Abortion - what's really being debated?

How do you stand on abortion?

I am in favor of abortion based on the woman's decision.
9
38%
I am in favor of abortion only in circumstances where there are determining factors.
8
33%
I am opposed to abortion in any circumstance.
7
29%
 
Total votes : 24

Abortion - what's really being debated?

Postby Spacewolfomega on Tue Nov 21, 2006 7:20 am

I was on another site when someone brought up the issue of abortion, trying to get everyone's opinion on it. When those in favor of pro-choice spoke up, it was in defense of abortion for all the usual humane reasons:

- What if a woman was raped? Should she have to carry the rapist's child inside her and give birth to it? She never consented to that!
- How about incest? Of course, this argument is usually a rehashing of the rape situtation because it usually involves rape by a family member.
- What if the child will be born with a horrible, debilitating illness that would make their life unbearable?
- What if the mother will die by giving birth to the child?

Now, what typically happens in these debates is those in favor of pro-life come out and begin attacking those arguments on the grounds that all life is sacred and quickly we dissolve into a stalemate where everyone is screaming about souls and whether or not a "lump of cells" has one and no headway is ever achieved.

However, what I find the most frustrating part is that I don't feel we are really discussing these cases as listed above when we are discussing the pro-choice side of the issue. When someone is preparing to ram down your door, sometimes it's interesting to open the door and let them rush inside, just to see what will happen, so... I decided to take this approach in the argument. It goes something like this:

PC: "What about rape? What about incest? What about when the mother or child are in danger?"
PL: "I can sympathize with that. How about if we make abortion illegal in all cases except where rape, incest, disease, or death are determining factors?"
PC: "Well, I... uh... I don't think that's fair... you can't do that..."

My point? I don't think most pro-choice people are actually concerned as much about those situations they mention as they are about "freedom," whether it be the freedom to make a tough choice in a difficult circumstance or whether it's just trying to erase an evening's indiscretion by eradicating the consequences as if nothing had ever happened.

So why use these arguments unless it's just to try and persuade me to jump onboard the pro-choice wagon? And once I'm there surprise me with the truth, which is that you're really not concerned about rape, incest, etc. as much as you just want to promote your idea of freedom. I feel like if nothing else, I should at least have the courtesy extended to me that in a debate we debate what is actually at stake... not mislead with what our true intentions really are.
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Postby Lazerus on Tue Nov 21, 2006 7:56 am

Fair enough. Yes, this is about freedom, specificly, about people having the freedom to do what they want unless you can actually demonstrate it causes harm to others. And, in order to do that, you have to show that a lump of cells counts as a human being, which brings us back to that issue again.
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Postby Spacewolfomega on Tue Nov 21, 2006 8:34 am

Lazerus wrote:Fair enough. Yes, this is about freedom, specificly, about people having the freedom to do what they want unless you can actually demonstrate it causes harm to others. And, in order to do that, you have to show that a lump of cells counts as a human being, which brings us back to that issue again.


Thanks for responding! I'm a person who doesn't like to debate for the sheer sake of argument itself, but rather than we exchange information in a way to help reach the truth. The first factor, I think is getting past the pseudo-arguments and get to the heart of the matter. I appreciate you acknowledging the issue at stake, which is an argument for (a) freedom, and (b) the issue of harm to the unborn child.

To elaborate on your response, allow me to offer this:

1. I think it would be better to say that the issue is about whether or not women have the freedom to do what they want. One thing that has bothered me about the abortion issue is that if a man and woman decide to have a child, but then the woman decides later she doesn't want it, the man cannot step in to save his unborn child's life. Whether or not we agree that the man should have that right, the pro-choice movement does not acknowledge the father's right to decide at all, so we really should say "women's rights".

2. Showing that a lump of cells has a soul is indeed a difficult task. I happen to think that an embryo has a soul, but if you do not, we're going to run around in circles, so let's leave that behind. By way of contrast, however, it is a bit easier for me to argue about the life of a more developed, yet still unborn child. Do you oppose partial-birth abortion or abortions after a certain period of gestation?
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Postby BrockthePaine on Tue Nov 21, 2006 8:45 am

AS Abraham Lincoln said, "No man has the freedom to do what is morally wrong." Our chief difference on this is that the pro-abortion people do not believe it is morally wrong, while we believe it is murder most foul.

The objections, though, do not provide a majority of abortion cases - it's usually someone who would find it "inconvenient" to have a kid, and the funds are usually provided by the boyfriend - as well as pressure to get the abortion, in most cases. Abortionists also have the nasty habit of not reporting underage abortions, as they are required under law to investigate statutory rape. When they do funny business like that, it makes the whole lot of them stink of suspicion, yea, stinketh almightily. Like lawyers - 99.5% of them give the rest a bad name.
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Postby Lazerus on Tue Nov 21, 2006 10:25 am

1. I think it would be better to say that the issue is about whether or not women have the freedom to do what they want. One thing that has bothered me about the abortion issue is that if a man and woman decide to have a child, but then the woman decides later she doesn't want it, the man cannot step in to save his unborn child's life. Whether or not we agree that the man should have that right, the pro-choice movement does not acknowledge the father's right to decide at all, so we really should say "women's rights".


Granted. And yes, that is quite unfair. But given that the guy dosn't have to go through childbearing, it it much less unfair then the alternative.

2. Showing that a lump of cells has a soul is indeed a difficult task. I happen to think that an embryo has a soul, but if you do not, we're going to run around in circles, so let's leave that behind. By way of contrast, however, it is a bit easier for me to argue about the life of a more developed, yet still unborn child. Do you oppose partial-birth abortion or abortions after a certain period of gestation?


I do, yes.
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Postby Sun tzu on Tue Nov 21, 2006 10:33 am

The way I see it, until there's some brain development in the fetus, destroying it isn't more unethical than, say, destroying a sperm cell. As such, I think abortion in the first semester should depend on nothing but the woman's choice.
After that, however, the line between abortion and murder begins to blurr.
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Postby Spacewolfomega on Tue Nov 21, 2006 12:40 pm

sun tzu wrote:The way I see it, until there's some brain development in the fetus, destroying it isn't more unethical than, say, destroying a sperm cell. As such, I think abortion in the first semester should depend on nothing but the woman's choice.
After that, however, the line between abortion and murder begins to blurr.


I can see your reasoning, but I think it's a fallacy to attempt to justify abortion based on whether or not the fetus has brain development. Like you said, you get into a gray area where it becomes an issue of "where do you draw the line?" What's the difference between the unborn child at the very end of the first trimester and the beginning of the second trimester? In that situation, you're simply relying on the human "ick factor", as I would call it, where we determine whether a fetus is a living being or not based on how we feel about it by looking at it or visualizing it. Personally, I would be more comfortable with a more concrete standard.

Even when I was an agnostic (which removed me from the whole "embryos with souls" issue) I still felt it was wrong to destroy an embryo simply based on the fact that if left alone the embryo would develop into a full-grown human being. It bothers me when I think of doctors forsaking the Hippocratic oath by entering into a position where they may hinder or terminate a life.

Of course, this is why abortion debates often turn into debates about euthanasia as well. You find that people who are pro-choice are often pro-euthanasia.
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Postby Sun tzu on Tue Nov 21, 2006 2:37 pm

Spacewolfomega wrote:
sun tzu wrote:The way I see it, until there's some brain development in the fetus, destroying it isn't more unethical than, say, destroying a sperm cell. As such, I think abortion in the first semester should depend on nothing but the woman's choice.
After that, however, the line between abortion and murder begins to blurr.


I can see your reasoning, but I think it's a fallacy to attempt to justify abortion based on whether or not the fetus has brain development. Like you said, you get into a gray area where it becomes an issue of "where do you draw the line?" What's the difference between the unborn child at the very end of the first trimester and the beginning of the second trimester? In that situation, you're simply relying on the human "ick factor", as I would call it, where we determine whether a fetus is a living being or not based on how we feel about it by looking at it or visualizing it. Personally, I would be more comfortable with a more concrete standard.

Even when I was an agnostic (which removed me from the whole "embryos with souls" issue) I still felt it was wrong to destroy an embryo simply based on the fact that if left alone the embryo would develop into a full-grown human being. It bothers me when I think of doctors forsaking the Hippocratic oath by entering into a position where they may hinder or terminate a life.

Of course, this is why abortion debates often turn into debates about euthanasia as well. You find that people who are pro-choice are often pro-euthanasia.


Honestly, I do not find this very complicated. In order to determine wether or not it is ethical to destroy it, I simply ask myself what it is about us humans in general that makes it unethical to kill us.
I do not believe it is life. Insects and plants are alive too, but I do not consider a tree-logger a serial killer.
I do not believe it is some "human factor", or something super-special about humanity. If Doctor Frankenstein started making human clones without brains, I'd see nothing wrong with pulling the plug.
"Potential" to be human? Bah. Time goes only one way. Cause precedes effect. Would I be killing all my potential children by choosing to become a monk? No, because, until they exist, you can't murder them.
In the end, I believe that the moral issue with murder is that it destroys sentient beings. It is our mind - intelligence, memory, personality - that make us valuable. As it has been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that the mind is dependant upon the brain, and it seems safe enough to assume that no brain = no mind, I conclude that before the development of brain tissues, the fetus has no mind of its own, and, as such, can be relegated in the same category as a tree, not an adult human.
That's why I see abortion (pre-brain tissues) as a completely black-and-white issue: The way I see it, in the first semester, there isn't anyone there to murder.
We liberals often get accused of thinking with our emotions rather than our logic, but, on this particular topic, it has always seemed to me like the very opposite happens.
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Postby Deckard Canine on Tue Nov 21, 2006 2:53 pm

I'm one of those seemingly rare souls who has changed his mind on the issue. Originally taking my parents' pro-choice side, I painfully decided that in such a gray area, it is best to err on the side of non-termination.

I abhor it when somebody talks of legislation "denying a woman control of her own body." That presents as a given the notion that only her body is at stake, and it suggests that pro-life men want nothing more than to oppress women.

Does anyone know of anyone who opposes embryonic stem cell research but is pro-choice?
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Postby Angua on Tue Nov 21, 2006 3:29 pm

I actually hate this issue because I am so torn on it. On the one hand I understand that there is something wrong with terminating a life, which will become a human. On the other side, I can sympathize with women who become pregnant and want to terminate it.

My main problem comes in where is the line. What about birth control? Is this morally wrong because you are preventing the conception of something which may become a human? What about the morning after pill that some women take just in case they became pregnant the night before? If people are so pro life shouldn't these women be forced to find out they are pregnant before taking this pill. And then of course the big question is at what time does the fetus become human? If it doesn't have a brain, then is the baby going to be missing out on anything? In some ways I think of a fetus as a sperm and an egg. Sure they have the potential of becoming something more but it is just potential.

As for the "women's own body" argument. Well I think there is some merit to it. Since the babies life is dependent on the woman, I think she should have a say in what happens. Sure in the long run, if she doesn't want a baby there is the option of adoption but there is still that 9 months. To have to carry something in your body that you won't be keeping at the end of it all has to be distressing, and yes she should have thought about that before having sex, but so should the guy and let's face it in this case he does not have to deal with pregnancy if he doesn't want to.

I guess to sum up, as a woman I would never have an abortion because I think there is something morally wrong about it. But morals are something everybody differs on and I can completely see why a woman would would not want to possibly ruin their life over having a baby.
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Postby RHJunior on Wed Nov 22, 2006 1:36 am

Preventing a conception is not the same as terminating one.
Think rationally: there are multiple physical ways of "preventing a conception," condoms and the pill only being two relatively recent developments. To claim that conception prevention is the same as abortion is to claim that withdrawing before insemination--- or even abstinence itself-- is murder, which is patently ludicrous. (Of such comes the fathead's notion that "Christians think every sperm is sacred," and other such insulting obtusiveness.)
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Postby Sun tzu on Wed Nov 22, 2006 3:03 am

RHJunior wrote:Preventing a conception is not the same as terminating one.
Think rationally: there are multiple physical ways of "preventing a conception," condoms and the pill only being two relatively recent developments. To claim that conception prevention is the same as abortion is to claim that withdrawing before insemination--- or even abstinence itself-- is murder, which is patently ludicrous. (Of such comes the fathead's notion that "Christians think every sperm is sacred," and other such insulting obtusiveness.)

Actually, that is my point - that, say, destroying the fetus a week after the sperm and egg cell have merged isn't "murder" any more than abstinence is, even if they "deny something's potential to become human".
Just because something would become a human being if left to its own device, that doesn't make it murder to stop it before it does. A "potential" person isn't the same thing as an actual person.
So, when I say that abortion is the same as abstinence, I'm not saying both are murder - I'm saying neither are.
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Postby Spacewolfomega on Wed Nov 22, 2006 5:53 am

sun tzu wrote:"Potential" to be human? Bah. Time goes only one way. Cause precedes effect. Would I be killing all my potential children by choosing to become a monk? No, because, until they exist, you can't murder them.


I think you missed my point. You have to make a decision to copulate in order for the creation process of another human life to begin. However, once an embryo has been created, there's really no decision to be made unless it is a decision to destroy, not create, life.

Deckard Canine wrote:I abhor it when somebody talks of legislation "denying a woman control of her own body." That presents as a given the notion that only her body is at stake, and it suggests that pro-life men want nothing more than to oppress women.


Well, it's much easier to attract people to your cause when you misrepresent the issue and shift the focus away from the life that is being taken. ;)

Angua wrote:My main problem comes in where is the line. What about birth control? Is this morally wrong because you are preventing the conception of something which may become a human? What about the morning after pill that some women take just in case they became pregnant the night before? If people are so pro life shouldn't these women be forced to find out they are pregnant before taking this pill.


Well, I think there's a big difference between prevention and "cure". If I choose to use birth control, I am preventing a life from being created, which I don't see a problem with. If conception occurs and then steps are taken to abort the life-forming process, that is an action that is hindering a life that is already developing.

RHJunior wrote:Preventing a conception is not the same as terminating one.


Exactly.

Sun Tzu wrote:Actually, that is my point - that, say, destroying the fetus a week after the sperm and egg cell have merged isn't "murder" any more than abstinence is, even if they "deny something's potential to become human".
Just because something would become a human being if left to its own device, that doesn't make it murder to stop it before it does. A "potential" person isn't the same thing as an actual person.
So, when I say that abortion is the same as abstinence, I'm not saying both are murder - I'm saying neither are.


I don't see your point at all. If a man and woman are left alone, to their own devices, and they never mate... there is no child created... so I see no killing or murder. If they mate and an embryo is created and they are left alone, a child will be born. To interfere at that point is to take action against what is occuring.

The argument of "potential life" as some kind of abstract choice made before conception only confuses the issue and starts us getting off topic into alternate realities and paths chosen, etc. etc. Let's keep the discussion to what happens after conception occurs. After all, this is the only way abortion can occur.
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Postby Tbolt on Wed Nov 22, 2006 7:05 am

The hardest part of arguing this issue is how one defines ones terminology.

Consider: At conception the genetic framework for a human being is laid down. Gender, height, eye color, hair color, susceptibility to certain ailments, “innie”, or “outie” and if some groups are to be believed tendency towards homosexuality, or alcoholism.

I see and respect your point as far as brain defenition is concerned, Sun Tsu, it makes a lot of sense. But I still disagree. A human being is a human being even if they are but one cell.

But when I hear abortion being argued, I can't help but feel that we are actually on the wrong side of the question. I think the greater question is why do we feel such an imperative need to kill off the next generation?

Since Roe vs Wade there have been over 47,000,000 abortions in this country alone. I find it difficult to believe those were all rape / incest / life threatening cases.

The bigger question is, how do we value life in this country?

I work in a school district, and I see the degraded moral quality of the children there. It doesn't seem to make a difference what income bracket they come from. They only want what they perceive is good for themselves.

Raising children is an act of self-sacrifice. Heck, even marriage is an act of self-sacrifice in many ways, but our society promotes self-gratification only. And that gratification better come by the end of our ½ hour episode, or there will be problems!

Until we get the deeper issues worked out of our society, stuff like abortion, drug abuse, school shootings, political corruption, etc. Will only get worse.

Banning abortion is a positive thing, but I only see it as a band-aid on a sucking chest wound.
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Postby Sun tzu on Wed Nov 22, 2006 8:04 am

Spacewolfomega wrote:
sun tzu wrote:"Potential" to be human? Bah. Time goes only one way. Cause precedes effect. Would I be killing all my potential children by choosing to become a monk? No, because, until they exist, you can't murder them.


I think you missed my point. You have to make a decision to copulate in order for the creation process of another human life to begin. However, once an embryo has been created, there's really no decision to be made unless it is a decision to destroy, not create, life.

Deckard Canine wrote:I abhor it when somebody talks of legislation "denying a woman control of her own body." That presents as a given the notion that only her body is at stake, and it suggests that pro-life men want nothing more than to oppress women.


Well, it's much easier to attract people to your cause when you misrepresent the issue and shift the focus away from the life that is being taken. ;)

Angua wrote:My main problem comes in where is the line. What about birth control? Is this morally wrong because you are preventing the conception of something which may become a human? What about the morning after pill that some women take just in case they became pregnant the night before? If people are so pro life shouldn't these women be forced to find out they are pregnant before taking this pill.


Well, I think there's a big difference between prevention and "cure". If I choose to use birth control, I am preventing a life from being created, which I don't see a problem with. If conception occurs and then steps are taken to abort the life-forming process, that is an action that is hindering a life that is already developing.

RHJunior wrote:Preventing a conception is not the same as terminating one.


Exactly.

Sun Tzu wrote:Actually, that is my point - that, say, destroying the fetus a week after the sperm and egg cell have merged isn't "murder" any more than abstinence is, even if they "deny something's potential to become human".
Just because something would become a human being if left to its own device, that doesn't make it murder to stop it before it does. A "potential" person isn't the same thing as an actual person.
So, when I say that abortion is the same as abstinence, I'm not saying both are murder - I'm saying neither are.


I don't see your point at all. If a man and woman are left alone, to their own devices, and they never mate... there is no child created... so I see no killing or murder. If they mate and an embryo is created and they are left alone, a child will be born. To interfere at that point is to take action against what is occuring.

The argument of "potential life" as some kind of abstract choice made before conception only confuses the issue and starts us getting off topic into alternate realities and paths chosen, etc. etc. Let's keep the discussion to what happens after conception occurs. After all, this is the only way abortion can occur.

I think you're still missing my point. Even if it would become a person if left alone, that makes no difference now - because now, it doesn't exist (or at least, its mind doesn't).
Sure, the early embryo is "life", but, as I explained earlier, it is the mind that has a value, not the life itself. When the fetus is destroyed in the early stages, no mind is destroyed - rather, a mind is prevented from being created in the future, when the fetus would have developed brain tissues.
Wether or not it would have formed a mind later on is completely irrelevant to the ethical discussion.
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Postby Spacewolfomega on Wed Nov 22, 2006 8:51 am

sun tzu wrote:I think you're still missing my point. Even if it would become a person if left alone, that makes no difference now - because now, it doesn't exist (or at least, its mind doesn't).
Sure, the early embryo is "life", but, as I explained earlier, it is the mind that has a value, not the life itself. When the fetus is destroyed in the early stages, no mind is destroyed - rather, a mind is prevented from being created in the future, when the fetus would have developed brain tissues.
Wether or not it would have formed a mind later on is completely irrelevant to the ethical discussion.


So, wait a minute... If I understand you correctly, if I have a cousin who is injured severely in an accident and has suffered brain damage to an extent where there is "no mind", then it is okay to terminate her life, because life is not important... it is only the mind that matters. Now that my cousin's mind is gone, there's nothing to bother saving. You would view her the same as a carrot, a plant, or skin tissue... it's life, without mind. Okay, I follow you now. Thanks for clarifying.

However, let me propose another hypothetical. Let's say that my cousin suffers the same accident, however, somehow we know that if given nine months her mind will return. Can we go ahead and terminate her while her mind is gone? After all, there is no mind at the time we would kill her, so "no mind, no foul". Even given that if left alone her mind would return in nine months, that doesn't matter, right? It only matters in the here and now and right now there is no mind, so we can administer a lethal dose of something into her arm and as long as we do it now while her mind is gone, we're okay.

I'm not sure I could go along with that reasoning.
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Postby BrockthePaine on Wed Nov 22, 2006 11:04 am

That argument kinda reminds me of my vampire hunter story: the vampire hunter puts down a hatful of vampires, and then winds up in the arms of the police, and he's charged with murder. His defense in court is "Vampires are undead, not alive; therefore I couldn't have killed them since they are not alive." The defense works, but the prosecution gets him instead on domestic terrorism, discharging firearms in city limits, and a bunch of other little things like that.
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Postby Sun tzu on Wed Nov 22, 2006 11:05 am

Spacewolfomega wrote:
sun tzu wrote:I think you're still missing my point. Even if it would become a person if left alone, that makes no difference now - because now, it doesn't exist (or at least, its mind doesn't).
Sure, the early embryo is "life", but, as I explained earlier, it is the mind that has a value, not the life itself. When the fetus is destroyed in the early stages, no mind is destroyed - rather, a mind is prevented from being created in the future, when the fetus would have developed brain tissues.
Wether or not it would have formed a mind later on is completely irrelevant to the ethical discussion.


So, wait a minute... If I understand you correctly, if I have a cousin who is injured severely in an accident and has suffered brain damage to an extent where there is "no mind", then it is okay to terminate her life, because life is not important... it is only the mind that matters. Now that my cousin's mind is gone, there's nothing to bother saving. You would view her the same as a carrot, a plant, or skin tissue... it's life, without mind. Okay, I follow you now. Thanks for clarifying.

If the brain damage was extensive enough that no mind could possibly be left? Yes, pretty much. At that point I would consider that the "person" is dead - sure, the body still functions, but we are our minds, not our bodies.

However, let me propose another hypothetical. Let's say that my cousin suffers the same accident, however, somehow we know that if given nine months her mind will return. Can we go ahead and terminate her while her mind is gone? After all, there is no mind at the time we would kill her, so "no mind, no foul". Even given that if left alone her mind would return in nine months, that doesn't matter, right? It only matters in the here and now and right now there is no mind, so we can administer a lethal dose of something into her arm and as long as we do it now while her mind is gone, we're okay.

I'm not sure I could go along with that reasoning.

That is not the same situation. There is a mind - it has already been created; that is in the definite past, not some potential future. A mind that's "on hold" is not the same as a mind that "would come into existence at some point in the future if certain conditions are met".
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Postby Spacewolfomega on Wed Nov 22, 2006 12:07 pm

sun tzu wrote:That is not the same situation. There is a mind - it has already been created; that is in the definite past, not some potential future. A mind that's "on hold" is not the same as a mind that "would come into existence at some point in the future if certain conditions are met".


Okay, granted, you've got me on that one. I still go back to the whole notion of biological processes when left undisturbed. However, I can see that you take a different stance, since in your view the biological process of conception does not entail life existing until a certain measure of brain or mind has been constructed.

In that case, we go back to the whole "when does that occur" argument. For you to say that up to day 84 abortion is okay and does not take a life, but on day 85 and thereafter it could be considered killing an unborn child seems iffy to me. After all, what is the difference between that child at 11:59 p.m. on day 84 and at 12:01 a.m. on day 85?

Not to mention that an embryo becomes a fetus after approximately 8 weeks, a whole month short of the end of the first trimester. So, help me out here... when does brain activity begin to occur? Is it measurable? And what degree of measurability is considered acceptable? Don't we enter into the same argument about when brain activity begins to occur, because after all, I doubt it suddenly spikes up one day, right?
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Postby Sun tzu on Wed Nov 22, 2006 12:19 pm

Spacewolfomega wrote:
sun tzu wrote:That is not the same situation. There is a mind - it has already been created; that is in the definite past, not some potential future. A mind that's "on hold" is not the same as a mind that "would come into existence at some point in the future if certain conditions are met".


Okay, granted, you've got me on that one. I still go back to the whole notion of biological processes when left undisturbed. However, I can see that you take a different stance, since in your view the biological process of conception does not entail life existing until a certain measure of brain or mind has been constructed.

In that case, we go back to the whole "when does that occur" argument. For you to say that up to day 84 abortion is okay and does not take a life, but on day 85 and thereafter it could be considered killing an unborn child seems iffy to me. After all, what is the difference between that child at 11:59 p.m. on day 84 and at 12:01 a.m. on day 85?

Not to mention that an embryo becomes a fetus after approximately 8 weeks, a whole month short of the end of the first trimester. So, help me out here... when does brain activity begin to occur? Is it measurable? And what degree of measurability is considered acceptable? Don't we enter into the same argument about when brain activity begins to occur, because after all, I doubt it suddenly spikes up one day, right?


I'm no biologist, but...even if you leave a safety margin, you're still going to get a part that isn't yet a shade of gray.
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