Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

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Enuja
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby Enuja » Tue Jul 28, 2009 8:34 pm UTC

limecat wrote:The biggest problems with these sorts of debates is that on the surface it appears that we are debating over one thing-- whether abortion is OK or not. But in reality, the discussion is hinging around a much bigger topic-- what each individual sees as the marker of personal value, the value of life in its different forms, your view of the world (religious vs athiest) and its origins, etc.

Im also noting that people seem to be treating pregnancy as if it is some sort of incidental affliction that accompanies sex, an aberration (re: the comment about birth control failing). I think it would be helpful to a rational discussion of the topic if we could agree that the functional goal of sex IS pregnancy. Whether or not someone wanted a pregnancy, or didn't think they were making that choice, they make it whenever they have sex.


On sex and reproduction: many things that I consider sex (masturbation, manual sex, oral sex, fisting, anal sex, lesbian sex, male gay sex) have no risk of pregnancy. Sex does not exist in order to make reproduction occur. When I have sex, it is not in order to have offspring. Sure, the evolutionary basis of sex drives is all about reproduction, but when I have sex, it's about my culture and my morals and my expectation, not about reproduction. Oral and manual sex are not replacements for some "real thing": to me they are much better and much more my actual point. If I were to get pregnant, it would be a failure of birth control, not a success of sex.

And this debate isn't about whether abortion is OK or not: it's whether abortion would be OK or not if a one-cell zygote could be easily raised to birth in a piece of technology and a fetus could be easily un-implated and put into that technology.





I've been thinking about this, and I have a few other questions on this topic.

If this technology could catch and grow miscarriages and implanted zygotes, then would failing to use it be morally the same as abortion? What amount of schedule disruption would a women have to undergo to save the "naturally" lost zygote or pregnancy before you'd consider it abortion? If failing to use it to save an implanted zygote or spontaneous abortion is never morally wrong, what is the difference between that and taking drugs to prevent implantation, a medical or a surgical abortion?

If you are pro-life or have a threshold at which you consider abortion wrong, would this technology change the stage at which you think abortion is wrong? (If you think preventing implantation is not wrong, would being able to artificially raise the zygote change your mind? If you think that 1st trimester abortions are not wrong, would being able to raise the fetus change your morals?)

I guess one of the reasons that I find this topic so fascinating is that the Catholic Church used to consider quickening to be the beginning of pregnancy. Technology has already radically changed societies' views of when pregnancy starts and what abortion is. It's very interesting to me that no-one (that I recall: I looked back over the thread and still didn't see anything) has openly and specifically said that this technology would change their moral views on abortion.

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setzer777
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby setzer777 » Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:56 pm UTC

limecat wrote: Im also noting that people seem to be treating pregnancy as if it is some sort of incidental affliction that accompanies sex, an aberration (re: the comment about birth control failing). I think it would be helpful to a rational discussion of the topic if we could agree that the functional goal of sex IS pregnancy. Whether or not someone wanted a pregnancy, or didn't think they were making that choice, they make it whenever they have sex. There are methods of attempting to prevent a pregnancy from occurring, but if they fail it is a bit weak to say "well i never wanted a pregnancy in the first place so morality has no place here". I want to be clear i am not condemning birth control here, just pointing out that the argument "Speeding should be OK because people have airbags" wont hold up if the airbags fail when you hit and kill someone-- you took a risk, you take the consequences.

Then again we seem to live in a society where consequences are seen as a Bad Thing that should never have to accompany risk.


I agree that pregnancy is a result that should always be considered a possibility of intercourse, but I won't agree that it is the "functional goal" because I think that the only goal of any activity is the goal minds attach to it, and because I don't think human beings were consciously designed, the only goals of an activity like sex are those the participants have in mind.

But yeah, it should always be considered a possible consequence, I just think that abortion is a perfectly acceptable means of addressing that consequence.
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby spiderham » Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:50 am UTC

limecat wrote: There are methods of attempting to prevent a pregnancy from occurring, but if they fail it is a bit weak to say "well i never wanted a pregnancy in the first place so morality has no place here". I want to be clear i am not condemning birth control here, just pointing out that the argument "Speeding should be OK because people have airbags" wont hold up if the airbags fail when you hit and kill someone-- you took a risk, you take the consequences.

Then again we seem to live in a society where consequences are seen as a Bad Thing that should never have to accompany risk.


If you accept birth control, what's the point of noting that there was a risk? The abortion question revolves around what methods are permissible to mitigate or prevent the risk, and when they may be employed.


Enuja wrote: It's very interesting to me that no-one (that I recall: I looked back over the thread and still didn't see anything) has openly and specifically said that this technology would change their moral views on abortion.


I indicated that it would change mine.

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby limecat » Wed Jul 29, 2009 1:37 pm UTC

Enuja wrote:Sex does not exist in order to make reproduction occur


I think everything we know about nature, and scientific consensus, would like to have a word with you. Most people that I know, whether they believe in creation or evolution, would tend to agree that the pleasure is there to encourage reproduction, not the other way around.

Enjua wrote:On sex and reproduction: many things that I consider sex (masturbation, manual sex, oral sex, fisting, anal sex, lesbian sex, male gay sex) have no risk of pregnancy.


That has nothing whatsoever to do with why we get pleasure from those actions. I assume you do not believe in "intelligent design"; that being the case, what would you give as the evolutionary reason that sex and sexual actions result in pleasure? Further, if those actions have no risk of pregnancy, they are irrelevant to the discussion (and they have their own risks, such as infection, that should not be ignored). What if i were to clarify that those engaging in "convservative sex" have taken a risk, and that it its irresponsible to pretend it does not exist?

setzer777 wrote:but I won't agree that it is the "functional goal" because I think that the only goal of any activity is the goal minds attach to it, and because I don't think human beings were consciously designed, the only goals of an activity like sex are those the participants have in mind.


Functional goal has nothing whatsoever to do with personal goal. You believe we evolved; the theory of evolution holds that only helpful traits survive. What is helpful to the survival of the species about sex being pleasurable? Why does the body invest phenomenal amounts of energy into each act of sex? If pleasure were the goal, wouldnt it just have been much easier for the brain to release endorphins without all the other energy involved?

Im sorry, I just dont agree. It doesnt make sense any way you look at it; they are called reproductive organs for a reason, and I imagine you would be hard pressed to find a definition of "sexual intercourse" that did not mention reproduction.

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby setzer777 » Wed Jul 29, 2009 1:59 pm UTC

limecat wrote:
setzer777 wrote:but I won't agree that it is the "functional goal" because I think that the only goal of any activity is the goal minds attach to it, and because I don't think human beings were consciously designed, the only goals of an activity like sex are those the participants have in mind.


Functional goal has nothing whatsoever to do with personal goal. You believe we evolved; the theory of evolution holds that only helpful traits survive. What is helpful to the survival of the species about sex being pleasurable? Why does the body invest phenomenal amounts of energy into each act of sex? If pleasure were the goal, wouldnt it just have been much easier for the brain to release endorphins without all the other energy involved?

Im sorry, I just dont agree. It doesnt make sense any way you look at it; they are called reproductive organs for a reason, and I imagine you would be hard pressed to find a definition of "sexual intercourse" that did not mention reproduction.



In my opinion, when it comes to evolution, talking about "function", "goals" and "purpose" is just a convenient shorthand. What's the difference between a functional goal and any other consequence of something? The only difference I see is intention. Fire happens to generate heat - that doesn't mean that the "goal" of fire is to generate heat. Some traits happen to propagate themselves and become part of stable patterns - but I don't see how that makes survival or propagation the "goal" of those traits - it's just a consequence of them, just like heat is a consequence of fire.

The fact that some usual outcome (in this case reproduction) is the cause of a behavior's continued existence, does not affect the moral ramifications of separating that property from the behavior (not in my morals anyway).


But anyway, I do agree that it is irresponsible to pretend that there is no risk of pregnancy from sex. Anyone who has sex without considering what their response will be should pregnancy occur is being at least somewhat irresponsible.
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limecat
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby limecat » Wed Jul 29, 2009 7:09 pm UTC

I understand what you are saying, but i still do not agree. Perhaps I should use the word "purpose" instead, since that is the idea i was expressing. The purpose of sex is to reproduce--you would have to twist the definition of the word "purpose" pretty hard to invalidate that statement.

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby setzer777 » Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:07 pm UTC

limecat wrote:I understand what you are saying, but i still do not agree. Perhaps I should use the word "purpose" instead, since that is the idea i was expressing. The purpose of sex is to reproduce--you would have to twist the definition of the word "purpose" pretty hard to invalidate that statement.


Actually most definitions of purpose I am aware of implicitly involve minds (i.e. referencing things like intention, foresight, goals, aims, etc.).

Again, is the "purpose" of fire to produce heat? Or is heat just something that happens to be a consequence of fire? What makes a consequence the "purpose" of something rather than just one of many consequences of it? I argue that the primary difference is that "purpose" is the consequence a person has in mind when they create/perform the something. *A* fire can have a purpose – such as heat or lighting, when that specific fire is used by humans to benefit from specific consequences. But neither heat nor lighting is the purpose of fire as a whole. Likewise, reproduction and pleasure are two possible consequences of sex, but they can only be the purpose of specific sex acts, not sex as a whole.
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby FrankManic » Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:05 am UTC

Personally I believe that procreation should be a strictly limited franchise, with violation of procreation laws being punishable by execution subject to a positive genetic match. Frankly, the planet can't support this population level for very long.

So, I'm going to say that, if, hypothetically, you could pull the fetus, you shouldn't be allowed to. We've got far, far more humans than we know what to do with anyway.

Given... that the amount of resources on earth is very, very limited, I feel that bearing children is highly immoral and unethical. Additionally, I feel that any parent assumes both responsibility, fault, and guilt for any and all suffering that their progeny experience during their life, as well as the progeny of their progeny, forever. By bearing children you subject unknown generations to war, famine, disease, murder, rape, violence, ignorance, and loss. Who saves one life murders the world in time.

Why don't we not turn this into that kind of debate. -Az

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby Vicare » Fri Aug 07, 2009 7:49 am UTC

I'd like to start off by saying I'm new to this site, in fact I only started reading the comics earlier today, (although I have seen a few of the comics over at the Escapist on the forums), and I already feel I belong. I have never seen a place where debate over serious issues isn't crowded exclusively by bitter idealogs (of both parties) who can do nothing but become furious at the thought of any new ideas.

Now onto the issue of discussion. The concept that a child could be taken from the womb and allowed to grow in a controlled environment where health problems could be corrected and childbirth complications were gone would be absolutely amazing. It would, like others have said, take the full-time job aspect of being pregnant out of the mix, and make things easier on the mother. Victims of rape and incest would not have to choose between ending a life or walking around with an ever-growing reminder for nine months. Of course we couldn't call this procedure "abortion". The very word puts a bad taste in my mouth, and I think that if it kept the name, it would be akin to inventing an infinite-space matrix where dangerous criminals were made to roam for ageless centuries and calling it a guillotine based solely on the fact that they serve as an equally permanent punishment for murder. Now, we need some suggestions for a new name for this procedure. I am thinking, "Extra-Utero Fetus Gestation", or EUFG for short. (Damn its almost unpronouncable, like xkcd, but you could always reach for "yoo-fuh-gee" just to be a prick) Any other suggstions?
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby Enuja » Fri Aug 07, 2009 2:08 pm UTC

"Abortion" would still be the same thing, only it would be killing the fetus while the fetus was in the EUFG instead of killing the fetus while it was in a women's womb.


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