In this thread, LibertyGibbert will look at the topic which, more than any other, divides Libertarians. It’s a topic I have been reluctant to raise on this forum till now; indeed, I have been advised by some of you that no rational online debate on it is possible; given its ongoing relevance, though, I have decided to bite the bullet and give it a go.
I am going to run this thread a little differently to normal. Firstly, due to the gravity of the subject matter, may I request that all comments be strictly on-topic. I’m going to make an exception to my usual rule here, and I will moderate any comments that are off-topic or are getting out of hand. Naturally, within those constraints, as always I’m inviting the widest possible range of opinion. I’ll leave the previous thread open for more light-hearted conversation; and of course, there’s the Music Room.
Secondly, unlike previous topics related to Libertarianism, I am not going to push a particular viewpoint, for or against. It isn’t that I don’t have an opinion; on the contrary, I have given this matter much thought over the past thirty years. I believe, however, that much of the hysteria surrounding the abortion debate lies in the way the debate has been framed, using the emotive but spurious language of rights. Today, I will attempt to re-frame the debate, though in order to do so I am going to have to fly in the face of a long-held Libertarian maxim.
The debate among Libertarians on abortion is captured well in the clip below from the John Stossel Show (it covers immigration and gay marriage as well; they turn to the abortion issue at 6:42)
As you can see above, the debate is portrayed as a contest of liberties: primarily, the liberty of the pregnant woman, versus that of the unborn child. It seems fairly obvious, though, that even among the learned panellists above, liberty becomes a mere placeholder for rights. More promising in the above debate, is the concept of liberty beginning with ownership of self—so that the state cannot own a pregnant woman’s body or, if you prefer, that that woman cannot own the body of her unborn child; if such, indeed, it is. So, let’s begin by disposing of the arguments, on both sides, based on any assertions of competing rights.
Forget About a “Right to Life”
Yes, yes, I know: the United States Declaration of Independence, paragraph two, sentence one. It’s right there, in black and white. For the strict-constructionist Americans among you, I had better warn you that I’m about to commit a heresy. So look away now. But an absolute, unqualified right to life—one that precludes all argument, and can be automatically extended as such to a foetus—is bullshit.
Who do you see proclaiming such a right? The Church? Two thousand years of blood-drenched history says that the Church’s commitment to such a right is highly selective, and anything but absolute. You have only to go as far back as the atrocities of Croatian priests in the NDH in 1941, or Bahutu priests in Rwanda in 1994, both of whom counted the murder of hundreds of pregnant women among their catalogues of barbarities, and neither of which—to this day—has been unequivocally condemned by the Vatican, to illustrate the point. The pro-life movement in the United States? The ones who either colluded in, failed to unequivocally condemn, or benefited from, the bombings of abortion clinics, once again murdering pregnant women and their unborn children along the way? I think not. The governments of countries outlawing abortion? Don’t make me laugh: go have a look at the list—a veritable atlas of government corruption and brutality.
The fact is, a genuine right to life, were it to exist, must by definition take precedence over every other right. Ask yourself: is there nothing for which you would be prepared to die? Or even be prepared to kill? The framers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution clearly had British colonial oppression, and not abortion, in mind when they spoke of a right to life, but even they put other rights above it, and were prepared to go to war to uphold those superior rights. And as understandable as that may be, in the process they invalidated any right to life as being absolute and extensible.
Those proclaiming a right to life in such terms are not only displaying hypocrisy, but a misunderstanding of what a right actually is. For if a right to life truly existed, then every death is a violation of that right. Easy enough to imagine, if someone is murdered. What of those who die of natural causes? Is God a serial violator of man’s most fundamental right? As I demonstrated back here, a right that cannot be enforced is meaningless. My own considered opinion is that a right to life cannot exist, unless we a) change our entire culture and laws to place this right above every other right (clearly out of the question), or b) rank other rights above life, as we do today. But a right to life, subordinate to any other right, is little more than empty rhetoric: there is no right you can exercise, once you’re dead.
That a spurious “right to life” cannot be used to support it, does not by itself invalidate the argument that abortion should be illegal. It does mean those arguing the pro-life position will need to use other and better arguments than those couched in the language of rights. For example, we already have laws against murder on the statute books, for reasons so obvious they require no explanation; should not those laws also cover the unborn? It’s a matter of proving the foetus is a human being; do that, and all else follows.
Forget About a “Right to Choose”
A “right to choose” is what you have when you’re standing in aisle five of the supermarket, staring at fifty-seven different brands of olive oil. In this debate, the right to choose is an ugly euphemism and an evasion. Let’s call things what they really are: what is being claimed here is a right to abort a foetus. That is what abortion advocates really mean by choice.
All right—a right to abort a foetus. Says who? Where, exactly, does this right come from? What are its historical antecedents? I know of none in Western culture, but feel free to supply them if you know of any. I’m not speaking here about celebrated examples of abortions in literature and history; all of those occurred without a thought for the law, or codified rights. Of course, I pointed out here, a liberty right can be inferred when no claim right to the contrary exists.
Hang on a minute Ozboy—haven’t you just contradicted yourself? Only a moment ago you argued that a right to life, as generally construed, is nonsensical. Doesn’t it follow that a right to abort, or even murder, can be inferred?
Well, to the pedant, perhaps. But we have statutory laws against murder, which function perfectly well without any need to invoke rights. Those laws are not absolute, and allow the deliberate killing of other human beings in certain circumstances (most typically self defence, or police officers, servicemen or state executioners in the discharge of their duties). That’s why personally, I’m quite sceptical about the need for a separate charter, or bill, of rights, which tend to encourage judicial activism wherever they can be construed as conflicting with statutory law (“Thou shalt not…”) or the Constitution (“Governments shalt not…”); that is, just about everywhere.
Roe v. Wade and the legalization of abortion
In 1969, a homeless, twenty-one-year-old Texan woman, Norma McCorvey, being single and pregnant for the third time, attempted to obtain a legal abortion using the rape/incest provisions of Texan state law, by falsely swearing an affidavit that she had been raped. The State of Texas, having disallowed this, forced Miss McCorvey to carry the baby—subsequently placed for adoption—to term. She was later referred to two young activist lawyers, Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington, who were at that time looking for a plaintiff to pursue a test case challenging the validity of Texas’ abortion statutes. Filing suit in 1970 in the U.S. District Court under the legal pseudonym Jane Roe, and claiming that Texas’ restrictive abortion laws were unconstitutional, they named as defendant Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade (already well-known for his 1964 prosecution of Lee Harvey Oswald’s killer, Jack Ruby), representing the State of Texas Northern District Court. The District Court having ruled in McCorvey’s favour, the State of Texas appealed in the United States Supreme Court, which heard the case in conjunction with Doe v. Bolton, a similar case involving the State of Georgia. In January 1973 the Supreme Court handed down its ruling dismissing the appeal, by a majority of 7-2.
While the consequences of Roe v. Wade have rendered it a touchstone for advocates on both sides of the abortion debate, not only in the United States but internationally, it is a decision which, outside of the legal fraternity, is widely misunderstood. In fact, what lay at issue in Roe was neither the legality nor the morality of abortion, but the right of states to enact legislation which may be construed to violate Federal constitutional guarantees; specifically, the due process clause of the 1866 Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and to a lesser extent, the privacy provisions in the 1st, 4th, 5th and 9th Amendments (same link). In handing down the court’s opinion, Justice Blackmun recognized in the preamble the wider social ramifications of the case that went beyond the dry legal question:
We forthwith acknowledge our awareness of the sensitive and emotional nature of the abortion controversy, of the vigorous opposing views, even among physicians, and of the deep and seemingly absolute convictions that the subject inspires. One’s philosophy, one’s experiences, one’s exposure to the raw edges of human existence, one’s religious training, one’s attitudes toward life and family and their values, and the moral standards one establishes and seeks to observe, are all likely to influence and to color one’s thinking and conclusions about abortion.
After a lengthy and somewhat discursive look at abortion laws down the ages, he gets to the meat of the issue: state abortion laws in the United States, Texas in particular and their standing, concluding that a more liberal approach to abortion was in fact the norm in the early history of the Republic:
It is thus apparent that, at common law, at the time of the adoption of our Constitution, and throughout the major portion of the 19th century, abortion was viewed with less disfavor than under most American statutes currently in effect. Phrasing it another way, a woman enjoyed a substantially broader right to terminate a pregnancy than she does in most States today. At least with respect to the early stage of pregnancy, and very possibly without such a limitation, the opportunity to make this choice was present in this country well into the 19th century. Even later, the law continued for some time to treat less punitively an abortion procured in early pregnancy.
The decision at many points makes the distinction of “viability”, that is the ability of the foetus to survive outside the womb, before going on ultimately to rule the Texas statute as unconstitutional.
With respect to the State’s important and legitimate interest in potential life, the “compelling” point is at viability. This is so because the fetus then presumably has the capability of meaningful life outside the mother’s womb. State regulation protective of fetal life after viability thus has both logical and biological justifications. If the State is interested in protecting fetal life after viability, it may go so far as to proscribe abortion during that period, except when it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.
Measured against these standards, Art. 1196 of the Texas Penal Code, in restricting legal abortions to those “procured or attempted by medical advice for the purpose of saving the life of the mother,” sweeps too broadly. The statute makes no distinction between abortions performed early in pregnancy and those performed later, and it limits to a single reason, “saving” the mother’s life, the legal justification for the procedure. The statute, therefore, cannot survive the constitutional attack made upon it here.
The principal dissenting opinion to Roe was written by Justice (later Chief Justice) Rehnquist, in which he highlights what he saw as the over-reach of the Court’s decision:
Nothing in the Court’s opinion indicates that Texas might not constitutionally apply its proscription of abortion as written to a woman in that stage of pregnancy. Nonetheless, the Court uses her complaint against the Texas statute as a fulcrum for deciding that States may impose virtually no restrictions on medical abortions performed during the first trimester of pregnancy. In deciding such a hypothetical lawsuit, the Court departs from the longstanding admonition that it should never “formulate a rule of constitutional law broader than is required by the precise facts to which it is to be applied”.
The other dissenting judge, Justice White, was even more scathing in his views on what he explicitly regarded as judicial activism and the usurpation of states’ powers by the Supreme Court:
With all due respect, I dissent. I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the Court’s judgment. The Court simply fashions and announces a new constitutional right for pregnant mothers and, with scarcely any reason or authority for its action, invests that right with sufficient substance to override most existing state abortion statutes. The upshot is that the people and the legislatures of the 50 States are constitutionally disentitled to weigh the relative importance of the continued existence and development of the fetus, on the one hand, against a spectrum of possible impacts on the mother, on the other hand. As an exercise of raw judicial power, the Court perhaps has authority to do what it does today; but in my view its judgment is an improvident and extravagant exercise of the power of judicial review that the Constitution extends to this Court.
The Court apparently values the convenience of the pregnant mother more than the continued existence and development of the life or potential life that she carries. Whether or not I might agree with that marshaling of values, I can in no event join the Court’s judgment because I find no constitutional warrant for imposing such an order of priorities on the people and legislatures of the States. In a sensitive area such as this, involving as it does issues over which reasonable men may easily and heatedly differ, I cannot accept the Court’s exercise of its clear power of choice by interposing a constitutional barrier to state efforts to protect human life and by investing mothers and doctors with the constitutionally protected right to exterminate it. This issue, for the most part, should be left with the people and to the political processes the people have devised to govern their affairs.
It is my view, therefore, that the Texas statute is not constitutionally infirm because it denies abortions to those who seek to serve only their convenience rather than to protect their life or health. Nor is this plaintiff, who claims no threat to her mental or physical health, entitled to assert the possible rights of those women whose pregnancy assertedly implicates their health. This, together with United States v. Vuitch, 402 U.S. 62 (1971), dictates reversal of the judgment of the District Court.
Neither dissenting Justice, it can be seen, based their opinions on any philosophical opposition to abortion per se, but on the interpretation of Constitutional law and the balance between state and Federal power intended by the Constitution’s framers. Nonetheless, Roe v. Wade remains to this day, possibly the primary “litmus issue” applied to Supreme Court presidential nominees, who since 1925 have been required to appear in confirmation hearings before a Senate committee, prior to their nomination being formally ratified.
Utilitarianism and the Freakonomics argument
Many abortion advocates invoke Utilitarianism as the framework which justifies their cause. The philosophy of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill does not proceed deontologically, that is from any axiomatic rights or principles, but teleologically, or towards the stated goal of the greatest good for the greatest number. The morality of an action can thus be judged by its consequences, not its conformance to a pre-existing code. It will be obvious that, applied to the abortion question, such a philosophy neatly side-steps many of the thorniest questions, either philosophical ones regarding rights, or moral or theological ones pertaining to the sanctity or otherwise of human life, or scientific ones addressing the development of the foetus in the womb.
The Utilitarian argument for abortion received a powerful boost in 2001 from the University of Chicago’s Professor of Economics, Steven D. Levitt. In that year, Levitt, together with Yale University’s John J. Donohue, published a paper in the Quarterly Journal of Economics entitled The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime; it subsequently formed a chapter in Levitt’s best-selling 2005 book Freakonomics, from which it is most frequently cited. In it, Levitt noted the triumphalism in the late 1990s of then-New York City mayor Rudolph Guiliani in proclaiming the drop in crime in his jurisdiction following his introduction of the Broken Windows approach to crime control—the prosecution of minor offences, and orderly maintenance of the urban environment, typified by the prompt repairing of any broken window.
The problem, as Levitt pointed out, was that other cities which had not implemented the same policies had recorded similar drops in crime, and that the drops had generally commenced in around 1991, three years before Guiliani’s first election as mayor. Using a number of statistical proofs, Levitt and Donohue have demonstrated that the legalization of abortion in 1973 following Roe v. Wade, had by 1991, eighteen years later, led to a situation in which the children of unwanted pregnancies—overwhelmingly from lower socio-economic or otherwise disadvantaged backgrounds, and statistically more likely to commit crime, and who would otherwise have reached majority in that year—had in fact never been born. The clinching argument was the fact that the drop in crime, which occurred across all 48 contiguous states, occurred earlier in the same five states which had legalized abortion in 1970, three years ahead of Roe.
On the face of it, Levitt’s thesis seems unassailable, though there have been several attempts to refute it. Those I have read seem to me either hopelessly convoluted or needlessly ad hominem. I think that even opponents of abortion would have to concede that, from a strictly Utilitarian viewpoint, the legalization of abortion does indeed lead to a drop in the crime rate.
Once you embrace Utilitarianism, however, you are proclaiming that you admit to no higher, a priori moral principles; that the end does, in fact, justify the means. I imagine I would personally find it impossible to persuade someone who truly believes this, as to do so would involve arguing on his own ground, presupposing moral principles either do not exist or are irrelevant, and leaving me hopelessly out of my depth. Certainly, Utilitarianism would tend to argue in favour of abortion on-demand, and the logic is internally self-consistent. But what else would it argue for? Slippery slopes appear around every corner, once you start invoking utility rather than liberty to justify an issue like abortion.
The pathway to a solution
Unless you subscribe to Utilitarianism, the crucial question must be, at what point does human life begin? Many abortion advocates claim that a foetus is little more than a piece of tissue, and being topologically within, and reliant for life upon, the human nourishing it, it must for all moral purposes be considered part of the mother. This argument has merit (listen to Libertarian feminist Wendy McElroy in the John Stossel clip above), primarily as it invokes the liberty of the pregnant woman, a liberty which must begin with her ownership of self—including under this construction, therefore, the foetus. It has merit, but is open to challenge by those producing evidence that the foetus has a life separate from that of the mother, over-riding in significance its topological and biological relationships to its mother, and pro-abortion advocates need to address this point. If the foetus, particularly at an early stage of development, cannot be shown to hold such a separate life, then there is no moral difference between an abortion and a haircut. Christian theologians, however, would argue from the standpoint of the foetus’ potential—that the unborn foetus is not a potential human being, so much as a human being with potential. The difference is crucial.
Not so crucial, however, if you are Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. We have encountered the good Professor before on this site, dealing with his seminal 1975 publication, Animal Liberation. In it, drawing a moral equivalence between animals and humans, he sees no particular issue with abortion, any more than with the culling of a group of animals which has reached plague proportions. He quite explicitly denies that human life begins at conception, or is indeed atomic; that is, “begins” at any one point at all, but rather develops gradually. If pressed to provide a dividing line, he uses the capacity to feel pain, developed by the human foetus at about 20 weeks’ gestation, as the criterion of becoming a moral agent of any significance, however slight. Singer recognizes and—to his credit—at least embraces consistently the “slippery slope” of his Utilitarianism, seeing no moral problem either with infanticide, or other forms of what he pleasantly terms involuntary euthanasia. While perfectly logical, I can think of several twentieth-century leaders who would have given their right arms to have had Singer active in their day, while they were selling the exact same message, albeit in less circumlocutory terms. In any case, Singer’s defence of what he terms zoophilia (I’m sure I learned of it under another name than that) renders him incapable of being invoked to justify anything—at least, in any polite company.
Then there are those who would argue that regardless of the starting point for human life, any violation involved in ending that life is outweighed by the putative suffering endured by a woman forced to carry an unwanted baby to term. Few would fail to be moved by this account by a veteran Sydney obstetrician, of thousands of young birth mothers in the 1960s, unable to procure a legal abortion, having their babies forcibly removed from them and offered up for adoption. In fact, the current Australian Senate inquiry into forcible adoptions has, even as I write this, today handed down its recommendations, including that state and Federal governments formally apologize to these women and their children. Or for that matter, the long-term suffering—not to mention the cost to society—endured by a woman forced to raise an unwanted baby, generally on her own.
These can actually construe a valid and coherent argument, provided you understand the principles being invoked to support it, and their consequences if legitimized. Once you have accepted the principle that, either for the good of society, or to assuage the suffering of a pregnant woman, it is permissible to end the life of a human which is not quite complete, non-viable, incapable of feeling pain, or defective, or whose continued existence would pose society problems later on, you have embraced the collective Utilitarianism of Bentham and John Stuart Mill and will have to justify abortion on those grounds. And then, you simply cannot avoid the slippery slope you have just stepped onto, and will find yourself in the position of having to justify the killing of other incomplete, non-viable, defective or societally detrimental humans. You’re heading into some potentially very nasty territory unless you can demonstrate beforehand that the unborn foetus is not in fact a human being at all.
From a practical viewpoint, I would be able to take more seriously those opposing abortion in all cases, particularly in cases of rape, incest or where it is known there is a serious congenital medical abnormality in the foetus, if they would be more forthcoming in explaining how, once they have succeeded in imposing their will on the unwilling expectant mother, and to that extent depriving her of her liberty, they propose to assist her in supporting the child once born. I would also be most interested in learning whether, or how, in 2012 they plan to prevent a pregnant woman from obtaining information about available abortion services, or restrain her from travelling to a neighbouring jurisdiction to procure an abortion not available in her own locality, such as occurred in many U.S. states prior to Roe v. Wade (and favoured by current Libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul), and occurs still in Ireland to this day. Or how, if they somehow manage to render that option difficult or even impossible, they propose to stamp out the historically inevitable consequence of backyard amateur abortionists, equipped with makeshift instruments, minimal sterile facilities and the resultant deaths arising from septicaemia, air embolism and numerous other complications.
Those who, at the other extreme, advocate even on-demand late-term abortions, or even so-called fourth-trimester abortions (that is, legalized infanticide), would do well to explain how the principle they have just endorsed can be prevented—or even should be prevented—from being extended further, to… well, I leave that your imagination. I note for example, the case of the Illinois state legislature, which in 2001 debated a bill protecting an infant who somehow survived a late-term abortion. While it will not surprise you that, with near-unanimity, the legislators regarded such an infant as a human being, deserving of every protection under the law, it is of interest to read the dissenting arguments of the sole state senator opposing it who, having argued that no restrictions whatsoever should be placed on a mother wishing to abort her child at any time, remarked that were the product of a failed late-term abortion be allowed to live, “then this would be an anti-abortion statute”. Once again, quite consistent. But the principle on which it is founded was not mentioned.
Nothing any of us can say here will be the last or definitive word on the subject; it’s too wrapped up in sentiment, factionalism and ideologically-driven opinions long set in stone. On both sides. Those who wish to argue publicly either for or against abortion would do well to take a hard, objective look at the principles they are invoking in support of their case, and where those principles, if taken seriously, inexorably lead. Particularly on a Libertarian forum such as this, the issue of abortion, weighing as it does competing liberties, has no one solution that will satisfy everyone. But liberty is the prime consideration on which we should be focussing. I don’t propose to deliver a polemic of my personal views, if for no other reason than I have spent too much time studying, and have come to appreciate, both sides of the issue (if you really want my own opinion, you can probably gauge it by clicking the photo at the top). But even if we cannot find a definitive answer, I believe here at LibertyGibbert we are at least asking the right questions.
In 2001, Aaron Zelman and L. Neil Smith published a pretty good novel titled Hope, from which a chapter was published in The Libertarian Enterprise a few years ago.
The subject of “Abortion: An Excerpt From Hope” was voluntary termination of pregnancy (remember, I’m a medical doctor, so I’m really touchy about the fact that the term “abortion” covers both induced and spontaneous expulsion from the uterus of an embryo or fetus before it’s considered to have achieved viability, which is generally attained at about 20 weeks into gestation or when fetal weight is at 500 grams or more).
One particularly memorable phrase in that excerpt is this:
I’d admonish everyone reading and commenting here to keep that in mind.
Bless you, Tucci – Oz
Let’s try an agricultural perspective: as a farmer I spend quite a bit of time preventing suffering and saving lives. In the absence of illness, the life-saving involves interventions in birthing situations, the objective being always to end up with at least two fit and healthy subjects at the end. I cannot recall an occasion when the full-term infant has been sacrificed for the health of the mother. In only one case (terminal cancer) did we euthanase the dam post delivery (caesarean).
But, when confronted with the situation where a young animal has accidentally become pregnant, and the likely outcome is both a dead mother and baby there is no hesitation in aborting at the first opportunity which is usually at three weeks.
So the decision is straightforward.
What’s different if the animals are humans?
“What’s different if the animals are humans?”
There are several distinctions. We don’t breed humans as chattel. We don’t shear them for their hair. We don’t eat them nor do we utilize their hides.
Before I go on, I should point out that this argument refers to induced abortions and not miscarriages prior to 20 weeks.
There are several flaws here with the support of abortion on several grounds- all of which are entirely to do with the relativist arrogance of human presumption and being driven by corporate greed.
I’ll get the Godwin’s Law exception out of the way first and deal with the Utilitarian argument which is literaly a Nazi argument and that is by no means an exaggeration here in any way, shape or form.
The problem with the Levitt study is that it argues for the “depopulation of undesirables” and for reasons of “the good of the state”. When you look at “The Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring” in the case of the disabled, the Nazi approach to dealing with pregnant Jewish Women and other Undesirables, and ultimately the dividing line between when abortion was and was not legal, was on the grounds of how “desirable” the unborn child was.
As anyone who has studied the more controversial areas of history can attest to; “depopulation” is nothing more than an incredibly sterile and detached way of describing genocide. In fact the whole purpose of the Holocaust in its entirety was the “depopulation of undesirables”.
You brought up the slippery slope of utilitarianism- well the Nuremberg Trials when examined make it blatantly clear just how much of a slippery slope there is.
On that front, I’d point out for those who believe in “mercy killing” abortions in the case of the deformed and disabled, that the ideological justification for the Nazi Euthanasia Program can be best summed up by the phrase “would you want to live if you were like that?” (In case anyone is wondering, I do have a disability.)
You also raise a very valid point about there needing to be consistency valuing the intrinsic worth of human life. I completely agree that it is the height of hypocrisy to condone war and murder on one hand but vehemently oppose abortion on the other as the same ethical values are at play in both cases.
However what is crucial here is to examine the bioethics of the situation and in the case of abortion, there is glaring hypocrisy involved- particularly as technology is within our grasp which makes abortion entirely unjustifiable and obsolete.
The medical ethics involved of course are those of harm minimisation- which we all see in the form of drug and medical trials. If the ethical reasoning behind abortion were applied to drug and medical procedures, then drug and medical trials would be non existent. We would simply presume the drug was safe while having no clue how accurate that actually was.
In fact if our attitudes to viability were consistently applied, every single aspect of advanced western medicine should be disregarded. Neurosurgery, life support systems and organ transplants all involve intervening with patients who by the standards applied to gestating children, are nonviable without some form of external intervention.
To give a more visceral example though- suppose a 6 month old baby were exposed and died as a result. Our society would understandibly he horrified at such an occurrence, yet when the viability of both a gestating child and a 6 month old baby are considered; ethically there is no difference between abortion and the above example of lethal child-neglect.
This arrogance is blatantly apparent in our approach to gestating children regarding our recognition of when a gestating child is deemed “human”. We say that a child cannot feel pain or trauma until at least the end of the 2nd trimester however this argument is fundamentally flawed.
Take a look at what we do know about the development of the gestating child. Within 21 days of conception the nervous system has begin forming, meaning that at a sensory level, that child is aware. 2 weeks later the child’s brain has formed, meaning they can process that information and sense things. By 12 weeks they are capable of gross motor movements. Thus there is a clear interaction with their environment taking place by the end of the first trimester.
People might argue that there is no definitive proof that a child is able to sense pain prior to the 18th week of gestation. However consider subatomic particles prior to the invention of the electron microscope. Prior to its invention, there was no way to observe subatomic particles or even atoms and molecules. However they did still exist despite our observational limitations at that time. The same holds true with pre-natal development.
The other common argument is that the gestating child does not resemble a human being- or is compared to a cancer cell. Certainly a cancer cell shares human DNA, however there is a stark difference when you examine the disposition of the gestating child. The disposition of a cancer cell is a clump of cancer cells. The disposition of a gestating child however is an adult human being.
On this front, it is important to examine the words of Dr Bernard Nathanson who was one of the 2 men most responsible for legalised abortion in the USA: http://www.aboutabortions.com/DrNathan.html
In short the notion that a gestating child is “not a person” or “not human” is nothing more than the blatant dehumanisation of another human being.
All of this takes people to an interesting place. If you equally value the life of both the gestating child and the mother, then where do you go from there. Technology holds the answer.
The reality is that to achieve artifical gestation; there are 4 requirements. The first is pressurised environments, the second is artifical climate control, the third is synthetic tissue bonding and the 4th is the ability to both remove waste products and feed in nutrients- an artificial placenta if you will.
3 of these are already feasible. Air-conditioning and headed pools have made climate controll common place, while decompression chambers have been around for decades. In terms of synthetic tissue bonding, artificial skin has existed for decades at a laboratory level.
That leaves the issue of feeding nutrients and removing wastes. 2 possibilities come to mind here. The first is to create an artificial placenta, while the second would be to create some kind of biological interface to interact with the existing placenta.
If we globally poured even a few billion dollars into making a viable and cost effective artificial womb a reality, then I see no reason why it couldn’t be common place within a decade. At that point, the whole situation would center around the gestating child, resulting in abortions being replaced by womb transplants where the gestating child would continue to do so until they reached 36 weeks of age, at which point, they’d be born.
2 things here which are interlinked. The first is that people may ask why it hasn’t already been done, while the second is that people may balk at the mention of billions of dollars. The answer to both is that as Dr Nathanson himself said in 1996, the abortion industry in the US alone is worth half a billion dollars annually (1.55 million abortions at $300 an abortion). If 3 billion dollars were needed and given in funding, then it would be no more than the cost of 6 years’ worth of abortions in the USA.
In short, besides the depopulation agenda of ecofascism (and considering that in the US alone there have been approximately 60 million abortions in the past 40 years since Roe vs Wade- making it highly effective at genocide of the entire human race); the reason that the abortion has not been made obsolete is because abortion is simply far too profitable for the medical profession for them to want to give it up.
I completely recognise that what I have said will be incredibly inconvenient to many people, however it really does need to be said, to portary the issue in the most brutally honest light possible.
This should prove to be an interesting comment thread. Rather sneaky of you to use a John Stossel video! Did you clear that with izen first? From earlier private email exchanges on this subject I’m reasonably certain you know my own, personal views on this issue. For most of my life I have been firmly pro-choice (that’s a gentle little euphemism ain’t it?). Only in recent years have I done a 180 in my opinion. Here’s why. There IS a right to life and it is NOT bullshit. I’ll return to this point shortly.
What is the starting point of one’s humanity? Is a human being created at conception, following implantation, when he or she exits the womb or two years later once some language skills are developed? If a late term abortionist kills an unborn child in utero a week before delivery it is called an “abortion”. If the the parents decide to kill the child a week after birth it is called “murder”. Where is the distinction? If a fetus is deemed “non-viable” outside the womb, does that make it any less a human being?
Ozboy, I fear you may have misinterpreted the meaning of “right to life”. This is one our inalienable rights. It simply means that the state (nor anyone else) has the right to end your life. Of course convicted murderers lose this right as a result of their actions and many states in the US we have them “put to sleep.” We will all die – some from accidents, some from illness, some from unexpected violence, some from old age, etc. But ultimately we have the right to live and this is a right the state cannot rescind. An abortion may afford a pregnant woman an exercise in her right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but it denies the unborn child the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I’ll pot this and come back a bit later and see what has developed. I have much more to say.
Dr Dave: “. We don’t breed humans as chattel.”
I’m not sure, as one of the generation that was subject to compulsory military conscription, that I’m buying that argument. But leaving that aside, humans are not exploited? I’m not so sure that is true either; the manner of exploitation is not germane to the argument I think.
So I’ll acknowledge the distinction in relation to consumption and “fleecing” , and say that those distinctions don’t preclude human exploitation.
But if abortion is acceptable animal welfare practice, why exclude humans?
Except that your argurment with Dr Dave has missed a fundamental point- that humans have evolved at a level above that of animals or plants and this is something which can be quite plainly seen when you examine intellectual evolution and the increasing complexity of communication amongst different life forms on this planet with each leap in evolution.
Certainly these leaps are not chronologically isolated and there is some overlapping, however these are leaps which need to be considered.
You start out with single celled organisms. They do not communicate at all- they simply eat and multiply.
Then you get to plants. Plants are unable to move, however as we discovered during the 1980s, plants are capable of simple olfactory communication- what we know in animals and ourselves as pheromones.
Then you get to animals. Animals advance this in 2 ways. The first is that they are capable of movement and with that comes body language. The second, which I suspect occurred later than body language, is the development of a language of complex cries unique to each species of animal. In humans, this became pitch and intonation.
Then you get to humans. Humans have evolved from every other animal species in one distinct manner, forgetting about the oppose-able thumb- namely our voice-box lowered making us capable of a form of communication not possible for any other life form on this planet- speech, which also incorporates the complex cries of animals. We also use body language and pheromones.
It’s due to our complexity of communication that we have had infinitely more scientific progress and technological advancements than any other species on the planet. Thus to claim that humans are no different to animals is nothing short of unscientific fallacy.
The tendency to want to abort a foetus will breed itself out of the population eventually as those that do will get weeded out of the gene pool. The problem is ultimately self correcting.
The problem with the “anarchy” approach though is that besides the fact that it only holds up in theory; there is a massive loss of life there which could otherwise have been prevented.
To deal with the first point- not everyone who aborts children will do so consistently. A mother who has given birth to 4 children and then aborts, or aborts then gives birth to children later on, is still completely in the gene pool. The fact that abortion is still going on 40 years after Roe vs Wade and has resulted in the deaths of 1% of the world’s population in the US alone to date, really does show that this is nothing but blind optimism.
Secondly, you have to look at those being aborted. The presumption there is that if a mother believes in abortion, that the child will too when you take such a generalised approach. There is no reason why those would definitely be the case, thus the deaths you write off as being poetic through adivocating for such an approach, may actually ammount to ddestroying those who may have actually opposed abortion were they able to live long enough to do so.
Andrew , I did not argue that they were no different to other animals; clearly they are a separate species with all the differences that speciation implies. Our brain is clearly different, principally in its ability to imagine, and that has lead to the behaviours you describe.
But so what? You do not say. You appear to introduce a red herring.
“if abortion is acceptable animal welfare practice, why exclude humans?”
Andrew says:”The fact that abortion is still going on 40 years”
Hmmm, try 40 generations.
Kitler , you’re working in geologic time , right?
farmerbraun yes as geologist by training I tend to think in the hundreds of million years time frame, however lets consider ancient Rome a favourite time period of mine and only yesterday so to speak. The Romans discovered an effective plant based abortifactant that grew in North Africa they put it to such good use that the plant species became extinct and because of it’s effectiveness the leaders that should have led the Empire were never born. They put personal pleasure above the good of the society that made that possible.
Then you ended up with the Western Roman empire collapsing and Pagan tolerant society being replaced with a not very tolerant Monotheism.
A society that destroys the unborn will ultimately collapse it may take a while.
For the record this is not a moral judgement on my part it’s just an example from history.
You raise an interesting question regarding humans and animals. I really don’t have an answer for you. I’m not particularly religious and I’m not particularly that fond of humans. I’ve said many times that I like most dogs better than I like most humans. But I believe there is a reason humans are at the top of the food chain. For all that dogs have contributed to mankind, humans have contributed much more. I have an outstanding $500 bill at my vet’s office. You think my dogs would chip in a little? Hell no!
Let me provide you with an anecdote. Perhaps it’s meaningless, but I think not. I have been present for the birth of kittens (my cat). I have been present and participated in the delivery of human babies. I’ve hung around cold, drafty stables to witness a few mares foal. I’ve helped a few cows have their calves (they don’t really need a lot of help but sometimes the horses do). I’ve played midwife for my beloved dog, Ellie, when she had her litters. The last one she whelped 14 puppies and it was about a 10 hour event. I never felt any emotion except awe and wonderment. One day about 12 years ago I was working at the local hospital. I rarely had occasion to go up to the OB unit, but this day I did. It was a busy day for them. You could hear the thump, thump, thump of fetal heart monitors all up and down the hall. I can’t even remember why I was up there but I was busy filtering out the noise and concentrating on a patient chart or something. I heard the moans and groans of impending labor coming from a nearby room and did my best to ignore them. Then I heard one of the “old hand” OB nurses instruct the woman to push. “C’mon now, worst pain you’ve ever had, bear down.” I next heard that rather distinctive “labor scream” (although it’s not really a scream). Then…for a period of about 30 seconds I heard nothing. Finally I heard the crying of a newborn baby. I can’t explain it, but quite involuntarily my eyes suddenly filled with tears. I quickly wiped my eyes, pretended I was done doing whatever I was doing and left the unit.
This is, I believe, one of the things that separates us from animals. I’ve watched a whole lot of humans die and I never shed a tear. We did “all we could.” You can develop a sense of clinical detachment. But to have the crying of a newborn provoke what I can only explain as an autonomic response is something else entirely. We are humans. We are special.
Dr Dave as a father who was present at the birth of his daughter it is the most special thing you can ever experience and mine came out wailing loudly. Accidentally observing the C section was not the most special thing of my life at the same time.
farmerbraun, to address both your points; regarding my comment about abortion existing for 40 years; I was referring to legalised abortions in modern society, rather than “backdoor abortions” and abortions which took place in previous societies such as the Roman Empire.
To bring up the Roman Empire though, there is a VERY slippery slope in using Rome’s attitude to abortion as justification. The moment you go there, you’re on the same shaky ground that would justify pedophilia on similar grounds, or the brutal treatment of Spartan children by Spartan society which these days would be classed by society as horrific child abuse.
As for the second point, you claim you never said that animals were humans. Yet you final sentence in your first post was “What’s different if the animals are humans?”
Clearly you are saying that humans are animals, when we are an evolutionary level above them.
Secondly, you ask what my point is. The fact is that, I didn’t elaborate on the point because I presumed it would have been blatantly obvious. The point is that as people can be proven to be set apart from people, then logically the standards which apply to animals should not apply to people, thus your point about applying the same standard is moot- especially when I have already pointed out a technological solution which is completely within reach and which makes abortion completely and utterly obsolete and redundant.
You big pussy! A little bit of blood and guts puts you off your feed? I actually envy you as I have no children. As I grow older I sorely regret it. But, hey, have you ever seen the aftermath of a shooting or a terrible car crash or even a train wreck? Now that’s some blood and guts for you! I do perfectly fine around blood, guts and gore. Certain smells, however, drop me to me knees or send me running for the nearest toilet. No kiddin’. Just a whiff of a gangrenous leg can have me gagging all afternoon. I swear, I don’t know how surgeons do it. I could never be a pathologist (although most of them I know spend their work days peering through microscopes). But I’m pretty sure the sight of aborted fetuses would have me retching.
This is a recent revelation for me but somehow I view abortion, particularly when utilized as a means of birth control, as dehumanizing.
That’s not surprising. Just look at the highly sanitised language of pro abortion groups and how it differs with reality.
Take second trimester abortions. According to the sanitised language, a doctor removes the fetus from a dilated womb.
The reality of course is that a doctor reaches into the dilated cervix and dismembers the gestating child piece by piece with forceps and pliers – ripping muscle apart, snapping bones poiece by piece and tearing muscles from bones. This takes place from 12-24 weeks- when even the medical profession acknowledges that unborn children feel pain from at least 18 weeks.
Would we condone someone not only being ripped limb from limb, but joint from joint and joint by joint, muscles torn from muscles and bones, muscles torn apart, bones snapped into small pieces, with the whole procedure finally ending after several minutes if not hours?
Let’s face it, if it was done to the living, the person doing it would be compared to Josef Mengele and other infamous medical butchers.
That’s the thing with why abortion is so acceptable to so many- they delude themselves into thinking it’s nowhere near as grizzly or abhorrent a practice as it is and they dehumanise the child to try and justify it. Gotta love relativism, hey?
Well you’ve really started something here Oz’, it’s a subject where I believe most people have a split-personality reaction. We can all see both sides of the argument all too clearly to posit a definitive answer.
My initial gut reaction is that I am against abortion. The crucial thing is, as others have said, the point at which a foetus becomes a ‘person’ and I find it impossible to pick a point in time when that happens. I therefore assume that conception HAS to be point at which a new human-being is created, and that intentionally removing that potential life is wrong.
I am not a particularly religious person, although I was brought up a Catholic and there is always the “give me a child until he is seven” scenario, but I don’t believe I would feel differently whatever my upbringing.
Extremely thoughtful article by Oz: no surprises, there.
Right, or ‘natural right’, is something I want to study: Leo Strauss’s Natural Right And History is certainly on my list of required reading. I think the salient point is that all rights are contingent, while still, within a constitution, being defensible by law and enforceable by the appropriate authorities.
As for the issue itself, my only comment will be that though two in pleasure may make a baby, only one of the two is given the agony of producing it. And I sympathize immensely with the one that Nature has so burdened. Never mind ‘original sin’: that is the original injustice.
Andrew you say:”Clearly you are saying that humans are animals, when we are an evolutionary level above them.”
Can you clarify please: what is this scale or criterion on which humans rank above other animals?
Strange – no sooner do I write on this subject, than it’s suddenly headline news down here – Andrew Bolt’s reaction.
More later today.
Exposing the new-born is a cultural phenomenon going back a long way. So nothing new there.
Having gone that far the philosophers may as well have mentioned self-euthenasia for those of sound mind. Presumably adults can take responsibility for their own life/death if they can have the responsibility for another’s.
This does look like being a fun thread, and I salute you for tackling it.
Now to criticizing some of your lines of argument in the post.
If a right cannot be enforced or is not recognized by others, does it really not exist? do we really have no “rights” when confronted by an infringer who (at that particular time) is able to muster greater might?
The question of “being” is usually answered in medical and veterinary circles (but clearly not by our two resident medics) by recourse to Descartes’ “I think therefore I am”, so crudely put, if something cannot communicate, then it is assumed that it cannot think, and by extension, it “is not” and can neither feel pain nor suffer…
But hey, solipsism (the denial of any existence or minds outside of the holder of the view’s own mind) is such a convincing philosophical position, that I’m surprised that more people don’t hold it, and If you do actually meet a solipsist, treat them with great care, because if they go – then we all go too. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solipsism. 😉
John R Lott, has a rather nice criticism of Levitt’s “abortion reduced crime” hypothesis, which he fleshes out (sorry, very bad pun) in “Freedomnomics”
Put briefly, Lott’s thesis is that the potential availability of abortion removed one (of the many) inhibitions to single women indulging in sex, hence there were a greater number who fell pregnant, not all of whom subsequently had abortions, there were therefore MORE children raised in single parent families because of this change in behaviour. Lott interprets the falls in crime to increased incarceration rates.
What follows is not directed at you Oz, only at the ideas of “Utilitarianism”
Bentham and Mill’s Utilitarianism is an abomination, even more so, when some misleadingly identify its systematizers as “libertarian”.
Firstly, “costs” and “benefits” are subjective order rankings. Ordinal numbers are not useable in mathematics, for example my fifth highest ranked preference minus my third highest ranked aversion does not equal my second most highly ranked preference… any and all conclusions of cost benefit analysis are therefore arrived at by fallacious means.
add to that, my usual identification as being amongst a “lesser number” in most of my preferences, and it is not difficult to see my aversion to having a collectivist imposing a zero sum solution against what I would have chosen to do (and would have done without my compromising the enjoyment of any other individual – unless that individual’s enjoyment is wielding the big stick of coercion and harming others).
Interestingly, In Ireland, legalizing abortion was put to a referendum, and the ban was popularly upheld, though abortion services are readily available at the other end of a 30 or 40 minute Ryan Air flight, or a few hours on a ferry to another jurisdiction.
This does lead to some anomalies, for example a couple of years ago, a girl of either 15 or 16, (It was her second pregnancy and she was in state “care” – there’s another crappy issue and an oxymoron 😦 ), who was carrying a microencephalic foetus, was temporarily delayed, by a court order obtained by the health services executive, which forbade her to leave Ireland. Fortunately, the order was overturned. Quite what the grounds were for requiring her to carry to term a foetus which would die within minutes of delivery, and, lacking a brain, could never become a “being”, I really do not know. Perhaps they just needed more budget to spend?
What is my own position?
I’m against abortion on purely emotional grounds, and would try to persuade (verbally) the mother of any foetus I’d help create, not to abort it.
Got to agree on smells, though practice does help. We’ve got warm weather here, and yesterday I picked up a dead ewe, which had inflated in the warmth, to put it in the truck (we get five figure fines if a bureaucrat spots a dead animal), and managed to get some liquor on my clothes. Lovely (not).
The smell of a lamb which has rotted inside the uterus has to be one longest lingering. It seems to be totally resistant to all hand cleansers for about a week. The unfortunate ewe is usually treated with a hot lead injection, all other treatments seem to yield the same result, only more slowly.
The wives and girlfriends of people who work with sheep, do not (to the best of my knowledge) suffer any sleep deprivation during or, for about a month after lambing time. I still haven’t worked out how male gynaecologists ever become fathers
– or perhaps the kids aren’t theirs 😛
Mel has an excellent point:
The vagueness of when a foetus becomes a person.
It’s our friend the sorites paradox ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorites_paradox ), which works both ways around.
Extending back in time, if you start with a “person” today, then, surely they must have been a “person” yesterday as well, as just being one day younger does not make them a “non person”, and they must have been a person the day before that, and the day before that too… (Ok, we’ll keep them in an aquarium, they’re all potential humans, all however many hundred million per milli-litre).
Argued from the other direction, It is “just a clump of cells” today, as it will be tomorrow, and tomorrow’s tomorrow… (Can I abort a ninety something year old clump of cells for social reasons?)
I already have explained it in my second post, examining the creative potential of different species as affected by evolution and then applying taxonomy to the whole situation. Go back and read that second post if you want the explanation.
The Leo-Straussians are the philosophical fathers of neoconservatism, and it’s worship of state, great leadership and the “virtues” of the rest of us dying for dear leader, in its endless wars.
Andrew I have read both of your posts, and I did apprehend the mistake in your second one, but I see what you meant to say. It seems you can provide no justification for that position, so I must ask if it is a matter of faith.
This is a very simple question and a one or two word answer would be informative;
‘Can you clarify please: what is this scale or criterion on which humans rank above other animals?’
Luton Ian: My husband is a former doctoral student of two top students of Leo Strauss. So I can say with inside and certain knowledge that your accusation is wholly wrong.
Luton Ian: But you would not be the one sacrificing, would you? For ‘purely emotional reasons’ of your own, you would compromise the health and undermine the happiness and well-being of another fully conscious human being. That hardly strikes me as admirable.
Given that “emotional grounds” are used both for and against, we would arrive at a situation where it is a purely personal decision.
Yes exposing a newborn is something which was common-place and acceptable in antiquity but then so was pedophilia. If we applied your logic with exposing newborns consistently across the spectrum of child abuse, then it would lead to advocating for the complete decriminalisation of all forms of child abuse, including pedophilia.
Or are you saying that some forms of child abuse are unacceptable, but that adopting the method used by the Nazis to wipe out “undesireables” under the age of 3 should be completely acceptable?
Sorry Andrew you are putting words in my mouth, and you then proceed to argue with the positions that you have wrongly attributed to me.
farmerbraun, a fundamental and profound fallacy in reasoning on your part does not equal a failed argument on my part. As the most crucial evidence of how advanced a species is is how intelligent it is; as intelligence is crucially dependent on creative density; and as creative density is critically dependent on the ability to communicate ideas; I have already conclusively proven that human beings are evolved to a level beyond animals.
If you cannot grasp that then the fallacy lies completely with you and what is needed here is for you to reflect on the profound flaw in your reasoning on this subject.
Then again, considering that you have already practically argued for the decrinimalisation of child abuse (exposure) which would be deemed utterly monstrous and horrific by the vast majority of society, I cannot help but wonder whether the flaw you have demonstrated in your reasoning here is the least of the problems with your worldview.
farmerbraun- you claim: Sorry Andrew you are putting words in my mouth, and you then proceed to argue with the positions that you have wrongly attributed to me.
Yet you have previously said:
“Exposing the new-born is a cultural phenomenon going back a long way. So nothing new there.” This was said in the wider context of an argument where you have argued from the first post that abortion should be acceptable as humans are no more evolved than animals and abortion practiced on animals is commonplace. Ergo you are arguing that abortion should be acceptable as exposing a child was perfectly acceptable as it was commonplace in antiquity.
If you are claiming I am accusing you of saying things you have never said and attributing arguments to you you have never made, then I put it to you that you have absolutely no idea what it is you are saying. Otherwise my attributing those arguments to you is completely accurate. So which is it?
Dr Dave: Does anyone consider this? — That depriving an embryonic human the chance to become a full human (or a ‘senior’ human) also prevents him from facing the greatest, most searing fear, which is fear of death. It may be physical death, or it may (more painfully) be the death of living in tyranny — of being a galley slave in past times, or of being an ordinary resident of North Korea in our day. To give birth to a being is to condemn him to death and to the fear of it. I just raise the point.
Were I killed in the womb, not only would I have had no awareness of what was happening to me but there would be no ‘me’ to be aware (in a cognitive sense at least; and I do not support the killing of in-utero foetuses, those that would live if born).
People say things like: ‘But you are glad, surely, that your mother did not decide to be rid of you’. I find that nonsensical. If I were not here I would not be here to regret that she wanted rid of me (if such were the case). Further: life is a burden and not just a gift. What is it that angry children always say to their parents (this surely will sound familiar)? — ‘I didn’t ASK to be born’. And: what must every child must face in this life? Certain pain, privation, and even agony (except for the dullest and/or most privileged among us, a sparse few) — and then, fear of death and actual death.
I’m just saying that one must consider all the angles. And one of the angles is that life is an ambiguous gift. Another is that it makes no sense to speak of unborn children — which strictly speaking are premature (my aunt called her baby, quite rightly, ‘turnip-brain’) because the human mother is already pushed almost to death in passing the baby’s head as it is, and a fully incubated baby would be unbirthable — as full humans, because full humans do not exist in someone else’s womb.
Personally I could never stand the thought of being pregnant. The indignity, the lack of control, the horrendous ineffable pain, the permanent scars both physical and emotional. And it’s like being invaded by the alien. Babies whose mothers are malnourished will suck their nutrients right out of their very bones. MUCH too intrusive for me. My aunt (as mentioned) was told by her doctor that strictly speaking the baby was a parasite. This cannot possibly be correct: parasites are alien creatures that attach themselves of their own volition (or whatever passes in a mindless being for volition) to the host, without any benefit to the host. Obviously reproduction is different. However, in all honesty we must question the ‘benefit’ to the ‘host’ in the case of pregnancy, especially when it is unwanted, for whatever reason.
Amanda, your point here is utter fallacy regarding the awareness of the child. The reality is that we do not know either way just what the awareness of a gestating child is. However what we do know is that the capacity for awareness is there as of 5 weeks into their gestation.
Furthermore you claim that noone has awareness of memories of being inside the womb, yet the experiences of the surviving twin in cases of vanishing twins – namely survivor’s guilt at an instinctive level, completely prove otherwise.
Secondly, you bring up what angry children say in certain circumstances, but your strawman argument with this point completely ignores the fact that this is almost always said in response to a parent psychologically abusing the child and using the fact that they were given birth to as some form of emotional blackmail. Under those circumstances, who wouldn’t begin to view being born as some kind of hell? However just as we should never allow pedophilia to be the yardstick for sex education; we should never allow emotionally abusive environments to become the model for the ideal family environment.
Finally, you bring up an aversion to pregnancy. Surely if this is the case then what is stopping you from having your tubes tied?
The problem with the “they’re a drain on a woman/society” argument is that we saw this argument most graphically in Germany from 1920 (beginning with the writings of Binding and Hoche). Anyone who has studied the Nazi Euthanasia program knows all too well where that slippery slope leads.
Andrew, I have yet to state a position . I have asked two questions: neither has been answered. I’m happy to leave it there. I will read what you write with interest.
Amanda, on another site the same discussion is occurring. It was suggested that there could not be a right to live without a right to cease to live. But it was not established that there was any right to live: indeed who could confer such a right?
On the contrary farmerbraun, from the very beginning you openly admitted to arguing from “an agricultural perspective”. You then went on to say “But, when confronted with the situation where a young animal has accidentally become pregnant, and the likely outcome is both a dead mother and baby there is no hesitation in aborting at the first opportunity which is usually at three weeks.
So the decision is straightforward.
What’s different if the animals are humans?”
Translation- the practice is standard with animals, so why should it be any less acceptable with humans. Ergo, how are humans any different to animals.
Ergo, you were very much arguing from an ideological perspective by your own initial admission, and the vast majority, if not every single one, of your own posts since has been in defence of that position.
Secondly you have been given an answer by proving that when comparing how advanced both are, that humans are a level above plants.
The proof I have given regarding advancement being dependent upon intelligence, which in turn is dependent on the ability to communicate ideas, simply requires common sense from the person reading it.
Secondly I have already proven that human beings are able to communicate in a far more complex manner than animals due to how we have evolved and therefore that we are far more advanced than any animal species. Then you have the scientific and technological developments which back up that position. Ergo, as humans are different to animals, therefore the standards applied to animals should be different to those applied to humans. In turn, a technologicoal solution should be found in the case of humans to save the lives of both mother and child in the case of people.
farmerbraun, so now you’re also arguing that murder should also be decriminalised? After all, that’s where that ideological standpoint leads to.
Furthermore the notion that one must die to save the other is utter fallacy when artifical gestation is completely within our reach as a race.
I repeat it is not a position, it is a question. I am interested in the arguments put forward in answer to the questions.
I said “Let’s try an agricultural perspective:”
So can I suggest that you re -read Tucci’s comment and refrain from the personal stuff; we are here to discuss the arguments from an objective perspective.
If I do eventually put forward an argument, it will not mean that I necessarily hold that view myself.
Some fascinating and well-considered responses above. I think, however, I need to make some clarifications at this point. Apologies aforehand for the length.
Firstly, to rights. Over the last year, I have gone to some lengths here at LibertyGibbert to construct and maintain a robust, coherent, consistent and rigorous theory, or formulation, of rights. In fact, I can reveal now that my earlier article on this subject, and to a lesser extent my article on animal welfare, were written largely in anticipation of, and as background for, this thread. If you have the time, do go back and re-visit these, as it will make clearer some of what I have written above.
As I said at the top, my aim in this thread was to try and drag the abortion debate away from a squabble over competing rights; it’s my opinion that no useful debate on this subject can be held on those grounds. It’s this formulation of rights, and no other, I have used to explain why.
Essentially, in my (not very original) theory, a right is a claim, made by man—not, as the Declaration of Independence put it, an inalienable endowment from a supreme supernatural being. The sentiments of the Founding Fathers expressed in the Declaration regarding rights were noble, even awe-inspiring, but from our historical vantage point, they were innocent—I could not use the word naïve about men of such stature—insofar as they did not anticipate the hijacking of the concept and language of rights, particularly by modern progressive politics. In 1776, for example, Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man was still fifteen years away from publication. As I understand it, Locke and Hobbes were the principal philosophical influences on the Founding Fathers; both saw rights as founded in nature, of which divine endowment could be viewed as merely a contemporary form of expression.
The definition of rights is further complicated by the fact that the U.S. Bill of Rights, a unique case, is in fact an integral part of the Constitution, being comprised of its first ten Amendments. Therefore, the formulation of rights I have been describing is very different to that used by the Founding Fathers; they have little in common beyond the label. Apples and oranges. I have known for about twenty years now that the major paradox in my formulation was that of a right to life; long ago I resolved it to my own satisfaction, by concluding that such a right cannot meaningfully exist, for the reasons I explained above. I fully realize this puts my formulation outside the mainstream, nor indeed do I hold life any less precious than anyone else, but I would contend that life needs common law protection, not a separate charter of rights. Dave, you have explained a right to life under the Founding Fathers’s formulation of rights, with which I have no argument under the terms in which it was written. So really, what we have is a semantic rather than a philosophical difference. In fact, I can’t put the difference any better than you did on the original thread on rights.
Ian, you misrepresented me somewhat when you wrote
What I actually said above was, as I demonstrated back here, a right that cannot be enforced is meaningless. Of course, a violation of a right does not imply the right does not exist; the violated party can seek subsequent redress, the state providing physical compulsion where necessary to enforce such redress. The only violated party who cannot seek such redress is one who is dead. See what I mean about a right to life? As Farmerbraun put it back here,
Kitler made the very same point earlier on that thread.
Farmerbraun, by the way, who has probably as deep an understanding of animals as anyone on the planet, has today asked a straightforward question a number of times,
I’ve described it in some detail here, but in terms of rights at any rate, I don’t believe that animals can be deemed to hold any, as they are incapable of discharging any concomitant responsibilities, or of making moral choices beyond the instinctual. Anyone else care to elaborate on FB’s query?
That’s enough for the moment—back to you – Oz
Dr Dave I have a poor sense of smell so the smell of rotting doesn’t bother me too much neither does skunk it’s tolerable, I used to work in a butchers so raw meat doesn’t bother me much. However there is something about seeing what should be inside outside makes me squeamish and here’s me that had no problem dissecting Dogfish (shark) or rats at school.
And yet farmerbraun, that is the danger of a devil’s advocate position- that for the sake of taking a devil’s advocate position, you wind up in ideologically treacherous waters.
Yet the point still stands- such an argument that the right to life should not be recognised is an argument that murder should be completely decriminalised. This is because the reason murder charges exist is as a legally enshrined recognition and protection for the right to life. Therefore the argument that the right to life should not be recognised or the questioning of why it should be recognised, is challenging the validity of the notion of murder being criminalised.
Ozboy, the problem is there is no real competition regarding rights in any way, shape or form, contrary to popular understandings. The cold hard reality is that the artifical womb, which is entirely within our reach, would make abortion completely obsolete and unjustifiable, whilst maximising the outcomes of both mother and child. The only reason this hasn’t happened is corporate greed- as abortion is an industry worth half a billion dollars a year in the US alone as of 1996.
The question here should not be one of “whose rights are more important” but rather “when a solution to safeguard the rights of both parties and maximise the outcomes of both parties is within our reach as a race, why has it not been made possible and viable?”
The answer, as with most things, is corporate and conglomerate greed.
I wrote a book review here recently on Atlas Shrugged, and have plans for a couple more this year. Maybe I should add Brave New World to the list – Oz
Also Ozboy, I have already proven that animals lack the intellect of humans. While the creative potential may well be there, as it may even be potentially with plants; animals, like plants but to a lesser extent, lack the ability to develop and evolve knowledge to anywhere near the extent which human beings can. While they certainly have a language of sorts; their raised voice boxes mean that speech is impossible for them-which as of today and the English language alone, multiplies the complexity of those complex cries by a factor of approximately 10,000.
Andrew Richards it could be argued that Dolphins and Orca’s have attained a high degree of intelligence and could possible be said to be as smart as humans although obviously focused more towards an aquatic environment and they have a language probably just as complex as an Aboriginal tribesmen (one with sufficient words to survive a hunter gatherer existence and convey meaning in the abstract) it may be poorer than English because they have no native word for steel, railroads, farming etc because they did not need them.
I think you’re on to it Kitler. Brain evolves in a specific environment: humans are no longer confined to an aquatic environment.
The devil’s advocate runs absolutlely no risk, except that of being misunderstood.
farmerbraun having once dated a legal student studying for her bar exams she introduced me to the concept of devils advocate among other delights not to be listed here, well I’ve been on a roll ever since with that gem, devils advocate is fun.
Kitler, same with problems and arguments in philosophy. You have to be able to argue both sides with equal facility; good fun.
Lots of stuff to discuss here. Let’s see how far I get. When I first heard the “animals vs. humans” question I knew it would only be a matter of time until someone brought up killer whales, dolphins and chimpanzees. Unless I am mistaken, the killer whale is the largest predator on the planet (hell, they have been known to eat polar bears!). Their global distribution rivals that of mankind. They are found at both poles and pretty much in all open seas in between. They are highly adaptable and appear to learn how to exploit every environment to their advantage and to teach their offspring what they have learned. They also hunt cooperatively. They’re obviously very intelligent animals, but then, so are pigs. Dolphins and other cetaceans appear to have developed a rather sophisticated language but as far as I know, no linguist has ever figured it out (in all fairness the Japanese never figured out how to speak Navajo, either). Chimps and other apes form cooperative communities and chimps have been known to use sticks as tools for getting yummy termites out of logs. Dogs can demonstrate both empathy and loyalty. We can go on and on with specific animal examples but it really is pointless.
Humans have spoken and written language, written history, science, math and higher reasoning capabilities not seen in any other animal. Animals don’t create complex tools. Arguing this distinction is a waste of time. We don’t treat humans like animals because we’re humans. Oddly, from a global perspective this is a rather recent development when you consider institutions like slavery. Then again, what animals ever kept other animals as slaves?
I had originally written that there are two ways to approach the subject but what I really mean is there are two different and competing reactions to the question of abortion – an emotional (if you like, irrational) response and a thought-through rationally analysed response. I know that for myself, even though I would like to think that my view is rational, I suspect it is at least partially influenced by an emotional response.
So let’s get that out of the way first. Without wanting to pull rank, my guess would be that having kids colours one’s view on abortion. In my own case we’ve had three. Two boys in quick succession, then a gap followed by a girl. But before the girl we suffered a miscarriage at two months, which was far more personally traumatic than I’d have imagined then or now. The girl we had was born a mere year after the miscarriage. As irrational and spiritual as it may seem, I’ve always thought of the miscarried girl and the full term girl as the same being. Laura (her name) v1.0 wasn’t quite right and evolution (or God or the Almighty Bob) called a halt. Laura v2.0 was fine and so made it through. They were both Laura, nonetheless. The same being with full gestation merely somewhat delayed. Thus my emotional instinct is that a two month foetus, an undefined mass with a reptilian tail and mere hint of the mammal, was indeed a person and one that, via v2.0, I grew to know and love. The ‘aborted’ life has, for me, a face and a personality.
But rationally, none of that makes sense and is certainly no way to set societal rules or mores.
I don’t buy the argument that a woman has an unfettered and unchallengeable right to decide everything that happens to her body while she’s pregnant. At some point during the critical 40 weeks, the clump of tissue inside the woman’s skin becomes a human being. At that point, the woman ceases to have unfettered rights over her body and starts to have duties to care for that life. The libertarian in me tells me that the woman’s liberty to completely control her body is fundamental. However, the deity is either not a libertarian or has a wicked sense of humour because our method of reproducing life makes the whole body ownership messy. (It’s also possible that the deity is just plain misogynistic but I note that this unfair method of reproduction applied even in those places that had a female deity!).
It seems to me that it is unassailably logical that there is a time, an event, a critical change is the growing foetus that changes it from a clump of cells which can be disposed of (however regretfully) to a human life that must be afforded all the rights that brings. It may be unfair. It may impinge on the woman’s control of her body. But esoteric theory bumps into messy reality.
The issue, therefore, becomes defining that time of the critical change. Before it, an unfettered right to abortion exists. After it, the rights of the child to life supersede those of the mother to control over her body. And this is where the fun starts. There are some who would assert that this change occurs at conception or the first cell division while at the other end I notice today some ethicists saying it doesn’t happen until after birth. You’d hope the society could reach a consensus view on this but that’s unlikely. It is and will remain the case that society will arrive at a view that the majority (or largest minority) accept.
My own choice for that cut-off point is 20 weeks. This is when, we are told, the new life becomes capable of feeling pain. It is also roughly the time of what the Victorians quaintly called the quickening, being when movement becomes apparent and development toward a fully recognisable ‘mini me’ accelerates.
Oscar Wilde said “ Morality, like art, means drawing a line someplace.” So, for me that’s where it is. 20 weeks. Before that arbitrary point the woman has unfettered rights over her body and all it contains. The state has no rights and no right to interject itself into any decisions she might make. After that point the woman has unbounded duties toward the welfare of the life that, for the time, shares her space. If she chooses to abrogate those duties then the society must err on the side of the innocent life that cannot defend itself.
Its messy and it calls into being all sorts of results that don’t sit well. It means for example that even if the child is the result of incest or rape, at 20 weeks these things are immaterial. If, after 20 weeks, the child is found to be less than perfect, that also is immaterial.
And if it comes down to an question of aborting the 21 week old to save the life of the mother…well I don’t know the answer so let’s pretend I didn’t ask it.
I’m absolutist on this one. The instant the result of a moment of passion becomes a human then it’s a human. The only outstanding question is determining that instant.
I heistate to advance a opinion on this subject, as I don’t realy have one.
As Ozboy has elequently set out there are problems and contradictions inmplicit in ANY argument for or against based on ethical principles.
Where life starts, or individual personhood is an endless controversy over drawing lines in shades of gray.
The idea of an exo-womb is unrealistic. It is complex, and difficult to gestate an embryo in a different species, to get an effective mechanical womb would be more difficult. There is clear evidence that embryological development is shaped by complex interactions with the mother. I think we are a very long way from being able to duplicate those factors.
I find the description and arguments of the utilitarian outlook rather incomplete. There is an aspect of personal utility. Legal sanction of abortion (and murder and pedophilia) do not prevent these actions, they punish them afterwards. Does the punishment fit the crime?
I take a pragmatic view, utility might argue that the MEANS justify the END -grin-.
Any examination of what actually happens in nations that apply different legal sanction on abortion makes it clear that absolute prohibition is socially toxic. But all these attitudes for or against are embedded in social structures that perpetuate the poverty or disadvantage female autonomy and make it a rational choice for a woman to choose abortion. (legal or backstreet). Technical/medical advances can make almost all abortions so chosen relatively safe and easy. There is an issue with just how much the medical profession should be involved…
Have a look at what different nations do and reflect on how successful, or attractive the outcomes.
Thanks for dropping by Izen,
You’re quite correct in your criticism of my depiction of Utilitarianism – the good of “society” isn’t the only scale upon which it can be predicated. But I was already running at over 4,500 words and had to wrap up more briefly than I would have preferred. Maybe another thread – Oz
Kitlter, you’ve missed the point by focusing on my example of English. That example was purely to give an example of speech patterns as opposed to intonation. There is certainly no doubt that cetaceans have amongst the most if not the most advanced use of intonation on the planet.
However no cetacean is capable of speech in addition to intonation. Thus humans are capable of more complex communication than even cetaceans. That’s in addition to being completely incapable of applying that intelligence in any civilised manner – tribal manner certainly, but as Dr Dave has pointed out, cetaceans, much like primates, have no applied science or technology or written language.
Now people might ask what the harm is in equating humans to animals, however doing so is literally dehumanisation- the ideological core of every instance of genocide throughout recorded history.
Dr Dave, you’re entirely correct that there are certain recent developments on what we regard as basic human rights, however this is also a key factor.
If you argue that abortion is acceptable now because it was acceptable in antiquity, then there’s no real difference between that and say, advocating for child sex slavery because pedophilia and slavery were both acceptable in antiquity.
Oz wrote….”Farmerbraun, by the way, who has probably as deep an understanding of animals as anyone on the planet, has today asked a straightforward question a number of times,
what is this scale or criterion on which humans rank above other animals?”
Answer….We are the only species that would ask that question.
MArk, there is one critical flaw with your drawing a line at 20 weeks. By that logic the loss of a limb sans pain, and losing sensation from the waist down, or the neck down, should not be traumatic at all. I have no doubt that amputees, paraplegics and quadraplegics would argue otherwise
This is where the reasoning justifying second trimester abortions collapses like a house of cards as it only focuses on pain and not trauma. Even if pain cannot be registered, a gestating child will still be in a “I can’t feel my _____” moment with each stage of muscles and bones being snapped and ripped violently from them by forceps and pliers. The same argument applies with 1st trimester abortions as in practice, the suction rarely removes the child cleanly and whole.
In fact, when you take the trauma from a wholistic standpoint, you actually have to take it from 5-7 weeks when the brain forms.
Izen, you claim an artificial womb is unrealistic, however this is like saying that aircraft were unrealistic at one point, or that submarines were unrealistic at one point- not to mention life support systems and organ transplants.
In fact the only limits so far on r&d with exo-wombs are legislative limbs, despite what appear to be promising results:
Reently artificial wombs for sharks have resulted in successful births and the hope it to move onto wobbegongs – both species relying on the very complex interactions which you claim are an impasse in making a human exo-womb a reality:
The reality is that the only thing preventing the human exo-womb from becoming a reality are current legal limitations and funding.
if there is no “right to life” (and you’re wrong about that, by the way) and no “right to choose”, how is one to objectively debate this issue? By avoiding the entire, fallacious discourse of “rights” altogether – Oz You know I am loathe to wander into the morass of “morality.” But, alas, that just may be where this discussion takes us. In a civilized society we know it is immoral to steal (unless you’re the government), we don’t deliberately physically harm others (except for entertainment purposes like boxing, UFC and football) and we don’t commit murder (except in war, law enforcement and executions). I guess it all depends on your definition of “murder”.
So let’s explore this a little bit. We’ve all heard or read “thou shalt not kill.” It doesn’t really matter if you’re religiously inclined or not, you gotta admit that’s pretty good council for a civilized society. Of course mankind has been ignoring it since even before the days of Moses. Humans kill other humans all the time. If you get blind drunk and hit and kill a pedestrian you will be charged with vehicular homicide but not “murder.” If a soldier kills an enemy combatant it is not labeled “murder” (although the end result is the same). Ostensibly it is self-defense. The same goes for cops who shoot and kill suspects who pull a gun on them (by the way, cops carry guns to protect themselves, not you). In Texas the laws were simpler. If you catch somebody trying to steal your car you have the right to shoot to kill. Not so in New Mexico where simple thievery is a culturally protected avocation. I can only shoot to kill if someone enters my home uninvited and there is reasonable evidence that they pose a threat to me. Then it’s a justified killing. A few of my friends have permits to carry a concealed weapon. The laws in this state are ridiculous. They may only use their weapon to protect themselves, not others. So if a woman is being raped and they shoot the rapist, they will likely be charged with murder. If I get pissed off at my girlfriend because she didn’t put any garlic in the spaghetti sauce (and she doesn’t) and go into the other room and blow her brains out I would be charged with at least 2nd degree murder. If I plotted to kill my ex-wife and managed to do so I would be charged with 1st degree murder. So now we have murder by degrees…it’s still murder, it only changes the sentencing by consideration of motive and malice of forethought.
Apparently “murder” is a specific type of homicide. Accidental deaths are not murder as there was no malice of forethought. Murder is really the deliberate taking of an innocent life. Now what life could be more innocent than that of an unborn child? Sure sounds like premeditated murder to me.
I have a LOT more to say about this subject and I want to address Amanda’s earlier comment, but right now I have a date with my pillow (and I’m running late).
OK Dave, go to bed and we’ll take this up tomorrow – Oz
Andrew: I fear that there is rather a lot of wilful misreading or perhaps just innocent misapprehension of my comments.
I’m afraid that the ‘awareness’ of an embryo — and, as I have said, I do not support the killing of advanced foetuses* — is not as great as those of animals we regularly slaughter as food for our tables. Certainly their awareness is not even on a sensible continuum with the mother’s, or of the woman that finds herself in the position of becoming a mother. Unfortunately we are an incredibly aware species of being, which has been placed by thinkers of the past as somewhere between Animal and their conception of God, and yet we must still reproduce just like the animals. This is bound to create profound anguish at times — for the woman, not for the embryonic child.
I’m afraid I can’t agree with your paragraph about emotional abuse. The ‘I didn’t ask to be born’ comment is quite common, and does not require any particular dysfunction as a trigger. Simply asking the child to do his washing-up chores might be enough, especially if he is highly resistant! What the IDATBB comment actually indicates is the discovery by the child that — as I mentioned — life is sometimes a burden! Naturally, the child squawks in pain at this discovery; but of course we all learn somehow to live with it, and what’s more, to live with an ever-increasing burden of pain. This is why, as older humans (anything beyond childhood), when we see young ones crying over not having a lollipop, we may think: ‘golly, you need something real to cry about’. As our capacity to feel, love, and know increases, so also does our capacity in myriad ways to experience pain, loss, and disappointment.
As for the remark about pregnancy-revulsion: I find it interesting that, in response to my aversion to intrusiveness, your suggested solution is to accept surgical intrusiveness which itself would compromise one’s dignity and leave scars! As it happens, life chose for me a much neater solution, which preserved the full integrity of my body and ensured that I need never think of pregnancy at all.
Footnote to asterisk in comment above:
I don’t support it because I think that once we have a beholding-and-holding baby, we are confronted with our young, and I do not think it healthy for a society to be so willing, and indeed enthusiastic, about killing its young. So really, apart from my personal sense of the cruelty and savagery involved in killing foetuses, my main position is that it’s bad for the morals of a decent society.
Thanks for the ad homimem, and the straw man which preceded it.
What makes you think that I would try to talk a woman out of having abortion if her life were at risk from continuing a pregnancy?
When I get more typing time (possibly on Sunday), I’ll put a comment up about one or two poisonous memes about having children, which seem to be very common. An ex of mine was particularly badly infected with several of them, along with all sorts of other poisonous memes she’d caught during her career as an eternal student.
I’ll put an OT post in the last thread regarding the influence of Leo Straussians, and Irving Kristol, in particular, on neoconservatism.
Ian: Irving Kristol is one man. He is not among the top flight of Leo Strauss’s students, though he was a learned, wise, and deeply decent mind. And he did not want, nor does neoconservatism seek, the goals that you (vaguely) named.
P. S. Ozboy specifically asked that we NOT go off-top, and any discussion of a philosopher and the many misunderstandings of him lies completely outside of the topic at hand. Therefore I shall say no more about it.
I’ve just caught the ‘in the last thread’ reference. Nonetheless, I shan’t be there. What I’ve said is sufficient as rebuttal, and there’s nothing in it for me to argue further on that subject.
Oz wrote….”Farmerbraun has asked a straightforward question a number of times:
what is this scale or criterion on which humans rank above other animals?”
Answer….We are the only species that would ask that question.
So the scale or criterion is communication? The comparative volume of pre-frontal cortex?
Or more specifically, is this the difference ?:
To explore the evolution of human language, Yerkes researcher James Rilling, PhD, and his colleagues studied the arcuate fasciculus, a pathway that connects brain regions known to be involved in human language, such as Broca’s area in the frontal lobe and Wernicke’s area in the temporal lobe. Using DTI, researchers compared the size and trajectory of the arcuate fasciculus in humans, rhesus macaques and chimpanzees.
According to Rilling, “The human arcuate fasiculus differed from that of the rhesus macaques and chimpanzees in having a much larger and more widespread projection to areas in the middle temporal lobe, outside of the classical Wernicke’s area. We know from previous functional imaging studies that the middle temporal lobe is involved with analyzing the meanings of words. In humans, it seems the brain not only evolved larger language regions but also a network of fibers to connect those regions, which supports humansÕ superior language capabilities.”
“This is a landmark,” said Yerkes researcher Todd Preuss, PhD, one of the study’s coauthors. “Until DTI was developed, scientists lacked non-invasive methods to study brain connectivity directly. We couldn’t study the connections of the human brain, nor determine how humans resemble or differ from other animals. DTI now makes it possible to understand how evolution changed the wiring of the human brain to enable us to think, act and speak like humans.”
” a much larger and more widespread projection to areas in the middle temporal lobe, outside of the classical Wernicke’s area. ” ?
Just clarifying: ” a much larger and more widespread projection of the arcuate fasciculus to areas in the middle temporal lobe, outside of the classical Wernicke’s area. ” ?
@- Andrew Richards
“the reason that the abortion has not been made obsolete is because abortion is simply far too profitable for the medical profession for them to want to give it up. ”
Prenatal care, delivery, postnatal care and the myriad health problems that arise for mother and baby-infant-child for the next few years are obviously FAR more profitable than administering an abortifactant,
@- Farmerbraun & Andrew Richards
I think the two of you are arguing from either side of the Naturalistic Fallacy.
This is the idea that what happens in Nature – even the domesticated version – can be a basis for moral judgment.
Either that what IS in Nature OUGHT be followed because it is natural way…
Or that what IS in Nature OUGHT to be avoided because humans transcend the rest of the natural world as the only sentient, intentional moral agents.
The Natural, or material world only defines the functional limits of what is POSSIBLE. How those limits shape moral choices is entierly a matter of human judgement.
@- Andrew Richards.
I’m afraid the example of the exo-womb for shark embryos is not good evidence for the feasability of such a method. Shark embryos are born as active, functional individuals from eggs. That some sharks retain these ’embryonic’ baby sharks that then fight it out in an internal ‘virtual aquarium’ does not indicate that an exo-womb for mammals is possible.
There has been some limited success with an artificial womb for goats, these were grown after removal after the placenta and embryo were well formed and the placenta was replaced with a direct connection to the umbilicus fed to a combination dialysis, lung and nutrition machines. As far as I can gather while they kept some alive for several weeks I don’t think any survived to ‘birth’ or to live independently.
It is much more likely (and cheaper!) that if you want to be able to raise an embryo from conception without recourse to the mother, or another human womb, the intra-species problems could be solved more easily than the problems in a mechanical approach. Cows, Horses or perhaps Pigs could be adapted to carry humans to term from the blastocyst stage if that is something you think is desirable, or advantageous in avoiding the inevitable ethical conflicts if you equally value the life of both the gestating child and the mother.
– – –
There is another aspect to this, perhaps more relevent from a libertarian perpsective than just the personal ethical views we may have. It is clear that some posters have a, … position on this issue that is strongly held. If I did (grin) I hope I would not think that therefore MY ethical judgements OUGHT to be imposed on everybody else. Especially women who faced with the issue in reality come to very different conclusions than those I might hold.
But as we all inevitably live within a society with civic governance the issue is how should a GOVERNMENT behave when it comes to imposing a view on abortion on the individual. Whatever the personal view we may hold on abortion, what is the role of the judicial system and government regulation in this area ?
Is autocratic control of an individual citizen’s behavior acceptable IF it is to prevent a ‘moral evil’
Or if, as in this case where there is no realistic way of preventing abortion if the woman gestating so chooses, what punishment fits the crime ?
Q: what is this scale or criterion on which humans rank above other animals?”
Answer….We are the only species that would ask that question.
Although probably not before we can pass the mirror test ~18 months… and have learned to talk!
Izen:I think the two of you are arguing from either side of the Naturalistic Fallacy.
I think that the animal welfare argument that I raised doesn’t fit into the framework that you suggest. Animal welfare is a purely human construct which has no place in Nature.
It might be better to say that animal welfare is a purely human construct which has no parallel in the non-human animal world.
Izen: In re nature — our guide, or something to be transcended — (the answer is both) — may I suggest as helpful on this subject, Rousseau, Nature, And The Problem Of The Good Life, Laurence D. Cooper (The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999).
At the core of the abortion debate in the US (aside from the aforementioned “rights”) is the question of “personhood.” I remain skeptical of any claims made that by such and such a week of gestation a fetus can feel pain. How do they possibly determine this? When does a fetus go from being a “wad of tissue” to attaining “personhood”? Is it when a heartbeat is detected? When the fetus starts to move around? When the brain is formed? At conception? At implantation? When theoretically the fetus could be delivered alive and survive independent of the mother? When it is delivered alive? I don’t claim to have the answer. My own personal belief is that human life does not start at conception (i.e. fertilization) but rather following successful implantation when gestation begins.
Human pregnancy requires a unique set of circumstances to occur. During any given cycle in women of child bearing age there is a relatively narrow window of opportunity for pregnancy to occur. Depending on the frequency of intercourse, quite of number of fertilized ova don’t find a hospitable environment for implantation and subsequent gestation and are sloughed off. So in my mind “pregnancy” occurs after implantation and the start of gestation. At that point you have a human or a “potential human.” It doesn’t matter at which point you abort the fetus, you’re still killing a human being (IMO).
Now let’s step back for a moment and look at the big picture. Contraceptives are ubiquitously available in the US – OCPs, condoms, foams, monthly injections, implants, etc. With only a few exceptions contraceptives are cheap to free. Given that contraceptives are abundantly available and pregnancy is a chance event it seems rather ridiculous that unintended pregnancies should occur at a frequency that could support an entire abortion industry in this country. I’m sort of a big fan of personal responsibility. When I was 17 I bought a gross of 3-pack Gold Circle condoms (about the cheapest, lousiest condoms available at the time). I took personal responsibility to make sure I wasn’t fathering any children. Back in those days condoms were only sold in pharmacies and they were kept behind the counter so you had to ask the pharmacist for them (fodder for a bunch of old pharmacist jokes). Today condoms are readily available in grocery and convenience stores and given away in numerous clinics. OCPs are available free (or cheap) in State DOH clinics and Planned Parenthood clinics. Today one has to be rather reckless and irresponsible to end up with an unwanted pregnancy.
Over the years I’ve known quite a few women who have had abortions. In every case these have been abortions of “convenience”. For a half a century I was at most in favor or the practice and at least apathetic. It didn’t affect me, so why should I care? Who am I to deny a woman the right of dominion over her own body if she chooses not to give birth to a child? I even bought into the utilitarian bullshit Ozboy wrote about (more about that later). The oldest woman I know who had an abortion is now 65. She has grown children and grandchildren. She loves children. But when she was about 21 (circa 1968) she got knocked up and had to travel to Chicago for an abortion. In the long view it may have been critically important to how the rest of her life played out. Instead of being a single mom, she returned to college and met her husband. They married and raised a family. This might not have happened if she had a child from a previous passionate, casual relationship. Back then birth control was not nearly so widely available. By the time you get to the women closer to my age (55) their reasons for having an abortion become increasingly more difficult to justify. I’m quite certain that most of these women would never be able to give an infant up for adoption. Essentially they were using abortion as means of birth control. All but one of these women went on to have children. I find this rather repugnant. They ended a human life for their own “convenience.”
I’ll come back and rail about Roe v. Wade.
Thanks for that Dave,
This is precisely what I wanted to zero in on with this thread: the development of a human identity, or “personhood” if you will. Libertarianism begins with ownership of self, and this applies to all human beings, be they living in a dictatorship, in prison, in utero or sitting in front of a computer screen blogging. As a Libertarian blogmeister I’m singularly fortunate in having two medical doctors as regular contributors (and several more that I know of as lurkers), as I believe medical science is best placed to at least point us to an answer. Implantation, for the reasons you outline, may well be as good an answer as any. Maybe I should throw some Catholic theology out there by way of comparison – Oz
Dr Dave , it seems to me that there is a large element of “convenience” in the state’s ending of human life.
Dr Dave: Good points about availability of contraception: to hear abortion enthusiasts, you might imagine that no such thing existed. On the other hand, for the handful of years when I was a student, I found contraception relatively expensive (the Pill) considering that I was dirt-poor and lived hand-to-mouth. Maybe things have changed in the hundred years since then, but the people that need it most are often the ones that can least afford the most reliable methods (and at that time, I required a virtually failsafe method and dared not mess around with iffier ones).
I just don’t buy the ‘personhood’ thing, frankly. In all honesty and with a straight face, there is more in common between me and my dog than there is between me and a human infant, in utero or not.
And — human foetuses can’t ‘own’ their ‘selves’, since their very breath relies on another, actualized human being — one with all four limbs and a working brain and functioning eyes and mouth. And self-determined movement in the outside world. In my view, a foetus cannot possibly have a self, since it has absolutely no self-awareness. In a real way, we accept the selflessness in this sense of infants, knowing that they cannot help it: but no one can actually respect a newborn infant for that very reason. One wishes to protect it from harm, and one cares for an infant as one might do for a fish tank or a rose bush that one wants to see bloom, but only parents surely can attribute characters and faculties (through the imaginative agency of their love) that in fact are not yet present.
I’ll get into the abortion industry in a following comment. At 44 you’re still a kid in my view. When I was in my late teens and early 20s various forms of contraception were not particularly expensive depending on where you got them. About 20-25 years ago OCPs were rather expensive in a retail pharmacy. This was because at the time they were all mostly proprietary drugs and the industry was forced to sell their products to state and federal governments for damn near free. They made up their margin in the private sector. Many patients went to their own personal physicians and obtained prescriptions. They were unaware that these drugs were available for cheap or free at any state DOH clinic or Planned Parenthood clinic. Now virtually all of these drugs are available as generics. They can be purchased at a Walmart for as little as $5/month. Condoms are even cheaper. Why is it always the woman’s responsibility to attend to contraception? Men are 50% participants in the process. Again…it’s a matter of personal responsibility. Men own at least 50% of that responsibility but ultimately women have the final say in sex (except in cases of rape or perhaps incest). Debates over contraception are bullshit political diversions.
Dr Dave: Thank you so much for thinking that 44 is not geriatric. Interesting: your insider view. I’m sure that, as you say, there are (and probably were, even in Canada which is where I was living) cheaper options. But that was before the Internet and I was young and uninformed.
As for the male half contributing: mine was spending his money on beer.
Just back on the question “what is this scale or criterion on which humans rank above other animals?” to which I responded “We are the only species that would ask that question” I’ll try to be little less obtuse since my comment was misunderstood.
I didn’t mean “verbalise” but only that that the distinguishing feature of the human species is that we can conceive of or imagine such a question. That we can think in the abstract, plan and plot beyond the present and the immediate.
We can see the brick and conceive the building. We can see the rock but plan the hand-axe.
Now to head off the inevitable “oh but the foetus can’t do that therefore it isn’t human”, I’d simply opine that it (the foetus) is a member of the species that can do it and will inherit that ability sans other interventions. The comatose can’t do it either, just now, but they remain human.
On the question of the point at which the clump of cells receives the rights accorded to all humans, it remains a personal choice beyond the scope of empirical evidence. Just as in the classic Sorites Paradox we cannot know which piece of straw turned the heap into a haystack, equally we cannot know which cell division turned the clump of cells into a being. But we know it happened and we know (I think) it happened in the first 40 weeks. No single point on the continuum is entirely satisfactory and it’s unlikely that the criteria used to select one point will apply to all or even a majority of foetus.
But we must pick a point. If you want to pick conception, fine. Or pick the 39th week, OK. But each choice carries consequences. Pick conception and all abortion is banned, for whatever reason. Pick the late term and we become Sparta – or actually make Sparta appear touchy-feely.
I feel we need to have a mechanism to allow for the unwanted conception to be dealt with even though, at least in the first world, the unwanted pregnancy is plain carelessness. We need to offer the woman a window of opportunity before the rights of the growing life subsumes her own rights.
Mark: Interesting, thoughtful and insightful comment. I agree with everything you’ve said (though don’t quite understand what you mean by this*. In particular I’d like to address your last paragraph. The unwanted pregancy is not always plain carelessness: condoms do break (especially if you don’t happen to know or want to learn every last thing about their capacities — and who does?? Nasty, revolting things — let’s face it. A soldier’s boot filled with creature life from the Somme would be more appealing).
I also think that — again — the person in a coma is a person living and dying outside of the physical body of another person, and therefore the comatose person does not impose on others as a foetus imposes on its mother. What is always lost in any discussion of abortion is the cost of pregnancy and childbirth to the mother. That cost has gone down astronomically, thanks to the interventions and capabilities of modern medicine, but the fact is that it’s a rotten horrible painful and often disgusting thing to have to do. No one would choose it for its own sake (unlike, say, sex). In fact it is quite possible that men in history have been all the more willing to kill others and go to war precisely because they have to had to satisfy themselves that they could be as courageous, self-sacrificing, and pain-tolerating as the women that have had to give birth. (I have a very dark view of childbirth, as my comments on this blog make clear. Many women don’t: and good for them, but they may be wearing rose-coloured glasses of necessity; and from the moment my grandmother told me when I was 9 that they shave your pubic hair, I thought: hands off me! I’m not doing that! The later girl-talk of agony did nothing to raise my enthusiasm, nor did my babysitting: the fat-pudge of babies I found offputting, their wails I found insanity-making. Call me sensitive: yes.)
So. If giving birth were as easy as coughing we would not be having this discussion. I repeat: we would not be having this discussion. There would be nothing like the same controversy. The fact is that it’s a horrible experience that changes one’s body and one’s status for ever; and yet no child is ever sufficiently grateful for it. Mildly curious, and even sympathetic, if they are good kindly loving children; but if the mother is hurt and doesn’t want the child, nothing will EVER compensate her for what she suffered.
Childbirth is suffering. It is, as I said earlier, the original injustice — that men have all the pleasure, and women very often have less pleasure (it is not her orgasm that results in conception, and she may never have one): but she has ALL the pain.
*’it’s unlikely that the criteria used to select one point will apply to all or even a majority of foetus[es]’.
P. S. Please correct typos and words out of place at will.
Defining personhood as starting at the conception has problems… if you follow the ‘unique genome’ route you can end up justifying the ‘killing’ of one identical twin.
I am not sure implantation is much better, I gather research shows at least 30% of pregnancies fail after this point naturally.
An argument can be made for the integration of the brain around 20+ weeks as a key watershed because before this point there is no possibility of the sort of neural activity that typifies cognition. Its no coincidence that independent physical viability becomes possible beyond this point.
Or you can make a exegetical argument for the first breath…
Mark has a better view that all such demarcations are arbitrary. I would go further and suggest they are a category error and unhelpful. Personhood is not attained, it is an ongoing developmental process. It continues from conception to death, and the process certainly does not stop at birth.
Decisions about when it may or may not be ethically acceptable to bring this continuous evolution of personhood to an end are an exercise in imposing an artificial border in a unbroken gradation.
But whatever the prevailing social customs, government regulation or judicial sanction pregnant women choose the option of abortion. The only person who can sustain an embryo until it can further develop its personhood may decide that they do not wish to do so. The demand for abortion is always there. Ease of means and social sanction results in increasing use of that option and prohibition inhibits it. Who is in a better position to make the judgment about the acceptability of ending the evolution of personhood before it is independently viable than the woman. All such moral choices are driven by context. The woman has the best knowledge, in fact embodies the context in which such a decision must be made.
However much I might value the continuance of every flame of personhood into an inferno, before it splutters and fizzles into Alzheimers and rejoins the darkness, I can see no way of legitimising intervening in the personal decision of the woman to force the fanning of the spark.
If you think there ARE reasons to impose constraints I would ask, when those limits are broken –
What punishment fits the crime ?
Taking a short break from various stuff, so found this and had a few thoughts…
Farmer Brown has a few very well thought out starting points. Follow these out, and I think the reason I can is that my wife grew up on a farm and I think I can help out from what she has explained to me about it. From an animal perspective, abortion is the norm and you think nothing of it. Extrapolating this to humans, what is the difference?
This is a thought experiment and the largest part of this is that you have to think outside of legal norms and think of reality.
I highly recommend reading one of M. Chrichton’s first books. I can’t remember the title off the top of my head, but its a very liberal book about abortion before it was legalized. It is about a doctor who yes performed illegal abortions. Start there and think it through. If anyone actually thinks that abortions have only been going on for 40 years, you are kidding yourself. Whether they are legal or not, they will happen, the question is whether we set guidelines to them or not.
Contraceptives, etc help and this is just the same as with farm animals going back the main point. Go back to the farm examples. When you have farm animals that are in heat for example, you seperate the siblings or the mother from the son so you don’t have in-breeding (unless you intend to do that which in most cases you don’t unless you are talking dogs and in which case I think that is just stupid from what I have seen happen to dog breeds in general…but I digress)….
In any event, you first try to stop a pregnancy from happening in the first place. Contraceptives.
If that does not work, and the life of the mother is at risk (especially twins in most farm animals), you just abort without thinking. So what is the difference between farm animals and humans in this case? History shows us nothing at all.
Throughout history whether abortion was legal or not, women would find a doctor to perform the procedure or perhaps worse. Our intelligence in this case makes it so that instead of carrying the child to term like nature forces most animals to do, we often do the humane thing in animals and abort. So why is it that we don’t do the humane thing in ourselves? That is the cardinal question, and that is why our species with our higher intelligence often adopted this practice.
At the same time we adopted a higher morality that found it offensive. Is this truly offensive? In some cases I would tend to agree. If you are aborting for the reason of simple conveniance because you were lazy with contraceptives like I mentioned before, well then yes you are under the definition of morally reprehensible. But what about the people who had failed contraceptives and their life is in danger from pregnancy?
And there comes the question and where as a libertarian you start to get the interesting questions. I don’t know where you go from there from the farm perspective, because the farming perspective kind of ends after you spell out the simple stories, and most stories in humans are a little more complicated then the barnyard stories….
And abortion stories tend to all be different. Pregnancy is always going to be a challenge. Medicine has came a long way, but no matter how far we have come, it is always a risk either way.
So how is it right in the end for anyone to tell another person that they must carry a third person to term and take the greater risk for that third person? Maybe that is the larger question from the human perspective?
On the other hand, is it right for someone to have the power of life and death over another individual if we can define that individual as such?
Pretty deep questions. And I doubt any of us can answer these questions. I doubt I helped out Farmer brown much, but I might have helped put his questions into perspective a little better. He was not defending abortion per se, it is just the way a farmer views the world. Nothing more, nothing less.
G’day Ben, always good to see you stop by – Oz
Once again I find you are partially correct…but only partially. Indeed many pregnancies (i.e. gestation following implantation) end in spontaneous abortions (i.e. miscarriages). Very often the woman is unaware of it. I don’t know about your 30% figure as this is not my area of expertise. But I’m willing to take your word for it. However, one must be VERY careful about choosing a line of demarcation for what defines “humanity.” It is, indeed, a slippery slope.
As I mentioned in earlier comments I used to be quite pro-choice or at least rather apathetic about abortion. About three and a half years years ago I had a near death experience. Obviously I survived. While I was home recuperating I found myself bored out of my mind so I turned to the internet for entertainment. I found a site where there was a vigorous discussion of influenza raging (my wheelhouse as it were). I found myself in a back and forth with a physician named Frank. We ended up exchanging email addresses. Frank is an internist in California and has the most Jewish sounding last name you can imagine. Turns out he’s a devout Catholic and a fierce anti-abortion activist. We had a number of very meaningful exchanges and I have to say that he caused me to reconsider my position on abortion. We still disagree about contraception.
I don’t think anyone can lay out a line for what establishes “personhood”, but my money is is on the gestating fetus as the starting point.
I have Just read the essay Tucci linked to at the start of this thread –
I find it makes the point I have been raising… and so much better -grin-
@Amanda- “Andrew: I fear that there is rather a lot of wilful misreading or perhaps just innocent misapprehension of my comments.
I’m afraid that the ‘awareness’ of an embryo — and, as I have said, I do not support the killing of advanced foetuses* — is not as great as those of animals we regularly slaughter as food for our tables. Certainly their awareness is not even on a sensible continuum with the mother’s, or of the woman that finds herself in the position of becoming a mother. Unfortunately we are an incredibly aware species of being, which has been placed by thinkers of the past as somewhere between Animal and their conception of God, and yet we must still reproduce just like the animals. This is bound to create profound anguish at times — for the woman, not for the embryonic child.”
Utter arrogant human nonsense on your part regarding the awareness of a child inutero and as utterly fallacious as claiming that subatomic particles did not exist prior to the electron microscope. There is no scientific evidence to conclusively prove a lack of awareness on the part of a gestating child and in fact the anatomy present suggests that there is a sufficient awareness there- especially when you consider the voluntary movements of fingers by the end of the first trimester.
“I’m afraid I can’t agree with your paragraph about emotional abuse. The ‘I didn’t ask to be born’ comment is quite common, and does not require any particular dysfunction as a trigger. Simply asking the child to do his washing-up chores might be enough, especially if he is highly resistant! What the IDATBB comment actually indicates is the discovery by the child that — as I mentioned — life is sometimes a burden! Naturally, the child squawks in pain at this discovery; but of course we all learn somehow to live with it, and what’s more, to live with an ever-increasing burden of pain. This is why, as older humans (anything beyond childhood), when we see young ones crying over not having a lollipop, we may think: ‘golly, you need something real to cry about’. As our capacity to feel, love, and know increases, so also does our capacity in myriad ways to experience pain, loss, and disappointment.”
And yet where does the context come for that but from a child being emotionally blackmailed initially by a parent that they gave birth to them and therefore they owed their parents because of it. Considering how impressionable children can be- this is something which would only need to be said once. I highly doubt that if the parents of those children were interviwed, that such remarks would never have been uttered to their child by them, or alternately by parents to other children which that child witnessed.
“As for the remark about pregnancy-revulsion: I find it interesting that, in response to my aversion to intrusiveness, your suggested solution is to accept surgical intrusiveness which itself would compromise one’s dignity and leave scars! As it happens, life chose for me a much neater solution, which preserved the full integrity of my body and ensured that I need never think of pregnancy at all.”
I brought it up as technically it is the most effective manner for a woman to prevent pregnancy. The logical course of action for anyone who is adverse to fathering or carrying a child, is to prevent themselves from being able to conceive a child.
Prenatal care, delivery, postnatal care and the myriad health problems that arise for mother and baby-infant-child for the next few years are obviously FAR more profitable than administering an abortifactant,”
Really, so half a billion dollars per annum in the US alone (and that’s going by 1996 figures) isn’t highly profitable? That’s ignoring the depopulation agenda of ecofascism and the NWO who are ideologically driving this. Furthermore, what we’re really talking about is short term profit, where people are gaining from that agenda (eg civilian contractors in the case of the Iraq War).
More to the point, the earlier into the pregnancy a child can survive outside of the womb from (and therefore the more advanced a humidicrib needs to be); the closer to an exo-womb the humidicrib becomes.
“@- Andrew Richards.
I’m afraid the example of the exo-womb for shark embryos is not good evidence for the feasability of such a method. Shark embryos are born as active, functional individuals from eggs. That some sharks retain these ‘embryonic’ baby sharks that then fight it out in an internal ‘virtual aquarium’ does not indicate that an exo-womb for mammals is possible.”
That was one example. The other are the experiments which were ended after 14 days solely because of regulations- those were performed on human embryos which did implant themselves into the wall of a prototype artificial womb.
“There has been some limited success with an artificial womb for goats, these were grown after removal after the placenta and embryo were well formed and the placenta was replaced with a direct connection to the umbilicus fed to a combination dialysis, lung and nutrition machines. As far as I can gather while they kept some alive for several weeks I don’t think any survived to ‘birth’ or to live independently.”
This merely suggests that a better solution would involve transplanting the uteris into the artificial womb with the gestating infant.
“It is much more likely (and cheaper!) that if you want to be able to raise an embryo from conception without recourse to the mother, or another human womb, the intra-species problems could be solved more easily than the problems in a mechanical approach. Cows, Horses or perhaps Pigs could be adapted to carry humans to term from the blastocyst stage if that is something you think is desirable, or advantageous in avoiding the inevitable ethical conflicts if you equally value the life of both the gestating child and the mother.”
Which again may be a possibility. Either way, if the hypocratic oath were consistenly applied, such research would be a priority in our society.
“There is another aspect to this, perhaps more relevent from a libertarian perpsective than just the personal ethical views we may have. It is clear that some posters have a, … position on this issue that is strongly held. If I did (grin) I hope I would not think that therefore MY ethical judgements OUGHT to be imposed on everybody else. Especially women who faced with the issue in reality come to very different conclusions than those I might hold.”
So considering the context of the gestating child in this, you’re quite literally justifying not just murder but collective genocide. Furthermore, everyone who commits some kind of crime (whether or not said crime is legally recognised) always has some kind of justification for committing it.
“But as we all inevitably live within a society with civic governance the issue is how should a GOVERNMENT behave when it comes to imposing a view on abortion on the individual. Whatever the personal view we may hold on abortion, what is the role of the judicial system and government regulation in this area ?”
Would you be even arguing this if we were talking about the murder of those who had been born as opposed to those who are gestating? I highly doubt it.
“Is autocratic control of an individual citizen’s behavior acceptable IF it is to prevent a ‘moral evil’
Or if, as in this case where there is no realistic way of preventing abortion if the woman gestating so chooses, what punishment fits the crime ?”
The answer should be no different to the fairest way to punish murder.
“But whatever the prevailing social customs, government regulation or judicial sanction pregnant women choose the option of abortion. The only person who can sustain an embryo until it can further develop its personhood may decide that they do not wish to do so. The demand for abortion is always there. Ease of means and social sanction results in increasing use of that option and prohibition inhibits it. Who is in a better position to make the judgment about the acceptability of ending the evolution of personhood before it is independently viable than the woman. All such moral choices are driven by context. The woman has the best knowledge, in fact embodies the context in which such a decision must be made.”
The fallacy here is the assumption that a mother will never abuse their child. This is especially treacherous ground with women pregnant for the first time.
@ben isn’t the solution then to find an alternative which resolves the dilemma in a manner which maximises outcomes for both mother and child?
Some here have claimed that an exo-womb is unrealistic. Yet when realistically, a good approximation would be that close to a billion dollars a year globally is spent on abortions; the notion of a few billion dollars in research being spent to make one a reality, while obscene in terms of the amount of money in most cases, really isn’t an unrealistic amount of money in this situation.
Here’s a blog piece from today’s American Thinker about the Oxford ethicists. It’s pretty good.
I’m a little surprised that your massive missive didn’t mention Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood. Sanger founded Planned Parenthood and though she died in 1966 she is a revered Saint to the American Left. Sanger actually coined the term “birth control.” What the Left prefers not to mention are her motives. Sanger believed in eugenics. She was also a flaming racist. She wanted to rid the US of blacks and other “undesirables” via contraception and ultimately abortion.
Today Planned Parenthood claims to provide all sorts of “women’s health services), but mostly they just perform routine exams, dispense contraceptives and perform abortions. In fact, in the US, 25% of all abortions performed are performed by Planned Parenthood. What’s disturbing is that market abortion. Pregnant women who go to PP clinics are not presented with options (e.g. assistance until birth and then adoption) they are actually encouraged to abort.
Planned Parenthood is a billion dollar organization that is funded by foundations and federal tax dollars. They’re politically joined at the hip with Obama:
In respect to whether humans are qualitatively “different” or “superior”, here is an excerpt from a challenging little book:
“… Here, evolution had hit on the sweetest of solutions. Such perceptions were guaranteed to produce a faith-dependent species that believed itself to be thoroughly separate from the rest of the animal kingdom, but followed its genetic instructions to the letter—and left more offspring as a consequence. Here was a gene-driven animal just like any other, yet one that believed itself to be under special guidance—guidance that was not merely ‘spiritual’, but in most instances ‘divine’. Here was a wonderfully practical insanity, an invincible, hereditary madness that eventually enabled this under-endowed ‘paragon of animals’ to devour the planet like a ripe fruit.
This breathtakingly innovative derangement—present in all mammals to some extent—seems to have switched into overdrive in humans to minimise the immense risks inherent in the major brain enlargement that began almost three million years ago. The human brain has doubled its volume and quadrupled the surface area of its rational cortex in that time, a degree of enlargement unprecedented in the evolution of any other species. If behavioral control had gradually transferred from the ‘instincts’ to the rational brain during this period—as is commonly assumed—I believe our end would have been bloody and swift. Even today, given our tenuous grasp of evolution and its complexities, the most genetically advantageous behavior usually lies far beyond the scope of instant rational computation. A million years ago too much rational thought would have been suicidal. In other words, without a genetic override mechanism securely wired into the brain of Homo erectus, that cortical enlargement would, I believe, have been lethal.
Armed with an X-factor, an automatic override device that cuts off rational thought at a moment’s notice and draws directly from a reservoir of pretested genetic behavior, we remained fully functional animals. It enabled us to continue to feed, mate, and reproduce without interference from our enlarged cortex. To put it yet another way, our neuronal circuitry remained ‘hot-wired’ to our genes so that we would not be handicapped by logic when genetic responses were called for. That is why, under the spell of our carefully programmed ‘spirituality’, we cannot help falling in love, yearning for sexual gratification, nurturing our children, forging tribal bonds, suspecting strangers, uniting against common enemies, and on occasions, laying down our lives for family, friends or tribe. No gene could ask for more.”
Anyone recognise themselelf?
Thems el elf indeed 🙂 themself , obviously.
Here’s another snippet, and the title:
“Despite the astonishing behavioral flexibility that has steered this maladapted primate so adroitly through some 2.5 million hazardous years, the animal is still vulnerable in the way that all animals are vulnerable: through its adaptive specialisations. By endowing the human brain with its language facility, evolution has ensured that human genes will continue to bypass the cerebral cortex at will, disguising fact with ‘significance’ and turning imagination into perceived fact. This prodigious talent for spiritualising its perceptions seems certain to keep this sapient primate safely sequestered from reality and well within reach of the biosphere’s standard forms of population control.
There were three evolutionary prerequisites for our particular flaw: in view of our physical inadequacy it needed to be extraordinarily beneficial to begin with, and even when switched into its destruct mode it had to remain well disguised and thoroughly tamper-proof. All of those evolutionary requirements have been fulfilled. Our timebomb is mysticism. Its delivery system is language. And its hiding place? The unfathomable coils of our DNA.”
(The Spirit in the Gene, Cornell University Press, 1999)
Farmerbrown: That way of thinking assumes that ‘falling in love’ etc. is somehow all about instinct and not about man’s higher capacities. I profoundly disagree with that (as do all the major philosophers qua students of human life and not somewhat blinkered students of genetic inheritance). Also, one may have ‘yearnings’, but the important thing in human life is always what we do about them. And humans devise and adhere to a context for denying or indulging those yearnings — whether that context be traditional and unconsidered or private, idiosyncratic, and deeply thought-through.
That’s right Amanda, and it ties in nicely with the reasons that we are even talking about abortion (in many of the cases which present as candidates for the procedure).
But going back to what the writer said here:
” That is why, under the spell of our carefully programmed ‘spirituality’, we cannot help falling in love, yearning for sexual gratification, nurturing our children, forging tribal bonds, suspecting strangers, uniting against common enemies, and on occasions, laying down our lives for family, friends or tribe. No gene could ask for more.” , I think he was talking more about ‘sex drive’ /” love at first sight” / ” I want it now” biological impulse rather than the “care, share, and be fair” type of enduring loving relationship.
Having played at a wedding last night , and having had the opportunity to observe a group of 20- something -year-old singles at play, and considering the acessory du jour aka the silicon implant, it’s tempting to say that this was a display of the type of ‘falling in love” that the author referred to. However I’m only guessing.
And my observations of some priestly behaviour during my education at a catholic boys secondary school do not convince me that denial is eminently feasible, but that’s digressive.
But be all that as it may, the other social behaviours mentioned above, viz. ” nurturing our children, forging tribal bonds, suspecting strangers, uniting against common enemies, and on occasions, laying down our lives for family, friends or tribe. “, are good and sufficient examples with which to make the point.
Friend Farmerbrown: Re good and sufficient examples. Laying down our lives for family, friends or tribe suggest that as a species we ‘follow genetic instructions to the letter’? Ignoring the fact that few people have ever been willing to lose their lives for mere friends (unless they be friends in the deepest, most Montaigne-like sense): human life is NEVER about ‘following genetic instructions’ wherever such life involves notions of virtue. One lays down one’s life because of force of circumstance (conscripted soldier) or because one believes in something — and patriotism, though it may have something to do with tribalism, is a cut above nationalism and some have argued (see for instance Lukacs, The Hitler Of History) that patriotism and nationalism are different phenomena altogether, considered as moral stances — and I agree.
‘Sex drive’ in civilized man is a mediated instinct: that’s why he is civilized man. Nature gives man straightforward and rather dull ideas of what he would like to do with the object of his desire; civilization, as Allan Bloom said in his last book, Love And Friendship, gives men much more complicated ideas. And much more rewarding ones. Sex in the animalistic man would be a matter of pushing and grunting: not enought even for a typical mainstream pop song, never mind Casablanca. The human being as human being with standards always raises his sights about the animal horizon and therefore elevates himself above ‘the genetic’. Genetic determinism finds very little sympathy in my understanding of the human essentials.
I know something about ‘love at first sight’, as I have actually experienced it. Or something that is as close as any reasonable definition might allow. It was at least an instant attention followed seconds later by a kind of magnetism followed seconds later by an intellectual-emotional fascination, built on conversation and constant looking, confirmed by subsequent contacts as something absolutely worth having and pursuing. I knew I wanted to marry this person well within two weeks, and so did he: and marry we did. And, as you know, it has largely been an asexual and celibate marriage. What does that say for your theory?
Further thought re: tribalism. Speaking for myself, my greatest patriotism has nothing to do with tribalism as such since I am a patriot of liberty, which knows no country and hopes for no boundaries.
should be ‘suggests’ not ‘suggest’
sorry: and ‘above the animal horizon’ not ‘about’: wish brain would communicate a bit better with fingers!
I’m picking up that I’m not getting the point of Spirit in the Gene across very well, because I don’t disagree with what you are saying. I’ll look back at what I’ve told about it and see where the narrative has been incomplete.
One thing I’m sure of is that it is possible for those with an understanding of the human condition to be fully aware of the genetic propensity to fantasise to the point of superstition, and to exert free will in a self-aware fashion. In other words rational behaviour is possible, but we have to be aware of our ability to imagine ad absurdum. I think that is what you are saying.
That not everyone behaves that way, is part of the thesis advanced in The Spirit in the Gene. It is a question of extent, and your average atheist is in a different position compared to….. well I don’t have to say but I ‘ll suggest the more superstitious among us.
but we have to be aware of our ability to imagine ad absurdum.
Yes, indeed. Including imagining that our imaginings and passions are necessarily compatible with reason, or even are the fruits of reason(!).
Here’s another little excerpt that makes it clearer that the writer is talking about the communal social behaviour that has arisen along with the evolution of advanced language:-
“Precisely what we believe is immaterial; what matters is the kind of behaviour that belief generates. . . . As far as our genes are concerned we can believe that the universe is driven by an overweight fairy on a green cheese bicycle provided that such belief effectively coerces us into adopting tribal behaviour in all matters of evolutionary consequence, such as feeding, mating, nurturing, bonding, and protecting family, tribe and territory.”
I guess that you could describe the occupation, maintenance and succession of the family farm as an example of this type of behaviour.The fact that my grandfather and my father both farmed this land before me has influenced me to rescue the farm from insolvency and to buy it at a public auction, although there were other more rational reasons in play as well. I think. 🙂
“Yes, indeed. Including imagining that our imaginings and passions are necessarily compatible with reason, or even are the fruits of reason(!).”
That’s off topic: we’re not meant to be talking about climate “sceince”. 🙂
Farmerbrown: I think you mean ‘the séance’, darling. Absolutely essential if one is to master the heady and inscrutable currents of climastrology. : )
@farmerbraun. The problem is that you’re talking about Darwinism, which despite what we’re all brainwashed to believe, is nothing but a plageurist fraud.
Darwin’s so called “brilliant theory” of natural selection, was nothing more than trying to shoehorn Malthus Eugenic East India Company apologetics into a scientific theory.
This can be seen in “The Origin of Species” or to use its original title “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”:
“[T]he Struggle for Existence amongst all organic beings throughout the world … inevitably
follows from their high geometrical powers of increase … .This is the doctrine of Malthus,
applied to the whole animal and vegetable kingdoms. As many more individuals of
each species are born than can possibly survive; and as, consequently,
there is a frequently recurring struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary
however slightly in any manner profitable to itself … will have a better chance of surviving,
and thus be naturally selected”.
Furthermore his ecofascism leanings can be seen when he advocating for Malthus ideas of genocide (I can find excerpts from his essays if people wish) where he goes on to say:
“All the children born beyond what would be required to keep up the population to this level, must necessarily perish, unless room be made for them by the deaths of grown persons. …. therefore, we should facilitate, instead of foolishly and vainly endeavoring to impede, the operations of nature in producing this mortality; and if we dread the too frequent visitation of the horrid form of famine, we should sedulously encourage the other forms of destruction, which we compel nature to use. … But above all, we should reprobate specific remedies for ravaging diseases; and those benevolent, but much mistaken men, who have thought they were doing a service to mankind by projecting schemes for the total extirpation of particular disorders.”
Anyone who is familiar with the Nazi reign should instantly recognise the notions of the “Master Race” (controlled human breeding), and the entire Holocaust when he talks about “facilitating” the deaths of undesirables.
As this proves, Darwin, and every single person who argues along this line of thought due to their own volition, is a eugenicist or as they are more notoriously know, a Nazi. It’s worth noting that it was his cousin in 1869 who coined the term “eugenics”.
In fact it’s worth noting that arguably Darwin’s greatest supporter, was Thomas Huxley, himself a protege of Malthus as well as the Grandfather of Sir Julian Huxley, who was one of the co-founders of the World Wildlife Fund in the same year that he was President of the British Eugenics society. It was the younger Huxley who advocated for UNESCO to carry out a program of controlled human breeding in 1947 and who advocated in 1938 at the Galton Lecture (named after Darwin’s cousin) to deny the poor health care in an effort to wipe them out.
In fact it’s worth noting that even though Darwin wrote “Origin of Species” in 1850, he waited 9 years to publish it. This on its own might seem as though it’s trivial, except that it was not published until Alexander Von Humboldt died.
For those who don’t know, Von Humboldt was one of the world’s leading cosmologists in the 19th century until his death in 1859. In 1848, he wrote in his work COSMOS:
“A Sketch of the Physical Description of the Universe, demonstrated that: “Nature considered rationally, that is to say, submitted to the process of thought, is a unity in diversity of phenomena; a harmony, blending together all created things, however dissimilar in form and
attributes; one great whole animated by the breath of life. The most important result of a rational inquiry into nature is, therefore, to establish the unity and harmony of this stupendous mass of force and matter… .”
This completely contradicts the Malthusian argument. The reality is that had Von Humboldt still been alive when Darwin published his work, he would have completely discredited it as the outright fraud it is- hence why Darwin waited almost a decade, until after Von Humboldt died, to publish it, while his powerful connections in the form of his East India Company masters, did everything in their power to make it be regarded as practically scientific fact.
Therefore, as Hitler’s Holocaust was nothing more than applied Eugenics and in fact the Jews accounted for slightly over half the 11 million victims of it; to ask what the difference between humans and animals is, is literally asking whether Hitler’s Holocaust was rational and justified. After all, the Holocaust is merely that very Eugenic argument put into practice.
Sorry Andrew you lost me there: what problem arer you addressing?
“The problem is that you’re talking about Darwinism,”????
Talking about Darwinism is a problem for you?
Perhaps you could quote my lines on Darwinism. I was talking about brain, language, superstition and behaviour.
Sorry about the typo: advanced fatigue .
Never mind, FB: we all make them, and we know you can spell (among other things).
” to ask what the difference between humans and animals is”
is, in this case, to ask whether sufficient qualitative (not quantitative) difference can be demonstrated, in order to argue that humans are entitled to a different standard of care than would be accorded to non-human animals.
You seem to be avoiding answering that, and trotting out your Nazi ad hominems at every opportunity.
Did you read what Tucci wrote?
Amanda, I can think better with more than a couple of hours of sleep. Luckily , mowing hay is not too difficult; it might be a long day.
FB: I can’t think at all with that little sleep. Mow safely, my friend.
In reply to Andrew: As for the artifical womb and making childbirth safer, of course, why not spend billions on this. We waste billions on such worthless things as it is and without changing the subject into other things… But I doubt technology is going to provide an easy fix to this issue. I agree why not try but it might be better to attempt to solve the issue philosophically so that no one is happy (a great compromise in other words).
I have never heard of a solution that would do so. And the problems I outlined in my original post are the primary reasons, which also go into the article linked by tucci et al. (here it is again which I found very interesting which did bring up some of the issues I Found – along with several others with just flat-out making abortion illegal today…http://www.ncc-1776.org/tle2008/tle485-20080921-02.html)
A solution is doable I think to make abortion rare to non-existant. I firmly believe that. And talking about the issue is probably the best issue at hand.
And on another topic …. which I know will lead us into other things, but I have to harp on this…
As for the freakonomics argument, that is a rather weak argument for abortion. I looked at that a couple of years ago when my sister insisted that was the reasoning. But there were other things going on as well. Remember the lessons of climate science in this: correlation does not imply causation.
A change in demographics. An older population, more police officers, other factors in crime histories. Technology that helped police communicate.
These studies do not look for other possibilities.
To put it into a better perspective, the freakonomics argument is like the CO2 argument for global warming. Is it possible, heck yea, there is some evidence that its possible. How likely is it?
Um, not very.
To say that abortion leads to less crime years later because the children are “unwanted” years later is making so many assumptions that I do not even want to get started.
As a rule of thumb, for a majority of the cases, the freakonomics case assumes the following happens with no discussion on why this would happen over a child’s lifetimes and offers no proof that it would without saying that it “just will.”
First, you have to assume that the mother will neglect the child in the first place.
Second, you have to assume that the mother will not care for the child and will place it for adoption or pass it off to the state
Third, you have to assume that the children will not be cared for by the state or others properly at this point.
fourth, you have to assume that the children will become criminals.
fifth, you have to assume that the mother would have not aborted illegally anyway.
sixth, you have to assume that instead of adopting children from over-seas that the parents here in the US with great homes here domestically would have not adopted these “un-wanted” children.
The current waiting list for adoptions is around 3 years…..
So no, the argument is rather far-fetched and about akin to the entire CO2 argument. Plausible on the outside, but the more you dig into it and think about it, the more it just kind of really does not make sense.
@FB- I’m well aware of what you are talking about, although judging by your response, I question whether just how aware of what you’re talking about you are if you’re asking that. What I was doing was going right to the ideological underpinnings of what you were talking about. The whole notions of humans being no different to animals is pure eugenic apologetics.
All the quotes you bring up from “The Spirit in The Gene” are Darwinist apologetics, meaning that the best way to explore the underlying philosophy discussed is to look at it formatively and point out just how flawed and sinister it truly is.
Also I find it hilarious that you accuse me of “ad hominem Nazi attacks” when you have clearly responded with a repeated ad hominem response of burying your head in the sand when multiple people have provided you on with clear, incontrivertible evidencce of a clear and distinct difference between humans and animals. The reason the Nazis and eugenics are brought up, and done so with completely and accurate relevance I might add, is because the whole argument that “humans are mere animals” lies at the very heart of the Eugenics movement and it is how they justify their agenda of widespread genocide, which they continue to this day in the form of ecofascism, and which as DR Dave has correctly pointed out, abortion is just one component of.
Clearly your devil’s advocate claims are nothing more than a shield of denial to hide behind. If such claims were genuine then you would have conceded by now, based on the evolutionary proofs and practical evidence you have been presented with on multiple fronts which provide clear and incontrovertible evidence that there is a distinct difference there.
@ben This isn’t arguing with you, but covering a blind side I noticed with your argument.
“In reply to Andrew: As for the artifical womb and making childbirth safer, of course, why not spend billions on this. We waste billions on such worthless things as it is and without changing the subject into other things… But I doubt technology is going to provide an easy fix to this issue. I agree why not try but it might be better to attempt to solve the issue philosophically so that no one is happy (a great compromise in other words).”
Actually there’s a little more to it that that. That argument would apply on its own if say, suggesting research funds for an artifical womb of billions was contrasted by a global spend on abortion annually of a few million.
However the case is a little more clear cut than that. We’re talking about a research spend which is at a ratio of close to 1:1 with the annual global abortion spend- 5:1 at its worst arguably.
That aspect of things from an economic rationalisation perspective not only makes artificial womb research compassionate, but highly frugal- especially when the creative potential of the lives saved is factored into the equation.
Andrew just run that clear and incontrovertible evidence past me once again; I seem to have missed it. Just leave the Nazis and eugenics out of it. You seem to be arguing backwards there: from supposed effect to cause.
Anatomy, physiology, ethology will be fine: let’s just have the evidence.
@FB: that clear incontrovertible evidence is seen when you look at our evolution.
For starters, the notion that humans are animals comes from Darwin’s theory. That theory states that we are all animals, and bases evolution on “survival of the fittest” completely falls apart as physiologically speaking babies are far less evolved and self reliant than most other animal species- meaning that we should never have reached the point we have if Darwin’s theory is sound. We have no physical defences and our specific bipedal nature actually makes us slower and far more agile than quadrapes, while we have no bipedal advantages of being able to climb trees. Therefore Darwin’s model of “the law of the jungle” completely falls apart as what is reality, should according to that model, be completely impossible and humans should have been extinct long ago. Yet we are the dominant species on the planet. The logic of this should be straightforward to anyone who understands the Darwinian model
Now that the argument in favour of Darwins’ model has proven to be fundamentally flawed, it is time to look at the more accurate and comprehensive picture of evolution.
The more effectively a life form is able to comprehend and interact with their environment, the better its chances of survival.
A crucial part of this, is in the ability to communicate as well as the life form’s intelligence. A life form may possess high intelligence, but if its communication is limited then its creative potential will be attrophied.
This is where you see the clear distinction between animals and humans. Both animals and humans use intonation as a form of communication, varying the speed and pitch of cries in accomplex manner. However humans use this in conjunction with complex speech patterns. To take the English language as an example, there are approximately 10,000 words in the english language, resulting in approximately 10,000! (factorised or 1x2x3……x10,000) times the number of potential messages which can be communicated by animals using the same vocal range. Furthermore as the number of words increase, so too does the magnitude of difference. All this is possible in humans because unlike animals, our voiceboxes dropped, allowing us to be capable of speech.
It is also important here to consider the idea of creative density which works in a similar manner to frequency modulation (ie intermodulating frequency a and b results in freuqency a, frequency b, frequency (a+b) and frequency (a-b) ) where the more people you have discussing ideas, the more ideas you wind up with as a result – with the principle operating in a non-linear fashion.
Thus when you consider that you are intermodulating ideas which are millions of times more advanced than any animal’s, it should be no surprise that there is an infinite gulf between the advancment of animal herds (which are at best, proto-societies in terms of their complexity), and that of human societies. In fact the gulf is so great that humans must be classed as a completely different species to animals. Certainly we share some traits with animals, but then huumans, animals and plants all use internal respiration for example, so if you dig deep enough, you will find similarities between every single life form on the planet. I can hardly see Dolphins creating a silicon chip or its equivalent any time soon for example.
There’s your evidence right there.
As for your desire to “leave eugenics and the Naizs out of this”; ultimately eugenics does need to be factored into both the abortion debate and the question you are asking. The whole reason the notion of humans being compared to animals is to push an agenda of eugenics as I have laready demonstrated. Also much like the KKK are merely the most notorious and visceral example of racism in the US rather than being pioneers of it; Hitler and the Holocaust (on that note Hitler didn’t even start the Holocaust- he merely “picked up the ball and ran with it”) are the most notorious and visceral example of eugenics in modern history.
So many people are so quick to say that “eugenics isn’t that bad” or “eugenics is a good thing” whille decrying “Godwin’s law” at any linking of the Holocaust to it, even though the Hoocaust is the most blatant and visceral example of eugenics in the 20th century.
Of note here is the attitude of ecofascism pioneers such as Julian Huxley who felt that the only problem with eugenics was that Hitler gave it a bad name- that’s a bit like believing that the only problem with racism is that the KKK gives it a bad name.
Of course as Dr Dave has pointed out, another who seeme to share this view was Margaret Singer of Planned Parenthood- bringing us smack bang into the middle of the abortion debate.
In the penultimate paragraph of my article, I made a deliberate reference to the current POTUS, upon which till now, no-one seems to have remarked. Americans – is abortion an issue in the current GOP primaries, and/or will it be an issue in the lead-up to November?
@- Andrew Richards
It would be off topic to pursue your erroneous portrayal of evolutionary theory, but its clear you don’t really deny it yourself –
“Certainly we share some traits with animals, but then huumans, animals and plants all use internal respiration for example, so if you dig deep enough, you will find similarities between every single life form on the planet. ”
When it comes to our shared common ancestry with the rest of the animal and plant life then as you say –
“There’s your evidence right there.”
But you raise the issue of the massive difference in the complexity of human accomplishments over the rest of terrestrial lifeforms. It is true that social awareness of self and others along with language has led to the emergence of a qualitatively different pattern of behavior with humans. The rise of a memetic inheritance is an additional level of system complexity overlaying (but influenced by) the biological/animal roots of our existence.
The possession of the memetic or conceptual system by humans does not negate or exclude the animal basis.
@-“ultimately eugenics does need to be factored into both the abortion debate and the question you are asking. The whole reason the notion of humans being compared to animals is to push an agenda of eugenics as I have laready demonstrated. Also much like the KKK are merely the most notorious and visceral example of racism in the US rather than being pioneers of it; Hitler and the Holocaust are the most notorious and visceral example of eugenics in modern history. ”
I think there is a lot of mistaken attribution of cause and effect, source and application in this argument.
Eugenics is is the appropriation of scientific concepts in biology into a racist political context. Such stranger exclusion traits in human behavior were justified in the past by religious or cultural validations. Biological determinism is just the latest attempt to legitimise a particular form of political racism.
Eugenics dosn’t even make sense biologically, the human genome is not diverse enough to split and exclude a distinct population of alleles.
I notice that you provided an answer to the question I posed about what punishment fits the ‘crime’ of abortion –
@- “The answer should be no different to the fairest way to punish murder.”
Even those nations that follow the principle of the total ban of abortion do not punish those that break that law as harshly as they do a murderer. States not noted for their leniency seem to regard abortion as less heinous than murder, but here you are equating the two, and advocating equivalent punishments.
And presumably as detailed in the tucci-linked assay all the detection, prevention and judicial apparatus that would be required to enforce such equivalence.
I think sometimes the inescapable logic of an absolute moral principle leads to such pragmatically unattractive solutions to problems that the idea the definitive ethics ARE solutions and not another problem is profoundly mistaken.
I think I get the point you are making with the ‘Spirit in the Gene’ stuff.
There are certainly deep links between the beliefs we have about significance, meaning and spiritual value and basic biological imperatives.
At the risk of straying off-topic however I would not agree the link is as simple as gene-behavior. Genes only code the timing and type of protein made in an individual cell. The instinctual drives emerge from the complex adaptive system that arises when that genotype is expressed in a phenotype embedded in its environmental context.
The evolution of a hominid with social awareness of others leading to self-awareness, then a massive expansion in language capability allowed a qualitatively distinct system to emerge. Human society is based on its memetic heritage as much as its genetic roots. While there are links between the genetic and memetic systems, aspects of human behavior like reciprocal altruism are contingent inevitabilities rather than the result of genetic determinism.
@Izen – I never said that we didn’t evolve, just that the Darwinian model was a complete eugenically motivated fraud. Your fallacy here is a profound one, however it’s tragically completely commonplace in society, with the exception of creationists whose position is almost as flawed (saying why would go too far off topic).
Secondly, you bring up shared traits. Certainly there are shared traits, such as reproduction. However the fact that we have laws against rape for example, whereas that is completely foreign concept to animals. That’s just one example. That’s the thing about evolution- there will always be relics of the previous level of evolution there. The use of pheromones (which are the sole form of communication between plants) by animals is a prime example of that. The only way that shared traits would not exist is if two life forms existed due to 2 separate and completely isolated paths of evolution.
Thirdly, your comment about eugenics is inaccurate- it goes beyond racism to extreme discrimination across all boundaries. What is interesting to note is that as the Holocaust demonstrates, the disabled are invariably the first casualties of any form of applies eugenics.
As for the 4th point, I’ll begin by saying that I oppose the death penalty unequivocally. The problem with your reasoning here is that you underestimate the creative potential of human beings. Consider that it was Edison’s 150 attempts at the light bulb which lead to the invention of supercomputers (the valve was originally created by modifying the light bulb). Consider the evolution of medicine from “meatball surgery” to neurosurgery and microsurgery.
2 traits of humanity come to mind here. The first is “necessity is the mother of all invention”. The second is “human beings will take the path of least resistence”.
Currently what we have in society is a “path of least resistence” where it’s a case of “mother vs child” in terms of the right to life. While that duality is maintained along with the eugenically ageist attitudes to the gestating child, nothing will change.
What happens when you correctly regard abortion as murder is that you tear that duality asunder and force the necessity to make an alternative a reality- something no more insurmountable than any other challenges we have surpassed to this date.
There is nothing wrong with being mindful of absolutes- the trick is to always do so as a race, in the context of using our most valuable resource, our creative potential, to find solutions to complex problems.
Remember that when the current world population is properly educated, what we have are 2^6,000,000,000 possible ideas and solutions.
The reason we have abortions tied in so closely with “women’s rights” (which is what it has sadly become in the developed world in many cases these days) and the reason our education system actually dums people down these days, is because the oligarchs who rule this woorld from behind the scenes know this all too well and it truly frightens them.
@- Andrew Richards
“Currently what we have in society is a “path of least resistence” where it’s a case of “mother vs child” in terms of the right to life. While that duality is maintained along with the eugenically ageist attitudes to the gestating child, nothing will change.”
That duality is maintained by the facts of biology. Part of the lifeline of any individual is spent as a dependent internal symbiote(?), parasite(?!) or more generally, embryo within another person who has reached a point on THEIR lifeline where they have the biological capacity and the social engagement (hopefully!) to gestate an embryo.
A point about terminology. The stages on the lifeline of any person get artificially demarcated into named sections. Sometimes this is convinient, and the divisions can be justified. Embryo, neonate, baby, infant, child, youth, adult, old… and many other names can be given to a person dependent on their age. Could you reflect on why you described pregnancy as a “gestating CHILD” rather than woman, or embryo.
@- “What happens when you correctly regard abortion as murder is that you tear that duality asunder and force the necessity to make an alternative a reality- something no more insurmountable than any other challenges we have surpassed to this date.”
However ‘correct’ you believe your definition of murder to include abortion may be, it fails to remove the real, biologically rooted material fact of the dependence of the gestating embryo on the continued support of the pregnant person. The Duality is not removed or avoided by a change in memes. If you want to live in an alternative reality feel free to do so, but it is wiser to deal with the real world, and that includes the fact that people can and do choose to control their fertility by abortion. The intentional termination of the lifeline of one individual by another, but at a point where they are inextricably linked and have vastly unequal attributes.
It is not realistic, just ‘alternative’ to think that even a world population properly educated, with 2^6,000,000,000 possible ideas and solutions can somehow dream(!) up a way of circumventing biological reality. The more we learn about the biology of evolution, and the key role of embryological development in the shaping of the adult,( evo-devo in the current jargon) the idea that there is any viable alternative to mothers carrying an embryo to term is ridiculous. The hormonal and immunological influences from the maternal womb are subtle and complex. To give just a taste of the tip of the iceberg look up the epigenetic effect of the Dutch famine after WWII on the birth weight and growth rate of subsequent generations. Or the increased incidence of homosexuality in subsequent fraternal siblings.
Its a Utopian dream to think that pregnancy, birth and motherhood can be made such an attractive, and zero-loss option within society that any woman will always reject the ability they have to terminate that developing person at the stage they are still uniquely and complete subsistent. The woman has the entirely correct perception that the developing embryo is a part of their physical being. The primary part of the material world we have intentional agency over. How do you deny this agency if they choose to exercise it without the law of unintended consequences inflicting more damage on the nature of society than the damage caused by the ability a pregnant woman has to terminate that pregnancy ?
Given your final paragraph –
“… is because the oligarchs who rule this woorld from behind the scenes know this all too well and it truly frightens them.”
However indicates you may not be a Utopian who dreams that in a perfect society no woman would choose to terminate a pregnancy, but think that we live in dream-world where the wizards of Oz (grin) cause women to choose abortion for some… deep conspiratorial purpose which I must admit I do not understand, although it seems to be linked with, er ecofascism? or womens rights ??!
I find such views on the world as entertaining, and ultimately tedious, as theories that the moon landings were a hoax or the Illuminatus trilogy.
Can you point to a current or historical example of the sort of real application of the principles you are espousing? Is there any real world empirical evidence that the application of the views you advance have a benefit in a functioning society rather than just being an exercise in polemic claiming that if we all thought differently about the issue – but exactly the same as you, the ‘problem'(?) would be ‘solved’.
“Americans – is abortion an issue in the current GOP primaries, and/or will it be an issue in the lead-up to November?”
Okay I’m not American, but a keep a ‘weather eye’ on things given the UK climate comes from the west….
Posturing by Reps passing local bills that are advanced to the general population as ‘sensible medical precautions’ but are sold to their supporters as anti-abortion measures seem to be the order of the day.
Here’s an example, presumably these are considered politically advantageous otherwise no political party would engage in such activity in an election year.
“Virginia’s Republican governor is poised to sign a law forcing women to have an ultrasound before an abortion ….
Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled House of Delegates approved the amendments on Thursday in a 61-35 vote. The amendments include making an invasive vaginal ultrasound optional in cases where fetal age cannot be determined with an abdominal ultrasound, which is usually the case in the first trimester of pregnancy, experts say.
Another amendment exempts women from the requirement in cases where pregnancy resulted from rape or incest and was reported to police….
While women’s rights groups and state Democrat lawmakers were livid about the vaginal ultrasound clause, some Republican lawmakers suggested that a woman should not be concerned about a probe when she is having an abortion, itself an invasive procedure.”
Not very libertarian a government requirement to have an invasive medical procedure with scant clinical justification just for the purpose of political advantage and catering to a theological constituency that wishes to apply ITS morality to every citizen.
(I’d forgotten just how… annoying this subject can get! -grin-)
A few points here Izen.
First off, comparing the gestating child to a parasite is the equivalent in medical ethics terms of calling an organ transplant recipient a graverobber. Furthermore, last I checked a newborn baby was also completely helpless and dependent upon their mother.
Sadly that has completely permeated our culture. The terms “fetus” and “embryo” have taken on dehumanising terms in society- to the point where if the same standards were applied to a child compared to an adult; child abuse enabling would be the norm as a child would be considered not to have the same rights as an adult. That’s the ideological framework at play when it comes to the abortion issue.
Also, I referred to a mother carrying a gestating child (which is compatible with the Latin translation for fetus anyway) during a pregnancy, because that’s exactly what they are, a gestating child person.
Secondly your point about “living in the real world” is utter anarchistic nonsense. Murders happen, assaults happen, thefts happen, and more relevant to this situation; child abuse happens. If your reasoning were applied to those situations, then all laws would be abolished and people would be told to “live in the real world”.
Thirdly, considering you “it can’t be done attitude”; I honestly have to wonder if you even grasp the way scientific and technological development works? What, do you honestly think that we understood all we do now and had the same level of technology during the earliest days of mankind? That’s what your argument regarding the feasibility of the artificial womb essentially says- that we will never come to know the unknown.
Fourthly, as to your claims that 6,000,000,000 people do not equate to 2^6,000,000,000 potential ideas on how to solve any particular problem, you clearly do not understand how inter-modulation works. I suppose next you’ll be telling me that patent clerks can’t revolutionise quantum physics (Einstein) or that it would have been impossible for someone with only 3 days of formal schooling to be the father of electronics (Edison). Actually scrap that- you clearly can’t even grasp how human discussion or the foundation of knowledge works to be making such an outlandishly fallacious statement.
Fifthly, the notion of a child being a parent’s property to do with as they please, which is what you have advocated for here in the case of gestating children, is regarded as blatant child abuse enabling when applied to children who have been born.
Sithly, there is no “conspiracy theory” here regarding the link between ecofascism, eugenics and abortion.
Margaret Sanger provides a clear link between eugenics and abortion as an agenda. Then you have what I have already written about Darwin and Julian Huxley (in addition to the writings of HG Wells which to be fair I have not gone into and who was also one of the earliest advvocates of environmentalism with Huxley) which have called for depopulation. Huxley of course being one of the 3 co-founders of the WWF (the other 2 being Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands who was an ex-SS member and Prince Phillip of Britain whose family were card carrying Nazi Party members). Of course the entire Ecofascism movement has made no secret of its desire to depopulate humanity to under 1 billion people.
I can’t help but remember, to draw an analogy, the slogan for that Will Smith movie, “Enemy of the state” which said that it isn’t paranoia if they really are out to get you. Likewise in this case, it’s not paranoia if all groups are clearly satating that this is what they want to do and clearly stating their ideologies.
In short, the problem is Izen, you are trapped by a figurative Matrix created by the oligarchy to distort your worldview and attrophy your reasoning.
You seem incapable of grasping the way knowledge is collectively and continuously built on, incapable of grasping thenotions of revolutionary scientific discoveries and applied science, and even of oligarchical links when they are right in front of you. This is not surprising as this is the nature of the rison which has been constructed to trap the thinking of the many.
Ultimately though, your entire stance on this issue reminds me of what Plato and Aristotle spoke of when they spoke of “crimes of double ignorance”. Everything here makes sense to the aware and reasoned mind. However you are blindd to it because you do not know that you do not know that your stance is flawed. Arguably though, you are not to be blamed for this because much like the analogy of the man chained to a wall in a cell and facing it his whole life, this double ignorance is the figurative shacckles and chains which prevent you from seeing reality.
A few preliminary thoughts about Malthusian and other anti childbearing memes.
Sorry that theses are both out of sync with the other comments and are going to be more than just a little bit disjointed, as this is the first time I’ve attempted to articulate these thoughts.
All of my way through school, and with the exception of one of our own college lecturers, and an absolutely astounding guest lecturer, the “wisdom” which we received regarding having children, seemed to consist either of:
You should delay it until you have achieved what you want to in your career and lifestyle, then only have one or at most two.
Don’t, there are already far too many people in the world for us to feed and cloth.
There also appeared to be a post hoc ergo propter hoc argument, that the reason developed countries were wealthy and the poorer countries were starving, was because we were wise enough to limit our family sizes, and care for the few children we had and educate them properly, while they bred like rats.
There are of course gaping holes in that, not least that the largest jumps in economic development came long before family sizes began to decrease.
There is also the empirical contrast in work ethic between say an only child and the youngest of fifteen children – mammy and daddy just aren’t going to get around to you, so you soon learn to do it for yourself.
Listening to my younger colleagues in Ireland discussing families, they were generally intent on having small families, of five or so children. It certainly makes family events easier to hold, as in the previous generations, where fifteen children was not an unusual number, there was no such thing as a venue large enough to fit all of your cousins into.
My own experience: I’m one of two children, and neither of us has children. Of my xs, most were absolutely phobic about the idea of having children (and about having them with me in particular ;-( ).
Worst one, was an eternal student, with more masters degrees than you can shake the proverbial shitty stick at.
To her, children were just going to pollute the planet, as well as hold back her career and achievements (like her list of college qualifications and the lack of actual work experience on her cv hadn’t already made her completely unemployable).
Furthermore, if I wanted children, she thought we should adopt and. they should be black as; we had done such terrible things to black people…
There were several corollaries to that, she also thought it would be just if she were assaulted or robbed by a black person… for the same reason.
All of this of course assumed that we would be just like Mr and Mrs Madonna, or Mr and Mrs Angelina…
Somehow I think that the social “services[sic]” departments would have a lot harder time in store for us, than they did for Madonna and Angelina (– the fictitious fashionista, “Bruno” comes to mind here), and if my school class mates, who had undergone inter-racial adoptions, and their teenage identity crises were anything to go by, the bureaucrats might actually have a valid point.
What other objections did my ex’s have?
Pain, risk to health and life, loss of figure, slack fanny, the time, work and loss of social life and spending money.
At this point I want to bring in a good friend, “Jane” –not her real name.
She’s a couple of years older than me, so fiftyish, and she and her current husband have four children each from their previous marriages, and one between them, which is now into its early twenties and married with kids. I can’t keep up with the rate which her brood of grandchildren grows at, but it is well into the teens, if not over twenty by now.
When I first met Jane (about 15 years ago), we were discussing what we did, and she said that when she left school, what she wanted to do most, was have babies.
I was shocked and in a way disgusted, that such an intelligent woman should want to waste her abilities breeding snotty nosed sprogs.
I must have disguised my shock, either that of Jane was used to it and ignored it, because we are still friends.
Why the shock? Jane is happy, she isn’t wealthy, but she is comfortable, and surrounded by her children, their partners, and her grandchildren, whom she loves. In a lot of ways, I’m now slightly jealous.
When the coercive Ponzi scheme that is “Social Security” (apologies to the late Carlo Ponzi – he never used coercion in his scheme) collapses, people like Jane will be secure.
Even if it doesn’t collapse, she’ll never be lonely or idle in her old age.
Where do the anti breeding memes come from? Why the phobic rather than more relaxed responses, why the not so value free language of a foetus being a “parasite” or an “alien” in a woman’s body.
Sure, if the mother is malnourished, the pregnancy will mobilise calcium from the mother’s bones and teeth – a woman living a few doors down from me, lost her teeth during her first pregnancy in the late ‘60s – but how many women are involuntarily malnourished now?
Pain, I’m told by female friends, is incredible, but forgotten within minutes by the wave of affection for the child, which comes over them.
Loss of figure – like anyone’s really going to be able to tell? One of the interesting observations in Ireland, with the large number of Eastern Europeans who came across to work; The East European women in general, have shorter labour, need less intervention and consume less pain relief than the Irish women. One major reason; they’re slim! And they still look bloody good after they’ve had children.
Career success. Obviously there are opportunity costs attached to any action, so I’ve missed out on housework while I’ve been typing. What of having children?
I tried to find some bio details of the woman who in her mid thirties was finance director of a £1G per year profit ftse 100 company in the early 90s. She’d had children before going to university.
What I found was pretty amazing, in the lists of the top fifty most powerful women in Britain, around two thirds of them have children.
Hardly empirical support for children being an either – or choice with respect to career success.
Except that it is completely justified Izen when the propaganda based descriptions of abortion are taken into account.
Most information on abortions out there by the likes of Planned Parenthood are reminiscent of the way the Nazis described the concentration camps.
Why shouldn’t women be forced to take an ultrasound so that they can be made to make as informed a choice as possible?
An ultrasound would force women to have to face the fact that it is their child in there and everything that goes with it. Surely the most libertarian approach is to ensure that people are making the mot informed decision possible, which in this case is “we know x, y and z about them in terms of their anatomy, but have no conclusive answer before a weeks as to whether b is true”, as well as seeing them firsthand.
One of the memes which I constantly met through school and college was the Malthusian.
The collectivists, both left and right, love it.
Reading about the pre-WWii times, the collectivists (both sides again) were fanatical about eugenics, both generally and in a racist sense.
For Margaret Sanger, there appears to be pretty good evidence that she was a racial eugenicist. This includes her giving page space for a guest editorial by Hitler’s head eugenicist, and her address to the klan.
More tenuous, are the claims of memes attributed to her, and her cohorts.
These run along the lines that sex should be seen (in the claimed first instance by black people), as an enjoyable recreation, and that freely available abortion would remove the barrier to that being achieved.
Certainly, the empirical record of the breakdown of abortions in the US by racial classification, shows an overwhelming proportion of “black” women’s pregnancies ending in abortion.
The growing proportion of the US population which is classed as “black”, indicates though that the conception rate is higher in that ethnic class than others, and that more “black” pregnancies go to term than do in other ethnic classifications.
Such evidence would therefore appear to be ambiguous with respect to a racial eugenics policy actually being subversively achieved by Sanger et al.
If the hypothesis were restricted to separating the perceived link between sex and pregnancy, among “black” women, by availability of termination, then there may be better empirical support.
Have the memes leaked out to infect the wider population?
I think so, regardless of where they originated.
I certainly think they are spread by the left (as Tucci says in the first comment, and points out that they keep us Libertarians at each other’s throats). Engels certainly published rants about “family” as a reactionary institution, and an extinction of the intelligentsia and the Bourgeoisie by our not breeding would be considered, in Marxist terms; a “progressive” development, leaving the proletariat to inherit the Earth..
Similarly, during the cold war, a memes of self hatred for all the bad things we have done to ___________ (insert group du jour), and a cessation of breeding by the intelligentsia and the Bourgeoisie, would again have been a “progressive” development.
Anyone still reading?
Any merit? Or, have I completely missed the point?
Precedence goes to Dr Dave and Andrew Richards for their notes on Sanger and the eugenicists.
Precedence also goes to Andrew for:
pointing out the less than value free terminology and analogies being used
and the memetics at work
I only caught up with their comments after I posted.
Somewhere I have a bookmark for
“The Eugenics publishing company; for the good of nation and race”
I searched for them on abebooks, thinking I’d stumbled onto something big, but all of their stuff appeared to be boring sex education books for GPs.
Whether or not they were camouflage for books advising terminations or sterilization for supposedly inferior races, I haven’t a clue. Both were certainly practiced, most noticeably in the US and Scandinavia. The Scandinavian ones with US funding.
@- Andrew Richards
“Why shouldn’t women be forced to take an ultrasound so that they can be made to make as informed a choice as possible?”
Then why exempt those that are pregnant as the result of rape or incest from this requirement ?
As long as they reported it to the police beforehand of course… we wouldn’t want women to try an avoid getting fully informed by requiring a lump of technology inserted, by falsely claiming that actually daddy did it….
Your enthusiasm for forcing women to take your view is reminiscent of a European regieme of the 1930s that also prohibited its citizen from aborting, with quite harsh legal deterrents.
Fascist states at this time were very opposed to women choosing to abort. They set themselves as the final arbitar of which embryos should, or would not be carried to term.
On the other hand, shortly after this time communist/socialist states provided abortion as a state medical service to the extent that it was used as a primary means of fertility control for wives. A women with two or three children may have had multiple abortions when a pregnancy did not occur at a convenient time in the development and growth of her, and her husbands, family.
I am sure you know the numbers for the abortion rate, that is a lot of sentient, intentional moral agency that clearly does not share your point of view on this. They do not regard it as murder, and I see no prospect that however much impediment in the way of ‘full information’ you insert into various parts of their body that they are likely to change their minds.
Much more powerful economic and self-protective motivations are at work.
@- Luton Ian
Still reading, some points in return -grin-
There are two big changes that enabled the ‘small family’ meme to infect modern technological civilisations.
First, medical, but mainly vast improvements in food, sanitation and housing slashed the infant mortality rate. In Darwin’s day you would be lucky if the number of children you had was more than half the number of births… For a significant proportion of the population with no state safety net, a simple agrarian economy and a village/extended family for childcare the more children the better. Only some will survive to become productive members of the community, but will do so at a young age in a simple society and are insurance for old age.
When the infant mortality rate drops, and the cost/benefit of children becomes weighted on the cost side….
Second about a generation later effective and relatively easily available contraceptives became available. Both reliable, mass-produced low cost condoms for men, and increasingly, the oral contraceptive pill for women. A safe, reliable, if not yet cheap or widely available means for women to control their own fertility rapidly revealed how, given that option – many women would choose.
So you have a reduced economic demand for multiple births to ensure some surviving children and subsequent family support along with the technological means to achieve that reduction. I suspect farmerbraun may have some insights into the particular memes that arose to rationalise the result.
Luton Ian: Sorry, but there are a lot of women that don’t want ‘incredible’ pain on any day of the week, and they don’t give a damn what compensation you claim awaits them. Also you are just factually wrong about this vague ‘wave of affection’ — I’m afraid that for the women with painful stitch-jobs, depression, and a profound sense of medical violation (look up ‘birth rape’, if you dare), stretch marks, scars, and other disfigurements, no amount of affection can change the fact that they went through trauma and will never be the same. And, since this is a discussion about women that don’t want the child: what ‘wave of affection’ — wave of a magic wand — truly awaits those people?
Still, nothing can keep you from your dismissive romantic and see-no-evil view. My grandmother became pregnant unexpectedly in 1965, when she was 38. She had two grown daughters already (in their late teens), one of whom of course was my mother. She did not want the rigours of childbirth and did not want the arduous project of raising another child. She liked her life as it was. Also, she had extremely high blood pressure which could have been predicted as causing complications. Nonetheless, the authorities at the time denied her permission for a termination (though she tried in various pathetic ways to effect this on her own). She spent the last two months of her pregnancy in a darkened room, ordered to lie in bed, thoroughly miserable, fed a ghastly diet, living what felt like a prison sentence. (Grandad, of course, carried on as normal — which men, as nature’s favoured sex, are always able to do.) Anyway, when the baby was finally born, my grandmother felt no such ‘wave’ of all-eradicating ‘affection’, and instead did not like the child. My mother and her sister did much in the first months to take up the slack, caring for the baby, and giving it the affection that my grandmother did not feel. Eventually, Grandma accepted this new unwelcome presence in her life and the wretchedness that had led up to it. But she never forgot the wretchedness, and she has always been very frank about how she did not want the child. The child, now a mother herself, just smiled and laughed: what did SHE care? As I said: precious little gratitude, precious little thanks. And such thanks could never undo the reality of the experience, anyway.
I honestly don’t know, Ian, why you think the way you do. It’s a phenomenon, too frequently encountered, along the lines of ‘every sperm is sacred’, despite the fact that both nature and society everywhere contradict it. There is something — and you will decry this as an ‘ad hom’, but it’s just an observation — there is something a bit lacking in maturity and especially of compassion in your views.
Ozboy: In response to your question about the GOP nomination process: Unfortunately there are always people for whom a politician’s stance on this dismal subject are of major importance in their voting decision. However, many conservatives — and I am really thinking of the non-Christian ones — are actually traditional liberals and therefore abortion is essentially a non-issue, last on any list behind national security, a robust economy and conditions for same, containment of tax increases (usually referred to as ‘lower taxes’), a brake on judicial activism (guess who the activists tend to be? — Leftists, of course), and fighting against the complete takeover of education by Leftists. I belong to this group: no prizes for guessing that one! With a world economic meltdown, Leftists controlling (still) most of the mainstream media, jihad still an urgent threat, and Iran seeking nuclear weapons, I cannot fathom how sentimentalists can be willing to throw our society’s safety under the bus for the sake of a handful of someone else’s embryos. To me, THAT is the grossest irresponsibility of all. And a lot of my fellow GOPers agree with me. Let’s hope that they are the more numerous on this occasion.
@izen your view on rape victims is utterly flawed. To being with if a D&C is performed within 48 hours of a rape taking place then the pregnancy hasn’t begun as the gestating child has not implanted themselves into the uterine wall.
Secondly, despite the greyness of the circumstances; the ethics are pretty black and white. The problem is that while the father may have raped the mother, or the mother may have raped the father; the child in that situation raped no-one and is just an innocent a party in the situation. Having suffered the horror of rape first-hand and having had visceral reminders of abuse, as well as experiencing the feeling of something driving you up the wall and needing to get it out of me due to my allergies; I can combine both scenarios in my mind and I do completely empathise with how utterly hellish it would be.
However making the child a scapegoat isn’t the answer, nor is allowing cyclic abuse where a parent abuses the child because they were abused.
The solution lies in finding an alternative in the form of some kind of artificial gestation- most likely involving transplanting the child with the placenta still attached to them and in the world valuing human life enough to make it happen..
Also you bring up the fact that ultrasounds wont make a difference. I completely disagree. The more militant and radical women with staunchly pro-abortion views wont be swayed by it, but they arguably make up a small fraction of those women who get abortions. In fact there are some interesting figures on the rates of depression in women post-abortion.
I have an interesting personal story on this front there was this girl I met online who I used to chat to. Anyway one day she fell pregnant and was thinking of having an abortion and I talked her out of it. Anyway when her daughter was born it was the happiest day of her life. I playfully said “told you so” which she not only agreed with but asked me never to bring it up again and I could tell it was because part of her was conscious of what she’d planned on doing and was horrified by it.
That’s the thing with genocide- be it state-sponsored or collective. The action is usually led by a select few with the vast majortiy tagging along, telling themselves “it’s not really that bad” or “they’re not really human anyway” to sate their consciences. It’s not until they’re faced with the reality of it that the horror kicks in. “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” depicts this brilliantly in its climax for example.
Sadly Amanda, you’ve fallen for the bogeyman. The whole Iranian war situation is “Iraqs’ WMDS” 2.0 in an attempt to get Russia and China into World War 3- the reason is that the financial system is crumbling because of the Malthusian model it’s based on, while Russia, and to a lesser extent China are on the verge of becoming the new global economic powers. Also, much like abortion, war is a wonderful tool for depopulation/genocide.
Unlike WW2, if the US does go to war (under orders of the British crown to their puppet Obama I might add), this time it will be a part of the “Axis of Evil”. The Republicans will be just as controlled should they get in, as the likes of Bush have proven in the past.
@Amanda To address your previous post; there are a few fallacies in there.
To begin with I have issues with the use of the term “birth rape”. Certainly it’s medical malpractice, however the use of the term rape is utter scapegoating towards the child as it suggests the child is violating the mother during birth. I get what is meant by it, but when it’s then used as a justification for abortion, then my concerns become completely validated.
Secondly, so what if women don’t want the child? Doesn’t adoption then become the solution, not to mention the loving and healthy one if a mother feels with reasonable conviction that they are incapable of caring for the child?
Finally you ask why the view you deem as “every sperm is sacred” is held by some people.
Let me flip that around for you, based on some of the issues you’ve raised in this post. Why should we care about whether women are raped or have laws criminalising it?
I suspect your answer and rightly so, would be because women are human beings who are entitled to an incontrovertible right to life and to be recognised as human beings, with all the dignity that goes with that recognition.
All Ian’s viewpoint is is taking that ideological worldview, extending it right back to the moment of each woman’s conception, and applying it equally to both genders. Surely it’s not that difficult to grasp such a mindset in those terms.
I’m not commenting further on this thread. I only meant to share my first comment and perhaps I should have stuck to that, this being a subject in which I have (believe it or not) very little interest. As always, I am staggered by the lack of imagination and capacity for compassion on the adamant You-Will-Give-Birth side. Essentially that side treats women as vessels whose psycho-physical wellbeing is of no consequence. I find that far more disgusting than the elimination of an embryo which is an hourly assaulter of that wellbeing (however ‘innocent’ it supposedly is — tapeworms and viruses are also ‘innocent’ in the sense that they merely do what they do — but it doesn’t mean we aren’t justified in preventing and eliminating them).
I first used, with the obvious qualification, parasite(?!) in the context of the inescapable biological reality of the time when a person(?) is still embryonic.
It may not be value free, but its value is in the insight it gives into the biology.
I think tucci or Dr Dave would confirm that a lot of the aspects around the diseases and medical complications of pregnancy are best explanained by utilising the close similarity with the way in which the body and a parasite interact. The placenta is a device for suppressing the host immune system and fooling the host into diverting a significant proportion of the resources of the respiratory and nutrition system to the embryo. The way in which each side has evolved to defend, and outwit the other parralells host-parasite systems as conditions like pre-eclampsia reveal.
Not that parasitical behavior (at least metaphorically) is confined to the prenatal state among humans… although I acknowledge that most societies do not view the termination of dole spongers as acceptable just yet.
I acknowledge that the embryo is not a parasite. But it certainly has traits in common. It enforces the direct cooption of a person’s body. It is a genetically distinct individual (or twin!) which is entierly dependent on the metabolism of the host. The lack of any active sentient moral intentionality on the part of the embryo removes any possibility of the kind of negotiation over mutual behavior that is typical of the interaction between developed persons. It provides no compromise or alternative. The embryo presents the woman with a simple binary choice. Either you surrender a significant aspect of the functioning of your physical being to my requirements, or kill me.
To pretend that choice should not, or does not exist because of a moral absolute is silly.
@Amanda “As always, I am staggered by the lack of imagination and capacity for compassion on the adamant You-Will-Give-Birth side. Essentially that side treats women as vessels whose psycho-physical wellbeing is of no consequence. I find that far more disgusting than the elimination of an embryo which is an hourly assaulter of that wellbeing (however ‘innocent’ it supposedly is — tapeworms and viruses are also ‘innocent’ in the sense that they merely do what they do — but it doesn’t mean we aren’t justified in preventing and eliminating them).”
Congratulations for proving my point about abortion being nothing more than a hybrid of state-sponsored and collective genocide. Your parasite references to gestating children draw a perfect analogy to how the Serbians referred to the Bosnians, how the Hutus referred to the Tutsis, and how the Nazis referred to the disabled, the Jews, the Romani, the Slavs and everyone else they deemed “undesirable”. Your claims of children at their most helpless, being some machiavelian oppressive hive mind determined to enslave all women (and therefore needing to be iradicated for the good of women) only serve to complete the analogy.
I really do have to thank you for handing me glaring evidence of the flaws in this position on a platter.
Furthermore, I actually treat women as *gasp,shock,horror* human beings who are accountable for their actions including what they do and do not do to others. I realise this is utterly scandalous to the feminist mind who sees women as “empowered” when it suits them and as “poor helpless damsels in distress who are locked away in an infinitely tall stone tower and guarded by a dragon, helplessly waiting for a knight in shining armour to save them” when it doesn’t. I also realise that the notion of treating a gestating child as a *gasp,shock horror* human being is nothing but an unspeakable evil for you as this last post demonstrates. However as I have very little interest in appeasing such a double-standard filled mindset; you’re simply going to have too deal with it.
The reality is that abortion merely creates a scapegoat and inflicts the most heinous form of child abuse possible on children at their most helpless and at an age where the victims will NEVER have a voice. It will never respect the rights of all- but merely give parents who are so disposed to it, an open opportunity to abuse their children. It will never be equal, but the dominant party oppressing the infinitely weaker party.
The only time that there will be true equality is when women are expected to be accountable with pregnancy in situations where there are no serious medical issues, and where artificial gestation is a reality in situations where there are serious medical issues.
Obviously to many this is an incredibly inconvenient truth. However it is the truth nonetheless.
@Izen “I first used, with the obvious qualification, parasite(?!) in the context of the inescapable biological reality of the time when a person(?) is still embryonic.
It may not be value free, but its value is in the insight it gives into the biology.
I think tucci or Dr Dave would confirm that a lot of the aspects around the diseases and medical complications of pregnancy are best explanained by utilising the close similarity with the way in which the body and a parasite interact. The placenta is a device for suppressing the host immune system and fooling the host into diverting a significant proportion of the resources of the respiratory and nutrition system to the embryo. The way in which each side has evolved to defend, and outwit the other parralells host-parasite systems as conditions like pre-eclampsia reveal.”
Except that what you’re talking about there isn’t merely a biological value but a eugenic one. As you go on to prove, such a value is used to justify the view that a child at their most helpless should be viewed as a parasite, insidiously sucking the life from their mother.
“Not that parasitical behavior (at least metaphorically) is confined to the prenatal state among humans… although I acknowledge that most societies do not view the termination of dole spongers as acceptable just yet.”
And when we do, we’ll be effectively back in Nazi Germany.
“I acknowledge that the embryo is not a parasite. But it certainly has traits in common. It enforces the direct cooption of a person’s body. It is a genetically distinct individual (or twin!) which is entierly dependent on the metabolism of the host. The lack of any active sentient moral intentionality on the part of the embryo removes any possibility of the kind of negotiation over mutual behavior that is typical of the interaction between developed persons. It provides no compromise or alternative. The embryo presents the woman with a simple binary choice. Either you surrender a significant aspect of the functioning of your physical being to my requirements, or kill me.
To pretend that choice should not, or does not exist because of a moral absolute is silly.”
More eugenics and again, you prove my point in the same way that Amanda does. The only difference here is that you directly deny such a position and then indirectly state that you hold it. Your argument here is essentially one that on one hand claims that a gestating child is not a parasite, but then goes on to argue that the unborn child acts like one and effectively sucks the life out of the mother. It’s the equivalent a biggoted rant against a certain group, proceeded by “some of my best friends are ________, but…” and every bit as tenuous.
This might be a profound revelation to you, but women are not innocent and helpless pathetic little things, but fully accountable human beings. Those who become pregnant due to consentual sex have made their choice and need to be accountable. Where it wasn’t consentual and while this is no means fair; those women have a choice between rising above that abuse, as hellish as that is, or succumbing to that abuse, and abusing another.
To pretend otherwise is nothing but blatant eugenic and female-privveledge-based apologetics.
Wasn’t going to comment again but have just written this to a friend and so, what the hell, I’m going to post it here.
One thing that hasn’t been brought up is the way in which pregnancy could be said to affect the personhood of women. Consider for instance the fact that women are now told that they must not drink alcohol while pregnant (nonsense, of course: women have been doing it wherever drink has been available for millennia). Now, pregnancy lasts for the better part of a year. If I did not want to go nearly a year without a drink (and you know me!), would I be made happy by that prospect? Or would I have to add that to the list of the diminishment of my pleasures in life for the sake of this other being? AND: Would I be subject to prosecution or otherwise suffer a loss of liberty because I wish for a tipple and the state has laid down the law about it? I think that freedom from pregnancy also involves personal, legal, and political liberty, not just freedom from physical trauma (important though that is).
I see that Andrew remains stubbornly blind to the fact that it is not women’s fault that the organs of love share a function as organs of reproduction — and it is precisely to ensnare us into reproduction that such is the case; but he would, like all sexists, lay the entire burden for the result on women, instead of coming to their succour. I think the answer is simple: the only men that should be permitted to copulate are those men that support abortion. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!
Typical hypocritical Enough, Andrew: I did ask politely at the top.
Everyone take a deep breath. We’re all supposed to be adults here – Oz
Is this an example of Shaker’s Law http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Shaker's_Law,
If not, go in peace, and G-d bless.
I think this discussion is getting out of hand. I think we all need to remember that core truths.
Go back to what farmer brown and what I was talking about in relation to animals and to the facts of pregnancy.
I can tell you about several of my female friends and what happened to them after they had babies. They now have anything from diabetes to depression to bladders the size of gnats. If you think pregnancy is just a “minor inconveniance” you have not studied or talked to actual mothers enough. Broken bones, organs permananty damaged, and that is when things go well, death and other complications often do happen. That is to defend Amanda who is just trying to get the perspective from a mother. In animals, this is why abortions are done in the case of twins even though twin animals do happen in nature. The chances of twin horses for instance being born sucessfully and both living are something like 5% but the chances of both dying plus the mother are high enough that its much better to abort.
But what about the life of the unborn child? What about the continuation of the species and the wealth of mankind and how the ultimate wealth in general is humanity?
I know most of us have touched upon this in discussions on how we are superior to animals from communication et al, but we really need to keep this discussion on topic and how life may be sacred but at what cost?
At some point there has to be a limit. You can not sit there and say that life begins at X. Because I can give you an example of when abortion would be preferable everytime. I touched upon this in another post I made where abortion is such a monster because every time its a different story. Because we are dealing with the health of a different person…its always going to be difficult to say what the right answer is going to be.
I seriously do not know what the right answer is and I am being honest. This is one of those subjects that I wish we could solve with technology or there was a neat little solution that would present itself.
At this moment all I can say is that contraceptives are the best bet and to make those as available as possible and prevent the issue in the first place. After that, I really don’t know what to do.
I don’t think anyone here is saying that it is roses all the way, or that coercion need be applied either way.
I lived for several years in a jurisdiction where abortion is illegal – exceptions being where the mother’s life or health is at risk, or in cases of rape or incest. as I said, 40 minutes Ryan Air flight away, and they are in a different jurisdiction.
I also have extended family who grew up under a jurisdiction where your “friends” and colleagues are encouraged to kidnap you for a forced abortion – if you already have a child.
I also have friends who lived under a jurisdiction which declared foetuses to be the “socialist property of the people” – not that it had any affect on the termination rate, as very few wanted to bring a child into that shit hole.
That aside, look at the terminology:
Unborn child vs foetus/ embryo / amorphous clump of cells/ parasite /oppressor /rapist etc
Abortion (with all the methods implied), compared to; “termination”
Sure, pregnancy is risky, but the rate of injury and death is lower than the fields which I’ve spent my working life in
I really don’t know about the comparative figures for mental health affects, but can think of a few places which I got back out of fast, because of the rate of nervous breakdowns and absenteeism related to crappy working conditions.
What I’m getting at, is the none neutral terminology and the heightened / polarized views are pointing to an agenda at work.
What is that agenda?
The issue of abortion turns up in every election cycle. Roughly 60% of the population is opposed to abortion. It’s a divisive issue on both the right and left. No President can change it and frankly I don’t even think Congress could change it. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Griswold v. Connecticut case of 1966. At the time oral contraceptives were relatively new and the state of Connecticut did not allow their use. Stupid perhaps, but in keeping with the 10th Amendment. It was this decision by a very liberal Supreme Court where they knitted “a right to privacy” out of whole cloth. It appears nowhere in the Constitution so the activist justices determined that it exists in the “penumbras” and “emanations” of other constitutional protections. Essentially they made it up and thus was born the specious “right to privacy.” The effect was that no state law can interfere with private decisions between a woman and her physician and no state could ban contraception. When Roe v. Wade was decided about 7 years later the activist justices simply used the Griswold v..Connecticut ruling as precedent and just like that no state was allowed to ban abortion. So even if Congress could pass a bill banning abortion (and I’m quite certain they never would or could) and a President signed it, a court challenge could effectively render the law unconstitutional because it violates the imaginary “right to privacy. and precedent established in Roe v. Wade. It should be noted that Roe v. Wade was decided with the same weak arguments and disjointed legal thinking as Griswold v. Connecticut. It would NEVER pass in today’s Supreme Court, but I’m equally certain even today’s SCOTUS would never overturn it.
About the most any politician can promise is that no federal tax dollars shall fund abortions or organizations that perform abortions. Obama made a vacuous promise that tax dollars would not be used for abortions, then turned right around and funneled tons of money to his pals at Planned Parenthood. If the federal government could shut off the taxpayer money spigot not just for direct funding or abortion but any organization that performs abortions (the latter being the critical difference as it would prevent these organizations from just employing accounting tricks), it would be sufficient to satisfy most people. Of course, the rabid pro-abortion activists would howl and scream bloody murder (ironic in a way). But it would have populist appeal. A lot folks don’t care if somebody else chooses abortion, they resent having to pay for it. It would also have a trickle down effect to the State level. A lot of abortions are funded by Medicaid. If matching funds from the federal government go away States will be far less interested in deepening the fiscal holes they already endure with their existing Medicaid obligations.
The thread is being continually disrupted and monopolised by unsupported assertions that are contrary to the original premises: we can only guess at why that is happening.
” women are human beings who are entitled to an incontrovertible right to life ”
ozboy: (in the intro) : “Forget About a “Right to Life”
Lengthy posts based on a premise that is not available in this discussion are not helpful.
To those using livestock analogies, why should horses, cattle and sheep be any more relevant to humans than pigs or dogs are? For that matter, Rodents are genetically closer to primates than any of those.
Several breeds of sheep, notably some of the Scandinavian breeds are equipped with several pairs of working tits, and it is not unusual for breeds such as Blue Faced Leicesters to lamb at percentages approaching or exceeding 300% a year, and to pass on that prolificacy to their cross bred progeny, that also includes lambing (albeit at lower percentage) within their first year of life.
The critters I’m working with have been selected to lamb without attention since the 1950s. Any trouble makers become someone else’s problem, or else are committed to a curry or kebab, before the next year.
Hardly the analogies we’d want for our loved ones?
Although a the residents of certain small, wet and mountainous regions may protest: “but they are our loved ones!”
Good one Ian. 🙂
But I think it doesn’t detract from or add to the argument to simply talk about mammals in general as being the group with which we share most characteristics.
And the only physical difference suggested so far, which makes our species different from our nearest phylogenetic relations , is this:
” a much larger and more widespread projection of the arcuate fasciculus to areas in the middle temporal lobe, outside of the classical Wernicke’s area. ” ?”
That’s the genetic difference Izen; the conceptual and behavioural differences appear to stem from that, and the enlarged frontal brain. We’ve got 100 billion neurons, and about a trillion possible pathways between them.
As I mentioned on a previous thread, there is a new wrinkle in this year’s election issues. It has to do with contraception. Please bear with me as this actually does involve abortion. The original ObamaCare bill that was forced down the throats of an unwilling public (think carbon tax in OZ) contained nothing about contraception as well as a few other elements that are near and dear to the Progressive socialists. They inserted these into the bill independent of Congress about a year ago and it appears almost no one took notice. But as long as a year ago the plan was to make contraceptives available to all women at no cost (i.e. no co-pay) by 2013 when ObamaCare would start to kick in. Up until now ObamaCare has been almost all additional taxation with no benefits and most of the alleged “benefits won’t kick in until 2014. But Obama pulled a fast one and decided by (unconstitutional) executive decree that “free” contraceptives will be available to all women by this August. There were two reasons for this; first he was certain it would provoke the Republicans (who have nothing against contraception per se, but rather an Imperial President who believes he can decree that all insurance carriers provide them free of charge). This provides him with a campaign issue. He can’t run on his record or accomplishments so he wants to run AGAINST Republicans and paint them as being opposed to this vital women’s health initiative.The other more insidious reason is to initiate another “free stuff from the government” program as soon as possible before the election. Except it’s NOT “free stuff from the government”, it free stuff the government is forcing insurers to provide for free at their own expense. Another campaign issue. “If I am not reelected the Republicans want to take away your free birth control.” This ploy was specifically designed to appeal to a specific demographic – women of child bearing years in which Obama’s approval numbers have been slipping.
This issue is incredibly bogus. First, they maintain that contraceptives are absolutely critical for women’s health. Bullshit. They act like OCPs are vitamins and pregnancy is a disease. They neglect to mention all the health risks associated with their use. Then they claim that it’s absolutely vital to “increase access”. You would think we’re back in the 60s and early 70s. In the mid- to late 70s even into the early to mid 80s I could understand how abortion may have been a far more important option because contraceptives were not so widely available. That’s not the case today. Condoms are available everywhere and are often free. OCPs are available in every pharmacy (except perhaps in the pharmacies of some Catholic hospitals). They can be obtained free of charge in virtually any State DOH clinic. They’re free in student health centers. They’re available for as little as $5/month through Walmart pharmacies. They’re dirt cheap through community health centers. With very few exceptions contraceptives are inexpensive and ubiquitously available. So they’re not “increasing access”. That’s a myth and nothing more than a political talking point.
But they did extend this just a bit further. Also covered is ECP (Emergency Contraceptive Protocol) or the “morning after pill.” This is not new technology. ECP was used for years. Patients just had to take anywhere from 6 to 10 traditional OCP tablets (depending on the product composition). Then Plan B came into being. It’s a two pill pack used specifically for ECP and not for traditional contraception. It is proprietary and comparatively rather expensive. In many states is it also now OTC, thus insurance which seldom covered it before certainly doesn’t haven’t to cover it now. But Obama trumped all that with Executive decree. ECP will have to be provided by health insurance carriers at no cost to the women requesting it. ECP is not an abortifacient. It works much the same way as traditional OCPs. It prevents successful implantation of a fertilized embryo thereby preventing pregnancy.
But here’s where it get’s weird…also included in Obama’s decree is mifipristone (i.e. RU-486). This actually IS an abortifacient. It induces abortion in cases of established pregnancy. So this isn’t a “contraceptive”, it’s a chemical abortion. They slipped that one in there.There is a new drug on the US market which is being sold as a “morning after” pill but is equally effective as an abortifacient. The company wants to push for OTC status as a “morning after” pill before they go for the abortifacient indication. So I suppose abortion is in fact part of the political debate this year. The Left pushes abortion at every opportunity.
Strange, because the demographic they’ll end up depopulating is the one which keeps them in power.
Andrew Bolt’s now taken up cudgels on the JME article – Oz
Coincidence that you mention how little so many people can be bought for; I know this is a tangent, but I was just watching Yuri Maltsev, talking about exactly that:
He used to be an economics adviser to the Soviet government – at least they had an Austrian in that role!
That’s interesting Ozboy, the same argument from AB as from AR; an apparent inability to accept that there is no right to life, other than one which is conferred by some sort of societal agreement. An ethicist’s life is no more or less ” sacred” (that’s a giveaway, isn’t it?) than any other’s.
And that’s why we have a discussion.
Loved the video. If only they could have made him say “moose and squirrel.”
@- Andrew Richards
“This might be a profound revelation to you, but women are not innocent and helpless pathetic little things, but fully accountable human beings. ”
Actually I had noticed the personhood of women. As fully accountable human beings with moral agency they differ somewhat from the embryo which many of them make the choice to abort if that option is available.
@-“Those who become pregnant due to consentual sex have made their choice and need to be accountable.”
One way in which many women hold themselves to account for a pregnancy in which they may have consented to sex, but not consented to pregnancy is to procure an abortion.
You seem to be asserting that consensual sex automatically excludes any further choice, as if it was physically impossible for a woman to abort if she said yes to the man. And that if it was not consensual, then it would still be a good idea to strongly encourage the woman carry the embryo to term. I’m with Amanda on this, enforced gestation is a greater source of harm to individuals and the social order than the ability of women to exercise the option of abortion.
Do you have any real world example, current or historical where this set of social precepts removing or punishing the option of abortion for the woman carrying an embryo, have been applied with clear benefit ?
“” a much larger and more widespread projection of the arcuate fasciculus to areas in the middle temporal lobe, outside of the classical Wernicke’s area. ” ?”
That’s the genetic difference Izen; the conceptual and behavioural differences appear to stem from that, and the enlarged frontal brain. ”
Actually thats the anatomical difference in the neurology. The genetic difference is in the timing and activity of a small suite of genes that control the growth rates of different portions of the CNS during late embryological development and postnatal growth.
The big conceptual and behavioral difference this confers on humans comes from that neural anatomy functioning in a complex established social system. The memetic system that the functions of the individual anatomy interacting with many others over many generations enable to emerge shapes the behavior as much as the neural anatomy.
Yes Izen, I agree that’s how it is; I was a little sketchy in my description.
@Ben There’s nothing out of hand about my response at all. The response Amanda last got from me is entirely deserved and to be honest, I’ve held back possibly far more than I should.
Here’s why. Google “vanishing twins” and you’ll very soon discover that there are many people who not only lost their twin sister or brother in utero but have clear memories of it- not perhaps in the “I have a visual picture of them in my mind” sense, but a knowledge that they’re there.
It’s like those horror stories in South Africa where 6 month old babies are raped because of the urban myth of an AIDS cure where it’s claimed that the younger the virgin; the more potent the cure. There was a documentary my mother saw years ago where there was a case of it and she was telling me about this and how those caring for her were saying that even though she had absolutely no sex education, she just knew what had happened.
My mother miscarried very early on into what was initially thought to be my pregnancy around the 6 week mark, however she very quickly became pregnant with me afterwards, and I mean very quickly. Mum was sure she’d miscarried but everyone told her it was impossible, because noone gets pregnant again that quickly.
Because of what had happened, she eventually decided to get an ultrasound (this was back before 12 week ultrasounds were normal)- I think it was at what should have been the 17 week mark, only to discover that I was only 10 weeks along. She was told there’d most likely been a phantom pregnancy.
When I was 11, my parents and I were driving somewhere and the “phantom pregnancy” came up. I brought up that it was an older brother or sister (i had a funny feeling it was a sister). My parents said it was more than likely a phantom pregnancy and so I dropped it, but I knew it was an older sister.
It wasn’t the kind of memory where you’re seeing video or audio, but the knowledge kind of memory, where you might be going to a place and it’s so long since you’ve been there that you don’t have any conscious visual or aural memories of it- you just know that you’ve been there before. It was doing a number on me, so I made myself bury it, and repress it, something I did a lot back then, and that was the end of it.
Last year, in the process of my mother and I working through some things with different treating practitioners, it came up with both of us and independently of each other. A picture soon started to form when notes were compared and I went back to mine, where it turns out my sister’s body hadn’t left my mother’s womb and it stayed there until I was 5 months in-utero, when it finally left the body.
The interesting thing in terms of this discussion though is that I have subconscious memories, of her leaving the womb at 5 months (along with all the usual trauma of a sibling dying complete with survivor’s guilt), and her being there “at conception”. I’m not sure I buy it literally being at conception, but I’d put good money on it being formed at some point between 3-7 weeks. Either way, my memory of her goes much further back than the 2nd trimester or 20 week point you bring up.
I’m bringing this up, because I’m just one of many people with this type of experience and who have these types of in-utero memories who are affected- people who prove that in-utero traumatic memories are not only something experienced by a significant number of people, but are in fact, traumatic and stay with the person.
People say a child in utero can’t be affected by trauma before they can physically feel pain. Those of us with “vanishing twins” or “vanishing siblings” are living proof that that’s utterly fallacious, and know all too well that the trauma of that event, even at that age (which science incidentally is currently inconclusive about in terms of the development of self-awareness).
There is far more to this than physical pain induced, and speaking from experience of having in-utero memories, albeit subconscious, I’m going to throw this out there from the perspective of what a child goes through.
There is the child, in the case of 1st trimester abortions, being ripped apart, when all they can feel is the cold plastic or cold metal and the suction ripping them apart- perhaps not the pain, but the feeling that piece by piece, they’re “no longer there”, unable to feel pieces of their body bit by bit, no-one to reassure the child- just the confusion of being torn apart and not knowing why.
You get to a 2nd trimester abortion, where it’s now a pair of cold metal “hands”, pulling at them, ripping them apart, where before 18 weeks, they feel themselves unable to feel parts of their body as the cold metal hands pull at them and tear at them- the pressure, followed by not feeling that part of their body, or after 18 weeks where they feel the agony of every single bone being broken and muscle and tendon being ripped apart- with the same confusion and isolation there the entire time.
Now I have no doubt that people will bring up there is a difference between pre-18 weeks and post 18 weeks in the form of pain. I would ask those people whether they think a paraplegic or quadriplegic, who is devastated at the loss of feeling in their limbs should just “suck it up”, but for the most part I know the answer would be a resounding no and that people would question the empathy levels of the person doing it.
As much as people might wish otherwise; the suffering and awareness of the gestating child during an abortion is very much there
So yes Oz, this is highly personal and considering my own experiences and the provocative responses from Amanda in the end; it’s amazing I kept my cool as long as I did and I make absolutely no apologies for that.
It’s no different to a racist being cut down verbally in a discussion by someone of the ethnicity they’re discriminating against or who has a friend or relative who is of that ethnicity after one too many racial slurs or statements.
@Izen “Actually I had noticed the personhood of women. As fully accountable human beings with moral agency they differ somewhat from the embryo which many of them make the choice to abort if that option is available.”
From personal experience, I can honestly say that your assertions about the lack of personhood on the part of the gestating child are at best, fallacy, and at worst, pure propaganda.
“One way in which many women hold themselves to account for a pregnancy in which they may have consented to sex, but not consented to pregnancy is to procure an abortion.”
You seem to be asserting that consensual sex automatically excludes any further choice, as if it was physically impossible for a woman to abort if she said yes to the man.”
Every action has consequences. If 2 heterosexuals choose to have sex and a pregnancy results then the consequences are their child, which they, as both the mother and father of that child, have a parental responsibility to. The notion that someone murdering their child is accountability in any way, shape, or form, is an incredible oxymoron.
” And that if it was not consensual, then it would still be a good idea to strongly encourage the woman carry the embryo to term. I’m with Amanda on this, enforced gestation is a greater source of harm to individuals and the social order than the ability of women to exercise the option of abortion.”
So your solution to rape is to butcher brutally dismember a child at their most helpless and vulnerable and fully aware of what is happening to them in terms of them being dismembered? That’s ethically no different for defending a single parent who has severe depression due to some kind of horrific trauma, grows to resent their child because of it and then in turn abuses their child. There is nothing healthy whatsoever in turning the victim of rape into a child abuser.
Furthermore, I never said I expected them to do it alone. Personally I believe in that situation there needs to be intense psychological assistance given to women carrying rape pregnancies 24/7 until the day of birth and regular sessions afterwards for quite some time after the birth- regardless of whether she keeps the child or puts it up for adoption.
Then again, it’s easy to brutalise, make scapegoats of and commit genocide against a group when they will never be able to speak for themselves.
“Yes Izen, I agree that’s how it is; I was a little sketchy in my description.”
Sketchy is okay in this context. -grin-
The science behind the neurology and development of cognition and sentience, the biological aspects of ‘personhood’ are a subject I am prone to be prolix and pedantic about.
Izen: And I’m with you; and also thought that your earlier comment (an embryo has traits in common with a parasite; non-negotiable ‘relationship’; all-or-nothing quality of pregnancy) was so good that I saved it to my files for reference.
I wonder how many men on this blog — or in general — have thought about, and I mean REALLY thought about, what it would be like to have another living being growing inside your body cavity, pressing against all your internal organs, compromising your fitness and capacity for self-defence. One who, what is more, the state can use against you (e.g. forcing you to have your belly cut open because doctors empowered by law think that such is required). I can personally think of few things more terrifying and more alien to my own concept of body and self-ownership. (Yes, I am unusual, but I am also unusually thoughtful: did most of the unusually thoughtful women fail to survive or reproduce — and what does that imply for the thoughtfulness of our species?) Add to that the fact that a woman’s hole must be tight enough for successful intromission yet big enough — dear god — for a baby’s enormous head, and it does argue for the moral weight lying with women in this matter. For the males of the species to lay down the law about childbirth — that smacks to me of tyranny. I, as a noncombatant woman, would not presume to lay down the law for men about how they may or must fight battles. My own body and mind, unlike theirs, would not be on the line. They should show the same respect.
Amanda, first off, I thought you were leaving and never coming back.
Secondly, I am not denying for one minute the realities of pregnancy for women. However at the same time, it does not change the fact that the solution you use that to advocate for is far more heinous and brutal than the situation you use to justify it.
You use the pressure against organs in a pregnant woman to justify their being physically torn apart in a gestating child. You use muscles being stretched to their absolute limits (the vagina and uterus) in a pregnant woman to justify the tearing of muscles from bones and tearing them apart in the gestating child. You use the cuts involved with a Cesarian on a pregnant woman to justify the tearing of the skin piece by piece and the snapping of bones, bone by bone on the gestating child.
The closest we’ve ever seen to it with adults id the capital punishment of drawing and quartering someone- a form of execution reserved only for the most severe cases of high treason and even then the victim was hanged first. This is far more brutal as the victim is dismembered alive. That’s not even going into methods involving abortifacients.
All of these justifications of course are argued with the same dehumanising hatred towards the unborn child that Hitler voiced towards the disabled, the Jews and every other group he deemed as “undesirable”. The fact that you would dehumanise a child at their most helpless to a parasite than then accuse them of some zeitgeist of insidious tyranny, proves that point in spades.
The height of hypocrisy here is when you claim “My own body and mind, unlike theirs, would not be on the line. They should show the same respect.” while advocating for that very disrespect towards a child at their most vulnerable and involving killing them through rather grizzly means.
As I said before, it’s far too easy to dehumanise and commit genocide against a group when they are incapable of speaking for themselves.
@Andrew, your response puts this into more perspective and would have probably helped understand where you were coming from.
Now I make no claims as being pro-life or pro-choice. Morally I think contraceptives are the weapon of choice along with the morning after pill. After that? As I said, the more you prevent abortion, the better for everyone involved. Did you know how traumatic abortion can be for some women after the fact? I hate to add this to the pile…but heck this goes to what Amanda is saying to, which I will get to in a second….
There are in fact support groups out there for women who went through abortions. I don’t think some people realize how traumtic this decision really can be later on and even years later. Some women suffer emotional scars years later and I can tell you about another one of my uncles who suffers scars years later when his wife aborted their child without telling him….and yes they got divorced and she was cheating on him but he is sure the baby was his…long story but there are scars in the aftermath of abortion just like there are in anything.
And trust me when I tell you that things like this are never easy.
I think my last post goes into that to a large extent right what you were saying about the direct health effects? I talked about the changes that pregnancy inacts on women including the broken bones, permanant organ damage etc….which is what I know of as facts from talking to female friends who will never be the same health wise including diabetes depression etc.
But as I mentioned, there are issues with abortion as well. And I have not even went into the discussion of the life or not of the child. The fact is, I do not need to argue about the life of the child to make that point. There is more to this issue then meets the eye, and some people have seen what happens when abortion was not allowed and perhaps it would have made people happier.
But I have seen first-hand when it did happen and what it did to people and the aftermath. I have heard my uncle talk about in his support group and how even 20 years after the fact and after re-marrying he still can not get over the child he lost to abortion (this is how he talks about it mind you). He talks third-hand about other mothers who are in the same boat who regret aborting their children as they call them. They also can not move on in life.
So this is not an easy decision that should be made out of conveniance. Some women perhaps can do it. Others not so much.
Something I know my uncle talked about was how the women always talk about how they can not believe they were allowed to make the decision of abortion in the first place when their hormones in their state of mind were altered by pregnancy to the point they were.
I will leave it at that, but perhaps that will put some of my thoughts on this issue into perspective and perhaps leave us with another point to this entire discussion.
@ben I’m fully aware that there are countless women who suffer great psychological damage from abortion, and indeed, there are support groups for them.
But here’s the difference. A baby causes pica in a woman and so she takes mineral supplements. The uterus is forces to enlarge so the body adjusts. When pregnancy and birth are traumatic women can heal from it through therapy and support groups.
Maternal medicine means that the issues you bring up are mostly maternal mortality concerns in the developing world these days and studies into maternal mortality of late show that even that issue steadily decreasing. Cancer is the rare exception, and even there, treatments are improving and increasingly earlier premature birth outcomes are being achieved.
Compare that to a gestating child victim of an abortion though. They cannot heal from it and their last living memories are of dying in a way that would see the perpetrator wishing for death in jail if it were inflicted on an adult or older child (using the Anita Cobbie case as an example would be a complete understatement here).
Only it’s worse- on top of that, their dignity and humanity are reduced to nothing- vampire, parasite, cancer, “perpetual oppressor of women”. The outbursts a few years ago of the Lakemba Mufti here are a good analogy here although again, there’s somewhat of an understatement in using it considering the scale of the 2 crimes (even if one crime is not legally recognised).
In short, you can’t compare the 2. Women have the chance in the developed world, and increasingly in the developing world to either overcome, or heal from the issues you bring up. The gestating child is simply, dead.
I read your earlier post and this comment now, and they seem very decent and considered responses to the issue that Oz has put before us. Obviously, we all have different sensitivities. As I said nearer the top, we are not animals except for the brute facts of our physical existence and our very distant origins, and yet reproduction requires us to function as animals, which is highly disquieting to people such as I. Others take it in stride or even revel in it (e.g. the Duggar couple). But the controversy does not arise in the case of people like the Duggars: it arises because there are many women that find themselves pregnant — like my grandma, unwillingly and unexpectedly — do we not hear that roughly one third of pregnancies are in fact unplanned? — and they cannot face the prospect of having their lives turned upside-down by pregnancy. This is why those saying: “that’s OK: go for adoption” are ENTIRELY missing the point. In fact, if I’d been forced to give birth and go through all that risk and hardship, I’d probably want to keep the baby just to feel that I’d got my ‘money’s worth’!
Your uncle’s story is a curious one. Again: different sensitivities. What did he imagine was especially special about that child? Did the child, in his imagining of it, have a special identity? I can say with assurance, knowing my own father as I do, that if my mother’s pregnancy had failed for any reason, he would have thought: ‘well, there will be another’. The pain of loss would only have occurred for him if there were a) no possibility of any other, or b) we had been born and acquired some sort of personality that he could get to know and see as irreplaceable or unique. But I cannot see him summoning grief for a being that had never breathed and never seen the light of day.
Andrew said: Amanda, first off, I thought you were leaving and never coming back.
Well, that’s where you make your bloomer. For in fact I did not say that I was leaving and never coming back. I said that I would refrain from commenting. Anyone that knows me also knows that I am immensely interested in any discussion of human life and that of course I shall continue to read; I did post in reply, however, since Izen expressed support for my views and I wished, on his second post so doing, to acknowledge his support and my appreciation of it. When people address me directly I have a habit if not a compulsion to respond. It’s part of the outgoingness of my nature.
Andrew: Yes, it’s dead — like a tree is dead when you cut it down; like a fungus is dead when you deprive it of moisture. Yes it’s dead — without ever having had any presentiment of the fact. Without ever fearing, without ever knowing, even in a flash, some kind of regret. There is life that is not yet human life, and that is what you have not grasped.
And one other thing, highly relevant: to hear your description, Andrew, one would think that I am advocating the so-called, and revolting, ‘partial-birth abortion’. This is selective reading on your part and does you no honour. I have already stated quite categorically that I do NOT support late-term abortions. Did I not state that? Yes, I did. I do not approve of waiting until there is a foetus that could live outside the womb (and no, that is not simply dependent on medical technology but rather on the advancement of the foetus, full stop).
Anyway, I cannot instruct you, nor do I wish to. Like Ben, I believe that effective contraception is the solution, and it works for most people. But this is not a perfect world. Some women have no recourse to contraception: fact. Some contraception fails some of the time: fact. And I believe that it is the decent and right thing for a society to give such women an escape hatch, at the earliest opportunity. That is what we have in our society, and I am glad for it, and I would not have it any other way. You may bewail it, but as far as I’m concerned you’re wailing on your own.
Amanda I understand what you’re saying but at the same time no matter how grey the circumstances are, you are still dehumanising a child and advocating for their murder in the most grizzly way possible.
Certainly pregnancies are unplanned, but at the end it doesn’t change the fact that there is a child there to consider also and that advocating for abortion is to not only advocate for brutal genocide, but arguably the most monsterous and brutal from of child abuse possible, whichever way you slice it. The brutal and fatal child beatings seen on the news from time to time which have nations up in arms, are a picnic compared to the gizzly realities of abortion. Likewise with child poisoning cases when you go to abortifacients (unless you’re talking about the likes of cyanide).
At the end of the day parents have a responsibility to their children from the moment they come onto the scene, no matter how “inconvenient” (in the sense of the term “inconveniient truth”) that fact may be.
Certainly we have serious issues with the support pregnant mothers receive and I completely agree that there should be far more support for women when those situations arise than there currently is, but the notion that a mother and father don’t have a responsibility to the gestating child is pure denialism at best.
Then again this is the problem with the feminist mindset in the case of abortion and similar “affirmative action” mindsets in cases like this- it mistakes priviledge (being able to do something with a complete lack of accountability and responsibility) with rights (which come with responsibilities).
As to your second post; for practical purposes in terms of participation; refraining from commenting further and leaving a thread are equivalent to one another, as in the former, the person becomes for aqll intents and purposes, an effectively invisible observer..
@Amanda This is a classic example of the depraved and utterly monstrous mindset of the ignorance of eugenics. Honestly, in light of what I have previously posted, this blow is so low that it might as well be striking at the earth’s core.
You accuse me of not being able to grasp a blatant lie. Perhaps the reason why is because I have experienced the facts firsthand (the memories of which I will carry with me for the rest of my life). In doing so and with the rest of what you have said, you have effectively accused me of lying about a deeply personal experience I shared in this discussion.
I know what the truth is, I’ve lived it and as painful as those memories are, I would not change them for the world.
For the fact that you are incapable of such basic empathy, I truly pity you and your despicable mindset.
Oz, you said you would not tolerate posts which crossed the line. In this last post, Amanda indirectly yet blatantly has accused me of lying about a deeply personal experience I shared here and accused my sister of being inhuman and me of being inhuman when I witnessed the trauma. If the roles were reversed, her and her feminist ilk would be screaming for blood on the grounds of emotional abuse and patriarchal oppression. As such I would ask that you treated Amanda’s post in the same way that you treated a similar one of mine earlier.
I don’t see that Andrew, and can I urge everyone once again to refrain from personal invective and address the issues. I know (or at any rate, am trying to imagine) how hard it must be to write with the detachment I am asking of you. But do try. I don’t doubt your sincerity for a moment – Oz
Actually Amanda, wehat I described were D&Cs in the case of 1st trimester abortions and D&Es in the case of second trimester abortions. You have repeatedly indicated that you support BOTH procedures, including:
“And one other thing, highly relevant: to hear your description, Andrew, one would think that I am advocating the so-called, and revolting, ‘partial-birth abortion’. This is selective reading on your part and does you no honour. I have already stated quite categorically that I do NOT support late-term abortions. Did I not state that? Yes, I did. I do not approve of waiting until there is a foetus that could live outside the womb (and no, that is not simply dependent on medical technology but rather on the advancement of the foetus, full stop).”
There you have it- by your own admission, you do support 1st and second trimester abortions as the child is still in the womb at this point.
Furthermore you have done so by repeatedly dehumanising the victim of said procedures by referring to them in the most abhorrent terms possible. I’m not quoting your post as I am trusting Oz to show consistency and delete it, but it truly paints your character in the worst possible light.
“Anyway, I cannot instruct you, nor do I wish to. Like Ben, I believe that effective contraception is the solution, and it works for most people. But this is not a perfect world. Some women have no recourse to contraception: fact. Some contraception fails some of the time: fact. And I believe that it is the decent and right thing for a society to give such women an escape hatch, at the earliest opportunity. That is what we have in our society, and I am glad for it, and I would not have it any other way. You may bewail it, but as far as I’m concerned you’re wailing on your own.”
This post fails on so many grounds. If there is right to sexual freedom then equally there is a responsibility to the consequences should contraception fail. If people aren’t prepared to deal with those consequences, then the mature solution is abstenance, or intercourse extremely early on in a woman’s cycle- provided she’s regular (and even then, be prepared to accept the consequences when she’s not. It’s that simple.
As for your “escape hatch” That’s the funny thing about genocide, there’s always some benign and sanitised language to describe it. “Ethnic clensing” is the most recent one and it sounds like an advertising catchphrase. I can just imagine the slogan now “You’ve gotta try this ethnic cleansing- it feels wonderful and afterwards you’ll feel like a new race”.
The Jews went to showers, which were inside “wonderful holiday camps”, the disabled were “shown mercy”, “fetuses are extracted from the mother’s womb”. All to sate the consceinces of people and to mask the truth, make things sound nice, decent, egalitarian. “Escape hatch” is no different. It reeks of dehumanising denialism which attempts to ignore the elephant in the room in the form of a child at their most vulnerable and is every bit as credible an assertion.
Oz, I’ll quote the post in question:
“Andrew: Yes, it’s dead — like a tree is dead when you cut it down; like a fungus is dead when you deprive it of moisture. Yes it’s dead — without ever having had any presentiment of the fact. Without ever fearing, without ever knowing, even in a flash, some kind of regret. There is life that is not yet human life, and that is what you have not grasped.”
According to that statement, I couldn’t possibly have been human when it happened, I felt no trauma with it and had no idea what was happening. Therefore as this directly contradicts what I have said it accuses me of lying- especially when in the last part of it, she accuses me of being in denial about it. Regardless of whether it was intended, that’s exactly what it is- an accusation of lying about said trauma and living in a denial about it. Considering this was posted after I had posted my personal experience, Amanda would have known EXACTLY what context her post was being made in.
Again, in the interests of consistency, and as this has crossed a line (and I HIGHLY doubt it was done unknowingly) I would ask you to treat it in the same manner as you treated an earlier post where I crossed the line.
I want to respond to Amanda. I actually held your opinions for most of my life (which is longer than you’ve been alive). I still hold many of those beliefs today. I may now find abortion morally reprehensible as a whole, but as Ben pointed out earlier, each case is different. I personally know women whose lives might very well have been ruined had abortion not been available. Although it runs opposed to my opinion to a right to life (which Ozboy erroneously denies exists), I still remain a champion of a woman’s right to dominion over her own body. But you know…times have changed since Roe v. Wade. Contraception is widely available (for both men and women). Not all that long ago this wasn’t the case. Every person has a duty of personal responsibility. As I mentioned in an earlier comment I always was packin’ condoms because for me an unwanted, accidental pregnancy would have been disastrous from a career standpoint. So the burden of contraception is not always on the woman. Further, at least in my experience, the woman always has the final say so when it comes to intercourse. In effect the woman has probably slightly more than 50% of the responsibility for having unprotected sex. Men, on the other hand, are on the hook for child support until the kid(s) is 18 years old if the couple doesn’t marry. Hell, he’s still on the hook even if they divorce. What’s more, the man has no legal rights should the woman decide to abort the unborn child for her convenience. This is a financial boon for the man, but not all men think of life in these terms.
Amanda, my point is that given today’s availability of contraception and the statistical unlikelihood of pregnancy for any given unprotected encounter, it’s hard to blame men. At the same time I feel disgust for men who do not take precautions. Yeah…I know it ain’t real “romantic” to ask it precautions need to be taken…but it takes only seconds…and trust me, it really doesn’t spoil the mood.. With that said, Amanda, although Ozboy may despise me for imbedding a music video, this one is special and I wanted you to hear hear it. It speaks to personal responsibility on both sides of this argument.
No Dave, the last thing we would need at the moment is spite – the song’s fine. But your comment about the man having no legal rights reminded me of this story from the U.S., in which one man who faced just such a situation decided to get redress of a different sort – Oz
How in the world do you find this stuff? This is in my own home state and I am completely unaware of it. You live on the opposite side of the planet. That aside, there have been many cases of failed marriages or boyfriend/girlfriend unions that resulted in a pregnancy and the woman has chosen abortion. It’s been contested many times but to my knowledge no man has ever won a case. I’m not trying to say this is right or wrong…only that the deck is stacked against the interests of the man. Personally, I’d be all in favor of an abortion in these circumstances.
But it’s a shame you’re shutting this thread down. I figured after we have traveled through the barnyard, visited with Darwin, considered genetic coding, pondered humanity right down to the sub-cortical level, explored romance, true love and primal lust, postulated artificial wombs and everything else we could actually get back to the topic of abortion. There is still a lot to discuss and we barely scratched the surface. Perhaps another day, eh? It might be safer to revisit drugs.
We can revisit this topic later, of course, and you and I have some more discussions to get through on rights. Let’s save that one for a dedicated thread.
As Dave has mentioned, and I’ve notified a few of you, I’m drawing a line under this thread in just under 24 hours (6 March 1800 AEDST) The site’s just about melted down with hits since I posted it, so clearly there’s more to be done. I’ll have a new thread out simultaneously – Oz
Well it’s down to me have the final word “wubble”.
Sorry Kitler: I’ve got something to add! You’ll have to do a double wubble to be last!
Dave has brought the question of men’s interests into this. And we might as well mention, while we’re at it, that sometimes abortions are sought (and paid for) by the man of the couple (I know one myself, a fine and morally dutiful man). Some women — and they are not the best among us — do have a habit or inclination towards conceiving when the relationship is on the outs, perhaps because they think this will compel the man to hang on. Some women (again, I’ve personally met or known examples of all) want to be mothers, and aren’t particularly concerned about the health of their relationship or how fatherhood will affect the status and financial obligations of the man from now until doomsday. In short, some women can be quite self-seeking and they can ride roughshod over the man’s conviction that he does want a child with this particular woman (or at all). As I say, I know someone, who was a father of two at the time, divorced, and looking for his next marriage, who had a relationship with a woman (while living apart) and decided that she was not for him. She got pregnant — without his consent. He said (I’m guessing, as it’s too private to discuss): you’re not getting me back, and I shall do nothing to help raise the child or even to acknowledge it. The pregnancy was terminated early on.
Well I’m just going to state the obvious……there just isn’t any right or wrong answer.
Every argument for abortion can be countered by an equally valid one against it.
Just let’s not fall out, remember the trashing the ‘Bar-n-Grill’ took last year.
Thanks for posing the question Oz’.
Sorry Amanda & Kitler – you’ll both just have to re-post.
So there is Dr D who disputes Ozboys argument that an absolute Right to Life is incoherent as a philosophical position – unless you invoke a supernatural power to grant it.
Then we have AR who seems to think that their subjective memory is evidence for the inherent personhood of the embryo which trumps all oth scientific or biological arguments. And gets upset when any other poster suggests that sentient awareness is not a characteristic of the embrylogical state, taking such a suggestion as a direct personal attack on his integrity and sincerity.
Given the propensity of the human mind to confabulated false narratives I don’t trust my memory without corroborating evidence, I see no reason why I should grant anyone else a greater degree of credibility.
But let’s accept for a moment the premise that there is a ‘person’ present from the moment of conception. That does not automatically imply that the termination of that life is absolutely and unequivocally wrong or must be avoided. There are a number of circumstances where the killing of a human person is considered justifiable. Several were mentioned. I am going to suggest that embryo-ness is another. It may be a person, but a rather unpleasant one. It coopts a woman’s body perhaps without consent and enforces the diversion of resources to its own ends. It has no active moral agency or ability to be an equal partner in any negotiation between the woman and embryo, it’s demands are significant and non-negotiable. Behaviour from a person who has intentionality and moral agency of this sort would be considered grounds for restraint and punishment at least.
In the case of an embryo I suggest that abortion can be regarded as justifiable homicide.
Amanda all I can say about the man he should have used better preventative measures and not trusted his then lover to do the right thing as romantic relationships do not bring out the best decisions in us and neither does vast quantities of alcohol. Both combined is fatal and can lead to marriage and children.
My own personal view on abortion is I accept it when it is medically necessary and there occasions when this has to be done other than that I’m of the philosophy “if you can’t pay don’t play” and you made your bed now lie in it..
K: I can promise you that in this case alcohol was probably not a factor, never mind ‘vast amounts’. Also, she wasn’t a one-night stand: I even met her. What was he supposed to do: tell her ‘I’m wearing a condom because even though we’re supposedly intimate, I suspect that you’re capable of lying to me and betraying me in the most dishonourable way’? If he had really thought that, he would have ended the relationship right then and there. He was completely taken by surprise.
Izen: Agreed. But most people find that frank formulation too unpalatable to be admitted, even if they tacitly and for practical purposes agree.
Just looking up the thread, I’d also like to thank Izen, whose views seem to be closest to my own, for pointing out that consent and indeed enthusiasm for intimacy is NOT the same as consent to be impregnated (never mind the enthusiasm). As I said before, it so happens that the organs of love are the same as the organs of reproduction — although it doesn’t just ‘so’ happen, but this is a necessary and deliberate part of our evolution and our character as advanced animals. As Allan Bloom put it, nature has had to make sure that man’s most fundamental duty — to reproduce — is also his most pleasurable one. To the mere animal pleasure or simple pair bond, we as civilized intelligent beings have added other attractions and rewards. Few can ignore them, though of course some do.
This is why the ‘made your bed and lie in it’ attitude is really blaming the woman for yielding to something that a) nature and civilized attraction uses all their connivances to get her to yield to; and b) she is not the only one yielding. It’s punishing her for the actions of both, which is partly the fault of nature (by burdening her alone with gestation), but partly the fault of society, when we have the means to intervene and yet refuse.
@Izen “Then we have AR who seems to think that their subjective memory is evidence for the inherent personhood of the embryo which trumps all oth scientific or biological arguments.”
That’s just it, the scientific evidence is inconclusive. Neuroscience simply doesn’t have the answer to that yet in any quantifiable method. This was something a friend of mine who is a former neuroscience researcher brought up when I raised this with them.
Furthermore, if you’re claiming a biological argument, you might want to look up the difference between a biological argument and a eugenic one as you clearly have the 2 confused.
Finally on this point; every memory is subjective to the person who has it. The fact is that I do clearly have a memory of her being there in-utero early on during my gestation and a TRAUMATIC memory of her leaving the body at 5 months, if I lacked a proper human awareness then logically the event shouldn’t have been traumatic and would have been just dismissed. Yet the fact is that it WAS traumatic means that said human awareness was there and your entire argument is flawed.
As Einstein said “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.”
Such is the case here.
“And gets upset when any other poster suggests that sentient awareness is not a characteristic of the embrylogical state, taking such a suggestion as a direct personal attack on his integrity and sincerity.”
When it is said in direct response to me and in the wake of said post being made, and followed on by accusing me of being able to grasp, then it quite literally amounts to an accusation of it being a lie, followed on by a veiled claim of being delusional.
“But let’s accept for a moment the premise that there is a ‘person’ present from the moment of conception. That does not automatically imply that the termination of that life is absolutely and unequivocally wrong or must be avoided. There are a number of circumstances where the killing of a human person is considered justifiable. Several were mentioned. I am going to suggest that embryo-ness is another. It may be a person, but a rather unpleasant one. It coopts a woman’s body perhaps without consent and enforces the diversion of resources to its own ends. It has no active moral agency or ability to be an equal partner in any negotiation between the woman and embryo, it’s demands are significant and non-negotiable. Behaviour from a person who has intentionality and moral agency of this sort would be considered grounds for restraint and punishment at least.
In the case of an embryo I suggest that abortion can be regarded as justifiable homicide.”
Translation: ‘ok, so they’re no longer parasites, they’re the gestating child verson of “savages”- similar to huumans but still completely sub-human. You then go on with the same chld abuse enabling and genocide facilitating garbage as always- villainising a helpless minority on the grounds off an ageist variant of social Darwinism.’
The disabled were described in terms of the state by the Nazis in the same manner that you describe a gestating child in relation to the pregnant mother. The Jews were going to takke over the world, “Injuns” needed to be civilised, and so the list goes on. All you’re demonstrating is one of the more recent additions to that very same list of genocide facilitating mantras in recent history.
@Amanda “This is why the ‘made your bed and lie in it’ attitude is really blaming the woman for yielding to something that a) nature and civilized attraction uses all their connivances to get her to yield to; and b) she is not the only one yielding. It’s punishing her for the actions of both, which is partly the fault of nature (by burdening her alone with gestation), but partly the fault of society, when we have the means to intervene and yet refuse.”
More genocide facilitation on your part. Even if you take all those factors to have the sinister meaning you argue they do (the problem with your argument is that like most modern feminists, you completely ignore the fact that with rights come responsibilities), you are still taking it out on the most helpless and innocent party there (even more innocent a party than the woman herself in the case of consentual sex) and then sanitising it through dehumanising propaganda.
You will get no argument from me that society does not support regnant mothers enough or that it’s far too easy for fathers to shirk their responsibilities and that this needs to be addressed also.
However the lines you cross from there turn your entire argument into an utter hypocrisy.
To begin with, people have a choice as to whether they will be sexual with people (ignoring situations of sexual assault) and if they are so opposed to ever being pregnant, and view their anatomy as imprisoning them, then surely the answer is to “liberate” themselves from that through surgery, be they men or women.
Furthermore, the only time your stance will not be a complete hypocrisy is when it leads to an option where the lives of the gestating children are factoring in, recognised and respected.
Until that point, and while the option pushed for continues to be abortion; the collective modern feminist argument which you repeat here will merely be one of child abuse enabling and genocide facilitating hypocrisy, tenuously justified by a “patriarchy” persecution complex.
I am going to say one last thing on this subject in general, I did attempt to be peacemaker and probably failed, and yes I am probably not the best person to do this, I admit. I appologize, as this is a subject I myself do get emotional about as most do.
But to say my last thought more in terms of libertarianism in general, I think going back to the original video and how the issue of abortion tends to divide libertarians since its such a divider between the right to life versus freedom. There is no good solution. The best we can do is as I said do the best we can and go from there.
That may be a cop-out and perhaps it is, but there is no good solution. As Ozboy says at the top, this is the darkest debate and it is not just so for just libertarians, it is for our society as well.
These are emotional items that people are going to get emotional about. No question about it. That is because by nature humanity wants to protect life and freedom and the clash that abortion has between the two drives us emotionally to such a level that there really is no way that most people can stay objective. To those of you who were able to do so, I applaud you, because I failed to remain completely objective despite my best attempts. I did so until the post before this one, and trust me I did try.
So as far as libertarianism goes, we must realize that the clash here has to be answered with some sort of compromise. We are not going to be able to outlaw abortion or support it. The best we can do if given political power is to look down at it in a very negative light but still allow it. We can allow it but not fund it.
That is the very best we can do. For policy, any organization or medical plan should not receive public funds for it.
If Planned Parenthood for instance wants to receive Government funds, they need to not preform the services. They can refer patients to a third party. That is my best attempt to alleviate issues that I can think of policy wise. That and preventing abortions in the first place through contraceptives, etc and keeping them available easilly etc.
Alternately Ben, we take the third option. We as a society do what we’ve always done in the way of science and “make the impossible, possible”.
Izen claims that it’s “impossible” to replicate the hormonal responses of a woman’s reproductive system during pregnancy.
At one point mapping the human genome was “impossible”, as was splitting the atom, machinery the size of molecule chains using carbon nano-tubes, flight, space travel, micro-surgery, life support systems, artificial limbs and organ transplants. These are just a few examples of what was once “impossible” and is now either common-place, or will be in the next few years.
All of these things were once beyond our grasp, deemed too complex to pull off, too beyond us. There is no reason why, with the appropriate funding and the right brilliant minds behind it, the artificial womb is any different.
Once it comes along, then the game is changed and abortion becomes completely obsolete, completely putting an end to the debate.
Clarification: ‘means to intervene and yet refuse’: They did refuse my grandmother in 1965, but obviously attitudes and legal measures to match have liberalized considerably since then — indeed, too much so. In that way, I was talking in theoretical terms, rather than referring to the present dispensation. Nowadays, few would dispute that my grandma’s age (38 was ‘older’ then than it is now for childbirth), status as a mother of nearly-grown daughters (within a couple of years my mother had married and was soon expecting me), and her clear medical risk — which required lengthy hospitalization — made her an obvious candidate for relief. I am glad that a woman in a similar position has recourse now, as my grandma did not.
Hi Ben: I didn’t notice any over-emotionalism in you. I thought you seemed properly dispassionate.
“Justice is rather the activity of truth, than a virtue in itself. Truth tells us what is due to others, and justice renders that due. Injustice is acting a lie. ”
Another pretty good article:
Love the quotation, Farmerbraun. Thanks.
Brilliant article you’ve brought up there Dr. Dave – one which for the most part I agree with except for one part of it that needs to be discussed.
The article says: “The article’s authors are exactly right when they analyze an infant: the baby doesn’t have existential awareness, no more than next week’s dinner does.”
This in itself is a eugenic fallacy as it confuses existential awareness with contextualisation. To take a rather grizzly example- take a child under 2 who has been molested or raped. The child has no concept of sex education, puberty is a long way off so they have never experienced hormones. What is rape to them? How can they verbalise it when they don’t have the vocabulary or point of reference to do so. Does it change the fact that they have been traumatised by an event which remembering in the future they will have the vocabulary to describe? Does it change the violation, the lost innocence, the betrayal, even if these concepts cannot be verbalised?
This is the “savages” argument where because an individual has no frame of reference or is culturally different, that they somehow “aren’t human” or are “less than human”.
What the article ignores, perhaps blindly or perhaps deliberately due to length issues is that newborn babies do have a specific language they use (Dunstan baby language) for the first 3 months after birth. They fact that they can communicate means that there is an existential awareness there.
The other issue is repressed memories and trauma as I alluded to earlier. There have been numerous cases of people who have had traumatic memories at birth which have affected them. I’ve even had one example of it within my family.
Then you have twin-womb survivors such as myself- be it a case of a vanishing twin, or a missed miscarriage where the older child’s corpse is still in the womb when the second child is conceived and for some time during the pregnancy until it is either absorbed into the other child’s body or expelled from the uterus. All of us in this situation, whether the other sibling was known or unknown, seem to describe the exact same feelings. That cannot happen unless there is an existential awareness there as said awareness is required for something to be traumatic.
Furthermore, considering the fact that even at 12 weeks, children have been documented trying to violently evade the suction of a D&C abortion, it points to a clear case of existential existence even then. The documented evidence by the renowned Dr Bernard Nathanson, can be viewed here:
Let’s see people try and dehumanise that.
@Amanda “Love the quotation, Farmerbraun. Thanks.”
Considering how ironic your post is in light of the article Dr Dave posted in the post above yours made 2 hours prior; you may want to consider a retraction, particularly as it reduces your whole argument to “non sequiturs about “the right to choose” and “government off my uterus.”” to quote the article.
Another interesting thing to consider that I just stumbled upon is the issue of fetal harvesting. Someone earlier on raised the point that surely maternal outcomes would be more profitable than abortions. However there is an issue of the industry that abortion has created- harvesting fetal body parts, where the remains are sold to organisations ranging from universities for research to cosmetic companies.
Here are just 2 articles on the subject that I’ve come across in an initial search on the subject: http://www.jeevanjal.org/jeevanasha/fetal-harvest.html , http://www.nrlc.org/Baby_Parts/omeara.html
Some may complain about a Christian bias in the first article, but bear in mind these sites are no more biased than those which actually promote abortion.
This actually takes things to an interesting place- do people support cannibalism where the victims are human beings at their most helpless?
Andrew : awareness is required for something to be traumatic.
But of course. But that does not make the cause of the trauma real. Hallucination, delusion, and neurotic fantasy can be traumatic.
Perhaps this quote best sums up this thread:
This world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel.
@farmerbraun “Andrew : awareness is required for something to be traumatic.
But of course. But that does not make the cause of the trauma real. Hallucination, delusion, and neurotic fantasy can be traumatic.”
In terms of this argument though, this argument is pure fallacy. Whether what is perceived is actual or imagined is irrelevant. Either state is direct evidence of existential awareness, as trauma based on “real” events is evidence of existential awareness at an observational level. Trauma based on “imagined” events is evidence of a higher level existential awareness as someone is not only merely observing, but also in a way, questioning the nature of their existence in an abstract or imaginary manner.
Either way you have trauma based on perception, which in turn can only exist if there is existential awareness to begin with. Therefore your point is moot.
Furthermore as the review to the documentary I linked to (and which in turn directly links to the documentary), which is narrated by arguably one of the world’s greatest experts on the subject, Dr Bernard Nathanson, attests to, said awareness can be witnessed in the first trimester, as a gestating child literally tries to flee for its life during an abortion.
Therefore if existential awareness is the requirement for person-hood and said awareness is witnessed during the 1st trimester of pregnancy, then a gestating child during the first trimester has in fact achieved person-hood.
Game. Set. Match.
Recalled “memory”, real or fictitious, is a little different from independently witnessed awareness: at least in the real world. Awareness is , in the first instance, a brain function. But it is much more than a reflex reaction.
Game . Set. Match? Really?
The logic which says that a recovered ” memory” at a later time,of an event which never happened, is evidence of an awareness existing at the time of the imaginary event, is a type of logic with which I am not familiar.
There is remarkable illogical consistency to such posts: or do I mean logical inconsistency? Perhaps consistently illogical describes it best.
@farmerbraun your entire posts here are complete illogical fallacy, based in denialism and pure eugenics.
Your utterly faulty reasoning here is based on the reasoning of “if p, then q”, the problem there being that your entire reasoning here is based on blind denialism.
Your entire chain off reasoning here is based on the notion that the initial trauma CANNOT possibly have happened? Based on what solid and incontrivertible proof? At what point did you suddenly know more than the entire neuro-scientist community who even in taking a skeptical approach, say that in terms of measuring awareness, that they cannot conclusively determine when awareness starts in a gestating child.
Sheer irrational arrogance on your part, considering the neurology of the child begins forming at 21 days and the brain begins forming from 5 weeks. I have posted evidence from one of the world’s leading experts on abortion- Dr Bernard Nathanson, who at the time when he was a staunch supporter of abortion, was one of the experts who was instrumental in the case of Roe vs Wade and who, upon realising his stance was flawed along scientific grounds, immediately switched sides.
You are claiming that, in response to conclusive video evidence of a child demonstrating existential awareness during a 1st trimester abortion, over-layed by expert testimony of an OB/GYN with decades of experience, that the evidence is false and an expert has no clue what they’re talking about.
Considering that your response to sound reasoning based on incontrivertible evidence, is to at best tenuously, claim to know more than experts and justify said position using the pseudo sciences of social Darwinism and eugenics, you should learn the difference between a reasoned and informed argument, and sticking your head in the sand.
In short, your entire counter-argument, if it can even be called that, is moot.
I’m going to wrap up the thread here (please, no abortion comments spilling over to the next thread—I’m worn out). So I’m giving myself the last word, with a few final thoughts before we move on to matters new:
First, a very sincere thank you to all who have posted or lurked through this thread. I have been putting off attempting a Libertarian coverage of abortion, ever since Ozboy’s Bar and Grill first opened its doors two years ago. Those who have been patrons here long enough will remember the carnage that ensued down here when we decided to cover the issue of drug law liberalization; so you will understand how wary I have been of touching a potentially even more explosive issue. But then, what would be the point of this blog if we didn’t, beyond being a pleasant meeting place?
As it turned out, your contributions have been nothing short of magnificent; I’d say this thread is the best one we have done so far, by a long way. This is clearly a very painful subject for many of you, and I am truly humbled by the level of generosity you have displayed in sharing your personal stories with us here. Thank you one and all.
I realize that in the course of events here, I’ve postulated a theory of rights that some of you view as radical. My views on a right to life were the missing piece of my earlier article on the subject, which for reasons you will now understand I was saving up for this thread. We never really got down to debating this point, and I promise we will return to it on another thread soon.
My own private views on abortion are unimportant, and in the article I tried as far as humanly possible to present both sides from a Libertarian perspective. As I said, if you really want my own opinion, click the image at the top. Those two pictures were taken in 2010, just fourteen weeks apart, and as far as I am concerned their subject is just as much my beautiful daughter in the first as in the second. Of all the stories we have heard here, Mark’s moved me the most, indeed I confess I was compelled to read it through a blur of tears. The heartbreak of loss, and the ecstacy of embracing one’s own flesh and blood newly born to the world, is something I think only another parent who has been there can truly understand. I’ll be plain: I don’t like abortion, and I would like to see far less of it in society. Just as I’d like to see far less drug abuse. Andrew Richards, time and again on this thread, has reminded us of the ghastly reality that abortion actually is, and I would like those who speak easily and freely of a right to choose to be unable to avoid seeing with their own eyes exactly what it is they are clamouring to choose.
But to make abortion illegal—to attempt to stamp it out by permitting the state to act as a kind of “pregnancy police”, and supervise gestation from conception to parturition, forcing countless unwilling women to carry babies to term, irrespective of how tragic or desperate their situation, is not only highly impractical, but would open the way to a level of totalitarian invasion into our private lives beyond anything we have seen in Western democracy in the last century. I literally laughed aloud when Tucci posted the excerpt from Hope—Alex’s character seems to have read my mind, and enumerated perfectly all the absurdities associated with state regulation of pregnancy. His final point, that no public monies whatsoever for this purpose should be extorted from unwilling taxpayers, who clearly have fundamental objections to the practice, is the flip side of a truly liberal abortion law: it liberates both those who support abortion to be able to procure one, at their own expense, and those who oppose it, from being forced to subsidize it.
In the end, I go back to my blog’s motto: Be Responsible – Be Free! In an age when children commence their sex education long before they reach puberty, where contraception is cheap and ubiquitous, there really are no excuses for “accidental” pregnancies. If the only ones that did occur were when prophylactics broke or other forms of contraception failed—in other words, the unavoidably accidental—plus the cases of rape or incest, I am fairly certain we would be looking at a problem which is a great deal smaller than the one we see today—particularly among the young. A significant proportion of unplanned pregnancies are the result of people acting irresponsibly; men, I hasten to add, who fail to use protection are in my mind every bit as culpable as women, and are quite rightly held accountable for the support of their unintended progeny. As long as we fail to take responsibility for our own lives, we are handing on a platter to an eagerly awaiting State, every excuse it needs to do so itself.