The abortion question answered. Turns out, both sides were wrong.


By Dan8267   Follow   Sun, 18 Nov 2012, 10:06pm   3,230 views   41 comments
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I have to break this post up into multiple parts. Since only the original post is repeated on each page, I'll just put the outline here. To read the full text, see the first few posts in this thread.

So, abortion, should it be legal or illegal under what circumstances and why? This post will answer that question and only that question. It will not discuss the morality of abortion or whether or not one ought to seek an abortion. I am only writing about the legal justifications for the pro-life and pro-choice sides.

I will call the two sides pro-life and pro-choice, although these are both marketing terms, simply because these are the most recognizable terms for the sides. I will examine the common arguments for both sides, labeling the pro-life ones L# and the pro-choice ones C#. Finally, I will conclude with the answer to the question above.

Pro-life arguments
L1 Life begins at conception. Therefore abortion is murder.
L2 The offspring has a soul.
L3 Heartbeats, fingers, and other visual evidence
L4 Abortion increases the risk of breast cancer.
L5 Women who have abortion experience depression later.
L6 It is hypocritical to claim women and girls have the right to abortion because half the aborted offspring are female. Therefore abortion is anti-women.
L7 It clearly should not be illegal to abort based on gender, therefore it should not be illegal to abort at all. And there are many unethical reasons to abort a pregnancy.
L8 Adoption renders abortion unnecessary.
L9 The unborn have the right to live just like anyone else.
L10 If a man kills an unborn child by punching a pregnant woman in the stomach, he is charged with murder. It is hypocritical to not charge a woman for killing the same child just because she's the mother.

Pro-choice arguments
C1 Pro-lifers are just anti-women. Abortion would never be illegal if men got pregnant.
C2 Laws against abortion do not stop abortion; they simply make it less safe. Without legal abortions, back-alley abortion will be prevalent.
C3 Abortions prevent poverty
C4 Religious ideology is no foundation for any law.
C5 Reproductive choice can be the only thing that stands between a woman and death.
C6 Doctors, not governments, should always be the people to make medical recommendations and opinions.
C7 Women who are raped or victims of incest should not be forced to carry out a pregnancy.
C8 It is the right of a woman to control her own body and that includes reproduction.

What really is important

[To see the full text, read the first few posts of this thread.]

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  1. Dan8267


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    2   10:07pm Sun 18 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (2)  

    Pro-life arguments

    L1 Life begins at conception. Therefore abortion is murder.

    What is life? Life is simply self-reproducing information. Life is abundant on Earth, but we don't value all life. For example, we don't value the lives of bacteria.

    Of course, a fertilize egg isn't a bacteria. But what exactly is the important difference? The fertilize egg is human, of course! But what does it mean to be human and why is that valuable if at all?

    What makes the fertilize egg human is that it contains human DNA. It is genetics that makes one human. OK, but then why is genetics important? Certainly genes can have important effects, but are they valuable in themselves. If you answer yes, then you are essentially taking the same philosophical stance as the Nazis. Some genetic code is inherently superior to others. Human DNA is inherently superior to chimp or cow DNA. You don't want to be in that camp.

    However, you could say that genetic code itself isn't important. It's what the genetic code does. Human DNA builds humans, not cows. Good. But if that's the case, then the fact that the fertilized egg contains DNA does not instantaneously grant it the properties of personhood. At best it gives the fertilize egg the potential to develop into a person. Whether or not the fertilized egg is "human" is irrelevant. What matters is whether or not it is a person, whatever that means (see later).

    Another flaw of this argument is that life doesn't actually begin at conception. Every single cell in my body has been growing and dividing for the past 4 billion years and has only recently been given the order to stop. Sure, there were times when my cells went into a "status" mode where they temporarily ceased dividing. The egg and the sperm that made me are such examples. But the egg and the sperm were both "life", and more specifically, "human life". Yet the egg and the sperm were not persons.

    Yet another flaw with this argument is that conception does not take place in an instant. An instant, or Planck Time, is about 5.4 * 10^-44 seconds. Compared to that timescale, the fertilization of an egg is an extremely long and arduous process involving trillions upon trillions of steps. At what step, at what instant, does the cell go from 0% human to 100% human? Obviously the process is not instantaneous.

    Fertilization is just one of many steps involved in turning atoms into a person.

    Furthermore, fertilization is not even a necessary step in creating a person. If I take a cell from your body, either a stem cell or a cell I can coerce into becoming a stem cell, I can clone you. That is, I can create another person, an identical twin of yours, from that one unfertilized cell.

    What the skin cell I took from you a person? Did it suddenly become a person when I coerced it back to the stem cell stage? What about when it started dividing? Essentially the question of when your skin cell became another person is the same question as when a fertilized egg becomes a person.

    Now I haven't answered that question yet, because I'm still examining arguments for both sides. But we'll return to this issue.

    L2 The offspring has a soul.

    The soul is a Bronze Aged myth that has no basis in reality. But for the sake of argument, let's assume for the moment that the Christian afterlife myth is correct and that souls are created and injected into fertilized eggs by some bearded deity, and that these souls are immortal and go to heaven if innocent or hell if they've "mortally" sinned.

    If that is true, then it would be a moral imperative to kill every single child before or soon after birth. Doing so would guarantee that the baby's immortal soul would spend eternity in bliss rather than being tortured for all eternity. There is absolutely nothing in human, mortal life that can possibly justify risking an eternity of torture and losing an eternity of bliss. Therefore, all moral, ethical, and legal responsibilities should center on killing the bodies holding in souls before those souls have even the chance to sin. Abortion should be mandatory even if it drives our species to extinction. The past 200,000 years of the human race -- nay, the past 4 billion years of life on Earth -- is utterly insignificant compared to eternity.

    Of course, if you don't accept the conclusion that killing all babies before they are born is the moral and ethical thing to do, then it is because you don't really believe in the soul and the mystical afterlife. Sure, you may trick yourself into accepting it at some level, but deep down, when you have to make a real decision, you don't believe in that soul or afterlife and that is exactly why the idea of murdering all the babies in the world sounds utterly repugnant to you.

  2. Dan8267


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    3   10:07pm Sun 18 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (2)  

    L3 Heartbeats, fingers, and other visual evidence

    This is an image of a fetus at 10 weeks old. Pretty cute isn't it. It has a head, little fingers, beady eyes, and looks kind of human.

    But let's say it didn't look human or cute. Let's say it had a development defect that caused it to look ugly and not at all human? Would that make it less human? What if the offspring went through birth and still didn't look human? Would it be OK to kill it then? What if the offspring graduated from Harvard, became a doctor, cured cancer, and accomplished world peace, but it still didn't look human or at all cute. Would its life have any value?

    Obviously, it is not the physical appearance of the offspring that matters at all. If the offspring doesn't look human, doesn't have two hands, and its appearance doesn't trigger an emotional parenting reaction in you, that doesn't make it any less of a person.

    Conversely, being cute and looking like a baby doesn't make it any more of a person either. Appearance is not what is important. The emotional response to an image isn't what's important.

    It is not having ten digits on our hands that make us a person. It is not a heartbeat that makes us a person. It is not having a head with two eyes or a nose that makes us a person.

    So what makes us a person? That's coming at the end of this post. Still just examining arguments.

    L4 Abortion increases the risk of breast cancer.

    Whether or not this is so is irrelevant. The illegality of abortion is not based on the mother's health but whether or not the offspring has the right to life. Smoking causes cancer, but it's still legal. Chick-fil-A causes heart attacks, but it's still legal.

    L5 Women who have abortion experience depression later.

    This might be an argument to persuade a woman to not have an abortion, but it is not an argument to make abortion illegal.

    L6 It is hypocritical to claim women and girls have the right to abortion because half the aborted offspring are female. Therefore abortion is anti-women.

    It is true that the pro-choice side is being deceitful and hypocritical with their argument. However, a faulty argument in favor of legalizing abortion is not an argument in favor of criminalizing it.

    L7 It clearly should not be illegal to abort based on gender, therefore it should not be illegal to abort at all. And there are many unethical reasons to abort a pregnancy.

    If the offspring is a person, then aborting it for any reason is unethical and should be illegal. If the offspring is not a person, then aborting it for any reason should be legal. It may not be practical for society to allow gender selection, but it is certainly within the rights of parents to choose the sex of their offspring as well as any other non-inhabilitating characteristics.

    L8 Adoption renders abortion unnecessary.

    Again, if the offspring is a person, then abortion should be illegal. If the offspring is not a person, then abortion should be legal regardless of what other alternatives there are.

    L9 The unborn have the right to live just like anyone else.

    This, of course, is the essential question regarding abortion. Precisely when does the unborn obtain the right to live? To argue that this happens at conception is ridiculous (see L1). However, to argue this happens at birth is equally ridiculous (see C8).

    L10 If a man kills an unborn child by punching a pregnant woman in the stomach, he is charged with murder. It is hypocritical to not charge a woman for killing the same child just because she's the mother.

    This is completely true. Either the killing of the offspring is murder or it is not. The person performing the act and whether or not he/she is the mother or has the mother's permission is irrelevant.

    Naturally, the man in this example should be charged with assault on the woman and perhaps other crimes, but either the killing of the offspring is murder no matter who does it, or it is not murder no matter who does it.

    However, this argument simply begs the question, "Exactly when does the offspring become a person?".

  3. Dan8267


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    4   10:07pm Sun 18 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (2)  

    Pro-choice arguments

    C1 Pro-lifers are just anti-women. Abortion would never be illegal if men got pregnant.

    This is a disingenuous, sexist, and offensive argument. Both men and women are pro-life, and both men and women are pro-choice. There are many things that men engage in that are highly illegal including murder and rape. In fact, the entire justification for prohibiting abortion is that it is murder. No society has legalized murder because men do it more often than women.

    C2 Laws against abortion do not stop abortion; they simply make it less safe. Without legal abortions, back-alley abortion will be prevalent.

    Murder laws do not stop all murders. Rape laws do not stop all rape. The fact that some people will break the law is no argument against the law. Furthermore, if abortion is murder, than the person committing the act of murder most certainly should not be the one protected at the expense of the victim.

    C3 Abortions prevent poverty

    Force sterilization also prevents poverty by preventing it from crossing generations. In fact, force sterilization of the poor would eliminate all poverty in one lifetime. That doesn't make it ethical, and it certainly should not be legal.

    C4 Religious ideology is no foundation for any law.

    True, but the argument that abortion is murder does not have to be based at all on religion. The only religious aspect of this argument is L2, which has been disproved.

    C5 Reproductive choice can be the only thing that stands between a woman and death.

    In the case of a women's life being endangered by a pregnancy, even if abortion is murder, this simply becomes a case of triage, which is and has always been legal. As such, this argument is irrelevant to the question of whether or not abortion should be legal.

    C6 Doctors, not governments, should always be the people to make medical recommendations and opinions.

    Yes, but the question of whether or not an unborn offspring is a person and at what point are legal questions not medical recommendations and opinions. Therefore, this argument is irrelevant.

    C7 Women who are raped or victims of incest should not be forced to carry out a pregnancy.

    This certainly is the most emotionally powerful argument for legal abortions. However, it is still flawed. If the offspring is a person, then it is murder to kill it regardless of whether or not it was the product of a rape.

    For example, a woman is raped and finds out she's pregnant. She's not sure if the offspring was fathered by the rapist or her loving husband. After the child is born she has a paternity test done. (It's irrelevant for this example whether or not she could have had the paternity test done before birth.) It turns out that the baby was fathered by the rapist. She decides to end the baby's life. This is murder.

    The fact that she was raped does not give her the right to abort a person's life before or after birth as birth itself is not what determines whether the offspring is a person. Killing the offspring five days before birth is essentially no different than killing it five days after birth. Not much has changed in the baby. And no, going from the womb to a crib is not a significant change in relation to the question of whether or not the offspring is a person.

    C8 It is the right of a woman to control her own body and that includes reproduction.

    The fact that the offspring is dependent on its mother does not make the offspring simply part of the mother's body or reproductive system. If it did, then it should be perfectly OK to abort the child an hour before birth. The vast majority, possibly all, pro-choice people do not believe it should be legal to terminate the offspring when it is that developed. Yet, it is still dependent on the mother's body. Therefore, this argument is utterly irrelevant to the question of whether or not the offspring is a person and thus whether or not ending its life should be legal.

  4. Dan8267


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    5   10:08pm Sun 18 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (2)  

    What really is important

    As we can see, all the arguments presented by both the pro-life and the pro-choice camps have been incorrect. However, both sides have danced around the real question, "What constitutes a person?". I will now answer this question.

    Genetic code, physical features, appearances, heartbeats, mythical souls, and other such things do not make one a person. What makes a person is one and only one thing: the mind. A sentient mind capable of thinking, understanding, feeling, and desiring is what makes a person a person. And what makes the mind is the brain.

    The dirty little secret about abortion that neither side wants to admit is that the brain, and hence the mind, do not suddenly pop into existence but slowly develops over time. Hence, personhood is not a binary state. The offspring gradually becomes a person during development of the brain. And that means the very concept of a person is a fuzzy thing. Nature is often fuzzy and has no obligation to conform to the convenient classifications invented by man.

    Nevertheless, any laws regarding when it is legal to abort an offspring should be based entirely on the development of the brain and the resulting level of consciousness of that mind.

    Here are a few of the facts relating to the development of the brain.
    - Brainwaves at 6 weeks, 2 days
    - Offsrping can feel pain at 28th week
    - Most neurons are created by 6th month, and the next 3 months are spent making connections

    Whether or not these facts or others are convenient for either side is irrelevant. The question of when abortions should be allowed should be determined by whatever the facts are. Unfortunately, we still don't fully understand consciousness. But we can still put together a rough picture of the problem.

    Now, I don't know if the graph of sentience over time is linear or some other function, but I do know that it is an increasing function. I also know that it continues to increase after birth. Yes, birth is really arbitrary when it comes to the level of sentience. One year olds are way more self-aware than newborns or two month olds. The brain continues to rapidly develop after birth.

    One could even argue that all human babies are born premature and that the soft spot on the baby's head are evidence that the human gestation period should be more like a year, but the birth canal simply isn't big enough to handle a fully formed human brain and the skull that encases it. And that's why human babies are utterly helpless while most land animals start walking soon after birth.

    So both fertilization and birth are arbitrary points on the path to personhood. And like it or not, we have to set some other arbitrary value to be the level of self-awareness achieved to be considered 100% a person. And yes, this level is also arbitrary.

    A chimp baby is every bit as self-aware as a human baby. If we consider the human baby to be a person, then the chimp baby should be as well. And a chimp adult is way more self-aware than a human baby and is clearly as much if not more of a person. So, if we set the self-awareness threshold to the level of newborn humans, we must also be prepared to accept the other great apes, and possibly dolphins and whales, as persons. To do otherwise would be hypocrisy based on genetic prejudice, and that's precisely what the Nazis were all about.

    Similarly, we must set a minimum threshold when below which personhood is not even an issue. This is somewhat arbitrary as well, but I suggest the point at which the first neural connections are made at 6 weeks.

    Finally, to account for the inescapable fact that personhood happens slowly over a long period of time, the law must apply abortion restriction and punishment in proportion to the level of personhood achieved at that period of time.

    For example, if we set the minimum threshold at 6 week and the maximum at 6 month, then
    - It should be completely legal to abort before 6 weeks.
    - It should be illegal to abort after 6 week, but not considered murder.
    - It should considered murder to abort after 6 months.
    - Between 6 weeks and 6 months levels must be set to gradually increase the penalties for aborting from fines to jail time. Only by setting these levels can the law reflect the reality that the harm committed increases with time.

    Note that I am not recommending these particular thresholds, but simply providing an example. I do not have sufficient knowledge to set the levels at this time. Nevertheless, I recommend erring on the side of caution and that means assuming a being is sentient until proven otherwise. I do not think that the brainwaves at six weeks are sufficient to be considered thought as the brain stem forms first and must operate various organs before thought can be achieved.

    Nevertheless, this is the way abortion laws should be structured. Rather than being a binary question of legality, abortion should be legal up to a point and then increasingly illegal up to another point. What those points are, require more knowledge than we have right now, but we can at least make educated guesses. This is not a perfect solution, but that's the price to pay for not devoting enough resources to research, and it's the best we can do to protect the rights of both the mother and the offspring when the two sets of rights come into conflict.

    In conclusion, the mother's rights start off as the only rights, but the offspring gradually gains rights and its right to live ultimately outweighs the mother's right to choose after a period of time as determined by the development of the mind.

  5. Vaticanus


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    6   10:38pm Sun 18 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)  

    The diference between an embryo and a person is the host. Once the fertilized egg has implanted in the uterine lining and the mothers body begins to nourish it, life has begun. When a womb starts feeding blood and nutrients a child is created. Not before, and certainly not after.

    Life begins at implantation. Any act of violence toward an implanted embryo is a violent act on a human being.

    I believe our understanding of conception is wrong. Only a woman can conceive, ( men cannot, and cetainly test tibes cannot) and conception occurs at implantation. For life to begin you need three things, an egg, a DNA donor and a mother/host.

  6. Dan8267


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    7   11:26pm Sun 18 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (2)  

    Vaticanus says

    Once the fertilized egg has implanted in the uterine lining and the mothers body begins to nourish it, life has begun. Life begins at implantation.

    Actually, the fertilized egg is alive as are the sperm and the egg. You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. Life does not "begin" at implantation.

    Vaticanus says

    Any act of violence toward an implanted embryo is a violent act on a human being.

    Whether or not the embryo is "human" is irrelevant as the definition of "human" and "person" are not the same and in fact you'll get 100 different definitions of human from every person.

    What matters is whether or not the embryo is a person, i.e. whether or not it has sufficient self-awareness. There is no connection between implantation and personhood. Why should implantation have anything to do with the existence of a mind or personhood?

    Vaticanus says

    For life to begin you need three things, an egg, a DNA donor and a mother/host.

    Actually, you don't need any of those things to create life. I could use RNA instead of DNA. I could use a stem cell instead of an egg. And I could certainly create life without a "mother/host". In principle, I could even create human life without a mother/host. I could use an artificial womb instead.

    Of course, we don't value all life. We don't value the life of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Nor do we value the life of a Yersinia pestis bacterium, you know, the bacteria that causes Black Death. In fact, we don't even value the lives of cows and chickens. So it's not life itself that is value.

    Only sentient life is valued, and sentient life is valued not because it is life but because it is sentient. Getting caught up on biology is simply a fallacy. You are not a person because your body performs biochemical functions. You are a person because you have a mind.

  7. Scagnetti


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    8   11:56pm Sun 18 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (5)   Dislike (1)  

    Maybe the fetus should be able to abort its mother. An ultrasound of the fetus with a thumbs up or down!

  8. msilenus


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    9   12:06am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    Any modern Internet debate about abortion would be incomplete without this paper. Enjoy:

    http://jme.bmj.com/content/early/2012/03/01/medethics-2011-100411.full.pdf+html

  9. Dan8267


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    10   1:29am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (2)  

    msilenus says

    http://jme.bmj.com/content/early/2012/03/01/medethics-2011-100411.full.pdf+html

    We take ‘person’ to mean an
    individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence
    some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this
    existence represents a loss to her.

    Certainly newborns have a significant level of self-awareness even though they are not yet capable of conversing about it. A fertilized egg and a fetus before the development of a brain, clearly are not. The gray area is between the start of the brain development and the starting of neural connections at 6 months.

  10. CaptainShuddup


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    11   6:24am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    What about the gay fetuses?

  11. Vaticanus


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    12   6:27am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    "Actually, the fertilized egg is alive as are the sperm and the egg. You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. Life does not "begin" at implantation."

    Life does begin at implantation, a cell is not a life, just because it is not dead doesn't mean it is alive. You are not entitled to your own "facts" either and self awareness is YOUR artificial measurement. You can't even test it. Self awareness is quite likely much different than brainwaves, besides if chimps are self aware your model is flawed.

    I am not a person," because I have a mind." I lost that a while back. I guess t makes me the walking dead.

  12. Vaticanus


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    13   6:29am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    " I could use RNA instead of DNA. I could use a stem cell instead of an egg. And I could certainly create life without a "mother/host could use an artificial womb instead."

    Prove it. Till then you are living in some fantasy world.

  13. lostand confused


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    14   6:31am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    Vaticanus says

    a cell is not a life, just because it is not dead doesn't mean it alive.

    Zombie cells??

  14. Vaticanus


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    15   6:56am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    lostand confused says

    Vaticanus says

    a cell is not a life, just because it is not dead doesn't mean it alive.

    Zombie cells??

    Exactly, much like a biological robot preprogrammed to do a certain funtion(s)

  15. lostand confused


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    16   7:02am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    Vaticanus says

    Exactly, much like a biological robot preprogrammed to do a certain funtion(s

    Well then the body -which is made of cells-is a biological robot preprogrammed to do a certain function too? By your logic, it is fine to destroy such a robot-as it is only a machine?

  16. Dan8267


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    17   9:21am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (2)  

    CaptainShuddup says

    What about the gay fetuses?

    What about them, if they even exists?

  17. Dan8267


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    18   9:41am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (2)  

    Vaticanus says

    Life does begin at implantation, a cell is not a life, just because it is not dead doesn't mean it is alive. You are not entitled to your own "facts" either and self awareness is YOUR artificial measurement. You can't even test it. Self awareness is quite likely much different than brainwaves, besides if chimps are self aware your model is flawed.

    1. A living cell is certainly alive. The fact that you disbelieve a truism is a clear sign that you are not thinking clearly.

    2. Self-awareness is the internationally accepted standard of personhood and has been since René Descartes said, "I think, therefore I am.".

    3. If you have a better criteria for determining personhood, then present it. Hint: Implantation is laughably weak as all mammals reproduce going through an implantation stage. Are you going to accept that all mammals are persons?

    4. One can most certainly test self-awareness. I suggest that you learn more about the subject before making such definitive statements.

    Hopefully, now that I've shown you the truth, you'll adjust your world-view accordingly.

    5. Self-awareness most certainly is different from brainwaves, which is why I don't think consciousness starts with the first brainwaves measured at 6 weeks. Nevertheless, self-awareness is a function of the brain and the brain alone.

    6. The fact that you discredit the premise that self-awareness is the criteria solely on the basis that chimps may be self-aware proves that you are putting your political conclusions before facts and reasoning. If you insist on reaching a specific conclusion regardless of the facts, then you are nothing but a bigot. To consider chimps to be non-persons, not because of their intelligence or sentience level, but solely because they aren't a part of your species is purely bigotry. And the opinions of bigots on any subject matter should be discarded.

    Don't be a bigot. Admit that science has proved the self-awareness of other species on this planet. And if your religion prevents you from doing this, your religion is evil because how we treat other species is determine largely by how much we respect their personhood and right to live.

  18. Dan8267


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    19   9:47am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (2)  

    Vaticanus says

    " I could use RNA instead of DNA. I could use a stem cell instead of an egg. And I could certainly create life without a "mother/host could use an artificial womb instead."

    Prove it. Till then you are living in some fantasy world.

    How Did Life Begin? RNA That Replicates Itself Indefinitely Developed For First Time

    OK, now that I've proved it, will you have the emotional maturity to say:

    I apologize for saying you live in a fantasy world. You were correct in stating that RNA can be used instead of DNA to perform the necessary life functions. This is something I would have known if I even cursory studied the subject of biology. I know realize that the scientific body of knowledge greatly exceeds my own, but I am fortunate enough to live in a time where that knowledge is at my fingertips. I intend to learn more about the subject matter so I can form more informative opinions.

    That would be the face-saving move, which of course, means that you will not take it. They never do.

  19. Dan8267


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    20   9:49am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (2)  

    lostand confused says

    Vaticanus says

    Exactly, much like a biological robot preprogrammed to do a certain funtion(s

    Well then the body -which is made of cells-is a biological robot preprogrammed to do a certain function too? By your logic, it is fine to destroy such a robot-as it is only a machine?

    I hate to break this too you guys, but everything you do was determined by the initial conditions of the Big Bang. The universe is deterministic, but unpredictable. Nevertheless, that subject matter is a red herring as it has nothing to do with abortion.

  20. HEY YOU


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    21   10:19am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)  

    Best argument for abortion: Look in a mirror.

  21. iwog


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    22   10:30am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)   Protected  

    I appreciate the work you did on this, however it's like trying to convince a fish to ride a bicycle. People who want abortion eliminated from this country have sealed off the part of the brain that is able to process abortion arguments. A single cell will always be a baby and no amount of intelligent debate will change that.

  22. Quigley


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    23   10:55am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)  

    Along the lines of Dan's argument, there is actually a religion that supports his postulate, but for reasons he has discounted. Muslims believe that on the 17th week of pregnancy the soul, or Ifrit, enters the fetus. For arbitrary dates, that's one that makes some sense. Babies can survive being born as early as 20 weeks with enough natal care. Clearly, then, a 20 week baby has achieved personhood.
    However, if you use the chimp argument as to sentience, you would be performing 5th trimester abortions. That term being a euphemism for
    Murder as it always has. It's not the realization of sentience that's important. It's the potential.
    Human life is precious. If a human hasn't proven him/herself a serious threat to other humans, it shouldn't be arbitrarily ended. Anyone arguing that point should keep in mind that they had a mother and she could have made that choice.

    As for the "we have no soul because that is a Christian myth." Dan, keep in mind that the grand majority of religions worldwide believe that some part of us remains after death. The names used as as varied as the languages, but every religion from Hindu to Shinto, from Buddhist to baptist, to Native American spiritualism: all believe in a soul.
    I've never measured a soul on a scale, taken its mass spectrum in the lab, or read a specific voltage produced by one, but I am not so arrogant as to discount something that's been a part of human tradition for all recorded history and beyond.
    After all, a LITTLE knowledge of a subject is a truly dangerous thing.

  23. msilenus


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    24   11:05am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    Dan8267 says

    Certainly newborns have a significant level of self-awareness even though they are not yet capable of conversing about it.

    Certainly you can support this. Certainly. (By "support," I don't mean "use the word 'certainly.'") What I posted up there wasn't some goddamned op-ed by a fool partisan-hack. It was a peer-reviewed paper in a bio-ethics journal. It's been proofed by people who aren't rank amateurs.

    I've had two children and two cats. In any test of cognitive capability, I'd give my cats the edge against the newborns. That condition fails to hold within about a month, when the infants became capable of some kind of emotional involvement. The cats never mastered that trick.

  24. Dan8267


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    25   11:29am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (2)  

    iwog says

    I appreciate the work you did on this, however it's like trying to convince a fish to ride a bicycle. People who want abortion eliminated from this country have sealed off the part of the brain that is able to process abortion arguments. A single cell will always be a baby and no amount of intelligent debate will change that.

    True, the purpose of debate isn't to persuade the irrational, but the rational and intelligent. Eventually these forces will win over the irrational on both sides.

  25. Dan8267


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    26   11:31am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (2)  

    Quigley says

    Along the lines of Dan's argument, there is actually a religion that supports his postulate, but for reasons he has discounted. Muslims believe that on the 17th week of pregnancy the soul, or Ifrit, enters the fetus.

    Haven't heard that myth, but my analysis regarding L2 still applies without change.

  26. Vaticanus


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    27   5:25pm Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    lostand confused says

    Vaticanus says

    Exactly, much like a biological robot preprogrammed to do a certain funtion(s

    Well then the body -which is made of cells-is a biological robot preprogrammed to do a certain function too? By your logic, it is fine to destroy such a robot-as it is only a machine?

    Twisting words much? A cell is NOT life. That is all I said.

    It was iwog who said"A single cell will always be a baby and no amount of intelligent debate will change that. "

  27. Vaticanus


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    28   6:15pm Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)  

    1. "A living cell is certainly alive."

    I said a cell is not life, and that just because as cell is living does not make it life and I said it in the context of a conversation about when HUMAN LIFE BEGINS. I don't care what kind of cell you want to talk about, a cell is not human life. You can argue meaningless semantics all you want to stoke your feeble ego but that does not change what I said nor the fact that life begins, in a biological sense, at implantation.

    2. Self-awareness is the internationally accepted standard of personhood and has been since René Descartes said, "I think, therefore I am."

    Says you.

    3. I would be happy to define a person, a created being with a body and soul.

    4. You cannot definitively measure self awareness. Another way to say that is that self awareness can happen without anyone ever documenting it. You cannot possibly know who, or what is self aware. So your model is flawed at best.

    5. "Nevertheless, self-awareness is a function of the brain and the brain alone."

    Again, prove it. You seem to ignore the fact that you are utterly incapable of documenting every single evidence of self awareness. There could easily be beings that operate on a dimension at you cannot even detect, and you would never know it. They could be present in the room with you right now undetected by your physical senses. And they could be self aware and not even have a physical body. The point is as with number 4 YOU ARE UTERLY INCAPABLE OF MEASURING EVERY EXISTING BEING'S SELF AWARENESS. It is by definition a quality of the self. Some self aware beings will make themselves known, others will not.

    6."you are nothing but a bigot."

    And then the name calling and lies begin to get thick. Resorting to shameless name calling ought to be beneath any individual with rational and reasonable arguements. Seems like you are getting desperate.

    Dan said "I could use RNA instead of DNA. I could use a stem cell instead of an egg. And I could certainly create life without a "mother/host". In principle, I could even create human life without a mother/host. I could use an artificial womb instead."

    Dan, DNA and RNA are so similar as to be near mirror images of one another. So congratulations on another straw man argument. I never sought to debate that, remember we are talking about human life and when it begins here. It seems you have lost sight of the forest for the trees.
    When you have taken DNA (or RNA), stem cells and an artificial womb and created a human being you will have some credibility. Until then you are just blowing hot air. You know for a fact that no person has ever come into existence under these circumstances. Hubris. But if you do, please invite me to your award ceremony, that one should be worth trillions. The highest bidder would love to have you make their clone army I'm sure.

    I apologize for not being able to help you see just how much of a fantasy world you live in. You are more ignorant of reality than I had originally ascertained.

    You live in a fantasy world where you believe you can create life from non-life. You believe that matter and energy plus time = life (no matter that you cannot explain where that matter, energy and time came from). This is your religion, this is your faith. Sorry, I don't have that much faith.

    But I am in awe of your relentless pursuit of explaining away the reality that is right in front of you. That takes faith.

  28. Bap33


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    29   6:33pm Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)  

    Dan8267 says

    At what step, at what instant, does the cell go from 0% human to 100% human? Obviously the process is not instantaneous.

    as I said, when the newely created cell, that is just the joined sperm and egg, completely split/divide into another cell - that matches the original sperm/egg cell - you have life.
    In simple steps from my simple mind , there's the egg, here comes the sperm, the sperm makes it through the cell wall, the jelly mixes the DNA into matched sets, now we have a new complete cell, and when that cell re-creates itself, you have a new human life - no more, no less.

  29. Bap33


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    30   6:44pm Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)  

    Dan8267 says

    Actually, the fertilized egg is alive as are the sperm and the egg.

    The healthy egg and the healthy sperm die in a short time if not joined together. The healthy fertilized egg dies 80 years later if it is not murdered in an abortion.

    Like I said Dan, lets use you as an example ... you sit here as Dan, at age ??, and going backwards in time, in your life span, tell me when your cells stop being Dan.

  30. futuresmc


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    31   6:47pm Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    For me, the issue is bodily autonomy. No person should have the right to use another for life support. For me, that is the violation. My organs service me. For me, it's a fifth amendment thing, pro-life legislation is effectively the government seizing a woman's body for the use of another and to serve its political agenda. It's like eminent domaine abuse, which I also oppose strongly.

  31. iwog


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    32   6:54pm Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)   Protected  

    Melmakian says

    Not to mention that EVERY OTHER nation in the world that legalized abortion did so legislatively. But not us. This fucked up state of constitutional affairs is almost as bad as the issue itself.

    Look in the mirror if you want to know why abortion rights were decided through the courts and not the legislature.

  32. Bap33


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    33   6:54pm Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)  

    futuresmc says

    No person should have the right to use another for life support.

    said no baby human ever

  33. Dan8267


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    34   10:16pm Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    Vaticanus says

    I said a cell is not life, and that just because as cell is living does not make it life and I said it in the context of a conversation about when HUMAN LIFE BEGINS.

    Now you're just playing semantic games. How about defining "life" if you are going to use it in a non-standard way. By the way, what arbitrary definitions and diction you use, does not affect reality.

    As I stated, human life is a continuum just like all life from every one of your ancestors going back to single-cell organisms, like it or not. Nature does not have to conform to your ideas of how it should behave.

    Vaticanus says

    I said nor the fact that life begins, in a biological sense, at implantation.

    Not according to doctors or biologists, but hey, you're the pope.

    Vaticanus says

    2. Self-awareness is the internationally accepted standard of personhood and has been since René Descartes said, "I think, therefore I am."

    Says you.

    It's a more justifiable criteria for personhood than a ball of stem cells planting itself on a uterine lining. How the hell does that constitute a person? Conversely, if you remove a person's brain and destroyed it, leaving the rest of the body hooked up to life support, would you really still have a person or just a living vegetable?

    Vaticanus says

    I would be happy to define a person, a created being with a body and soul.

    Prove that the soul exists. And then kill all the babies in the world so as to save their souls. See argument L2.

    You can pretend that the soul exists all you want, but if it did, then abortion would be a moral duty.

    Vaticanus says

    You cannot definitively measure self awareness. Another way to say that is that self awareness can happen without anyone ever documenting it. You cannot possibly know who, or what is self aware. So your model is flawed at best.

    Have you even watched the videos? Don't double-down on stupid.

    Science, it's repeatable.

    Vaticanus says

    5. "Nevertheless, self-awareness is a function of the brain and the brain alone."

    Again, prove it.

    Gladly. Allow me to remove and dispose of your brain. I'll keep the rest of the body alive and well attached to life support.

    The fact that you would even question this shows a complete lack of even basic knowledge. You do realize that this is the 21st century, right? We know stuff like what makes the sun rise and set, what makes the tides go in and out, and how things like electricity and life works. You're thinking of the 8th century when we didn't.

    Vaticanus says

    6."you are nothing but a bigot."

    And then the name calling and lies begin to get thick.

    It most certainly is bigotry to judge a creature as less than a person simply because it has dark skin. For the same reason, it is bigotry to judge a create as less than a person merely because of its DNA rather than because of the effect of the DNA. If the DNA makes the brain bigger and more complex, than that's a valid consideration. But simply to reject personhood based on genetics itself, rather than self-awareness, is bigotry.

    And this bigotry matters. Some day we're going to create sentient artificial intelligence and if we don't acknowledge such AIs as persons, we will be bringing back slavery. Some day we're going to encounter extra-terrestrial life that is every bit as intelligent and self-aware as we are but living in a Stone Age culture. If we slaughter them for their planet's resources, we're guilty of genocide. Some day we're going to find self-aware life on this planet and if we fail to recognize them as persons we might make the mistake of slaughtering and eating them -- oh wait, that's not someday, that's today. Right now, as you and I are having this conversation, whales and dolphins are being slaughtered for food. If either are persons, then we are guilty of a Holocaust.

    And that's why your bigotry is dangerous and unacceptable.

    Vaticanus says

    Dan, DNA and RNA are so similar as to be near mirror images of one another. So congratulations on another straw man argument.

    You are so full of shit.

    Vaticanus says

    I apologize for not being able to help you see just how much of a fantasy world you live in. You are more ignorant of reality than I had originally ascertained.

    If I actually respected your opinion or you as a human being, your attempt to hurt my feelings would have worked. As I've actually read your posts, I am quite glad that you despise me. Being hated by the loathsome is something one should take pride in.

    Vaticanus says

    You live in a fantasy world where you believe you can create life from non-life.

    Yes, a fantasy world based on science instead of fantasies, er, supernatural myths.

    But hey, what the hell does Dr. Jack Szostak know about abiogenist. I mean, he's only a Nobel Laureate in medicine. And they hand out Nobel Prizes like Cracker Jack prizes.

    Vaticanus says

    You believe that matter and energy plus time = life

    No I don't. But you clearly believe that a book that states slavery is good, women are the property of men, and a man can sell his daughter as a sex slave and she must "please the man who bought her" is the unquestionable authority on morality. Yeah, I'm the one that's fucked up.

    Vaticanus says

    no matter that you cannot explain where that matter, energy and time came from)

    Yeah I can, in great detail. You see, in my high school we were taught physics. Turns out that physics is damn good at explaining time, space, energy, and matter.

    But your ramblings do reveal yet another problem with religion. Religion causes irreparable brain damage. Things that are simple to explain like microwave ovens, the creation of elements, and the flow of the tides because unexplainable mysteries when children are exposed to the stupefying effects of religion. This is exactly why exposing children to religion is child abuse and even more dangerous than giving them drugs or alcohol.

  34. Dan8267


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    35   10:35pm Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    Bap33 says

    as I said, when the newely created cell, that is just the joined sperm and egg, completely split/divide into another cell - that matches the original sperm/egg cell - you have life.

    Yes, but the sperm and the egg themselves are also life.

    If I take a cell sample from your body, I can keep it alive for decades and it is life.

    But whether or not something is life is not the same thing as whether or not it is a person.

    Bap33 says

    you have a new human life - no more, no less.

    Whether or not something is "human life" has nothing to do with whether or not it is a person. Human life, as you described it, is merely life with human DNA. It is not DNA that makes you a person. It's what is built using that DNA.

    Think of it this way. A blueprint for a house is not a house. The house is created, piece by piece, by transforming raw materials into the house using the blueprint as instructions. The blue prints are important because they guide the process, but the blueprints aren't what's valuable. A house isn't a house because of its blueprints but because of what was actually built.

    Having human DNA doesn't make you a person. And to stress this point, consider injecting human DNA into a cow egg. Of course we could do this. We've injected spider DNA into goat eggs to create goats that produce silk in their milk. If we inject human DNA into a cow egg and create a viable offspring, is it a person?

    The use of DNA as the sole criteria for establishing personhood is foolish and short-sighted. DNA itself is not a property of personhood. Self-awareness is.

    Bap33 says

    The healthy egg and the healthy sperm die in a short time if not joined together. The healthy fertilized egg dies 80 years later if it is not murdered in an abortion.

    Eighty years is a short time as shown by this pie graph.

    The use of arbitrary time spans is irrelevant when establishing personhood. Redwood trees live for hundreds if not thousands of years. Does that mean a redwood tree is more of a person than you are?

    Longevity is not what bestows personhood.

    Bap33 says

    Like I said Dan, lets use you as an example ... you sit here as Dan, at age ??, and going backwards in time, in your life span, tell me when your cells stop being Dan.

    When the neural connections in my brains are unwound by the reversal of time. It is precisely those neural connections that make me or you a person. And as I said in the original post, the dirty little secret about abortion that neither side will admit is that the forming of these connections, and thus personhood, is a process not an event.

    No one wants to admit that personhood is a process rather than an instantaneous event because making it a long, drawn out process means that there will never be a black-and-white point where the atoms go from being a non-person to a person. Instead, there will always be a gray area and that gray area is an intrinsic property of the process of becoming a person.

    Well guess what. Nature has no obligation to conform to your desire for ridged, clean divisions between person and non-person, human and non-human, life and non-life. Nature does not draw within the lines. Nature is fuzzy and messy, and you might as well get used to it, because she sure as hell isn't going to change.

  35. Dan8267


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    36   10:36pm Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    Bap33 says

    futuresmc says

    No person should have the right to use another for life support.

    said no baby human ever

    He was being facetious, much like I often am.

  36. Cmvmph


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    37   7:09pm Wed 16 Jan 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    So many words and yet so little intelligence in this argument, especially the subsequent comments after. If you want to have an intelligent reflection on when life begins and what defines a sentient being, you need to reflect on evidence in the biological and philosophical literature instead of acting like you're out in a field somewhere 2,000 years ago trying to make sense of the world. It's really hard to follow what you've written besides ramblings. And I'm sad to say that I actually wasted a few minutes of my life trying to sort through your arguments.

  37. Dan8267


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    38   7:26pm Wed 16 Jan 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    Cmvmph says

    So many words and yet so little intelligence in this argument, especially the subsequent comments after.

    You're free to make a counter-argument. All you've done is say you don't think what I've written is correct. You haven't explained what you think is incorrect, why you think it is incorrect, or what you think the truth is. Put simply, you've added nothing to the conversation.

    However, you are welcomed to try again.

  38. HEY YOU


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    39   12:19am Thu 17 Jan 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    No abortions, Republicans need other people's children to fight their wars.

  39. Peter P


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    40   12:52am Thu 17 Jan 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike   Protected  

    Personhood begins at birth or incorporation.

    The "life starts at conception" argument does not hold water.

    If I have a business idea in my head should it deserve corporate status too?

  40. Dan8267


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    41   8:23am Thu 17 Jan 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    Peter P says

    If I have a business idea in my head should it deserve corporate status too?

    Bad analogy. Nonetheless, where life begins is irrelevant. What matters is where thought begins.

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