Tough Questions Answered

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Why Should Abortion Be Legal?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

According to Dr. Wendy Savage of Doctors For A Woman’s Choice On Abortion, on a recent edition of Unbelievable?, the reason that abortion should be legal is:

  1. Women, throughout recorded history, have always wanted to be able to have abortions.
  2. Women will procure abortions whether they are legal or not.
  3. Illegal abortions tend to be unsafe and sometimes cause the death of the woman.
  4. Therefore, in order to save women’s lives, we must legalize abortions to make them safe.

Madeleine Flannagan, her opponent on the show, asked her the rather obvious question:  “How does the taking of the innocent lives of millions of babies justify the prevention of the deaths of thousands of women?”

Savage’s response: “They are not babies.  Before birth, they are fetuses, which are only potential human beings, not actual human beings.”

Flannagan: “What is your argument to show that they are only potential human beings instead of actual human beings before birth?”

Savage: “The fetus relies on the mother to survive.”

Flannagan: “So does a newborn baby.”

Savage: “Nobody really knows when the fetus becomes a real human being, so we just have to trust mothers’ choices and feelings in the matter.”

Surpisingly, after making a weak attempt to argue why fetuses aren’t actual human beings, Savage punted on the whole issue and said that we just have to trust women’s feelings and instincts about this issue!  Savage’s argument is that women’s feelings in this decision trump all other considerations.  Women are going to have abortions, so we might as well make them legal so the abortions are done properly.

I was stunned that Savage seemed to believe that the question of the rights of the fetus was almost completely irrelevant.  She repeatedly said that she was a pragmatist on abortion and that she had not developed any real position on when a fetus becomes a human being with a right to life.  For her, it just doesn’t matter.  She said several times on the show that she just trusts women to make the right decision.

It is incredible to me that a leader in the pro-abortion movement has such a weak argument for their case.  If we should just legalize whatever many people are going to do anyway, then why not legalize drugs, prostitution, possession of any kind of firearm, defaulting on contracts, polluting the environment, stealing in general, insider trading, and dog fighting (I’m sure I could come up with more given more time).

Of course, none of these are nearly as serious an ethical issue as abortion, so I assume that Ms. Savage would have no problem with legalizing any of them.  Absurd?  Of course.  But Savage’s reason for allowing abortion is absurd.


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Comments

  • Randoid

    So I guess since people have always wanted to “PLACE CRIME HERE” and will do so regardless of the law, we should make it legal so the people won’t face jail time. We’ll just have to trust the person’s chioces and feelings on the matter.
    …regardless that someone else was injured or murdered.

  • Ggodat

    Since the beginning of time people have wanted to use harmful (and illegal) drugs. Because they are illegal people must go to great lengths to get them causing large cases of violence, murder and other evil acts. If we could just go to the store to get cocaine or meth the drug cartels and gang violence would not exist. Cocaine and meth should be legalized to keep me from getting killed by a drug cartel member or gang.

    Seems logical to me…

  • Anonymous

    I’m a regular subscriber to the Unbelievable podcast, although I haven’t gotten to this episode yet. My strong suspicion is that Bill is either misrepresenting or misunderstanding Dr. Savage’s position (especially since the argument made above is trivially easy to answer).

  • Andrew Ryan

    Savage: “The fetus relies on the mother to survive.”
    Flannagan: “So does a newborn baby.”

    A disingenuous reply. A newborn baby relies on any adult to survive, whereas a fetus can only get life from the mother. You are welcome to offer to look after someone else’s child if they prove unable to do the job. You can’t look after someone else’s fetus. A fetus can also often pose a danger to the life of its mother; no equivalent situation exists once it has been born.

    “If we should just legalize whatever many people are going to do anyway, then why not legalize drugs, prostitution…polluting the environment, stealing in general, insider trading etc”

    Well the argument for each of these activities being legalised needs to be judged on their own merits. A strong argument can be made that criminalising drugs and prostitution actually exacerbates some or all of the problems it is meant to solve, meaning that legalisation is the lesser of the two evils. I don’t think the same applies to ‘stealing in general’ or ‘insider trading’ etc, but as I said, there’s not much point in lumping a dozen different arguments together and pretending that all are the same.

  • http://www.mandm.org.nz/ Madeleine Flannagan

    Andrew you said “you can’t look after someone else’s fetus” and you made a distinction on that basis and concluded that my answer was disingenuous on that basis. I don’t think my answer is disengenuous.

    It is correct that:

    A fetus depends on only its mother to survive until it is born.

    A newborn depends on only its mother to survive until its mother hands it care over to someone else.

    Your distinction only works it it is true that you can kill someone if you are the *only* person who can take care of that person and you have to wait and go through some physical and mental stress while you wait which is of a natural nature.

    Is this not equally true of a mother taking care of a newborn?

    I am a woman who has a 6 week old newborn. After thinking it through I have decided that I want to control my body and my resources and my life and I decide I just cannot go on with placing my breasts in another’s mouth, using my hands to clean up excrement and sick and I am over being exhausted and having to cart a baby around with me everywhere I go. In addition to the demands on my body I cannot bear the financial costs, the constraints on my time, career and social life and my relationship is under stress. What are my options?

    I can no longer do the job but I am quite sure that if I simply walked out of my house and checked into a spa retreat for a week leaving my baby in its cot on its own or I go to the doctor and ask for a lethal injection for the baby you’d say I was a monster. You say I can’t do that because I can find someone else to care for the baby and that is why it is different that if the same circumstances applied (swap breasts and hands for uterus).

    The reality is that if I began the process of contacting the authorities and making arrangements it would likely take months. They would make me have extensive counselling, they would think I had post natal depression instead of knowing my own mind. The legal process to have the baby put into care could take months. All the while through that process I would be EXPECTED to continue using my body and resources and maintain the risk to my relationships, social life and career so as to take proper care of the baby. I could not just kill it despite the fact that I might have to wait before someone else could take over its care.

    So then, why do we not place the same expectation on pregnant women? Why can they kill rather than us simply expecting them to wait a bit and then simply deliver it and hand it onto someone else while a woman taking care of a newborn faced with analogous issues cannot?

    The answer is that we treat the fetus differently to the newborn and that is why the mothers in each situation are being being held to different standards. So the question is why? What is the morally relevant difference between a fetus and a newborn? No matter how you argue abortion this question is what it always comes down to so it is this question that the debate must focus on – everything else is a red herring.

  • Boz

    Abortion should be legal, because legal easy-to-access abortion services reduce suffering.

    Illegal and/or hard-to-access abortions increase suffering.

    source: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_IAW.html

  • Andrew Ryan

    No it’s not true of a newborn. An in utero fetus, inside the mother, as my wife’s unborn child is right now, is not the same as a newborn. I can’t do much to help my wife care for that fetus – it’s all happening automatically inside her. By contrast, my wife dies in childbirth, I could raise the child. If I died, a complete stranger could do the job. Whereas if my wife died now, the fetus would die with her. It’s life is completely tied to hers in a way a newborn’s is not, regardless of how helpless the latter is.

    We can disagree on abortion, but regardless of your position, you cannot claim there’s ni difference between the nature of dependency. That’s why I said it was disengenuous.

  • Ggodat

    So if someone were to kick your wife in the stomach and the child died you would be ok with not charging the person with murder? Should they just be charged with misdemeanor aggravated assault? The courts seem to think not http://wvgazette.com/News/201006230296

    How do you reconsile that punching a woman in the stomach and the “fetus” dies and the man is charged with murder and shoving a spike into the brain of the “fetus” is not murder??

  • Anonymous

    Because women don’t consent to be punched in the stomach? Duh.

  • Anonymous

    Ms. Flannagan:

    Here’s the morally relevant difference. In our society, we extend human rights only to those beings who are moral agents; that is, those beings who are self-aware and capable of acknowledging obligations.

    The physiological prerequisite to moral agency, in turn, is the complex cerebral cortex. Without one of those, there is no “individual,” no identity, no capacity for being self-aware and acknowledging reciprocal obligations (and thus, no ability to be a rights-holder). The complex cerebral cortex develops roughly around the 25th week of pregnancy, which lines up nicely with the Roe v. Wade standard here in the US as well as roughly adopted throughout much of the first world.

    You’ve been made aware that the average pregnancy is terminated at the 8th week, and that 90+% of all abortions are conducted during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, so we’re not talking about a “close case” here — we’re talking about something that isn’t anywhere near being a rights-holder as that term is understood in our society.

    (I recognize that this will raise peripheral legal issues, such as the question of marginal humans, but we can resolve those once your red herring argument is disposed of.)

    —–

    Here, let’s try it this way: you’re in a burning building with a crying infant and a tray containing a dozen fertilized, one-day-old embryos. You can carry one or the other. Which one do you choose?

    If a one-day-old embryo in a petri dish is as much a human being as a newborn baby, this shouldn’t be a hard question at all. You swallow, say, “Gosh, this is a tragedy, and I wish I could save the 13th human, but obviously I save the 12 I can carry first.”

    Who do you save? The baby, or the tray full of embryos?

  • Anonymous

    Having listened to the entire broadcast, I — shockingly! — could not find the exchange to which Bill allegedly refers.

    I did find the following bits:

    -At 23:50, Dr. Savage notes that “as the fetus develops, it gains more rights,” which — although not particularly rigorous — is precisely the standard I set forth below.

    -At 45:00, Dr. Savage notes that her concern is primarily “pragmatic” rather than moral

    -At 59:00, after defending the status quo, Dr. Savage gets into the difference between a fetus and a newborn. She says:

    “A fetus is completely, physically dependent on the mother alone. A two-year-old can be cared for by someone else other than its mother. While a fetus is in the womb, it is part of the mother’s body until it’s born.”

    Again, I don’t think that’s the best answer to the question, but it’s absolutely the exchange that Bill purports to describe.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “Who do you save? The baby, or the tray full of embryos?”

    I’ve asked this question two dozen times of different anti-abortionists, and none have ever answered. Imagine that it’s a 12-year-old girl yelling “Please save me, Ms Flannagan” vs just two embryos in a petri dish. Your choice should be to abandon the girl to a fiery death, no?

  • Ggodat

    But the 50M murdered babies did consent? DUH indeed!

  • Ggodat

    People in comas or some mentally insane people may not be “self aware”. I guess we should start killing them…

  • Anonymous

    Again, that’s the problem of marginal humans; I recognize that’s an issue (making *legal* decisions always causes problems at the margins), but it’s something we resolve AFTER we take the idiot position — that blastocysts are human beings — off the table.

    Ggodat, you’re welcome to answer the same question I posed to Ms. Flannagan: who do you save? The baby, or the tray full of petri dishes?

  • Anonymous

    You’re welcome to hold that position. Your argument, however, is that legal penalties for terminating a fetus against the mother’s will somehow “prove” that the fetus is a human being; my argument refutes that.

    We don’t ask 8-week-old fetuses for their consent any more than we ask appendices or wisdom teeth for their consent before removing them.

  • Ggodat

    Andrew, you said:

    We don’t ask 8-week-old fetuses for their consent any more than we ask appendices or wisdom teeth for their consent before removing them

    That’s about the dumbest thing I have ever heard! Are you seriously comparing a living human being with cognitive ability to that of tissue and organs? I guess I should consult with my Michelins to see if they are ok with me replacing them on my SUV…

    At what point does a baby become “human”? Are you literally trying to tell me that late term aborted babies have less cognitive ability than a baby that has been outside the uterus for a few seconds? How are they different? I think i will continue this argument with my lap top because it at least has some artificial intelligence…

  • Ggodat

    I will not respond to every crazy scenario you can come up with because people like you will just think of a crazier scenario.. How does that even figure into the discussion of abortion? Firefighters have to make the decision sometimes as do coast guard rescue swimmers, but please explain how your hairbrained scenario even matters in this dicussion about KILLING people. Killing is vastly different from not being able to save them. If you can’t see that then I really pity you…

  • Andrew Ryan

    Well you’re comparing a living human being to two-day old blastocyst. Your arguments come down to calling people who disagree with you dumb. The scenario we asked you to respond to is a simple thought experiment. As I predicted, you refuse to answer, I suspect because you know it would reveal that you do not see a tray of test tubes containing embryos as being the same as a baby.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “Are you literally trying to tell me that late term aborted babies have less cognitive ability than a baby that has been outside the uterus for a few seconds?”

    No, I’m not trying to tell you that – literally or otherwise. But given that we’re talking about the legal limits of abortion, which preclude aborting fetuses at that late state, your question is irrelevant.

    Unlike you though, I’m happy to answer your questions anyway: no, I don’t see much difference between a fetus at 9 months and a premature baby. The only time I would say it might be morally ok to abort a baby at that time is if both a) The mother’s life was in danger and b) the baby was going to die anyway.

    But as has been pointed out by Andrew EC already: “The average pregnancy is terminated at the 8th week, and that 90+% of all abortions are conducted during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, so we’re not talking about a “close case” ”

    However, you didn’t say “”Are you literally trying to tell me that babies at 8 weeks have less cognitive ability than a baby that has been outside the uterus for a few seconds?””. Presumably you figure saying that wouldn’t have had as much force as the ‘late-term fetus’ question, suggesting you yourself see there as being a ‘sliding scale’ of cognition etc from conception to birth.

  • Anonymous

    You know the fun part? You don’t *have* to answer! Your refusal to answer makes the point just as well.

    You’ve asked me to define where human life begins for purposes of having a legal right that trumps another’s. I’ve done that; it’s ~25 weeks into the pregnancy.

    In defense of this definition, I’ve pointed out that the definition you (and Ms. Flannagan) endorse is not only logically and morally untenable, but one that you don’t actually believe yourself.

    If you thought a blastocyst was as much of a human as a newborn infant, my question wouldn’t be a “crazy scenario” — it’d be a no-brainer. Of COURSE you save 12 humans over saving a single one (even though you might lament the failure to save them all as a tragedy).

    But of course a blastocyst isn’t really a baby. We both know that; that’s why you won’t answer the question.

  • The Chisel

    The term is ‘pro-choice’ not pro-abortion, for crying out loud.

    and other than the united states, parts of africa, and the middle east – abortion IS legal pretty much everywhere.

  • Anonymous

    Notice that Bill has moved on to another post and has not attempted to cite where his spurious “quotes” regarding this exchange.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Noted.

  • Ggodat

    At what point can we not murder the unborn baby and based on what scientific evidence?

    Also, again i will not answer your ridiculous scenario because it is one that is completely unfounded and has no bearing on the murder of innocent life. Murder and not saving are diametrically opposed. Please explain how they are the same, you can’t!

    The Chisel – wow, great philosophy. Everyone else is doing it….. Good thing the US and UK didn’t take that stance with Hitler and Stalin and Mao and others. Also, explain how pro-choice is not pro-abortion? You are either for it or you are not. There is no other opinion.

  • Ggodat

    Andrew,

    I just invented time travel and am preparing to go back into time to convince your mother to have an abortion. I will not leave the past until I am successful.

    Answer me this: Do you allow me to do so because you are such a pro-choice activist or do you attempt to stop me because you think your abortion would not be good for you? If you answer the latter then you will “reveal” to us all that you truely are pro-life….

    I can’t wait to see what you come up with but I know you will not answer the question because you cannot without destroying your basis for pro-choice.

  • Ggodat

    Andrew(s),

    Also, keep in mind that the fact that you are a human in the present has absolutely no bearing in the past. In the past I am trying to get your mother to abort just a blastocyst…..

  • Andrew Ryan

    We’re for people having the choice. I’m for people having the right to do all sorts of things that I’m not actually ‘pro’. For example, swearing, eating loudly, divorcing, smoking. Presumably you agree with people’s right to vote Democrat – right? Does this mean you’re ‘pro liberal’? No, you’re pro choice as far as political freedom is concerned.

  • Andrew Ryan

    If you want to attempt to persuade my mum to abort me then of course I wouldn’t have a problem. It would be rather rude though – like me trying to persuade you or your parents to divorce. But that doesn’t mean I want to ban divorce. Anyway, what arguments are you proposing to use to persuade my mum? It’s quite possible you wouldn’t succeed no matter how long you tried. But if you did, I wouldn’t ever know. I’d never have been born; I wouldn’t have a problem with that. So your assumption was wrong. Now indulge me and answer our question…

  • Andrew Ryan

    At what point? We already answered: around the time of the development of the cerebral cortex.

    If you see not preventing a death as being so different from actively causing one, does that mean you’d see no moral obligation to prevent a murder, or even accidental death? How’s about talking someone out of an abortion? Your position has odd implications. In my mind, failing to prevent a death that you could easily stop is little morally different from actively causing it. Choosing whether to save a 12 year old child or two embryos reveals whether you value an embryo as being equal to a child or adult. If you did, your choice would be easy, a no-brainer as the other Andrew put it. Refusing to answer doesn’t help your credibility.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    The quotes were meant to paraphrase and condense a very long discussion, and I absolutely stand by them as accurately representing major points in the discussion. Why would I link to the podcast if I had something to hide?

    They are not meant to be taken literally as the precise words which took place in the conversation. I thought this was obvious by the way I wrote the post. Sorry you did not pick that up.

    On a personal note, you truly grieve me on a weekly basis with your accusations of my deception and stupidity. I do not understand your hatred toward me and I do not understand why you bother reading a blog written by someone that you have so little respect for.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    As the long as the technology exists to bring the embryos to full term and birth them, I save the embryos. I’m not sure what this scenario proves, however.

    It’s obvious to everyone that human beings feel more emotionally attached to babies than to embryos. We can see and touch and hear babies, but we cannot see, touch, and hear embryos, at least not without expensive medical equipment.

    The same kind of thing goes for scenarios where we could save a family member or a stranger. Most of us would want to save the family member because of the emotional attachment.

    But we don’t decide moral issues based solely on our feelings of attachment to another person. We need to give rational reasons for our moral decisions.

    There are some people who would want to save a family pet before they saved a person they didn’t know because they have an unusually strong attachment to the pet, but would we say their decision is justified morally? Is emotional attachement an argument?

    The bottom line is that all your scenario does is show that we are more emotionally attached to other humans who we can directly see, touch, and hear. How that figures into when a person has a right to life I fail to see.

  • Ggodat

    Seeing is how you are completely full of (&%*#) or you are completely delusional I will gladly answer your question. Shortly after convincing your mother to have an abortion (because you dont care about your life) i travel to the building with the little girl, embryos and precious puppies and I fix what would have caused the fire thus eliminating the need to save anyone.

    I’m awesome!

  • Ggodat

    In your scenario I cannot be charged with any crime no matter whom I save and dont save. Are you saying firemen at 9/11 should be charged with murder because they failed to save >3000 people? That’s what your reasoning sounds like. Murder is consciously killing someone for no reason. Not saving someone is completely different. I do agree that (as in the Sienfeld ending) it is our responsibility to help out when possible and our life is not in danger. Most rescue personnel do not take this belief and put themselves in harms way all the time. Your point is invalid.

  • Andrew_EC

    You do understand that this is also an argument against contraception, and indeed, against not having sex.

    If I were to travel back in time and invite your mother out to a baseball game at the time she would have otherwise conceived you, you would cease to exist in the present. Ban baseball!

  • Andrew_EC

    Bill,

    I started reading the blog because I do enjoy serious discussions with open-minded and well-meaning Christians. You seem to be a nice fellow in many ways, and — as I’ve said before — I do commend the fact that you leave hostile comments up on your blog. That’s sincerely praiseworthy, and it’s why I bookmarked this site.

    However, I find that you’re involved in practices that are seriously duplicitous, and I find that troubling. Perhaps it’s just that you’re unable to truly listen to someone who holds a contrary opinion (as opposed to a deliberate deception). I don’t know. But when you say “ha, ha, look at this stupid abortion advocate who doesn’t know what she’s talking about!”, and I listen to the podcast and find that you’ve caricatured her position, well, what am I supposed to say?

    In terms of accusations of “stupidity” — I do think that what you’ve done (and are continuing to do) is to start with the conclusion — that X, Y, Z arguments must prove God, because you know that God is real — and then proceed backwards from that to list every argument you can find, regardless of how sound the argument is or how well you understand it.

    Doesn’t this strike you as kind of a strange way to go about life — or at least, communicating with others? Isn’t it possible that God is real AND that (say) Dembski is embarrassingly wrong about biological implications of the SETI project? Shouldn’t you be willing to turn a critical eye on an argument even if you agree with its conclusion?

    In sum: Bill, I am trying to take you seriously. I don’t come here just to needle or make baseless accusations, and I am sincerely sorry if that’s hurt your feelings. I do hope that you’ll seriously consider the things I’ve said.

  • Andrew Ryan

    I like how you have a go at us for positing a ‘wild scenario’ and then posit your own that involves time travel. Note that I still gave yours serious consideration, whereas you continue to dodge mine. Also, your only concern with loss of life seems to be whether you can be charged for it.

  • Andrew_EC

    Well, at least you’re consistent. I would say anyone who shares your beliefs is a monster, but I do give you philosophical credit for consistency.

    Certainly one explanation is emotional attachment, but there’s a far more parsimonious one: the average person — even the average pro-lifer — intellectually, morally, and emotionally does not consider a blastocyst to be a human being.

    I presume you’re also in favor of charging women who get abortions with murder?

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    I would like for you to be more charitable with me. I do read most of the arguments made on the blog and I do learn from them. I just don’t understand why you seem to always assume that I am lying or just plain stupid.

    I would ask you to more frequently consider that you may have misunderstood me or jumped to a premature conclusion about what I believe. I also want to tell you that the more you accuse me of lying and stupidity, the less I want to interact with you. I am often accused of “moving on” and ignoring comments, but why should I submit myself to personal attacks?

    I will discuss arguments all day long, but I am not terribly interested in being insulted.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    If I’m a monster for saving 12 human beings, then so be it. That pro-lifers intellectually know that blastocysts are not human beings is obviously false. That is THE central argument of the pro-life movement – that human life starts at conception. Anyone who argues that human life does not start at conception does not fundamentally understand modern science.

    I would hope that you’re not arguing that emotions should determine morality and law. That surprises me, coming from you.

  • The Chisel

    additionally,

    Because the most common reason for the anti-abortionist movement is Religiously inspired and the American Constitution calls for the seperation of church and state, then *to create law based off of religious dogma is not only un-American, it is also profoundly un-constitutional.*

    ergo, abortion SHOULD be legal in all states of the Union. any course otherwise is a fails the American constitution and the vision held by the founding fathers.

  • Ggodat

    Please quote for me from the Constitution where “seperation of church and state” is stated…

    Also, the God believing founders of this country put laws into effect to make murder illegal as stated in the 10 Commandments. By your reasoning those laws are not constitutional.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “You could just as easily point out that the word “democracy” or “democratic” never appears in the document, though we rely on democratic mechanisms and institutions to make it work. You could point out that nowhere does it say that our national government is a republic, though it is.

    The Constitution doesn’t say “checks and balances,” nor does it say “federalism.” The Constitution doesn’t mention political parties. The Constitution was written before the advent of broadcasting, and makes no mention of radio nor television, nor of the internet — but the First Amendment freedoms apply there anyway. The Constitution doesn’t say “privacy,” though it protects your right to privacy.

    You won’t find “separation of church and state” as a phrase in the Constitution. If you read it, you’ll find that the concept of the separation of state and church can’t be taken out of the document, either — it’s a fundamental principle of our government.”

    http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/how-to-find-separation-of-church-and-state-in-the-constitution/

  • The Chisel

    For goodness sake. it’s in the First Amendment.

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

    As andrew Ryan points out the specific phrase ‘seperation of church and state’ are not implicitly there, but the language does define that the neither of the two should govern the other. ever.

    If you want to say “but it says I have ‘free exercise thereof’ so abortion should be illegal” – you’re completely missing the point. It just mean’s that if you’re religion tells you not to, and you so choose, then don’t get an abortion. It does however say that your (or anyone else’s) religion can not dictate how others should live thier lifes, and cannot, EVER, influence law making.

    This is an essential American freedom.

  • Anonymous

    Bill,

    You claim that you read and learn from the arguments displayed here. I don’t see that.

    Can you point out an example where you’ve learned from an atheist’s reasoned response and stopped making an apologetic argument when you’ve been shown that it is fallacious?

  • Anonymous

    I’m ignoring the crazy comment at the end of the first paragraph (“Anyone who argues that human life does not start at conception does not fundamentally understand modern science”).

    I reiterate my question: if human life, in the legal sense, begins at conception, then may I also assume you favor the death penalty for women who seek abortions?

  • Ggodat

    Sorry, you know nothing about the intent of the 1st ammendment! The founding fathers came from a country where the King declared you had to be a member of the Church of England. When they came to the US the states had Christian churches but of varying denominations (Lutheran, Presbyterian, Wesleyan, etc..). The founding fathers wanted to make sure that Congress did not do what the King had done and establish a federal official church that all were mandated to be members of.

    It has absolutely nothing to do with Christians enacting laws with moral implications. I suggest you read up on the Constitution or I’ll be glad to have my son teach you.

    Again, i guess you think murder should be legalized then because God first defined murder as bad with Cain and then made it one of the Ten Commandments. So when our founding fathers enacted the same laws at the federal level i guess they were violating the so called seperation of church and state huh???

  • Andrew Ryan

    You’ve got a son? From your ‘I’m an awesome time traveller lolz!’ posts I figured you were in your mid teens. There’s decades on decades of legal precedent for the S of C and S, based on scholarly study of the Constitution, backed up by a letter where a founding father explicity states the document’s intention, using the phrase in question. I’d guess you already know that though.

  • The Chisel

    Here’s a quote for you:

    “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”, thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

    This was written by Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the united states, effectively coining the term “Seperation of Church and State”

    Just incase, you still think i’m unaware of the intent of the founding fathers and the 1st Amendment – I just want to again remind you – this was written by THOMAS JEFFERSON.

    here’s a link for you, and your son to share.

  • Ggodat

    Chises et all…

    Yep, glad you found that reference to Jefferson’s LETTER. The seperation you speak of is not in the Constitution. Go by your local HS and ask the “We The People” club for clarification.

    Ps. guess you choose not to address the question about laws against murder being unconstitutional…

  • Andrew Ryan

    Right, the LETTER that expressly makes clear the intentions of the Constitution, written by one of the guys who actually, you know, WROTE the Constitution.

    As pointed out already, next you’ll be saying that because the word ‘Democracy’ doesn’t appear in the document we should abolish voting. Or you could play more games by asking a Catholic to find the word ‘Trinity’ in the bible. Far more significant is that the only reference to a deity in the Constitution is the phrase ‘In the year of our Lord…”. There were several votes on whether to include God in the document, and every time it was voted down.

    Re: Laws against murder – you and your son could research the “lemon test” together. It states that every law must have a secular justification.

  • The Chisel

    yes, I ignored your poor analogy because it seemed nothing more than intentionally inflamatory, polarizing, and rather childish. I do not find homicide (a malicious act) to be parallel with the topic at hand, and thereby I see no relevency in responding to your comment.

    I used Jefferson’s letter because he clearly states what WAS intended. Trying to argue otherwise is just obtuse, and asinine.

    In the matter of abortion there are often extenuating circumstances that threaten the health, safety, and livelyhood, of the parent and potential child (disability, disfigurement, developmental disorders, still birth, and death – etc.). and not least of these the parents ability and suitibility to care for the child.

    In all of the mirad of factors, there is only one person that can make the right choice – dependent on thier personal values, and the individual situation concerning that pregnancy. That person is the Mother, and hopefully she has the support of the Father as well.

    Government, should at no point interfere with the mother’s ability and right to control her body and her choices. You would think that the free world would be enlightened enought to allow people to make those choices and practice their individual liberties in the safest, healthiest way possible – but unfortunately there seems to be this sector of American Religious Fundamentalists, that do not want that to be the case.

    I’ll say it again, for a country that was born of revolution, in persuite of liberty, I see it as shamefully un-American to try and control another persons choices like this.

  • Andrew Ryan

    And very topically, Mississippi has just voted down Initiative 26, the Personhood amendment, which would have defined a one-day-old handful of cells as being a person with the same rights as you and me. Presumably, that would have allowed for the prosecution with murder of a woman who takes the morning after pill.

  • Ggodat

    To Messrs. Nehemiah Dodge and Others, a Committee of the Danbury Baptist Association, in the State of Connecticut
    Gentleman,

    The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist Association, give me the highest satisfaction. My duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, and in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.
    Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof thus building a wall of separation between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
    I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association, assurances of my high respect and esteem.

    Th. Jefferson

    January 1, 1802

    Where in the above do you see anything that defines abortion as unconstitutional?? This is where the “term” Separation of Church and state came from…. A short letter to the Baptists in Conn. affirming to them that Jefferson was simply underscoring the First Amendment as a guardian of the peoples religious freedom from government interference.

    Jefferson simply quotes the First Amendment then uses a metaphor, the “wall”, to separate the government from interfering with religious practice. Notice that the First Amendment puts Restrictions only on the Government, not the People! The Warren Court re-interpreted the First Amendment thus putting the restrictions on the People! Today the government can stop you from Praying in school, reading the Bible in school, showing the Ten Commandments in school, or have religious displays at Christmas. This is quite different from the wall Jefferson envisioned, protecting the people from government interference with Religious practice.

    When Thomas Jefferson wrote his letter to the Danbury Baptist Association he never intended the words “Separation of Church and State” to be taken out of context and used as a substitute for the First Amendment, but for all practical purposes is what the courts have done.

    If actions speak stronger then words, it is interesting to note that 3 days after Jefferson wrote those words, he attended church in the largest congregation in North America at the time. This church held its weekly worship services on government property, in the House Chambers of the U.S. Capital Building. The wall of separation applies everywhere in the country even on government property , without government interference. This is how it is written in the Constitution, this is how Thomas Jefferson understood it from his letter and actions, and this is how the men who wrote the Constitution practiced

    “The metaphor of a wall of separation is bad history and worse law. It has made a positive chaos out of court rulings. It should be explicitly abandoned.”Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, William Rehnquist

    What’s that I hear in the background…. Michael Scott – BOOM ROASTED

  • Andrew Ryan

    So if Jefferson had taken one of his slaves to that church, would that ‘prove’ that slavery was constitutional? I’d write a longer reply, but your adolescent ‘Boom Shanka’ postscripts suggest to me you’re just trolling now.

  • Ggodat

    Oooo, your retort (laced so eloquently with facts) really hurts…

    What’s the matter? You get taken to school and still can’t learn? Seriously dude, why are you wasting your time on this blog? Believing what you do you either have no life or way too much free time. As I have stated before, all you wish to do here is fight. You have no interest in learning and are incabable of admitting when you are wrong.

    Ps. TJ taking a slave anywhere would prove nothing! Slavery was, is and always be wrong. If you want to ask stupid questions again please start by answering my murder illegality being unconstitutional because the founding fathers used the moral code of the 10 commands to script federal laws. Where’s the separation in that??

    B.R.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Playground taunts + quotes from sitcom characters and known defender of segregation Rehnquist = obvious troll is obvious.

  • Ggodat

    Wow Andy, way to defend your position. Call me troll, I dont care. You know I’m right and it’s killing you…

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Andrew,
    I didn’t say that I learned something that made me stop using a particular argument. That may have happened at some point, but I can’t recall. What about you? What have you learned on this blog that has made you drop one of your fallacious arguments?

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    I’m ignoring your crazy question while you ignore my crazy comment.

    I’m also praying that some day you’ll be able to correspond with people you disagree with without calling them monsters and calling their comments crazy. These terms are simply inflammatory and meant to make your opponent look bad instead of honestly dealing with his position.

    I keep hoping you’ll change your style. Do you talk this way to your family and friends or do you save all of your venom for this blog?

  • Andrew EC

    Bill,

    Your concern trolling is touching.

    Do you not understand that you said that anyone who’s pro-life is an idiot? Calling that comment “crazy” was, I thought, rather mild by comparison.

    To answer your question: if any of the Christians in my family and circle of friends said the kind of inflammatory and stupid things you say on a daily basis, then yes, I would certainly call them on it. If they demonstrated the jackassed closed-mindedness that you’ve demonstrated so far on your blog, then I would certainly call them crazy (or worse).

    BTW, your refusal to answer my question speaks for itself. If it is so obvious that human life in the legal sense begins at conception, then my question should be a no-brainer. Someone who deliberately plans the murder of a legal human being with not just premeditation and malice aforethought, but by lying in wait, is the paradigmatic case for the sorts of aggravated murders that get the death penalty in this country.

    The fact that you would call the question “crazy” (other than the general “I’m rubber, your glue” maturity level of your last post) and refuse to answer it demonstrates what I’ve been arguing all along: that no one *seriously* believes that the blastocyst is the same thing as a human baby.

  • Andrew EC

    I can honestly say that I have not learned a single thing on this blog, except for how disingenuous and shallow Christians can be when they think they’re preaching the gospel.

  • The Chisel

    Hmm. Well, perhaps we should return to the issue at hand, rather than a pissing match over the first ammendment.

    I maintain my position that women have the right of choice, and control over their bodies, and that no law should circumvent that.

  • Ggodat

    Funny how now you drop the First Ammendment and SCS when that is how you defended abortion in the first place by stating (and I quote),

    “Because the most common reason for the anti-abortionist movement is Religiously inspired and the American Constitution calls for the seperation of church and state, then *to create law based off of religious dogma is not only un-American, it is also profoundly un-constitutional.”

  • Andrew Ryan

    You conceded defeat yourself on that. As soon as we point out something you disagree with – slavery – you said it would always be wrong, regardless of what the founding fathers did, thus negating your point that we should judge Jefferson’s ACTIONS over anything he actually said.

    If you’d been confident of your position you’d have just stated it simply, instead of garnishing it with all the adolescent “I’m fantastic” comments. If you confident in your argument all that nonsense wouldn’t be necessary to attempt to distract us.

  • The Chisel

    I think maybe you didn’t finish reading my last response.

    “In the matter of abortion there are often extenuating circumstances that threaten the health, safety, and livelyhood, of the parent and potential child (disability, disfigurement, developmental disorders, still birth, and death – etc.). and not least of these the parents ability and suitibility to care for the child.

    In all of the mirad of factors, there is only one person that can make the right choice – dependent on thier personal values, and the individual situation concerning that pregnancy. That person is the Mother, and hopefully she has the support of the Father as well.

    Government, should at no point interfere with the mother’s ability and right to control her body and her choices. You would think that the free world would be enlightened enought to allow people to make those choices and practice their individual liberties in the safest, healthiest way possible – but unfortunately there seems to be this sector of American Religious Fundamentalists, that do not want that to be the case.

    I’ll say it again, for a country that was born of revolution, in persuite of liberty, I see it as shamefully un-American to try and control another persons choices like this. “

  • Michael Hyder

    @Ggodat: Your question to Andrew has nothing to do with his point whatsoever.

  • physphil music

    This is an unfair question. Similar kinds of moral dilemmas can be posed to anyone, including pro-choice advocates. Say the choice is not between 12 embryos and a newborn baby, but between a dozen newborn babies and a 12 year-old child. Which one would you save? Would this reflect on how you view newborn babies as less of a human being than 12-year-olds?

    Or perhaps it’s between 12 starving, uneducated children from Africa and 1 US president. Which one would you save? Is an African child less of a human being than a prominent US citizen?

    Or better, it’s between 6 die-hard pro-life advocates and 3 top-ranking pro-choice advocates. Which one would you save from the fire?

    Less controversial, and perhaps something that has actually occurred – what if you’re a mother who has to choose between one of your children? Which one should you pick? The smarter one, the more nicely-behaved one, the more good-looking one? Would choosing the smarter one, for example, prove that you view less intelligent people as being less of a human being?

    The basic problem is that you are trying to force people to quantify the value of a certain kind of human being, which can only occur in such desperate situations. And then from this attempt to force people into such unpleasant situations, you ingenuously infer that that is how much they value these human beings (including fetuses vs. babies).

    If you were to be consistent, you would extend this and put everyone on a scale of value. For example, perhaps a politician is of higher value than a plumber, a scientist is higher than a preacher, an enlightened liberal is higher than a straitjacket conservative, an American is higher than a Mexican (or the other way around!), etc…and of course, decisions regarding resources, who gets to be human guinea pigs, etc. would be based on this scale. Reasonable eh?

    You see how your way of reasoning is unfruitful at all to the discussion? That such moral dilemmas force utilitarian considerations from the very start, and do away with any other considerations?

    As for me myself, I’m not so sure which one I’d save. Of course in this situation I’m already forced to perform a utilitarian calculation, and for me it would depend on the condition of the embryos, and how much of a chance they have of surviving. I confess that I’m not very knowledgeable on this topic. If under normal conditions we would only implant 1 embryo out of the 12 anyway, leaving the other 11 to freeze and eventually be destroyed, then there is not much difference in worth between the 12 embryos and 1 baby. In fact, I’d probably save the baby, because compared to risks in infant-rearing, there are more risks in pregnancy which can potentially cause the death of an embryo.

    If on the other hand we could normally expect 4 human beings to successfully be born out of those embryos, I would certainly save the tray of embryos. It would still be a terrible decision (as would any other), and you can berate me for not being moved by the helpless cries and shrieks of the newborn baby, as opposed to the austere silence of the embryos. But you’re asking me to make a decision based on reason. The same kind of thing would apply between saving your girlfriend or 12 newborn babies with no sense of moral responsibility yet.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “As for me myself, I’m not so sure which one I’d save.”

    If you truly believe that a two-day-old blastocyst is the same as a newborn baby, then your choice should be pretty easy.

    Choosing between a President and 12 non-presidents is problematic because the death of a president can cause more deaths due to national instability.

    But if we say that all other things are equal, and you have a choice between a newborn and a bunch of petri-dishes, I would have no problem at all saving the newborn, because I don’t see the blastocysts as being even close to being the same as the baby.

    “…you can berate me for not being moved by the helpless cries and shrieks of the newborn baby”

    Consider yourself berated. My reaction is the same as it would be to someone who saved a bunch of dogs over a baby.

    I would save the baby even if it was a stranger and all twelve blastocysts were mine and my wife’s. I would applaud anyone who saved the baby over my blastocysts. The latter have no brain stems, no memories, no personalities, no ability to feel fear or pain. I might as well mourn the loss of my sperm.

    Whereas if the baby was mine and someone let it die to save the blastocysts, I would see them as culpable for the death than if they’d actually murdered the child.

  • physphil music

    And those blastocysts will eventually become fetuses, babies, children, and eventually adult human beings as well. Nothing much different, just a matter of time. This is the key. And I have a feeling you didn’t even bother to read the part of my post about forcing utilitarian considerations. In my opinion it’s a dishonest tactic, Andrew.

    Now it’s your turn to get your hands dirty.
    a)Six 8-month old fetuses or your 2-day newborn baby?
    b)Six 2-day newborn babies or your twelve year old child?

  • Andrew Ryan

    “Six 8-month old fetuses or your 2-day newborn baby?”

    The fetuses.

    “b)Six 2-day newborn babies or your twelve year old child?”

    My 12-year-old child. Or indeed anyone’s.

    “And those blastocysts will eventually become… ”
    So, potentially, could any of my sperm.

    “In my opinion it’s a dishonest tactic, Andrew.”

    Apologies – take my answer as if it was responding to your hypothetical “We know that four blastocysts would definitely survive”.

    For me it’s like a choice of killing a baby or sterilising its mother, and with the latter choice we figure this is preventing her having two further kids. While this is tragic, I don’t see it as equivalent to actually KILLING those potential kids, as they never really existed in the first place. I see blastocysts as being just a little further down the ‘potential’ route.

  • physphil music

    I’ll type my further reply here, since for some reason I can’t continue replying you below.
    1.
    Your metric of determining which kinds of living beings are more valuable than others is pretty eccentric, for a pro-choice advocate at least. I frankly don’t understand why you would rescue a 12 year old child over 6 newborn babies. In any case, you seem to believe that a fetus can be considered fully a person by 8 months of pregnancy, correct?

    I suppose your criteria for personhood is the development of the cerebral cortex or something which has been brought up here before. So am I correct in saying that you do not agree with the abortion of fetuses older than 22 weeks or a similar age?

    My question is, would you then support laws to criminally persecute women who illegally obtain abortions for fetuses older than 22 weeks?

    2.
    Concerning the claim that your sperm has just as much potentiality to become a living person as a blastocyst:

    A sperm is merely a reproductive cell. Although it can move and swim around, it is not a live human being. It is only “alive” similar to how the cells in our body are “alive”. It is genetically incomplete. There is no argument for that. Otherwise you’d be suggesting scraping off a piece of “live” skin from my body is equivalent to committing “cell mass murder.”

    Even looking at just the argument from potentiality, your point fails. In the case of a man ejaculating into a woman’s vagina, only one sperm will eventually fertilize the egg. Hence an individual sperm has only a probability of becoming a human being. Whether that probability is realized depends on other actions, and most importantly, luck. In contrast, a blastocyst has actual potentiality to become a human being (if you don’t want to accept that it is already a human being at that point). It is only a matter of time and natural course of nature before it is born as a full-grown baby. The difference is like between money which you plan to invest and money which you have already invested.

    If you insist on expanding potentialities to everything, our discussion will go nowhere. My sperm can be said to have potentiality to change the world, if it someday could produce a supremely talented human being which became elected US president. If that is true, then that means my dad’s sperm had as the same potential. And my grand father. And the first evolved species of homo-sapiens. And the first unicellular organism. These statements cannot be said to be false, but it reduces the concept of “potentiality” to become meaningless. To avoid this, potentiality has to be marked by certain clear boundaries, such as conception – in which it is clear that a sperm and egg unite to become an actual living human being.

  • Andrew Ryan

    I see the potentiality as being a continuum. A sperm is on one stage, the blastocyst further along, a baby further along still. You say one has to find a clear boundary, and you choose conception. This seems to be done for reasons of expediency – you choose it to avoid a tricky philosophical question. For me, as I said, there is no ‘bang’ moment.

    Yes, late abortions should only be allowed to save the life of the mother.

    My wife is 37 weeks pregnant and we have a 3-year-old. If I had to choose I’d save the latter – she is more aware, more human to me. The same reasoning applies to you 12-year-old vs new horns, though if you raised the number of babies higher I’d probably waver. Anything I missed? My little girl is calling me!

  • physphil music

    Although it is easier to take the stance that there is no clear “bang” moment, this does not solve the problem, as determining this point is crucial in discussing the morality of abortion. Relying on your gut feelings is not always a bad thing, but in ethics it is dangerous to invest too much in it. Feelings can be modified and manipulated. For example, exposure to certain strands of feminism might cause a woman to feel no qualms whatsoever in getting a late term abortion.

    Conception is chosen not because of “expediency.” It is not arbitrary. It is a good point as it represents the clear point in time in which a new organism, with a full new set of genes, is formed. A sperm and an egg are just individual human cells. A blastocyst is not – it is a separate living being. In your case, its dependency on its mother has no bearing – since you oppose late term abortion anyway.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Well, every sperm and egg individually gave a unique set of genes.

    There are lots of situations where we have to set a point that, while not arbitrary, isn’t fixed either. There’s not obvious age at which to set ages of consent, but we can say that five is too young and thirty too old. We’re forced to choose a point in-between.

    Immediately after conception seems way too early to me by several degrees of magnitude.

  • d_mo24

    It comes down to what you think is being killed. If people think it is a human, then it shouldn’t surprise you that they think it is wrong to kill it. On that view it is murder. It makes no sense to call such people un-American or un-enlightened, they just think murder is wrong – so repressive.. We understand that if you think it is just an “embryo” then you will probably think there is nothing wrong with that choice.
    As for you, you suggest: “Government, should at no point interfere with the mother’s ability and right to control her body and her choices.” Apparently, you think that a mother should be able to end her pregnancy the day before the due date, even though it is clearly a child at that point because we know it doesn’t suddenly become one the next day – location doesn’t determine what something is. Most pro-life people hold a view of having special exceptions for the procedure. They are against it being used as birth control. At times this is not the will of the mother, but is due to threats under pressure/coersion from male involved. This is a common experience for high school and college girls – expecially from poor areas. (my wife is aware of this recently where the girl went ahead with an abortion). If it is a choice which is the killing of an innocant rather than simply birth control, then the government has quite an interest in the issue. You would do a lot better to lay out conditions for the choice to be protected, than to just say what you did.

  • http://www.mandm.org.nz Matt

    Funny I heard both exchanges when I heard the podcast. I guess they were in the parts you did not mention in the comment above. Anyone who listens can hear them. But then I am not trying to defame people.

  • http://www.mandm.org.nz Matt

    “Here’s the morally relevant difference. In our society, we extend human rights only to those
    beings who are moral agents; that is, those beings who are self-aware and capable of acknowledging obligations.”

    That’s bad argument, First its circular, The question
    was asked as to what basis our society should treat fetus as human and not infants your response was to respond by appealing to what society does, that of course simply assumes societies stance is correct which was the question.

    Second, your response of “those beings who are
    self-aware and capable of acknowledging obligations” does not point to a difference that justifies supporting abortion and not infanticide because, both infants and foetuses lack self awareness and moral agency, those traits
    are not acquired till after birth even very young children are not capable of acknowledging obligations and infants are not self aware till at least a year after birth. This was actually pointed out in the pod cast. Repeating an argument already rebutted does not actually esthablish its soundness

    “The physiological prerequisite to moral agency, in turn, is the complex cerebral cortex. Without
    one of those, there is no “individual,” no identity, no capacity for being self-aware and acknowledging reciprocal obligations (and thus, no ability
    to be a rights-holder). The complex cerebral cortex develops roughly around the 25th week of pregnancy, which lines up nicely with the Roe v. Wade standard here in the US as well as roughly adopted throughout much of the first world.”

    This is another bad argument, all it shows is that a fetus aquires one of the pre requistes to pre requisite to moral agency at 25 weeks, but having a pre-requiste for being an agent does not make you an agent.

    If a fetus needs to be an agent to be protected then infants should not be protected which is absurd. If you don’t need to be an agent then the fact a fetus an agent then the fact a fetus lacks a prerequiste for agency is irrelevant.

    “You’ve been made aware that the average pregnancy is terminated at the 8th week, and that 90+% of all abortions are conducted during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, so we’re not talking about a “close case” here — we’re talking about something that isn’t anywhere near being a rights-holder as that term is understood in our society.”

    This argument has no force, You simply appeal to what current society thinks to justify your stance when the whole question was wether societies current stance was justified.

    “(I recognize that this will raise peripheral legal issues, such as the question of marginal humans, but we can resolve those once your red herring argument is disposed of.)”

    I guess you look at what a red hearing is, because rejecting a circular argument being unimpressed by you raising an argument already addressed in the pod cast is not a red herring.

    “Here, let’s try it this way: you’re in a burning building with a crying infant and a tray containing a dozen fertilized, one-day-old embryos. You can carry one or the other. Which one do you choose?

    If a one-day-old embryo in a petri dish is as much a human being as a newborn baby, this shouldn’t be a hard question at all. You swallow, say, “Gosh, this is a tragedy, and I wish I could save the 13th human, but obviously I save the 12 I can carry first.””

    Now your raising red herrings, by discussing the status of a one day old embryo, yet you admit most abortions occur around 8 weeks well after this point Suppose one grants for the sake of argument that one day old embryos are not human beings
    what follows, that abortion is permissible up to one day after pregnancy. What does this prove very little? Does it show that killing the fetus is justified No, because a one day old embryo is not a fetus.

    How about an argument that provides a basis for concluding that a 7-12 week old fetus ( not embryo) is not a human . That’s an argument not assertions, not circular societies right because society says so arguments and not an appeal to criteria that entail that infants and small children are not human and which have already been rebutted.

    Here’s the morally
    relevant difference. In our society, we extend human rights only to those
    beings who are moral agents; that is, those beings who are self-aware and
    capable of acknowledging obligations.

    That’s bad argument, First its circular, The question
    was asked as to what basis our society
    should treat fetus as human and not infants your response was to respond by
    appealing to what society does, that of course simply assumes societies stance
    is correct which was the question.

    Second, your
    response of “those beings who are
    self-aware and capable of acknowledging obligations” does not point to a difference that justifies
    supporting abortion and not infanticide because, both infants and foetuses lack self awareness and moral agency, those traits
    are not acquired till after birth even very young children are not capable of
    acknowledging obligations and infants are not self aware till at least a year
    after birth. This was actually pointed out in the pod cast. Repeating an
    argument already rebutted does not actually esthablish its soundness

    “The physiological
    prerequisite to moral agency, in turn, is the complex cerebral cortex. Without
    one of those, there is no “individual,” no identity, no capacity for
    being self-aware and acknowledging reciprocal obligations (and thus, no ability
    to be a rights-holder). The complex cerebral cortex develops roughly around the
    25th week of pregnancy, which lines up nicely with the Roe v. Wade standard
    here in the US as well as roughly adopted throughout much of the first world.”

    This is another bad
    argument, all it shows is that a fetus
    aquires one of the pre requistes to pre requisite
    to moral agency at 25 weeks, but having a pre-requiste for being an agent does
    not make you an agent.

    If a fetus needs to
    be an agent to be protected then infants
    should not be protected which is absurd. If you don’t need to be an agent then the fact
    a fetys an agent then the fact a fetus lacks the prerequistes for agency is
    irrelevant.

    “You’ve been made
    aware that the average pregnancy is terminated at the 8th week, and that 90+%
    of all abortions are conducted during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, so we’re
    not talking about a “close case” here — we’re talking about
    something that isn’t anywhere near being a rights-holder as that term is
    understood in our society.”

    This argument has
    no force, You simply appeal to what current society thinks to justify your
    stance when the whole question was wether societies current stance was
    justified.

    “(I recognize that
    this will raise peripheral legal issues, such as the question of marginal
    humans, but we can resolve those once your red herring argument is disposed
    of.)”

    I guess you look at
    what a red hearing is, because rejecting a circular argument being unimpressed by you raising an argument
    already addressed in the pod cast is not a red herring.

    can carry first.””

    Now your raising
    red herrings, by discussing the status of a one day old embryo, suppose one
    grants for the sake of argument that one day old embryos are not human beings
    what follows, that abortion is permissible up to one day after pregnancy. What
    does this prove very little?

    How about an argument
    that provides a basis for concluding
    that a 7-12 week old fetus ( not embryo) is not a human . That’s an argument not
    assertions, not circular societies right because society says so arguments and
    not an appeal to criteria that entail that infants and small children are not
    human and which have already been rebutted.

  • http://www.mandm.org.nz Matt

    “A disingenuous reply. A newborn baby relies on any adult to survive, whereas a fetus can only get life from the mother. You are welcome to offer to look after someone else’s child if they prove unable to do the job. You can’t look after someone else’s fetus. A fetus can also often pose a danger to the life of its mother; no equivalent situation exists once it has been born.”

    You like to accuse people who disagree with you of being disengenious I guess it makes up for paucity of argument.

    In fact this argument is another bad one, an infant is viable outside the mothers womb providing other people want to care for it. What this entails that t that if no one wants to care for a new born infant, due to it being disabled, or a unpopular minority then it is like the fetus and you can kill it.

    As to danger to the life of the mother Madeleiene addressed that in the podcast and pointed out she
    supported abortion in that situation. But then I am not accusing people of being disengenious am I.

    “Well the argument for each of these activities being legalised needs to be judged on their own merits. A
    strong argument can be made that criminalising drugs and prostitution actually exacerbates some or all of the problems it is meant to solve, meaning that
    legalisation is the lesser of the two evils. I don’t think the same applies to ‘stealing in general’ or ‘insider trading’ etc, but as I said, there’s not much point in lumping a dozen different arguments together and pretending that all
    are the same.”

    That concedes Madeleine’s point the fact people will do something anyway does not justify legalising it, as you say the legal status depends on the merits of other argument for and against them, not not on the fact they will do it anyway which is true of almost any crime.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Ryan/511764596 Andrew Ryan

    “You like to accuse people who disagree with you of being disengenious ”

    No, I point out when someone is being disingenuous.

    “What this entails that t that if no one wants to care for a new born infant…”

    I pointed out a clear difference between a fetus and an infant. If “no-one wants to care for a new-born infant” then it can go to an orphanage or care home. No such possibility exists for a fetus – it requires the mother’s body. My point stands.

    “That concedes Madeleine’s point the fact people will do something anyway does not justify legalising it”

    No it doesn’t. I argued that if you have specific aims in criminalising an activity, and criminalising that activity actually achieves the opposite effect of that aim, then that is an argument against the criminalisation. That’s not at all the same as saying “People will do it anyway, you might as well legalise it”.

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