Abortion - An Issue of Rights, Morals, and Sensibility

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by CivilLiberty, Jan 31, 2005.

  1. CivilLiberty
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    CivilLiberty Active Member

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    Abortion. Mere mention of the word is invitation for a heated argument. And as the extremists of both sides fling hate filled comments at the other, reason seems to take a back seat.

    Ultimately, there is really one question that needs to be answered, and every argument outside of this question is tangential and essentially irrelevant.

    The question that we have to answer is: At what point does a fertilized egg become a person; a person with rights that exceed the rights of the mother?

    The most radical of the anti-abortionists claim that even the few cells of the zygote constitutes a human being. The absurdity of this argument goes beyond reason. The cells of the zygote are not differentiated in any way, and while the genetic information is there to create a human being, this is certainly not a human being yet. No organs, no appendages - not even the formation of the brain stem, much less a mind capable of any kind of thought.

    There can be not doubt that this early mass of cells is not human being, and as "not a human being", it certainly cannot be construed to have the rights of a human being, much less rights that exceed that of the mother.

    But what status do we assign to the following stages of development? As the mass of cells begin to differentiate, and organs form, when, exactly, do we call this a human being?

    At the other end of the spectrum are those that believe that it's not a human being until it is born, and free of it's dependency on the mother. Indeed, there is much legal emphasis placed on when and where a person is born, and none on when or where conceived. The 14th amendment of the constitution grants citizenship to those born in the United States - conception and gestation are irrelevant, at least legally.

    However, a month or two before birth, a fetus is generally “viable”, and can be successfully delivered. This viability is where some of the deepest controversy is derived. Certainly this presents the argument that if this late term the pregnancy must be terminated due to complications that significantly threaten the health or life of the woman, that an attempt to deliver the fetus prematurely be made.

    The answer to the question posed above then is somewhere between the two black and white extremes just described. Like most things in life, the answer is some shade of gray.

    I recently had the opportunity to see a remarkable exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry here in Los Angeles. The exhibit is called ”Body Worlds” and is now touring other museums. The exhibit is of plasticized and dissected cadavers, showing the details of human anatomy is amazing detail. Among the specimens were preserved embryos and fetuses of various stages of development. This was most edifying, as it really illustrated some points that so many people argue over.

    The first (chronologically) was a 4 week old embryo. It was so insignificant it was barely visible - smaller that a common house fly and with no visible distinction that this could even be a “potential” human.

    At eight weeks the embryo was barely the size of my thumbnail. At three months it was no bigger than a mouse, and the brain was the size of a hazlenut. While studies show primitive brain waves at this stage, the brain is so undeveloped that it still lacks the functionality that will eventually make it a thinking human being.

    As the fetus develops over the next several months, it’s potential for becoming a human being becomes more pronounced. But still the question is, when - at what point do we go from small mass of flesh to individual?

    Brain development is probably the best, if not only, place to look. It is our brain that makes us uniquely human. And it is the size of our brain that has allowed us to develop language, society, and other advancements. It is our brain that allows us to record history, invent new technologies, and express our thoughts and feelings. But it is our brain developed that allows for these things. Undeveloped and primitive, the embryonic brain is capable of none of this.

    In fact, cerebellar development doesn't begin until the sixth month, near the end of the second trimester. Cerebellar development continues for two years after birth. That our thoughts and consciousness occupy the cerebellum is well understood. Then we can also understand that a fetus cannot possibly be called a human being before this important area of the brain even begins to develop.

    And if not a human being, then it can’t be said to have the rights of a human being. Certainly not when the inalienable rights of the woman are to be considered. It is, after all her body, and the embryo is residing their with her permission.

    Thus we can dismiss the extreme anti-abortionist’s ludicrous notion that the few cells of the zygote are a human being. And with moral impunity we can say the embryo is not a person until it’s higher brain at least begins to develop, and that’s in the 6th month.

    The gray area then is from the sixth month till birth. Certainly, in the gray area one cannot be capricious in their choice regarding termination of the pregnancy. But there is still the issue of the woman’s health and life, and the issue of complications and serious defects in the fetus. This gray area then represents an area of case by case determination due to medical need.

    This basis for determining the availability of the abortion procedure to women is not only sensible, and based on sensible science, it’s also virtually identical to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe vs Wade. Attempts by radicals to undermine the law and find ways to outlaw abortion are without merit, and have no place in a free society.

    -Andrew Somers
     
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  2. dilloduck
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    dilloduck Diamond Member

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    Nice try Andy but narrowing the scope of the debate to a singular issue doesn't cut it. Better edit this "baby" before you publish it.
     
  3. CivilLiberty
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    CivilLiberty Active Member

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    No, I'm pretty happy with the way it is - though I may expand it to further define the cerebellum functionality and it's role in separating humans from lower animals.

    A
     
  4. nakedemperor
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    nakedemperor Senior Member

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    This is the only issue, as far as I'm concerned. "Abortion is murder[ing a human being]" vs. "Abortion isn't murder [because the 'killed' has no rights because it is not a human being]". The debate Andy suggest aims to find when the fetus becomes an individual whose rights are at least as great as those of the mother, and this is at the root of every abortion debate.

    Great post, Andy.
     
  5. insein
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    insein Senior Member

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    The mother doesnt lose here rights to protect herself. Abortions will never be outlawed when the mother is endanger. The mother does not have absolute rights over the child. Just like any regular mother doesnt have the right to murder an infant or a toddler or even their teenage child. Once these beings are conceived, they are alive. That is my belief on the matter.

    The reality however is that abortions will never be outlawed period. I think the argument is that, why does the government pay these organizations with taxpayer money like Planned Parenthood to give abortions? Not everyone agrees with abortions and yet their money is going to fund it.
     
  6. no1tovote4
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    no1tovote4 VIP Member

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    Here is more Ad Nauseam argument. By simply repeating the "exceed" mantra doesn't make it so. I have explained several times that the offspring's rights do not exceed those of the mother and explained how this was so. The mother has a right to life, if the offspring is threatening that life by its existence she has every right to abort the offspring, however the right to life is the most fundamental of all of our rights and cannot be overturned for other's right to privacy, etc. Therefore your exceed argument is simply a logical fallacy.

    As I said before still more Ad Nauseam argument. By assiging the word "ludicrous" or "absurd" and repeating it about the belief that a developing human is just that, a developing human at any stage of its life is simply not arguing your case it is stating an opinion as fact and attempting to convince others of this "fact" by repeating it often.

    Many children have been born to the world as early as 20 weeks into the Pregnancy. This can continue to go back with study, therefore "viable" is definitely an opinion as well in this case.


    No visible distinction doesn't mean that it isn't human life of even a ""potential" human", it just means it is earlier in development than other human life. Once again opinion, not fact, and it should not be introduced as such.


    And so do many humans that are ex utero that are defined as profoundly retarded. They may have microcephalus but this does not mean that they are not human.


    Niether is the infant brain and I reject this as the defining feature of a developing human for reasons put forward above and at this moment.


    Once again, just asserting that it "cannot possibly be called a human being" doesn't make it so, it just defines your opinion not any sort of fact and could be simply cliche thinking rather than actual argument. Each offspring has their own DNA, and are each a separate developing human being. Simply saying it cannot possibly be called something is clearly wrong as many people do so assert and with logical evidence as to why they believe this is so.

    You have not clearly made the argument that it is not a human being, you have asserted an opinion, attempted to simplify argument against it by calling any asserted opinion otherwise "ludicrous" with no basis other than your opinion to base this on.

    We cannot dismiss any such notion as ludicrous simply based on your assertion that it is so. Reasoning minds can disagree and therefore neither opinion can be asserted as ludicrous, but simply diverging opinion. Therefore there is no moral impunity that can say that the embryo is not a person as you assert.

    The basis for arguing against abortion is based also on science, as related above. Your attempt to define a developing human as other than human was rebutted with just such evidence. Not every person that disagrees with abortion is a "radical" and trying to dismiss all people with this opinion as such is simply dismissive rhetoric with no basis but your own opinion and trying to simplify their argument by giving it a demeaning phrase sush as "without merit" is simpy disrespecting opinions of others based only on your opinion without regard as to any evidence they may proffer. While I may never change your opinion, and you may never change mine, it does not mean I will ever dismiss your argument in such demeaning and disrespectful of a manner. And such disrespect has no real place in a free society.
     
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  7. musicman
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    musicman Senior Member

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    Civil Liberty:

    "Brain development is probably the best, if not only, place to look".

    When the stakes are innocent life and death, "probably" becomes quite a word. You can drive a truck through "probably". You can have a lot of blood on your hands with "probably". I congratulate you on your successful quest for "moral impunity". I'm finding the road a little tougher - the questions a bit more insistent - the answers a lot less pat. "Probably" isn't getting it for me. I cannot say - WITH ABSOLUTE, UNERRING CERTAINTY - when human life begins. Neither can you, apparently.

    Since we cannot know the answer with perfect surety, I think it only prudent - only decent - to err on the side of life.
     
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  8. 5stringJeff
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    5stringJeff Senior Member

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    Andy,

    While your post is well laid out, I find two major discrepancies:

    I think this has been addressed before, but at no point does any person's rights ever exceed someone else's rights. The question to ask is when the child's rights begin.

    "The most radical" pro-life position that you describe here is held by about 1/3 of the population, if I remember correctly. So it's not as radical as you think - in fact, it's a fairly mainstream position. And while you attempt to explain away the fact that the zygote has a unique DNA structure, the fact is that it is a new life, growing and developing into a more mature human being - as we all do throughout our childhood and into our early 20's.
     
  9. Mr. P
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    Mr. P Senior Member

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    Damn Andy, didn't anyone ever tell ya not to hit that WASP nest with a stick?
     
  10. CivilLiberty
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    CivilLiberty Active Member

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    The government doesn't. And of course this is a separate issue.

    A
     

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