why not grant that in the argument, in order to examine the validity of the other premises? The premise you’re talking about is false, sure. You can shout from it rooftops for as long as you want. But the argument against autonomy isn’t strong at all, even when we suppose the situation involves two persons or human beings. I think people need to understand that, not for it to simply be dismissed out of hand because that’s not you want to talk about. It does mean you don’t get to quibble over biological minutia for the moment, because we have to move into ethical territory for a bit, but I think you’ll probably be alright.

    For example, from Jason Ballard at #94:

    Logic suggests that if consciousness does exists at 21 weeks an abortion after that point must consider the rights of the un-born person if our laws decide this person has rights.

    I’m conscious (says so right on the box!), and I’m fully human, a person, a productive and tax-paying citizen of the United States, blah, blah, blah….yet despite all that, I still do not have the right to violate someone’s bodily autonomy. You might even say I have a right to be alive, whatever that might entail in all sorts of different circumstances. Even so, my “right to life” does not mean I should be able to violate others’ rights.

  181. 181
    Amphiox

    Or to put it another way, a newborn does not place an imposition on the bodily autonomy of another in the way a fetus does. Even if we decide to assign EQUAL worth to a fetus and a newborn, that still results in a difference in treatment, because the deciding issue is not the worth of the newborn or fetus, it is the worth of the woman, and the imposition upon her that the fetus and newborn are making, which is different.

    If a technological means existed by which a fetus could be easily and safely extracted from a woman and the gestated in an artificial womb, then the manner in which we treat fetuses may be justifiably changed to equate more with the manner in which we treat infants. Because the imposition on the woman would have been changed by the availability of that technology, and it is the imposition on the woman that is the deciding factor here.

    In fact that is what is already the standard now with respect to induced birth.

  182. 182
    Lofty

    A geneticist would be able to see that Chas and an anal polyp have a lot in common.

  183. 183
    Inaji

    Amphiox:

    Cultures have practiced infanticide when babies are born in tough times and caring for them would mean starvation for the tribe.

    It’s also been practiced where there is no threat. It was common place in ancient Greece for infant girls to be put out on the dump and exposed, to die, as they simply didn’t have the same value as an infant boy.

  184. 184
    Menyambal

    @ Travis Odom. A person is someone who has a birth certificate.

  185. 185
    Inaji

    Amphiox:

    If a technological means existed by which a fetus could be easily and safely extracted from a woman and the gestated in an artificial womb, then the manner in which we treat fetuses may be justifiably changed to equate more with the manner in which we treat infants. Because the imposition on the woman would have been changed by the availability of that technology, and it is the imposition on the woman that is the deciding factor here.

    Even if that technology existed at the time I had an abortion, I would have still opted for an abortion because I have never wanted to be a parent. Being able to have a fetus whisked outta me to be gestated elsewhere would not have had the slightest impact on my decision, and I think it’s important to remember that a fetus, no matter the technology at hand, should be able to override a woman’s rights.

  186. 186
    Inaji

    *should not be

  187. 187
    PZ Myers

    Because, yes, Science with a capital S for Sarcastic.

  188. 188
    Imbecile Heureux

    A (very) long-time lurker here, with a question I ask with a little trepidation, as I haven’t followed all of the abortion threads very closely. If this has been done to death elsewhere, feel free to ignore.

    I find it hard sometimes to locate my own views on abortion on these threads (white cis male, so my view isn’t particularly important, granted). I am drawn to the idea that a fetus, although not human, is worthy of moral consideration in virtue of its potential to become a human – that this potential provides us with a pro tanto reason to oppose abortion. I think it is here that the argument from autonomy comes in – it would be immoral – always immoral – to force a woman to carry to term a pregnancy against her will. It is not, therefore, that the act of aborting the fetus has no moral weight, but that this is trumped by the right to bodily autonomy of the woman. This is the moral justification, I think, for the legalisation of abortion.

    Two issues, however, I wonder about. Firstly, whether even granted that we never have a moral liberty to force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term, might there be circumstances in which she has a moral duty not to abort? I am thinking here of things like sex-selective abortion (which is, I believe, illegal in many jurisdictions). If, as PZ suggests above, not wanting to be pregnant is a valid moral justification for abortion, is not wanting to be pregnant with a girl? If not, and legal bans on sex-selective aboritons are (morally) justified, how do we square this with the trumping value of the argument from autonomy?

    Secondly, a hypothetical (drawn from an article on rights by Mark Tushnet, a US legal theorist): if science develops to the level at which it is possible to remove even early stage fetuses and develop them outwith the womb, would a woman still have a moral liberty to abort, or would this be limited to removal (assuming that she would be in no way burdened by the child once born). If the latter, then we seem to be accepting that the fetus has some moral worth that other foreign bodies a person may want removed do not have. If the former, then it seems we would need something more than the argument from autonomy to sustain it.

    As mentioned, if this is all old ground, just ignore me and I’ll go away.

  189. 189
    Inaji

    Imbecile Hereaux:

    A (very) long-time lurker here, with a question I ask with a little trepidation, as I haven’t followed all of the abortion threads very closely. If this has been done to death elsewhere, feel free to ignore.

    You know, you could have just read the bloody thread first. Try that. Once that’s done, go read this one: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/03/08/theres-a-secular-argument-for-wearing-underpants-on-your-head-so/comment-page-1/#comments – mind that there are two pages of comments for your reading enlightenment.

  190. 190
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    A commenter at Hemant’s blog said this:

    I applaud Kristine Kruszelnicki for her courage in putting her views on abortion out there and thank Patheos for providing this forum

    My response:

    Yes, it was so courageous of her to offer up her views on why women should be denied an essential human right.

    Wait.
    No, it’s not courageous. Kristine’s entire focus was on the poor, poor fetus, without a shred of concern for the pregnant woman. Surely you remember the pregnant woman in this discusion.

    She’s the one who’s health is in jeopardy due to being pregnant?

    She’s the person forced birthers argue should lose the right to self determination bc a fetus is more important.

    The public discourse on abortion has become so twisted that many people forget that real women are affected by pregnancy. The focus on the fetus is a distraction from the fact that women are autonomous human beings with the right to decide what happens to their bodies.

    Even discussions of personhood are pointless, bc even *if* a fetus is a person, it has no right to make use of a woman’s body. That is a right that is not accorded *any* human being. Why? Because bodily autonomy is a right all human beings have. That means even if someone else needs a blood transfusion or a kidney to live, or even if a fetus needs the body of a woman to survive–no one can force another human being to do anything with or to their body without their consent (and I’ll add consent can be given and retracted at any point as well).

    Arguing from any position that denies women this basic human right is arguing that women do not have the full range of human rights and are second class citizens. That is a disgusting position for Kristine to take given that she’s a humanist.

    I had to fight to avoid the ‘No True Scotsman’ Fallacy wrt to Kristine too.

  191. 191
    Imbecile Heureux

    Inaji: fair dos. Thanks for the link.

  192. 192
    consciousness razor

    Imbecile Heureux, #188:

    Firstly, whether even granted that we never have a moral liberty to force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term, might there be circumstances in which she has a moral duty not to abort? I am thinking here of things like sex-selective abortion (which is, I believe, illegal in many jurisdictions). If, as PZ suggests above, not wanting to be pregnant is a valid moral justification for abortion, is not wanting to be pregnant with a girl? If not, and legal bans on sex-selective aboritons are (morally) justified, how do we square this with the trumping value of the argument from autonomy?

    The consequences are identical. Her reasons are her reasons, and may be good or bad. There is a moral duty to have good reasons for doing whatever you’re doing. The fact that there’s no difference in the consequences means precisely that it cannot translate into any kind of coherent legal policy. So you could say “you did that for bad (sexist) reasons, so do better next time,” but other than that, I don’t know what you expect to come out of this.

    Secondly, a hypothetical (drawn from an article on rights by Mark Tushnet, a US legal theorist): if science develops to the level at which it is possible to remove even early stage fetuses and develop them outwith the womb, would a woman still have a moral liberty to abort, or would this be limited to removal (assuming that she would be in no way burdened by the child once born).

    By that last phrase, I’m guessing you mean the state (via healthcare and adoption services, etc.) will take care of the child, not her, after it’s born — otherwise, making her care for it and providing welfare services to her is not enough to satisfy the conditions you’ve laid out. Are we also assuming that the burden wouldn’t be any different to her before it’s born? The procedures are effectively identical, in this imaginary scenario? I would still say she should be the one to decide (not the society) whether she will add to the number of human beings on the planet. She ought to be responsible for it, as she is still not simply a machine for pumping out babies at the rate society dictates. And it isn’t invariably a good thing that there’s another human being on the planet, so the situation as you describe it isn’t clear-cut at all. There seems to be the assumption hiding somewhere underneath that “more people = good,” and that simply is not tenable.

  193. 193
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Imbecile Heureux:

    A (very) long-time lurker here, with a question I ask with a little trepidation, as I haven’t followed all of the abortion threads very closely. If this has been done to death elsewhere, feel free to ignore.

    It’s been done to death in threads that are still active, not to mention a variety of threads in the past.

    I find it hard sometimes to locate my own views on abortion on these threads (white cis male, so my view isn’t particularly important, granted). I am drawn to the idea that a fetus, although not human, is worthy of moral consideration in virtue of its potential to become a human – that this potential provides us with a pro tanto reason to oppose abortion. I think it is here that the argument from autonomy comes in – it would be immoral – always immoral – to force a woman to carry to term a pregnancy against her will. It is not, therefore, that the act of aborting the fetus has no moral weight, but that this is trumped by the right to bodily autonomy of the woman. This is the moral justification, I think, for the legalisation of abortion

    Yes, women have the right to bodily autonomy. That means they and they alone have the right to decide the answer to the question “do I want to remain pregnant?” Whatever their answer is, it is their right. Any consideration of fetuses, moral or otherwise, is meaningless.

    I can only speculate, but I wonder if it’s hard for you to decide your views on abortion bc the campaign by the forced birthers has shifted the discourse on abortion from the rights of a woman to what about the fetus. *I* don’t care about the fetus. *I* care about the rights of the pregnant woman.

    Secondly, a hypothetical

    No.
    Please don’t do this.
    We’re discussing an important human right that is denied women across the globe. This isn’t an abstract concept we’re discussing. Women are dying because people refuse to recognize them as human beings. This is no place for hypotheticals.

  194. 194
    chris61

    #174 Nerd, Sure enough a lot of changes occur with birth. A lot of changes occur with conception as well and since birth can’t occur without conception occurring first I think one could argue that the changes that occur at conception are the more important.

  195. 195
    SallyStrange

    There seems to be the assumption hiding somewhere underneath that “more people = good,” and that simply is not tenable.

    Someone noted sometime during the past few days (it’s been busy, so I can’t recall who, sorry) that the Christian commandment to be fruitful and multiply seems to have been fused with the capitalist drive for eternal exponential expansion, with the end result that even pro-choicers pay very little attention to the fact that more people is probably generally a bad idea at this point, considering the state of our ongoing ecological catastrophe.

  196. 196
    Imbecile Heureux

    consciousness razor #192

    I think that you may well be right; I have not yet worked out an opinion on these questions. If I understand correctly, then your position would be that a woman may well have a moral duty not to abort a fetus on grounds of sex alone (as this is a bad reason), but that the law should always reflect the bodily autonomy of the woman by allowing her to breach that duty. This would make the current law in the UK, I think, morally unjustified (which may well be the case).

    My second example doesn’t rely on the assumption that more people = good, but only that the destruction of a fetus under those circumstances would require further justification than the bodily autonomy argument (if we accept that there are pro tanto reasons not to destroy fetuses). You furnish a couple of examples of what such justification might look like.

  197. 197
    Imbecile Heureux

    Tony #193

    Understood: am currently working through one of those threads as we speak, and won’t contribute again until I’m done.

    Apologies also if I wasn’t clear about something: I have no difficulty – whatsoever – in agreeing that abortion is a human right that should be freely accessible to all women, without shaming or pressure, all over the world.

  198. 198
    ChasCPeterson

    A geneticist would be able to see that [A]Chas and [B]an anal polyp have a lot in common.

    True, but equally true for A = any individual animal (or, really, any individual organism) and B = any organ, piece or subdivision of any other animal/organism.
    Unless you are talking about a member of my family’s anal polyp? Because I’d think that kind of rude.

  199. 199
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    chris61:

    A lot of changes occur with conception as well and since birth can’t occur without conception occurring first I think one could argue that the changes that occur at conception are the more important.

    Hey look! It’s a fetus. It’s changing! It’s important!

    Whoop de fucking doo.

    Did you forget that the fetus is residing in the body of a woman?
    Did you forget that the pregnant woman has rights?
    Did you forget that no human being has the right to use the body of another without their consent?

    For the billionth time, stop focusing on the fucking fetus and recognize that women have rights.

    If you can’t do this, then FUCK OFF.

  200. 200
    Amphiox

    A lot of changes occur with conception as well and since birth can’t occur without conception occurring first I think one could argue that the changes that occur at conception are the more important.

    At the moment of conception two cells become one. That’s it.

    At birth the changes affect trillions of cells simultaneously.

  201. 201
    Pteryxx

    Imbecile Heureux:

    if science develops to the level at which it is possible to remove even early stage fetuses and develop them outwith the womb…

    Note that this basically means, ‘If pregnancy ceases to meaningfully exist such that pregnant people and people at risk of pregnancy don’t have to be considered at all…’ which is the core problem with the current war-on-abortion, war-on-contraception, war-on-sex-ed, all of it. That is not a morally neutral nor objective preliminary assumption you’re making, erasing the people around each and every instance of ‘The Womb’.

    Start your research into ‘snowflake babies’, the pro-lifer nickname for frozen zygotes from IVF. Past that you’re looking at adoption situations, and there’s already a shortage of homes willing to take the current children and adolescents past the perfect-infant stage.

  202. 202
    Amphiox

    But in the end ONLY ONE CHANGE MATTERS.

    At birth, the fetus ceases to be dependent on the woman’s body and becomes autonomous.

    The rest is details.

    Details, for example, like how at conception the zygote still has only a 33% chance of making it to live birth.

  203. 203
    Susannah

    Nerd of Redhead, #174:

    Gee, only folks who say stuff like the above are people trying to pretend that significant changes don’t happen with birth. First, the fetus is expelled/removed and is no longer dependent on the woman, and this is extremely significant. Second, some irreversible changes happen, like breathing air, changes and hemoglobin, which in turn allow oxygen to become available for the brain to be activated. Which is why birth is a reasonable dividing line for personhood, unlike conception or any other point inbetween.

    This should go without saying, in a reasonable world. Even the religious Christians (the few that actually read their Bibles, anyhow) should know this.

    As their book says, ” And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Gen 2:7, KJV)

    I really don’t understand all this kerfuffle about purely invented “wrongs”. Sure, people claim religious reasons, or pretend they don’t and still use religious reasons (“souls”, “substance”, shoulds and oughts and the concept of “life” as something sacred), but the religious objections, at least the Christian ones, were invented out of whole cloth. They’re not Biblical, they’re not even traditional.

    It’s almost as if the whole thing were based on an almost unconscious feeling that women are “icky”. Something a second-grader would say, but is supposed to grow out of.

    (I think that extends to the distaste for gays, too.)

  204. 204
    consciousness razor

    Imbecile Heureux #196:

    If I understand correctly, then your position would be that a woman may well have a moral duty not to abort a fetus on grounds of sex alone (as this is a bad reason), but that the law should always reflect the bodily autonomy of the woman by allowing her to breach that duty. This would make the current law in the UK, I think, morally unjustified (which may well be the case).

    I don’t know the laws in the UK. They have the state determine the child’s sex, then force the woman to know that information, then test the woman about why she wants an abortion, so that if she fails their test her abortion is prohibited? I don’t believe that’s how they do it.

    As I already said, unless you invent some very carefully contrived scenario, there’s no difference in the outcomes, between aborting for a good reason and aborting for a bad reason. What you can do is make sure people aren’t so sexist, before they ever make any decision like that or like any other decision. The bonus is that they will probably not do all sorts of other things which are also sexist, which happen to affect people who are unambiguously moral agents and have all the same rights as everyone else.

    My second example doesn’t rely on the assumption that more people = good, but only that the destruction of a fetus under those circumstances would require further justification than the bodily autonomy argument (if we accept that there are pro tanto reasons not to destroy fetuses). You furnish a couple of examples of what such justification might look like.

    I don’t see it that way. Why does “destruction of a fetus” require further justification? Does it require more justification than the alternatives? What are the alternatives? Does bringing a human being into a mostly shitty world that’s mostly falling apart and mostly way too full of people already not require some justification? Does it require less? And who gets to make that decision? Is it supposed to be what women are “meant to do” by default? My point is here… whatever your thinking on the subject, you can make that claim all day if you want, that you aren’t really assuming this or that, but what are you assuming? How exactly do you think you’re avoiding these problems?

  205. 205
    Amphiox

    Even if that technology existed at the time I had an abortion, I would have still opted for an abortion because I have never wanted to be a parent. Being able to have a fetus whisked outta me to be gestated elsewhere would not have had the slightest impact on my decision, and I think it’s important to remember that a fetus, no matter the technology at hand, should not be able to override a woman’s rights.

    This is a good point. Being forced to be a parent against one’s will is still a serious imposition.

  206. 206
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    A lot of changes occur with conception as well and since birth can’t occur without conception occurring first I think one could argue that the changes that occur at conception are the more important.

    Nope, not at all, SINCE THOSE CHANGES TAKE PLACE IN A WOMAN AND NOT OUTSIDE OF HER BODY. What part of development don’t you understand if you don’t grasp that birth takes the fetus and makes it a baby??? You are one stupid person.

  207. 207
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    This is a good point. Being forced to be a parent against one’s will is still a serious imposition.

    This is new.

  208. 208
    LykeX

    I do believe that abortion is a very poor form of birth control

    Both and. Abortion is bad because even the slight progression of the pregnancy has all sorts of physical side effects and the procedure itself can be unpleasant. However, it’s good because it complements other forms of birth control and can be used even after they’ve failed. Also, some women have latex allergies, react poorly to hormonal birth control or have other issues that might make other methods undesirable.

    Certainly, abortion isn’t something you’d do for fun and is generally an indication that something hasn’t gone quite according to plan, but the world is a much better place with it than without. Three cheers for abortion!

  209. 209
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    To the anti-choice crowd: If you wish to reduce the number of abortions, why not offer the women wanting to have an abortion say two-thirds the cost of raising the child through college? Putting your money where your loud mouth is. Since that is a couple of hundred thousand dollars, maybe you begin to see why you are being an amoral scumbag in forcing women to carry that burden without your aid, and nowadays, without an appropriate level of government aid?
    There are easy ways to reduce abortions, but the same fuckwits opposing abortion also oppose cheap and readily available birth control, the proven method of reducing abortions…

  210. 210
    chris61

    #206 Nerd, The changes you were talking about were changes that happen to the fetus, not the woman. They are changed dictated by a developmental program (set in place upon conception) that adapts to the change in environment. Changing from a fetus to a baby may be more significant from a legal social standpoint but legal social standpoints are subject to change.

  211. 211
    Imbecile Heureux

    consciousness razor #204

    No, that’s clearly not how they do it. But it is illegal. See e.g. http://www.gmc-uk.org/publications/12225.asp. (Legal grounds for abortion are set out in s1(1) of the Abortion Act 1967). Your position – and, as the other thread indicates, that of most others here – is that this is a morally unjustifiable restriction on the bodily autonomy of women. I appreciate the answer, and probably agree with it.

    As to the second point, it requires further justification in that scenario only if we assume that (1) we have pro tanto reasons not to destroy fetuses; and (2) that the imagined scenario removes the bodily autonomy argument – all I meant was that it requires an argument beyond that from autonomy. If fetuses are simply like any other parasite, or perhaps like other unwanted growths such as tumors, then of course destruction needs no further justification at all.I find that scenario a useful one for testing our intuitions about precisely this question, but I appreciate that many people here find that sort of approach crass in the face of real-world problems, and so I’ll drop it.

    I seem, however, to have come across as suggesting either that this scenario somehow undermines the argument from autonomy (it doesn’t) or that no such further justification can exist (it can, as you amply demonstrate). This was not my intention (although I’m also aware that this is “not magic”), so apologies for the lack of clarity (also to Pteryxx #201, who seems to have thought something similar).

  212. 212
    Rey Fox

    There seems to be the assumption hiding somewhere underneath that “more people = good,” and that simply is not tenable.

    No damn kidding. Why do we need to be making more people?

    As for chris61′s most recent comments: called it in #132.

  213. 213
    A. Noyd

    chris61 (#80)

    I can see where a developmental biologist would see big differences between a fetus and an adult but a geneticist, maybe not so much.

    Because almost none of the differences the developmental biologist is looking at would arise from or be reflected in a difference in gene regulation. Oh wait! That’s completely wrong! Geneticists not only acknowledge gene-based differences in the stages of development, they find them super fucking exciting.

  214. 214
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    chris61:
    What are you babbling on about?
    And why are you continuing to treat women as second class citizens?

  215. 215
    A. Noyd

    Travis Odom (#147)

    Additionally, given similar acknowledgement of a continuum of privileges granted, should not the right to exist be the last to fall away, or conversely the first to be granted?

    First, no one has the right to compel the use another person’s body to keep existing. Second, what the fuck does “the right exist” even mean? What if I got an abortion and preserved the fetus in a block of resin or something? It wouldn’t stop existing. If you mean something else determines “existence,” then you’re going to have to come up with a coherent way to describe it that works for zygotes, blastocysts, embryos, fetuses, newborns, children, and adults. But not haploid sex cells, cancers, dead bodies, etc.

    (#169)

    I’ve seen no proposed definition of ‘person’ which would differentiate a newborn as such – this seems problematic to any assertion of relevance to the question, regardless of whether the qualities in question could be theoretically tested.

    “A person is a living human being who exists outside any other person’s body.”

    Considering a newborn to have no more rights or value than a fetus seems unworkable as a moral position

    You’re trying to argue for the fetus having more rights than a newborn or any other kind of person.

  216. 216
    A. Noyd

    Imbecile Heureux (#188)

    Firstly, whether even granted that we never have a moral liberty to force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term, might there be circumstances in which she has a moral duty not to abort? I am thinking here of things like sex-selective abortion….

    No. The fetus isn’t going to give a fuck that it died, but a girl child forced to exist in a society that devalues her is going to suffer for it. How could the more moral option be to force the woman to suffer a pregnancy she doesn’t want and force a girl to suffer a life of extreme inequality and possibly additional abuse because she’s unwanted? If you want to change the culture that gives rise to sex-selective abortions, you have a moral duty to find a way of doing it without mandating the suffering of others. How fucking dare you try to stick the pregnant woman with the moral burden in this scenario.

    I’m tired of these questions that suppose we should value life itself without really paying attention to how life has value.

    if science develops to the level at which it is possible to remove even early stage fetuses and develop them outwith the womb, would a woman still have a moral liberty to abort, or would this be limited to removal

    Your question makes no sense because “abortion” is defined by the removal of the embryo/fetus, not the killing of it. Death is usually a consequence, but it’s not a requirement.

  217. 217
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    The changes you were talking about were changes that happen to the fetus, not the woman.

    Sorry idjit cupcake, they only happen due to the fact that the fetus is breathing on its own outside of the woman. And cupcake, if you have honesty and integrity, now is the time to show it, or show you are nothing but a trolling liar and bullshitter.
    Show me the conclusive evidence that the fetus is more of a human being with more human rights (and don’t forget to enumerate the difference), than the fully human woman carrying the fetus with full human rights, including bodily autonomy. Honesty and integrity requires you to either provide third party evidence, or the shut the fuck up. If you can’t put up, and won’t shut up, your mere opinion is nothing but lies and bullshit.
    Your choice cupcake, choose wisely.

  218. 218
    consciousness razor

    Imbecile Heureux, #211

    As to the second point, it requires further justification in that scenario only if we assume that (1) we have pro tanto reasons not to destroy fetuses;

    Sure, if/then. But I don’t know what those reasons are supposed to be.

    (2) that the imagined scenario removes the bodily autonomy argument – all I meant was that it requires an argument beyond that from autonomy

    Okay, then I misinterpreted some of that. The world is (sadly?) not just made of women’s bodies, so yes, I concede facts about things other than that can matter. That does not mean it’s been “removed” from the equation, though. They should still control what happens to their own bodies — that didn’t go anywhere — it isn’t as if control ought to be handed over to the state (or anyone else) because which decision they should make seems arbitrary or uncertain. That’s why I’ve said it should still be the woman’s decision. Nothing in your hypotheticals suggests that should be any different than it is in the world we actually live in.

  219. 219
    SallyStrange

    And seriously, what are people envisioning? Banks of government-funded gestating units? WHY? Why do you want all these fetuses to become babies?? Who will take care of them once they’re decanted?* I really don’t get it.

    *(Terminology stolen from Lois McMaster Bujold who uses such devices in some of her sci fi novels.)

  220. 220
    Amphiox

    They are changed dictated by a developmental program (set in place upon conception) that adapts to the change in environment.

    Really this is irrelevant.

    Only 33% of human conceptions even make it to live birth. What is set in place upon conception is only a potentiality. And a rather poor bet at that.

    The only thing that matters is ACTUALITY. And the only point where we KNOW that the ACTUALITY is actually realized is the point of birth.

    Only when an ACTUALITY of a potential is realized can said actuality be placed on equal terms with another actuality, that being the ACTUAL HUMANITY OF THE WOMAN.

  221. 221
    A. Noyd

    @chris61
    By the way, are you going to address any of the people from the other thread on all the things you brought up there?

  222. 222
    Imbecile Heureux

    A Noyd #216

    In the passage you quote the issue I raised was not whether I or anyone else had the moral right to force someone to carry a pregnancy against their will; I hope to have been pretty clear from the outset that I think that is not a right that I or anyone else has.

    The question of whether the woman might have a moral duty not to abort for certain reasons (taking sex selection alone as one possible example) is, I think, a different one (although it does leave a moral burden on the woman, as you suggest; a burden that will obviously, as you point out, vary depending on her reasons for wanting a sex-selective pregnancy).

    I realise that this is very sensitive ground for many, and hope not to offend by asking a further question: assuming that it is never right to compel a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy, is your further position that it can never be morally wrong for a woman to abort a pregnancy, regardless of her reason for doing so?

  223. 223
    Inaji

    SallyStrange:

    And seriously, what are people envisioning? Banks of government-funded gestating units? WHY? Why do you want all these fetuses to become babies?? Who will take care of them once they’re decanted?*

    It will be The Fetus Store! Just like an Apple Store, but with rows upon rows of gestating fetuses in acrylic uteruses, at different stages. People can ooh and aaah, browse, and select which Ifetus they want, complete with a wide range of accessories, of course.

  224. 224
    Amphiox

    And seriously, what are people envisioning? Banks of government-funded gestating units? WHY? Why do you want all these fetuses to become babies?? Who will take care of them once they’re decanted?* I really don’t get it.

    It was probably a mistake to bring up some fairy-tale technology that may or may not arise, in societal conditions that will be who-knows-what even if it does arise. Something that profound would likely completely transform human society in ways we could not even begin to anticipate anyways, making all assessments concerning it mute.

    Technology should not as a rule be relied upon as a crutch to get one out of having to make moral judgments that one might think difficult.

  225. 225
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    And seriously, what are people envisioning? Banks of government-funded gestating units? WHY? Why do you want all these fetuses to become babies?? Who will take care of them once they’re decanted?* I really don’t get it.

    Same terminology used in Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, where various castes (alpha to epsilon) were subjected to different development regimes to stunt intellectual growth.

  226. 226
    SallyStrange

    is your further position that it can never be morally wrong for a woman to abort a pregnancy, regardless of her reason for doing so?

    Who the fuck cares? Of course there are morally wrong reasons for aborting. There are morally wrong reasons for doing practically anything. I ate a banana in front of my friend. Why? Because she has an irrational phobia of bananas and I knew it would upset her. That’s a morally wrong reason to eat a banana.

    Shut the fuck up and start fighting back against the literally thousands of attempts by right-wing lawmakers (heavily enabled by the slightly less right-wing Democratic ones) to ban or restrict abortion.

  227. 227
    SallyStrange

    @ Nerd – You’re right, I’d forgotten about that. It’s been a while since I read Brave New World. Seems likely Bujold borrowed it then. Of course it’s also a kind of obvious choice.

  228. 228
    Inaji

    Imbecile Heureux:

    is your further position that it can never be morally wrong for a woman to abort a pregnancy, regardless of her reason for doing so?

    Excuse me, but just why, specifically, are you so focused on the reason any given woman, at any time, might have for obtaining a termination? Are you unaware that it isn’t any of your business? If a woman wants to terminate a pregnancy, she generally has a good reason to do so.

    As for morally wrong, well morally wrong to who? What strikes you as a morally wrong reason to do something may not strike the next person the same way. So what…gear up the Abortion Inquisition and torture women into confessing the moral wrongness of their reasons for wanting a termination?

  229. 229
    SallyStrange

    @Inaji – LOL! The new iFetus, with 4Gene Conception. Get it today!

  230. 230
    Imbecile Heureux

    Wow, no, not at all. I’m interested in the moral issues surrounding abortion, and how these interplay with the laws we set up to regulate it. I have no ulterior motive here than trying to understand those issues. I’m not sure what to make of the points that a woman generally has good reasons for wanting to terminate an abortion, and that that these reasons are none of my business, other than to note my complete agreement with it.

  231. 231
    chris61

    #217 Nerd, one might argue that a normally developing fetus is a fully functioning human being for its stage of development. Whether it fulfills the criteria for a “fully functioning human being” as you put it, depends upon what you set your criteria for fully functioning human being to be. Your criteria seem to be existence outside a uterus. Okay. Nope it doesn’t fulfill your criteria. Not arguing with that. Some people would argue you don’t become a fully functional human being until you learn to drive, get a job and move out of the parental home. Fetus clearly doesn’t fulfill those criteria either. There are probably people out there who don’t consider you a fully functioning human being until you make your first million dollars. I suspect most of us don’t fulfill that criterion.

    Of course the changes that occur to the fetus upon exiting the uterus only happen because the fetus is breathing outside the woman. That’s what I mean by a change in environment. The changes that occur upon conception only occur because a sperm fuses with an egg. So what. What makes one set of changes more important than the other?

  232. 232
    consciousness razor

    Imbecile Heureux, #222:

    I realise that this is very sensitive ground for many, and hope not to offend by asking a further question: assuming that it is never right to compel a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy, is your further position that it can never be morally wrong for a woman to abort a pregnancy, regardless of her reason for doing so?

    You can do things for bad reasons, which of course is morally wrong (otherwise we’re equivocating with the word “bad”). However, that’s not because I’m obsessed about what goes on in everyone’s heads. It’s because doing things for bad reasons has (perhaps somewhat indirect) bad consequences. Those are the only things I have any access to, in order to assess whether something is moral or immoral. Those outcomes themselves are the bad things which ought to be avoided, not what goes on in someone’s head. I want less bad effects in the world, and someone thinking something is not by itself an effect that makes any difference to me. You can say those bad reasons “cause” some bad outcomes to happen (although they probably aren’t the only “cause”), which is why this isn’t just total nonsense, but the focus ought to be on which specific bad outcomes there are, not on simply defining something as a bad reason because some indefinite bad thing happens due to them. That leaves us nothing to work with. At some point, you have to get around to saying what the bad thing is which occurs, because there better be some noticeable, actual effect in the world to even talk about. If there isn’t, there’s no reason that anyone else ought to care about it.

  233. 233
    ChasCPeterson

    At the moment of conception two cells become one. That’s it.
    At birth the changes affect trillions of cells simultaneously.

    So your criterion is based on the number of cells affected.
    The Cult of Diploidy would disagree.
    And advocates for “conception” (whether by that they mean membrane fusion or syngamy is seldom discussed) would certainly be better served by using implantation as the magic moment process for assigning “potentiality” but I don’t see much of that.
    Certainly if women’s bodily autonomy is the overriding justification, as it is for most here including me, then birth is the moment process that is logically most important. (Or weaning; hmm.)

    The correct part of the OP is is that because all is process, science cannot draw a dividing line. Such lines can only be drawn ascientifically, via law-making and convention consensus.
    In those arenas, science means very little, and differences about where to draw lines (always arbitrary in some sense) are less important than those about why draw lines anyway and what happens then?

  234. 234
    The Mellow Monkey

    Imbecile Heureux @ 222

    is your further position that it can never be morally wrong for a woman to abort a pregnancy, regardless of her reason for doing so?

    Can it ever be morally wrong for a person to decide not to have sex with someone, regardless of their reason for doing so? Or to put it in another way, should racists be raped?

    If someone has a right to decide who is allowed in their body–be it the vagina, anus, mouth or uterus!–they have that right. They may use that right in accordance with their own biases and bigotries and petty agendas, but because this is a matter of their own bodily autonomy there can be nothing immoral in that specific choice. Unless you think that racists should be raped or forced to give up organs, whatever reasons a person has for exercising their bodily autonomy shouldn’t matter. You can think “whoa, you’re a shithead”, but it’s still their body.

  235. 235
    Imbecile Heureux

    consciousness razor#232

    An interesting set of points – seems to commit you to the position that motivation is irrelevant to morality? (Although I do think we have to be careful to distinguish the question of what makes things bad, from how we find out/assess whether things are bad or not. Otherwise there seems to be a contradiction in your post: if I do something for a bad reason, but it has no bad consequences – direct or otherwise – is the thing I did morally wrong or not? Your post seems to suggest both that it is and that it isn’t.)

  236. 236
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Imbecile Heureux @222:

    assuming that it is never right to compel a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy, is your further position that it can never be morally wrong for a woman to abort a pregnancy, regardless of her reason for doing so?

    It is the right of any woman to choose whether or not they want to remain pregnant or obtain an abortion. There is no wrong abortion.

  237. 237
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Certainly if women’s bodily autonomy is the overriding justification, as it is for most here including me, then birth is the moment process that is logically most important. (Or weaning; hmm.)

    Enfamil exists.

    Uteramil does not.

  238. 238
    chimera

    There are so many bad reasons for eating bananas. This topic really deserves all our high moral seriousness and most scientificky vocabulary.

  239. 239
    LykeX

    @Imbecile Heureux

    assuming that it is never right to compel a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy, is your further position that it can never be morally wrong for a woman to abort a pregnancy, regardless of her reason for doing so?

    Yes. The right to bodily autonomy guarantees the woman the right to have an abortion for any reason she finds personally sufficient. I don’t find any moral objection to her exercising her rights.

    There are certainly reasons for having an abortion that I would find personally insufficient (assuming I suddenly sprouted a uterus and got pregnant), such as the gender selection thing. However, I would consider those in a different category.

    Basically, I would distinguish between moral judgments that guide my own actions and moral judgments sufficiently well-supported to create obligations for other people. There are plenty of things that I do and that I think are right that I would never presume to try to force other people to do.

    I don’t think your question sufficiently distinguishes between those categories, so it seems a little muddled. I hope this was clear enough to get my point across.

  240. 240
    chris61

    #213 A. Noyd, I was thinking more of DNA sequence not gene expression.

  241. 241
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    chris61:

    I was thinking

    Please try harder.

  242. 242
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I was thinking more of DNA sequence not gene expression.

    Which means you both miss PZ’s point on the last two threads, but are nothing but a presupposiitonal liar and bullshitter who won’t shut the fuck up because you must intimidate us into compliance. Won’t work cupcake, I require real evidence…..

  243. 243
    SallyStrange

    Imbecile Heureux, sounds like you should volunteer as a clinic escort. I bet your understanding of morality and abortion would be greatly increased, far more so than by idly thought-experimenting about it on the internet.

  244. 244
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Chris, not one citation. You and your opinion are dismissed without evidence….

  245. 245
    Imbecile Heureux

    Tony #236 (and MellowMonkey #234)

    “It is the right of any woman to choose whether or not they want to remain pregnant or obtain an abortion. There is no wrong abortion.”

    I take the point, but I don’t think that you can conclude the second sentence on the basis of the first alone; I think there is a risk of equivocation in our use of certain key terms in moving from one to another. The first sentence can, I think, be accurately rephrased as follows:

    A woman has the right, as against any individual, that that individual not prevent her from obtaining an abortion. This, I think, we all agree on (and it correlates to a duty, on the part of any individual – including the state – not to prevent her from obtaining an abortion). But does it follow from this that:

    A woman is always at liberty to obtain an abortion (that is, that she can never be under any moral duty not to obtain an abortion – even if others have a duty not to prevent her from doing so)?

    I’m not sure that it does. The second sentence, in particular, seems to contradict the obvious point that SallyStrange made above.

  246. 246
    chris61

    #221 A. Noyd, I thought I had – up to the point I was repeating myself. If there’s anything in particular you thought I missed though I’d be happy to address it.

  247. 247
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I was thinking

    Facts not in evidence.

  248. 248
    SallyStrange

    It seems to me to be both obvious and trivially true that a person can have terrible motives–even malevolent ones–for getting an abortion. As I said, this is true of pretty much any activity.

    I just don’t see what useful insight flows from that.

  249. 249
    chris61

    #241 Tony, My apologies. Lots of scientists doing lots of different things consider what they do genetics.

  250. 250
    SallyStrange

    But does it follow from this that:

    A woman is always at liberty to obtain an abortion (that is, that she can never be under any moral duty not to obtain an abortion – even if others have a duty not to prevent her from doing so)?

    Either there’s jargon involved here that I’m not getting, or this is getting fucking stupid.

  251. 251
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Wait, maybe there’s an answer to this too:

    Imagine a person with a terrible motive for an abortion. Then imagine letting them have access to an actual real live person-child. Yeah, even in that case the abortion is the better choice.

  252. 252
    Imbecile Heureux

    LyleX #239

    The point is well made, and well taken. I think that perhaps by disambiguating our understanding of “right” here may help to address such confusions. In particular, having a moral right not to be prevented from doing something is not the same as having a moral liberty to do that thing (we can, I think, have a right not to be prevented from doing that which we have a duty not to do).

    SallyStrage #243

    If my questions have given the impression that I am insufficiently sensitive to the horrific experiences that many women face in accessing this right, then I apologise.

  253. 253
    consciousness razor

    Imbecile Heureux, #235:

    An interesting set of points – seems to commit you to the position that motivation is irrelevant to morality?

    Not exactly irrelevant. I said motivations cause bad things to happen, which is certainly true and certainly important to understand if we want to change how people act (on the basis of their motivations) in order to get them to behave morally. But by themselves, they don’t give us anything to hold onto, when we try to make judgments about what’s good or bad. If Sally eats a banana to upset her friend, that’s bad. That tells us nothing whatsoever about the morality of banana-eating. It is, generally, not immoral to eat bananas, certainly not because of the potential for doing it for a bad reason, since practically everything has that potential which means that gets us nowhere fast. And this one case of her doing it to upset her friend is bad because it upsets the friend, not because she intended to upset the friend.

    For another example, social policies that have the unintentional effect of discriminating against genders, sexual orientations, races, classes, religions, atheists, etc., are bad and should not occur, whether or not those bad effects are something anyone anywhere ever intended to happen. Those bad effects are the reasons why we should not have such policies, and someone’s intention (which they can easily deny, by the way) has no bearing whatsoever on the question.

    if I do something for a bad reason, but it has no bad consequences – direct or otherwise – is the thing I did morally wrong or not

    If it’s done for a bad reason, then it undeniably has an indirect effect at the very least. Otherwise, I don’t know what you could possibly mean by calling it “bad.” Likewise for good reasons: there must be some good thing we can identify, or else calling it a “good reason” is just empty verbiage.

  254. 254
    chimera

    Imbécile @ 245

    … but I don’t think that you can conclude the second sentence on the basis of the first alone; I think there is a risk of equivocation …

    Would you please go thought experiment and sharpen your critical tools and wit elsewhere. I’m sure you can find a forum to discuss the truth conditions relating to belief in the case of a shepherd who believes there is a lamb over there in that field, when in fact what they are seeing is a white boulder, if behind the white boulder there is indeed a lamb that the shepherd can’t see.

  255. 255
    Imbecile Heureux

    SallyStrange #248

    “It seems to me to be both obvious and trivially true that a person can have terrible motives–even malevolent ones–for getting an abortion. As I said, this is true of pretty much any activity”

    If you agree that this makes any such abortion morally wrong, then you agree that someone can be under a moral duty not to abort under certain circumstances, even if they have the right not to be prevented from doing so. This is I think a useful clarification (although I suspect you may disagree) – for example, it means that Tony’s second sentence above doesn’t follow logically from the first.

  256. 256
    SallyStrange

    IF? Either you are or you are not sufficiently sensitive.

    To me “sufficiently sensitive” would be abandoning this pointless line of inquiry (pointless because no useful insights flow from it, feel free to demonstrate otherwise) and joining the fight yourself.

  257. 257
    SallyStrange

    If you agree that this makes any such abortion morally wrong, then you agree that someone can be under a moral duty not to abort under certain circumstances, even if they have the right not to be prevented from doing so.

    No, all things being equal, I’d prefer that fucked up evil people not have children. Can’t see why anyone would think otherwise.

  258. 258
    Imbecile Heureux

    I suspect we may be working with different notions of “useful”; but if folks aren’t interested in this kind of discussion then it is indeed insensitive to continue.

  259. 259
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Imbecile Heureux @245:

    “It is the right of any woman to choose whether or not they want to remain pregnant or obtain an abortion. There is no wrong abortion.”

    I take the point, but I don’t think that you can conclude the second sentence on the basis of the first alone; I think there is a risk of equivocation in our use of certain key terms in moving from one to another. The first sentence can, I think, be accurately rephrased as follows:

    While I dislike the idea of sex selective abortion because I think it is rooted in misogynistic thinking, I still support the right of all women to make decisions about their bodies.
    You must have me confused with those I’m pro-choice, but… people.
    I’m not.
    I’m pro-choice.

    The second sentence, in particular, seems to contradict the obvious point that SallyStrange made above.

    So sorry.
    I forgot to follow the groupthink/echochamber/hivemind SOP.

  260. 260
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Seconding Bicorbonate @254.

  261. 261
    anteprepro

    chris has come on over to shit up another abortion thread, huh?

  262. 262
    The Mellow Monkey

    I’m trying to think of the most heinous possible motive for abortion. Like, a woman got pregnant by a man and he died and then she goes to his funeral and laughs at his loved ones and goes “neener neener I’m aborting this fucker”? And maybe he was the last fertile member of his ethnic group and she takes delight in committing genocide through this abortion? AND prenatal testing was able to determine the child will be a left-handed lesbian and she’s an incredibly misogynistic/homophobic/right hander supremacist? And and AND she wants to put on a webcam show of the abortion?

    Uh, yeah. Not really seeing a good reason any moral duty that person has to reproduce.

  263. 263
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Imbecile Heureux:

    If you agree that this makes any such abortion morally wrong, then you agree that someone can be under a moral duty not to abort under certain circumstances, even if they have the right not to be prevented from doing so

    I don’t like where you’re going with this.
    It stinks too much of “Aha, I’ve found a scenario where it is ok to infringe upon a woman’s bodily autonomy.

  264. 264
    SallyStrange

    I agree that there are immoral reasons for aborting a pregnancy.

    I think it would be fairly obvious that a person who acts on such immoral reasons is not a person you can trust to make good moral decisions generally.

    I am baffled why you would lay any sort of duty on such a person to create a brand new human being instead of to refrain from doing so. What could possibly be gained? The most likely outcome seems to be suffering for the child, who is consigned to being raised by a person who makes poor moral decisions, or to foster care or adoption, both of which are suboptimal outcomes.

    Generally speaking, there are more people on the planet than there should be. Generally speaking, in my opinion, there’s a moral duty to not get pregnant, and then, if one becomes pregnant, there’s a moral duty to abort if at all uncertain about whether one is up to the task of childbirth and childrearing/adoption proceedings.

    It’s not that you’re insensitive. It’s that you aren’t making much sense.

  265. 265
    Menyambal

    Agreeing with the requests for the philosophers to go away. Some people here have been hurt, or have seen others hurt, or have fought to be heard. Showing up here and saying that you are just talking, about a very traumatizing subject, is tactless and triggering.

    Go read and think. Don’t ask people who have been trampled upon to do your work for you.

  266. 266
    Imbecile Heureux

    “Showing up here and saying that you are just talking, about a very traumatizing subject, is tactless and triggering.”

    Message received. Apologies if anyone has found anything I have said triggering.

  267. 267
    anteprepro

    Mellow Monkey:

    And maybe he was the last fertile member of his ethnic group and she takes delight in committing genocide through this abortion? AND prenatal testing was able to determine the child will be a left-handed lesbian and she’s an incredibly misogynistic/homophobic/right hander supremacist? And and AND she wants to put on a webcam show of the abortion?

    Uh, yeah. Not really seeing a good reason any moral duty that person has to reproduce.

    “I shot a fetus in Reno just to watch it die”

  268. 268
    gog

    @irisvanderpluym #93

    That’s appalling and somehow not surprising.

  269. 269
    Rey Fox

    Why do you want all these fetuses to become babies?

    Babies are overrated.

    Unpopular opinion time!

  270. 270
    chris61

    #244 Nerd, Perhaps if you would clarify what you want a citation for specifically I could provide one – or at least tell you where you could find one for yourself.

    #120 a_ray Sorry missed this comment earlier. Doesn’t work that way for biological females. Even a geneticist would know that.

  271. 271
    A. Noyd

    Imbicile Heureux (#222)

    In the passage you quote the issue I raised was not whether I or anyone else had the moral right to force someone to carry a pregnancy against their will; I hope to have been pretty clear from the outset that I think that is not a right that I or anyone else has.

    It’s incoherent, though. What is a moral duty without some form of compulsion to perform it? How can you understand the gravity of that moral duty without measuring it against the costs and consequences of compulsion? Just how moral is a duty if we treat failure to perform it with a shrug? Or how moral is it if we create a worse situation through enforcement?

    although it does leave a moral burden on the woman, as you suggest; a burden that will obviously, as you point out, vary depending on her reasons for wanting a sex-selective pregnancy

    No. You are saddling her with the fulfillment of your goal. At cost to her. At cost to her potential offspring. When you have alternatives available to you that lack such costs. That is not a scenario where you get to say the moral burden is in any way hers.

    assuming that it is never right to compel a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy, is your further position that it can never be morally wrong for a woman to abort a pregnancy, regardless of her reason for doing so?

    I think SallyStrange and consciousness razor mostly have this covered, but let me ask you this: Why would it be more moral to end a life before it has suffered than to impose the suffering that necessarily comes of being born? Why not default to demanding reasons for forcing things to be born?

    (#230)

    I’m interested in the moral issues surrounding abortion

    If that was true, you wouldn’t be basing your end of the discussion on hypothetical situations and people. You weren’t even using the correct definition of abortion as of #188, and maybe still aren’t if you failed to absorb my correction.

  272. 272
    consciousness razor

    I think it would be fairly obvious that a person who acts on such immoral reasons is not a person you can trust to make good moral decisions generally.

    Ah, but the state will take care of the child! If not, rest assured that God will Provide. If not, then the probably the free market will get around to it one of these days, so it’s no biggy. You have to remember we are supposing in this scenario that there are no other problems in the world to take into account, other than what the bad, bad woman is doing to that poor fetus who’s being destroyed. So then it’s very clear that she’s doing something bad (not sure what, but it’s definitely something) … which makes no difference at all, because nobody else should be able to force her out of making that decision anyway. Therefore, we can definitively prove that shit does indeed happen, and that sometimes you can’t do shit about it. Success!

  273. 273
    A. Noyd

    chris61 (#240)

    I was thinking more of DNA sequence not gene expression.

    That was pretty obvious. The point is, a geneticist definitely “would see big differences between a fetus and an adult” because there is waaaaaaay more to genetics than sequencing DNA.

    (#246)

    I thought I had – up to the point I was repeating myself. If there’s anything in particular you thought I missed though I’d be happy to address it.

    You could start with everything you left out of #594 and then try #710 and #750. I’ll let others say which of their comments you failed to answer. Try assuming that if you feel repeating yourself would provide a sufficient answer, you have not actually understood what’s being said.

  274. 274
    Inaji

    Tony:

    It stinks too much of “Aha, I’ve found a scenario where it is ok to infringe upon a woman’s bodily autonomy.

    What IH is doing is no different from those repugnant assholes who want to play the “Is it rape now?” game, with their endless hypotheticals, fantasies, and scenarios. It does stink.

    ***

    For the record, I’m one of those poster people for abortion. My mother wanted one, but was afraid to die from a back alley abortion. So, I was birthed and had one hell of a fucked up life. The abuse, of which there were different kinds, was intense and unrelenting. I’ll be living with the effects of that abuse until I die. More than one life would have been much better for being able to obtain a safe termination.

  275. 275
    Pteryxx

    Imbecile Heureux @222:

    I realise that this is very sensitive ground for many, and hope not to offend by asking a further question:

    Do you realize it’s not offense you’re causing, but sexism and dehumanization? That causing such is not a matter of certain people’s sensitivity, but of being complicit in a social strategy of ignoring women’s concerns, voices, and lives?

    assuming that it is never right to compel a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy, is your further position that it can never be morally wrong for a woman to abort a pregnancy, regardless of her reason for doing so?

    Y’know, this has been argued before. Surely there MUST be SOME situation where a woman’s morally wrong! [about abortion, about birth control, about being raped, about dressing slutty, about drinking alcohol...] It never ends. It literally never ends. Gotta score those woman-blaming points somehow.

    IH, some reading for you. I suggest sampling women’s abortion stories at imnotsorry, two blog posts by Ophelia Benson (here) and (here), and the article The stealth war on abortion in Rolling Stone. This is from page 2:

    While “each state has a different scenario,” says Yoest, AUL’s central strategy is to make women – not the “unborn” – the focal point of its efforts. In the past few years, AUL has drafted numerous bills that claim to protect women, recently including them in a new package it has dubbed the “Women’s Protection Project.” Based on misleading facts and dubious medical information, the package is full of model legislation with names like the “Parental Involvement Enhancement Act” (which requires parental notification or consent for underage abortions), the “Abortion Patients’ Enhanced Safety Act” (imposes draconian regulations on abortion providers), the “Women’s Health Defense Act” (designed to protect women from the supposed physical and emotional health risks posed by later-term abortion) and the “Women’s Right to Know Act,” perhaps the most punishing measure in the package. To make it possible for a woman to give her “informed consent” before terminating a pregnancy, it requires that she know “the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the unborn child at the time the abortion is to be performed,” justifying a mandatory ultrasound.* “Forced ultrasounds tell a woman exactly what she already knows – that she’s pregnant,” says Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. “These laws aren’t intended to provide new or useful information; they are intended to force more burden and shame on women who are simply exercising a constitutional right.”

    Questioning the morality of women w.r.t. abortion, birth control, and sexual activity is a core tactic of the forced-birth side. You are not helping by playing with women’s morality as an interesting philosophical entertainment.

  276. 276
    Al Dente

    Imbecile Heureux @266

    Apologies if anyone has found anything I have said triggering.

    You can’t even make a decent apology. When you say “apologies if you’re offended” then you are putting the onus of being offended on the person who is provoked. If you actually want to apologize, you say “I apologize that I offended you.” See the difference? Now try again, only this time try to fake your sincerity better.

  277. 277
    Amphiox

    I was thinking more of DNA sequence not gene expression.

    Then why did you use the word “geneticist” in the beginning? Geneticists do not do that.

    So your criterion is based on the number of cells affected.

    That comment was meant for a mind that works at a much simpler level that yours, Chas.

    On this specific topic, your problem lies in the other direction. And I really have neither the time, energy, nor inclination to waste any effort discussing it with you in particular.

  278. 278
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Chris, the proven liar and bullshitting troll:

    Nerd, Perhaps if you would clarify what you want a citation for specifically I could provide one – or at least tell you where you could find one for yourself.

    I was explicit, just as I am for godbots lying and bullshitting about their imaginary deities. If you don’t understand you must prove your fetus is more human with more human rights than the woman who is fully human and has full human rights, you don’t understand what the critical evidence you must provide to convince even one of regulars or lurkers you are anything other than a troll.
    Work on it. You may even learn something, but if you can’t put up, and won’t shut the fuck up , you have demonstrated to everybody here with prima facie evidence you have nothing other than your mere evidenceless opinion. The fact you even needed clarification tells everybody you aren’t really listening, merely preaching your stupidity and idiocy.

  279. 279
    Amphiox

    Some of us, by dint of a lucky draw of the genetic lottery, have the privilege of getting to view this issue as a purely intellectual exercise. Something that will never affect us personally, and that we will never have to face in the reality of our own lives, or even, if we are really lucky, in the lives of others we might care about.

    Our privileged position in this regard is *not the default state*. And it behooves us to remember that for some other people this is NOT a dry, hypothetical, intellectual exercise.

    A little sensitive, a little empathy, is in order here.

    It’s the least that a decent, ethical person should strive to do.

  280. 280
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Oh, and Chris, in case of tie, the woman always wins….as her humanity and being full human being is absolutely not in doubt….

  281. 281
    PZ Myers

    In any case I wasn’t looking to start an argument, just making a comment that there are at some fields of biology in which the similarities between a fetus and an adult human are more obvious and their differences less so.

    I was thinking more of DNA sequence not gene expression.

    Lots of scientists doing lots of different things consider what they do genetics.

    Holy crap, chris61, you are a babblin’ idiot. Go away and stay out of this thread: your ignorance isn’t helping things.

  282. 282
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Hmm, will he do as the red letters o’ doom advise or will he comment again?
    Place yer bets!

  283. 283
    zacharysmith

    Hmm, it is disappointing for me to see ad hominem attacks on commenters that express a different view to Mr Myers. I had been posting in the lounge and enjoying hugs etc, but to see people sworn at and called idiots for disagreeing is not to my liking. Can someone explain to me why this is needed?

  284. 284
    PZ Myers

    He was not called an idiot for disagreeing. He was called an idiot for pretending to know anything about biology while saying patently stupid things.

    But you’re right, it wasn’t nice to call him an idiot. I should have called him a lying idiot.

  285. 285
    Galactic Fork

    Hmm, it is disappointing for me to see ad hominem attacks on commenters that express a different view to Mr Myers. I had been posting in the lounge and enjoying hugs etc, but to see people sworn at and called idiots for disagreeing is not to my liking. Can someone explain to me why this is needed?

    1) calling somebody an idiot or swearing at them, isn’t ad hominem. It’s just being insulting.
    2) They aren’t being insulting because someone is disagreeing with “Mr Myers” ideas, but because someone is disagreeing with their own ideas, and they actually care about these ideas. But on the bright side, they are generally being insulting AND saying why the person is stupid. Not all opinions are equal. The people here just have a low threshold for stupid ones.

  286. 286
    anteprepro

    I had been posting in the lounge and enjoying hugs etc, but to see people sworn at and called idiots for disagreeing is not to my liking.

    If you want nicey-nice exclusively, then just stay in the lounge. Swearing and insults are not frowned upon outside of the Lounge and are acceptable in Pharyngula culture.

  287. 287
    ajb47

    Umm, in the underwear on your head thread at 562, chris61 says she is a she. Or at least that chris61 has 2 X chromosomes and the accompanying secondary sexual characteristics.

    This, of course, has no bearing on chris61′s unsupported assertions, lousy understanding of science, and general lack of thought about her arguments.

  288. 288
    Valde

    #195

    SallyStrange

    12 March 2014 at 5:56 pm (UTC -5)

    There seems to be the assumption hiding somewhere underneath that “more people = good,” and that simply is not tenable.

    Someone noted sometime during the past few days (it’s been busy, so I can’t recall who, sorry) that the Christian commandment to be fruitful and multiply seems to have been fused with the capitalist drive for eternal exponential expansion, with the end result that even pro-choicers pay very little attention to the fact that more people is probably generally a bad idea at this point, considering the state of our ongoing ecological catastrophe.

    This article is worth a read, it is about how capitalism necessarily requires more people to be born:

    http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/2011/11/01/natalism-is-the-systematic-objectification-and-enslavement-of-human-beings/

    The writer is an anti-natalist, and though I don’t necessarily agree with everything he has ever said (and I haven’t even read his entire site yet) – he still makes some great points in this article.

    An excerpt:

    The rationalizations for such mind-boggling waste and government power are well-known. We need to keep manufacturing more children because “the economy” needs to keep growing (and by extension, the tax base). We need more slaves on the lines to keep Social Security afloat and wipe rich elderly people’s asses. We need to keep the nation ahead of other, inferior nations. We need to keep the white race ahead of other, inferior races.

    To the average person, procreation is purely ego-worship. From the perspective of the ruling class, procreation is not just ego-worship for themselves, but also a manufacturing process. Capitalism is predicated on, and wholly depends upon, constant, never-ending growth. This desperate process can only be driven by two things: finding more efficient ways to generate production or consumption from the people already existing, or creating more people who will produce and consume. Because of this, procreation, immigration, and anything else that raises population is vital for the survival of capitalism (and, of course, baby items alone are an industry worth seven billion dollars).

  289. 289
    Inaji

    Hmm, it is disappointing for me to see ad hominem attacks

    An insult is NOT an ad hominem fallacy, and all you’re doing is making yourself sound like an idiot.

  290. 290
    Valde

    And I suspect that Kristine and other PL secularists scientific views on the personhood of zygotes have been informed by Dr. Maureen Condic. I have spent the last couple of months reading the various secular PL blogs, and her articles are often referenced, if not explicitly, implicitly:

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2007/01/life-defining-the-beginning-by-the-end

    http://www.westchesterinstitute.net/images/wi_whitepaper_life_print.pdf

    I will not paste any excerpts here, because it is vomit worthy. But if anyone is genuinely interested in tearing apart Condic’s arguments, there ya go.

  291. 291
    Inaji

    zacharysmith, avail yourself of the commenting rules. Any further whingeing about how people comment belongs in Thunderdome, not in an active thread with a specific topic.

  292. 292
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    zacharysmith:
    Abortion is a topic that affects people deeply. Anti-choice/forced birthers actively campaign to rob women of their basic human right to bodily autonomy. They don’t frame this campaign in that way. No, they frame it as “concern for the rights of the fetus”. However, at the end of the day, their concerns about fetal rights has resulted in women being denied one of their basic human rights. Many of us who are pro-choice understand how vitally important it is to support the right of women to choose what to do with their bodies. Denial of that right has resulted in women across the planet being treated as second class citizens, as walking incubators, as 3/5 of a human.

    There is no excuse for this. There is no justification for this. It is abominable and antithetical to Humanism.

    Because of this, many people (not all) who support legalized abortion will react ferociously. Bad words will be used. Insults will be flung. If you cannot deal with that, then you may want to stay in the Lounge. I can guarantee insults or naughty words will continue to be used. We’re talking about human rights here. That’s far more important (IMO) than worrying about how people will react to “fuck you” or “douchebag”.
    I have a question for you-
    What is worse: telling someone to fuck off or denying someone their human rights?

  293. 293
    zacharysmith

    Whether it is an insult or an ad hominem, where is the virtue in that? I’m sorry for you Inaji that a person genuinely asking this question prompts an ableist slur from yourself.

  294. 294
    anteprepro

    Whether it is an insult or an ad hominem, where is the virtue in that?

    Really? That’s what you’re going to go with? “Virtue”? Just shut your fucking ignorant gob already. Go back to the Lounge, or the Victorian Era, or something.

  295. 295
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    zacharysmith:
    Please stop tone trolling.
    Content is more important than tone. ESPECIALLY in discussions like this one.

  296. 296
    PZ Myers

    Perhaps to you, honesty is not a virtue.

    And “ableist slur”? Fuck off.

  297. 297
    Inaji

    zacharysmith:

    Whether it is an insult or an ad hominem, where is the virtue in that?

    You were wrong. Does that not matter to you? It should. As it doesn’t, you do not belong in serious discussions. So go back to the lounge, or take your sorry arse to Thunderdome, where you can cry unimpeded, and you won’t continue to break the commenting rules by causing a derail.

    I’m sorry for you Inaji that a person genuinely asking this question prompts an ableist slur from yourself.

    Thanks ever, Cupcake. Here’s a protip for you: if you decide that your whining is more important than abiding by the commenting rules that you spill your stupidity all over the table, don’t be surprised when you’re called on it. It’s always so nice that someone like you wanders in, reads some of the incredibly awful things people are saying when it comes to blithely ignoring a woman’s status as a human being, and you decide to get upsetty over naughty words and insults.

    /derail

  298. 298
    Inaji

    PZ:

    And “ableist slur”? Fuck off.

    It would seem that saying “you’re making yourself sound like an idiot” is exactly the same as saying “you’re an idiot” now. The things you learn on the internets.

  299. 299
    Desert Son, OM

    zacharysmith at #283:

    Hmm, it is disappointing for me to see ad hominem attacks on commenters that express a different view to Mr Myers.

    Several items about this: First, can you point to the specific comments in this thread demonstrating ad hominem fallacies? Remember, an ad hominen fallacy is an indication than an argument is wrong not based on the lack of merit in the argument, but on some characteristic of the person making the argument irrelevant to the making of arguments. For example, “Your argument is wrong because you have green hair!” is an (admittedly oversimplified) example of an ad hominem fallacy, whereas “You’re wrong, and also an asshole!” is merely a counter-statement that includes an insult, as Galactic Fork at #285 and Inaji at #289 have already clearly indicated.

    Second, if, in fact, what you meant was that it was disappointing for you to see insults against commenters expressing a different view, then you may find it more to your liking to stay far away from Pharyngula (outside the Lounge, and perhaps even that. The Lounge is compassionate, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t passionate) in the future, as this is a commentary area where simply placing a drink order may earn you a “Comin’ right up, asshole.”

    Third, can you make a compelling argument why it is relevant to the discussion at hand (an important rule of Pharyngula is staying as on-topic as possible in threads devoted to specific subjects) that your particular, individual disappointment is . . . of anyone’s concern, at all, and worth attention?

    I had been posting in the lounge and enjoying hugs etc, but to see people sworn at and called idiots for disagreeing is not to my liking

    Ah, so really what your comment is about is whether or not this particular thread, and this particular blog conforms to your liking and your assumption of how dialogue should transact, rather than being about what you can learn from the discussions, challenges, information, argumentation, education, expression, and dynamics herein.

    In other words, you’re disappointment in reading insults is a symptom of what’s really bothering you, which is that you’ve encountered a section of the world that doesn’t behave according to your particular standards of tone, regardless of the quality of content.

    What’s interesting is that you remain an agent with some measure of power in this situation, even if words like “idiot,” “asshole,” and “shitstain” (a particularly excellent example, in my opinion, with thanks to Tony! at #139) bother you. You have the power to attempt to reply in kind. You have the power to actually make a substantive argument pertinent to the discussion at hand. You have the power to try to make any arguments in whatever tone you desire, without policing anyone else’s. You have the power to spend more time reading the blog to get a sense of how effective communication works here. You have the power to leave. Isn’t this great? Look how much power you have!

    You even have the power to attempt a substantive argument about why anyone else should care whether or not you are disappointed by tone, though I should warn you that precedent propositions of same have been thoroughly routed from the field in the past by such illustrious units as The 9th Cephalopod Hussars, Cthulhu’s Own Non-Euclidean Rifles, and The 42nd Horde Volunteer Light Horse. If you are preparing to make an argument for tone, well . . . good luck. You’re going to need it.

    I don’t know what your history at Pharyngula is, but if you are at all new, I recommend spending some time – a fair amount of time, not just one post or one day – lurking and reading and getting a feel for this place, before commenting.

    PZ makes the rules: It’s his blog and he dictates terms, rightly so. But there is a community here, and if you’re going to communicate effectively with (and within) a community, it pays to learn exactly what effective communication is in that community.

    Now, to return to the issue at hand: Anything to say about the issue of the continuing efforts of much of the world throughout all of history to create a culture denying the personhood of women?

    Still learning,

    Robert

  300. 300
    Amphiox

    Whether it is an insult or an ad hominem, where is the virtue in that?

    The virtue lies in the CONTENT of the comment. Whether an insult is or is not included is irrelevant, except wherein the comment being replied to is one which deserved an insult. In which case an insult is quite virtuous indeed.

  301. 301
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    It gets worse — she claims her position is totally feminist!

  302. 302
    Amateur

    The single, unifying theme among all varieties of anti-abortion proponents is contempt for women as autonomous people — as individuals. All the arguments and justifications and hysterias are just the noise they make towards the goal of making their contempt palatable to themselves and to others.

  303. 303
    rq

    Desert Son @299
    *clap clap clap*
    (You missed the Military Division of the Pullet Patrol in your list – I’m sure there must be one!)

  304. 304
    Kristof

    I’ve seen very similar approach used by Catholics – pretend to be scientific and use science-y words the way it fits their dogma, without mentioning the dogma of course. One of their favourite argument is that embryo has different DNA than any of parents, and therefore is different humand and must be protected at all cost. Of course they reject scientific approach if results and conclusions do not support their dogma and switch into Catholic religious newspeak wich makes sophisticated theology look almost rational and sane.

  305. 305
    atheistblog

    Fear of heights is known to develop considerably later than birth, subsequent to the ability to crawl.

    Ok. My point was not that when human beings or any other life form actually first feel the fear of height or fall, but those subconsciousness intuition might develop in fetus. And just because babies are crawling and falling, I don’t think fear of height is learned experience, it is very intuitive. Just like how starting from mitosis how cells divides, then DNA goes on to develop appropriate protein at particular stage and particular space and particular time, but still the basic code is there in every strand. Not every codes are activated at every space-time.
    Anyway, a calf born from a cow just start frolicking and instantaneously reacts to the fall. So fear of heights developed early in other mammals but not in human beings , and there wouldn’t be any fear or no natural reaction to the depth in ocean living beings, perhaps whales stopped to develop such part of coding.
    Tortoises develops sense of direction and sense of magnetism even in developmental stage, so what ? Do People stop eating turtles because it has those inherent sense or subconsciousness developed in its developmental stage or it has those subconsciousness while living ?
    Arguing consciousness is a bar for abortion is pathetic argument, its like people who doesn’t know what Differential or Integral calculus are arguing that there is a fundamental problem in Partial Differential Equations and its solution methods. Just pathetic.
    If someone argues consciousness is such a bar to kill something then why do they kill and eat animals ?
    Why ? Consciousness is just like any other body parts, it has livability or viability only after it is born.
    Before that Abortion is Legal, Abortion is Ethical, even up to the day the fetus is born, and Safe Abortion must be provided to the (host, ok let me rephrase it with anthropomorphic emotion )person who undergoing the procedure. Abortion is a fundamental human right, just like free speech (actually this one we humans invented over accretion of knowledge, 2000 years ago no one gave a damn about it ).
    Ok, let me put this way, Abortion is a fundamental human right just like reproduction.

  306. 306
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Imbecile Hereux

    I am thinking here of things like sex-selective abortion

    I actually understand your problem. The thought that somebody would abort a fetus because its female is one that tells a tale of misogyny. It’s not right in a moral sense. This is why you have to look at it from a consequentialist standpoint: At the point at which somebody wants a sex-selective abortion, the misogynistic system is already in place. Whether the woman buys into it herself or is concerned for her own life and safety and that of a resulting daughter is irrelevant. The point is: would you rather have a baby girl born into a family where she’s hated?
    For the same reason, the more stupid I personally might find the reason for an abortion, the happier I am it happens.
    Many people would see a woman who lacks the resources to raise a child to be “morally right” to abort. But honestly, the thought of a woman who might want to be a loving parent and but who lives in a society that actually hates women and children so much that it pays a lot of lip service to their welfare but no actual money for it and therefore needs an abortion breaks my heart.
    The thought of the hypothetical idiot (because while there’s overwhelming evidence for the last example but very scarce evidence for the existence of Sl*tty McSl*t) who didn’t bother with contraception and fucked the whole football team: not so much.
    And every person who decides that parenthood is simply not for them and who therefore aborts has my deepest gratitude and respect, because they are wise enough to know that children are not pets and that you ruin the life of an actual person if you fuck up.
    Or what joe said in much less words.

    Tony
    I applaud Kristine Kruszelnicki for her courage in putting her views on abortion out there and thank Patheos for providing this forum
    That’s not courageous. There’s nothing courageous about parroting opinions that are already dominating the public discourse. The dishonesty of those people never stops…
    I’m also not sure if Chris is able to forget. Something would have to penetrate that skull in the first place

    +++
    I’m always wondering how come that in all those hypotheticals mankind has developed artificial uteri but no fail-proof contraception method…

    +++
    I am completely, utterly uninterested in the actual status of the fetus (or embryo, or zygote. Most abortions happen to embryos anyway). Because there are only two scenarios in which that matters:
    1) The fetus is a super-human who therefore gets more rights than any oridinary human
    2) The woman becomes an under-human and therefore gets less rights than the fetus
    So, everybody, choose your position and be prepared for opposition.

    +++
    chris

    Nerd, one might argue that a normally developing fetus is a fully functioning human being for its stage of development.

    Yes, and when I look outside I can see fully functioning tables for their stage of development, also known as a wood.

    Rey Fox

    Babies are overrated.

    I agree, there’s better eating on a turkey.

    +++Ehm, I think chris idenstifies as a cis-woman+++

    WMD Kitty

    It gets worse — she claims her position is totally feminist!

    Who? Kristine? Chris? Christina Hoff Sommers? (I’m wondering if this has something to do with the name)

  307. 307
    annie55

    So thanks to the heads up here, I went and watched the debate between Matt and Kristine, and I believe I got the answers to points I raised over at Patheos.

    I particularly appreciated Matt’s refusal to allow the “logistics” question to be glossed over, essentially forcing Kristine to claim that no…wait yes…all miscarriages would/would not/maybe have to be investigated, and that the “logistics” of doing so is not a reason to NOT investigate.

    This woman is scary.

  308. 308
    Menyambal

    Yeah, enforcement would be incredibly invasive. Impossible, really.

    The only two ways I can see to make it work would be to persuade all women to report themselves for every little spot, or to just go ahead and lock them all up like brood beasts and get on with birthing every potential child. The unreality of the plan doesn’t seem to bother the religionists, or maybe it is really their goal.

  309. 309
    azhael

    Ok, i want to present something in the full knowledge that for many it will not be well received because this is a discussion about women’s rights and i’m about to make it about men. I apologise in advance, but reading some comments i became aware of this conflict and i think it’s an interesting one to consider.
    Let me start by saying i’m definitely pro-choice…bodily autonomy trumps any moral consideration of the potential value of a fetus and up to a certain stage in development i personally don’t value that fetus very much anyway (i don´t care if it’s human, if it doesn’t have a functional brain it’s trivially different from a lettuce). I´m also very much of the opinion that humans are way too plentiful already and the issue would be how to reduce our population, rather than taking special steps to further increase it.
    Now, having read this:

    Even if that technology existed at the time I had an abortion, I would have still opted for an abortion because I have never wanted to be a parent. Being able to have a fetus whisked outta me to be gestated elsewhere would not have had the slightest impact on my decision, and I think it’s important to remember that a fetus, no matter the technology at hand, should not be able to override a woman’s rights.

    This is a good point. Being forced to be a parent against one’s will is still a serious imposition.

    If bodily autonomy is taken out of the equation, then we are in a scenario where the woman´s rights and the woman´s duties are identical to that of a man. However, it is implied in that paragraph that even without bodily autonomy, a third party cannot impose on the woman the decission to having that fetus develop into a viable infant and therefore having to provide for it. In other words, you can´t impose on a woman having a child she doesn´t want even if bodily autonomy and fetal dependency are taken out of the equation entirely. However, that is pretty much exactly what happens with men who don´t want a child but whose partner has chosen to keep it.
    This creates a very problematic conflict in which despite being in equal situations, men and women would have different rights and duties.

    I´m not offering this as “what about the menz?”, but rather as a way of showing that there is a serious problem with the statements above. Something doesn´t work there.

  310. 310
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @Tony! #139

    I will definitely be reading that paper at some point; thanks for the link.

  311. 311
    carlie

    The “but what about if we could gestate an embryo in a vat” scenario is so far away in time, and so far away from the issues at hand, I don’t see any value whatsoever in indulging in that particular “thought experiment”. It again takes away from the decisions that women ought to be able to make right now, and the effects that not being able to do so are having on women right now. And lest anyone think I’m being short-sighted, the vat scenario is at best many decades away.

  312. 312
    carlie

    Seriously – discussing the what about the vat argument in a discussion about rhetoric people are actually using to fight against real abortion rights is as ludicrous as two people arguing over what they would do if they got a million billion dollars, but then one of them having the other one declared legally incompetent to manage their own finances on the basis of what the they said they would do with the million billion dollars. And it’s dangerous. “You said you’d buy 20 cars if you had a million billion dollars, so obviously you can’t be trusted to handle your own household budget!” is the same as “but you might not let your embryo be raised in a vat so therefore we have to make abortion illegal” or “but you might decide to abort your fetus two days before the due date so we have to restrict abortion access to the first six weeks after conception”.

  313. 313
    Galactic Fork

    However, that is pretty much exactly what happens with men who don´t want a child but whose partner has chosen to keep it.
    This creates a very problematic conflict in which despite being in equal situations, men and women would have different rights and duties.

    I´m not offering this as “what about the menz?”, but rather as a way of showing that there is a serious problem with the statements above. Something doesn´t work there.

    It really doesn’t change anything. After the baby is out of the body, the man and woman have the exact same choices. It’d be the same if it was removed immediately. The whole autonomy thingie only comes up because it’s taking place inside her body. Which is important.

  314. 314
    heatherdalgleish

    Science neither says that abortion is ethically wrong nor ethically RIGHT. I think it’s important to point out that salient fact – while people are enjoying the feeling of having their strong, deeply held beliefs supported.

    Science doesn’t even tell us that we should grant rights to adult human beings.

    Science doesn’t tell us that we should value newborns as human beings, any more than we should value second trimester fetuses as human beings. It doesn’t tell us if the abortion limit should be set at 12 or 24 weeks, or if parents should be allowed to euthanize infants up to a month after birth.

    And science doesn’t tell us that women should have absolute sovereignty over their womb.

    Let that sink in. Science doesn’t speak unequivocally on the ethics of any position on the value of life or the question of abortion. ALL positions are argued with a mixture of science and emotion. And all positions could accuse each other of “lying with science” and “appealing to emotion”.

  315. 315
    Nick Gotts

    azhael@309,

    Let’s assume the technology to teleport a fetus instantly, painlessly, and without any health risk from a woman’s uterus to an artificial womb. It’s still a violation of the woman’s bodily autonomy to do this without consent, because the technology is, necessarily, “reaching into” her body. She is perfectly entitled to make her consent to this conditional on the fetus being teleported out in non-viable pieces rather than whole. Of course, long (probably, infinitely long) before such teleportation is possible, it will be possible for a man to have a uterus made from his stem cells and implanted so he can gestate. Once a fetus is ensconced there, he’ll be in exactly the position a woman is now, even if the fetus has another biological parent or parents, of whatever sex or gender: he gets to choose whether it stays there and if it leaves, by what method it does so.

  316. 316
    Nick Gotts

    heather@314,

    Who, in this thread, do you think is arguing contrary to your assertion? Of course science doesn’t dictate ethical judgements; it is, nevertheless, frequently relevant to those judgements.

  317. 317
    LykeX

    azhael #309
    You could obviously argue about who has what rights once the fetus is completely removed from the woman and gestating on its own. At that point it certainly becomes much more relevant to figure out exactly how human it is and what rights is has at what point, given how it would no longer be imposing on the woman’s rights. Also, it would open up discussions about parenthood, child support, and many other things.

    However, it’s not terribly relevant at the moment. We’re talking about a technology that’s not even theoretical yet.. Given how we’ve got very real issues right now, I think maybe this should be taken to Thunderdome if you want to discuss it further.

  318. 318
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    azhael:

    If bodily autonomy is taken out of the equation, then we are in a scenario where the woman´s rights and the woman´s duties are identical to that of a man. However, it is implied in that paragraph that even without bodily autonomy, a third party cannot impose on the woman the decission to having that fetus develop into a viable infant and therefore having to provide for it.

    I have no idea why you think bodily autonomy was ‘taken out of the equation’. It wasn’t. Teleporting a fetus out of a woman’s body would still need consent.

  319. 319
    carlie

    heather – did you read the OP? It’s about someone who did exactly that, tried to argue that science was a justification for her position, and a scientist telling her that no, it is not.

  320. 320
    azhael

    The whole autonomy thingie only comes up because it’s taking place inside her body. Which is important.

    Of course, and i completely agree, as i have already declared, that given that in reality, right now, bodily autonomy is an issue, it trumps all other considerations.
    However, i didn’t raise that hypothetical, somebody else did and i happened to come across it and find what i think is a clear problem with the answer given to it.

    And it does change something because they don’t have the exact same choices. According to Inaji’s comment, in the hypothetical, even without bodily autonomy and dependency, a woman can choose to terminate a pregnancy that at that point has nothing to do with her body at all. Translated into a real scenario, when that happens to a man, he doesn´t get to choose. Those two things are in direct conflict.
    If “not inside your body” doesn’t grant a man the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy, why would a woman have that right?

    Anyway, i realise it’s a hypothetical with no current value in reality, but the problem was staring at me right in the face and i couldn’t ignore it.It does highlight that there are issues with the concept of enforced parental duties irrespective of individual choice, but yeah this is not the place and i’ll shut up now.

  321. 321
    azhael

    Sorry, while i was slowly writting my last post there have been a few comments on the subject which i didn´t see and therefore didn´t take into account in my last comment. I´ll read them carefully.

  322. 322
    azhael

    She is perfectly entitled to make her consent to this conditional on the fetus being teleported out in non-viable pieces rather than whole.

    Thank you Nick, i think i’ve got it now. That was the missing piece.

  323. 323
    Anri

    Well, when it comes to automated gestation, we should just ask Princess Celestia of Equestria – she’s very wise, she’ll know what to do.

    …what?
    My hypothetical is just as valid as yours.

  324. 324
    Louis

    PZ, #126,

    I’m reading this thread at the moment, but I could not pass this up:

    If fetuses are human beings, then so is an anal polyp.

    And many of them are running for office.

    I apologise if this joke has been made between #126 and here, I’m not passing that fucker up.

    Louisb

  325. 325
    Louis

    Fuck me deftly. I can’t even spell my own name today. Goooooood start.

    Louis

  326. 326
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Louis:

    Remove the ‘o’, the ‘i’ and add an ‘h’ on the end. That work?

  327. 327
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    zacharysmith #283

    Hmm, it is disappointing for me to see ad hominem attacks on commenters that express a different view to Mr Myers. I had been posting in the lounge and enjoying hugs etc, but to see people sworn at and called idiots for disagreeing is not to my liking. Can someone explain to me why this is needed?

    Jesus fucking christ on a pogo stick, why can’t these tone-trolling wankers learn the meaning of ad hominem? An ad hominem is an attempt to discredit someone’s argument by casting doubt on their character or attributes rather than engaging with the argument itself. It is not synonymous with “insult”.

    “You are wrong, therefore you’re an idiot”
    Not an ad hominem.

    “You are wrong, and you’re an idiot”
    Not an ad hominem.

    “Your argument is idiotic, therefore you’re wrong”
    Not an ad hominem.

    “You are an idiot, therefore you’re wrong”
    Now that’s an ad hominem!

  328. 328
    Louis

    Oggie,

    Frighteningly accurate. :-)

    Louis

  329. 329
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Anri

    Well, when it comes to automated gestation, we should just ask Princess Celestia of Equestria – she’s very wise, she’ll know what to do.

    …what?
    My hypothetical is just as valid as yours.

    You win!

  330. 330
    Louis

    As I read the thread I am struck by how novel and insightful all the anti-abortion/pro-life/anti-woman/forced-birth arguments are. No. Really. None of them are endless repetitions of the same illogical tropes and bastardisations of science that have, to even the least competent reader, been thoroughly eviscerated on two threads here and hundreds of books and publications elsewhere.

    Oh no wait, they’re a load of old shite. I’ll get back to mocking the clueless and let those with the appetite for it barrack the bullshitters.

    Louis

  331. 331
    Pteryxx

    annie55 @307 and Menyambal @308:

    I particularly appreciated Matt’s refusal to allow the “logistics” question to be glossed over, essentially forcing Kristine to claim that no…wait yes…all miscarriages would/would not/maybe have to be investigated, and that the “logistics” of doing so is not a reason to NOT investigate.

    Yeah, enforcement would be incredibly invasive. Impossible, really.

    The only two ways I can see to make it work would be to persuade all women to report themselves for every little spot, or to just go ahead and lock them all up like brood beasts and get on with birthing every potential child.

    That’s been tried, actually; and no it didn’t work.

    SciAm (partially behind paywall)

    Ceauşescu, Romania’s leader from 1965 to 1989, banned contraception and abortions and imposed a “celibacy tax” on families that had fewer than five children. State doctors—the menstrual police—conducted gynecologic examinations in the workplace of women of childbearing age to see whether they were producing sufficient offspring. The birth rate initially skyrocketed. Yet because families were too poor to keep their children, they abandoned many of them to large state-run institutions…

    Instead of random drug testing in your job – random pelvic exams! See also DailyKos and ceausescu.org.

    Some countries in Latin America right now criminally investigate miscarriages, such as El Salvador:

    Chapter II of El Salvador’s reformed Penal Code, dealing with “Crimes Against the Life of Human Beings in the First Stages of Development,” penalizes women who induce their own abortions; give their consent to someone else to induce an abortion; doctors, pharmacists or other health care workers who practice abortions; persons who encourage a woman to have an abortion or provide the financial means to obtain an abortion; and persons who unintentionally cause an abortion. According to an October 2010 shadow report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, Report on Violations of Women’s Human Rights Due to the Complete Criminalization of Abortion:

    El Salvador’s restrictive abortion laws were further solidified in 1999 with a constitutional amendment defining a human being “from the moment of conception.

    For good measure, and to make sure these laws were strictly enforced against apparently dangerous women trying desperately to control their lives, the country established a policing apparatus to prosecute, investigate and denounce any suspicious activities in public hospitals and other places in the country.

  332. 332
    mildlymagnificent

    Desert Son @299

    I’m pretty sure The 3rd Battalion of The Invisible Pixels would be available for call up when required, even though we earned our medals on rape threads – we’re versatile.

  333. 333
    Galactic Fork

    And it does change something because they don’t have the exact same choices. According to Inaji’s comment, in the hypothetical, even without bodily autonomy and dependency, a woman can choose to terminate a pregnancy that at that point has nothing to do with her body at all. Translated into a real scenario, when that happens to a man, he doesn´t get to choose. Those two things are in direct conflict.
    If “not inside your body” doesn’t grant a man the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy, why would a woman have that right?

    Sorry. I didn’t have on my reading comprehension glasses.
    But the autonomy issue is still there in deciding which procedure of pregnancy termination she’d allow on her body. And frankly, since the whole pro-life thing is more about controlling women and demanding they be maternal, in this hypothetical future, that growing in a synthetic womb idea would probably be seen as the epitome of evil, and it’d be the right to natural birth or something. Look at shit people who choose in vitro fertilization get from some groups today.

  334. 334
    Pteryxx

    Further reading: countries where even discussing abortion is illegal.

    Chilean safe abortion hotline

    The phone buzzes insistently and I scramble to answer it. Nervously, the woman on the other end explains that she has six pills of misoprostol, and wants to know how to use them to induce an abortion. I explain that according to the World Health Organization (WHO) the recommended dose is 12 pills spread over nine hours, dissolved under the tongue. I explain the symptoms, and how to recognize problematic bleeding or infection. But I can’t say much more, or ask her any questions about her health, because helping a woman to get an abortion is illegal in Chile, and if we were caught openly discussing it, both of us could be arrested.

    [...]

    There are five hotlines like ours in Latin America (Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela), and others around the world. Some are independent, and others work closely with organizations such as Women on Waves, which uses tele-medicine to provide medical abortions to women in countries where it’s illegal.

    Of the five Latin American hotlines, Chile’s faces the most constraints. We do have the right to share public information with the women who call us—but that’s about it. That means addressing women in the third person (“According to the WHO, a woman can….”), and not asking any questions. Cell phone minutes are expensive, and sometimes women run out of minutes before we finish explaining the procedure. If the line does go dead, we have no way of knowing if we’ll ever be in touch again. We also can’t provide any kind of counseling, and there’s not much we can do to address the social stigma of abortion. And as far as the pill itself is concerned, women are on their own.

  335. 335
    katybe

    I wouldn’t usually comment on a discussion once it gets this long (and yes, I’m including the previous thread in that), particularly not on a subject which has attracted so many first time posters who just want to engage in interesting thought experiments about rights and responsibilities, but given my resolution last year of speaking up especially just to agree, I want to thank the vast majority of the posters here for all the work they’re doing. I’d always considered myself pretty pro-choice, and took the view that if a woman had decided she couldn’t, for whatever reason, take care of a child, an abortion WAS the responsible decision, but I was also vaguely in favour of the time limits imposed, in terms of viability, because I assumed the legislation was based on sensible science. Thanks to reading the bloggers and commentators here, I’ve come to understand the bodily autonomy argument which I’d never associated with this when I first formulated my views, and am now properly pro-choice, instead of just thinking I am. So thank you for educating me while you’ve been banging your heads against a few blank walls.

  336. 336
    rq

    So thank you for educating me while you’ve been banging your heads against a few blank walls.

    Seconding. The brains must be splattering wantonly. :)

  337. 337
    praestans

    Great. If I choose not to spell conventionally – I’m ‘illiterate’ and I must learn to ‘English’ [sic].

    This is where it’s better to spell it as ‘knock’ rather than ‘nok’. Can someone please regenerate Noah Webster – post-haste?

    I daresay GB Shaw would’ve got short shrift from PeeZed, or those who’d indite Anglic speakers.

    Let me iterate: what is the scientific definition of a human being, please?
    I note PZ you never actually answers it but you seem prevaricating.

    My other point is that when half the baby is coming about..is peradventure the top half a person/a human being and the bottom half a foetus? so I suppose someone whose scalpel slips and severs something..well… I daresay my allusion’s plain.

    so inside the womb foetus ergo not person?

    And ‘science says’.. how can science which is not a sentient being say anything, and if it’s synechdoche, which scientists? Are there any scientists that are scientifically anti-mur.. I mean anti abortion?

    A point of orthoepy: might you please refrain from alphabetising the indefinite article. a (as in ‘ago’) modicum of respect for that Lancashire lad Alistair Cooke (whose bones did reprobates take) will be appreciated. unless you’d like to alphabetise ‘an’ as in I’d like ay en apple please &c.

    Ta very much.

    Afzal

  338. 338
    chigau (違う)

    praestans #337
    Do you know how blogs work?

  339. 339
    Amphiox

    Great. If I choose not to spell conventionally – I’m ‘illiterate’ and I must learn to ‘English’ [sic].

    Was your purpose to communicate ideas, or just to show off your linguistic iconoclasty?

    If it was the latter, fine and good, but we reserve our basic human right of free speech to laugh at you and call you illiterate as much as we wish to.

    If the former, then the perception of you audience matters.

    We also reserve to ignore your pretentious, pompous ass whenever and wherever we wish to.

  340. 340
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Let me iterate: what is the scientific definition of a human being, please?

    What is YOUR definition, so we can laugh at it.

  341. 341
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @chigau #338

    Did you understand that? The fuck are they talking about? They still haven’t learned to English.

  342. 342
    chigau (違う)

    Thumper #341
    No. I didn’t understand it.
    But praestans needs to understand that when PZ writes in the colour of blood, like his #165, the end is nigh.

  343. 343
    Amphiox

    What is YOUR definition, so we can laugh at it.

    Well, given that PZ’s last communication to praestans was in red ink, it is 50:50 odds at best that he’ll be sticking around long enough to answer this.

  344. 344
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    Seeing the red writing and continuing to type is like seeing the room tilt and continuing to drink. At the end of the day, you’re going to end up hammered.

  345. 345
    ChasCPeterson

    An ad hominem is an attempt to discredit someone’s argument by casting doubt on their character or attributes rather than engaging with the argument itself. It is not synonymous with “insult”.

    Actually, ‘ad hominem‘ is an adjective.
    You are talking about an ‘ad hominem argument’ or an ‘ad hominem fallacy’.
    An ‘ad hominem attack’ is indeed synonymous with ‘insult’, and this is a very common usage. That is to say, that horse is out of the barn and in the next county by now.
    If someone tries to use ‘ad hominem as a noun, you might still have a pedantic leg to stand on, but an ‘ad hominem attack’ as specified is not ambiguous. Just pretentious.

  346. 346
    Menyambal

    Praestans, a human being is someone who has a birth certificate.

  347. 347
    Pteryxx

    a human being is someone who has a birth certificate.

    point – lots of voting adults do not in fact have birth certificates (see here for instance) and that’s just in the US. However, they have all been born.

  348. 348
    LykeX

    @Chas #345

    An ‘ad hominem attack’ is indeed synonymous with ‘insult’, and this is a very common usage.

    But that would make it tone trolling; they’re whining about how things are being said, rather than the substance of what’s being said. It’s the equivalent of “Waaaaah! You said a bad word. You’re being mean!
    The only way to avoid this is if “ad hominem” refers to the fallacy. In that way, it would address the substance of the comment. However, as has been pointed out, such an accusation would also be false.

    Moreover, the people who say such things never seem to show any understanding of exactly what’s supposed to be wrong with an ad hominem. I often see people talking about fallacies without any apparent grasp of why they’re fallacies. Consequently, they don’t understand when there are exceptions or relevant distinctions.

  349. 349
    Valde

    I find that forced birthers will use ‘you were mean to me’ as an excuse to end the conversation. It is a common occurrence. Even if I do not directly insult them. A harmless ‘you need to work on your logic’ is trolling, in their eyes.

  350. 350
    Menyambal

    Pteryxx, good point. But that article made me sad and angry. Thanks for some stuff you posted earlier, too.

    The US constitution in one place defines citizens as those born in the US, and the bible mentions breath of life. The local goverment pretty much requires some sort of paperwork.

    I know a young person who was getting all gothic and vampiry for a while. I pointed out that since she had been extracted by C-section, she was technically not of human birth.

  351. 351
    Inaji

    azhael:

    However, that is pretty much exactly what happens with men who don´t want a child but whose partner has chosen to keep it.

    Men can choose to have a vasectomy, a safe, minimally intrusive procedure, if they do not wish to end up with a child they don’t want, and don’t want to support. If a man thinks he may want children some day, store up some sperm in a sperm bank, then get yourself vasectomized. It’s quite possible for men to take control of this situation, however, most men don’t want to take the responsibility.

  352. 352
    Desert Son, OM

    praestans at #337:

    I daresay GB Shaw would’ve got short shrift from PeeZed, or those who’d indite Anglic speakers.

    Oh, oh, oh! Since we’re playing Speculate-Pointlessly-About-the-Sentiments-and-Experiences-of-the Long-Deceased (I love that game!), I’ll play!

    I daresay George Bernard Shaw (do I get extra points for spelling out the full name?) would’ve enjoyed engaging with intelligent people grappling with complex, important, and challenging issues affecting women (Shaw, after all, was an advocate for public restrooms being made available to women in an age when the public, generally, didn’t think that women, you know, needed that sort of thing).

    Moreover, I daresay (I’m digging “daresay,” for certain) George Bernard Shaw would’ve enjoyed meeting people willing to grapple with challenging issues substantively and with clear communication so as to address the issues as honestly and with as much integrity as possible.

    It’s interesting that you choose Shaw—who expressed a concern about a particular set of circumstances affecting women—then turn around and disregard the subject issue specifically in terms of women by characterizing the argument strictly in terms of the fetus (or foetus, if you prefer). To wit:

    top half a person/a human being and the bottom half a foetus? so I suppose someone whose scalpel slips and severs something..well… I daresay my allusion’s plain.
    so inside the womb foetus ergo not person?

    I’m not sure if you saw any of the numerous comments in this thread that talk about the precedence of the rights, health, autonomy, and integrity of the already extant person over the potential possible person. For further reading on this point, you might re-examine comments by SallyStrange at #171, Inaji at #176, Amphiox at #220, Tony! at #236, LykeX at #239, Tony! at #263, SallyStrange at #264, Pteryxx at #275, Galactic Fork at #313, Nick Gotts at #315, Tony! at #318, and Pteryxx at #331.

    To name a few.

    Further:

    so I suppose someone whose scalpel slips and severs something..well… I daresay my allusion’s plain.

    *blows whistle*

    Penalty: False equivalency in the conflation of hypothetical surgical accident with deliberately elected health care procedure. Yellow card. Please turn around so the official can note your kit number.

    Allusions aside, it’s been nothing but illusions and delusions from both kinds of forced birth advocates: [TheBluesBrothers]secular and religious.[/TheBluesBrothers]

    Are there any scientists that are scientifically anti-mur.. I mean anti abortion?

    *blows whistle*

    Penalty: False equivalency in the conflation of the medical procedure of abortion with mur.. (or murder, even). Second yellow card, red card drawn, expulsion from the match and ineligibility to play in the next contest.

    Ta very little.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  353. 353
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Well, it’s nice to be reminded AGAIN that the people that should be my allies are willing entertain that idea that I’m not deserving of full rights and protections. Not very “friendly” of you there, Hermant.

    God, fuck everything. Fuck atheism and humanism if we can’t expect to be treated like we’re people. I hope the movements crash and burn.

  354. 354
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Praestans @337:
    knock it off with that dishonest shit.
    Abortion is not murder. It is the termination of a pregnancy.

  355. 355
    Inaji

    Tony:

    It is the termination of a pregnancy.

    And I’ll point out again, for the fuckwitted crowd, that birth is the termination of a pregnancy. If you want to outlaw all terminations, well…

  356. 356
    Amphiox

    Abortion is the termination of a non-viable pregnancy, either before viability or when permanently non-viable.

    Termination of a viable pregnancy is birth.

  357. 357
    lostintime

    #126

    If fetuses are human beings, then so is an anal polyp.

    I wasn’t as impressed by this as everyone else seems to be. Not all fetuses have the same level of development as a polyp, and there are major differences between an embryo and 3rd trimester fetus. The sentence makes the same discontinuous fallacy that PZ later criticises when talking about new born infants:
    #175

    You can look at color strip with shades of gray from black on one end to white at the other, and we have no problem saying “that end is black” and “that end is white”, while not demanding a strict specification of one specific point along the way as being the transition point from black to white.

    By convention we might agree that the conceptus is not recognisably human, and indeed has the same interests and status as a polyp. But the difference I have with the many commenters here is in drawing a definitive line at the moment of birth and asserting that this is the moment when a fetus ‘becomes human’. The trenchant statement that a human is ‘someone who has a birth certificate’ is far too black and white. Unfortunately as Tony! said earlier, ‘human’ is being conflated with ‘person’, and these are two entirely different concepts. Not all humans are persons, and I would stick my neck out and say that even post-partum doesn’t imbide an infant with the magical qualities of personhood. Personhood continues to develop for weeks and months after the baby is born.
    The pro-life argument can be roughly summarised in this way:

    Humans have a right to life
    Fetuses are human
    Therefore, it’s wrong to kill fetuses.

    Whereas the focus has been on trying to refute the second premise, I’m not troubled by it and I’ve not seen any counterfactual argument that disproves this. For me it’s the first premise that’s incoherent, and by challenging this you can demolish so-called pro-life arguments without resorting to speciesist rhetoric.

  358. 358
    praestans

    Tu Quoque. Does freedom of speech engender my right to call you names, to swear at you, to traduce you and so on…should I deem you merit it – and on a public platform to boot such as this weblog?

    Why not play the ball rather than the man? I suggest ad pilum and eschewing ad hominem.
    Then we could all sleep easily. Including the lad (or indeed lass..or both!) in the the womb, awakening to find the arms of love (now this is a synecdoche, mind).

    If I might then – a definition, a scientific definition of what a human being is (I’m no scientist) is it so abstruse a question to answer I ask you?

    There’re plenty of secular (theist and non-theists) organisations that speak of the enormity of abortion e.g. http://www.secularprolife.org/ and what’s really thrilling is the confluence of science and morality, after listening to Pat Chruchland.

    Peter Singer, philosopher in Practical Ethics writes:

    It is possible to give ‘human being’ a precise meaning. We can use it as equivalent to ‘member of the species Homo sapiens’. Whether a being is a member of a given species is something that can be determined scientifically, by an examination of the nature of the chromosomes in the cells of living organisms. In this sense there is no doubt that from the first moments of its existence an embryo conceived from human sperm and eggs is a human being.

    but singer also says that killing a new born baby is not equivalent to killing a person.

    alas.

  359. 359
    Valde

    #357

    Humans have a right to life
    Fetuses are human
    Therefore, it’s wrong to kill fetuses.

    Whereas the focus has been on trying to refute the second premise, I’m not troubled by it and I’ve not seen any counterfactual argument that disproves this. For me it’s the first premise that’s incoherent, and by challenging this you can demolish so-called pro-life arguments without resorting to speciesist rhetoric.

    I mostly agree with you. I like to use a combo of 1 and 2. Fetuses are human. But are they persons? And should mindless animal organisms (which is what they are, up until roughly 24-28 weeks) have more rights to a uterus owner’s body than even an adult PERSON would have?

    So I do 1) bodily autonomy 2) not a person

    The issue I have with relying on bodily autonomy in full is that too many people still believe that the prenate is some sort of homunculus. So, I like to also disabuse them of that notion, by bringing up the mindless aspect of the prenate – and it is mindless when the majority of abortions occur.

  360. 360
    LykeX

    @lostintime
    This is not the first thread on the subject. We’ve got a 1000+ comment thread going over here, where the bodily rights argument has been thoroughly discussed (and repeated over and over again because the trolls don’t seem to get it the first three times).

    Obviously, the right to life is not without exceptions and cannot be used as an argument for using another person’s body without their permission. As such, whether the fetus is human or not is actually quite irrelevant for the question of abortion. This was actually pointed out as far back as comment #20 of this thread.

    The humanity (or not) of the fetus is still discussed because it’s certainly not as clear as what the anti-choicers would like to pretend, but it’s not remotely the only thing wrong with their arguments.

  361. 361
    rq

    Therefore, it’s wrong to kill fetuses.

    Sure, except for the fact that there’s usually a woman (or person with a uterus) surrounding that fetus, and that person deserves some kind of consideration. An adult person, with all rights that entails. Including one that states one is not forced to share one’s organs with another organism if they do not wish to do so – what was it called again… Wait, I think I have it: bod-i-leee, awww-tonn-a-mee! Yeah, that one.

  362. 362
    LykeX

    praestans

    Why not play the ball rather than the man

    It’s not either/or. Most of us are perfectly capable of doing both. If you think any particular “ball” has been missed, feel free to point it out, but if you start using insults as an excuse to avoid dealing with people’s arguments, then you are the one committing an ad hominem fallacy.

    There’re plenty of secular (theist and non-theists) organisations that speak of the enormity of abortion e.g. http://www.secularprolife.org/

    Yeah, we know. Turns out that the subject of this thread is actually a post made by Kristine Kruszelnicki, the president of one such organization. Imagine that. It’s amazing all the things you can learn by reading the fucking thread before you post.

  363. 363
    Inaji

    From Biodork:

    But onto the specific wording in the premises put forth by Secular ProLife:

    The first two points are an argument to ambiguity. By conflating the terms “human being” and “human in origin” this specious word garble almost sounds like it makes sense.

    Number two happens to be something with which many of us could agree; one might use “person” and “human being” interchangeably in certain circumstances. But using “human being”, when what you mean is “human in origin”, is deceptive and so obviously self-serving that it makes me queasy.

    If you replace “a human being” with “human in origin” in the premises, you no longer have a convincing argument.

  364. 364
    anteprepro

    Does freedom of speech engender my right to call you names, to swear at you, to traduce you and so on…should I deem you merit it – and on a public platform to boot such as this weblog?

    Yes. Relevance? Are you really just another wanker whose only point is to whine about language?

    I suggest ad pilum and eschewing ad hominem.

    I suggest you learn that insults aren’t necessarily ad hominems, and that logic isn’t the exclusive domain of the ivory tower pseudo-aristocracy.

    but singer also says that killing a new born baby is not equivalent to killing a person.

    alas.

    *sad trombone*

    Do you actually have a point, or did you just want to engage in fauxlosophical puffery? Because if that is all you had to offer, thank you for your charitable contribution, as that is EXACTLY the kind of thing that is sorely lacking in the abortion debate. *eye roll*

  365. 365
    Valde

    #363 Inaji

    17. “Unborn humans are human beings.” PROPAGANDA, a distortion and/or mis-use of the language. The word “being” has a number of definitions, one of which relates to “existence”. So, in that sense, because an unborn human exists, it would qualify as a “human being”. However, likewise so would a radish plant qualify as a “radish being”. But since that latter phrase is not normally used in casual conversations, it logically follows that in those conversations, which so frequently include the phrase “human being”, the word “being” refers to something other than “existence”. The actual relevant definition can be inferred from other phrases that are used from time to time: “intelligent being”, “extraterrestrial being”, “alien being”. The word “being” is simply a synonym for “person”.

    Since a radish plant is not a person, that is why the phrase “radish being” does not get used in ordinary conversations. The propaganda is now obvious; abortion opponents are claiming that an unborn human qualifies as a person, without offering any evidence other than the label “being”. Note that because ordinary animals are also nonpersons, we don’t use phrases like “rabbit being” in typical conversations, either. And, measurably animal-level are the minds that unborn humans do have! (How often do you encounter the phrase “fetus being”?)

    From: http://fightforsense.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/manyargs/

  366. 366
    vaiyt

    Tu Quoque. Does freedom of speech engender my right to call you names, to swear at you, to traduce you and so on…should I deem you merit it – and on a public platform to boot such as this weblog?

    This is not a public platform.

  367. 367
    rq

    [before bed] I had a bunch of potato beings for supper. And a few parts of some broccoli beings. They were delicious! (Yes, I’m a monster!)
    Wow, adding ‘being’ really does make them sound more intelligent and person-like than they actually are. [/before bed]

  368. 368
    vaiyt

    Humans have a right to life
    Fetuses are human
    Therefore, it’s wrong to kill fetuses.

    Humans have a right to own their bodies
    Women are human
    Therefore, it’s wrong to force women to give up their bodies.

  369. 369
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    As long as we’re philosophically wanking off:
    My daughter is 17 months old. She and I have the same blood type. If she needed surgery and the doctors wanted to keep blood on hand (which is often the case), I am well within my rights to refuse to donate to my own daughter.

    What is so magical about a fetus that it receives more rights than a one and a half year old?

  370. 370
    anteprepro

    What is so magical about a fetus that it receives more rights than a one and a half year old?

    Speaking of Equestria, I have an idea for a series!

    My Little Patriarchy: Fetus is Magic!

  371. 371
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Inaji #351

    If a man thinks he may want children some day, store up some sperm in a sperm bank, then get yourself vasectomized

    Hell, these days you don’t even need to go to that much trouble beforehand; they can reverse the vasectomy if you want ‘em to.

  372. 372
    Rey Fox

    There’re plenty of secular (theist and non-theists) organisations that speak of the enormity of abortion

    What does “the enormity of abortion” mean?

    and what’s really thrilling is the confluence of science and morality, after listening to Pat Chruchland.

    Thrilling. Yes, I can’t tell you how thrilled women are about having their rights taken away.

  373. 373
    PZ Myers

    praestans: You are simply a terrible writer. Go away now.

  374. 374
    Lofty

    It’s a boy!!” (possibly)
    The only reason I can see for the Fetal Rights Movement to be so passionate about protecting a fetus from abortion is the 49% chance the fetus has a penis and its future must be cosseted in every way. On the off chance the fetus hasn’t a penis then a lesser need for protection is to be established as a penis might be generated in a future pregnancy.
    The pregnant woman? Only to be protected for her service to the penis havers.
    BTW a human fetus has less self awareness than an adult chicken so we should feel more sorry for the chicken as we chop its head off for another McHappy meal.
    /snark

  375. 375
    Tom Foss

    Pteryxx @347:

    point – lots of voting adults do not in fact have birth certificates (see here for instance) and that’s just in the US. However, they have all been born.

    Ah, but I have a birth certificate, and yet I was never born (assuming we define “born” in the Shakespearean sense). I live secure in the knowledge that, if necessary, I could kill Macbeth, and that in order to become a born-again Christian, I’d have to convert twice.

    ChasCPeterson @345:

    Actually, ‘ad hominem‘ is an adjective.
    You are talking about an ‘ad hominem argument’ or an ‘ad hominem fallacy’.

    Actually, the colloquial use of fallacy descriptors like “ad hominem” or “strawman” as nouns is well-established in the skeptical and atheist communities (and even on Wikipedia). It’s a quirk of the community’s vernacular, and probably would be unfamiliar to complete outsiders, but among the members of the community it’s understood that “ad hominem” specifically refers to the fallacious argumentum ad hominem. As the goal of communication is to be understood, and as those in the community both understand and communicate in such a way that the meaning is clear and obvious, the dictionary pedantry is superfluous.

  376. 376
    alwayscurious

    It’s very simple really: I believe in democracy. And I believe that if the 50 trillion cells in a pregnant mother don’t want to share with the <0.026 trillion new cells composing the fetus, they can vote the fetus out.

    Odds are very high, that there are a dozens-hundreds of other eggs that can replace that fetus in short order if the 50 trillion change their mind after aborting the unwanted cells. Why make laws to protect the fetus while neglecting protections for epithelial cells or stem cells or cancerous cells? Is it because this planet NEEDS another human being at any cost or because women can't be trusted to make good decisions about their own bodies?

  377. 377
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    giliell — I was referring to Kristine K. when I said “she claims her position is totally feminist”.

    She claimed that the pro-choice position — and oh, how I wish I’d bookmarked her comment! — is [paraphrasing] “the one that’s really, truly anti-woman.

    IIRC, this was in the previous pro-life-secularist thread some time back at Hemant’s, not the current one.

  378. 378
    Rey Fox

    Is it because this planet NEEDS another human being at any cost

    Oh yes yes absolutely YES!

  379. 379
    Rey Fox

    ♫ Wave O’ Babieeeeees ♫

  380. 380
    Valde

    #377 WMDKitty

    I can’t find that specific quote in Kristine K’s disqus history, but I did find two things that are just…wow

    1) “”I don’t think the rape victim is responsible in terms of the ultimate responsibility if pregnancy was forced on her against her will. Nevertheless, by basic biology of reproduction her body initiated and welcomed a new life into existence even if she didn’t choose or will it. “”

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/08/02/pro-life-clinics-reject-pro-life-volunteer-because-shes-an-atheist/#comment-1004923702

    2)” On the one hand the fetus is not an intruder – the uterus invited him/her into existence and he or she is now in his/her natural and rightful environmen,…”

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/02/17/pro-life-atheist-speaks-to-college-group-but-not-without-some-controversy/#comment-1249253325

    —————-

    Biology = destiny is not exactly what I would consider to be a ‘feminist’ viewpoint.

  381. 381
    ChasCPeterson

    Actually, the colloquial use of fallacy descriptors like “ad hominem” or “strawman” as nouns is well-established in the skeptical and atheist communities (and even on Wikipedia).

    Yes, I know (of course, “strawman” is a noun).
    That’s why I said that “If someone tries to use ‘ad hominem’ as a noun, you might still have a…leg to stand on”.
    But in the case at hand, it was not used as a noun, it was clearly used as an adjective to modify “attack”.

    It’s a quirk of the community’s vernacular, and probably would be unfamiliar to complete outsiders, but among the members of the community it’s understood that “ad hominem” specifically refers to the fallacious argumentum ad hominem.

    Again, except, as in this case, where it is unambiguously used as part of the phrase “ad hominem attack”. A person who uses that phrase is using to mean “insult”, not the fallacious argument. And it’s used that way quite a lot, even within “the community”.

    Yes, it’s tone-trolling. And?

  382. 382
    Desert Son, OM

    Valde at #380:

    From the quotes you posted:

    On the one hand the fetus is not an intruder – the uterus invited him/her into existence

    So, reduction of gender to a binary, and also: The uterus “invited” . . . ? Wha-?

    It reads like an evasion, trying to get around questions of agency in persons by ascribing agency to an organ.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  383. 383
    Tom Foss

    ChasCPeterson @381:

    Yes, I know (of course, “strawman” is a noun).

    A noun, but in context, used as a modifier for the word “argument,” which is typically dropped for convenience, as it is unnecessary to get the point across.

    Again, except, as in this case, where it is unambiguously used as part of the phrase “ad hominem attack”. A person who uses that phrase is using to mean “insult”, not the fallacious argument. And it’s used that way quite a lot, even within “the community”.

    The widespread inability to recognize the difference between “ad hominem [fallacy]” and “insult” (the ad hominem fallacy fallacy) leads me to some skepticism that there’s a common understanding of the split hair between “ad hominem [fallacy]” and “ad hominem attack.” That zacharysmith’s second comment distinguishes between “an insult or an ad hominem” suggests that his initial use of “attack” was not an attempt to split that hair.

  384. 384
    Tom Foss

    That said, I’m done derailing.

  385. 385
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    WMD Kitty

    giliell — I was referring to Kristine K. when I said “she claims her position is totally feminist”.

    She claimed that the pro-choice position — and oh, how I wish I’d bookmarked her comment! — is [paraphrasing] “the one that’s really, truly anti-woman.”

    I thought so.
    Isn’t the “it’s for the good of the woman!!!!” the “argument” behind about each and every anti-choice bill in the last few years? You know, demanding impossible standards on abortion clinics because “we need to protect women!!!!!!”

    +++

    ”I don’t think the rape victim whomping cough patient is responsible in terms of the ultimate responsibility if pregnancy pertusis was forced on her against her will. Nevertheless, by basic biology of bacterial reproduction her body initiated and welcomed a new life into existence even if she didn’t choose or will it. “

    Makes as much sense, does it?

    On the one hand the fetus is not an intruder – the uterus invited him/her into existence and he or she is now in his/her natural and rightful environment

    I said it before, I’ll say it again: Any embryo/fetus to ever settle in my uterus is welcome to keep it. OUTSIDE of my body.

  386. 386
    marilove

    On the one hand the fetus is not an intruder – the uterus invited him/her into existence and he or she is now in his/her natural and rightful environment

    The uterus invited “him/er” into existence. The woman is erased from the experience completely — and it is now about the uterus. The uterus “invited” the fetus into existence. O_o

    It’s creepy and disturbing.

  387. 387
    opposablethumbs

    the uterus invited him/her into existence

    Well we always knew there was no such thing as female people, really. Just ambulatory incubators.

  388. 388
    dianne

    I’ve proposed the following to “pro-life” people, especially men recently: Want abortion to be illegal? Fine, but you’re going to have to take some risks too. We’ll set up a registry. Men and women who can’t get pregnant can sign up there. If more than 50% of eligible people (men and nonfertile women) sign up, then abortion becomes illegal. However, every time a woman becomes pregnant, no matter how she became pregnant or what her desire is in the situation, a random person is selected from the registry. Every discomfort or inconvenience the pregnant woman undergoes that random person undergoes as well. The volunteer (I call xer a volunteer because no one made xer sign the registry) has no say in how the pregnancy changes are simulated in xer or even what constitutes a “discomfort or inconvenience”. Xe can not drop out after being matched (though xe can before being matched…but if enough people do then abortion becomes legal again.) If the pregnant woman says she is exhausted and needs to sleep 16 hours per day, the volunteer does not have the right to demand to verify her sleep log before xe is dosed with somulance inducing meds (I’m thinking high dose benadryl, but there are other choices.) If the pregnant woman dies, xe dies, and in as similar as possible a manner. If she loses her job, so does xe. And so on.

    So, I’ve proposed this scenario to a number of “pro-life” people. It is, I hope, clear that this is a thought experiment. I have no power to implement it nor would I do so if I could. The “pro-life” person can accept with no danger at all. None have. Literally zero so far. The idea of taking the risks they wish to force on others on themselves is so disturbing that they just disappear when the idea is proposed. Yet more evidence, along with the sidewalk harassment, anonymous threats, and assassinations, that the “pro-life” movement is made up of cowards.

  389. 389
    dianne

    I don’t think the rape victim is responsible in terms of the ultimate responsibility if pregnancy was forced on her against her will. Nevertheless, by basic biology of reproduction her body initiated and welcomed a new life into existence even if she didn’t choose or will it. “

    Sorry, I know this one’s been done, but I still have to…I don’t think the cancer patient is responsible in terms of the ultimate responsibility if cancer was forced on him against his will. Nevertheless, by basic biology his body initiated and welcomed a new life into existence even if he didn’t choose or will it.

    It really scans just as well. And the average cancer is actually more of an independent being than the average fetus: quite a lot of cancers can grow outside the body, a fetus…just can’t until at least 21.5 weeks (and rarely until at least 24 weeks). I don’t see any way that if abortion is murder chemotherapy is not murder as well.

  390. 390
    carlie

    dianne – that’s a brilliant way to put it. Mind if I tuck that into my arsenal as well?

  391. 391
    dianne

    @Carlie: Not at all.

  392. 392
    dianne

    I have to say that I’ve never gotten any “pro-life” man to take to my idea of transferring the embryo from the pregnant woman to his intestinal lining so that he can rescue it and grow it in his body. And after I volunteered to find funding for it as an experimental protocol AND write the IRB application. I mean, he wouldn’t have to do ANYTHING, just sit there and gestate. I don’t understand it!

  393. 393
    Amphiox

    Re Dianne @389;

    There are several known cancers that are transmissible (mot famous being the face-eating disease in Tasmanian devils), and can survive outside its host long enough to colonize and establish a tumor on another host.

    That’s an order of magnitude of autonomy greater than any pre-viability fetus is capable of.

    Re Dianne @392;

    I actually recall reading an article in a science magazine years back that speculated about whether this could ever be done. Apparent there are a small minority who want to have the option of doing this (and another small minority who apparently want to be able to breast feed their children). The article also tried to argue that mythological tales like Zeus birthing Athena from his head, or gestating Dionysis in his thigh after D’s mortal mother was killed, or one Native American myth that had Coyote get so jealous of his wife’s ability to give birth after she gave birth to the first two humans that he created the earth out of his scat that there’s been a small latent desire for this in the male psyche since prehistory.

    I think the article ended up concluding that the notion, though technically just win the range of possible, was so ludicrously dangerous as to be absurd, at least for the time being.

  394. 394
    carlie

    Amanda Marcotte just wrote a piece about this also, and brought up a point I wish I’d thought of when we were arguing the other day with the guy about needing babies for adoption: if the argument is that we need babies for adoption,all men ought to be required to make publicly-available sperm bank donations.

  395. 395
    Martha Knox

    I’ve never appreciated this blog as much as I do right now. Having spent almost my entire adult life involved in secular humanist communities and activism, I can’t even say how sick I feel that shit like Pro-Life Humanists are trying to work their way into our magazines, conferences, blogs, and other forums. Thank you for this articulate, educated, and passionate defense of my reproductive rights.

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