please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby qinwamascot » Sat Oct 04, 2008 10:53 pm UTC

The thing I don't understand about pro-life positions is this: If a fetus were removed from its host before 7-8 months, it would almost surely die. Even that early it is extremely unlikely that it could survive on its own. Thus, if we assume it is living, it is in symbiosis with its host. If the host does not want to have a baby (wants an abortion) then she gets no benefit from her fetus and in fact risks death and will likely go through a lot of pain due to the fetus. Also, her nutritional system is compromised. We could rightfully call this unwanted fetus within the woman a parasite.

Most pro-life people I know support killing cancer cells, and viruses and bacteria, and other parasites. What is the difference here? It isn't a matter of DNA because cancer cells have human DNA. We also can't say that it is the fact that the fetus could live on its own, because at this point it could not. Only by parasitically siphoning nutrition from the host does it have any chance of even reaching that point.

So why can't we 'kill', or abort this unwanted parasite?

If we take the assumption that the fetus is not living, then it is an unwanted growth of dead cells, and thus, there is no difference between removing it and getting a haircut. So in all cases, there is no moral imperative to let the fetus live.

I'm not saying that all fetuses are parasites. Don't misinterpret. I'm saying that unwanted fetuses are, which is a minority. If a mother is willing to carry it for the entirety of her pregnancy, then naturally she believes there will be some benefit to doing so, and has accepted the additional risks of pregnancy to try to achieve that goal. This would be classified as mutualism, not parasitism.

If someone can explain to me where my argument is incorrect (assuming it is) I would appreciate that.
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Malice » Sat Oct 04, 2008 11:35 pm UTC

If someone can explain to me where my argument is incorrect (assuming it is) I would appreciate that.


Okay. Because there's nothing worse than a poor argument for something you believe in.

qinwamascot wrote:The thing I don't understand about pro-life positions is this: If a fetus were removed from its host before 7-8 months, it would almost surely die. Even that early it is extremely unlikely that it could survive on its own. Thus, if we assume it is living, it is in symbiosis with its host. If the host does not want to have a baby (wants an abortion) then she gets no benefit from her fetus and in fact risks death and will likely go through a lot of pain due to the fetus. Also, her nutritional system is compromised. We could rightfully call this unwanted fetus within the woman a parasite.


Calling it a parasite may be accurate, but that doesn't make it politic. It's about as kind as saying, at a funeral, "Well, at least he won't consume any more natural resources." It's inflammatory language. Calling a fetus by a clinical, scientific term (with very large negative connotations) isn't going to make the people who feel on a gut level that a fetus isn't something to be destroyed any more likely to agree with you, and it will likely turn some of them off. It turns me off, and I'm pro-choice.

The other major flaw with your entire argument is that both mutualism and parasitism are terms describing relationships between organisms of different species. You can make the analogy, but a fetus cannot be, in scientific terms, a parasite. So it's neither accurate, nor nice. So don't do it.

Most pro-life people I know support killing cancer cells, and viruses and bacteria, and other parasites. What is the difference here? It isn't a matter of DNA because cancer cells have human DNA. We also can't say that it is the fact that the fetus could live on its own, because at this point it could not. Only by parasitically siphoning nutrition from the host does it have any chance of even reaching that point.


Cancer cells, viruses, bacteria, and parasites are not, and will never be, a person. Can you really not see that distinction? It's kinda like saying, "You have no qualms shooting a wolf. What's so different about shooting your pet dog Mr. Scruffles? After all, they're both in the canine family."

If we take the assumption that the fetus is not living, then it is an unwanted growth of dead cells, and thus, there is no difference between removing it and getting a haircut. So in all cases, there is no moral imperative to let the fetus live.


A fetus is living tissue. That's scientific fact.

And again, the difference between abortion and a haircut is that your hair will never be a person. In fact, nobody, not even pro-choice people, goes in to have an abortion as casually as they get a haircut. It's insulting to even suggest the comparison. An abortion is a huge decision, no matter who you are; you're killing something that would have been a person, even if you don't believe it's a person now, and that's something everybody takes seriously.

I'm not saying that all fetuses are parasites. Don't misinterpret. I'm saying that unwanted fetuses are, which is a minority. If a mother is willing to carry it for the entirety of her pregnancy, then naturally she believes there will be some benefit to doing so, and has accepted the additional risks of pregnancy to try to achieve that goal. This would be classified as mutualism, not parasitism.


So, if I strip the science away, what you're saying is: "If women don't want the baby, by definition, that fetus is only causing harm, so what's wrong with getting rid of it?" You're ignoring the value that pro-life people place on the fetus itself. Most of them concede that a fetus is less important than the mother's health; but not less important than the mother's preference. A mother may not want to carry her fetus to term, but to them that's not a good enough reason for killing a potential person.

In other words, when a mother does want to carry a child to term, she doesn't do it only because of the benefits to herself, but because of the benefits to the child; and that second half of the equation doesn't disappear, even if the first half does.
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Exotria » Sun Oct 05, 2008 12:58 am UTC

theonlyjett wrote:
Belial wrote:Do you think anyone in the real world consciously uses abortion as their primary method of birth control?
Exotria wrote:Yeah, gotta agree with Belial here.
As irrational as it may sound, I'm sure that there are at least some people who feel that the abortion procedure is a valid form of primary birth control simply because they can, and it's their "right."


Er, it IS their right. It's just more expensive for them. Don't go using quotes around "right" and insinuating that it isn't valid to abort, because THEY get to decide what is valid for them. This is injecting your morals into the situation to say that other peoples' decisions aren't valid.

I realize that there is some difference in definition there, but I'm of the belief that a majority of people think of the abortion procedure as "abortion" and preventative and emergency birth control as, well, birth control. In fact, while traditionalists do tend to think of birth control as a form of abortion, (a fertilized egg being a new life and a chemical that disallows it's attachment to the uterine walls to be effectively killing it) most everyday Christians I know do not, or do not even know the distinction. They do know, however, that "it's wrong to kill babies."


It is wrong to kill babies(or fetuses, since that's what the topic is about) under THEIR belief system. It's perfectly all right for other people.


My original post had two main points.

The first was that many (not all, this is actually not aimed at any who are still posting) pro-choice arguments are just heated and irrational. They make the arguer sound immature and selfish and that makes it difficult for me to often feel like I have picked the right side.

Can you provide an example? I haven't seen too many degenerative arguments over abortion where it's the prochoicer being immature, so it would be extremely interesting seeing the tables turned.

My side is not that it's fine to kill fetuses, but rather that it's best to trust the individuals involved to make good decisions themselves. That is, I'm pro-choice literally, rather than, pro-abortion, which is what some pro-choicers seem to be. It's hard to trust people even with their own bodies when they display no respect for their own reproductive process. If you are pro-choice and want to force the other side to feel like they have to fight you, then keep making these arguments, and there's a good chance that you will push many pro-choicers into the other camp and that other camp will also be more likely to push their agenda, making it harder for those who actually need to have an abortion procedure to get one.


Or perhaps women are just exercising better control over their reproductive process, considering it's theirs and doesn't belong to anybody else. Why should anyone lend respect to something when it goes against their interests? A good decision is the one that accomplishes one's own goals best, and if it's fine for someone to kill their own fetuses under their belief system, it doesn't go against any of their goals to have one, and in fact accomplishes their goal of 'yay, no kids'. I prefer 'everyone can have their own moral system as long as it doesn't harm any other persons' to 'Oh, I'll let other people make their own decisions, but I'll say any decision I disagree with is bad.' Therefore my position is more of 'eh, whatever' instead of 'I GUESS I'll deign to trust these people with their decisions, but doggone it, it's NOT fine if they're killing fetuses!' It's condescending to say that someone's choice is bad when it's a matter of personal belief. A choice can only really be bad if it doesn't line up with the chooser's goals as effectively as another choice. For most people, regular old birth control is a better choice than abortion for the goal of not getting pregnant, because it doesn't involve spending as much money. Once they're pregnant, they have to choose between the three things Hammer stated, and if their goal is still 'no babies', then abortion is the good choice for them at that time.

The second point was responsibility. Although you are more than welcome to ultimately do what you want to, you simply cannot blame everybody else for your situation. Well, you can, but it will do you no good. Yes, you cannot control anybody else's actions, but you can control your own. Making choices to reduce the chances of getting into the situations where you have to then make more difficult choices is ideal. Even in many situations as extreme as assault, sexual or otherwise. For example, when you don't hang around violent people, you reduce your chances of being a recipient of violence. Have you ever wondered, when you hear of cases of drugged date rape at parties, just where the hell are this girl's friends who she's supposed to trust? Obviously not looking out for her. If you enter into a situation involving strangers and behavior modifying chemicals, where you are unsure if you can trust your friends to look out for you, do you honestly think that your chances of a being in a bad situation are unaffected? This isn't about high or low standards. This is about taking responsibility for the decisions you make. If you don't want a certain result, then you must make every choice in order to reduce the chances of that result occurring. If you want to lose weight, but want to eat this cake more, then you will make that choice. If you want to be safe, but want to get drunk/high/laid/etc. more, and there is no better party to go to, then you will also make that choice. This is your one life that you get that we know of, I say get what you really want out of it.


Using date rape as an example here is blaming the victim and taints your entire argument. Even if you put yourself at risk in a situation, if other people are doing the harm, it is THEIR fault.

Even if it ever did come down to abortions being mostly illegal, you do still have plenty of choices to greatly reduce the chance of having to get an illegal one.

But sometimes people make so-called 'bad choices', and it would be crude to remove choices that could correct for that 'bad choice'.

Exotria wrote:I... would actually support that kids license, except in a different way.
I would actually not. I don't want to stifle choices and freedoms ever. I guess that's a rather libertarian view, but "love always trusts," and all that. If I was ever convinced that society should legislate morality, then I would also be convinced to take a solid pro-life stance. Perhaps one where only a judge may decide on an abortion, idk. As is, I feel that I'm already walking the line enough as I do feel that society should protect even potential human life. I just think that we should always try to do it through education first, is all.

See, "trust" takes on two different meanings to me. One is where you feel that someone will take the appropriate action, while the other is where you actually take an action yourself to allow them the choice to take the action or not. One is trust in feeling, the other, trust in action. I cannot always control my feelings (although far more now than before), but I can always control my actions. In order to love others, I must trust them, at least in action, if not always in feeling.


I said I'd support that because it would deny those who have already demonstrated that they are extremely harmful from being in a position to ruin a child's life. We already deny criminals certain rights so they don't harm others. This is just another one, to protect any child's right to not be fucked over. And potential life covers more than just fetuses. That goes back to the 'millions of sperm killed' argument, and all of those had potential for life, so why should any potential life be protected over another?

To me, the issue is less about trust and more about that I would be a prick if I were to interfere with others' rights to choose. I do agree with you that education is good for helping people make decisions, but only in that it allows them to exercise better control over what they do for the results they want. I don't think education should be used specifically to try and dissuade people from getting abortions, because then it's education with an agenda, which seems to me like propaganda. Would it probably reduce the number of abortions? Yes. Should that be our goal? Probably not. If people want to get abortions, let 'em. If they don't, don't make 'em.

I think we're agreed on the outcome, just not the reasoning. Works for me. It's just that your walking the line makes me nervous.

Feel free to rip my argument to shreds. Basically, I think decisions should be based around rights and not around much more variable moral systems.

ALSO, since Malice just posted...
Most pro-life people I know support killing cancer cells, and viruses and bacteria, and other parasites. What is the difference here? It isn't a matter of DNA because cancer cells have human DNA. We also can't say that it is the fact that the fetus could live on its own, because at this point it could not. Only by parasitically siphoning nutrition from the host does it have any chance of even reaching that point.


Cancer cells, viruses, bacteria, and parasites are not, and will never be, a person. Can you really not see that distinction? It's kinda like saying, "You have no qualms shooting a wolf. What's so different about shooting your pet dog Mr. Scruffles? After all, they're both in the canine family."


Mr. Scruffles is wanted by his owner. If Mr. Scruffles were not wanted by his owner, and were in fact ripping his house to shreds and biting him, why would there be a problem shooting that dog? Fetuses do a number on the female's body, so if you could revise your argument for something harmful that I would still not want to shoot, then you'll have me convinced that this point is invalid.

By definition, fetuses being parasites would be false. That does not stop them from being viewed by some women as parasites, and they're the ones making decisions about it, scientific accuracy involved in that decision or not. I do see your point about it being inflammatory during arguments with prolifers, but it is a reason that some women have abortions.
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niolosoiale wrote:So which side of the fence would you say I'm on? Why?

The confusing one. I think you should pick a different fence.

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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Outchanter » Sun Oct 05, 2008 1:32 am UTC

If an unwanted foetus is an endoparasite, then what stops an unwanted newborn baby from being an ectoparasite?

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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Exotria » Sun Oct 05, 2008 1:47 am UTC

Outchanter wrote:If an unwanted foetus is an endoparasite, then what stops an unwanted newborn baby from being an ectoparasite?


Nothing. But you can find people willing to take on that ectoparasite. It's impossible for others to take on the endoparasite.
Elvish Pillager wrote:
niolosoiale wrote:So which side of the fence would you say I'm on? Why?

The confusing one. I think you should pick a different fence.

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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby qinwamascot » Sun Oct 05, 2008 1:53 am UTC

Malice wrote:
If someone can explain to me where my argument is incorrect (assuming it is) I would appreciate that.


Okay. Because there's nothing worse than a poor argument for something you believe in.


You don't make any valuable points here so I will ignore the fact that you have degraded my argument before trying to disprove it. This is an informal logical fallacy which can lead to circular reasoning, but this isn't the case here and it isn't really all that relevant to our discussion.

Malice]
[quote="qinwamascot wrote:
The thing I don't understand about pro-life positions is this: If a fetus were removed from its host before 7-8 months, it would almost surely die. Even that early it is extremely unlikely that it could survive on its own. Thus, if we assume it is living, it is in symbiosis with its host. If the host does not want to have a baby (wants an abortion) then she gets no benefit from her fetus and in fact risks death and will likely go through a lot of pain due to the fetus. Also, her nutritional system is compromised. We could rightfully call this unwanted fetus within the woman a parasite.


Calling it a parasite may be accurate, but that doesn't make it politic. It's about as kind as saying, at a funeral, "Well, at least he won't consume any more natural resources." It's inflammatory language. Calling a fetus by a clinical, scientific term (with very large negative connotations) isn't going to make the people who feel on a gut level that a fetus isn't something to be destroyed any more likely to agree with you, and it will likely turn some of them off. It turns me off, and I'm pro-choice.

The other major flaw with your entire argument is that both mutualism and parasitism are terms describing relationships between organisms of different species. You can make the analogy, but a fetus cannot be, in scientific terms, a parasite. So it's neither accurate, nor nice. So don't do it.
[/quote]

You are partially correct here. The concept of a parasite is traditionally applied to members of other species, and it is currently widely debated among biologists if an organism can be parasitic on members of its own species. However, the concept still holds. I know several prominent biologists who would disagree with this assertion, but others who would wholeheartedly agree, so we'll agree that the terminology is just abuse of notation for now. My goal here is not to turn people off, but it is not to keep people with me. It is to figure out if I am right. Connotations are a construct of inefficient linguistic construction and are not relevant here (for example, if we were to carry out the same debate in Lojban, you couldn't really claim that the term I was using is at all inflammatory). For future reference, I will use terminology as it is used in a scientific sense. Besides quibbling over terminology, you really haven't made any points against my argument.

I am glad to hear that you are pro-choice though, even if you disagree with my reasoning.

Most pro-life people I know support killing cancer cells, and viruses and bacteria, and other parasites. What is the difference here? It isn't a matter of DNA because cancer cells have human DNA. We also can't say that it is the fact that the fetus could live on its own, because at this point it could not. Only by parasitically siphoning nutrition from the host does it have any chance of even reaching that point.


Cancer cells, viruses, bacteria, and parasites are not, and will never be, a person. Can you really not see that distinction? It's kinda like saying, "You have no qualms shooting a wolf. What's so different about shooting your pet dog Mr. Scruffles? After all, they're both in the canine family."


personally, I'm not really in favor of shooting wolves either, or most things, and I probably would respond similarly to someone who told me they had no problem shooting wolves. I really don't see a distinction between "If we remove these cancer cells from you, they will die" and "if we remove this fetus from you, it will die." The fact that a fetus could grow into a human doesn't seem relevant to me; It can't live on its own, so it isn't a human yet and whether or not it could become a human is irrelevant. Women have many reproductive cells that could become humans if they had sex every month, yet there aren't too many women who have a kid every 9 months. This isn't a moral crisis, the woman simply lets the egg die by removing it from her body via menstruation. Removing a fetus from the woman is doing the same thing except via a surgical procedure. I really don't see a distinction.

If we take the assumption that the fetus is not living, then it is an unwanted growth of dead cells, and thus, there is no difference between removing it and getting a haircut. So in all cases, there is no moral imperative to let the fetus live.


A fetus is living tissue. That's scientific fact.

And again, the difference between abortion and a haircut is that your hair will never be a person. In fact, nobody, not even pro-choice people, goes in to have an abortion as casually as they get a haircut. It's insulting to even suggest the comparison. An abortion is a huge decision, no matter who you are; you're killing something that would have been a person, even if you don't believe it's a person now, and that's something everybody takes seriously.


I agree that it is living tissue, but the question as to whether it is a living organism is an entirely different one. Regardless, if a fetus is a living organism, I still don't see what the problem is with aborting it. I'm not arguing as to whether or not a fetus is a living organism, but rather arguing that regardless of whether or not it is, there is no moral imperative to preserve its life. Personally I view a fetus as living, and thus, my first argument is the relevant one. The reason for this is precisely because of the consequences of regarding it as nonliving.

I didn't suggest that the two were equivalent decisions, rather, that the moral values in both are the same. It is a harder choice, but the morals are not any harder to identify. The comparison is not insulting; you misinterpreted it. It is like me comparing the fact that Stalin and Gandhi held similar views regarding violent protest of government. Both viewed it as abhorrent, albeit for different reasons. However, you could blow my comparison out of the water by claiming I said Gandhi and Stalin were the same. They aren't, although they did share some properties. Likewise, my analogy is meant to show that the property that you are not killing an organism by removing either hair or a fetus is not meant to say that the two actions have different factors motivating their decisions, but that the moral imperatives are the same in each case. Don't try to generalize this to all the properties of the two actions; this would be analogous to a proof by example.

Once again, I am not claiming that either the position that a fetus is living or not is correct. Rather, I am testing each possible case and showing that in every case there is not any moral imperative to keep the fetus alive. If you disagree with one possible conclusion of a specific case, but that conclusion does logically follow, by modus tollens, that case must not be the one which you believe is correct. For those who believe a fetus is living, this argument is meaningless, because the converse of a conditional statement is not implied by that statement. Rather, to argue against this, you would have to show that both fetuses are not living organisms and that there is a moral imperative for them to remain in the body anyway. I'm fairly sure that everyone will agree that if something is not living, there is no reason that it has to remain there, so the other argument should be the primary one that people object to. Honestly this argument could be regarded as a special case, while the other one is a general case. Disproving a special case is usually harder and less valuable than disproving the general case.

I'm not saying that all fetuses are parasites. Don't misinterpret. I'm saying that unwanted fetuses are, which is a minority. If a mother is willing to carry it for the entirety of her pregnancy, then naturally she believes there will be some benefit to doing so, and has accepted the additional risks of pregnancy to try to achieve that goal. This would be classified as mutualism, not parasitism.


So, if I strip the science away, what you're saying is: "If women don't want the baby, by definition, that fetus is only causing harm, so what's wrong with getting rid of it?" You're ignoring the value that pro-life people place on the fetus itself. Most of them concede that a fetus is less important than the mother's health; but not less important than the mother's preference. A mother may not want to carry her fetus to term, but to them that's not a good enough reason for killing a potential person.

In other words, when a mother does want to carry a child to term, she doesn't do it only because of the benefits to herself, but because of the benefits to the child; and that second half of the equation doesn't disappear, even if the first half does.


I don't see a reason to place value on a fetus. The reason is that it could not live outside its mother, so it is not a person yet. Saying that it is a potential person is the same as calling every egg cell and sperm cell a potential person. The only difference is the probability that it will actually become a person, which is somewhat higher for a fetus than a sperm or egg cell. However, morality is not based on probability; it is based on what is right.I really don't put any moral value in preserving the life of the fetus; rather, the moral value is with the mother's decision in my book. If the mother wants to carry the fetus, then it is morally right for her to do so, but if she does not, it is immoral to force her to.

Social theory says that the mother's decision is based on her estimates of the benefits to herself in each case. Her benefit in the case that she wants to have a child is that she has a child. Your argument seems like a more utilitarian one, in which the sum of all the good should be maximized, but this leads to the question "why don't we force everyone to have babies?" since more people will lead to a greater total good. Luckily, we don't live in a utilitarian society, but an individualistic one which adopts some utilitarian principles, or else we'd force women to get pregnant because the good they could cause by not killing their "potential human" egg cells is well greater than the harm they may suffer from it.

It seems to me that you value "potential humans," but from your writing I can't find a way to distinguish exactly what makes a potential human. If it is just that it has the potential to become a human, than your argument falls down a slippery slope.


edit: while I was posting, another reply was made.

Outchanter wrote:If an unwanted foetus is an endoparasite, then what stops an unwanted newborn baby from being an ectoparasite?


In our current social structure, it is possible for the newborn baby to find a new home via adoption. Even if it is an ectoparasite that doesn't mean that it must die. Personally, if it is possible to remove parasitic organisms without killing them and placing them into a system of mutualism; this is by far a better solution than outright killing it. In fact, even if the best that the baby can get is an orphanage with no one wanting to adopt him/her, this is a better solution than killing the baby. In fact, until all unwanted children are old enough to cook, work, and live for themselves and by themselves, I would say that they are ectoparasites.

Again, this naming convention is not technically correct, but it makes the debate simpler that calling it 'an organism which exhibits all of the properties of parasicity excluding the property of having a different species from its dependent organism' or something similar.
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby theonlyjett » Sun Oct 05, 2008 3:27 am UTC

Grr. Yes that's me growling/grumbling. I wrote a page of rebuttal, but it doesn't really matter. You don't like my reasoning, but you say that we can't fault other's morals. So if you say that I can't attack yours, then it follows that you shouldn't attack mine, I would suppose. The problem with everybody getting to be right is that you can't then say that anybody else is wrong.

I do want to defend potential people from being destroyed. Especially simply for convenience sake. I do believe that the abortion procedure should be avoided. I also believe in your freedom. I also believe that in certain situations, the abortion procedure is very much the best choice. I also believe that education maximizes the options available. And I believe that maturity and responsibility for one's actions are required no matter what sort of decisions we are talking about.

I would argue point by point if you would like, but I don't think that's the best choice here.

In conservative circles, I argue for your right to chose.

Here, I only hope to that you understand my position of the unborn's right to a chance to live. That doesn't mean agreement with my position, but that you can respect that I can have my own. And further, that there is much more that we actually agree on than what we disagree on.

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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby qinwamascot » Sun Oct 05, 2008 4:22 am UTC

theonlyjett wrote:Grr. Yes that's me growling/grumbling. I wrote a page of rebuttal, but it doesn't really matter. You don't like my reasoning, but you say that we can't fault other's morals. So if you say that I can't attack yours, then it follows that you shouldn't attack mine, I would suppose. The problem with everybody getting to be right is that you can't then say that anybody else is wrong.

I do want to defend potential people from being destroyed. Especially simply for convenience sake. I do believe that the abortion procedure should be avoided. I also believe in your freedom. I also believe that in certain situations, the abortion procedure is very much the best choice. I also believe that education maximizes the options available. And I believe that maturity and responsibility for one's actions are required no matter what sort of decisions we are talking about.

I would argue point by point if you would like, but I don't think that's the best choice here.

In conservative circles, I argue for your right to chose.

Here, I only hope to that you understand my position of the unborn's right to a chance to live. That doesn't mean agreement with my position, but that you can respect that I can have my own. And further, that there is much more that we actually agree on than what we disagree on.


I fully respect your opinion, even if i don't understand it. I agree that in the majority of cases, abortion could and should be avoided. However, in the case of an unwanted fetus, I believe that abortion is a good choice. Primarily, I don't see any moral imperative to abort or to carry. It is up to the mother. However, I respect the opinion that abortions should be avoided if possible, even if I don't agree.
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Libertine » Sun Oct 05, 2008 4:57 am UTC

Malice wrote:It's kinda like saying, "You have no qualms shooting a wolf. What's so different about shooting your pet dog Mr. Scruffles? After all, they're both in the canine family."

This might be nitpicky, but there is no difference between shooting a wolf and shooting a dog. None whatsoever, other than that you presumably wanted the dog. Anyone who says "It's ok to shoot wolves but it's wrong to shoot dogs" is irrational.

Malice wrote:An abortion is a huge decision, no matter who you are; you're killing something that would have been a person, even if you don't believe it's a person now, and that's something everybody takes seriously.

That's a broad generalization, it's not true for everyone. I would have no qualms whatsoever with getting an abortion, unless I thought it would do physical damage to my body or cause me pain, both of which have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I'm terminating the life of a potential person. If I got raped tomorrow I'd go out and get the morning after pill and I wouldn't think twice about it, other than hoping it worked and didn't cause a few months of irregular periods. Similarly I don't look at the blood each month and think "Awww, another potential life, GONE" or anything like that (and that's exactly what it is, a potential life that I purposefully chose not to allow into existence).

My opinions on the topic, in general: I'm staunchly pro-choice.
Unwanted Babies If a baby is born and the mother rejects it, in nature the baby dies unless something comes along and decides to take care of it. It's usually a slow miserable death. Early abortion is a pretty good alternative, and adoption is ok as long as somebody is willing to take care of it (NOT the taxpayers, please -- I didn't make the choice to let it live nor did I create it). Forcing mothers or society to care for unwanted children isn't morally correct in my opinion. Once you decide to let it live, somebody's got to take care of it for 18 years. People are making the effort to minimize suffering, while not ignoring the reality of the situation.

Pain Abortion might cause the fetus pain. But if it died a natural death, it'd still most likely be a painful one. There's no easy way around that, that's the nature of life -- death is not pleasant. Similarly, childbirth causes the mother pain. Which gets its way, the mother or the fetus? I'd go with the mother. Forcing the mother to have it anyway is a situation of "2 wrongs do not make a right". Likewise I support abortion in cases where the baby is going to be born with problems. Better a moment of pain than a lifetime of suffering.

Prevention Birth control is great, I've never had sex without it, but it's not 100% effective (even vasectomies fail). An unwanted fetus never asked to be conceived, but again that's life -- bad things happen to blameless creatures. Blaming the mother for getting pregnant is fine if she is truly an irresponsible idiot who decided to use NO birth control, but that's where it ends. Birth control is a practical, if not 100% effective, solution. Alot of abortions are birth control failures and rapes. You can't really blame women for liking sex, we're born that way. Abstinence as a method of birth control is not a practical solution. Everyone who is pro-life should put their money where their mouth is and actually help support the unwanted babies in the world if they care so much -- send money to orphanages, adopt, campaign to increase the availability of condoms and the pill so there are fewer abortions.
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Lightforge » Sun Oct 05, 2008 6:53 am UTC

Can you provide an example? I haven't seen too many degenerative arguments over abortion where it's the prochoicer being immature, so it would be extremely interesting seeing the tables turned.


I've seen both sides being ridiculous. It depends on where you look and your own perceptions.

Anyone who says "It's ok to shoot wolves but it's wrong to shoot dogs" is irrational.


The difference is that the wolf is dangerous near human settlements. I think that is is okay to shoot wolves and wrong to shoot a decent pet. But in general, even if you consider something an irrational thing to say, make sure you distinguish between an irrational argument and an irrational person. The question at hand is not whether Person A or B is incompetent. This is extremely important. Also, it can be compared to the difference between a "person with schizophrenia" and a "schizophrenic." Again, this is important.

If a baby is born and the mother rejects it, in nature the baby dies unless something comes along and decides to take care of it. It's usually a slow miserable death. Early abortion is a pretty good alternative...


In nature, murder is okay (even when not for food), might makes right, one gender is commonly subject to the other, etc.

Everyone who is pro-life should put their money where their mouth is and actually help support the unwanted babies in the world if they care so much -- send money to orphanages, adopt, campaign to increase the availability of condoms and the pill so there are fewer abortions.


Damn straight. Incidentally, this happens a lot, from personally adopting orphans to donating to relevant charities to sponsoring education programs for abstinence. Most pro-lifers would avoid increasing availability of condoms, which probably increases sexual behavior among children (which I would prefer to discourage), despite condoms' invaluable uses in pregnancy/disease prevention. I would say that for children, abstinence is the best method of birth control.

Most pro-life people I know support killing cancer cells, and viruses and bacteria, and other parasites. What is the difference here?


People who have a cancer cell removed don't suffer postpartum depression. A cancerous mass is not a distinct person. A fetus with proper life support (heating, oxygenated fluid, nutrients, etc) is a distinct human being (not yet a person). A cancer with proper life support is a mass of (often undifferentiated) cells. Fetuses do not require guidance (beyond DNA from the egg) from the mother in terms of how to develop into what pro-choice people commonly call human (ready for birth).

Newborns require constant nutrition and care. Children are the same way, though a bit more autonomic. Adults require constant societal support, though are by definition as autonomic as humans get. Many elderly again revert to needing constant direct support until they die. Society was developed largely because humans are poorly adapted for independent living. The ability to live independently is a poor criterion for determining personhood. In the end, if we have no objective criterion for calling a person a person, we need to be careful as to whom we deny basic human rights. This is a serious question. The difference between your rights and the rights of another should not be the result of the fact that more people care about (or would miss) you than the other, whether he is a fetus, a handicapped person, an ignorant person, etc. Can we really distinguish a fetus with proper life support from a person who has sustained massive brain injury (and is on life support) and needs to literally relearn everything (beyond the fact the the fetus' prognosis is far, far better)? The companion question is whether it is acceptable for a person to permanently disown a child (including cases where the death of the child is virtually certain). My personal answers would be no and no, as I believe they are crucial to a comprehensive ethic, which is in turn crucial to forming a better society.

I think that it is important to point out that the assertion that everyone has a right to (free speech, life, control over own body, etc) for the sake of the right is circular reasoning. There is an ethical reason, and therefore an ethical limitation, for each of these rights. Without an ethical system, all of these rights are irrational. If you argue on the side of "control over own body", and desire to stay logical, the entire ethical system needs to be examined, as there are numerous consequences and implications that arise from how far we take one right over the rights of others (whether rights seem self-evident or necessary or not).

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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Oct 05, 2008 7:19 am UTC

Abstinence only education has proved a complete and utter failure. It's so... you know... SENSIBLE.
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Malice » Sun Oct 05, 2008 9:01 am UTC

Hmm. This is interesting stuff.

qinwamascot wrote:
Malice wrote:Cancer cells, viruses, bacteria, and parasites are not, and will never be, a person. Can you really not see that distinction? It's kinda like saying, "You have no qualms shooting a wolf. What's so different about shooting your pet dog Mr. Scruffles? After all, they're both in the canine family."


personally, I'm not really in favor of shooting wolves either, or most things, and I probably would respond similarly to someone who told me they had no problem shooting wolves. I really don't see a distinction between "If we remove these cancer cells from you, they will die" and "if we remove this fetus from you, it will die."


Since somebody else too didn't like my analogy, I'll rephrase. It's kinda like saying, "You have no qualms shooting a wolf. What's so different about shooting a lawyer? After all, they're both living organisms you don't care about." And yet most people would probably have more of a gut reaction to killing a lawyer. Whether or not that's illogical, that's what happens to people.

The fact that a fetus could grow into a human doesn't seem relevant to me; It can't live on its own, so it isn't a human yet and whether or not it could become a human is irrelevant. Women have many reproductive cells that could become humans if they had sex every month, yet there aren't too many women who have a kid every 9 months. This isn't a moral crisis, the woman simply lets the egg die by removing it from her body via menstruation. Removing a fetus from the woman is doing the same thing except via a surgical procedure. I really don't see a distinction.


Let me try a different analogy. I will use movies, because I like them. Personally, I am a big fan of Christopher Nolan these days. (Well, okay, I was a big fan of his before 80% of the country said "That is a pretty good Batman sequel there Mr. Nolan", but whatever.)

Warning: This is obnoxiously long and detailed. You have been warned.

Spoiler:
Let's say there's some advance word that Christopher Nolan is planning on doing a new movie, between Batmans, and this one is gonna be an adaptation of bad-ass James Ellroy noir "The Big Nothing", which is a book I really like. Boy, that would just be perfect, wouldn't it? But then the studio cancels it, before they really get around to doing anything. What do I feel? A slight twinge of regret, maybe, but all that it means is that Batman 3 is coming sooner, and who wouldn't be excited about that?

On the other hand, let's say they get a lot farther than announcing the film. Let's say Nolan writes the whole script, and they cast all these great actors like Guy Pearce and Johnny Depp and Joseph Gordon Levitt as the rookie. They do a quick teaser trailer, they interview about it. There are pre-production concept sketches, even some viral marketing online. And THEN the studio cancels it, to make room for a different movie. What do I feel? A lot more unhappy about it. I was just getting to know this movie, really getting excited about it. It feels kinda poignant, like a dream project that'll never become real. The Lost Nolan Movie. Even after Batman 3, I'll wish "The Big Nowhere" wasn't, you know, nowhere.

On the third hand, let's say the film the whole damn thing, there are trailers, there are rave reviews from those lucky critics who get to see it early. And then, just a month before release... it's gone. Shelved, for tax reasons, or delayed indefinitely by some silly lawsuit. And it's never released. And I feel like that movie got killed. It's not just a never-was. Somebody took that thing away from me. I'd be royally pissed, and I might never forgive those responsible.


Tl;dr: the closer something is to achieving its potential, the more it takes on the importance of that potential. To use another example from movies, few people would have mourned Heath Ledger if he died right after completing "10 Things I Hate About You". But just when he was starting to be one of the best actors around, the blow was crushing.

Getting back to the topic, here: every time a guy masturbates, there are, like, a million sperm, and they are very far away from being a little kid who laughs and plays Hungry Hungry Hippos and always wears the same blue shirt. Once he gets a girl pregnant, even the very next day, he's thinking, "Jesus, this is really happening. In less than a year, there's going to be a baby." Four months down the line, he can look at pictures of it, and it's shaped like a kid, and he's thinking, "That right there is my kid. That guy will be playing Hungry Hungry Hippos in no time. I better figure out what the hell we call him real quick."

All of those things are potential human beings; but they are not equal in emotional terms.

Now, I don't want to generalize here. Some people, I'm sure, have the exact same attitude you're talking about--they fucking hate the idea of a parasite in their stomach, and they want to get it the fuck out of there, right now, and they only thing they feel after the abortion is relief. But I don't think that's everybody. I think some people (maybe even most people) are making a hard choice, and the fact that "I don't have the money to raise this kid," or "I hate the father and I can't do this by myself" or "I can't have a baby right now, I'm in high school / journalism / the army / Switzerland" outweighs, but does not eliminate the fact that they have nothing against this particular thing and other different circumstances they'd want it.

I guess the problem is one of terminology and absolutes. The term "potential" does not suggest the sliding scale that exists between an unfertilized egg and a baby just after the water breaks (or, if you like, an infant just learning to speak). The term "unwanted" vastly simplifies the emotional equations going on here into "x is greater", without even including the "than y" part. Many of these fetuses aren't unwanted; they're just not wanted enough. Maybe that's a better phrase, even if it still oversimplifies.

So I guess my ultimate point is that you're taking this argument to the third step, while ignoring the first one.

Step one: Pro-choice people are like, "Hey, pro-life people, why don't you want us to abort stuff?" Pro-life people are like, "It's murder, I feel bad about it."

Step two:
Pro-choice people are like, "But you don't feel bad about killing spiders."
Pro-life: "Spiders aren't human."
Pro-choice: "You don't feel bad about cutting your hair."
Pro-life: "Hair isn't alive."
Pro-choice: "You don't feel bad killing cancer cells."
Pro-life: "They're not potential people."

Step three:
Pro-choice people are like, "But there are lots of things that are potentially people, and you don't feel bad about them. So therefore, this is totally illogical! Let us abort, please!"

And what they forget is that they're the ones that made this scientific in the first place. They nailed down the pro-life position, chopping it up bit by bit until there was nothing left, and declared victory, and said "Everyone must now recognize that there's nothing wrong with abortion".
Except that the pro-life people still feel bad about it. It might be illogical, but it's human. They're not lying. They're not confused. They feel in their gut that this is wrong, and even if they can't why, exactly, their line is drawn there, they know that it is.

So I guess this fucking novel of a post boils down to, "Yeah, but so what?" The fact that you don't mind killing anything which has a vital attribute of a fetus doesn't mean you don't mind killing the fetus, even if you conclude that it has to be done. Even if there's no argument to be made here other than "I think it's wrong", you can't deny that, you can't ignore, you have to respect it. You don't have to agree with it. But you do have to acknowledge its existence, and that it can't be easily dismissed.

I agree that it is living tissue, but the question as to whether it is a living organism is an entirely different one. Regardless, if a fetus is a living organism, I still don't see what the problem is with aborting it. I'm not arguing as to whether or not a fetus is a living organism, but rather arguing that regardless of whether or not it is, there is no moral imperative to preserve its life. Personally I view a fetus as living, and thus, my first argument is the relevant one. The reason for this is precisely because of the consequences of regarding it as nonliving.


If you still don't see the what the problem is, after that, I'm not sure I can say much else to enlighten you. (And it's the fact that you keep saying "I can't see how they can think that" that keeps drawing me in to explain the other side's position and thought process. Just so you know.)

Aside from that, there's this point: there may be no moral imperative to preserve its life to YOU. But people have different morals, right? It might be "God said it's wrong." It might be "I think we have a moral imperative to preserve all life."
In fact, I'd say most people would agree there's a moral imperative to preserve all life. It is not rock-solid--there is room for compromise. Sometimes in the direction of the spirit of the rule--ie., killing one person to save thousands, or killing germs to save a human being. Sometimes less so--killing a bug because it's annoying, getting an abortion because they're too young to raise a kid. But there's still that rule, even if we bend it sometimes. There's still that notion that, "hey, maybe I shouldn't throw a bucket of water on the ant-hill just for kicks. They're only ants, but still."

Likewise, my analogy is meant to show that the property that you are not killing an organism by removing either hair or a fetus is not meant to say that the two actions have different factors motivating their decisions, but that the moral imperatives are the same in each case. Don't try to generalize this to all the properties of the two actions; this would be analogous to a proof by example.


But the moral imperatives aren't the same in each case. Sorry for getting worked up over it before. But like I said, my hair will maybe someday become a wig. But my fetus will someday make up the best dirty joke about sandwiches. There are different values here. It doesn't even have to be a moral imperative. It can just be that I like jokes more than I like wigs. I like and respect human beings more than I do odd fashion things made out of dead hair, and I think that the same general rule ("try not to kill things that might turn out to be cool") can lead to different conclusions in these two different situations.

Once again, I am not claiming that either the position that a fetus is living or not is correct. Rather, I am testing each possible case and showing that in every case there is not any moral imperative to keep the fetus alive.


Again, in your mind. I'd be pissed if you scratched up my CD collection, even though it's not alive or human or anything. Or if you prefer an "unwanted" thing, some piece of art I don't care for. I'd still feel bad about it, at least a little. Somebody put thought and effort into that work of art, and even if it turned out ugly and I would never put it in my living room, that doesn't mean I'm all for burning it just in case somebody decides they want to walk through the part of the museum where it is, and what if they'll trip and fall.

I don't see a reason to place value on a fetus. The reason is that it could not live outside its mother, so it is not a person yet.
You don't? You really don't? I'm having trouble believing you. Any value at all? This is something you're responsible for having made (with another person, no less); this is something that is very close to being out in the world and up to adorable hijinks; this is something your instincts are telling you you must raise and protect; this is something that has shared your blood, your air, your food, your body. These are all good and reasonable reasons for having more of a reaction when you kill it than you do flushing after you shit. These reasons don't necessarily mean that you don't do it, or even that you shouldn't do it. But they are there.

Saying that it is a potential person is the same as calling every egg cell and sperm cell a potential person. The only difference is the probability that it will actually become a person, which is somewhat higher for a fetus than a sperm or egg cell. However, morality is not based on probability; it is based on what is right.I really don't put any moral value in preserving the life of the fetus; rather, the moral value is with the mother's decision in my book. If the mother wants to carry the fetus, then it is morally right for her to do so, but if she does not, it is immoral to force her to.


Morals absolutely take probability into account. Let me give you an opposite example to killing. Let's say you see a gunman coming down the hall at your office. You're off to the side, in a cubicle; he can't see you. He comes in and aims the gun at your co-worker on the other side of the hall. What's the moral thing to do?

Well, he hasn't actually shot anybody yet. And there might be no bullets in the gun. And he might miss. And the guy across the hall might be a real asshole, you don't know him very well. All in all, it's not certain that this guy is going to die.

But it's still the morally correct thing to tackle this gunman. Some might call it a moral imperative.

So, yes, it's not 100% certain that the fetus will end up being a person. But it's likely enough that it might be immoral to halt that process, just like it is likely enough that the gunman will murder that guy that it might be moral not to halt that process.

Personally, I put moral value on the fetus, and the mother's decision. I simply put more value on the latter than on the former. But just because one side is greater doesn't mean the other side doesn't matter or exist.

Social theory says that the mother's decision is based on her estimates of the benefits to herself in each case. Her benefit in the case that she wants to have a child is that she has a child. Your argument seems like a more utilitarian one, in which the sum of all the good should be maximized, but this leads to the question "why don't we force everyone to have babies?" since more people will lead to a greater total good. Luckily, we don't live in a utilitarian society, but an individualistic one which adopts some utilitarian principles, or else we'd force women to get pregnant because the good they could cause by not killing their "potential human" egg cells is well greater than the harm they may suffer from it.


I'm not sure if you're talking to me, because I didn't think I said anything that could possibly be extrapolated to "let's force everyone to have babies". I do believe in a utilitarian ideal, but it's very hard to get that one right, because you have to take in all factors. For example, in the "let's force everyone to get pregnant" scenario, that's got a lot of "yay babies!" in the equation, but also a lot of counter-balancing negatives, like, "What the hell do we do with all these babies?" and the loss of freedom. Life is better than death, yes, but that doesn't mean life is infinitely the best thing ever and we should ignore all other good things in a single-minded pursuit of like, eight trillion babies.

It seems to me that you value "potential humans," but from your writing I can't find a way to distinguish exactly what makes a potential human. If it is just that it has the potential to become a human, than your argument falls down a slippery slope.


Potential is on a slope (although it's not a slippery one). A pianist the night before his concert debut is a potential success. That same pianist twenty years earlier, playing with Legos, is also a potential success, but in a way which is much less important. If somebody convinces the child to pick up guitar instead of piano, that feels like less of a loss than if somebody convinces the adult to skip the concert and go skiing.

To explain it a little differently, I value potential humans because I value humans. So the more human something is, the more I value it.

In our current social structure, it is possible for the newborn baby to find a new home via adoption. Even if it is an ectoparasite that doesn't mean that it must die. Personally, if it is possible to remove parasitic organisms without killing them and placing them into a system of mutualism; this is by far a better solution than outright killing it. In fact, even if the best that the baby can get is an orphanage with no one wanting to adopt him/her, this is a better solution than killing the baby. In fact, until all unwanted children are old enough to cook, work, and live for themselves and by themselves, I would say that they are ectoparasites.


Clearly you really do value the life of the fetus, and whenever you say, "I don't get how they could value the life of the fetus", you mean, "I don't get how they could value the life of the fetus more than the choice of the mother."

Again, this naming convention is not technically correct, but it makes the debate simpler that calling it 'an organism which exhibits all of the properties of parasicity excluding the property of having a different species from its dependent organism' or something similar.


It is perhaps better to say this, once, rather than using a simpler, less accurate term without explanation.
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Outchanter » Sun Oct 05, 2008 9:42 am UTC

qinwamascot wrote:It is like me comparing the fact that Stalin and Gandhi held similar views regarding violent protest of government. Both viewed it as abhorrent, albeit for different reasons.

But why would you make a comparison like that without being explicit about the context in the first place?

qinwamascot wrote:Your argument seems like a more utilitarian one, in which the sum of all the good should be maximized, but this leads to the question "why don't we force everyone to have babies?" since more people will lead to a greater total good. Luckily, we don't live in a utilitarian society, but an individualistic one which adopts some utilitarian principles, or else we'd force women to get pregnant because the good they could cause by not killing their "potential human" egg cells is well greater than the harm they may suffer from it.

How would overpopulation - particularly overpopulation by unwanted babies - lead to a greater total good?

qinwamascot wrote:
Outchanter wrote:If an unwanted foetus is an endoparasite, then what stops an unwanted newborn baby from being an ectoparasite?

In our current social structure, it is possible for the newborn baby to find a new home via adoption. Even if it is an ectoparasite that doesn't mean that it must die. Personally, if it is possible to remove parasitic organisms without killing them and placing them into a system of mutualism; this is by far a better solution than outright killing it. In fact, even if the best that the baby can get is an orphanage with no one wanting to adopt him/her, this is a better solution than killing the baby. In fact, until all unwanted children are old enough to cook, work, and live for themselves and by themselves, I would say that they are ectoparasites.

So unwanted children can stay around as long as people feel like looking after them, but during, say, a food shortage, they should be the first to go?

qinwamascot wrote:Again, this naming convention is not technically correct, but it makes the debate simpler that calling it 'an organism which exhibits all of the properties of parasicity excluding the property of having a different species from its dependent organism' or something similar.

There are several other differences, the main one being that a female body is designed to produce and gestate a foetus. Whether it's wanted or not doesn't make a difference biologically. For those who see a baby as a parasite it must feel like their own body's betraying them.

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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby qinwamascot » Sun Oct 05, 2008 10:26 am UTC

Outchanter wrote:
qinwamascot wrote:It is like me comparing the fact that Stalin and Gandhi held similar views regarding violent protest of government. Both viewed it as abhorrent, albeit for different reasons.

But why would you make a comparison like that without being explicit about the context in the first place?


Why not, if it is a valid comparison? I can compare any two things I want which are similar. The context is useless because otherwise it would not be possible to find a perfect comparison. So rather than go down the slippery slope of 'how contextually accurate must this be?' I choose to ignore context entirely. Certainly makes things easier.

qinwamascot wrote:Your argument seems like a more utilitarian one, in which the sum of all the good should be maximized, but this leads to the question "why don't we force everyone to have babies?" since more people will lead to a greater total good. Luckily, we don't live in a utilitarian society, but an individualistic one which adopts some utilitarian principles, or else we'd force women to get pregnant because the good they could cause by not killing their "potential human" egg cells is well greater than the harm they may suffer from it.

How would overpopulation - particularly overpopulation by unwanted babies - lead to a greater total good?


You are assuming that we will reach overpopulation, whereas my post assumed we would not. If you want to include overpopulation in our model, we can say that "we will force everyone to have babies until the world's natural resources can no longer sustain any more." Overall there is no difference in my argument though.

qinwamascot wrote:
Outchanter wrote:If an unwanted foetus is an endoparasite, then what stops an unwanted newborn baby from being an ectoparasite?

In our current social structure, it is possible for the newborn baby to find a new home via adoption. Even if it is an ectoparasite that doesn't mean that it must die. Personally, if it is possible to remove parasitic organisms without killing them and placing them into a system of mutualism; this is by far a better solution than outright killing it. In fact, even if the best that the baby can get is an orphanage with no one wanting to adopt him/her, this is a better solution than killing the baby. In fact, until all unwanted children are old enough to cook, work, and live for themselves and by themselves, I would say that they are ectoparasites.

So unwanted children can stay around as long as people feel like looking after them, but during, say, a food shortage, they should be the first to go?


This is unfair extrapolation. Unwanted children should be sent to orphanages, where hopefully they will be adopted. If they can not be, the government should provide them with enough food. No where did I say anything about killing unwanted children after they have been born. This is wrong because the government should take care of them in the worst case scenario.

qinwamascot wrote:Again, this naming convention is not technically correct, but it makes the debate simpler that calling it 'an organism which exhibits all of the properties of parasicity excluding the property of having a different species from its dependent organism' or something similar.

There are several other differences, the main one being that a female body is designed to produce and gestate a foetus. Whether it's wanted or not doesn't make a difference biologically. For those who see a baby as a parasite it must feel like their own body's betraying them.


It does make a difference biologically whether or not a fetus is wanted; here's why: If an organism decides to have offspring, this is a decision based on the survival of the species. This is a natural instinct that all successful sexually-reproducing species need. However, in the case of a human, that human's skills of deductive reasoning can surpass this natural instinct. There are a lot of different schools of biological philosophic thought, and at least one that I know of says the following: 'it is reasonably hard to quantify whether a behavioral pattern in a particular species is detrimental to that species or not; hence given any species that is faring reasonably well and not noticeably evolving, its behavioral pattern ought to reflect approximately the optimal behavioral pattern for that species, minus sufficiently unimportant behavioral patterns.' I wouldn't say that an urge to overpower the instinct of survival of the species is sufficiently unimportant given the number of cases in which it happens.

Therefore, the mother's reasoning to abort the baby is actually beneficial for the species as a whole, although the above is nonconstructive so we can't say exactly how.

Also, all the differences you point out between parasitism and pregnancy are not relevant to the properties of parasitism that I was referring to, namely that a parasite, like a human fetus, compromises some bodily functions of the host, causes the host pain, and is a negative factor for the preservation of the life of the host. In fact, the first two aren't even requisite properties of a parasite; only the third is. The fact that the female body is designed for it doesn't mean there is no risk, and hence comparing a fetus to a parasite is valid here.

I'm not even sure I totally understand what you're saying overall. You say that "it must feel like their body is betraying them" but I can't figure out how this relates to what I said at all.
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Malice » Sun Oct 05, 2008 12:11 pm UTC

What, no response to my previous post, Qin? How disappointing.

qinwamascot wrote:It does make a difference biologically whether or not a fetus is wanted; here's why: If an organism decides to have offspring, this is a decision based on the survival of the species. This is a natural instinct that all successful sexually-reproducing species need. However, in the case of a human, that human's skills of deductive reasoning can surpass this natural instinct. There are a lot of different schools of biological philosophic thought, and at least one that I know of says the following: 'it is reasonably hard to quantify whether a behavioral pattern in a particular species is detrimental to that species or not; hence given any species that is faring reasonably well and not noticeably evolving, its behavioral pattern ought to reflect approximately the optimal behavioral pattern for that species, minus sufficiently unimportant behavioral patterns.' I wouldn't say that an urge to overpower the instinct of survival of the species is sufficiently unimportant given the number of cases in which it happens.

Therefore, the mother's reasoning to abort the baby is actually beneficial for the species as a whole, although the above is nonconstructive so we can't say exactly how.


A behavioral pattern in a species can generally be assumed to be optimal; that does not mean that any one animal who exhibits that behavior at one particular time is making the smartest decision. If a species of bird has a behavior which is, they conserve energy by flying as little as possible, that is good for the species because they need less food, and thus are more stable and can sustain a higher population (and/or pop. density). But if one particular bird is refraining from flying, and because of this he gets pounced on and killed by a cat, then that was bad for that particular bird.
Abortions may be good for humans (if you can even apply the same arguments to sentient beings, and over such a short time period), but that doesn't mean that it's the right choice in any one particular case.
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Oct 05, 2008 1:36 pm UTC

Malice wrote:Potential is on a slope (although it's not a slippery one). A pianist the night before his concert debut is a potential success. That same pianist twenty years earlier, playing with Legos, is also a potential success, but in a way which is much less important. If somebody convinces the child to pick up guitar instead of piano, that feels like less of a loss than if somebody convinces the adult to skip the concert and go skiing.

To explain it a little differently, I value potential humans because I value humans. So the more human something is, the more I value it.

Yes. Potential is a slope, humanity is a slope, and personhood is a slope. Anyone using these facts to claim that the only "reasonable" position is one of the extremes is committing a slippery slope fallacy. They are (usually intentionally) ignoring the vast number of things that make one case so different from another.

Qin's argument: You can't base your position on the potential personhood of the fetus, because then you'd have to include all the sperm and egg cells that die. You'd logically be required to want the same protections for them as for the fetus. And that's ridiculous!
Pro-life argument: You can't wait until any amount of time *after* conception to start placing moral weight on a fetus, because then you'd have to wait at least up until birth, and maybe long after that. You'd logically be required to say it's as okay to kill a week-old embryo as it is to kill a newborn. And that's ridiculous!

The problem with these (and all slippery slope fallacies) is that they ignore the differences. No, you wouldn't have to count sperm, because they have far, far less potential. And you wouldn't have to allow infanticide, because a born person has far, far *more* potential than an embryo.
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby qinwamascot » Sun Oct 05, 2008 3:11 pm UTC

Malice wrote:What, no response to my previous post, Qin? How disappointing.


Aahhhhhh I didn't even see it, but I can't do it now, sorry. Maybe later today.
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby qinwamascot » Sun Oct 05, 2008 10:27 pm UTC

Before I post anything, I want to clarify that this isn't really entirely representative of my actual position; at this point I'm just arguing for the sake of doing so :mrgreen:

Malice wrote:Hmm. This is interesting stuff.

Since somebody else too didn't like my analogy, I'll rephrase. It's kinda like saying, "You have no qualms shooting a wolf. What's so different about shooting a lawyer? After all, they're both living organisms you don't care about." And yet most people would probably have more of a gut reaction to killing a lawyer. Whether or not that's illogical, that's what happens to people.


I would have more of a negative reaction against this as well. Lawyers and wolves are in different moral categories. It is wrong to kill either without a reason, but more wrong to kill the human lawyer (perhaps oxymoronic :mrgreen: just kidding I know a lot of great lawyers) than the nonhuman wolf.

You can relate this back to our original argument though that if it is more wrong to kill a human than a nonhuman, is it not also more wrong to kill a human fetus than a nonhuman parasite.

This would be a good refutation assuming you were going to make it. I would counter by saying that drawing a parallel to things which can not survive on their own is arbitrary and not well-defined. Sure, we can say that since it is a potential human, it has potential moral value in killing it, but I don't agree with this. The reason being that if we kill it, it most certainly will never become a human, and thus our morals never needed to govern it. If this seems circular, it is. :)

The fact that a fetus could grow into a human doesn't seem relevant to me; It can't live on its own, so it isn't a human yet and whether or not it could become a human is irrelevant. Women have many reproductive cells that could become humans if they had sex every month, yet there aren't too many women who have a kid every 9 months. This isn't a moral crisis, the woman simply lets the egg die by removing it from her body via menstruation. Removing a fetus from the woman is doing the same thing except via a surgical procedure. I really don't see a distinction.


Let me try a different analogy. I will use movies, because I like them. Personally, I am a big fan of Christopher Nolan these days. (Well, okay, I was a big fan of his before 80% of the country said "That is a pretty good Batman sequel there Mr. Nolan", but whatever.)

Warning: This is obnoxiously long and detailed. You have been warned.

Spoiler:
Let's say there's some advance word that Christopher Nolan is planning on doing a new movie, between Batmans, and this one is gonna be an adaptation of bad-ass James Ellroy noir "The Big Nothing", which is a book I really like. Boy, that would just be perfect, wouldn't it? But then the studio cancels it, before they really get around to doing anything. What do I feel? A slight twinge of regret, maybe, but all that it means is that Batman 3 is coming sooner, and who wouldn't be excited about that?

On the other hand, let's say they get a lot farther than announcing the film. Let's say Nolan writes the whole script, and they cast all these great actors like Guy Pearce and Johnny Depp and Joseph Gordon Levitt as the rookie. They do a quick teaser trailer, they interview about it. There are pre-production concept sketches, even some viral marketing online. And THEN the studio cancels it, to make room for a different movie. What do I feel? A lot more unhappy about it. I was just getting to know this movie, really getting excited about it. It feels kinda poignant, like a dream project that'll never become real. The Lost Nolan Movie. Even after Batman 3, I'll wish "The Big Nowhere" wasn't, you know, nowhere.

On the third hand, let's say the film the whole damn thing, there are trailers, there are rave reviews from those lucky critics who get to see it early. And then, just a month before release... it's gone. Shelved, for tax reasons, or delayed indefinitely by some silly lawsuit. And it's never released. And I feel like that movie got killed. It's not just a never-was. Somebody took that thing away from me. I'd be royally pissed, and I might never forgive those responsible.



I'm not a big moviegoer myself, but I can see the analogy you are making. The problem I have is that I don't see how this anger/sorrow/bitterness/etc is at all related to a moral imperative. Suppose I'm the director of such a movie. However, I decide to pull it for my own reasons. You can be a mad, bitter pro-lifer, but you can't say I did something immoral. Perhaps I shattered one of your dreams, but then if your dreams are that breakable then you may need to rethink them a little. You can say I killed my movie, and you can be upset at me, but can you claim I did something immoral? And not something immoral to you, but to the movie? I wouldn't know, like I said I don't watch movies so I don't know if people think of them that way. I certainly don't.

Tl;dr: the closer something is to achieving its potential, the more it takes on the importance of that potential. To use another example from movies, few people would have mourned Heath Ledger if he died right after completing "10 Things I Hate About You". But just when he was starting to be one of the best actors around, the blow was crushing.

Getting back to the topic, here: every time a guy masturbates, there are, like, a million sperm, and they are very far away from being a little kid who laughs and plays Hungry Hungry Hippos and always wears the same blue shirt. Once he gets a girl pregnant, even the very next day, he's thinking, "Jesus, this is really happening. In less than a year, there's going to be a baby." Four months down the line, he can look at pictures of it, and it's shaped like a kid, and he's thinking, "That right there is my kid. That guy will be playing Hungry Hungry Hippos in no time. I better figure out what the hell we call him real quick."

All of those things are potential human beings; but they are not equal in emotional terms.


This is an unusual analogy. if a woman was forced to have unprotected sex every day for the rest of her life until she went through menopause, we'd expect with fairly good certainty that most of her eggs that she releases would get fertilized. Then what is the difference between a woman refusing sex and killing a fertilized egg? By refusing sex, she is eliminating any possibility that the egg will turn into a living human. However, a fertilized egg has a high chance of turning into a living human. You can resolve this in several ways:
1) the fertilized egg, being a potential human, does not hold any weight morally->there is no reason not to abort it
2) the fertilized egg holds a higher potential of becoming a human than an unfertilized one. The former has moral support, while the second lacks it->this implies that a trivial change (theoretically, and yes it is theoretically trivial to fertilize egg cells. Unprotected sex is extremely effective here) can have a dramatic change in moral imperative. However, then one has to question why, if the change was trivial, the moral imperative did not also change trivially. This leads to a slippery slope.
3) the fertilized egg and the unfertilized one have the same (high) potential of becoming a human, and thus are morally both requiring preservation->We should then force all women to have sex every time their eggs are released so that we avoid killing a potential human

Personally I pick the third. The second is an explicit contradiction and the third seems irrational and immoral to me.

The same could not be said of birthing. The reason why is because it is not a trivial change, but a large one. There is a significant amount of pain and some risk involved. #2 doesn't break down here. There is a moral value increase during birth, mainly in the fact that the human could now live in an orphanage or be adopted, so killing it should be illegal anytime after birth.

Now, I don't want to generalize here. Some people, I'm sure, have the exact same attitude you're talking about--they fucking hate the idea of a parasite in their stomach, and they want to get it the fuck out of there, right now, and they only thing they feel after the abortion is relief. But I don't think that's everybody. I think some people (maybe even most people) are making a hard choice, and the fact that "I don't have the money to raise this kid," or "I hate the father and I can't do this by myself" or "I can't have a baby right now, I'm in high school / journalism / the army / Switzerland" outweighs, but does not eliminate the fact that they have nothing against this particular thing and other different circumstances they'd want it.


I'm not using the idea of a fetus being similar to a parasite as a justification for any abortion, rather, I'm using it to show that there isn't a moral reason that we should require people to keep the fetus. I'd agree in general that if some one is making the decision of whether or not to abort a fetus based on its parasitic properties (not risk of the mother's life, which is a valid reason to get an abortion, but things like gaining weight which are ultimately not very important) and not based on what the real-world implications of carrying/aborting the fetus would be, that would not be a well-thought-out decision. However, if after assessing all the factors, the woman can rationally decide to abort the fetus, than I don't believe there is any moral reason why we should let it live.
I guess the problem is one of terminology and absolutes. The term "potential" does not suggest the sliding scale that exists between an unfertilized egg and a baby just after the water breaks (or, if you like, an infant just learning to speak). The term "unwanted" vastly simplifies the emotional equations going on here into "x is greater", without even including the "than y" part. Many of these fetuses aren't unwanted; they're just not wanted enough. Maybe that's a better phrase, even if it still oversimplifies.

I would say that potential could apply to anything from a sperm cell to a fetus just before birthing. The moral values of these are not necessarily all the same, but I don't think they are based on what the chance is that the potential human will become a real human is either. In fact, I'd argue that, until a fetus can be removed from its mother without killing it (via natural birthing, C-section, whatever) it does not have moral value beyond what its mother assigns to it. However, if a fetus could be removed from the mother without killing it, then there is a moral value behind it. As such, I am against partial birth abortions except in cases where the woman's health is a concern. At that point, the woman's pain birthing it is not on the same order of magnitude as the moral value of the fetus, which could survive on its own if the umbilical cord was removed and it was put in the hands of society.

As for unwanted, or underwanted, fetuses, I understand that there are often a lot of emotions that people experience when contemplating an abortion. If, after considering all factors, a woman can rationally decide to get an abortion, I think there is no reason why we should deny it. If they do not make this decision, we have no reason to abort it. The decision-making process can be a difficult one because the things which are being compared vary in category and order of magnitude, so overall it is not trivial for most people to weigh the factors logically without a lot of emotion in whatever decision they make.

So I guess my ultimate point is that you're taking this argument to the third step, while ignoring the first one.

Step one: Pro-choice people are like, "Hey, pro-life people, why don't you want us to abort stuff?" Pro-life people are like, "It's murder, I feel bad about it."

Step two:
Pro-choice people are like, "But you don't feel bad about killing spiders."
Pro-life: "Spiders aren't human."
Pro-choice: "You don't feel bad about cutting your hair."
Pro-life: "Hair isn't alive."
Pro-choice: "You don't feel bad killing cancer cells."
Pro-life: "They're not potential people."

Step three:
Pro-choice people are like, "But there are lots of things that are potentially people, and you don't feel bad about them. So therefore, this is totally illogical! Let us abort, please!"

And what they forget is that they're the ones that made this scientific in the first place. They nailed down the pro-life position, chopping it up bit by bit until there was nothing left, and declared victory, and said "Everyone must now recognize that there's nothing wrong with abortion".
Except that the pro-life people still feel bad about it. It might be illogical, but it's human. They're not lying. They're not confused. They feel in their gut that this is wrong, and even if they can't why, exactly, their line is drawn there, they know that it is.


This is quite well written. Although I don't understand a pro-lifer's position any more than before, at least I know that it is not based on scientific facts and logical deduction, but an innate reasoning that I just don't have. This is probably why debating this way doesn't really accomplish anything except get me a lot of "I hate you you murderer"s and things like that. I guess it's foolhardy to assume they can refute my science with their science, and science versus intuition really isn't a debate either side can win:

Science: "A is true"
Intuition:"I don't believe you. A is certainly false"
Science:"But we know B is true, from which A follows"
Intuition:"But A makes no sense. A is false"
Science:"So you deny B?"
Intuition:"Not really, but A is definitely false"
etc.
(I'm not bashing either side here. Honestly I just find it funny that within the two frameworks it is entirely impossible for either side to convince the other. Science will say what it wants, but intuition knows it isn't right. And intuition will say what it wants, but science knows that isn't right. So it's basically a pointless debate because we have nothing better to do)

So I guess this fucking novel of a post boils down to, "Yeah, but so what?" The fact that you don't mind killing anything which has a vital attribute of a fetus doesn't mean you don't mind killing the fetus, even if you conclude that it has to be done. Even if there's no argument to be made here other than "I think it's wrong", you can't deny that, you can't ignore, you have to respect it. You don't have to agree with it. But you do have to acknowledge its existence, and that it can't be easily dismissed.


interesting philosophic conundrum, but I agree that your solution is the correct one.

I agree that it is living tissue, but the question as to whether it is a living organism is an entirely different one. Regardless, if a fetus is a living organism, I still don't see what the problem is with aborting it. I'm not arguing as to whether or not a fetus is a living organism, but rather arguing that regardless of whether or not it is, there is no moral imperative to preserve its life. Personally I view a fetus as living, and thus, my first argument is the relevant one. The reason for this is precisely because of the consequences of regarding it as nonliving.


If you still don't see the what the problem is, after that, I'm not sure I can say much else to enlighten you. (And it's the fact that you keep saying "I can't see how they can think that" that keeps drawing me in to explain the other side's position and thought process. Just so you know.)

Aside from that, there's this point: there may be no moral imperative to preserve its life to YOU. But people have different morals, right? It might be "God said it's wrong." It might be "I think we have a moral imperative to preserve all life."
In fact, I'd say most people would agree there's a moral imperative to preserve all life. It is not rock-solid--there is room for compromise. Sometimes in the direction of the spirit of the rule--ie., killing one person to save thousands, or killing germs to save a human being. Sometimes less so--killing a bug because it's annoying, getting an abortion because they're too young to raise a kid. But there's still that rule, even if we bend it sometimes. There's still that notion that, "hey, maybe I shouldn't throw a bucket of water on the ant-hill just for kicks. They're only ants, but still."


I can see why people would believe such a thing, but not why it is rational. To me, if a belief is irrational, there is no reason to believe it, but I guess many don't share this. People can have different moral systems based on belief in some god or anything else, but I was asking for why it was immoral from my perspective. I really couldn't care less what other people think about abortions, but if I were a female (I'm not) I'd say that imposing your morals on me is ludicrous. My morals are good enough for me, and there are no major loopholes, like killing living humans or small cute puppies. As such, unless you can find a fundamental flaw in my moral system that the average person would agree is definitely immoral, I shouldn't expect you to force your morals on me. So either prove to me my morals are incorrect, prove to me that my morals require that I not have an abortion, or let me have my blasted abortion already!

The biggest problem I have is when people assume morals are absolute. They are not. I began with a self-consistent set of morals that does not allow for anything that most people would find definitely immoral. Thus, my set of morals are just as valid as the next guy's. If the conclusions I can make from my set of morals are wrong in your view, there are two things you can do. You can show my morals are not complete or not consistent, or that my morals won't lead to the conclusions I made. This is a basic tenant of logic that for some reason people just don't accept. Sure, someone can say that what I am doing is immoral in their equally consistent and complete set of morals, but to do so leads to the question "Why do you care what I do with my life?"
[/rant] I wasn't ranting at Malice, or anyone here, but rather people who claim to have the only correct set of morals. It's a lot more fun going on a Christian forum and posting stuff like this :mrgreen: because people get so mad they can't construct any kind of a logical argument. Perhaps I'm a mean person :twisted: but being the nice guy is no fun.
Likewise, my analogy is meant to show that the property that you are not killing an organism by removing either hair or a fetus is not meant to say that the two actions have different factors motivating their decisions, but that the moral imperatives are the same in each case. Don't try to generalize this to all the properties of the two actions; this would be analogous to a proof by example.


But the moral imperatives aren't the same in each case. Sorry for getting worked up over it before. But like I said, my hair will maybe someday become a wig. But my fetus will someday make up the best dirty joke about sandwiches. There are different values here. It doesn't even have to be a moral imperative. It can just be that I like jokes more than I like wigs. I like and respect human beings more than I do odd fashion things made out of dead hair, and I think that the same general rule ("try not to kill things that might turn out to be cool") can lead to different conclusions in these two different situations.

Once again, I am not claiming that either the position that a fetus is living or not is correct. Rather, I am testing each possible case and showing that in every case there is not any moral imperative to keep the fetus alive.


Again, in your mind. I'd be pissed if you scratched up my CD collection, even though it's not alive or human or anything. Or if you prefer an "unwanted" thing, some piece of art I don't care for. I'd still feel bad about it, at least a little. Somebody put thought and effort into that work of art, and even if it turned out ugly and I would never put it in my living room, that doesn't mean I'm all for burning it just in case somebody decides they want to walk through the part of the museum where it is, and what if they'll trip and fall.


Pretty much this exactly sums up my feelings as for why a fetus is living because having an unliving fetus leads to logical conclusions I don't like. However, if it is, that doesn't discount my first rant argument.


I don't see a reason to place value on a fetus. The reason is that it could not live outside its mother, so it is not a person yet.
You don't? You really don't? I'm having trouble believing you. Any value at all? This is something you're responsible for having made (with another person, no less); this is something that is very close to being out in the world and up to adorable hijinks; this is something your instincts are telling you you must raise and protect; this is something that has shared your blood, your air, your food, your body. These are all good and reasonable reasons for having more of a reaction when you kill it than you do flushing after you shit. These reasons don't necessarily mean that you don't do it, or even that you shouldn't do it. But they are there.

Saying that it is a potential person is the same as calling every egg cell and sperm cell a potential person. The only difference is the probability that it will actually become a person, which is somewhat higher for a fetus than a sperm or egg cell. However, morality is not based on probability; it is based on what is right.I really don't put any moral value in preserving the life of the fetus; rather, the moral value is with the mother's decision in my book. If the mother wants to carry the fetus, then it is morally right for her to do so, but if she does not, it is immoral to force her to.


Morals absolutely take probability into account. Let me give you an opposite example to killing. Let's say you see a gunman coming down the hall at your office. You're off to the side, in a cubicle; he can't see you. He comes in and aims the gun at your co-worker on the other side of the hall. What's the moral thing to do?

Well, he hasn't actually shot anybody yet. And there might be no bullets in the gun. And he might miss. And the guy across the hall might be a real asshole, you don't know him very well. All in all, it's not certain that this guy is going to die.

But it's still the morally correct thing to tackle this gunman. Some might call it a moral imperative.

So, yes, it's not 100% certain that the fetus will end up being a person. But it's likely enough that it might be immoral to halt that process, just like it is likely enough that the gunman will murder that guy that it might be moral not to halt that process.

Personally, I put moral value on the fetus, and the mother's decision. I simply put more value on the latter than on the former. But just because one side is greater doesn't mean the other side doesn't matter or exist.


For this one, I'm going to have to say that I agree with you in reality, but I'm debating from the mindset of this other weird person, so I have to argue against you.

Of course it would be the moral thing to tackle the gunman.

However, your argument does not hold when we start talking about fetuses. As I formulated earlier, a woman who knows when she ovulates can get pregnant with (except in the case of infertility or low fertility) relatively high probability each time. Furthermore, the fertilized egg has a very high chance of being able to turn into a living human given time. So why would there be moral value in killing the egg after it has been fertilized, but not before, if by your definition probability governs morality. We have constructed a system where a woman has two choices: kill the egg, or fertilize it so that it has a somewhat high chance of becoming a living human. How is this different from your: abort the egg, or let it live with a high probability that the egg will become a human? And if it isn't then doesn't that mean it's on a similar degree, if not exactly the same, the moral value of the egg before and after fertilization? And if so, there seems to be only one possibility because these are both at least somewhat high chances, so doesn't that mean, by your probability axiom, that it is at least somewhat immoral not to have sex whenever it could possibly fertilize an egg? That is not a conclusion I like

Instead, I don't think we should use probability at all in determining morals. It leads to bad results.

Social theory says that the mother's decision is based on her estimates of the benefits to herself in each case. Her benefit in the case that she wants to have a child is that she has a child. Your argument seems like a more utilitarian one, in which the sum of all the good should be maximized, but this leads to the question "why don't we force everyone to have babies?" since more people will lead to a greater total good. Luckily, we don't live in a utilitarian society, but an individualistic one which adopts some utilitarian principles, or else we'd force women to get pregnant because the good they could cause by not killing their "potential human" egg cells is well greater than the harm they may suffer from it.


I'm not sure if you're talking to me, because I didn't think I said anything that could possibly be extrapolated to "let's force everyone to have babies". I do believe in a utilitarian ideal, but it's very hard to get that one right, because you have to take in all factors. For example, in the "let's force everyone to get pregnant" scenario, that's got a lot of "yay babies!" in the equation, but also a lot of counter-balancing negatives, like, "What the hell do we do with all these babies?" and the loss of freedom. Life is better than death, yes, but that doesn't mean life is infinitely the best thing ever and we should ignore all other good things in a single-minded pursuit of like, eight trillion babies.


I 'm not sure this is about a comment you made, but we can always mathematically adjust for all counterbalancing negatives by saying that it is 'immoral to not have a baby unless the birth of that baby would cause a detriment in the total good for everyone overall including that baby.' I don't think we're at that point yet (it depends--if the baby is born in Sudan it probably is bad, but there are places where it is a good thing for babies to be born in a utilitarian concept...like alaska or wyoming. They could use more people). So even if you say that the negatives are immeasurably hard to quantify, you must concede that mathematically such a number must exist, even if it is not trivial or even possible to calculate it. The existence of any such number means that a utilitarian system would ideally, assuming perfect information, force people when they should have babies or if they should. A purely utilitarian society has numerous problems, like the elimination of free will in many systems. So I am against it.

It seems to me that you value "potential humans," but from your writing I can't find a way to distinguish exactly what makes a potential human. If it is just that it has the potential to become a human, than your argument falls down a slippery slope.


Potential is on a slope (although it's not a slippery one). A pianist the night before his concert debut is a potential success. That same pianist twenty years earlier, playing with Legos, is also a potential success, but in a way which is much less important. If somebody convinces the child to pick up guitar instead of piano, that feels like less of a loss than if somebody convinces the adult to skip the concert and go skiing.

To explain it a little differently, I value potential humans because I value humans. So the more human something is, the more I value it.


I can understand this, but I think for the most part I dealt with it above.

In our current social structure, it is possible for the newborn baby to find a new home via adoption. Even if it is an ectoparasite that doesn't mean that it must die. Personally, if it is possible to remove parasitic organisms without killing them and placing them into a system of mutualism; this is by far a better solution than outright killing it. In fact, even if the best that the baby can get is an orphanage with no one wanting to adopt him/her, this is a better solution than killing the baby. In fact, until all unwanted children are old enough to cook, work, and live for themselves and by themselves, I would say that they are ectoparasites.


Clearly you really do value the life of the fetus, and whenever you say, "I don't get how they could value the life of the fetus", you mean, "I don't get how they could value the life of the fetus more than the choice of the mother."


I don't value the life of anything that can't sustain life on its own without aid from any one specific host. However, society has conveniently provided a host that, although not the best option. Allow me to use an analogy here:

If I had a dog/cat/bird/otter/whatever pet that I really didn't want, then there would be no problem for me to let that pet free into the wild (in a habitat that is natural for it). If the pet lives or dies, it's not my responsibility, as I can say that it is no longer my pet, even though it was dependent on me. The pet may be very adept and capable of handling itself in the wild. This is unlikely but in no way impossible given domesticated animals.

Suppose that I could know with 100% certainty that the pet will die almost immediately after I release it into the wild. Such a short time as to be utterly irrelevant. For instance, I know my pet is going to fall off a 50 foot cliff onto jagged rocks Immediately after I let it free (but not because I let it free; on its own free will and abilities or lack thereof). Then I am essentially sending my pet to its death, but it's not my fault because it was free to do everything within its power to survive and failed.

Is there any difference between just killing the pet outright and sending it to a known death? Some argue yes, and I agree with them. If you kill the pet, you can be sure it's done humanely and with as little pain as possible. Either way, your pet is dead, and the fact that you did it really is not relevant. In this case, we could say that killing the pet was no different from actions which would have the same effect on the pet, but were considered more moral because of the physical action. Or you could say that there is no moral imperative to preserve the pet's life.

Of course, it's impossible to know with real pets with any certainty how they will fare in the wild. The example really isn't a great one, but I think you can see where I am going with it. If there is a place to send the pet (ie dog pound, otter ranch, anyone willing to adopt your unwanted pet) that will not kill the pet, that is preferable to releasing it into "the wild." But if there is not, and releasing it anywhere in the wild will have the same effect ie the pet will die even if you put it in the most preferable environment for it outside of your house that exists for that pet, and will do so very quickly, then killing the pet, either by releasing it to a preferable environment in which it has the most possible factors going for it and it will still die, or by using more humane measures like killing it quickly, there is no moral problem in killing the dog.

I realize this example seems callous, but it is not meant to show how anyone would treat actual animals. There is an emotional connection to a pet, even one that you no longer want. It is also impossible to definitively know how well an organism would do in the wild. Furthermore, there are places that will adopt pets, and many people who do so as well.

The analogy to this case is obvious. The pet is now a human fetus or newborn baby. It could be either. Sending the pet 'into the wild' is now extracting a fetus from the body of its mother, or extracting the newborn baby from its household. In either case the result is almost certainly death unless the fetus is at least 7 months old or the 'newborn baby'' is at least 7-8 years old. Killing the pet would be aborting the fetus or actually physically killing the newborn baby. The dog pounds and otter ranches represent orphanages, while the people willing to adopt your pet are now willing to adopt your baby. No parallel exists for this and fetuses.

Naturally, since there is a way for the newborn to survive without its original mother, we could say that it is immoral to kill them. Instead they should go to an otter ranch orphanage

What about the fetus? If we remove the fetus from its mother, than at early to middle stages of pregnancy it would die. This is true even if we transplanted it. Regardless of how nice we can make the conditions for the fetus, it will not survive, and there are no fetus orphanages, because putting one there would also make it die. Thus, we can abort the fetus without saying it is immoral. If, however, the fetus could survive outside the womb, as rarely happens after 6 months and sometimes after 7-8, then we can't abort the fetus outright. Mostly this has to do with extremely late abortions. In these cases, I'd argue that an immoral act is being committed by not carrying the fetus and then giving it up for adoption.

And what about a fetus that is potentially harmful to the woman? This is analogous to a Velociraptor for a pet. Sure it might be able to live in the wild but UNLESS YOU KILL IT IT WILL EAT YOU WHOLE! Ok maybe an exaggeration but you get the idea :wink:

FINALLY finished one post. I promised Malice this so here it is. I am not going to be able to respond to more posts for at least a little while; this is just cleaning up the mess I've made :D

Again, this naming convention is not technically correct, but it makes the debate simpler that calling it 'an organism which exhibits all of the properties of parasicity excluding the property of having a different species from its dependent organism' or something similar.


It is perhaps better to say this, once, rather than using a simpler, less accurate term without explanation.[/quote]
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Malice » Mon Oct 06, 2008 12:31 am UTC

qinwamascot wrote:Before I post anything, I want to clarify that this isn't really entirely representative of my actual position; at this point I'm just arguing for the sake of doing so :mrgreen:

Malice wrote:It's kinda like saying, "You have no qualms shooting a wolf. What's so different about shooting a lawyer? After all, they're both living organisms you don't care about." And yet most people would probably have more of a gut reaction to killing a lawyer. Whether or not that's illogical, that's what happens to people.


I would have more of a negative reaction against this as well. Lawyers and wolves are in different moral categories. It is wrong to kill either without a reason, but more wrong to kill the human lawyer (perhaps oxymoronic :mrgreen: just kidding I know a lot of great lawyers) than the nonhuman wolf.


Aha! But what compelling logical scientifical reason can you find for that moral distinction? Is there a reason besides:
a) gut reaction
b) the arbitrary standard "humans are better"
c) a cop-out specifically constructed in order to justify b (ie., "well, wolves don't have opposable thumbs!")

This would be a good refutation assuming you were going to make it. I would counter by saying that drawing a parallel to things which can not survive on their own is arbitrary and not well-defined. Sure, we can say that since it is a potential human, it has potential moral value in killing it, but I don't agree with this. The reason being that if we kill it, it most certainly will never become a human, and thus our morals never needed to govern it. If this seems circular, it is. :)


Morals don't work like that. Part of the point of morals is that they're not supposed to work on technicalities. Either it's wrong or its not, and you have to look at the consequences of your actions, including consequences that eliminate future possibilities. If you go back in time and kill John Smith's grandfather, so that he never exists, was the action against John Smith immoral? There is no John Smith now, and technically there never was; but I'd say it's still immoral, because if nothing else, you know that he existed, and you destroyed him utterly.

I'm not a big moviegoer myself, but I can see the analogy you are making. The problem I have is that I don't see how this anger/sorrow/bitterness/etc is at all related to a moral imperative. Suppose I'm the director of such a movie. However, I decide to pull it for my own reasons. You can be a mad, bitter pro-lifer, but you can't say I did something immoral. Perhaps I shattered one of your dreams, but then if your dreams are that breakable then you may need to rethink them a little. You can say I killed my movie, and you can be upset at me, but can you claim I did something immoral? And not something immoral to you, but to the movie? I wouldn't know, like I said I don't watch movies so I don't know if people think of them that way. I certainly don't.


Personally, I value art the way I value a human being. Both are equally irreplaceable, and so I feel the loss of either is something to get upset about.

This is an unusual analogy. if a woman was forced to have unprotected sex every day for the rest of her life until she went through menopause, we'd expect with fairly good certainty that most of her eggs that she releases would get fertilized. Then what is the difference between a woman refusing sex and killing a fertilized egg? By refusing sex, she is eliminating any possibility that the egg will turn into a living human. However, a fertilized egg has a high chance of turning into a living human. You can resolve this in several ways:
1) the fertilized egg, being a potential human, does not hold any weight morally->there is no reason not to abort it
2) the fertilized egg holds a higher potential of becoming a human than an unfertilized one. The former has moral support, while the second lacks it->this implies that a trivial change (theoretically, and yes it is theoretically trivial to fertilize egg cells. Unprotected sex is extremely effective here) can have a dramatic change in moral imperative. However, then one has to question why, if the change was trivial, the moral imperative did not also change trivially. This leads to a slippery slope.
3) the fertilized egg and the unfertilized one have the same (high) potential of becoming a human, and thus are morally both requiring preservation->We should then force all women to have sex every time their eggs are released so that we avoid killing a potential human


4) When relating probability to morality, there is less imperative to act when things get less specific. One specific instance contains a moral imperative; this is much lessened by the time we get into mass statistics. So a woman may, separately, refuse to have sex any number of times, because there's no way of guessing that that time would have resulted in fertility; but she may not destroy a fertilized egg because there is only one of those. The situation "there is a gunman in my office what do I do" is entirely distinct from "there has been a rise in workplace shootings lately what do I do", and dealing with one does not require dealing with the other.
5) The fertilized egg holds a higher potential of becoming a human than an unfertilized one. The former has moral support, while the second has less moral support, such that the first creates a moral imperative and the second does not. In other words, the moral imperative changes just as trivially as the physical change; but that one trivial change happens to put it over the top from "do that if you feel like it" to "no, no, don't do that, it's wrong".

The same could not be said of birthing. The reason why is because it is not a trivial change, but a large one. There is a significant amount of pain and some risk involved. #2 doesn't break down here. There is a moral value increase during birth, mainly in the fact that the human could now live in an orphanage or be adopted, so killing it should be illegal anytime after birth.


This is extremely controversial. Birthing IS a trivial change, despite the symbolism; a week before birth, the fetus can survive outside the womb. It hasn't significantly become more of a person; it has simply moved. Morally, that baby is the same whether it's a week before birth or a week after birth.

I'm not using the idea of a fetus being similar to a parasite as a justification for any abortion, rather, I'm using it to show that there isn't a moral reason that we should require people to keep the fetus. I'd agree in general that if some one is making the decision of whether or not to abort a fetus based on its parasitic properties (not risk of the mother's life, which is a valid reason to get an abortion, but things like gaining weight which are ultimately not very important) and not based on what the real-world implications of carrying/aborting the fetus would be, that would not be a well-thought-out decision. However, if after assessing all the factors, the woman can rationally decide to abort the fetus, than I don't believe there is any moral reason why we should let it live.


Although I've tried to make the pro-life position clear to you, in this case I personally pretty much agree with you. Basically, I think there is moral reason for letting the fetus live; but not so much that it overrides the woman's right to choose.

I would say that potential could apply to anything from a sperm cell to a fetus just before birthing. The moral values of these are not necessarily all the same, but I don't think they are based on what the chance is that the potential human will become a real human is either. In fact, I'd argue that, until a fetus can be removed from its mother without killing it (via natural birthing, C-section, whatever) it does not have moral value beyond what its mother assigns to it. However, if a fetus could be removed from the mother without killing it, then there is a moral value behind it. As such, I am against partial birth abortions except in cases where the woman's health is a concern. At that point, the woman's pain birthing it is not on the same order of magnitude as the moral value of the fetus, which could survive on its own if the umbilical cord was removed and it was put in the hands of society.


I think I'd agree with this if it were phrased differently. The fetus does not suddenly gain moral value where before it had none; its moral value increases, from a smaller value, to the point where it overrides the mother's decision.

This is quite well written. Although I don't understand a pro-lifer's position any more than before, at least I know that it is not based on scientific facts and logical deduction, but an innate reasoning that I just don't have. This is probably why debating this way doesn't really accomplish anything except get me a lot of "I hate you you murderer"s and things like that. I guess it's foolhardy to assume they can refute my science with their science, and science versus intuition really isn't a debate either side can win:


Ehhhh... not quite. The pro-life position still contains science; they just attach different values to certain facts than you do. To you, the scientific fact that a fetus cannot survive outside the womb suggests that that life has no moral value; to them, the same fact is immaterial. Science tells us what something is, not how to feel about it. People on both sides may agree that a fetus is a living organism, and still one side will say "We can kill that living organism" and the other side says "no, we can't". Phrasing the debate as science versus intuition is a fallacy, and I'm sorry if I gave that impression. It is a battle of intution versus intuition, with both sides unsuccessfully attempting to hide behind logic applied to science.

I can see why people would believe such a thing, but not why it is rational. To me, if a belief is irrational, there is no reason to believe it, but I guess many don't share this. People can have different moral systems based on belief in some god or anything else, but I was asking for why it was immoral from my perspective. I really couldn't care less what other people think about abortions, but if I were a female (I'm not) I'd say that imposing your morals on me is ludicrous. My morals are good enough for me, and there are no major loopholes, like killing living humans or small cute puppies. As such, unless you can find a fundamental flaw in my moral system that the average person would agree is definitely immoral, I shouldn't expect you to force your morals on me. So either prove to me my morals are incorrect, prove to me that my morals require that I not have an abortion, or let me have my blasted abortion already!


Like I said, you can have your abortion. But I'll still think that a moral choice was involved, not a neutral action.

The biggest problem I have is when people assume morals are absolute. They are not. I began with a self-consistent set of morals that does not allow for anything that most people would find definitely immoral. Thus, my set of morals are just as valid as the next guy's. If the conclusions I can make from my set of morals are wrong in your view, there are two things you can do. You can show my morals are not complete or not consistent, or that my morals won't lead to the conclusions I made. This is a basic tenant of logic that for some reason people just don't accept. Sure, someone can say that what I am doing is immoral in their equally consistent and complete set of morals, but to do so leads to the question "Why do you care what I do with my life?"


The issue comes when your morals lead you to do something about somebody else's life. You can't hide behind moral relativity in order to justify, say, human sacrifice. We're going to get all up in your grill over it.

I'm not convinced that the pro-life group are right. But if they are, they're fighting the right fight. (I happen to think they do it very poorly--the only effective way to eliminate abortions is to throw the women in jail, not the doctors--but that's neither here nor there.) I find it easy to get into the mindset of somebody who sees murder happening all around him, and not only can he do little to stop it, but people are telling him it's no big deal. I can certainly understand why somebody might finally pick up a gun or a bomb in utter frustration, saying, "God-dammit, I'm going to stop THIS one at least."

For this one, I'm going to have to say that I agree with you in reality, but I'm debating from the mindset of this other weird person, so I have to argue against you.

Of course it would be the moral thing to tackle the gunman.

However, your argument does not hold when we start talking about fetuses. As I formulated earlier, a woman who knows when she ovulates can get pregnant with (except in the case of infertility or low fertility) relatively high probability each time. Furthermore, the fertilized egg has a very high chance of being able to turn into a living human given time. So why would there be moral value in killing the egg after it has been fertilized, but not before, if by your definition probability governs morality. We have constructed a system where a woman has two choices: kill the egg, or fertilize it so that it has a somewhat high chance of becoming a living human. How is this different from your: abort the egg, or let it live with a high probability that the egg will become a human? And if it isn't then doesn't that mean it's on a similar degree, if not exactly the same, the moral value of the egg before and after fertilization? And if so, there seems to be only one possibility because these are both at least somewhat high chances, so doesn't that mean, by your probability axiom, that it is at least somewhat immoral not to have sex whenever it could possibly fertilize an egg? That is not a conclusion I like

Instead, I don't think we should use probability at all in determining morals. It leads to bad results.


I already addressed this above in one direction (ie., there's moral value to having sex, but not enough to make it compulsory), but let me try a different one here. To put it simply, (and to paraphrase "Vertigo") morality has much to say about things being done, and little to say about things left undone. If you give to a charity, that was a good thing. If you happen to be watching TV when you could be out giving to charities, that isn't a bad thing; it just isn't a good thing. Or, to use a closer example, saving a life. It is morally imperative that, if I see somebody in mortal danger in front of me, I act to try and save him. Pull him out of the way of a speeding car or something. But that doesn't mean I'm required to save everybody's life, everywhere in the world. For one thing, I can't do it! Nor should I have to perform at the very limits of possibility. In most cases of doing good, "some" is enough. A woman has a couple of kids, that is good enough, she doesn't need to be a birth factory. A guy saves a couple lives, he is a hero, he doesn't need to help everybody. A person gives money to the homeless, that is good enough, they don't need to buy everybody a house. We consider people who do enough to be good people; anybody who goes beyond that, we call them saints or superheroes. Your idea about forcing women to fertilize as many eggs as possible is ludicrous, and they don't have to do it. They can focus on not killing the couple that are close to being people. That's hard enough.

I 'm not sure this is about a comment you made, but we can always mathematically adjust for all counterbalancing negatives by saying that it is 'immoral to not have a baby unless the birth of that baby would cause a detriment in the total good for everyone overall including that baby.' I don't think we're at that point yet (it depends--if the baby is born in Sudan it probably is bad, but there are places where it is a good thing for babies to be born in a utilitarian concept...like alaska or wyoming. They could use more people). So even if you say that the negatives are immeasurably hard to quantify, you must concede that mathematically such a number must exist, even if it is not trivial or even possible to calculate it. The existence of any such number means that a utilitarian system would ideally, assuming perfect information, force people when they should have babies or if they should. A purely utilitarian society has numerous problems, like the elimination of free will in many systems. So I am against it.


A utilitarian system, properly run, takes itself into the equation, and weighs the good of more babies against the bad of free will. Of course the real problem with instituting an actual utilitarian system (which is what everybody tries to do anyway, right?) is that even with perfect information, people will disagree on values. In my first sentence, there, I'm assuming that the people in charge will value free will more than they value babies (or, more specifically, that they value quality of life over quantity); but not everybody agrees with that. So it's practically unworkable. However, that doesn't mean the system of logic isn't a good way to consider choices.

I don't value the life of anything that can't sustain life on its own without aid from any one specific host.


Why not? Can you provide a real reason, or do you fall back on your own intuition?
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby theonlyjett » Mon Oct 06, 2008 2:33 am UTC

qinwamascot wrote:I fully respect your opinion, even if i don't understand it. I agree that in the majority of cases, abortion could and should be avoided. However, in the case of an unwanted fetus, I believe that abortion is a good choice. Primarily, I don't see any moral imperative to abort or to carry. It is up to the mother. However, I respect the opinion that abortions should be avoided if possible, even if I don't agree.
Please explain how the bolded statements aren't completely contradictory.

Izawwlgood wrote:Abstinence only education has proved a complete and utter failure. It's so... you know... SENSIBLE.
/sarcasm
I don't ever remember supporting abstinence only. I don't particularly practice it, myself, as a rule. Nevertheless, occasionally, abstinence is an option available to us in order to avoid more complicated situations.

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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Libertine » Mon Oct 06, 2008 8:11 am UTC

qinwamascot wrote:I don't value the life of anything that can't sustain life on its own without aid from any one specific host.

I think you've hit a key point and your analogy of releasing an animal into the wild is how I feel about the situation also. Except my view extends even further to "Life is not 'sacred' in any way." I don't value life in any rational sense. In the grand scheme of the universe(s), life just does not matter. Life is not special. Life is just a conglomeration of atoms that will eventually disperse.

Religious people believe that once life begins, it exists eternally as a soul. Also that there is something eternal (God) that values us, hence once all human life as we know it is gone and even if all life is gone and the universe collapses, there will still be something, somewhere, that values 'us' and 'we' still exist to be valued in the form of a soul. Huge difference from my view, obviously.

Most people feel intuitively that life has fundamental value, and that's really what drives the whole pro-life argument and it's the foundation of morality. The majority believe that one human life is not more valuable than another, and that to view it otherwise would be detrimental to forming a moral society. I see it as more of a Camp Free-Will/Autonomy Vs. Camp Life-Is-Sacred kinda thing. If you argue that life is the most important thing ever, why not mandate that everyone must donate a kidney or give blood? If lives are all equal and maintaining life is the biggest priority, it would make sense. Alot of people would prefer that situation, though I'm certainly not one of them. I wouldn't be particularly surprised if eventually human society ended up like that though -- there are already precursors.
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Malice » Mon Oct 06, 2008 8:52 am UTC

Libertine wrote:
qinwamascot wrote:I don't value the life of anything that can't sustain life on its own without aid from any one specific host.

I think you've hit a key point and your analogy of releasing an animal into the wild is how I feel about the situation also. Except my view extends even further to "Life is not 'sacred' in any way." I don't value life in any rational sense. In the grand scheme of the universe(s), life just does not matter. Life is not special. Life is just a conglomeration of atoms that will eventually disperse.


So you wouldn't mind if somebody, say, killed you, or your parents, or a random stranger right in front of you? They're just atoms to be dispersed?

Religious people believe that once life begins, it exists eternally as a soul. Also that there is something eternal (God) that values us, hence once all human life as we know it is gone and even if all life is gone and the universe collapses, there will still be something, somewhere, that values 'us' and 'we' still exist to be valued in the form of a soul. Huge difference from my view, obviously.


I'm not religious, but I value life, because I'm alive, and life is interesting. If life isn't eternal, that makes it even more special, in my opinion. Something doesn't have to always be valued by an outside authority, forever and ever; it can be valued here, now, by us.

Most people feel intuitively that life has fundamental value, and that's really what drives the whole pro-life argument and it's the foundation of morality. The majority believe that one human life is not more valuable than another, and that to view it otherwise would be detrimental to forming a moral society. I see it as more of a Camp Free-Will/Autonomy Vs. Camp Life-Is-Sacred kinda thing. If you argue that life is the most important thing ever, why not mandate that everyone must donate a kidney or give blood?


Why not? Because they happen to believe in the importance of Life AND Free Will. How about that? They are able to value more than one thing at the same time. Shocking.

To phrase it in my own, non-religious terms, life is good because it's interesting. It's unpredictable. Life is constantly surprising you, constantly changing, constantly confronting you with something totally not of yourself, an alien viewpoint, a new idea or a new way of being you never would have thought of.
If you remove everything that's great about life--the ability of living beings to make choices and come up with new stuff--then that's not valuing life, is it?

In religious terms, you value life because live things have souls. Souls are the reason we have free will; so eliminating free will is like killing your soul, and removing the only thing that makes life sacred in the first place.

Most people agree that life has value. Pro-lifers put more value on the life of a fetus than they do on the whims of the mother. Pro-choices do the opposite. Neither side generally considers either half of that equation totally devoid of value; they just differ on which value is greater.
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Quixotess » Mon Oct 06, 2008 9:07 am UTC

I can't keep up with all these lengthy posts, but--

Malice wrote:Most people agree that life has value. Pro-lifers put more value on the life of a fetus than they do on the whims of the mother. Pro-choices do the opposite. Neither side generally considers either half of that equation totally devoid of value; they just differ on which value is greater.

That's an extremely unfair and inaccurate way to frame it. Pro-lifers put more value on the life of a fetus than they do on the bodily autonomy of the mother.
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Libertine » Mon Oct 06, 2008 9:57 am UTC

Malice wrote:So you wouldn't mind if somebody, say, killed you, or your parents, or a random stranger right in front of you? They're just atoms to be dispersed?
You won't like my answers, but I'll be honest. You're free to think I am evil incarnate (and I hereby predict the response "Yeah, I do"). If someone killed my parent I'd be...relieved, if it was a quick death. He will almost certainly experience a slow, drawn-out death where he loses his mind and ends up a vegetable for 10 years. If the killer was unnecessarily cruel, and the murder benefited the killer in no way, I'd be irritated -- but that is an emotional/moral response and not a rational response. Rationally I know that my parent will die, no matter what happens -- the result is always the same. It only matters to me, inside my own mind, and I too will die. I don't expect anyone else to care about him. For what it's worth, I will make sure that my parent is happy, to the best of my ability. I'm not totally evil. But I don't expect anyone else to take care of him without compensation, either. This is in stark contrast to the way pro-lifers feel. In the case of a stranger, it wouldn't bother me. I don't like people, so statistically the killer killed someone I wouldn't have liked anyway. As for killing me, that's OK too -- I know I'm going to die, when it happens I won't be around to worry about it. I'll be irked in the 2 seconds before it happens though, but someone has the right to try and kill me, as I have the right to try and defend myself. If I lose, I lose.

Malice wrote:I'm not religious, but I value life, because I'm alive, and life is interesting. If life isn't eternal, that makes it even more special, in my opinion. Something doesn't have to always be valued by an outside authority, forever and ever; it can be valued here, now, by us.

Yes, of course you value your own life. I do too. But I still rationally know that my life is utterly meaningless to anybody but me and the people who like me. In 100 years I'll be forgotten. In 1,000,000 years we'll all be forgotten. I'm OK with that. If I believed otherwise I'd be militantly pro-life.

Why not? Because they happen to believe in the importance of Life AND Free Will. How about that? They are able to value more than one thing at the same time. Shocking.

And in some cases, they must pick which they value more. Like when making up abortion laws. You can't always have it both ways. If you could, we wouldn't be having this debate, would we? If, as in my quote, you value life more then my argument holds that it is reasonable to assume the majority will vote for sacrificing free-will for life.

I don't mean to say I live my life with total disregard to other lives. A good example (and following the unwanted pet analogy) is when I rescued a hamster that I found trapped on a submerged patio. Someone must have abandoned it. It took up alot of time and a surprisingly large amount of money, but I did it anyway. I still realized, rationally, that it's cute furry little life really didn't matter in the grand scheme of things except apparently to me at that point in time. I didn't feel any rational obligation to take care of it. That I did was more just an emotional thing, because if I let it starve to death I'd feel sad. If someone came to my door with an unwanted hamster and said "Here, YOU deal with it -- and by the way if you don't, I'll throw you in jail!" I'd be extremely pissed. That doesn't change the fact that it's life was basically negligible outside of the happiness it brought me.
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Malice » Mon Oct 06, 2008 11:12 am UTC

Sorry, Quix. That was just laziness.

Libertine wrote:
Why not? Because they happen to believe in the importance of Life AND Free Will. How about that? They are able to value more than one thing at the same time. Shocking.

And in some cases, they must pick which they value more. Like when making up abortion laws. You can't always have it both ways. If you could, we wouldn't be having this debate, would we? If, as in my quote, you value life more then my argument holds that it is reasonable to assume the majority will vote for sacrificing free-will for life.


If I'm not misunderstanding, I kinda already said that. They value one or the other more, and that informs their position.
On the other hand, you can indeed compromise between the two values. Free will can still be free, even if you restrict it to some extent; and protecting some life is acceptable even if you'd rather protect all of it. In fact, we already do have this compromise in place--some states have restrictions on late-term abortion, and most everyone agrees that life is more important than free will once we're talking about a child that's been born. The disagreement is on where to place that compromise between the two values, not simply a "which is more valued" boolean thing.
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Libertine » Mon Oct 06, 2008 11:40 am UTC

Malice wrote:If I'm not misunderstanding, I kinda already said that.

Well, you quoted my original quote, which was "If you argue that life is the most important thing ever, why not mandate that everyone must donate a kidney or give blood?" and responded "Why not? Because they happen to believe in the importance of Life AND Free Will. How about that? They are able to value more than one thing at the same time. Shocking."

So I responded, again, for clarification. I'm not disagreeing with you but you seemed to dislike what I had to say about it originally and I don't really see why, since you acknowledge that sometimes you gotta pick one or the other. I'm not going to derail the thread arguing over what is probably a misunderstanding though. It's not important and you can PM me if I'm totally missing the point.

Abortion is currently a compromise and neither side is entirely happy, although it seems like the pro-lifers are the most irritated. To them life is life no matter whether it's 1 hour old or 1 year old. I don't see alot of pro-choicers arguing for infanticide or late-abortions, though. They're mostly content with what little bit of free-will the law has given them.
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Alias » Mon Oct 06, 2008 11:42 am UTC

I'm all about the abortions. This debate came up IRL recently (dont worry aliasfans, no pregnancy scares currently) and I finally thought about it properly.

In reality the only person who has the right to decide whether or not a woman should have an abortion is the woman herself. If she is a good woman she will seek and consider the fathers opinion, but in the end it is her call. Her body, and her life that will be affected most.

i'm not sure if this point has been raised before; this thread is VERY long heh.
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Hammer » Mon Oct 06, 2008 1:32 pm UTC

Alias wrote:i'm not sure if this point has been raised before; this thread is VERY long heh.

Yes, because it keeps going around in circles. Cue the next repetition of the discussion of father notification... *sigh*
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Alias » Mon Oct 06, 2008 1:41 pm UTC

sorry :(
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby qinwamascot » Wed Oct 08, 2008 1:11 pm UTC

Alias wrote:I'm all about the abortions. This debate came up IRL recently (dont worry aliasfans, no pregnancy scares currently) and I finally thought about it properly.

In reality the only person who has the right to decide whether or not a woman should have an abortion is the woman herself. If she is a good woman she will seek and consider the fathers opinion, but in the end it is her call. Her body, and her life that will be affected most.

i'm not sure if this point has been raised before; this thread is VERY long heh.


Agree, though this has already been brought up.

Perhaps I can simplify may argument. It goes like this:

If a fetus can not live in the outside world by itself (with help from gov't if necessary) then it is living because the mother is giving it nutrition, a home, and whatever else it needs to live. Consider the question that she simply cuts off all nutrition and shelter for the fetus. Although people may say that she is killing a potential human, the fact is that if she didn't do anything (I mean her body) that potential human would never become an actual human anyway. And I don't believe that she should be forced to do things in favor of increasing the potential of this human because this would also require frequent sexual activity. Thus, I conclude that there is not a moral responsibility to increase the potential of a potential human, which means that there is not a moral responsibility to preserve the life of that potential human by contrapositive of the second statement. Thus, a mother can, without moral consequence, remove nutrition and shelter from the fetus.

If the fetus would DEFINITELY die from removing these things, then there isn't any difference between killing the fetus and removing nutrition and shelter from it. Thus there is no moral difference either. Which means there is not a moral problem with killing it. This obviously does not hold if there is a way that the mother can stop providing food + shelter to the fetus without having it die.

Maybe that's clearer? I'm not sure even I understood my old way of phrasing it. I avoided talk of parasites because it really isn't relevant to the argument here anymore.
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Malice » Wed Oct 08, 2008 9:16 pm UTC

qinwamascot wrote:Perhaps I can simplify may argument. It goes like this:

If a fetus can not live in the outside world by itself (with help from gov't if necessary) then it is living because the mother is giving it nutrition, a home, and whatever else it needs to live. Consider the question that she simply cuts off all nutrition and shelter for the fetus. Although people may say that she is killing a potential human, the fact is that if she didn't do anything (I mean her body) that potential human would never become an actual human anyway. And I don't believe that she should be forced to do things in favor of increasing the potential of this human because this would also require frequent sexual activity. Thus, I conclude that there is not a moral responsibility to increase the potential of a potential human, which means that there is not a moral responsibility to preserve the life of that potential human by contrapositive of the second statement. Thus, a mother can, without moral consequence, remove nutrition and shelter from the fetus.


As I've repeatedly explained to you, there's a difference between being morally obligated to keep something alive and being morally obligated to make more of that thing. For example, I am morally obligated not to kill my neighbor. That does not mean I am morally obligated to clone him, or have sex with him in order to carry on his lineage. A morality which says "Don't end a life" does not translate to "Create life". Even if it did, it would not translate to "Create as much life as possible".
The mother isn't forced to do things to increase the potential, because those processes are automatic. She's obligated not to stop that potential through action, which is an entirely different situation from allowing unfertilized eggs to die through inaction and automatic processes.

If the fetus would DEFINITELY die from removing these things, then there isn't any difference between killing the fetus and removing nutrition and shelter from it. Thus there is no moral difference either. Which means there is not a moral problem with killing it. This obviously does not hold if there is a way that the mother can stop providing food + shelter to the fetus without having it die.


If there's no moral obligation to preserve the life of the fetus, as you argue, then there's no moral obligation to do so in any situation, including one in which the fetus can live outside of the mother. If there is a moral obligation to provide life, where possible, then there is a non-overriding moral imperative to provide life even where not possible without the mother.

Consider this analogy:
Two men are on a mountain. One man slips and almost falls off a ledge. The other man manages to grab his hand and save him, leaving the first man hanging over the edge of a precipice.
The fact that the hanging man can't survive without his friend holding his hand does not mean the friend has no moral obligation to keep holding it. On the contrary, there is a very strong obligation for him to hold on until the hanging man can get a foothold and pull himself up, or until rescue can arrive and relieve the friend. If the friend were to let go of the hanging man on purpose (say because his hand was hurting), we would consider that murder.

From this standpoint, it is immoral for the woman to have an abortion, even if it is more immoral to force her to carry it to term.
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby qinwamascot » Thu Oct 09, 2008 12:04 am UTC

Malice wrote:
qinwamascot wrote:Perhaps I can simplify may argument. It goes like this:
As I've repeatedly explained to you, there's a difference between being morally obligated to keep something alive and being morally obligated to make more of that thing. For example, I am morally obligated not to kill my neighbor. That does not mean I am morally obligated to clone him, or have sex with him in order to carry on his lineage. A morality which says "Don't end a life" does not translate to "Create life". Even if it did, it would not translate to "Create as much life as possible".
The mother isn't forced to do things to increase the potential, because those processes are automatic. She's obligated not to stop that potential through action, which is an entirely different situation from allowing unfertilized eggs to die through inaction and automatic processes.


I don't see a difference between the two. In either case if the mother chooses to keep the baby, the baby will live, and if not, it will die. The difference is merely the consequence of not choosing, which I would argue is always a bad choice. Ignoring a choice doesn't make it go away--you just waste the opportunity to make the choice. Also, I entirely disagree with the notion that a potential human's life's value is inherently related to its probability of becoming a human. If it is, where do you draw the line and say "It is immoral to kill a potential human with more than X% chance of surviving"? And if so, and all you do to attach moral value to a potential human is to multiply the regular moral value of a human life by the probability it becomes human, wouldn't it also be alright to do an action that has an X% chance of killing a full human, but a (100-X)% chance of doing nothing?

Besides, you just seem to assume that it is the case that the potential of a human is inherently related to its value. How do you come to this? It seems extremely arbitrary and counterintuitive.

If there's no moral obligation to preserve the life of the fetus, as you argue, then there's no moral obligation to do so in any situation, including one in which the fetus can live outside of the mother. If there is a moral obligation to provide life, where possible, then there is a non-overriding moral imperative to provide life even where not possible without the mother.

Consider this analogy:
Two men are on a mountain. One man slips and almost falls off a ledge. The other man manages to grab his hand and save him, leaving the first man hanging over the edge of a precipice.
The fact that the hanging man can't survive without his friend holding his hand does not mean the friend has no moral obligation to keep holding it. On the contrary, there is a very strong obligation for him to hold on until the hanging man can get a foothold and pull himself up, or until rescue can arrive and relieve the friend. If the friend were to let go of the hanging man on purpose (say because his hand was hurting), we would consider that murder.

From this standpoint, it is immoral for the woman to have an abortion, even if it is more immoral to force her to carry it to term.



For the case of a mother with a fetus that can survive on its own, there is an entirely different moral value that dominates here, and that is the moral to preserve actual human life (not potential human life, which I don't think is morally important). Plus, as I stated before, if there are no other moral imperatives present and it is possible to avoid killing rather than killing, the option which avoids killing the best is the best option.

I would also argue that letting go of the person's hand is somewhat different on that basis. But there is a similarity between this and abortion, namely that I think what is important in both cases is not morality, but axiology, a far more important concept anyways. It isn't so much about what is right and wrong, but what is good and bad. I'd argue that getting an abortion without a reason (or with a bad reason, like "I don't want to have to pick out a name") is bad. But it is not immoral. Likewise, helping your friend up is a question that transcends morality--it's simply a good thing to do. In both cases, axiology is by far more important than morality, but not nearly as strait-forward.

So if anything, getting an abortion is a question of axiology (i.e. "Is this good?) as opposed to morality ("Is this right?")
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Malice » Thu Oct 09, 2008 12:16 am UTC

qinwamascot wrote:For the case of a mother with a fetus that can survive on its own, there is an entirely different moral value that dominates here, and that is the moral to preserve actual human life (not potential human life, which I don't think is morally important).


Do you believe that something which can't survive on its own can't be considered "alive", or that it can't be considered "human", or what? Because a fetus seems to be both of those to me.

Plus, as I stated before, if there are no other moral imperatives present and it is possible to avoid killing rather than killing, the option which avoids killing the best is the best option.


Why is it the best option? That sounds like a moral judgement to me.

It isn't so much about what is right and wrong, but what is good and bad. I'd argue that getting an abortion without a reason (or with a bad reason, like "I don't want to have to pick out a name") is bad. But it is not immoral. Likewise, helping your friend up is a question that transcends morality--it's simply a good thing to do. In both cases, axiology is by far more important than morality, but not nearly as strait-forward.


Is it possible to object to this idea without getting bogged down into the inevitably boring debate of "What is morality"?
Oo, I know. Even if you think "doing good" is something separate from "being moral", it isn't, because people in general have a moral imperative to do good.

So if anything, getting an abortion is a question of axiology (i.e. "Is this good?) as opposed to morality ("Is this right?")[/quote]
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Minerva » Sun Oct 12, 2008 2:08 pm UTC

OK, thread is epically long, and I'm not going to read it all, but:

There will never be any law that forces you to have an abortion.
If you don't agree with abortions, just don't have one. Don't try and force your personal beliefs onto other people.
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Gelsamel » Sun Oct 12, 2008 3:42 pm UTC

EVEN IF you can convince me that ALLOWING abortion will ruin the sanctity of life and kill innocent human beings... then I am STILL for allowing abortion because if you do not have the freedom to do what you want with your body, then you're not living in a free country. And if abortion not being illegal means that innocent humans die, then OKAY. There is a right and a wrong beyond just safety. Life free or die. "Give me liberty or give me death". Freedom is more important than our life.

The above applying my rewording of this sentiment to apply to the abortion topic

(Didn't want to take credit for the phrasing, but I agree entirely with the above)
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Malice » Sun Oct 12, 2008 11:03 pm UTC

Gelsamel wrote:EVEN IF you can convince me that ALLOWING abortion will ruin the sanctity of life and kill innocent human beings... then I am STILL for allowing abortion because if you do not have the freedom to do what you want with your body, then you're not living in a free country. And if abortion not being illegal means that innocent humans die, then OKAY. There is a right and a wrong beyond just safety. Life free or die. "Give me liberty or give me death". Freedom is more important than our life.


I take issue when your freedom is more important than my life. It's "give me liberty or give me death," not, "give me liberty or I'll fucking kill you." It is noble to sacrifice oneself for the freedom of others; it is significantly less so to sacrifice others for one's own freedom.
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby WaterToFire » Sun Oct 12, 2008 11:29 pm UTC

Philwelch wrote:From my perspective, a person is an agent who has the actual (as opposed to potentially), current (as opposed to in the future) capacity to fully participate in society. This is a complex philosophical criterion. I'm pretty sure that healthy adult humans, children who can use language, and self-aware talking robots all qualify. Animals, embryos, people in permanent vegetative states, and infants probably don't qualify. Toddlers and the severely mentally disabled are in a gray area. I'm also willing to openly admit this is a very unpopular criterion for this reason. I'm sure you could think of a more popular criterion, but it wouldn't be nearly as consistent with a bunch of philosophical concerns that are beyond this issue. (Sometimes I do have an entire philosophical theory behind what I'm saying.)

Now, when it comes to animals and born children, I do recognize an instinctual disinclination to harm, but this is separate from the moral consideration we ought to give to humans.
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Gelsamel » Mon Oct 13, 2008 12:49 am UTC

Malice wrote:I take issue when your freedom is more important than my life.


It's not MY freedom and not YOUR life. It's ALL women's freedom to do what they want with their body, and that parasite that feeding off their body's life.

The point is, even if an allowing an action causes more people to die, or more bad stuff to happen. Even if you convince me that a zygote is a person from conception to birth. Even if you persuasively argue past all the other points that show that as ridiculous. Then I'm STILL for allowing abortion because if women do not have control over what happens with THEIR BODY then they are NOT living in a free society.

It's "give me liberty or give me death," not, "give me liberty or I'll fucking kill you." It is noble to sacrifice oneself for the freedom of others; it is significantly less so to sacrifice others for one's own freedom.


Not even sure how you got went from what I said to "I'll fucking kill you if you don't give me freedom". It's "Higher Crime Rate, Higher Murder Rate, Higher "Immorality" rate are FINE as long as we almost certainly more free by allowing those things"
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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Gunfingers » Mon Oct 13, 2008 12:59 am UTC

If bodily autonomy is the line, then none of us in pretty much any first world country live in a free society. Drug control much?

Really i'm pretty sure the "life" thing is a pretty important distinction. If sucking something out of my neighbor's uturus was likely to cause me to die i'd like to think it'd be illegal. Rights stop at the big-assed brick wall known as "someone else's rights". I mean, i'd like to think that dude in "Inner Space" wouldn't be allowed to kill Dennis Quaid just because he was in him.

Fortunately none of these hypotheticals hold true, and in real life abortion doesn't hurt anyone. Hopefuly we'll soon come to the same conclusion about drug control.

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Re: please can we all talk about abortions? that would be nice.

Postby Gelsamel » Mon Oct 13, 2008 1:52 am UTC

Gunfingers wrote:If bodily autonomy is the line, then none of us in pretty much any first world country live in a free society. Drug control much?


Agreed, and I think heroine and marijauna and cocaine etc. should all be legalised. EVEN IGNORING that regulation and sale of those drugs would REDUCE addiction and REDUCE overdoses. Even if it did the OPPOSITE I would support the legalisation of them.

The same with gun control. (Penn does mention both these in the video I linked)

Really i'm pretty sure the "life" thing is a pretty important distinction. If sucking something out of my neighbor's uturus was likely to cause me to die i'd like to think it'd be illegal. Rights stop at the big-assed brick wall known as "someone else's rights". I mean, i'd like to think that dude in "Inner Space" wouldn't be allowed to kill Dennis Quaid just because he was in him.


The baby is a parasite within the mother's body. It is part of her body and it's her choice to decide what to do with it. The only reason it would matter whether it was "human life" or not is if you want to sacrifice freedom for safety. Those who trade freedom for safety lose both and deserve neither.

However, I've said it a thousand times in other threads and I'll say it again. If you think abortion is fucked up and it's NOT worth the freedom then you can (1) Not do it yourself and (2) Shun those who do it. You have the freedom to cuss out who ever you want for anything they do and you if REALLY disagree with what they're doing then you SHOULD. What you CAN'T DO (and fortunately right now we don't) is make abortion illegal.

EVEN IF the attitude I'm taking towards abortion right now is the attitude that would almost certainly cause me to be aborted (were we back in time) then I would STILL be for allowing abortion.
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