The Abortion Thread

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Eric the .5b
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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by Eric the .5b » 21 May 2019, 21:04

Jennifer wrote:
21 May 2019, 16:20
Eric the .5b wrote:
21 May 2019, 15:57
Jennifer wrote:
21 May 2019, 15:46
Eric the .5b wrote:
21 May 2019, 15:40
If it is a being deserving consideration of rights, then it is at no fault for it's creation by another and shouldn't be subject to destruction by its creator.
Which applies equally well to my hypothetical of forcing my mother to donate liver or bone marrow tissue
No, it damn well doesn't. One case is forcing something a procedure on someone, the other's forbidding them from having a procedure.
Could be a semantic argument: are you "forbidding" the procedure of abortion, or "requiring" the procedure of nine months of pregnancy followed by birth (or, regarding those who'd go so far as to ban abortion even if necessary to save the mother's life, requiring one to literally drop dead)?
It's forbidding a specific action—having a specific medical procedure. If you decree that the glob of cells is a human being with rights, it's forbidding the killing of that person. There's not much of a semantic handwave to that.

Does this have ridiculous and horrific follow-on consequences? Yes, that's what happens when you treat a tiny glob of cells as a person.
Jennifer wrote:
21 May 2019, 16:20
If we go with your logic, we should get to hunt and kill welfare recipients for surviving on our tax money.
Only if you believe "paying taxes is exactly identical to losing your bodily autonomy."
Why does it require bodily autonomy to be in play? Why would bodily autonomy grant the authority to arbitrarily wield the power of life and death over a powerless person?
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D.A. Ridgely
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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 21 May 2019, 22:57

I have zero interest in arguing this with Jennifer, but I'm one of those people who think that abortion is, if not murder, nonetheless a form of homicide because I consider on non-religious grounds that the blastocyst/zygote/fetus/infant/child/adolescent/adult/geriatric is still at bottom a genetically distinct member of the species Homo sapiens and, as such, worthy of moral regard.

Whether that moral regard translates into legal protection, let alone under any and all circumstances is another, far more complicated question, but I can tell you that if the social trade-off was allow the 11 year old girl or all rape victims, for that matter, to abort the child but make the procedure illegal as a generally available post-conception form of birth control, the overwhelming majority of pro-life proponents would probably jump at the deal. Many would still say it was a form of premeditated homicide and they might also think it was morally wrong, but that doesn't really matter because there are just about as many abortion rights proponents whose concern is primarily over 11 year old rape victims as there are religiously motivated zealots who actually want to see 11 year old rape victims who have abortions tried, convicted and executed for murder. They're out there on both sides, but they're representative of neither.

FWIW, I'm not an "all human life is sacred" guy, I think women should have as much autonomy over their own lives and bodies as possible, albeit consistent with my POV that the unborn are entitled to moral regard, and I'm generally sympathetic to the Judith Jarvis Thompson defense of abortion rights.

I don't much care if my position strikes me from the official libertarian roster, but I'm fully prepared to impose all sorts of burdens on people for all sorts of reasons and generally indifferent to their claims of autonomy even in some cases when those burdens are quite onerous. If you don't accept the personhood of the unborn, then you will of course be utterly unpersuaded by this perspective. If you do, then the issue is not merely one of women's rights but of conflicting rights, morally if not legally. I'm utterly opposed to an absolute ban on abortions because I don't think it's always wrong to kill even totally innocent people, but I'm equally unpersuaded that the only moral alternative is the Constitutional status quo.

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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by lunchstealer » 22 May 2019, 03:42

Hmmm.

One assumes you're not conferring some sort of natural rights to the zygote, are you? Because while it is biologically true that the zygote is an individual member of H. sapiens, it's also not in possession of almost all the features that we generally think of as the features of people.

I can't remember if it was here or elsewhere that I made the following barely apt analogy:

Scientifically speaking, a fertilized ovum is an individual of the species H. sapiens. But that is descriptive, not prescriptive. It's a scientific definition that is applicable within a very limited set of circumstances and is not designed or intended to carry moral implications. Science is really bad at manufacturing moral implications. It can inform moral questions by providing some very specific facts, but those facts aren't the morality, and they are often not really applicable to situations outside of the scientific discipline.

A bug, scientifically speaking, is an insect which is a member of order Hemiptera, comprising cicadas, shield bugs, bedbugs, stink bugs, assassin bugs, and a few other groups with similar mouth parts and wing configurations. Science tells us that the following are not bugs: ladybugs, pillbugs, lightningbugs, gnats, mosquitoes, spiders, millipedes, crayfish, the primary military antagonist in Starship Troopers, or almost all of the other creepy crawlys and flappy flappy moth type creatures that we all call 'bugs' from time to time. Bug spray isn't really designed to repel bugs, but a wide variety of insects and other arthropods. But science doesn't tell us that we have to throw away all our bug spray and instead get wide range of arthropods spray. Because the scientific definition of 'bug' is useful among entomologists and their ilk, but not for normies.

Likewise, science tells us that black, white, east Asian, south Asian, new world native, polynesian, and australian aboriginal peoples are all members of the same species because we can all have viable and fertile offspring with each other. That's a scientific definition that doesn't mean that we should treat white people and black people the exact same way. But it can inform our discussions about whether we should treat white people and black people the same. The science can debunk a bunch of bullshit racist garbage about supposed inferiority of black people, but the science isn't WHY the guy spewing bullshit racist garbage is an asshole. It just tells us that he's an asshole who is spouting garbage. But it's an ethical question beyond the scope of science that tells us that he's an asshole for spewing bullshit racist garbage.

So while science can tell us some things, going the TECHNICALLY that's an independent human organism therefore ABORTION IS TEH MURDERS* route is kind of a misuse of science. Actually not 'kind of'. It's a misuse of science, full stop.

*I do not ascribe this position to DAR, but rather to a bunch of other people none of whom is a regular on this board.
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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by thoreau » 22 May 2019, 10:44

Trigger warning for Quillette, but Coleman Hughes has a nice article dissecting some of the issues discussed by Lunchstealer.

https://quillette.com/2019/05/21/rethin ... -advocacy/

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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 22 May 2019, 10:52

lunchstealer wrote:
22 May 2019, 03:42

One assumes you're not conferring some sort of natural rights to the zygote, are you? Because while it is biologically true that the zygote is an individual member of H. sapiens, it's also not in possession of almost all the features that we generally think of as the features of people.
One assumes correctly. I do not believe in natural rights. I do believe that scientific facts have probative value in making moral judgments. Put it this way and then let's let it drop: the human zygote has all the features of people at that stage of a person's life, who obviously don't include most of the features we ordinarily think of as the features of people but who under ordinary developmental circumstances usually will. Among post-natal people, many will not for a variety of reasons have this or that feature that people normally throughout the course of most of their lives have but, again, I don't ascribe any particular such feature or any particular specific list of such features as required for being given moral regard as a living person. When they are used for purposes of determining the death of a person, that's a different sort of discussion, one which as far as I know rarely if ever involves the claim that the now dead person was never really a person in the first place.

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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by nicole » 22 May 2019, 11:28

thoreau wrote:
22 May 2019, 10:44
Trigger warning for Quillette, but Coleman Hughes has a nice article dissecting some of the issues discussed by Lunchstealer.

https://quillette.com/2019/05/21/rethin ... -advocacy/

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Uhhhhh
The bad argument I’m referring to—often sloganized as “my body, my choice,” or its corollary, “they want to control women’s bodies”—can be summarized as follows:

1. It’s a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body.
2. A fetus is part of a woman’s body.
3. Therefore, it’s a woman’s right to choose what to do with her fetus.
I'm sure some people would say (2), but that's not the broad argument at all. The fetus is inside the woman's body.
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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by Ellie » 22 May 2019, 11:40

Yeah, exactly. And the broad argument is also not really that it's her right to choose what to do with "her" fetus. It's more like the fetus is trespassing on her property and it's her right to expel the intruder. (And the corollary that they want to control women's bodies is not that they want to tell the woman what to do with "her" fetus, but that they want to force her body to host the intruder. Like a zygote version of violating the third amendment.)
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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by nicole » 22 May 2019, 12:02

Ellie wrote:
22 May 2019, 11:40
Yeah, exactly. And the broad argument is also not really that it's her right to choose what to do with "her" fetus. It's more like the fetus is trespassing on her property and it's her right to expel the intruder. (And the corollary that they want to control women's bodies is not that they want to tell the woman what to do with "her" fetus, but that they want to force her body to host the intruder. Like a zygote version of violating the third amendment.)
Right.


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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by thoreau » 22 May 2019, 12:10

Fair enough. But whether you call the fetus a trespasser or a part of her body, the whole issue is whether that fetus has some moral status or right that might over-ride her right to self-determination. And Hughes' argument is that these things exist along continua and we just have to accept some arbitrary cutoffs. Because otherwise you will have to choose between allowing abortion at 35 weeks or state legislators trying to ban contraceptives if they prevent implantation of fertilized eggs. And 99.9% of people would prefer neither of those policies.
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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by nicole » 22 May 2019, 12:20

thoreau wrote:
22 May 2019, 12:10
Fair enough. But whether you call the fetus a trespasser or a part of her body, the whole issue is whether that fetus has some moral status or right that might over-ride her right to self-determination. And Hughes' argument is that these things exist along continua and we just have to accept some arbitrary cutoffs. Because otherwise you will have to choose between allowing abortion at 35 weeks or state legislators trying to ban contraceptives if they prevent implantation of fertilized eggs. And 99.9% of people would prefer neither of those policies.
There's way more to criticize about that part of the substance. Like this:
Science can discover many important facts, such as the age at which humans reach sexual maturity (earlier than 18), or the age at which the prefrontal cortex fully develops (later than 18). But science alone cannot tell us when a “child” becomes an “adult.” Biological facts may be relevant to that question, but it can’t be answered by biology alone. In the end, most Western democracies draw the line somewhere between 16 and 18 years-old—not because science says so, and not because some moment of instantaneous transformation happens during this period of adolescence, but because it seems reasonable based on all of the ethically relevant factors.
What are the ethically relevant factors, and what reason is there for saying that the choice of 16 or 18 is "reasonable" based on them? He doesn't even examine the question!
A critic might reject this analogy. Perhaps we can draw an arbitrary line between childhood and adulthood because the stakes aren’t high, they might say. But how can we create an arbitrary line dividing human life from something less? This critique fails for two reasons. First, it’s not as if the stakes for “adulthood” are low. Somewhere in America, somebody is rotting in jail—and will be on a sex offender registry for the rest of their life—because they had sex with someone a day too soon. Those stakes aren’t quite life-and-death, but they are extremely serious. And despite the gravity of those stakes, we still rely on a somewhat arbitrary judgment because we lack a decisive alternative.
Leave it to him to worry only about the "adult" in that situation being harmed. The stakes are years of systematic oppression across all of society! For every child in the world!
The same is true for birth: it is clearly a landmark moment in one sense, which is why we celebrate it every year. But in terms of its capacity to suffer and flourish, a fetus the day before delivery is no different from a newborn baby. “Personhood” emerges gradually, second-by-second and cell-by-cell over the course of weeks and months. Nature has failed to satisfy our demand for crisp boundaries and conceptual certainty. Our challenge with abortion, much like our challenge with the age of consent, is to create a boundary line that represents a reasonable compromise between competing values and interests.
And here, and elsewhere, he assumes that a reasonable arbitrary cutoff is birth, because there's no significant difference in capacity to "suffer and flourish" the day before birth vs. after. But...why would that not be an argument licensing infanticide? He doesn't even consider it!
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Eric the .5b
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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by Eric the .5b » 22 May 2019, 12:56

Short version: If the abortion rights movement had kept to "reasonable compromise" and "ethical complexity", we'd have been back to back alleys and coat hangers years ago.

Longer version:

Really, at the top level, I've seen variations of Hughes' argument bubbling around about abortion, lately. But not just lately and not just about abortion. Back when I read skeptic magazines, about once or twice a year, I'd see a piece where some guy would tut-tut at the irrationality of politics and principles and rallying-cries around some political controversy. Abandoning all considerations of history, context, and political dynamics as irrational cruft around the issue, they'd come up with a terribly rational compromise position that just totally incidentally suited their center-left political stances. Then, they'd tsk-tsk about how nobody would actually take their sage advice.

And this article is a great example of the form. He ignores even the broadest details about a political conflict older than he is, one with one side trying to utterly ban legal abortions and the other side trying to preserve legal abortions, in order to present the issue as one of two thoughtless camps flinging slogans at each other without engaging their brains. (With a side of "Oh, no, let's please not talk about freedom or rights or anything that doesn't sound abstract in the right way.") And, of course, he brings own terribly rational and original arguments—which are, oddly, exactly what I've heard and read abortion-rights supporters actually argue many, many times over my life—and then offers a "compromise" stance. That compromise stance being something 99%+ of the people on one side would be happy with and that the other side would devote itself to a multi-generational effort to undermine.

His final Debate me! (On my terms.) is just the terribly precious cherry on top.


(Which doesn't mean that the bodily autonomy argument isn't weak if you if you grant the claim that a mindless clump of cells is a person. An embryo is something created within the body by a functional, natural process. It's hard to sell as an "intruder" or "trespasser" to be expelled. It just means Hughes is clueless.)
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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by lunchstealer » 22 May 2019, 14:00

thoreau wrote:
22 May 2019, 12:10
Fair enough. But whether you call the fetus a trespasser or a part of her body, the whole issue is whether that fetus has some moral status or right that might over-ride her right to self-determination.
I think there's something much larger and more important than just tresspassing or a woman 'owning' a fetus as long as it's in her body. The fetus isn't just IN her body. It's interacting in a deep way with her body and causing major changes and can cause major health problems and can sometimes kill her from the inside.

Something in my body that's causing serious changes, incurs serious costs, often causes serious health problems, possibly leaving the woman bedridden for months unable to work or care properly for other children or even take care of herself, and still can be fatal - that's not just a 'I want to own my body because wah wah I feel entitled.' It's some real concerns that go not just into aesthetics but health and financial wellness.

Trespassing is fucking trivial, and this isn't that. "Owning" one's body isn't quite trivial, but it's still not on the same scale as the deep physical consequences of pregnancy. Even a brutal violent rape (excluding incidents that end in murder of the victim because obviously) doesn't necessarily have the physical ramifications of pregnancy.
Because otherwise you will have to choose between allowing abortion at 35 weeks or state legislators trying to ban contraceptives if they prevent implantation of fertilized eggs. And 99.9% of people would prefer neither of those policies.
But if you look at the stats from Florida for 2018, there were precisely two abortions in a state of 21 million people after 24 weeks (so probably less than 35 weeks) and one was to save the life of the mother and the other was due to a serious deformity of the fetus. Even if elective abortion is legal at 35 weeks the chances of that happening then when it didn't happen in the previous eight-and-a-half months is - well it's kind of silly if you really think honestly about it. It's going to be so vanishingly rare that reasonable people can push back on 35-week-elective-abortions as an issue that should drive the remaining discussion. Certainly before I started worrying about 35-week abortions I'd want to get information from some total-permission state on the number of those that are actually seen in the wild, vs the number of expected maternal deaths due to a life-begins-at-fertilization ban on abortion. I suspect the number of dead mothers would dramatically outstrip the number of 35-week elective abortions. Probably by at two orders of magnitude, possibly by three.
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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by JasonL » 22 May 2019, 14:45

I thought the Hughes article was pretty decent. It seems to me that the question of personhood taken seriously has to be mostly independent of something like Eric's slippery slope. It may matter in a practical political sense how strident the opposition is to any abortion under any circumstances, but the views of those people can't be the sole or even majority of the reasoning behind something like "personhood = 0 until womb exist". You just aren't taking the idea of personhood seriously if all it takes is "lots of people want to say conception ergo we have to say never until birth".

I find myself philosophically inclined to something like 22 weeks is awfully person-like based on stimulus response and cognition and so forth. What I find less compelling is the idea that potential personhood should count for something. For my own purposes the right question seems to be "is this bunch of stuff a person in morally significant ways right now" not "looking forward will this thing become a person". The interruption of a path of development prior to actual personhood doesn't strike me as morally significant really in any way. It's just not a person so there's no obligation to treat it as one.

That's where I am on the moral argument. Where I am on a policy front is something like - the proper role of the state is not to ensure people don't harm people regardless of cost. If you are dealing with a morally fraught case in which one person may or may not be harming another person but such potential harm may only be averted by way of direct state intervention into a profound aspect of private autonomy - the state should not be taking that action. It should err on the side of permissiveness. Intervention into a business is bad. Intervening in a bedroom is worse and intervening in a womb has to be worse than that if you take bodily autonomy seriously at all. So, that's a known set of harms that you don't want state actors to institutionally precipitate.

As a practical matter, I don't want the state empowered to make the call to imprison people for a moral edge case even though I have a set of moral intuitions that 20 weeks is probably a person in most ways I'd find morally significant.

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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by Jennifer » 22 May 2019, 14:52

A Mississippi state lawmaker was arrested for domestic violence; he allegedly punched his wife in the face because she did not undress quickly enough when he wanted sex.

Unsurprisingly, he is also one of the men who voted to outlaw abortion in that state.
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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by Mo » 22 May 2019, 14:57

I could totally sign up to a “no abortions after brain waves (~20 weeks) detected except for life/health of the mother and severe abnormalities in the child” if it would lead to the end of this stupid debate. Pro lifers won’t take the health of the mother/abnormalities bit and pro choicers want rape and incest to go on forever (even though they basically never wait that long). Also no one would stop there.
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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by lunchstealer » 22 May 2019, 15:23

JasonL wrote:
22 May 2019, 14:45
I find myself philosophically inclined to something like 22 weeks is awfully person-like based on stimulus response and cognition and so forth. What I find less compelling is the idea that potential personhood should count for something. For my own purposes the right question seems to be "is this bunch of stuff a person in morally significant ways right now" not "looking forward will this thing become a person". The interruption of a path of development prior to actual personhood doesn't strike me as morally significant really in any way. It's just not a person so there's no obligation to treat it as one.
I did have some reservations about completely rejecting the life-at-conception thing for precisely the reason DAR has - it is scientifically true that a fertilized ovum is a separate individual of species H. sapiens, and being the pedantic science-ish guy that I am, there's something compelling about that argument even though emotionally I couldn't see it as a person at all. I worried that it was a subjective desire for the ability to escape bad choices in my youth that was pushing me to think not-person for the first parts of development.

However, I also knew that as humans develop over time we go through a lot of weird not-at-all-person-y changes which make the fetus much more like an animal at the same relative stage of development than person-like. There's a stage where there are gill slits, fergoshsakes.

But what really pushed that concern out of my head was the burning fertility clinic thought experiment. If life begins at fertilization, then a freezer full of fertilized embryos ready for implantation is a freezer full of persons - possibly hundreds or thousands of people. If human-ness and personhood and all that begins at fertilization, then yes that freezer has a huge human population. So what do you do when the place catches fire on bring your daughter to work day, where there's a 5-year-old trapped in a room which also contains that freezer full of hundreds of people. Fire's spreading fast towards the chemical locker, and when it catches fire the whole place will be engulfed, so you've got to act fast. Do you try to save the one five year old girl? Or do you save the hundreds of people in the freezer. Anyone who chooses the freezer seems like a fucking psychopath to me. That girl is clearly a living breathing person who will suffer horribly if something bad happens to her. That freezer is full of embryos with little or no nervous system. It's insanity to value them over that little girl. Insanity to the point of depravity.

That right there just proves to me that 'life begins at conception' and the idea that birth control that prevents implantation is murder - that's no saner.
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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by nicole » 22 May 2019, 15:30

lunchstealer wrote:
22 May 2019, 15:23
JasonL wrote:
22 May 2019, 14:45
I find myself philosophically inclined to something like 22 weeks is awfully person-like based on stimulus response and cognition and so forth. What I find less compelling is the idea that potential personhood should count for something. For my own purposes the right question seems to be "is this bunch of stuff a person in morally significant ways right now" not "looking forward will this thing become a person". The interruption of a path of development prior to actual personhood doesn't strike me as morally significant really in any way. It's just not a person so there's no obligation to treat it as one.
I did have some reservations about completely rejecting the life-at-conception thing for precisely the reason DAR has - it is scientifically true that a fertilized ovum is a separate individual of species H. sapiens, and being the pedantic science-ish guy that I am, there's something compelling about that argument even though emotionally I couldn't see it as a person at all. I worried that it was a subjective desire for the ability to escape bad choices in my youth that was pushing me to think not-person for the first parts of development.

However, I also knew that as humans develop over time we go through a lot of weird not-at-all-person-y changes which make the fetus much more like an animal at the same relative stage of development than person-like. There's a stage where there are gill slits, fergoshsakes.

But what really pushed that concern out of my head was the burning fertility clinic thought experiment. If life begins at fertilization, then a freezer full of fertilized embryos ready for implantation is a freezer full of persons - possibly hundreds or thousands of people. If human-ness and personhood and all that begins at fertilization, then yes that freezer has a huge human population. So what do you do when the place catches fire on bring your daughter to work day, where there's a 5-year-old trapped in a room which also contains that freezer full of hundreds of people. Fire's spreading fast towards the chemical locker, and when it catches fire the whole place will be engulfed, so you've got to act fast. Do you try to save the one five year old girl? Or do you save the hundreds of people in the freezer. Anyone who chooses the freezer seems like a fucking psychopath to me. That girl is clearly a living breathing person who will suffer horribly if something bad happens to her. That freezer is full of embryos with little or no nervous system. It's insanity to value them over that little girl. Insanity to the point of depravity.

That right there just proves to me that 'life begins at conception' and the idea that birth control that prevents implantation is murder - that's no saner.
I think it's genuinely weird that other people, seeming many other people, seemingly almost all other people, think the moral component comes at all from being "human" or "having human DNA" as opposed to from having a set of characteristics that we find salient in some way (e.g., sentience, capacity for suffering, capacity to differentiate self from others). The human DNA thing is 100% meaningless to me. I definitely put a greater moral value on some animals than on newborn humans.
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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by JasonL » 22 May 2019, 15:54

I don't find DNA or species technical specs compelling either. I don't find morphology very compelling either to be honest. It has to do with the degree to which I think there is a self reflective mental space. I understand that may not be until way after birth in some views but I don't think we know that much really.

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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by Warren » 22 May 2019, 16:01

Not until the little parasite gets a job and starts making a financial contribution to the household.
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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by lunchstealer » 22 May 2019, 16:08

JasonL wrote:
22 May 2019, 15:54
It has to do with the degree to which I think there is a self reflective mental space.
As I have said elsewhere, I strongly support a constitutional right to 303 trimester abortion for elected members of the executive branch.
Last edited by lunchstealer on 22 May 2019, 16:37, edited 1 time in total.
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thoreau
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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by thoreau » 22 May 2019, 16:12

A trimester is 3 months. Trimester 103 is only age 25.

How about 303 trimesters?

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Shem
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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by Shem » 22 May 2019, 16:23

Mo wrote:
22 May 2019, 14:57
I could totally sign up to a “no abortions after brain waves (~20 weeks) detected except for life/health of the mother and severe abnormalities in the child” if it would lead to the end of this stupid debate.
I'd need free contraceptives added, but I'd take it otherwise.
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lunchstealer
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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by lunchstealer » 22 May 2019, 16:29

thoreau wrote:
22 May 2019, 16:12
A trimester is 3 months. Trimester 103 is only age 25.

How about 303 trimesters?

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Yes, sorry, amending now. I'd done that math a while back and somehow got the first digit wrong.
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D.A. Ridgely
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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 22 May 2019, 16:33

There's no moral value per se to a living organism having H. sapiens DNA; being a living organism with H. sapiens DNA is the gold standard for determining whether that organism belongs to the same species the rest of us do because we do regard our own species differently for moral purposes than we do other species. I can think of all sorts of scenarios in which it would be reasonable to accord the same moral regard to other species or even to artificial intelligences, but none of those questions arise in the context of abortion discussions. And at least from my POV, in the world we actually live in now, questions about animal rights or the moral regard we may owe to some other species under some circumstances aren't especially relevant to how we should regard or treat one another.

Clearly, both intellectually and ethically the position I've articulated entails the conclusion that freezers filled with embryos are per se wrong in the first place, as are many IVF methods and stem cell research that requires the destruction, hence death of the embryo from which the stem cells are harvested. If it follows that we don't permit certain sorts of research, well, we already don't permit all sorts of research on human subjects, at least not past a certain developmental stage.

But I'm not a strict rule utilitarian, either, so telling me it would be immoral for me to push the button that saved either my own child's life or the lives of pretty much any number of infants' lives, wouldn't persuade me. It would be an easy call for me to save my own child. If it's your child, otoh, I'm far more inclined to save the infants. (To misread the early Rawls, there is a moral distinction between whether something is a good moral rule and whether in a particular situation the rule should be followed.) Those sort of philosophical thought experiments or, as has become the current fashion, "intuition pumps" don't tend to have much weight for me on the question of abortions because, among other differences, abortion is a retail ethical situation; that is, it almost always involves one pregnant woman and one yet unborn person, e.g. the 11 year old rape victim or the woman whose pregnancy poses health risks or the woman whose preferred method of birth control is abortion, etc. (I am using "person" here as empirical shorthand here; not intentionally loading the description with ethical presuppositions about "personhood.") It's pretty easy to come up with countervailing intuition pumps, too. All you have to do is change the "what if"s or move the goalpost far enough in one direction or the other.

Not to be too glib about it, everybody dies. There are millions of spontaneous miscarriages every year, millions of infants die at childbirth, millions of children die from disease, neglect or abuse, millions of adolescents die from accidents, suicide and war, etc. But there are different moral issues involved in whether those deaths are natural, accidental or intentional and even among those intentional deaths there are different moral issues involved in the circumstances leading to the decision to end a human life. I oppose capital punishment not because "all life is sacred" or because nobody deserves to be killed. Plenty of people have deserved to be killed; I simply don't want to give the state the power to do it. I'm fine with voluntary euthanasia and, for that matter, with suicide in general, subject to some precautions. I'm absolutely fine with abortions to save the life of the mother over that of the unborn, but when we start to talk about the mother's health or fetal abnormalities I think it's entirely appropriate to raise questions about the nature and extent of that health risk or those abnormalities and their likely effects on the unborn after birth. Like I said, all you have to do is change the "what if"s or move the goalpost far enough in one direction or the other.
Last edited by D.A. Ridgely on 22 May 2019, 17:37, edited 1 time in total.

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nicole
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Re: The Abortion Thread

Post by nicole » 22 May 2019, 17:16

JasonL wrote:
22 May 2019, 15:54
I don't find DNA or species technical specs compelling either. I don't find morphology very compelling either to be honest. It has to do with the degree to which I think there is a self reflective mental space. I understand that may not be until way after birth in some views but I don't think we know that much really.
That is also what seems compelling to me (and I think it comes way after birth).
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