Constructive Things Pro-Lifers Can Do to Reduce Abortion


The religious right has roiled the emotional waters on the issue of abortion to such an extent that meaningful dialog is all but impossible. To many people, a fetus is a baby and anyone standing in the way of live birth is a “baby killer” who is less than human. Armed with righteous indignation, the religious right has sought to leverage the government to penalize abortion providers and the injure very women who they expect will raise the child they’re trying to save.

From the left, the “Pro-Life” movement looks like a band of thugs intent on wielding government power in difficult and personal life decisions—decisions that directly interfere with the intimate relationship between a woman and her doctor. The right seems intent on forcing women to bear unwanted children. Where there may have been one poor person, now there are two. I wonder how many in the religious right have been a single mother of a newborn? A little empathy, please.

If you hate the idea of abortion, here are ten constructive (and welcome) things you and the religious right can do to improve the situation.

  1. Make sure that all young adults are given proper sex education, including an understanding of the various contraceptive methods and their effectiveness. It astounds me that this is controversial, but the religious right has hobbled sexual education in a lot of communities. Abstinence-only education policies are a proven failure. This misinformation has to stop. People have bodies and they need to understand how they work. Let’s help people take responsibility.
  2. Wherever possible, reduce and eliminate impediments to contraceptive use. Make them available in schools. Make them a mandatory part of health plans. Prevent irresponsible religious nuts from interfering with contraceptive use. Stop politicizing and slut-shaming people who use contraceptives.
  3. Celebrate and encourage family planning. Family planning allows people to raise strong and healthy children. It’s good for those families. It’s good for society. It’s good for the world. Overpopulation is the root cause of a huge variety of moral problems.
  4. Learn to have a little respect for the person most impacted by a pregnancy and the responsibilities of child rearing. They are a better judge of their capabilities than you are. Child birth is still more dangerous to the woman than abortion. If you don’t have skin in the game, please stay off the court.
  5. Keep your laws and protests out of the doctor-patient relationship. Politicians and ideologues are not qualified. Until you are part of that relationship, what happens there does not concern you.
  6. Learn that laws that restrict abortions don’t stop abortions. They make abortion more dangerous. Anybody who tries to restrict abortion is just being a mean-spirited jerk who is more concerned about dispensing medieval justice than the people they’re trying to “help.”
  7. Stop manipulating women when they are needing to make a difficult decision. Crisis pregnancy centers are there to manipulate women and they have zero liability or responsibility for the outcome of that manipulation. Sadly, these fraudulent organizations are often government funded. This has to stop. Deception and manipulation has no part to play in public policy and it only shows the fraudulent nature of the backers of these organizations.
  8. Provide health care (and especially pregnancy-related care and neonatal care) to all. Reducing the risk of pregnancy and child birth is a great way to mitigate some of the valid concerns surrounding the uncertainty of child birth.
  9. Stop with the abortion torture porn. We get you’re uncomfortable with abortion procedures. Would you also prevent colon or brain surgeries because you’re squeamish? Should we de-fund the lancing of boils because of the ick factor? If you are uncomfortable about the pain a fetus might feel, consider that if it’s a dead human as you say, the Christian god will be torturing that fetus for all eternity for the “sin” of not believing in Jesus. If you’re really into torture porn, isn’t that the thing to really get bent out of shape about?
  10. If you still feel that you are called to intervene in the “sanctity of life” of a fetus, consider being responsible. Put the money necessary to raise and educate the child through college in a trust and give it willingly and without strings to a women who might otherwise have an abortion. Sign a legal contract to provide the money for twenty plus years and then stay out of that child’s life after signing. It’s possible you could save a life this way as many women seek abortions because they lack the resources to raise a child. If your church has an opinion on the sanctity of life, you can measure your church’s effectiveness by counting how many lives they have saved this way. If instead, your church is spending money on property and buildings, entertainment equipment, ministers, or missions, your tithe is contributing to the murder of innocent children. Matt 19:21: “Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’” Churches are anything but poor. Put your money where your morals are.

So, if you’d really like to reduce the abortion rate the above suggestions would have a real effect and we can abandon the failed Christian-based abortion policies in favor of ones that are similar to many European countries and possibly drop the abortion rate dramatically. Even better, we can achieve these goals without being jerks, supporting religious fraud, and treating women like cattle.

Comments

  1. says

    1. why you wanna create more sluts?
    2. see #1
    3. it’s god’s plan, not ours!
    4. how else sluts gonna learn to keep they knees shut?
    5. somebody gotta save the babies!
    6. see #5
    7. you say “crisis pregnancy centers”, i say “planned parenthood”
    8. how else poor brown sluts gonna learn to keep they knees shut?
    9. hands off mah freeze peach!
    10. see #8

  2. Patrick67 says

    I don’t leave a lot of comments on this blog and when I do I realize some times I tend to rant. I ask forgiveness for the times I do that. This post has touched me close to my heart. My late wife had a falling out with the Catholic Church years ago over the abortion issue. It wasn’t so much that she ever intended to have an abortion herself, as much as it was that she felt like a friend of hers, whom she was very close to, was forced by family into not having an abortion during a period of her life when the abortion might have given her a chance to still be alive today. My late wife’s friend was not able to get the proper treatment for cancer that she needed right after she found out she was pregnant.

    A few weeks ago I defended another person on a different site who was getting ragged on about his defense of abortion rights. I left the following post on that site and it sums up my basic feelings about abortion. I hope you won’t mind me posting it here. A lot of folks out there don’t realize how many men support abortion rights. The following was my post.

    “@thomas:
    Please tell me where John made a claim of “liking to kill babies.” He didn’t. This is the only claim about abortion itself that John made; “Abortion is never a great option, but it’s an option that is part of the reality of history and the human experience. Sending it back to the dark ages, is NOT the answer.”

    Everything else that John said is his honest opinion of the politics behind the anti-abortion movement in this country. As far as I can see, he made a very accurate assessment of the situation. The radical conservative side has done their best to turn this into a “hot button” topic upon which it is considered political suicide to even have a rational discussion about.

    As for my own personal feelings about abortion; I wish that no woman would ever have to have an abortion. My late wife and I would never have chosen that route, but that would have been our decision. We couldn’t speak for every other woman or couple or situation. Neither can you or anyone else.

    Should there be limitations on abortion? Of course there should. But the limitations should be made by careful and thoughtful consideration of the needs of the mother and with consideration of sound medical and scientific advice. The limitations would of course become stricter the deeper into the pregnancy you get, but there always must be some accommodation for the life of the mother, the viability of the fetus along the way. This can’t become an all or nothing game played out to win votes in a political arena. That is an absolute stupid idea.

    Every woman, man, and/or couple on the face of this earth deserves access to comprehensive sex education, birth control and family health and planning. That is what will lower abortion rates in the long run. Remove the need to have to make those terrible decisions in the first place is the way to go.”

    Thank you Atheist Experience for speaking out on women’s rights. You have the support of women and even men out here in the trenches. So many in the Pro Life moment have no idea that abortion rights affects men as well as women and that the decisions they have to make every day aren’t for fun nor are they just because they “like killing babies.” Only a fool would make that claim.

  3. ironchops says

    @1 aarrgghh: The image I have of you based on your retorts is that you are an immature, anti-feminist, anti-Christian cud chewing white-trash racial bigot with double standards. Those can’t be your real answers! Come on man…give us the real dope!

  4. Monocle Smile says

    @ironchops
    I’ve noticed that you have a bit of difficulty picking up on satire and sarcasm. aarrgghh’s post was more farcical than satirical, but along the same lines.

  5. ironchops says

    @4 MS: You are correct…I didn’t get that at all, then again I don’t know aarrgghh enough to tell the difference. At least I didn’t call him a troll. Sorry aarrgghh…if you were just being farcical then I retract my post. Damn your good!

  6. says

    and to think i thought my intent would be completely exonerated by counterpoint #9 …

    but just in time comes another real-world example of someone who might’ve written my post with complete impassioned sincerity:

    Texas Radio Host: I Get A Say’ Over Whether Women Can Terminate Their Pregnancies

    “This grumpy old guy believes that those distinct lives in the womb deserve protection,” [WFAA “Inside Texas Politics” host Mark] Davis shot back. “I’m a grumpy old guy, that’s a human life, I get a say.” … “I’m trying to protect women,” Davis opined. “Half of the babies that are born are women and I’m trying to protect them. So, enough of this war on women, enough of this women’s health thing.”

  7. atheist1976 says

    I am an atheist and have always been. Religion was never part of my upbringing in any way. Politically I am mainly liberal.

    I’m often quite surprised by the notion that religion is synonymous with pro-life and atheist synonymous with pro-choice. I am very much on the pro-life side. Of course it is not a black or white issue and there is a large range of situations. For instance I am for abortion in cases such as rape, or a baby that is doomed to a life of unplesent suffering due to a debilitating disability, but on the whole I am very close to the pro-life end of the scale.

    Being an atheist of course I believe that life is very precious and those that exist are very lucky to have beaten the odds of getting here. I am also a firm believer in taking responsibilty for your own actions. The suffering that a women has to go through during pregnency while not being pleasant at all, still pales in comparison to ending someones existence. The same holds for both parents taking responsibility for the child while they are growing up. Taking the view that one person’s rights extend as far as they do not encroach on another persons, I have to take the view that the fetus has just as much right as the mother. Perhaps more so since they have more life in front of them. A young person’s life is to me intrinsically more valuable than an older person’s. It isn’t even a balanced comparison since the fetus has a life on the line and the mother has only a low possibiity of death.

    Arguments about an x week old fetus having no awareness do not hold for me. A newborn baby has very little awareness so I don’t see a huge difference. When I was present at 10 week scans of my own children, I saw a beating heart, a developing brain and limb movement. From the moment of conception, the rate of development is astounding to me and to end it seems very very wrong.

    Arguments about population increase also boils down to taking responsibility to me too. I have two children (both planned) because I believe it is irresponsible to have more. Being sensible about contraception is not that difficult if you stick to what it says on the tin. Sure, there can be failures but the likelyhood is fairly low.

    In a possible future technologically advanced society where fetus’s could be removed and brought to term artificially, or disabilities could be cured, I believe that abortion should in fact be illegal. It is only our technological limitations that force us to make tough choices now.

    I am a regular listener to the non-prophets and listen to podcasts of the show. It always surprises me how anti pro-life all of the presenters are. Its lamost as though the fact that religious people are so pro-life, atheists automatically have to take the other side.

  8. says

    Where do you stand on the concepts of “consent” and “bodily autonomy”? Because your views on the issue don’t seem appreciably different from right-wing Christians who see anything but non-marital, non-procreative sex as “irresponsible” and pregnancy as a kind of punishment or consequence for sexual “irresponsibility.” You assume women who end up with unwanted pregnancies do so because they weren’t “sensible about contraception.” They’re just irresponsible, straight up. So you’re already working from the same sexist premises Christians are.

    Taking the issue of the fetus’s rights vis-a-vis that of the mother, let us consider another scenario. If the mother must have “responsibility” legally forced upon her by laws requiring her to donate her physical body to her child’s well-being regardless of her consent, why shouldn’t that also be extended to the father? If a five-year old child needs a blood transfusion to live, should the government pass laws forcing the father to donate that blood?

    Don’t even respond with “But the father would choose to!” Remember, choice is off the table completely, and so is consent. We’re talking about the extent to which the government can force anyone to give up their own bodily autonomy for the benefit of another. If someone’s kid needs a kidney transplant, should there be laws forcing either parent to donate one of their kidneys? At what point can anyone claim sovereignty over anyone else’s actual body and internal organs? Or is this a privilege we reserve strictly for fetuses? And isn’t it strange that a fetus has this one “right” that we refuse to grant any other person?

    So no, I think you’ll find that atheists are pro-choice not because we reflexively take the opposite side of any issue a theist takes. It’s because we’ve considered the broader scope of the issue, and don’t see any reason why pregnancy should require a woman to check her personhood at the door.

    Last thought on contraception: Yeah, it sure would be nice if more accessibility and education on contraception use were out there. I agree that contraception is the best solution to reducing unwanted pregnancies (heck, they proved it in St. Louis, during a year in which contraceptives were handed out free to lower-income citizens and abortions dropped by over 60%). But you know what? Those Christians whom you think are on the right side of the moral fence here? They’re also the ones opposed to scientifically accurate sex education, contraceptive access of any kind, and any kind of social safety net for low-income families. They vote for “pro-life, family values” politicians who do nothing to pass jobs bills, who oppose affordable health care, and slash funding for education. They demand total defunding of Planned Parenthood but refuse to even hear a single gun-control argument, even after a classroom full of first-graders is blown all to fuck by automatic rifle fire. I guess your life is only precious when you’re 6 months in the womb, not 6 years and in school.

    So while this may not be you, the main “pro-life” lobby is not, despite their public posture, motivated by a desire to save and protect life. They’d stand up to the NRA if that were true. It’s about policing the sex lives of women and punishing any woman who chooses to be sexually active outside of Christian-approved, patriarchal family units. Consider really listening to the arguments of the pro-choice side, before you just allow yourself to absorb the distortions of (mostly Christian) anti-choice propagandists about “irresponsibility.”

  9. Monocle Smile says

    @atheist1976
    There are at least two things on which I disagree so strongly that communication is going to be difficult.
    1) Your opinion that the life of a younger person is “intrinsically” more valuable than that of an older person is unfounded, contemptible, and dangerous. And this is coming from someone who hasn’t yet spent 30 years on this planet.
    2) A beating heart and limb movement are not by themselves indicative of sentience or even anything we would recognize as human life. Brain-dead corpses on ventilators have beating hearts and they sometimes twitch, but they are still dead. They are no longer people. Your education on fetal development and neuroscience is woefully inadequate. That’s perfectly fine as long as you don’t pretend otherwise by saying things like “a 10 week old fetus has as much awareness as a newborn.” There’s lots of science surrounding this, and you might want to start by learning how we declare people brain-dead.

    Furthermore, you start to get a little bit elitist towards the end. You planned your kids. Good for you. But we don’t live in a “Leave it to Beaver” world and our policies shouldn’t pretend that we do. Sure, maybe when we have nationwide comprehensive sex education and unfettered, inexpensive access to contraception, we might think about cracking down on the grey areas of abortion. But that world is a long way off.

  10. atheist1976 says

    I am all for non-marital, non-procreative sex. It is not difficult to achieve this without getting pregnant. It is not just the women being irresponsible, but the man’s too. Both share equal responsibility. I don’t see how this is in any way sexist. As I said, I am talking about full responsibilty of bringing up that child, not just carrying it to term.

    I said nothing about the legallity of abortion except for in a hypotheitical future where it would not longer be necessary. But since you asked, how is “laws requiring her to donate her physical body to her child’s well-being regardless of her consent” less tastful than laws forcing the fetus not only to sacrifice their well- being, but also their life. And she is not donating her body, she is being made to suffer due to a bad decision. I am severely injured for nine months due to some stupid decision I made with full knowledge of the consequences of my actions, how can I have anyone to blame but myself? If I could sacrifice someones life (no matter what stage of development they are in to make my injuries go away, is it right for me to do so?

    “If a five-year old child needs a blood transfusion to live, should the government pass laws forcing the father to donate that blood?” – I realize this is a possible minefield but I am much closer to a yes than a no. A blood transfusion is not life threatening. In fact I regularly give bold to make up for a**holes that won’t. Taking it further and talking about kidney transplants are in the grey area again. But I do not see this as a fair comparision in terms of risk to the doner including added risks of living with one kidney afterwards, compared to the risks of childbirth. I don’t really understand your point about donating organs to a fetus. A mother does not lose any internal organs during pregnancy.

    I am fully behind your views on contraception and do not support the Christian views on not educating people about birth control. However this in no way impacts my views on whether or not abortion is right. Christians may tie anti-contraception with pro-life and atheists the opposite, but I don’t see why it is necessary to do this. They are two seperate things. In my view, part of avoiding uncessesary killing of developing fetusus is exactly tied to being sex education and correct use of contraception. Christians may be on the same side of the fence to me on the one issue of preserving life, but that has no reflection on whether I agree with other ideas they have about guns, contraception or anything else.

  11. Monocle Smile says

    And she is not donating her body, she is being made to suffer due to a bad decision. I am severely injured for nine months due to some stupid decision I made with full knowledge of the consequences of my actions, how can I have anyone to blame but myself?

    O_O
    Yeah, I don’t feel like getting banned from this forum, so I’ll leave this to others.

  12. Monocle Smile says

    But as a final note, if you’re not talking about the legality of abortion, then I think you have utterly failed to understand the nature of being pro-choice. Legality is the only thing we’re talking about. There are plenty of pro-choice people who feel abortion is wrong.

  13. atheist1976 says

    @Monocle
    1) I believe it is. More life = more value. In one of these silly moral dilemmas, so you sent the train towards the pensioner who has already lived a long life, or toward the six year old, who has their full life in front of them?
    2) I didn’t say sentience has anything to do with it and I didn’t intend to imply that a newborn baby has equal sentience to a fetus. You quoted something I did not say. I am simply saying that basing arguments on a fetus not being fully sentient does not carry much weight to me. There is a gradual progression of development from soon after conception to somewhere in early adulthood. Basing the argument on a certain level of sentience is not a good reason to abort in my view.

  14. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    And she is not donating her body, she is being made to suffer due to a bad decision.

    Ok. Let’s back up here. We need to review basic ethics of criminal punishment.

    Someone once said that “an eye for an eye”. Many people have interpreted that as stating that if you destroy someone’s eye, then the just thing to do is to have your own poked out. This is an example of the ethical position called “the retributive theory of justice”. In short, this ethical position is that it is just to punish criminals, for no other reason than they are criminals.

    The retributive theory of justice is a morally abhorrent position. It’s barbarism. Our goal in this world should be to make the world into a better place for everyone, including criminals. This base instinct for vengeance is something we need to suppress and work against. To make myself exceedingly clear, let me say this: If it was within my power to give Hitler the best afterlife that I could, then I would. (Subject to a few conditions, such as a guarantee that he couldn’t hurt others, no loss of deterrence in the real world, no possibility of rehabilitation.) Anyone who wants Hitler to suffer is behaving barbarically. We should have sympathy and empathy for Hitler, and we should make the best gilded cage that we can (assuming it’s easy and cheap for us to do so).

    Punishment for the sake of punishment is not just.

    Most forms of punishment are defensible on the position of deterrence. The deterrence theory of justice is that if we promise to punish future wrong-doers, then we create an incentive for everyone to not do wrong. To ensure that the threat is not hollow, we do have to follow up on the threat to punish when someone does wrong. On this ethical position, the punishment should be narrowly tailored to serve for proper deterrence effect, and no more. That is a scientific question. “How much punishment is necessary to deter X% of this kind of crime?” – that is a scientific question, amenable to scientific inquiry.

    I propose that the evidence we have is overwhelming that punishing women in this way does not provide a significant deterrence effect. Thus the punishment is morally indefensible. Do you agree? I hope we can make progress, but to do that we’ll need to take one point at a time, so let’s try to focus on this point until we get it resolved.

    I don’t really understand your point about donating organs to a fetus. A mother does not lose any internal organs during pregnancy.

    How about all of them for 9 months? Pregnancy is not a walk in the park. Forced pregnancy is losing control of your body for 9 months.

  15. atheist1976 says

    @Monocle
    “have utterly failed to understand the nature of being pro-choice” – very possibly. I am not American. So maybe I should retact those terms and use “pro-abortion” and “anti-abortion”.

  16. atheist1976 says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal

    “How about all of them for 9 months? Pregnancy is not a walk in the park. Forced pregnancy is losing control of your body for 9 months.” – I fully agree. But it is a walk in the park compared to death.

  17. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    So maybe I should retact those terms and use “pro-abortion” and “anti-abortion”.

    No one is “pro-abortion”. There are not groups of people out there counselling every woman to have an abortion in every circumstance. There are groups out there fighting for the legal right of every woman to decide for themself, and that’s why the movement is more properly called “pro-choice”.

  18. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @atheist1976
    I’ll say that at least you’re consistent for saying you would be / are in favor of forced blood donations, and that you are seriously considering forced kidney donations.

  19. atheist1976 says

    Since I would place myself defending the right of the fetus to exist over the admittedly major inconvenince of giving birth and raising a child. Maybe I am pro-life then. Not as a political goal of forcing it into law, but in what I believe is right.

  20. atheist1976 says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal

    “that you are seriously considering forced kidney donations” – please read what I said again. Being mis-represented is starting to annoy me so I’ll leave it at that.

  21. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @atheist1976
    I’m curious of your opinion on the IMHO stronger argument for the legality of abortions up to 3 months and/or 6 months.

    In certain cases when someone is in a coma, a court chooses someone to act as a guardian. In other words, we recognize that this person is not capable of acting for their own best interest, but that they’re still alive (and in the case of some comas they might eventually recover).

    If I cut off your hand, what would be your response to someone stating that a court should appoint someone to look after the best interests of the hand? Presumably you would consider such a thing to be incredibly foolish. Why? The hand has human DNA. Let’s instead talk about an anatomically male adult. I cut off the genitals. Should we appoint someone to look after the best interests of the genitals? No. Why? The genitals have human DNA. The genitals are even capable of reproduction in the right circumstances. In biological terms, it is the germline, and by any straightforward (but naive) appeal to biology, the genitals have a much better claim to being human than the rest of the body. I could repeat the same experiment by appealing to a scenario like Spock’s Brain an episode of the original Star Trek series where aliens with advanced technology removed Spock’s brain from his body in such a way that the body remained alive. Should we appoint someone in that case to look after the best interests of Spock’s body against the wishes of Spock’s brain? Again, no. Why? It’s because we recognize that moral value is assigned to the person, and the person resides in the brain. Specifically, the person is the brain.

    So, when do we bury someone? At death. What’s death? There are several measures, but generally the practice today is to wait for clinical braindeath. In other words, to wait for the end of the brain, which means the end of the personality. After braindeath, the body is no longer a person. It’s merely a piece of flesh, and we oftentimes harvest organs from it, and we dispose of the remains.

    If you’re with me thus far, we can ask the same questions about the start of life. The material facts are that the development of the brain in a fetus happens pretty late into development – at least after 3 months, and IIRC we don’t really have a brain until at least 6 months. Before there is a brain, there is no person. There might be a biologically human being, but there is no mind. There is no personality. There is no person. Biologically, it’s a human being, just like Spock’s body after Spock’s brain was removed. However, ethically, it’s not a person, just like Spock’s body minus brain is not a person. Why are you giving moral rights to a mere hunk of flesh without a mind, esp. at the cost of another actual human being?

  22. atheist1976 says

    @Martin. The world’s daily birth rate is 150,000 per day. That makes the risk about 0.5%. The article even goes on to say “Most maternal deaths are preventable, as the health-care solutions to prevent or manage complications are well known.”, which means the problem lies with health care not whether abortion is right. Given that abortion requires a certain level of access to medical facilities, I would imagine that many of these 800 would survive with the same level of access.

    @EnlightenmentLiberal.
    The crux of this is that I do not equate the value of the life of a person to the cognitive ability they have. If I go into a maternity ward and kill all of the babies in a painless way, none of them would have any conception of what I was doing to them or have any understanding of the consequences. However most people would agree that this would amount to one of the most severe crimes it is possible to commit. Recently in the news there was a story about a women who’s baby was cut out of her when she went to collect baby clothes from a Craigslist advert. It was reported that she would not even charged with murder. To me this is horrific and there is something very wrong with the law there.

    Your coma example would seem to support the pro-life choice. The fetus cannot make a decision either but in that case the court does not step in to protect them.

    If that disembodied hand was out means of procreation and would go on to develop into a new person, then yes the court should ensure someone cares for it. In your example, neither the hand nor the genitals would do this if left to natural processes. Under the right conditions both could be made into a new life via cloning of artificial insemination, but I do not equate the potential for life with an existing life so none of this is relevant.

    In your last paragraph you go into sentience and brain development again. The person is in the process of developing a brain. To me that life has value regardless of whether it’s brain has developed yet, but to you and the others here it does not. This is the difference.

  23. atheist1976 says

    *correction, world birth rate is approx. 350,000 per day so the odds of death are 0.23%.

  24. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    none of them would have any conception of what I was doing to them or have any understanding of the consequences.

    I’m pretty sure babies feel pain.

    Your coma example would seem to support the pro-life choice.

    No, you entirely missed the point of the coma example. If they detect any sort of brain activity, then it’s often called “a coma”. If there is no brain activity, then the person is declared clinically dead. AFAIK, we have the medical technology to keep the blood pumping and most of the vital organs going for a few hours after clinical brain death. I’m decently sure that we have the medical technology that we could entirely remove someone’s brain and with pumps for the blood and pumps for the lungs, we could keep the vital organs alive for a good long while.

    Suppose someone’s brain is removed and incinerated, but the rest of the vital organs are kept alive by artificial, unnatural machinery. Suppose someone else comes along, sees this, and turns off the machines keeping the other vital organs alive – is that murder?

    In your last paragraph you go into sentience and brain development again. The person is in the process of developing a brain. To me that life has value regardless of whether it’s brain has developed yet, but to you and the others here it does not. This is the difference.

    What is your standard – exactly? And why? It seems that your standard is when the sperm meets the egg. Does that mean you’re against modern in vitrio fertilization techniques where they often take a bunch of female human eggs, fertilize all of them with the sperm, and let most of them die? Do you morally equate that to murder?

    Do you know what identical twins are? Identical twins is what happens when an egg is fertilized, and up to three weeks later when it’s split into a few hundred cells, the thing will split into two separate portions, which often grow up into two separate human beings.

    If someone kills the embryo just as it’s splitting, is it a single murder or a double murder? Remember – the splitting can happen IIRC up to three weeks after fertilization and when the thing has a few hundred undifferentiated cells.

    The one most people don’t know about is human chimeras. A human chimera is when a woman has two eggs released into the womb and both are fertilized, and the eggs split into lots of cells as part of normal development. Up to several weeks later, sometimes rarely these two separate groups of cells will clump onto each other, and “merge”. Out of two fertilized eggs, two embryos, a merger happens, and a single human being comes out. This single human being will have two entirely different sets of DNA.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimera_%28genetics%29#Humans
    We only have a few documented cases of this existing “in the wild”, but at the same time there’s very little testing for this “condition”, and some experts believe that the rate of human chimeras in the population is actually very high – much higher than you might expect.

    If someone kills the single embryo that is the result of the merger – is that a single murder or a double murder? Remember – the splitting can happen IIRC up to three weeks after fertilization and when the pre-merger things have a few hundred undifferentiated cells each.

    In your example, neither the hand nor the genitals would do this if left to natural processes.

    So, people on life support aren’t people? You don’t mind if I kill someone on a ventilator? (sarcasm to make a point)

    There are millions of people in this world being kept alive through the regular use of invasive techniques and machinery. Extreme diabetics need regular insulin shots or they’ll die. People on dialysis need to have their blood pumped out of their body and filtered by an artificial manmade technological machine on a (IIRC) weekly basis or they’ll die. There are people in hospital on ventilators and higher oxygen feeds who will die without that. Hell, there’s plenty of people with machines implanted inside their body that regulate their heartbeat and they would die without it (pacemakers). Are these people not alive? Would it not be murder to end the life-giving assistance of the artificial machines that are keeping them alive? Left to natural processes, they wouldn’t reproduce either. They would die.

    Why should I care about “natural processes”? You’re basically at the “appeal to nature fallacy” – that whatever is natural is good. F that. Determining whether something is natural or unnatural has absolutely no relation to whether something is good or evil. They are simply different questions. Oftentimes, acting for the good means acting against natural processes. For example, the cure for cancer would be hailed as a medical breakthrough and would be valued as one of the best moral / ethical achievements of our time, and it would be acting against entirely natural processes.

    Your stated standards are shit, and they’re not actually how you view the difference between life and death. Your position is entirely inconsistent. I know you apply certain standards for life vs death which contradict the positions that you are espousing here. I’m pretty sure this is because you’re not a deep thinker, and you haven’t taken a moment to think about it, and you’re refusing to face reality.

    Come back to me with a standard by which you determine when it’s ok to bury a body, vs when we should keep the body alive on life support. Then, try to square that with your obscene position regarding “we should protect human life starting with human egg fertilization”.

    It disgusts me that you would give so much value to a clump of a hundred undifferentiated cells that you would cause real and actual suffering to a real and actual human being. Where the fuck are your priorities? The only way that your position makes any sense to me is on the assumption that life is magical, and there is a soul, or something. The cold hard truth is that life is not magical, there is no immaterial soul, and your policy proposals are causing real and concrete suffering to real people for absolutely no benefit to anyone.

  25. atheist1976 says

    “I’m pretty sure babies feel pain. ” – which is why I specified “in a painless way”.

    You said “In certain cases when someone is in a coma, a court chooses someone to act as a guardian. In other words, we recognize that this person is not capable of acting for their own best interest, but that they’re still alive (and in the case of some comas they might eventually recover).” – This is talking about a person, with an active brain that has the possibility of recovery. The rest of your comments about removing brains don’t follow from that scenario.

    “What is your standard – exactly? And why? It seems that your standard is when the sperm meets the egg.” I think so yes, because this is the moment that the process of development has been set into motion. Sperms before this will never develop into a person.

    I am not at all fond of IVF, there are enough people in the world in need of adoption that the justification for spending 10’s of thousands on this doesn’t make sense. And yes, I am not at all comfortable with the fact that those embryos are discarded.

    “So, people on life support aren’t people?”. Acting to preserve a life on life support is not much different from acting to preserve an existing embryo so my view that they should both live is entirely consistent.

    Acting to create a life from a hand is completely different. Acting to create life is not the same thing as preserving life that already exists.

    I do not see any contractions at all. Life is precious and should be preserved. Creating life without taking responsibility for your actions is wrong. Both of which I stated up front.

  26. atheist1976 says

    “The cold hard truth is that life is not magical, there is no immaterial soul, and your policy proposals are causing real and concrete suffering to real people for absolutely no benefit to anyone.”

    Yes, and on a cosmological nothing of anything any of us ever do matters. That doesn’t mean that things can’t matter to us in the here and now.

  27. atheist1976 says

    “Come back to me with a standard by which you determine when it’s ok to bury a body, vs when we should keep the body alive on life support. Then, try to square that with your obscene position regarding “we should protect human life starting with human egg fertilization”.”

    This is very easily squared. The embryo will develop into a functioning individual, the brain-dead body will not.

  28. says

    @11 “It is not difficult to achieve this without getting pregnant.”

    I got pregnant while on the pill, using a condom and spermicide. Bullshit.

    “And she is not donating her body, she is being made to suffer due to a bad decision.”

    Having sex with my husband is a ‘bad decision’?

    Thank you for once again proving there is no difference between the pro-life and the pro-rape positions.

    “But I do not see this as a fair comparision in terms of risk to the doner including added risks of living with one kidney afterwards, compared to the risks of childbirth.”

    The maternal mortality rate reachings 1 in 7 in some areas. Abortion is safer than childbirth.

    “so you sent the train towards the pensioner who has already lived a long life, or toward the six year old, who has their full life in front of them?”

    Here’s a thought. Why don’t you keep people off the fucking tracks in the first place?

    But here is a question for you. The guy who sexually assaulted a friend of mine was a decade younger than she was. She used potentially lethal force to fight him off. Do you feel she was wrong to do so instead of just laying back and taking it? After all, he was only trying to rape her, not kill her, and by your reasoning his life is clearly more valuable than hers anyway.

    “Since I would place myself defending the right of the fetus to exist over the admittedly major inconvenince of giving birth and raising a child. Maybe I am pro-life then.”

    The proper term for you would be pro-slavery.

  29. atheist1976 says

    @WithinThisMind
    Virtually all of your points are already covered in my posts above so I don’t feel it necessary to repeat myself.

  30. says

    Given that abortion requires a certain level of access to medical facilities, I would imagine that many of these 800 would survive with the same level of access.

    So that right there is a concession that safe and legal abortion needs to remain a medical option.

  31. says

    @31

    No, you’ve yet to satisfactorily answer any of the points I raised. But it is understandable that you won’t answer the question. Doing so would show just exactly how morally repugnant your stance really is.

    Here is the question again –

    The guy who sexually assaulted a friend of mine was a decade younger than she was. She used potentially lethal force to fight him off. Do you feel she was wrong to do so instead of just laying back and taking it? After all, he was only trying to rape her, not kill her, and by your reasoning his life is clearly more valuable than hers anyway.

    Ultimately, your entire stance is made worthless by the following facts. I know your kind has a major problem with the latter, But that doesn’t make it any less factual.

    A fetus is not a person.
    A woman is.

  32. atheist1976 says

    @WithThisMind

    failures of contraception – see post #8
    exceptions in cases of rape – see post #8 again
    Abortion is safer than childbirth [for the mother] – #8 again

    Did you even read my first post? Obviously you are either unable or unwilling to read and understand the full set of points I have made and would prefer a knee-jerk response to short answers responding to specific points, based on your own opinion of what my views are.

  33. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    “I’m pretty sure babies feel pain. ” – which is why I specified “in a painless way”.

    So, now you’re advocating the killing of the “mentally retarded” because they also cannot comprehend what is happening to them? Painless ways only of course (snark).

    You didn’t answer one of my most important questions, and you dodged the issue entirely. I asked the question in two different ways:

    1- Suppose I take an adult body, extract the brain, incinerate the brain, and keep the body on artificial machines to sustain the life of the remaining vital organs. Then a second person comes along a day later and shuts off the machines. I say that I committed murder, and the second person is entirely brainless and did not commit murder. Do you agree?

    2- What standard do you use to determine when it’s safe to bury a body, vs when it’s morally obligatory to keep the body on life support? What separates a live person in hospital from a dead person?

    ..

    Apparently my point is not obvious to you. Please explain your standard for the difference between life and death for an adult in hospital. In other words, please explain the point at which parts of the body may still be alive, but the body does not deserve protection. Many times in hospital when they declare someone dead, many cells of the human body are very alive, and they’ll live for a while longer. Then, please explain why we should use a different standard at the stant of life to distinguish human life that is worthy of protection and human life that is not worthy of protection. That’s your naked rank hypocrisy.

  34. Monocle Smile says

    @atheist1976
    Wow, do you not realize that your post #8 doesn’t address WithinThisMind’s questions? His scenario has absolutely nothing to do with abortion. You apparently assumed what was being said and addressed that instead. Please try to actually have a discussion.

  35. atheist1976 says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal
    “So, now you’re advocating the killing of the “mentally retarded” because they also cannot comprehend what is happening to them? ”

    Is anyone here even capable of following what is clearly written above. You are now arguing against an example I gave of an act that demonstrates why limited comprehension does not mean people have less right to live.

    1. Yes I agree. However if that body would later develop a new brain, that body is now more analogous to a fetus. I have never stated that killing a fetus is murder. But it is still much worse than suffering a pregnancy. And by the way my wife was still cycling a 16 mile round trip to work at 8 months so “suffering” is too strong a word.

    2. When a doctor deems that there is no chance of recovery.

  36. atheist1976 says

    @WithinThisMind again.

    Yes I missed some of your point. Sorry.

    This man is willfully committing a crime against the woman. The embryo is not and not only that, we all know the consequences of that sex can bring. If the possibility of a child is a consequence of sex with your husband, you accept that risk or your husband has the snip.

  37. Monocle Smile says

    @atheist1976
    You say that killing a fetus isn’t murder, but your reasons for being anti-abortion reveal that your standards are such that killing a fetus is like killing a baby or a mentally retarded person. That is extremely sloppy reasoning.

    The argument for “potential” is garbage. Not sure why I need to explain this.

    Your answer of “when a doctor deems that there is no chance of recovery” is not what EL was asking. Way to fail. WHY does the doctor make this diagnosis? I already called you out for being ignorant of fetal brain development earlier. Why did you not make an effort to fix this?

  38. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    1. Yes I agree. However if that body would later develop a new brain, that body is now more analogous to a fetus. I have never stated that killing a fetus is murder. But it is still much worse than suffering a pregnancy.

    and

    This is very easily squared. The embryo will develop into a functioning individual, the brain-dead body will not.

    Much earlier, you said this:

    If that disembodied hand was out means of procreation and would go on to develop into a new person, then yes the court should ensure someone cares for it. In your example, neither the hand nor the genitals would do this if left to natural processes. Under the right conditions both could be made into a new life via cloning of artificial insemination, but I do not equate the potential for life with an existing life so none of this is relevant.

    You have some explaining to do.

  39. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Also

    “What is your standard – exactly? And why? It seems that your standard is when the sperm meets the egg.” I think so yes, because this is the moment that the process of development has been set into motion. Sperms before this will never develop into a person.

    To be excessively clear: Please pick one and only one: The potential to become a person does not entail that it should be protected. The potential to become a person does entail that it should be protected.

    I think we have agreement on the proposition that an embryo which is a hundred undifferentiated cells is not a person. Correct me if I’m wrong here.

    I think I’ll be amused by the weaseling, backtracking, and moving the goalposts that is likely to follow. Or you could impress me and state that you changed your mind during the conversation, or that you were lying near the start, or that you were lying near the end, or you have no idea what even what your own position is, or something else equally plausibly honest.

  40. atheist1976 says

    That collection is not a fully formed person, but a person in development. The un-cloned hand is not. Once the cells of the hand are set in motion to develop into a person, the line has been crossed and those cells warrant protection. I realize that you do not agree, but that is my view.

    Hypothetical scenario: Backward time travel is possible, and going back and changing things does not change your memory of events you have already experienced. Someone goes back in time and willfully causes the death of my child in those early development stages. I would blame them for killing my child in just the same way as I would if they had killed them in the current time. Maybe that clarifies my view?

  41. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Again, much earlier you said this:

    If that disembodied hand was out means of procreation and would go on to develop into a new person, then yes the court should ensure someone cares for it. In your example, neither the hand nor the genitals would do this if left to natural processes. Under the right conditions both could be made into a new life via cloning of artificial insemination, but I do not equate the potential for life with an existing life so none of this is relevant.

    It seems that what you said earlier is directly contradicting what you’re saying now. At the start, you stated that potential to become a person does not matter. Now it seems that you’re saying potential to become a human being does not matter. You also didn’t answer the important question: Is a clump of a hundred undifferentiated cells a person? How do you define person? (Related to the second part of this post.)

    You have some explaining to do. Were you mistaken before? Are you mistaken now? Did you change your mind from the start of the conversation? Did you not know your own position at the start of the conversation? Do you know your own position now? I need to understand what has happened before I am going to continue on in the conversation. I need you to explain what has happened. If you made a mistake, I need you to own up to it. If I have a misunderstanding, you need to explain it to me.

    Also:

    That collection is not a fully formed person, but a person in development. The un-cloned hand is not. Once the cells of the hand are set in motion to develop into a person, the line has been crossed and those cells warrant protection. I realize that you do not agree, but that is my view.

    Why? Why is that your position?

    Everyone must have starting moral propositions, moral axioms. I want to make the world into a better place for everyone – aka I want to make the world more enjoyable and better from the perspective of persons, aka from the perspective of minds. What is your starting moral values? I find it hard to believe that you decided “yep, I should protect human bodies starting at fertilization”. Presumably you have some justification for that position. Presumably you have some reasoning behind that position. I want to know what that justification is. What is it?

  42. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Typos. I meant to say:
    It seems that what you said earlier is directly contradicting what you’re saying now. At the start, you stated that potential to become a person does not matter. Now it seems that you’re saying potential to become a human being does matter.

  43. atheist1976 says

    “*If* that disembodied hand was [our] means of procreation” – it is not our actual means of procreation, it is a hypothetical scenario moving your example into a state where I would think that the hand should be protected. The original hand that in reality would not form into a person has the potential with cloning techniques to become a person. But in my view, the embryo is a person, but in a very early phase of development and not a cognitive person. It is more than just potential, it is a certainty if all goes well without interruption.

    My reasoning in that the embryo is set on course to become a fully formed person, in just the same way as a baby is set on course to continue developing into an adult. My axiom is that no matter what stage a person is in development, they deserve some protection.

    Mothers who lose their babies at an early stage do feel a sense of loss over it. I have never met one who did not so I have to assume that those people are rare.

  44. atheist1976 says

    Going back to your view that abortion at 3 or 6 months should be allowed. What is your reasoning behind this? Is it due to a certain level of brain function? Pain response? A certain line in development where a non-person becomes a person? Where is that line to you?

  45. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Going back to your view that abortion at 3 or 6 months should be allowed. What is your reasoning behind this? Is it due to a certain level of brain function? Pain response? A certain line in development where a non-person becomes a person? Where is that line to you?

    All of the above. It’s the same line I draw for when I bury a body vs keep a body on life support – is there a personality? Is there a mind? Feeling pain is part of it. A body without a brain is a mere hunk of flesh, and a brain without a body is still a person, again, such as what happened in the Star Trek episode “Spock’s Brain” (see above).

    My reasoning in that the embryo is set on course to become a fully formed person,

    But that’s not true. Most of them do not become persons.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Spontaneous_abortion_in_humans

    > In general, less than 70% of all fertilized eggs will even implant into the mother’s womb causing pregnancy to continue. From there, there is a 25-50% chance of aborting before you even know you are pregnant.
    > Over several trials, this concludes that around 70% of all zygotes fail to be carried to term.

    Further, in fact, a small percentage of them become two persons (identical twins), and a small percentage of them become half a person (human chimeras).

    A fertilized egg is totally not a person in any way that matters. It completely lacks a personality, and for all relevant moral purposes, it’s indistinguishable from any other human cell. It’s a single cell. Again, by outlawing abortion even in cases like this, you are saying that the freedom of a real human being, an adult female, is worth less than the “well-being” of a single cell. As I said before, that’s obscene.

  46. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Related:
    While perusing Aronra’s blog, I noticed a pic of Bill Nye talking about abortion and clicked it, and that’s how I randomly found this relevant blog post making the same points I just did. How serendipitous.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/danthropology/2015/09/bill-nye-tells-pro-life-advocates-you-literally-dont-know-what-youre-talking-about/?ref_widget=popular&ref_blog=reasonadvocates&ref_post=texas-now-has-a-spot-for-the-baphomet-statue
    Bill Nye tells pro-life advocates ‘You literally don’t know what you’re talking about’
    “Many, many more hundreds of eggs are fertilized than become humans,” he says, because not all of those eggs will attach to a woman’s uterine wall and result in pregnancy.

    > Bill Nye: Can We Stop Telling Women What to Do With Their Bodies?

  47. says

    @34 contraception isn’t even mentioned in your post #8

    My question had nothing to do with abortion in the case of rape.

    And no, you still haven’t addressed the safety and wellbeing of the mother other than to say you don’t give a shit.

    @38

    The fetus is also committing a crime against the woman. The same crime, in fact. An unwanted pregnancy is to pregnancy what rape is to sex. It’s using a woman’s body against her will. That it does so unknowingly is irrelevant. A woman isn’t obligated to lay there and take it against a drunk, mentally ill, or sleep-rapist either. As you are repeatedly demonstrating, there is no ‘pro-life’ argument that doesn’t work equally well as a ‘pro-rape’ argument.

    And yes, I accept the risk that I might have to have an abortion if I get pregnant after sex with my husband. I’d prefer not to, but thanks to pro-slavery folks like you, I cannot get sterilized despite my expressly stated wish to have no more children and the fact that my first pregnancy came very close to killing me. Seems that I must have at least two children before the local clinic will discuss the sterilization option with me. Ain’t patriarchy grand?

    Also, consent to sex isn’t anymore consent to pregnancy than consent to a date is consent to sex.

    @46

    I have no problem with a fetus being removed from a woman’s body and placed into an incubator, while we are on the science fiction bullshit options. The entire point is that nobody, not a fetus, not a violinist, not a priest, not you, has the the right to use a woman’s body against her will. That the method of preventing a fetus from using a woman’s body against her will is invariably lethal is sad, but in no way changes anything. It’s still her body, and her choice. She has as much right to use lethal force to rid herself of a fetus as she does to rid herself of a rapist. She has as much right to use lethal force to rid herself of a fetus as you do to defend yourself against someone coming at you with a knife and the intent of harvesting your kidney, even if it means them not getting a kidney means they will die.

    If we do not draw the line at bodily autonomy, we are in effect legalizing the enslavement of women.

    I know you have a problem with this concept, but I’m going to repeat it anyway. A woman is a person.

    @36 Appreciate the support, but I’m a woman 😉

  48. Monocle Smile says

    @49
    Fuck. I’ll remember that 🙂

    Your argument is similar to the ones I’ve heard Matt Dillahunty use in public, and I’m a fan. It’s about being focused on exactly the wrong thing and shifting the focus to the right thing…bodily autonomy.

  49. says

    @50
    ‘sall good.

    Bodily autonomy is the basis of every right we have, including the so-called right to life.

    And fuck, I have a kid right now. He’s great. I adore him. I would do anything for him. And if I got pregnant again, there is a very real chance the impact that pregnancy would have on my health would mean I would never be able to work another day in my life. So, here I’d be. Paralyzed, with two kids, a dying MiL, and a sick husband to support. Now instead of one potential life being ended, five actual lives are ruined. How does that make the slightest bit of sense?

    Bodily autonomy is the basis of all our rights. And you know something truly fucked up? I once almost went to jail for defending myself against sexual assault. So I’m well aware of just how slippery a slope these pro-slavery folks are trying to push women down.

    But if we want to get into the whole ‘value of life’ and that bullshit argument, we could always go back to that whole ‘kid or adult on the train track, which lever do you pull’ scenario and see what kind of asshole atheist1976 really is. There is a hallway. At each end there is a room. In one room, we have a 2 year old kid. In the other, we have a refrigerator with a container holding 500 fertilized ova. The building is on fire. You have time to get to exactly one room. Which direction do you go? Easy choice, right? What kind of fucked up person would even have to hesitate or have any crisis of conscience regarding that decision? For crying out loud – in one room, we have a 16 year old diabetic tumor-ridden cat with feline leukemia, in the other we have the 500 fertilized ova. I’m saving the cat. Its sentient.

  50. says

    I really think people who try to use the trolley dilemma as if it actually constituted an argument regarding real-life decision-making scenarios should have to sit in the corner for a good long while.

  51. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Martin
    I’m curious. What exactly do you mean? IMHO, I don’t think I have a firm answer to the conventional trolley problem. If the numbers are extreme enough, like a million to one, then it seems like an easy choice, but I don’t know right now concerning 5 to 1. The ethics that way are incredibly murky IMHO.

  52. says

    @52 no kidding.

    It’s such a stupid scenario. Generally my first question is ‘why are they sitting on the tracks in the first damn place?’

    I remember someone telling me the glurge story of the dad who let the train hit his kid rather than let go of the lever and kill everyone on the train. Apparently, it’s supposed to be a Christ allegory and show something about love and all that shit. My response? Why would a dad who works for the trains and lives near the trains not teach his kid to stay off the damn tracks? That’s some screwed up parenting right there.

  53. says

    @53

    If an adult is sitting on the tracks with a train bearing down on them, it’s an act of suicide and their choice, so where is the moral dilemma? If an adult wants to die, they are free to make that choice.

    The other flaw in the scenario is simple: Trains are big, loud, and kind enough to tell you exactly where they are going to be. After a certain point, maybe it’s just time to let good old Darwin have his way.

  54. says

    The trolley problem is an intellectually unsophisticated thought experiment that represents no situation anyone is ever likely to face in real life.

  55. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @56
    I think it’s an interesting problem. I also agree it’s largely esoteric. Thankfully most moral problems in the real world are much simpler. Thanks for the explanation.

  56. DoubtIsGood says

    @atheist1976
    Just to clarify your position – are you saying that if you have the power to make laws for the entire planet, you would make it illegal for women to have an abortion in all cases, except for cases of rape, or if the child would have a disability that caused it unpleasant suffering?

  57. pensnest says

    atheist1976 says:

    I am for abortion in cases such as rape, or a baby that is doomed to a life of unplesent suffering due to a debilitating disability

    So let me unpack this for a moment: if a woman becomes pregnant as a result of rape, she is entitled to an abortion. Why? My conclusion is that if she did not have sex on purpose, she is “innocent”, and therefore… Therefore her foetus does not qualify for being preserved at all costs. It looks very much as though you believe pregnancy should be the punishment for having sex. It isn’t about the foetus: if it were, you would hold that a rape-begotten foetus has exactly as many rights as one conceived after deliberately chosen sex. But it turns out you actually believe some foetuses are more equal than others.

    You also seem perfectly willing to allow for the possibility that a foetus may be doomed to a life of “unplesent suffering”, and if so, an abortion would be acceptable. So which foetus is doomed enough to be aborted, in your book? The one with Downs Syndrome? The one with fibular hemimelia? The one with albinism, or the one with retinoblastoma? Anencephaly? What kind of suffering qualifies, and who gets to decide?

    By contrast, you are remarkably blasé about the potential suffering in store for the pregnant person. How do you feel—not that it matters—about a pregnancy that threatens the life of the pregnant person? Is abortion acceptable then?

    Unlike you, I have been pregnant—willingly, happily and eagerly pregnant. And I had it easy. I did not, for instance, spend the first three months throwing up. I was not threatened by gestational diabetes, or excessive strain on my heart. I did not experience, as a friend did, such extremes of pelvic pain that I had to spend the last three months in bed with placenta accreta. The births, while painful, were accomplished without complications. And all that happened to me afterwards was vaginal tearing, incontinence and a prolapse. Pfft, simple. A price worth paying for children I wanted to bear. Outrageous punishment to have imposed for sex that wasn’t supposed to result in conception, but did. Is sex so dreadful in your eyes that a woman who has it—and let’s face it, the only consequences (the financial ones) for the male participants are easy enough to skip out on—must be punished for the rest of her life?

    I don’t think your position is very logical. You need to do some more thinking.

  58. JH says

    I’m mathematician and physicist, in general our lot tend to be very philosophical. I make no claim to knowledge of embryology. I was once Agnostic and now I’m a Theist, however my view on this topic hasn’t changed drastically. Partial birth abortions and late term abortions were always barbaric to me, even when I was in a condition of being doubtful of any long-term ramifications to sin, for if God doesn’t exist, then all is permissible and the existentialists have some valid points. But something inside me fought against this Secular Humanist line of reasoning. I asked myself, when does the entity known as a fetus begins to exist? When does an embryo transition and develop a circulatory system, brain waves and motor neurons? This debate has nothing to do with choice. The real question is when does life begin? To answer this question with “at birth” is clearly not scientific, it begins before birth. The “at birth” concept/answer is a legal definition, it appears from any Theistic or Scientific view that this idea is ethically reprehensible. I guess as an Agnostic I was concerned with ethics because there was a chance that ethics existed, if I were an Atheist than ethics would simply be a construct of man. Man is then reduced to a being that has no purpose in the grand scheme of things and all will become lifeless dust. Of course I don’t have this futility problem as a Theist. It seems to me that the more ardent Pro-Life people are either looking at the potential to become human life and treating it as human life, where the Pro-Termination camp believes that this life form can legally be killed even after he/she is a verifiable human being, possessing the attributes I mentioned above. In Christianity and Judaism, murder is clearly a sin, however are all abortions sinful? What of early abortions (first 4-8 weeks)? Is a six week old embryo a human being? I will not answer this question, because I’m not God and don’t know, but I do know that a 5 month old fetus is in fact a human being and can be murdered according to any honest Theistic or Legal definition.

  59. JH says

    Objections to some of the points made in this article. 1) Abstinence-only education policies are a proven failure. This misinformation has to stop. This is blatantly false as this has worked in the past and worked in many cultures (including the US, when the average US family was ethical, which is not true for today). Teenage pregnancy is mathematically linked to the rise of Human Secularism and the decline of Biblical ethics. I’ve seen this work in Christian and Jewish families of today, when the children are raised according to a Biblical standard. Even if you’re an Atheist and don’t believe in the standards set forth in the Bible, the sweeping statement is based on a contemporary situation in a Secular society, without any insight into past history and the rise of teenage pregnancy with time. The change of post-modern Western society from Theism and absolute ethical truths to a society of morally relativism, including the large faction of people who profess Christianity and really are not, is the overwhelming reason why this problem exists.

    as for statement 10) this is beyond ludicrous, in a fascist way this is implying that the Christians who do not engage in casual sex and have unwanted pregnancy should take care of the mistakes of others. This is backwards thinking, let’s punish the innocent for the actions of the guilty, those who have the unwanted children are not accountable for their actions, but somehow the Churches are. But here’s the really sad fact with this logic, children that are given up by the mother and children who are parentless due to accidents, war and diesease; ARE VERY MUCH SUPPORTED by the Christian community.

  60. says

    JH:

    Teenage pregnancy is mathematically linked to the rise of Human Secularism and the decline of Biblical ethics.

    Citation needed.

    Meanwhile in Texas, a decidedly-unsecular state where abstinence-only education is the policy, we have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country, and one abstinence-only school suffered a massive chlamydia outbreak earlier this year.

    Darn those facts!

    And considering that “Biblical ethics” dictate that one acceptable way to find a wife is simply to rape a girl and pay off her father, I’d say their decline is an absolute necessity to the success of a safe, humane modern society.

  61. says

    if God doesn’t exist, then all is permissible

    Only if you take the view that a god is necessary for moral precepts to exist at all, which would be to promote an authoritarian notion of morality that is the diametric opposite of humanism. And Euthyphro has more or less flattened any rational argument for morality-by-divine-mandate.

    Man is then reduced to a being that has no purpose in the grand scheme of things and all will become lifeless dust.

    So? Why must there be a “grand scheme of things,” with you having a “purpose” in it, in order to have any sense of purpose at all? You literally do not matter to the universe. Why would this cause you existential angst or strife? Are you really so narcissistic that it’s only by thinking of yourself as indispensable to some Grand Universal Divine Plan that you avoid feelings of futility altogether?

  62. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    if God doesn’t exist, then all is permissible and the existentialists have some valid points

    On this supposition, then if god exists, then all is still permissible. Your god is simply a thug, a celestial tyrant, an unelected dictator for life. Might does not make right. The dictates of your purportedly existing god are no more special than the dictates of any other dictator. The existence or non-existence of your god has no bearing on what is moral and what is not moral, just like the dictates of some brutal dictator across the world has no bearing on what is moral and what is not moral.

    I were an Atheist than ethics would simply be a construct of man.

    Of course ethics are just a construct of man. What else would they be? You cannot go out there and run an experiment to see what is moral and what is not moral without some moral presuppositions.

    The real question is when does life begin?

    It’s really not. See some of my posts up-thread for an explanation of why it’s not. It’s about the creation of a person, not the creation of life fertilization and implantation. Those are two different events at two different points in time.

    Man is then reduced to a being that has no purpose in the grand scheme of things and all will become lifeless dust.

    We will be reduced to lifeless dust. This is a demonstrable material fact.

    As for “purpose”, it depends on what you mean. Thankfully, there is no celestial tyrant that imposes a purpose on me from above. In other words, thankfully there is no celestial tyrant that is trying to make me a slave. But even then, even if this tyrant used force to keep me in slavedom, I can rebel. I can fight back. I don’t have to take it lying down. One of the mottos of my country is “give me liberty, or give me death!”. Another is “live free or die!”. You view it as a negative that you are not a slave. I view my liberty as a good thing.

    I’ve seen this work in Christian and Jewish families of today, when the children are raised according to a Biblical standard.

    Confirmation bias. Probably some other biases. Take a statistics 101 class, and learn the biases that affect all of our cognititions, esp. confirmation bias. Then, come back with proper statistical studies. When you do, you will find that the studies show that abstinance-only education is largely ineffective.

    the rise of teenage pregnancy with time

    Citations please.

    Kids and teenagers have always had sex, and I strongly suspect the rate that they have sex in western cultures has remained largely unchanged for hundreds of years. At the very least, I have hard data for the last few decades which demonstrates convincingly that you are wrong. See Martin Wagner’s posts for more details.

    It’s the standard generational culture war bullshit. A large segment of the older people always reminisce and say it was better in their day. They’re often wrong. For example,
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Magdalene_laundry
    It’s truly horrifying what the Catholic Church has done with young single pregnant women and mothers, but you know the saying: “out of sight, out of mind”.

    Our society is a vast improvement on the society that employed Magdalene laundries prisons. Pregnancy rates probably remain about the same, but we don’t abuse the women in forced labor camps plus even worse abuses. Go do your research.

    society of morally relativism

    Just because we’re going away from your values does not mean we’re going to a society of no-values. We’re just going towards a society of different values, like freedom, liberty, self determination, ability to enjoy one’s life in any way that one sees fit if they are not harming others, etc.

    I happen to be a secular humanist. I start with the moral presuppositions that we should act to make this world into a better place for everyone. If you get in my way, I will try to change your mind to join my side, but in extreme cases, I will advocate for the use of force and violence against you – preferably through the police acting under the rule of law – in order to achieve my goals of making the world into a better place for everyone, including even you.

  63. Monocle Smile says

    @JH
    I could make scathing remarks about your blatant lies concerning abstinence-only education, Puritanical ethics garbage, and appalling sex-negative attitude, but I’ll address this instead:

    But here’s the really sad fact with this logic, children that are given up by the mother and children who are parentless due to accidents, war and diesease; ARE VERY MUCH SUPPORTED by the Christian community

    And yet…
    – the staunchly religious in this country are those most strongly opposed to support for single mothers and welfare
    – Catholic orphanages, when threatened with having their federal funds cut due to disobedience of federal laws, have resoundingly chosen to close up shop and boot the kids onto the streets instead.
    – The population of homeless teenagers in the US is overwhelmingly homosexual. Three guesses as to why they’re on the streets.

  64. says

    atheist1976 @8:
    I’m late to reading your comment, and I have to say I find it awful. Especially this bit:

    Taking the view that one person’s rights extend as far as they do not encroach on another persons, I have to take the view that the fetus has just as much right as the mother.

    A fetus is a human being. It is not a human person. Fetuses do not share in the rights that extant human persons possess. Perhaps you can enumerate the various qualities of personhood that a fetus possesses that would qualify it to be a human *person*. And even when you do that, it still doesn’t change one thing:

    A pregnant person is an extant human person. It is their body that the fetus is living in and nourishing itself from. That pregnant person is a human person with the right to bodily autonomy. That human right-which says that each human person has the right to decide what happens to and with their bodies-is possessed by the pregnant individual. No human person, and I mean *no* human person, has the right to make use of another person’s body. Period. Full stop. That includes a fetus (so even if you could provide a list of examples that demonstrate that fetuses are human persons, it still wouldn’t trump the pregnant persons bodily autonomy). You and so many others grant a right to fetuses that no other human person has. You would grant a fetus the right to override the bodily autonomy of a pregnant individual. If a fetus had that right (which you seem to support), the pregnant person would become the same thing that black people in the United States once were: slaves. Black people did not get to decide what to do with their bodies. They were treated as property. Their lives, their movements, everything-was dictated by another person. They had no rights. That is what would happen if fetuses were granted the right to override a pregnant persons bodily autonomy. And since there is no evidence that fetuses possess consciousness (that’s a quality of personhood), someone else would have to make decisions for the fetus. If the forced birth brigade had their way, that ‘someone else’ would be the United States government (which is really ironic, given that so many of them are “small government” proponents).

    I find such a position reprehensible. The denial of this basic human right has led to atrocity after atrocity in human history.

    The following is an excerpt of a comment I left over at En Tequila es Verdad:

    Now, I realize that 20 weeks is considered the earliest point of viability, but if my support of abortion rights is based on the idea that the pregnant person should have full bodily autonomy at all times-and that is indeed the foundation of my support for abortion rights-then that necessarily covers the entire length of a pregnancy.
    I know that most pregnancies that are terminated after 20 weeks* are wanted ones-ones where the pregnant individual wanted the child, but for reasons of health (theirs or the fetus), an abortion was the wisest choice for them. Now, at the time, I could have said “Ok, I’m all for abortion up to 20 weeks, and after that, I only support abortion if its for the life of the pregnant person or if there are serious problems related to the health of the fetus”, but that position is not one that is congruent with the position that I believe all pregnant persons should have full bodily autonomy at all times. That position is one that says there are some times when pregnant persons do not have full bodily autonomy. Further, that position is one that says at a certain point, the fetus within the body of the pregnant individual has more rights than the pregnant person, including the right to override the pregnant individuals’ basic human rights. I decided that I didn’t want to add caveats to my support for abortion rights.
    Thus- I support full abortion rights for any person who can get pregnant. No exclusions. No caveats.