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

Postby Maxgoof on Mon Nov 27, 2006 5:47 pm

sapphire wrote:This analogy in not apt because it compares a fetus (albeit human) to a newborn (ableit animal.) There are laws concerning abandonment and infanticide in humans, and they are (as they should be) harsher than laws regarding the equivalent in animals.

Besides which, there is little or no way for a dog to provide consent to an abortion. As I said, the analogy is not apt.


There was no analogy. Legally, we treat newborn puppies better than we treat human fetuses.

The issue you address should be handled as a seperate legal issue, and it is my concerned that he did not in any way provide consent for having a child, ergo, he shouldn't have been forced to pay child support.


Agreed, and yet he was.

In regards to a man's choice in pregnancy, If he has in some voluntary way gone through proper precautions, which can be demonstrated in a court of law beyond reasonable doubt, to avoid pregnancy, than he should have no legal ramifications in the raising or bearing of the child. It is completely the woman's choice, and, inherently, the woman's responsibility.


Agreed, and yet he was held responsible.

As well, the argument for equality of the sexes in regards to decision blatantly ignores the inequality of the situation in the same regard. There is almost no chance childbirth will kill the man, or that a man will be raped and an offspring produced, not to mention the several months a woman is going to be incapacitated.


Either the sexes are to be treated equally under the law, or they are not to be treated equally. If the woman has a choice after conception, then the man should also have a choice after conception. It is not his fault that he does not bear the child. It is not his fault that he does not have to go through childbirth. And you are wrong that men cannot be raped. They can, and have been. Nor is it the fault of the man that he will not be incapacitated close to birth (btw, that's a specious argument, since my wife worked up to the day she gave birth. Incapacitated my eye). If the whole point is to give women a choice, that same choice must be given the man as well. If women are to be treated differently under the law, they drop the arguments against equal pay, equal promotion, lowered standards to allow women to hold jobs they could not hold otherwise, etc. Either they are to be treated equally in all things, or in nothing.

Which brings me to another point: The controversy of abortion is drawing massive amounts of attention, most of which is away from where the points need to be made. Specifically, about nine months before. There needs to be more attention given to the prospects of celibacy and contraception. Advances in the contraceptive field have been slow, as of late, and the religious push needs to back off for realizing the negative effects that are being felt not only in unwanted pregnancies, but also in STD's. Too many people are too prudish or uncomfortable to behave like mature grown-ups and talk with other people about condoms and spermicides and those ring things (as a guy, that's a mystery to me).


Or, we could simply tell people that if you don't have sex, you can't get pregnant, or contract STD's.

One great new advancement, though, which I hope and pray will catch on through HIV-plagued places like central Africa, is the Pronto Condom


One old as the hills method, which is 100% effective, and I hope and pray will catch on through HIV-plagued placed like central Africa, is abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage.
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Postby Sapphire on Mon Nov 27, 2006 8:49 pm

maxgoof wrote:
sapphire wrote:This analogy in not apt because it compares a fetus (albeit human) to a newborn (ableit animal.) There are laws concerning abandonment and infanticide in humans, and they are (as they should be) harsher than laws regarding the equivalent in animals.

Besides which, there is little or no way for a dog to provide consent to an abortion. As I said, the analogy is not apt.


There was no analogy. Legally, we treat newborn puppies better than we treat human fetuses.


Yes, there was an analogy. There was an evaluation of the differences and similarities of two hypothetical situations. Analogy. And it remains unapt for the reasons you did not address, here I restate: It compares the born to the unborn, and the bearer cannot provide legal dissaproval. If that's not enough, include also that your second situation involved repeat action.

maxgoof wrote:
sapphire wrote:The issue you address should be handled as a seperate legal issue, and it is my concerned that he did not in any way provide consent for having a child, ergo, he shouldn't have been forced to pay child support.


Agreed, and yet he was.

In regards to a man's choice in pregnancy, If he has in some voluntary way gone through proper precautions, which can be demonstrated in a court of law beyond reasonable doubt, to avoid pregnancy, than he should have no legal ramifications in the raising or bearing of the child. It is completely the woman's choice, and, inherently, the woman's responsibility.


Agreed, and yet he was held responsible.


Am I supposed to defend this position? It's a sideways argument. It bears revelance to the abortion debate only in perspective of the man's right to choose in abortion. I explain below. But don't force me to defend any legal oddities you find in order to hold my position.

maxgoof wrote:
sapphire wrote:As well, the argument for equality of the sexes in regards to decision blatantly ignores the inequality of the situation in the same regard. There is almost no chance childbirth will kill the man, or that a man will be raped and an offspring produced, not to mention the several months a woman is going to be incapacitated.


Either the sexes are to be treated equally under the law, or they are not to be treated equally. If the woman has a choice after conception, then the man should also have a choice after conception. It is not his fault that he does not bear the child. It is not his fault that he does not have to go through childbirth. And you are wrong that men cannot be raped. They can, and have been. Nor is it the fault of the man that he will not be incapacitated close to birth (btw, that's a specious argument, since my wife worked up to the day she gave birth. Incapacitated my eye). If the whole point is to give women a choice, that same choice must be given the man as well. If women are to be treated differently under the law, they drop the arguments against equal pay, equal promotion, lowered standards to allow women to hold jobs they could not hold otherwise, etc. Either they are to be treated equally in all things, or in nothing.


Extremist much? Your position boils down to 'since women have babies, they shouldn't have equal pay or jobs.' The utter ridiculousness of this is such that I don't disgrace you by pretending you meant to say that.

I ask you to re-read my argument. I didn't say there was absolutely no chance of a reproductive rape happening to a man. I said almost (here bolded). According to RAINN, a woman has a 1 in 6 chance of being a victim of sexual abuse. A man 1 in 33, meaning a woman is more than five times more likely than a man to be a victim of SA. Unfortunately, the classification of SA in regards to reproductive acts is unclear; however, it is safe to assume that negating homosexual or non-insertive instances only increase the ratio.

In regards to the equality of the law, please consider the actual difference between the workplace and reproductive law. In reproductive law, the differences between men and women are demonstratable. If you can demonstrate in a court of law a woman is incapable of doing a job, you have a case. Otherwise, your claim is a blanket black-and-white demand, which reflects little to nothing of the nuanced, case-by-case state of the wold and how it is handled by American law.

Now cut it out before you run out of straw.

maxgoof wrote:
sapphire wrote:Which brings me to another point: The controversy of abortion is drawing massive amounts of attention, most of which is away from where the points need to be made. Specifically, about nine months before. There needs to be more attention given to the prospects of celibacy and contraception. Advances in the contraceptive field have been slow, as of late, and the religious push needs to back off for realizing the negative effects that are being felt not only in unwanted pregnancies, but also in STD's. Too many people are too prudish or uncomfortable to behave like mature grown-ups and talk with other people about condoms and spermicides and those ring things (as a guy, that's a mystery to me).


Or, we could simply tell people that if you don't have sex, you can't get pregnant, or contract STD's.

One great new advancement, though, which I hope and pray will catch on through HIV-plagued places like central Africa, is the Pronto Condom


One old as the hills method, which is 100% effective, and I hope and pray will catch on through HIV-plagued placed like central Africa, is abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage.


Again, please re-read my post. I suggested celibacy (here bolded). But celibacy is a perfect-world solution. It is the best option, and I don't deny that. But it's also as impractical as assuming the best of government and social programs, and I hope you realize that. Man is fallen. Either admit that humans as fallible, sexual things, or continue to forward programs and idealogies grounded more in hope than in reality.
I would have hoped to say something meaninful, or possible inciteful. But, alas.
How goes the world today? From right to left or left to right? Perhaps it runs round mad reels, turning in on itself only at long last to blow away with the leaves and gutter-trash.
How goes the world today? Top to Bottom or Bottom to Top? Perhaps it will rise high enough so that it may see the back of its own head, in a maddening tunnel of infinity.
How goes the world today? Clockwise or Counter? Perhaps it will spin itself mad, curling a spring-from into endlessness.
Or maybe, today, it will just stop.
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Postby Maxgoof on Tue Nov 28, 2006 6:16 am

sapphire wrote:Yes, there was an analogy. There was an evaluation of the differences and similarities of two hypothetical situations. Analogy. And it remains unapt for the reasons you did not address, here I restate: It compares the born to the unborn, and the bearer cannot provide legal dissaproval. If that's not enough, include also that your second situation involved repeat action.


This is where the pro-choice stance leads us. "A human fetus is completely different from another living thing, so, you can't make any comparisons whatsoever." This still does not alter the fact that we treat puppies better than the unborn under the law. One has to dehumanize the unborn to claim that no comparison can be made.

Am I supposed to defend this position? It's a sideways argument. It bears revelance to the abortion debate only in perspective of the man's right to choose in abortion. I explain below. But don't force me to defend any legal oddities you find in order to hold my position.


Not at all. What I was illustrating was just how far the law has come. It is now defending women's rights to the utter detriment of men's. This is where the pro-choice stance has led us.

Extremist much? Your position boils down to 'since women have babies, they shouldn't have equal pay or jobs.' The utter ridiculousness of this is such that I don't disgrace you by pretending you meant to say that.


That is exactly what I am saying, believe it or not. There is always the chance that women in the work force will become pregnant, and thus require special treatment that costs the employer money while the productivity of the employee goes down. It's not politically correct to say this, but it is none the less true. Women don't get the same raises men get, nor the same promotions men get because of the child-bearing capability of women.

Except that the law requires that employers pay them equally on paper, even though the cost to the employer is higher.

Take the medical leave act. Sure, it applies equally to both men and women, but who is the one more likely to take it?

In regards to the equality of the law, please consider the actual difference between the workplace and reproductive law. In reproductive law, the differences between men and women are demonstratable. If you can demonstrate in a court of law a woman is incapable of doing a job, you have a case. Otherwise, your claim is a blanket black-and-white demand, which reflects little to nothing of the nuanced, case-by-case state of the wold and how it is handled by American law.


Except that standards for firefighters were lowered *specifically* to insure that more women could pass the test, despite the fact that it meant that women would be filling roles which they may be incapable of fulfilling, such as handling a firehose, full blast, all in the name of equal opportunity. I'll need to find the reference to back that up, which I don't have at present.

Again, please re-read my post. I suggested celibacy (here bolded). But celibacy is a perfect-world solution. It is the best option, and I don't deny that. But it's also as impractical as assuming the best of government and social programs, and I hope you realize that. Man is fallen. Either admit that humans as fallible, sexual things, or continue to forward programs and idealogies grounded more in hope than in reality.


You suggest celibacy, then pass it off as impractical.

Man is fallen. We have a commandment that says "Thou Shalt Not Commit Murder" and yet he commits murder anyway. It's going to happen. This commandment is grounded more in hope than in reality. Maybe we should make a list of people who are better off dead, such as the terminally ill, the mentally incompetant, and let those who we know are predisposed to murder to kill them. A nice practical solution, don't you think?
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Postby Sapphire on Tue Nov 28, 2006 8:52 am

maxgoof wrote:
sapphire wrote:Yes, there was an analogy. There was an evaluation of the differences and similarities of two hypothetical situations. Analogy. And it remains unapt for the reasons you did not address, here I restate: It compares the born to the unborn, and the bearer cannot provide legal dissaproval. If that's not enough, include also that your second situation involved repeat action.


This is where the pro-choice stance leads us. "A human fetus is completely different from another living thing, so, you can't make any comparisons whatsoever." This still does not alter the fact that we treat puppies better than the unborn under the law. One has to dehumanize the unborn to claim that no comparison can be made.


And here, finally, we get to the core of the debate. Living thing. When does life begin?

Rather than continue this debate to its inevitabel stalemate of "I can't convince you, you can't convince me," I propose we declare truce now.

maxgoof wrote:
sapphire wrote:Am I supposed to defend this position? It's a sideways argument. It bears revelance to the abortion debate only in perspective of the man's right to choose in abortion. I explain below. But don't force me to defend any legal oddities you find in order to hold my position.


Not at all. What I was illustrating was just how far the law has come. It is now defending women's rights to the utter detriment of men's. This is where the pro-choice stance has led us.


That which is misapplied is not proven wrong.

Yeah, that's all I have to say.

maxgoof wrote:
sapphire wrote:Extremist much? Your position boils down to 'since women have babies, they shouldn't have equal pay or jobs.' The utter ridiculousness of this is such that I don't disgrace you by pretending you meant to say that.


That is exactly what I am saying, believe it or not. There is always the chance that women in the work force will become pregnant, and thus require special treatment that costs the employer money while the productivity of the employee goes down. It's not politically correct to say this, but it is none the less true. Women don't get the same raises men get, nor the same promotions men get because of the child-bearing capability of women.

Except that the law requires that employers pay them equally on paper, even though the cost to the employer is higher.

Take the medical leave act. Sure, it applies equally to both men and women, but who is the one more likely to take it?


Even assuming what you have put forth, it is still making blanket statements about every woman. Should this apply only to fertile women? What if women take a vow of celibacy? Or adopt?

And then, even again, the ramifications don't seem to be thought out. Consider when, six years ago, someone suggested a tax on men to justify our dispraportionate numbers in prison and crime. What justification do you have for inequal gender law which does not also support this? Or do you support this?

maxgoof wrote:
sapphire wrote:In regards to the equality of the law, please consider the actual difference between the workplace and reproductive law. In reproductive law, the differences between men and women are demonstratable. If you can demonstrate in a court of law a woman is incapable of doing a job, you have a case. Otherwise, your claim is a blanket black-and-white demand, which reflects little to nothing of the nuanced, case-by-case state of the world and how it is handled by American law.


Except that standards for firefighters were lowered *specifically* to insure that more women could pass the test, despite the fact that it meant that women would be filling roles which they may be incapable of fulfilling, such as handling a firehose, full blast, all in the name of equal opportunity. I'll need to find the reference to back that up, which I don't have at present.


That reference would help.

Besides which, I am the one calling for case-by-case basis. I can see how, in your advocation of an all-or-nothing law, if women haven't proven themselves adept firefighters they shouldn't be guaranteed equal jobs in, say, banking, or healthcare administration, or any form of mangement.

maxgoof wrote:
sapphire wrote:Again, please re-read my post. I suggested celibacy (here bolded). But celibacy is a perfect-world solution. It is the best option, and I don't deny that. But its also as impractical as assuming the best of government and social programs, and I hope you realize that. Man is fallen. Either admit that humans as fallible, sexual things, or continue to forward programs and idealogies grounded more in hope than in reality.


You suggest celibacy, then pass it off as impractical.

Man is fallen. We have a commandment that says "Thou Shalt Not Commit Murder" and yet he commits murder anyway. It's going to happen. This commandment is grounded more in hope than in reality. Maybe we should make a list of people who are better off dead, such as the terminally ill, the mentally incompetant, and let those who we know are predisposed to murder to kill them. A nice practical solution, don't you think?


In the first part, it seems I have not made my point clearly. I defended contraceptives inequally to abstinence because I believe them equal but am debating someone who does not (granted, this is an assumption, and, if inaccurate, I apologize).

In regards to your assertion that if there are more practical solutions to celibacy, your all-or-nothing instinct kicks in and, well, we might as well do it for murder too.

But don't we already? Aren't there already a dozen, a hundred different things which exist, whose primary justification is an outlet for these same base urges? Hunting, paintball, both footballs, most sports, most video games, and if you spend enough money there's a room in China where you can go and destroy a bunch of furniture, all as an 'outlet.'

Besides which, the sexual instincts simply cannot be compared to the aggression instincts and found equal. They aren't even in the same ballpark.

To be simple: Sex is a hunger. It can be ignored, but only released by in a single way. It can be whetted, and it can be tempted. It will rise. It will fall. It is also unique to every human. A quick glance 'round the internet proves that everyone's individual taste is widely varied and seemingly never the same twice. It is not an emotion.

Aggression is an emotion. It cannot be ignored because it is, by definition, paying attention to something that is aggravating. A form of attention. The aggravating object can be ingored, however. It can be released in any number of above ways. It can not be whetted; killers who do so out of rage rarely feel 'finished,' as it were. Justified, yes, but not 'satisfied.' Rage, like love or sorrow, is universal, and (though reactions are different, mostly defined by other factors), not unique to every human. It is not a hunger.

I think that's it.
I would have hoped to say something meaninful, or possible inciteful. But, alas.
How goes the world today? From right to left or left to right? Perhaps it runs round mad reels, turning in on itself only at long last to blow away with the leaves and gutter-trash.
How goes the world today? Top to Bottom or Bottom to Top? Perhaps it will rise high enough so that it may see the back of its own head, in a maddening tunnel of infinity.
How goes the world today? Clockwise or Counter? Perhaps it will spin itself mad, curling a spring-from into endlessness.
Or maybe, today, it will just stop.
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Postby Deckard Canine on Tue Nov 28, 2006 12:57 pm

I know of one thing that has convinced some lifelong pro-choice women to switch their position: cases in which a man beats a woman into having a miscarriage but is not charged with murder.
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Postby Canis_lupus on Tue Nov 28, 2006 3:06 pm

How did a thread about abortion end up on a forum like this by the way? Seems kind of random for the nature of the comic.
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Postby Angua on Tue Nov 28, 2006 7:37 pm

Either the sexes are to be treated equally under the law, or they are not to be treated equally. If the woman has a choice after conception, then the man should also have a choice after conception. It is not his fault that he does not bear the child. It is not his fault that he does not have to go through childbirth. And you are wrong that men cannot be raped. They can, and have been. Nor is it the fault of the man that he will not be incapacitated close to birth (btw, that's a specious argument, since my wife worked up to the day she gave birth. Incapacitated my eye). If the whole point is to give women a choice, that same choice must be given the man as well. If women are to be treated differently under the law, they drop the arguments against equal pay, equal promotion, lowered standards to allow women to hold jobs they could not hold otherwise, etc. Either they are to be treated equally in all things, or in nothing.


I just wanted to address this issue. There is never going to be equality between the sexes. Women are better at something and men are better at others. Women can get pregnant, men can't. In my mind, if a women can't do a job as well as a man and a man is available for the job then he should get it. Because we will never be on the same level we cannot give everyone the same rules or make the same assumptions about men and women. Sure, it is not his fault that a man cannot have a baby, it is just a fact of life. And since he does not at any point have to deal with another being growing inside him, he cannot comprehend all of the ramifications. I know that I want to have children, but I am scared beyond comprehension about the idea of being pregnant and giving birth to a child. I would dread to think what it would be like to be in the situation when I had to go through that and not even want the child. Even I can't comprehend the ramifications so I doubt a man could. And this may sound sexist but you are the one who seems to love to point out that men and women certainly aren't the same.

I say that where men and women are different, they can be treated unequally. You are making the all or nothing statement too loosely. If a woman is going to have an abortion then she is not going to be getting the medical leave anyway. Want about the women never have babies anyway?
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Postby Spacewolfomega on Wed Nov 29, 2006 8:06 am

Canis_lupus wrote:How did a thread about abortion end up on a forum like this by the way? Seems kind of random for the nature of the comic.


That one I can answer since I created the thread. :)

Obviously, by way of looking at the amount of discussion generated here, a good portion of Ralph's fans are here for not only the comics he creates, but because many of us were attracted to the political issues covered by Nip & Tuck. This often extends into discussions about politics outside the comic as well. There is a social interaction that exists among us that goes beyond simply discussing what Nip blew up today, etc.

That being said, if you go back and read the initial statement I began the thread with, you'll see that I began with mentioning a poll someone had conducted. I wanted to get a reaction on the issue from the forum-watchers here since I have found most everyone here to be extremely well-versed in politics and often, despite what some think about Ralph's fans, represent a good cross-section of differing opinions and ideas.

The thread began with a simple quest to find what the real debate about abortion was over: life or freedom. In this debate it came down to mainly life and the definition thereof. After beginning to get into the notion of whether or not souls exist, the debate shifted into other areas as threads often do. Sometimes debates lead into other debates as people bring more and more to the table of ideas.

I, for one, am happy to see the discussion that has been generated and I have certainly learned a lot from it! Thanks, everyone!
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Postby TMLutas on Wed Nov 29, 2006 10:41 am

sun tzu wrote:
TMLutas 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.


If you leave a sperm cell alone, it will not grow, will not develop, will never become more than it is. It will die a single celled organism with only half the normal complement of human genes. If you leave a fertilized egg alone and nothing ill befalls it, it will attach to a uterus, grow, divide, and eventually become an autonomous human being that everybody recognizes as having rights.

Being a feritilized egg is a tough gig. It can die in so, so many ways. A flood of inopportune hormones, missed implantation, physical injury, immunological rejection, the list is quite long. But a sperm will always die within a few hours, days, or weeks never developing into something more significant no matter how well you treat it.

I see the ethical and moral difference between the two as being self-evident.

Well, I see the lack of moral difference between them as self-evident...That something would become a person doesn't mean it's murder to prevent it from doing so. Only destroying a person who already exists is murder.
At least, that's how I perceive it.


At what point does a person come into existence? Is it when they say their first word? Is it when they achieve the ability to suck? Is it when they first ask for the car keys?

We have two different definitions of personhood. I put the dividing line when the genetic template is nailed down and normal development towards autonomy starts. You place it elsewhere, further down the developmental road. I don't see any bright lines that can't be twisted to justify infanticide and euthanasia based on a later precedent. Do you?
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Postby Spacewolfomega on Thu Nov 30, 2006 6:12 am

TMLutas wrote:Is it when they achieve the ability to suck?


Ohhh... you mean like Metallica after the "black album"? :P
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Postby RHJunior on Thu Nov 30, 2006 11:57 am

Fact of the matter, you will get JAIL TIME for smashing a buzzard egg.

Unborn vultures receive more legal protection in this country than unborn human beings.
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Postby Canis_lupus on Thu Nov 30, 2006 2:56 pm

RHJunior wrote:Fact of the matter, you will get JAIL TIME for smashing a buzzard egg.

Unborn vultures receive more legal protection in this country than unborn human beings.

Dont flame me for this, but its probably because they are an endangered species on the protection list.

Also breaking a birds egg is like kicking a pregnant woman.
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Postby NydaLynn on Thu Nov 30, 2006 5:36 pm

sapphire wrote:
Deckard Canine wrote:Wow -- at this time, the votes have nearly a three-way tie. Guess this is a well-balanced board.


Except that two are in favor and one is opposed. Other than that, sure.


Seems more like one is in full favor, one is in full opposition, and the other is on the fence to me. :P
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Postby NydaLynn on Thu Nov 30, 2006 5:40 pm

sapphire wrote:[One great new advancement, though, which I hope and pray will catch on through HIV-plagued places like central Africa, is the Pronto Condom


Oh my. O.O
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Postby Canis_lupus on Thu Nov 30, 2006 5:44 pm

NydaLynn wrote:
sapphire wrote:[One great new advancement, though, which I hope and pray will catch on through HIV-plagued places like central Africa, is the Pronto Condom


Oh my. O.O


If you find that interestingcheck this out.
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Postby NydaLynn on Fri Dec 01, 2006 4:09 pm

Earl McClaw wrote:One thing that would be interesting to incorporate is the (as yet unachieved) technological ability to transfer an implanted fetus from the gestating womb to a compatable surrogate or an artificial womb. Think of it as "adoption prior to birth," and it has the potential of addressing the issue of a pregnancy endangering the mother's life.

The classic example of a fetus transfer would be asking an anti-abortion protester if they would accept carrying an otherwise unwanted fetus to term and raising the subsequent child.


That would be really cool.
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Postby Dabenner on Sun Dec 03, 2006 11:13 pm

Tough noogies. The man donates a bit of sperm and the woman does all the work. Therefore, it's the woman's choice - period. And until that fetus has emerged from the woman, it's not 'alive'.

Some people have a problem with that. It's okay. Some people actually think wheatgrass has emotions.

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BrockthePaine wrote: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 Luna_Northcat on Fri Dec 08, 2006 4:21 am

From a biology standpoint, I think I can contribute some factual answers to some of the questions raised here.

The question was raised early in the thread about when measurable brain activity appears. It appears late in the pregnancy, generally after 21 weeks; and no, it doesn't appear suddenly, not there one day and there the next. There is some measurable electrical activity in weeks 20-21, but it doesn't count as true "brain waves" under any criteria (get into that in a moment); in weeks 22-23, there are almost-brain-wave-like electrical signals, but they are not coordinated and they do not resemble "normal" brain waves; in about week 24 they start to settle into a coordinated pattern, and by week 26 they look like normal brain waves and actually have recogniseable sleep-wake patterns. The presence of detectable brain activity kind of fades in, like tuning in a radio station, but a lot slower.

Brain waves aren't simple to generate. The neuron has to maintain an electrical potential, through the maintenance of an ion gradient from one end of the cell to the other, and there needs to be a full complement of neurotransmitters in the body to facilitate communication from one nerve cell to the next. What happens is that a neurotransmitter docks at a one of many possible specialised receptors in the membrane at one end of the cell; depending on what neurotransmitter it is, its docking will spark off one of many possible signalling pathways across the length of the cell itself, where the ion gradient is used to zap electrons along a chain of proteins; then at the other end of the cell, the electrical charge thus carried is used to poink another neurotransmitter across the 40-50 nm gap to the next neuron. In order for there to be brain waves, this process needs to take place in multiple neurons at once in a coordinated fashion. And this explanation is actually a gross oversimplification, and there is a good argument that the post-synaptic neuronal membrane is the single most biochemically complex system in the human body.

Basically, it takes a while for the cells to mature to the point that they can do this, and for the neurotransmitters to start getting manufactured in the body. Before this point, the only electrical activity is the ordinary, unfocused electrical activity that all living cells have, and there is no chance of brain activity or true awareness because there is no physical system there for it to work from.

(Incidentally, no matter how the media characterised it, by medical definition Schiavo was not "brain dead" until she was actually dead. If there is any measurable brain activity, then no matter what it ultimately means in terms of awareness, it is NOT "brain death". Brain death is the legal and medical criterion for actual death, and occurs when there is no measurable brain activity at all.)

If one wanted to set the limit for abortion at 22 weeks, as when (a) there is brain activity, and (b) there is a bare potential for survival outside the womb (although survival at 22 weeks is <1%), then I would go for that. With one reservation -- there are some deformities and diseases which are incompatible with life, which are frequently not detected until very late in pregnancy. This can include anencephaly, but also things like laryngeal atresia and long-segment tracheal ring deformities, which are often first detected in week 23 or after and which mean that the child will not be able to breathe (even with a machine) and will die painfully in its first few minutes outside the womb. Although late abortions do carry significant risk, there are some women who simply can't take the idea of carrying one of these babies to full term and having a normal delivery, only to have it die horribly; in cases like this, I favor leaving it up to the mother how she wants to handle it. She has enough trauma on her plate at this point, and anything that can be done to ameliorate HER pain takes priority, as far as I'm concerned. The baby will die, and there is sadly nothing we can do to prevent that; the only thing that can be addressed is how, and how much pain will it experience.

On another tack, I think it was claimed somewhere that a fertilised egg, under normal circumstances, develops into a full pregnancy. That's....only marginally true. In humans, at least (at minimum) 50% of all fertilised eggs either never develop into blastocysts, don't implant, or implant and then spontaneously abort within the first few weeks. As high as 80% of fertilised eggs don't and wouldn't make it through a full pregnancy under ideal conditions and with no outside interference. This is actually the main reason I have difficulty with the idea that a fertilised egg becomes "ensoulled" at conception; that would just be so....pointless? Wasteful? Cruel? Yeah. Something like that. Nature is incredibly wasteful of fertilised eggs, and the idea that all these doomed-from-the-start efforts have souls makes no sense to me.

Abortion should never be "casual", and I think anything that contributes to that attitude needs to be addressed, although I'm very aware that this in itself is a complex question. Having said that, I also think that in the first trimester it should also be freely available, but that as pregnancy progresses it should become increasingly restricted, to where there is clear need. And sometimes, sadly, there is clear need.

I have a kind of personal interest in this topic, you should be aware. I had an ectopic pregnancy when I was 21, and those come down to a relatively simple question: abortion, or death. I am obviously not dead, and that is the way I prefer it. But it did involve a lot of thinking on what it all meant.
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Postby Spacewolfomega on Fri Dec 08, 2006 5:32 am

Luna_Northcat wrote:From a biology standpoint, I think I can contribute some factual answers to some of the questions raised here.


And that you did... in earnest! Thank you! :)

Luna_Northcat wrote:If one wanted to set the limit for abortion at 22 weeks, as when (a) there is brain activity, and (b) there is a bare potential for survival outside the womb (although survival at 22 weeks is <1%), then I would go for that. With one reservation -- there are some deformities and diseases which are incompatible with life, which are frequently not detected until very late in pregnancy.


I've said it before, but I find this take on the abortion issue refreshing. I have talked with people who are pro-choice before and many of them have simply said "It's the woman's body, she can do whatever she wants"... and that was as far as their reasoning went. This approach sounds much more reasonable to me, and although I am uncomfortable with abortion in general, at least this pro-choice stance makes an effort to respect the value of human life. The debate is still on when that life becomes "sentient life" or "life with a soul".

Luna_Northcat wrote:On another tack, I think it was claimed somewhere that a fertilised egg, under normal circumstances, develops into a full pregnancy.


*raises hand* That would be me.

Luna_Northcat wrote:That's....only marginally true. In humans, at least (at minimum) 50% of all fertilised eggs either never develop into blastocysts, don't implant, or implant and then spontaneously abort within the first few weeks. As high as 80% of fertilised eggs don't and wouldn't make it through a full pregnancy under ideal conditions and with no outside interference. This is actually the main reason I have difficulty with the idea that a fertilised egg becomes "ensoulled" at conception; that would just be so....pointless? Wasteful? Cruel? Yeah. Something like that. Nature is incredibly wasteful of fertilised eggs, and the idea that all these doomed-from-the-start efforts have souls makes no sense to me.


Well, no more than the fact that a child can be born into a starving third-world country, contract malaria and die horribly before even reaching what many consider an age where one becomes truly accountable for one's sins. I don't claim to know God's mind and I know what we experience in the world today comes from the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. So, I don't think the argument that it would simply be cruel suffices.

However, that being said, the statistics you quoted on the number of fertilized eggs that survive does give me pause to think. From a human standpoint that does seem wasteful, with so many souls created that never even make it out of the womb. Again, however, we are discussing souls here and there's really no ability for us to measure whether or not a soul is there at conception and the Bible doesn't seem to say one way or the other... so I'd want to be on the safe side. (I know that someone provided a verse where God says "I knew you in the womb" or something similar, but considering that God possesses omniscience, I'm not sure that verse has to be interprested as "At your conception, I knew you".)

In the discussion of a child being born with a disease that would guaranteed cause them to die horribly with no chance of a cure, I'll admit that's a tough call. I know that some would say "Well, you just let it be born and God will take the child when it is his time," but that'd be a hard thing for me. I'm not a big fan of euthanasia (or abortion for euthanasia purposes), but I'm the sort of person that if I were a sniper and I saw one of my soldier-buddies get captured by the enemy... and I knew for a fact... I mean 100% fact with no doubts... that he was being dragged off to the worst tortures ever known by man... gang, I don't know if I wouldn't aim for my friend and spare him the horror... I just don't know if I could let that happen to him. Maybe I'm supposed to let it play out, but I don't know if I could be that strong.... I'd feel so much sympathy for him, but then again, I've always been a very empathic person.

(And no, in this scenario I couldn't magically "cap" all the bad guys.)

Luna_Northcat wrote:Abortion should never be "casual", and I think anything that contributes to that attitude needs to be addressed, although I'm very aware that this in itself is a complex question. Having said that, I also think that in the first trimester it should also be freely available, but that as pregnancy progresses it should become increasingly restricted, to where there is clear need. And sometimes, sadly, there is clear need.


I'd certainly appreciate that scenario as opposed to what we have in place now...

Luna_Northcat wrote:I have a kind of personal interest in this topic, you should be aware. I had an ectopic pregnancy when I was 21, and those come down to a relatively simple question: abortion, or death. I am obviously not dead, and that is the way I prefer it. But it did involve a lot of thinking on what it all meant.


There's no way of responding to that other than to say that you have my sympathies, condolences, and my prayers.
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Postby MikeVanPelt on Fri Dec 08, 2006 1:17 pm

Great presentation of a thoughtful, moderate pro-choice position. We don't get to hear that very often here in California.

My position is that at the point where one zygote can become two identical twins, or two zygotes can become one apparently perfectly normal human being who happens to be a chimera, there's no issue yet. After there are brain waves, there is definitely an issue. Before that... at some point "an issue" begins, and I'm not sure where. A pro-choice position that recognizes that after brain waves start, mere "choice" has ended... I think we have some common ground there.

I don't classify dealing with ectopic pregancies as abortion. Do any of the anti-abortion groups object to it? That's a case where the chance of the baby getting anywhere near to full term is precisely zero, and, as you said, the mother will die if the fetus isn't removed. A horrible situation that can not be made "good", only "less horrible", like the conjoined twins where both will die unless they are separated, in which case one will, maybe, live.

By the way, my nephew I mentioned in one of these discussions, who was born at 26 weeks, just joined the Marines. He's in Basic Training at Paris Island right now.
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