Monday, December 6, 2010

My imaginary dialogues with abortion rights advocates

I talk to myself, so why not talk to imaginary people? Here are some of my internal dialogues with abortion rights advocates ("AA"):


Dialogue, Thread A:

Me: Do you think the unborn are as human as you are?

AA: Yes, I do.

Me: And you still think that a mother should be able to abort that baby, who is as human as you are?

AA: Yes, I do.

Me: So, some humans have rights and others don't have any?

AA: Yes, that is correct.

Me: Doesn't that mean that one set of humans (the born) get to determine whether or not other humans have the right to live or not?

AA: Yes, that is correct.

Me: Do you think that's moral in other situations, or only with born vs. unborn humans?

AA: {I don't know how this thread ends, because I haven't yet gotten an answer.}


Dialogue, Thread B:

Me: Do you think the unborn are as human as you are?

AA: No, I don't.

Me: What do you think they are?

AA: They are potential humans.

Me: At what moment do they become fully human?

AA: At viability. {Other answers may include: At brainwaves, at heartbeat, at the beginning of the second trimester, at birth, three months after birth, etc., etc.}

Me: Is that objectively true, or is that simply your opinion?

AA:  I have thought about it at length, and that's my conclusion.


Me: So, it's an opinion?


AA: {silence.}

Me: How do you pinpoint the exact second that humanity begins, so that we don't accidentally kill any innocent people?

AA: We can't pinpoint an exact second, but it's a good estimate. 

Me: Isn't that arbitrary?

AA: Well, we have to draw the line somewhere.

Me: Why do we have to draw the line anywhere? Shouldn't we always err on the side of life in something this important and irrevocable?

AA: {Actually, I am not sure how this thread ends, either, because I've never heard this question answered.}


Dialogue, Thread C:

Me: Do you believe that the unborn are as human as you are?

AA: Well, they are human, but they are not "persons."

Me: What is the difference? 

AA: "Personhood" of a fetus is something to be determined by each pregnant woman. Only she can decide when her fetus becomes a "person" to her. It's a woman's right.


Me: Is there any objective standard for "personhood"?


AA: Well, some say that "personhood" is determined by conscious thought and memory.


Me: So, an Alzheimer's patient in the final stages, or a severely brain-injured adult may no longer be considered a "person"?

AA: Well, some people argue that that's the case, but I don't subscribe to that. It's extreme.

Me: What is the essential difference between a post-conscious Alzheimer's patient and a pre-conscious fetus?

AA: The the fetus has never lived a real life.

Me: How do you define what is "real" life? Isn't that arbitrary?

AA: Yes, maybe, but remember, it's a woman's right to choose to assign meaning to the life within her.

Me: So, the woman gets to decide the "personhood" of another?

AA: Yes.

Me: But it still seems so arbitrary and subjective.

AA: Wait, there is an objective standard, if that's what you are looking for. The U.S. Supreme Court decided in 1973 that "personhood" begins at birth, and that's when the fetus gets legal protection.

Me: So the government can legitimately decide when someone is a "person" and thus entitled to the full spectrum of human rights?

AA: Yes.

Me: Are you okay with that?

AA: Yes, of course. I fully support Roe v. Wade.

Me: Would you support the government defining the "personhood" of other groups as well, like when the Supreme Court declared that black slaves were property, and not fully human (Dred Scott decision)?

AA: No! Of course not. That's ridiculous.

Me: Can you tell me the salient difference?

AA: {I don't know how this thread ends, either, since I have never heard the answer to that one.}



Okay, there you have it. Yep, that actually is what I do in my spare time, ha ha! I've got other imaginary dialogues, too, but I will save those for later. If anyone wants to complete any of the threads or tell me where I went wrong, that would be great!



370 comments:

  1. Great "conversations!" I'm looking forward to reading any pro-choice comments on this post, because things that seem so apparent to me (and you, clearly) appear not to be so obvious to those who support the right of a woman to have an abortion.

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  2. This is brilliant :) you are so articulate as always! I too would love to hear the answers...

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  3. I'm excited to see what others have to say! I'm looking forward to a great discussion! :)

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  4. I'm still waiting with bated breath in the other thread, to see if it's ok to torture or molest an unborn child, or if it's only ok to kill them. Sigh.

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  5. Monica, great point. Maybe this post will refresh that question in their memories?

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  6. Here's what sometimes happens next, in my experience:

    AA: {to avoid answering, s/he launches into a diatribe about the evils of Catholicism, and/or Republicans, and/or the idiocy of GWB, and/or how pro-lifers are just eeeeeeeevil people who want to control womens' bodies and make them SLAVES to their own fertility because we WANT every woman in America shackled to the kitchen sink, barefoot and pregnant.}

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  7. Perfectly logical to me. Can't wait to see any logical answers to the unanswered questions(if those exist).

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  8. I would like to renew my request that you run for President. :)

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  9. Hebrews, ha! I think I would get about 2% of the vote!! :)

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  10. I "debate" with pro-choice young people on Facebook and some arguments admit that the unborn child is a person and a human but that the person doesn't have a right to use another person's body without their explicit and on-going consent, and if the mother wants to separate for any reason at any time she can as a matter of self-defense since it is unwanted use of her body.

    I've heard people say they don't agree with what Jill Stanek testified about (leaving a baby neglected to die), she do support the mother inducing labor at any time and the doctor figuring out if the baby needs medical care to live or not, and if the baby dies of its own shortcomings, then that's the baby's fault, not the moms. The same people will argue that sex doesn't cause pregnancy.

    Makes me want to pull my hair out. I struggle with out how to reason with people who think that way.

    Thanks Leila! Great post.

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  11. *she do support the mother inducing labor

    should be "but do support..." Woops. :-)

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  12. Stacy, wow, that is sad! And when you say that they will argue that sex does not cause pregnancy, is that because they have been taught that only "unprotected" sex causes pregnancy?

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  13. I'm sorry that you can't get anyone to argue with you about this here. For your sake, I hope someone does.

    I do have one comment - I have discussed truth and opinion on my blog. http://hameno.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/truth-opinion-and-skepticism/

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  14. One quick correction on your post, Mai: No one said that all killing is wrong. The correct term is "murder".... So, all murder is wrong. Self-defense, just war... those are not "murders" those are killings, which can be justified. It's important not to misrepresent others' beliefs (not that you did so purposely; it's just a pet peeve of mine).

    I guess I come back to this question, when I read your post: Does there exist truth which is outside of you and me, and which doesn't depend on us finding it, nor does it change even if our understanding of it changes? If so, can we agree to call that objective truth? And then, whatever we have personally determined about those things (whether we are right or wrong) are our opinions? Maybe that is what you said. I will go back and re-read. But can we agree on that?

    Also, it's not for my sake that I hope someone takes on the abortion questions, it's for the babies' sake, and their mothers. I really wish you could answer the questions....

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  15. Truth is the generally accepted, tested, and prevailing theory

    Mai, if this is your definition of truth, then we don't agree. Because this definition is what I would call "conventional wisdom", or an "educated guess", or (as you say) a "theory". Which may or may not be true.

    Thoughts?

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  16. Truth is the generally accepted, tested, and prevailing theory

    In other words, what you have written above is what I call "opinion". It may be that it's an educated opinion and even a correct opinion, but you are defining "opinion."

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  17. Mai, you also said:

    Things that were once true may change, based on new facts, tests, or challenges.

    This is false.

    Things which are objectively true do not change based on new facts, tests or challenges. All that changes is our understanding (sometimes called "opinion") of those truths (i.e., we may have misunderstood a truth before, and now we understand it, or we may have understood the truth before and now we misunderstand it). Our understanding of truth changes, but objective truth never changes. That is why it is called "objective truth". Do you see?

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  18. Mai, I think your thoughts deserve a whole post of their own, but here's another question I have. You said:

    It is true that when a man rapes a woman, her rights are violated.

    As a theist, I believe you are right. But for an atheist, tell me why the woman has rights? What is the source of her rights? And, if a society has a law that says women are chattel, then how is it true that a woman's "rights" are violated? Who says she has rights?

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  19. Leila,



    They don't believe the mother is responsible for sustaining the life if she didn't consent to pregnancy. Consent to X is not consent to Y. So if she's using birth control, she's not consenting and abortion is just her decision to remove the little person that took up residence there. That's the reasoning. To me, it's so sad. I've asked before how that would work in a murder trial. "I didn't kill the man, the bullet did."

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  20. Stacy, the US Supreme Court backed up that exact, crazy reasoning in 1992. I have been meaning to do a post on that.... Wow.

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  21. It baffles me how people will engage in sex, an act that is biologically meant to create babies, and then are surprised when that act... creates a baby. "Protection" doesn't always prevent the act from succeeding in what it is meant to do.

    To me, it's like someone eating 3,000 calories per day and then throwing a fit because they gained weight. "But I didn't CONSENT to all this fat on my butt! How dare my body engage in a natural biological process without my consent!"

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  22. JoAnna, that is a wonderful comparison. (Perhaps as a dietitian I'm a little biased, but I don't think that's it ;))...Thank you for that!!!
    Leila, wonderful blog post as usual, I think this might be my favorite so far.

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  23. Leila:

    This is YOUR opinion. What I wrote is the way I define truth. You asked me to define these two terms. I did. It seems that the only way you will ALLOW me to define truth is the way you define it. Or the only way you will accept is, perhaps. I've been defining it this way since I started commenting on this blog, but since you don't accept the way I define it, you say I'm being silent, or perhaps confusing. I don't get that, really.

    See, I don't agree with your definition of truth, either. But I accept it when you define it, I accept that you HAVE a definition.

    Our understanding of truth changes, but objective truth never changes. That is why it is called "objective truth". Do you see?

    I understand how you are defining it. And this, to me, sounds like you are describing fairies, or god. It's out there, we don't know what it is, but it's there ... somewhere. It's "magical". By the way, I don't believe in magic either.

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  24. But Mai, you don't get to define the English word "truth"! Truth is a word that has a meaning. It means "reality" or "what IS". You cannot choose to define it as you see fit. I know that liberals love to redefine words, but then we cannot speak, you see? Truth already has a definition. And, "truth" is very different (definition-wise) from "opinion".

    But you have confirmed for me why the twain can never meet.

    Does anyone else get what I am saying?

    Something is either true or it isn't. Either the earth is flat or it's not. Either there is gravity or there isn't. Either the moon is made of green cheese, or it's not. Either a person is dead or not. Either I am a woman or I am not. There are lots of things that are objectively true. You don't get to define reality, even though that is what liberals seem to want to do.... That is why I am so frustrated.

    Let's say that it's 1100 AD. Person A thinks the world is flat and Person B thinks it's round. It makes no difference what they think. Those are their opinions. But there is a TRUTH "out there" and that TRUTH (that the earth is round) is "out there". And, it's been "out there" before those people existed and long after they were dead. Objective truth is TRUTH. It has nothing to do with your opinion or mine.

    Do you really don't see that something like that can exist?

    And, where do a woman's rights come from?

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  25. By the way, I NEVER said that we can't know what objective truth is! Quite the contrary, of course we can know!!! We just don't get to define it! It just IS. It is REALITY. It is what is REAL. It has nothing, nothing, nothing to do with us or our opinions. It is something that we can seek and something that we can find (or receive), but it is nothing that we can "decide" or "create".

    So, we can know truth, and we can even agree on some objective truth, you and me. For example: Without oxygen, human beings will die.

    So, some objective truth is quite knowable. Some is not known yet. But truth is truth is truth is truth is truth, and if Mai and Leila never lived, truth would still be truth.

    You see?

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  26. PS: None of this is to be confused with subjective truth... i.e., I like the color brown and you don't. In that type of case, you have your truth, I have mine. But objective truth means that something is true for all people at all times. So, the earth is round. That is objectively true. Whether or not God exists: It is either true that He does, or true that He doesn't. It cannot be both.

    If the prevailing theory is that He doesn't exist, it makes no difference. If the prevailing theory is that He does exist, it also makes no difference. He either does, or He doesn't. That is what I mean by objective truth.

    Can we speak the same language and use the terms as what they mean, or are we unable to speak? I want to be able to speak.

    If I am understanding your way, you are saying: Truth is what the prevailing, tested, and generally accepted theory (i.e., opinion?) is. So let me ask: If there is a society which tests and generally accepts the concept of raping women, and if that is the prevailing opinion, then is it true that rape is not wrong?

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  27. Mai, I apologize if I sound overly frustrated. I just feel like we are talking right past each other, because we can't even speak the same language. Sigh.

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  28. Mai, in your post, you said:

    I have reasons why rape is wrong: when a person violates the rights of another person, this is wrong. The right of an individual is a basic tenet of common law. This is not to say that other common law tenets have room for debate — like when my right to play music interferes with someone else’s right to have a quiet evening at home. There is no Truth here – in cases like this, each situation must be navigated individually. Which is why we have a large and complicated legal system.

    Mai, do you have a hierarchy of "rights"? Rape is not ever allowed, but some other interferences with my rights can slide, etc.? Is this all based on common law tenets? So, if common law tenets change, rape could be seen differently, as not a violation of rights? I don't have a law background, so help me out. Thanks!

    (I guess I'm asking where rights come from and why some are higher ranked than others?)

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  29. Okay, I think I am way off the original topic of this post, which is fine, but I think that Mai's post deserves its own thoughtful response here. So, Mai, can we hold off (or at least I will), and I will respond to your whole post and you can respond to that? (I actually don't disagree with much of what you said.)

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  30. It seems like Mai defined truth the way I tried to define truth FOR liberals a while back - that it "may" be true today, based on the best of our knowledge, but tomorrow it may change when new facts come to light. Like, 2+2 may equal 4 today, and may ALWAYS equal 4... but maybe some day it won't.
    To help Mai understand what you're trying to say about the definition of the term, I'd bring her back to her what she said about how it sounds like you are describing fairies or god. Well, let's take god, just for sake of argument. I think there is a TRUE DEFINITION for "god" that every single person can agree to, regardless of whether or not they believe in a god. God (or god) is a Higher Power that many people believe existed before the earth. See, Mai, that the definition of God doesn't change for me because I believe in Him or change for you because you don't believe. It just is what it is. Like the definition of chair. Even if I say "I have ALWAYS defined chair as something with three legs that you can stand on" it doesn't change the actual definition of the word chair.

    Anyway, Leila, I like your conversations with yourself... I also like to see that I'm not the only one who does that!!

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  31. You asked me to provide dictionary- like definitions for truth and opinion, and now you say I don't get to provide a definition for truth.

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  32. I have to say, this is exhausting to read. I'd like to see people adhere to one philosophy and discuss/debate it. This where I get confused too, Leila, and perhaps I am just missing something? I want to see *consistency* in philosophy and thought. Not just, "I think, the end." Sadly, the vast majority of us do *not* get taught logic, rhetoric, debate, philosophy etc in school anymore so I think many of us (not just liberals) are kind of handicapped when it comes to discussing our stances on an issue or even life in general. I find this at my family gatherings too... it's downright exhausting having a "debate." People just start throwing statistics at each other or emotions and don't slow down and think okay, what is my premise here, does it follow through logically, can I re-examine some areas? etc. I also think in a genuine discussion of ideas, it's not so scary to admit, hey there's a hole in my logic here. Because we can continue the discussion, explore the issue further, see if perhaps the dots connect in another way, etc.

    Am I making any sense? Lol.

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  33. Mai, when you say, "Truth is the generally accepted, tested, and prevailing theory," does this mean that you believe that truth can be determined by majority vote?

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  34. Actually, ignore my last comment. Let me try to flesh out my thoughts a bit better.

    Mai, in your blog post, you said this: "Truth is the generally accepted, tested, and prevailing theory. Examples: slavery is wrong."

    Now, right here I see a HUGE contradiction.

    At the time slavery was legal, it was the generally accepted, tested, and prevailing theory. That is, it was widely believed that black people were not human beings entitled to the same rights as white people.

    Therefore, by your definition, "slavery is right" was the truth in 1857. But now you say that truth is wrong, and the truth, "slavery is wrong," is right.

    Do you see what I'm getting at? Truth cannot change. Either slavery is wrong and has ALWAYS been wrong and will ALWAYS be wrong, or the opposite. If slavery was right back in, say, 1857 but is wrong in 2010, then it's not truth to say that slavery is right or slavery is wrong; that's nothing more than opinion. In that case the "truth" would be subjective, as in "slavery can be right or wrong depending on the timeframe and circumstances."

    But objective truth says that "Slavery is wrong, has always been wrong, will always be wrong, no matter what." This truth would be the case even in a society were 99% of the population believed slavery to be wholly acceptable. It cannot change even if the prevailing opinions of the time change.

    I feel frustrated because it seems as though I'm just rehashing what Leila already said but I don't understand why the contradiction isn't evident.

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  35. Mai, fair enough. I told you to tell me your definition of truth. You said, "Truth is the generally accepted, tested, and prevailing theory."

    To me, this sounds like, "Truth is whatever most people believe today."

    Do I have that right? Please just answer that and I can feel like I have some clarity (or not) about what you are saying objective truth is. (And it is objective truth that we are talking about.)

    Thanks!

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  36. Whoa, I may be majorly distracted today, as Sew is having a baby!! ACK!! I am so excited and freaked out! So, forgive me if I am scattered today. Mai, I will address your post point by point when I can do so on a new post. I would love the question I just posed (in my most recent comment) to be answered, for clarity's sake (and JoAnna's question, too!), but other than that, I think I will wait and do a whole post on it.

    Anyone (pro-"choice") who would like to finish the imaginary dialogues, please feel free, since no one has taken that challenge yet....

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  37. Me: Do you believe that the unborn are as human as you are?

    AA: Well, they are human, but they are not "persons."

    Me: What is the difference?

    AA: "Personhood" of a fetus is something to be determined by each pregnant woman. Only she can decide when her fetus is becomes a "person" to her. It's a woman's right.

    Me: Is there any objective standard for "personhood"?

    AA: Not for a fetus.

    Me: So, an Alzheimer's patient in the final stages, or a severely brain-injured adult may no longer be considered a "person"?

    AA: An Alzheimer’s patient is not a fetus.

    Me: What is the essential difference between a post-conscious Alzheimer's patient and a pre-conscious fetus?

    AA: The fetus is within the mother’s body. Any human that begins existence inside another person is not themselves a person until outside the other person.

    Me: Isn't that arbitrary?

    AA: Yes, completely. So what?

    Me: So, the woman gets to decide the "personhood" of another?

    AA: Only of humans inside her body. Everyone should get to do that.

    Me: But it still seems so arbitrary and subjective.

    AA: It does.

    Me: Would you support the government defining the "personhood" of other groups as well, like when the Supreme Court declared that black slaves were property, and not fully human (Dred Scott decision)?

    AA: No! Of course not. That's ridiculous.

    Me: Can you tell me the salient difference?

    AA: Slaves aren’t inside another person’s body.

    --Sam

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  38. Sam -

    "Any human that begins existence inside another person is not themselves a person until outside the other person."

    So what you're saying is that personhood is defined by location ("not being or beginning in another person's body"). This mean that an embryo created through IVF (not in a person's body) has full personhood. Am I wrong?

    I am also wondering where you draw the line regarding the body. An elderly person may not be "in" another's body but can be extremely dependent upon the care of another and this care can interrupt another person's life and affect their health greatly (caretakers suffer from a lot of physical ailments). Where do you draw the line regarding how much another person is "allowed" to affect our bodies? Would it be ethical for me to say I do not want to care for my parents in old age because it would affect my health, and it's "my body, my choice"?

    Just thinking out loud.

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  39. Sam, thank you for stepping up! I appreciate your very clear answers.

    Sarah, the IVF question is a great one. Those embryos should have full "personhood" status. Is that correct, Sam?

    Also, it seems that for many, many people, it's "location, location, location." Where a person is situated (through no fault or decision of his own) determines his humanity. Interesting. But yes, arbitrary.

    Sam said:
    "Any human that begins existence inside another person is not themselves a person until outside the other person."

    You admit that's arbitrary and also it seems to be your personal opinion.

    So, just to be clear for the readers, you believe it's okay to decree death on another human being for reasons which you admit are arbitrary and based in your personal opinion?

    Thanks!

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  40. [Sarah: Am I wrong?]

    IVF embryos have no rights when they are inside another person's body.

    --Sam

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  41. [Leila: You believe it's okay to decree death on another human being for reasons which you admit are arbitrary and based in your personal opinion?]

    I believe it is acceptable for a person to decree death on a human inside that person's body.

    --Sam

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  42. Sam, yes, I understand that. And you yourself say that is an arbitrary decision. so, you believe it's okay to decree death on another human being for [a] reason which is arbitrary and based on your personal opinion?

    Thanks!

    Also, a vast number of IVF embryos are not in another's body. So, those embryos have full human rights? Correct?

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  43. Sam - Thanks for clarifying. I am curious about your answer to Leila's clarifying question ("a vast number of IVF embryos are not in another's body. So, those embryos have full human rights? Correct?").

    Many embryos are never implanted in another's body but are used for research.

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  44. [Leila: So, those embryos have full human rights? Correct?]

    Humans that have less than 100 distinct cell types do not have rights.

    --Sam

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  45. "Humans that have less than 100 distinct cell types do not have rights."

    But are they persons - human beings?

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  46. Sam, so to be clear: location is an issue for you, and also number of cells? Is "100" an arbitrary designation? In other words, if it has "102" cells, it's a fully protected human being?

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  47. [Sarah: But they are persons - human beings?]

    If owner of the cells wishes to define the cells as a person.

    --Sam

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  48. [Leila: Location is an issue for you, and also number of cells? Is "100" an arbitrary designation?]

    Yes. Yes.

    --Sam

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  49. "If owner of the cells wishes to define the cells as a person."

    How does a person "own" the cells? I thought that it was only if a human was inside of another human that there was an ownership? Who owns the cells? Are you talking legally?

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  50. [Leila: How does a person "own" the cells?]

    The people who provide the original cells, or the person who performs the fertilization own the cells.

    [Leila: I thought that it was only if a human was inside of another human that there was an ownership?]

    Many things can be owned.

    --Sam

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  51. Sam, so which is it? The person who provided the original cells, or the one who performs the fertilization? Are you talking legally?

    Yes, many things can be owned, but we were talking about human beings specifically.

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  52. Thanks for contributing, Sam.

    Given your belief that a baby is "owned" by a woman as long as it is inside of her, are you of the opinion that it's acceptable for a woman to kill her baby at any stage of pregnancy? For example, would you consider it acceptable for a woman at 39 weeks gestation to decide she wanted an abortion, and to follow through?

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  53. [Leila: Are you talking legally?]

    Ownership is a legal concept.

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  54. [Joanna: would you consider it acceptable for a woman at 39 weeks gestation to decide she wanted an abortion, and to follow through?]

    Yes.

    --Sam

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  55. Monica had a question of people who believe as you do, Sam. Would it also be acceptable for a mother to torture (but not kill) her full-term baby in utero?

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  56. [Leila: Would it also be acceptable for a mother to torture (but not kill) her full-term baby in utero?]

    No. If a living thing can experience pain then it is good to minimize the pain.

    Dogs can be owned. It is acceptable to kill a dog for financial reasons. It is not acceptable to torture a dog.

    --Sam

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  57. Sam, have you ever heard how late term abortions are performed? It's okay to inflict that kind of pain as long as the end result is the death of the baby?

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  58. This conversation is sounding more and more like a debate over slavery.

    Sam - So pain levels help determine our level of responsibility towards a living being? Studies show a developing fetus can feel intense pain. Does that change a woman's responsibility in any way?

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  59. [Leila: have you ever heard how late term abortions are performed?]

    Yes.

    [Leila: It's okay to inflict that kind of pain as long as the end result is the death of the baby?]

    It is generally best to minimize pain. If the current method is the most painless and safest method available, then it is the most moral method available.

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  60. Hi Sam,

    Thanks for your answer to my question. I appreciate your logical consistency even if I disagree with your premises.

    Do you think that the Unborn Victims of Violence Act is unjust? That is, are you of the opinion that someone who kills a pregnant woman should be charged with destruction of property instead of murder?

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  61. To clarify my post at 11:17am - do you believe that someone who commits violence against a pregnant woman should be charged with destruction of property if the baby dies, instead of the homicide of the baby?

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  62. [Sarah: Does that change a woman's responsibility in any way?]

    The woman has ownership. She may choose to dispose of what she owns. She decides the value of what she owns. The actions that follow from her decisions should cause minimal pain to the fetus.

    --Sam

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  63. [Joanna - do you believe that someone who commits violence against a pregnant woman should be charged with destruction of property if the baby dies, instead of the homicide of the baby?]

    The answer depends on the woman's valuation of the fetus.

    --Sam

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  64. "The answer depends on the woman's valuation of the fetus."

    I fail to see how this is logically consistent. If the fetus is owned by the woman, and does not have the rights of a human being, then whether or not the woman "values" the fetus should make no difference in a legal context. If a fetus is a mother's property, then a perpetrator who kills that fetus should be charged with destruction of property, not homicide.

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  65. I am still confused by your concept of ownership. You said earlier that the person providing the genetic material or the one involved with fertilization (you never clarified) has "ownership". In both IVF and natural conception, by your own definition, the father would have equal ownership of the fetus. Do you believe he has a say in what happens to an embryo or fetus? Who has ownership?

    (of course, usually the law - and everyday people - do not use the term "ownership" in reference to human beings or even parts of human beings, so even discussing "ownership" in this context is really interesting).

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  66. Question for the pro-lifers: Is it your hope that someday abortion will be illegal?

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  67. "Question for the pro-lifers: Is it your hope that someday abortion will be illegal?"

    Yes.

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  68. That Life becomes the only option for the unborn!

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  69. Is the real question concerning abortion:
    What is the most cost effective route?
    Euthanasia
    Abortion
    Death Penalty
    The answer from a culture of death:
    Get rid of the expenditures.

    It is an ugly answer.

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  70. [Sarah: In both IVF and natural conception, by your own definition, the father would have equal ownership of the fetus.]

    If a human is inside a person, that person may determine the human's rights. If the person decides the human inside her is a person, then it should be considered to be a person.

    If the embryo is inside a person, that person owns the embryo. If the embryo is not inside a person, then the embryo may be a person, if it has more than 100 different types of cells, or its ownership may be determined by local ownership laws for embryos.

    This answers your question.

    --Sam

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  71. Sam said: "If a human is inside a person, that person may determine the human's rights. If the person decides the human inside her is a person, then it should be considered to be a person.

    If the embryo is inside a person, that person owns the embryo. If the embryo is not inside a person, then the embryo may be a person, if it has more than 100 different types of cells, or its ownership may be determined by local ownership laws for embryos."

    Wow, that is getting complicated. How about we just say all human beings are equal and cannot be owned or murdered?

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  72. MaiZeke -- the problem I have with your attempt to define the word truth as you use it, is that it represents an rejection of the basis on which all scientific theory is based.

    The idea behind science is that
    a) a hypothesis is formed.
    b) a test is created for that hypothesis
    c) the results either modify the hypothesis , cause it's rejection or support it.


    The reasoning behind this procedure is because there is something usually referred to as objective, that is being tested.

    It is the fact that the results of the experiment can be repeated and that the data can be used to created and refine a model , which has predictive capability, which make science a useful tool for humanity.


    If 'truth' changes as you define it , then there should be not expectation that the test performed would be repeatable.

    There is no use is forming a hypothesis because 'that which is tested' will change and my model will not have any useful predictive properties.

    That being said, i think modern technology refutes your definition of 'truth'.

    The fact remains the we can test 'something' and those test can be used to create and refine a model with predictive qualities.

    I would suggest the proper term used to refer to 'that which is tested' is objective truth.

    rephrasing we 'test' 'objects' to discover the 'truth' about them. and the cause of what is discovered ( not our understanding of it) should be referred to as 'objective truth'.

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  73. Anonymous@11:28 - yes, I think it should be illegal to deliberately kill an innocent human being.

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  74. [Leila: How about we just say all human tissue is equal and cannot be owned or murdered?]

    You may say this. I will not.

    --Sam

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  75. Sam, don't ascribe the word "tissue" to me when I didn't say it. That is dishonest. There is a difference between "human tissue" and "human beings". They are not interchangeable. But I'm glad you are showing the readers the way that your side reasons.

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  76. Marcy, exactly. Plantit, thank you. I am not a scientist and you made it understandable even to me.

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  77. [Sam: If the person decides the human inside her is a person, then it should be considered to be a person.]

    Even if it has less than 100 distinct cell types?

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  78. Sam-- " Only of humans inside her body. Everyone should get to do that."

    could you explain why a human being 'should' have the right to decide if another person can live in their body? Do you believe God gives them that right? or why is it wrong for someone to tell her what she needs to do with her body.

    people are forced to do all kinds of things, if they don't they go to jail, so they are forced to do all kinds of things with their bodies they otherwise might not want to. Why is this different. What is the 'cause' of this right.

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  79. "Question for the pro-lifers: Is it your hope that someday abortion will be illegal? "

    Absolutely, i hope rape and murder will remain illegal as well.

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  80. Also, Sam -- if a woman regrets her abortion, and comes to believe that her baby was a person at the time of the abortion, can she file a wrongful death lawsuit against the abortionist?

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  81. Sam - currently, our laws are a total mess trying to implement what you believe. There are people fighting and stressing over embryos and who "owns" them (again, ownership is usually reserved for inanimate objects and animals). Parents battling out child custody (one case in VA had three people claiming to be a child's parent due to some form of donor/surrogacy complications). Children well out of the womb being fought over by multiple (as in more than two) adults claiming to be their "parents" etc. All because at the time of conception, people were busy defining their own "valuations" and "realities." That's the thing so many would like to ignore... that the approach you take from day 1 towards issues like this then affects ALL involved for the rest of their lives, long after the issue of whether or not someone is inside a womb or outside a womb has been resolved. So, while this is an interesting discussion and I appreciate your honesty, I don't even see how our country could function in a practical sense with this approach.

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  82. You raise an interesting point, Sarah. In Sam's philosophy, who owns the fetus inside a surrogate mother? The surrogate, or the biological parents?

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  83. [JoAnna: who owns the fetus inside a surrogate mother? The surrogate, or the biological parents?]

    The surrogate.

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  84. Leila is correct when she says what is does not change, but our understanding of it, and thus a closer understanding of a "truth" does.

    However, to simply say, "either the Earth is flat or it is not" is incorrect. The Earth neither has a spherical nor a flat disc shape. As a matter of fact, its shape is constantly changing, depending on tilt, rotation and the moons pull on our bulging oceans. Sure one theory is closer to the "truth" (the round theory, of course) but to dismiss the topic and ignore the 'devil in the details' after saying "there you go, the Earth is round" is not correct either.

    Go look into the field of Quantum Mechanics and tell me what the truth of our subatomic particles is. Does the church specify these things? No? Does that mean there is no objective truth to them?

    I am pro-life, believe it or not, but I am aware that my feelings on the matter do not come from an "objective truth" - they come from my emotions about protecting innocent babies. I believe each fetus is a baby because that is how I see it. I know there is a chance I could find out one day that Sam's "100 cells" theory is correct. Or that ensoulment happens on exactly day 58 of a pregnancy.

    The problem is your "objective truth" comes from a subjective place. (The church/your belief in God and as to what god is/wants from us). It makes your decisions cut and dry and easy to make. That is good. It is comforting. But it might not be "correct."

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  85. [JoAnna: if a woman regrets her abortion, and comes to believe that her baby was a person at the time of the abortion, can she file a wrongful death lawsuit against the abortionist?]

    This is a legal question. I am not a lawyer.

    I do not think such a suit can be filed in my state.

    --Sam

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  86. [plantit: could you explain why a human being 'should' have the right to decide if another person can live in their body?]

    This is people determine the rights of all humans contained within them.

    --Sam

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  87. The wrongful death suit would be a really interesting test case. I wonder what would shake loose from it. certainly if all the women who had changed their minds about abortion fought such cases, even if they didn't win, it might bankrupt a few abortion providers. That would be a good thing.

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  88. [Joanna:[Sam: If the person decides the human inside her is a person, then it should be considered to be a person.]

    Even if it has less than 100 distinct cell types?]

    Yes.

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  89. Sam --"This is people determine the rights of all humans contained within them."

    I am still confused. Why do you think a person should be able to do that? And why only that?
    What gives them that right? What do you mean by right?

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  90. [plantit: Why do you think a person should be able to do that?]

    Because the human is inside her.

    [plantit: What do you mean by right?]

    Right (n.) a moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way (def. 2, Oxford English Dictionary)

    I do not understand your other questions.

    --Sam

    I do not understand your other questions.

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  91. Anonymous (of the flat earth question), I get your point. I agree, to a point. Some truth "is" and we can count on it... for example, I count on the fact of gravity existing, and that is why I don't jump off a cliff. Gravity is objectively true, even if there are nuances that I don't yet understand about it.

    Also, we Christians believe that some truth is "revealed" directly by God (revelation). That is how we get certain truths (none of which contradict any other truths, such as scientific truths).

    The biggest question of course is: Did Jesus rise from the dead? That is the most important question to find the truth about.

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  92. My point is, there are scientific truths that we can know to a greater or lesser degree due to experimentation, and then there are metaphysical truths and theological truths which we know through divine revelation.

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  93. Sam, why should a person have the right to kill a human being which is inside her? Where does she get such a right?

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  94. which is it a 'moral' or 'legal' entitlement?

    If it is a 'legal' entitlement then I don't think anyone can disagree with you.

    The argument here is that the 'moral law' does not and in fact forbids the action and that should cause a change in the 'civil law'.

    That is what I mean by where does the right come from. are a persons 'rights' given them by the government arbitrarily or do people have 'rights' regardless of what the government defines? If so we are talking about moral rights
    not legal rights correct?

    And it is your claim that god grants a woman a right to control who is withing her body? not the state. Is my understanding correct so far?

    or are you referring only to the 'legal' right, in which case i have no argument because you are correct.

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  95. I don't get the point of making abortion illegal. Shouldn't people have rights over their own bodies? I couldn't support a government that forces women to go through an unwanted pregnancy and birth. Yes, yes, I know the woman chose to have sex (in most cases she chose to, anyway, but not in all cases).

    Bottom line: If you don't support abortion, don't have one. But, don't take away the right to chose from others.

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  96. Anonymous:

    The problem is your "objective truth" comes from a subjective place. (The church/your belief in God and as to what god is/wants from us). It makes your decisions cut and dry and easy to make. That is good. It is comforting. But it might not be "correct."

    This statement applies to Protestants, but not Catholics. I need to do a whole post on that.

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  97. Abortion should be illegal because killing of innocent human beings should be illegal. It's that simple.

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  98. "Abortion should be illegal because killing of innocent human beings should be illegal. It's that simple."

    But forcing a woman to carry an unwanted baby to term and then forcing her to go through birth is ok?

    Again, if you don't support abortion, don't have one! Or better yet, adopt an unwanted baby so women who feel abortion is their only option will see otherwise.

    If you want to make abortion illegal then work to create programs that offer help to women with unwanted pregnancies! Help women see they have other options. Don't just write a blog post about imaginary conversations.

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  99. [Leila: why should a person have the right to kill a human tissue which is inside her?]

    Because it is inside her.

    [Leila: Where does she get such a right?]

    The origin of rights is both legal and moral.

    For the legal origin of rights, you may consult a good history of law.

    For the moral origin of rights, you may consult a good text on metaethics. I recommend "Metaethics, Normative Ethics, and Applied Ethics: Contemporary and Historical Readings" by James Fieser.

    --Sam

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  100. [plantit: And it is your claim that god grants a woman a right to control who is withing her body? not the state. Is my understanding correct so far?]

    I have made no statements about God.

    --Sam

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  101. "I don't get the point of making abortion illegal. Shouldn't people have rights over their own bodies? "

    Women absolutely SHOULD have rights over their own bodies, but those rights are not unlimited.

    Just as I have a right to freedom of religion , so long as my religion does not call for hunting down and killing people.

    No freedom is absolute.

    The real question comes down do does a woman's right over her own body outweigh another persons right to not be brutally murdered?

    I want to live in a country where the answer to that question is 'of coarse not'.

    If we don't treat human life as something so important that NO ONE , not the state, not the mother, not the caretaker NO ONE has the right to unjustly destroy another human being , especially without due process, then we endanger ourselves as well.

    If a womans right to her body outweighs the right of her child's being alive ( as a consequence of her own mistakes) then why should I be held responsible for someone else mistakes, why if I have an invalid relative, how is too old can't i just leave them on the street to die or starve them to death?

    And that line of argument works until the invalid is YOU. believing that the right to life is anything less the highest right that can not be outranked by any other endangers everyone.

    for instance, if a woman has a right over her own body to destroy the person who depends on her. Why doesn't the state have the right to destroy citizens who depend on it? Especially if those citizens disagree or antagonize existing authority.

    If you don't believe that line of reasoning can and will be followed, take the time and study China.

    where women are forced to have histochemistris to prevent them from having any more children, children they desperately want to have!!

    Where any religion that is not viewed as loyal to china is illegal and those who adhere to it imprisoned or killed.

    That type of state is where the line of reasoning ( the right to my body is superior to the right to life) leads towards, and no i don't want to live there.

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  102. Sam -- is the 'right' as you defined granted by moral or legal authority?

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  103. [Sam -- Sam -- is the 'right' as you defined moral or legal?]

    Both.

    --Sam

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  104. EDIT:

    [plantit: is the 'right' as you defined moral or legal?]

    Both.

    --Sam

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  105. My point is if the law were changed then it would not be a legal right only a moral one,correct?

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  106. [plantit: My point is if the law were changed then it would not be a legal right only a moral one,correct?]

    Abortion should be a legal right.

    --Sam

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  107. "where women are forced to have histochemistris to prevent them from having any more children, children they desperately want to have!!"

    So, you're against women being forced to NOT have children, but you're ok with women being forced TO have children?

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  108. If you want to make abortion illegal then work to create programs that offer help to women with unwanted pregnancies!

    Sam, I and my prolife friends are tireless in this very endeavor! We are forever helping, housing and providing support, love and options for these women. I need to do a whole post on that, because it always surprises me that pro-"choice" people don't realize how much is being done (and more could be done if liberals were not trying to shut down the very places that provide options to women).

    Great idea for a new post, thank you!

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  109. [Leila: Sam, I and my prolife friends are tireless in this very endeavor!]

    I did not make this statement. There is another "anonymous"

    I have not been labeling my posts consistently. This will change.

    --Sam

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  110. One more hypothetical situation for pro-lifers. If we assume that abortion is illegal, what do you suggest that women who find themselves with unwanted pregnancies do?

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  111. "So, you're against women being forced to NOT have children, but you're ok with women being forced TO have children?" given the choice between
    a) women being forced not to have children
    b) women being forced to have children

    I'd would choose b, cause b does not cause the killing of a second human.

    It is horrible for a woman to be forced to have children, it is even more horrible to kill someone so she doesn't.

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  112. Anonymous, pregnant women already have a child. They are not being forced to have one, they already have one. It is inside her. But she is already a mother.

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  113. "One more hypothetical situation for pro-lifers. If we assume that abortion is illegal, what do you suggest that women who find themselves with unwanted pregnancies do?"

    Have the child and either raise him/her or give him/her up for adoption. I have know a few adopted children, not one of them wished they had been aborted.

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  114. Okay, I'm diving in (dipping a toe in?). I just want to at least attempt to answer your questions with what I know in my heart to be true.
    Again, I'm not very good with words, so I hope this isn't confusing. The past few weeks since you posted your abortion post (Open Letter to Abortion Rights Advocates), I've really been trying to solidify my point of view on this issue so I could contribute next time. One book and some internet research later here I am.
    I'm going to try to not be offended by "your ideas are evil," which I know will probably follow.

    There are many things wrong with the way abortion (the practice) is handled in today's society (for example: doctors making money off of the procedure or lack of other options presented to young women), but I'd like to keep this in terms of ideas (Leila you love those!) and argue why I don't think abortion is intrinsically evil.


    Fetuses are not people. They are alive, and they are human, but they are not people.

    There are three factors that make someone a person:
    1. It must be alive.
    A fetus has a heartbeat, it grows, and it performs other life functions. So fetuses are alive.

    2. It must be human.
    A fetus has unique human DNA that came half from its biological mother and half from its biological father. So fetuses are human.

    3. It must be able to live independently.
    A fetus cannot live independently. It receives its life support directly and continuously from its mother's body. The mother is the sole life-providing entity for the fetus. He is a part of the mother's body. (To clarify before you even ask the question: I do not support late-term abortions or partial birth abortions)


    What about babies? They can't live independently, right?
    The truth of the matter is: babies can perform basic bodily functions without the help of another body. While they cannot feed themselves (among other tasks), they can digest the food provided to them and release the waste. They can breathe air around them and turn it into oxygen. There are an infinite number of people who could heat up and feed the baby its bottle, when in the case of a fetus, the mother is the sole provider of nutrients, oxygen, and waste removal, among other things. The fetus's body is able to supersede the bodily functions of its mother.

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  115. What about an senile old man on full life support?
    He is not independent (i.e. his body can no longer perform the functions necessary for survival). Which is why I support a family's choice to terminate life support, just as I support a woman's choice to terminate a pregnancy. Do I think we should terminate all life support? No, of course not, just as I do not think all pregnancies should be terminated. If the family wants to keep their family member alive (though I would not consider him a person in the technical definition of the word), please go ahead. If a woman wants to keep her fetus alive, that's perfectly fine.

    What about laws that state that if a pregnant woman is murdered, then the murderer has killed two people?
    In general, I do not agree with these laws. A fetus is not a person. However, this would be a time when viability could potentially be a factor. If the murderer has killed a baby that could have otherwise been living independently outside the womb, it becomes complicated. Like I said, I do not support partial-birth or late term abortions (because of the independence factor), and I think that a murderer killing a 35 week old fetus should face greater repercussions than a murderer killing a 9 week old fetus. This is a situation where enacting a sentence would not be cut and dry and certainly would not be easy (as the exact moment when a fetus becomes viable cannot be determined)--but no one can deny that there is a point at which each fetus becomes viable. Either a fetus is viable, or it isn't. Right Leila??

    I'm trying to answer as many of your questions as possible before you have to ask them as I won't be able to check back too often in the next few days.


    So again, fetuses are not people. They are alive, and they are human, but they are not people. That is why I don't think abortion is unequivocally wrong. Ending the life of these bunches of living, human cells is not murder because these cells are not a person.


    I know how sensitive a topic this is for many of your readers, especially those who are suffering from infertility (it took my husband and I 7 years to conceive our son), so I can totally get how I might sound callous to you.
    Hope I at least offered some clarity.

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  116. "I and my prolife friends are tireless in this very endeavor! We are forever helping, housing and providing support, love and options for these women. I need to do a whole post on that, because it always surprises me that pro-"choice" people don't realize how much is being done (and more could be done if liberals were not trying to shut down the very places that provide options to women). Great idea for a new post, thank you!"

    That is great! I applaud your efforts! I would like to see more bumper stickers advertising help to women with unwanted pregnancies instead of bumper stickers simply stating, "Pro-life!"

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  117. if you doubt that abortion kills people I would challenge you to watch these.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QfKCGTfn3o

    In case you don't know who andre bocille is ( he is one of the most famous opera singers in the world).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPF1FhCMPuQ

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  118. Thanks, but I'll pass on your propaganda.

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  119. " I applaud your efforts! I would like to see more bumper stickers advertising help to women with unwanted pregnancies instead of bumper stickers simply stating, "Pro-life!"

    Hard to fit that on bumper stickers, there are many organization out there that help. Some have billboards, others are on the web.

    one of my favorites is this one:
    http://www.holyfamilyadoption.org/

    If you know anyone thinking about having an abortion send them here. These people will help get the birth paid for ( even if they decide not to give the baby up for adoption in the end). And if they want their child to be adopted will arrange one or closed adoptions.

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  120. Mrs. M, that's a lot to respond to, and I thank you for your clarity! I will get to all of it, but for now I have time for this: "Viability" to me is a moving target, not something objective at all. So, viability is used by pro-abortion folks, but not by me. Every baby has a different "point" of viability, based on the baby and era he is born. So, I would never use that as a definite "truth" ... it's an arbitrary, changing thing. Unlike conception.

    More soon...

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  121. "If you know anyone thinking about having an abortion send them here."

    Good to know, thank you. But I don't know anyone considering an abortion. Also, I personally would never have an abortion. And, yes, I have been young, pregnant, alone and terrified. My situation worked out, thankfully. However, I would never take away the right of another woman to chose abortion.

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  122. [Sam: This is a legal question. I am not a lawyer. I do not think such a suit can be filed in my state.]

    I'm speaking hypothetically in the context of your philosphy. If our legal system was based upon your philosophy as you have described it here, should a woman who came to believe that the fetus she aborted was indeed a person be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the abortionist?

    Regarding the surrogate issue: what if the biological parents of the fetus in the surrogate's womb view the fetus as a person? Does that change anything in regard to the surrogate's "ownership" of the fetus?

    If the surrogate has a legal contract with the parents stating that they, and not she, has ownership of the fetus, does that mean the surrogate would be committing destruction of property if she aborted the fetus?

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  123. Okay, plantit, Andrea Bocelli is a person. You are correct....he is human, living, and independent.
    I don't see how this should affect my stance about fetuses not being people.

    That was a lovely story that Andrea told, and that is why I fully support a woman's choice to NOT have an abortion if she wants to.

    By the way, Andrea is one of my favorite opera singers--he sings beautifully. Con Te Partiro gets me every time.

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  124. your loss nothing graphic on the video's they are personal stories told by people involved.

    Andre bocille's mother was urged to abort him because the doctors were sure he would be handi-capped. He is blind, and on of the most famous opera singers in the world.

    The other Gal speaks world wide, was adopted and actually survived and abortion attempt.

    They are both happy they were not aborted.
    Would you like to tell them their mothers right over her body was more important then them being alive? I challenge you to listen to what they have to say , look at their eyes and imagine telling them their lives are less important then the trouble their birth represented to their mothers?

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  125. Anonymous - to me (and I would venture to guess many pro-lifers), saying "If you don't like abortion, don't have one" is like saying, "If you don't like pedophilia, don't rape a child" or "if you don't like domestic violence, don't hit your spouse."

    Or modifying the phrase from your last comment: "I would never take away the right of another person to chose pedophilia."

    A woman should not have the "right" to an abortion because a woman does not have the "right" to kill an innocent human being. The innocent human being has rights too, and they are equal to that of the mother's. In 99% of cases, she chose to engage in the act that creates babies, and part of being a responsible adult is to take responsibility for your actions and face the consequences of those actions. If you create a new human life due to your actions, you become responsible for that human life.

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  126. "I don't see how this should affect my stance about fetuses not being people." -- because every fetus that is aborted could have contributed something to this world ,beautiful music, science.
    Their loss is no less tragic then it would have been and Andre been aborted. The question of when a fetus becomes a person in mute, because the fact is the DO become persons. And if we stop them, we have take away something from the world. It is wrong to do so for the same reason it is wrong to kill another person, we rob them and others of the chance for them to mean something.

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  127. JoAnna - this question (regarding who "owns" the fetus or embryo) is one many are struggling with in the legal realm. Anonymous, I am afraid the law does not see it so cut and dry.

    Sam - you mentioned localities deciding what to do. That's not practical. One of the messiest cases occurred because a couple who used alternative means to conceive did so in MA, then moved to VA, split, and a horrid custody battle ensued regarding 3 different caretakers/parties and two states with conflicting laws. You see, this philosophy that we can define our own reality as we see fit and convenient doesn't just affect the children who are aborted but also those who are born. The very nature of procreating (with ANY method) drags multiple parties into the mix and all these parties are affected for life. Saying it's all up to one party to decide everyone else's fate and "define reality" hardly seems just.

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  128. Yes, there is always the potential that the baby of a mother considering abortion will grow up to be a great artist or scientist, but he/she could also grow up to be a mass murderer or pedophile. There will always be the "what if" factor.

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  129. [Anonymous@12:20pm: The problem is your "objective truth" comes from a subjective place. (The church/your belief in God and as to what god is/wants from us). It makes your decisions cut and dry and easy to make. That is good. It is comforting. But it might not be "correct." ]

    That's assuming that belief in God is subjective. However, either God is real or He is not. That would make His existence an objective truth, not a subjective one.

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  130. Anonymous - to me (and I would venture to guess many pro-lifers), saying "If you don't like abortion, don't have one" is like saying, "If you don't like pedophilia, don't rape a child" or "if you don't like domestic violence, don't hit your spouse."

    Or modifying the phrase from your last comment: "I would never take away the right of another person to chose pedophilia."

    No, it's not the same. Abortion is LEGAL. Like it or not, it's legal. The other situations you mentioned are not.

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  131. very true, and isn't the 'what if' factor a major part of what makes human being valuable? What I'm getting at here is WHY is murder wrong? Is it just some arbitrary law? or are people valuable. I would claim people are so valuable that no other human right can take precedent over the right of another person to be alive. If it is any other way then everyone loses value. everyone is lessoned.

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  132. [Anonymous@1:41pm No, it's not the same. Abortion is LEGAL. Like it or not, it's legal. The other situations you mentioned are not.]

    Slavery used to be legal, too. Does that mean it was morally acceptable to deprive black people of their rights in 1857?

    Abortion used to be illegal. Did making abortion legal change its moral status? That is, was abortion immoral when it was illegal, and moral once it became legal?

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  133. People are valuable. Fetuses are not people.

    That's my stance.

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  134. "People are valuable. Fetuses are not people."

    Mrs. M, at what exact second do fetuses become people?

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  135. Just a further thought:
    The definition of the word person is difficult, philosophical and non objective, by defining it the supreme court started a religious debate and subjected the entire country to the religious views of a small group ( that disagreed with the majority).

    I think it is better to base law on scientifically verifiable fact. Human animals are mammals and the beginning of the mammal's life cycle can be known without question.

    Would it be better to base our laws on something solid and easily defined when possible instead of something difficult to define and agree upon?

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  136. Anonymous - regarding pro-lifers helping women and babies in need, many do so tirelessly in many, many ways including adoption and financial assistance. You're preaching to the choir here on that one. We would also like to see innocent human life protected legally, though. You also have to remember that many, many situations were women choose abortion they are not really the ones choosing it... they are being persuaded by the man in their life or a parent. Has it occurred to you that if abortion were illegal it would empower women to carry their babies to term (as many want to), and have access to more resources regarding the care of those babies?

    As a woman, I find it so odd that so many pro-choicers assume that women are making the choice to abort on their own. No, many are being pressured, coerced, and persuaded and are feeling even more desperate because the laws are backing their selfish boyfriends or unsupportive parents.

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  137. A person can live independently on its own and doesn't require the constant physiological support of another person.

    I thought I outlined that quite clearly in my previous comment

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  138. [JoAnna:If our legal system was based upon your philosophy as you have described it here, should a woman who came to believe that the fetus she aborted was indeed a person be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the abortionist?]

    Since I am not an expert in the law, I do not know the implications of answering your question.

    Retroactively changing the value of property, and then bringing legal action against another for the difference in value does not seem wise.

    [JoAnna: what if the biological parents of the fetus in the surrogate's womb view the fetus as a person? Does that change anything in regard to the surrogate's "ownership" of the fetus?]

    No. The surrogate owns the fetus.

    [JoAnna: If the surrogate has a legal contract with the parents stating that they, and not she, has ownership of the fetus, does that mean the surrogate would be committing destruction of property if she aborted the fetus?]

    I am not a lawyer. If this question is hypothetical, I do not know the consequences of my answer.

    Allowing a contract that gives ownership of a part of my body to another person does not seem wise. The contract you mention here also does not seem wise to allow.

    --Sam

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  139. Mrs. M, I wanted to say thank you for joining the discussion. You write well and with great clarity and I enjoy reading your posts (even if I don't agree with them).

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  140. [Sam: Allowing a contract that gives ownership of a part of my body to another person does not seem wise.]

    Does that mean that when I was pregnant with my son, I had a penis?

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  141. Mrs. M, but how can you or anyone know if an unborn baby is "viable" until after its born? For example, in my "Open Letter to Abortion Advocates" those babies were born and they lived after birth. So, were they "viable" the second before they were born? How would anyone know until they were born?

    Also, frozen embryos certainly are living independently with no physiological support from any other human. Are they fully persons, with all their civil rights intact?

    Thanks!

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  142. [JoAnna: Does that mean that when I was pregnant with my son, I had a penis?]

    You had a penis inside you. When you were pregnant with your son and having sex with your husband, you had two penises inside you.

    One penis was a part of a part of your body. The other was not.

    If you wish to qualify having a penis inside you as having a penis, then you have likely had two penises at times.

    --Sam

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  143. I don't understand why abortion keeps getting equated to slavery. So, because I'm pro-choice I must support slavery and murder?

    You're really reaching there.

    OK, I'm outta here. More important things to do. :-)

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  144. Mrs. M, is a very premature baby in the NICU a "person"?

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  145. Sam, I think we all know the truth about the penises. One is her husbands (when it's inside her does she have the right to chop it off? Sorry for being so graphic, but really?). The other penis belonged to her son. Women don't have penises.

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  146. Mrs. M -
    "A person can live independently on its own and doesn't require the constant physiological support of another person"

    so according to you quadriplegics, people who suffer from lock-in syndrome and Alzheimer patients are not persons.

    That is you your philosophical / religious definition of the concept however. Others disagree.

    Isn't it better to base law on scientific fact when possible? Is there any disagreement as to when the mammalian life cycle begins?

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  147. [Leila: Women don't have penises.]

    I generally agree. I have never claimed otherwise.

    --Sam

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  148. I don't understand why abortion keeps getting equated to slavery. Because it's about one group of humans determining the humanity of another group of humans. It's unthinkable, but it has been codified in law many times. Slavery and abortion are the same that way. It is legal to "dehumanize" a whole class of humans.

    Pro-lifers say that either we are all human or none of us is. It's a much better way to live, where all human life is respected as valuable.

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  149. Sam, then the penis belongs to her son's body, not hers.

    Unless two people can have the same penis?

    And, it is an interesting question about when a man's penis is inside a woman. Does that mean she has the right to mutilate it? It's in her body, and it's all about location, right? I would think that a human life is even more valuable than a penis.

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  150. "I don't understand why abortion keeps getting equated to slavery. So, because I'm pro-choice I must support slavery and murder? "

    Slavery is a famous incident where:
    1) the court decided a certain group of human mammals were not persons and later changed it's verdict.
    2) it concluded it was ok to kill those individuals because they were not persons.

    So there are significant parallels here between the two.

    As to murder, either abortion is murder or it isn't. But the argument being made is that is is murder and wrong for the same reasons.

    So that is the connection.

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  151. It is impossible to know whether a baby is viable or not until after it is born, but I don't think that changes the fact that either it is viable or it isn't.

    But like I said, I do not support late term abortion (in case the fetus is independent) for this reason--it's not easy to determine that kind of thing.


    I would argue that a frozen embryo is living "independently" about as much as the old man on life support.
    I support the choice to "pull the plug" on the freezer keeping these embryos alive, just as I support the choice to "pull the plug" on the life support machine keeping the old man alive.

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  152. Anonymous at 1:57:

    I assume you disagree with the Dred Scott decision. Why?

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  153. Mrs. M, I'm just trying to get to the question of *when* the unborn human becomes a person. In a practical sense. Let's say I'm the abortionist. Let's say I'm only allowed to abort a non-person. A woman comes in at ____ gestational age and we can know for certain that this is not a person, so I can go ahead and abort.

    I'm trying to figure out when this moment happens, so that we don't accidentally kill any people.

    Also, what about the baby in the NICU. Person? Not a person?

    Thanks!

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  154. [Leila: Unless two people can have the same penis?]

    The penis of a fetus is a part of a part of the woman's body.

    [Leila: Does that mean she has the right to mutilate it? It's in her body, and it's all about location, right?]

    A penis is not a human.

    --Sam

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  155. Mrs. M -- if an individual has gone insane and can no longer functionality care for themselves are they a person or is the state justified in killing them , so as not to waste resources?

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  156. Sam, do you realize what you are saying? According to you, a woman can't mutilate a penis in her body, but she can mutilate (and kill) a human in her body!

    ? Doesn't that seem a little out of whack?

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  157. Sam -- you never answered, if the legal right to abortion was removed would a moral right remain?
    if so , what is the cause of that moral right?

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  158. [Leila: Doesn't that seem a little out of whack?]

    No.

    --Sam

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  159. Sam, okey-dokey. I guess the readers can decide.

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  160. Plantit,

    This whole abortion argument is not based on viability it is based on value. Not the value of life but of monetary value i.e., the cost of preserving life...the slippery slope theory --it is also objective truth.

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  161. [plantit: if the legal right to abortion was removed would a moral right remain?]

    See the post I wrote to you at December 7, 2010 1:12 PM

    [plantit: what is the cause of that moral right?]

    See the post I wrote to Leila at December 7, 2010 12:56 PM

    --Sam

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  162. Plantit, please read what I wrote more carefully.
    Yes, Alzheimer's patients, those with Lock In Syndrome, and quadriplegics are people (and insane people like you just added in your last comment). Their bodies are not requiring the use of another's body to stay alive! They are still digesting food, producing waste, etc. without the physiological help of another person.

    Regarding "Isn't it better to base law on scientific fact when possible?"
    I agree with you that life begins at conception. I find this to be obvious. But a lot of things are alive and we have no problems killing them. The difference is that it is not okay to kill people. That's why the definition of people is so important.


    Yes, the premature baby is a person. It can perform physiological functions by itself without the help of another person. If it is going to digest food, it is going to use its stomach to digest food. If it is going to dispose of waste, it is going to dispose of its waste using its intestines. It is NOT going to use its mother's stomach or intestines to perform these functions. That is the difference.

    And since the "when does it become a person (i.e. when does it become independent?)" question is so controversial (and frankly, near impossible for me to answer, as I cannot judge when an individual fetus is viable), I do not support late term or partial birth abortions.

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  163. Leila, I believe my post was sent to spam. I trust you'll retrieve it soon enough :)

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  164. Mrs M.

    "
    Yes, Alzheimer's patients, those with Lock In Syndrome, and quadriplegics are people (and insane people like you just added in your last comment). Their bodies are not requiring the use of another's body to stay alive! They are still digesting food, producing waste, etc. without the physiological help of another person."

    Do you believe the state or individuals have some kind of obligation to feed these people?
    Or is it ok to let the starve to death ( which is what would happen if no one interfered? ) They must be supported physically by others.

    if there is such an obligation why do we have an obligation to supply physical support as opposed to physiological support?

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  165. Mrs. M, I promise I am not trying to be a pain. I just want you to be very specific.

    So, there are some times (Alzheimer's, etc.) where it's okay to actively euthanize a person. But killing the unborn (pre-viability) is not killing a person but only a human.

    So, sometimes we can kill people (euthanasia?) but that is not the case with abortion, which is the killing of humans, but not people.

    Did I say that right? Let me know if I am misrepresenting you.

    Also, you didn't really answer how an abortionist would know if he is for sure killing only a human and not a person. Isn't that IMPERATIVE to know? How does he not accidentally kill a person? It seems vitally important, literally a case of life or death.....

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  166. Mrs. M: in your opinion, after what gestational age does abortion become unacceptable? In other words, what is your definition of a late-term abortion?

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  167. Plantit: There is a difference between offering medical support to a man with a failing liver (paying for his dialysis treatments, for example), and attaching myself to him and letting him use my liver indefinitely until he doesn't need it anymore. If you can't see that then I don't think we can continue.

    Of course I don't think that we should let them die. They are people.

    Fetuses? Not people. I don't know how much more clearly I can state this for you.

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  168. Re: Chopping off penises... Lorena Bobitt did and it wasn't even inside her body at the time. She got away with it (Just sayin.')

    @JoAnna: Sure, the ultimate existence (or NON-EXISTENCE) of a God might be considered an objective truth. But are you correct as to what God this is? Are you correct that he/it/she exists? Not one of us knows the answer to that. Therefore, your stance on what is "objective truth" (i.e. that God exists and he personally cries over every fetus)is subjective because you are relying on belief, doctrine and hearsay, not evidence.

    No it will not change the facts either way. You might even be right in the end, but still the way you are arriving at your "truth" is subjective.

    BTW - I only made the comment about round earth and objective truth, so I guess I'll say I am

    Round Earth Anonymous, or REA.
    -
    REA

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  169. Mrs. M, now I am totally confused. Can we euthanize the elderly and disabled, in your opinion?

    Also, at what point should abortion be made illegal (what is "late term")?

    And, after that point, is a fetus a person? Or, simply a human who shouldn't be killed (person only after birth, right?)

    Thanks! Sorry, I'm in a rush and have babies around me....

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  170. I support euthanasia in cases in which the person is on life support and cannot perform the physiological tasks necessary to sustain his own life. And even in that case, I don't think every person should be euthanized. I think it is the decision of the family. Also, I believe I stated earlier that I wouldn't define someone hooked up to full life support indefinitely a person. They are not performing physiological functions independently. I don't think it's okay to kill people.

    Fetuses should not be aborted at any time after there is a legitimate chance of viability. If I could put a legal limit on it? I'd say first trimester. Maybe extended to 15 weeks.
    And I'm giving you an arbitrary number of weeks because it seems to me like you're asking me for an arbitrary number of weeks.

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  171. Mrs. M, let me try this, and then I have to run:

    In your view:

    All unborn are human (life) but not "persons". Once a child is born (alive) it is a "person". Late term abortions should not happen, because the fetus might be viable (not because it is a "person"). Is that right?

    Thanks!

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  172. @Anonymous -- "Sure, the ultimate existence (or NON-EXISTENCE) of a God might be considered an objective truth. But are you correct as to what God this is? Are you correct that he/it/she exists? Not one of us knows the answer to that. Therefore, your stance on what is "objective truth" (i.e. that God exists and he personally cries over every fetus)is subjective because you are relying on belief, doctrine and hearsay, not evidence. "

    your definitional are laking.

    Something that is subjective must change based on the subject making the observation.
    People may differ about what they believe, but that does not make the truth subjective (only the belief.)

    It is a perfectly reasonable question to ask 'Is there a God' even if there is disagreement about the answer. The truth remains objective and the answer remains only partially known.

    Personally I am certain God exists, more to the point I'm certain that if he does not , then there is no such thing as a right to abortion , or a right to life, because rights don't exists.

    Only actions of no specific moral value, which cause consequences exist. The consequences might be more or less pleasing to individuals based on their specific biochemistry.

    If the only difference between a mans nose a pigs snout is accidents of history there is no reason we should not kill men as we do pigs.

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  173. Very close.

    I would consider late term abortions wrong because a viable fetus could live on its own (i.e. be a person). The only thing stopping it from living on its own is remaining in its mother's womb.

    It is at the point when the fetus becomes viable that it approaches "personhood." And it is at that time that killing it would be wrong.

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  174. Mrs. M--
    "Of course I don't think that we should let them die. They are people." but why not?
    What is so important about being a people that we should not let them die? Why are we obligated?

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  175. To answer your question, plantit, I do believe in objective truths. Leila and I had this conversation on another post ("And Pilate said to him "What is Truth?"").

    Killing people is wrong.

    I think we can all agree on that.

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  176. You are missing my point.
    Why is it wrong? What makes people valuable?

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  177. I'm thrilled, Sam, that you've taken this on (being serious, not sarcastic).

    Here's a couple (or more) of questions:

    1) I was in grad school when my first child was conceived and gestated. This was, obviously, a bit inconvenient for me since I was both teaching at the University and taking classes. Let's just say that my feeling about the pregnancy vacillated as it progressed. Would the embryo also vacillate between personhood and non-personhood, based on my own feelings? (To be clear, though, I wanted her every day)

    2) Both of my children were born around 36 weeks. That means that I technically was actually pregnant for around 34 weeks. Women who carry to full term are technically pregnant for 38 weeks. Some women go 2 weeks beyond the 40 week mark (so, technically pregnant for 40 weeks). So... babies born early are ALWAYS automatically persons before babies born later?

    Ex: My baby was in utero 34 weeks. Wanted, and thus a person by your standards. Imaginary Baby B was in utero 40 weeks. As the mother went into labor, she decided that babies cry too much and decided to terminate before the birth. That baby, not a person by your standards. Am I wrong in using your logic?

    3) This is all just your opinion, no? I find it rather arbitrary and not based on any consistent logic. Do you find it logical and practical in application?

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  178. Plantit,

    To sum up my view on objective truths, I will say for you that I subscribe to the idea that there are objective truths.

    Some things are always right, and some things are always wrong.

    Over my years of searching for objective truth, I have come to the conclusion that killing people is wrong. Yes, that is my subjective version of objective truth, but that is the best that I can do because I don't think that it is possible for anyone to decide or decree what is objectively true (I am an atheist, by the way, in case you didn't assume).
    I do think there are gray areas (killing a man in war for example would be sad, but not wrong), but the general fact of the matter is that killing people is wrong.

    There is no source for objective truths. They just are.

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  179. If you want to read more about how I determine truths (such as killing people is wrong), you can check over at Leila's other post I mentioned.

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  180. [Lisa: Would the embryo also vacillate between personhood and non-personhood, based on my own feelings?]

    No. It must be a decision.

    Pets do not change in value when owners are angry with them.

    [Lisa: My baby was in utero 34 weeks. Wanted, and thus a person by your standards. Imaginary Baby B was in utero 40 weeks. As the mother went into labor, she decided that babies cry too much and decided to terminate before the birth. That baby, not a person by your standards. Am I wrong in using your logic?]

    No.

    [Lisa: This is all just your opinion, no?]

    No.

    [Lisa: Do you find it logical and practical in application?]

    It is logical. I have never had to apply these principles.

    --Sam

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  181. Mrs. M - I realize my question is a little out of scope, but I have never had an atheist give me a logical answer to this question and I would love one.

    How, is anything 'wrong' if there is not God.

    It would seem to me ,that , that removing the supernatural sphere that imparts 'value' to actions as they relate the meaning of objects, renders all actions morally neutral.

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  182. Mrs. M - from an anatomy and physiology standpoint, I don't understand what you are saying. A fetus does not "borrow" his or her mother's organs. They have their own genetic code, their own organs, their own brain waves, their own waste, their own blood type etc. Their code is unique from day one. Their heart beats without Mom telling it to beat -- even in the first trimester you can see his/her heart beating independently. Mom's heart isn't replacing Baby's heart.

    Yes, baby is "hooked up" to Mom but not "using her body" - does that make sense?

    If a baby is born prematurely, they must be "hooked up" in the hospital to help them breathe for a time. To you, the baby hooked up to tubes in the hospital is a person but the baby connected to the umbilical cord is not?

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  183. Mrs M.
    Suppose i volunteered to share my liver with someone for 3 months. if after 1 week i find said arrangement to be unhappy am I under no obligation to finish what I started?

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  184. Pardon the tangent, Mrs. M, but I'm curious.

    Given your beliefs, what did you think of Terri Schiavo's situation? She was not on life support (i.e., a ventilator), only a feeding tube (and once she was disconnected from that, she didn't die for 13 days). Preemies are hooked up to a lot more than a feeding tube, in most cases.

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  185. "Yes, baby is "hooked up" to Mom but not "using her body" - does that make sense? "

    interesting point. Isn't the ONLY thing shared between child and mother lymph. I know their blood does not mix.

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  186. Plantit, I wish I could give you an answer to that question, but I'm afraid that nothing I could say would be satisfactory. IFor that 'm sorry.

    Sarah, a fetus certainly does borrow its mother's organs! How does a fetus receive oxygen? The mother breathes in oxygen using her lungs and supplies it to the fetus through its umbilical cord. How does a fetus get nutrients for growth and development? The mother eats healthily (hopefully!), digests the food in her stomach, and passes the nutrients onto the fetus through the umbilical cord. How does a fetus get rid of its waste? It passes it along to its mother through the umbilical cord and the mother uses her intestines to process the waste and excrete it.
    That's the anatomy of pregnancy.

    I guess my main point is that there is NO way for a fetus to get nutrients, get oxygen, or process and excrete waste without the direct and immediate help of the mother's body.


    And the baby hooked up to tubes is an example of a person receiving medical treatment, same as if I went to the hospital and needed an oxygen mask. While the baby needs help to stay alive, it is still it's own, separate, physiological entity.

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  187. If you signed a legal contract saying you would remain tied to that person for 3 months, then you have a legal obligation to them.

    I do not think you are morally bound to them.


    As for Terri Schiavo, I do think she was still a person (her body still continued to function for the most part), but all I can say is I would not want to be alive in a situation such as hers. Such is the necessity for a living will.

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  188. And with that, I have to go make dinner.

    I'll hopefully check back later.

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  189. "I guess my main point is that there is NO way for a fetus to get nutrients, get oxygen, or process and excrete waste without the direct and immediate help of the mother's body."

    Interesting, suppose an artificial womb was developed that could deliver these things even to a bioplast. Then would abortion be wrong , and transplant mandated?

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  190. [Mrs. M: As for Terri Schiavo, I do think she was still a person (her body still continued to function for the most part), but all I can say is I would not want to be alive in a situation such as hers. Such is the necessity for a living will.]

    Do you think it was wrong to kill her?

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  191. "Plantit, I wish I could give you an answer to that question, but I'm afraid that nothing I could say would be satisfactory."

    You are probably correct, what is why i consider atheists, especially those who do not ascribe to materialistic nihilism to be vastly illogical people.

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  192. Mrs M.
    thank you for you discussion by the way, it is interesting.

    Am i correct in summarizing your belief as such:
    " you believe their is such a thing as a person and killing a person is wrong".
    "you believe there is no particular reason that killing is wrong , it just is".

    "you believe it is difficult to know exactly when a person begins or ends and have no particular reason for your own definition."

    In short in order to believe as you believe would require me to have more faith in your method then I do in God.

    Doesn't seem useful or logical to me.

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  193. Plantit: Regarding the "artificial gestator," this would be a nice alternative for those who question the morality of abortion but don't want to carry a baby to term, but it still wouldn't change my stance on abortion. Whether or not there is an electrical womb somewhere doesn't affect the fact that these fetuses cannot function on their own.

    Pulling the plug on the artificial gestator =
    Pulling the plug on life support =
    Pulling the plug on the embryo freezer that Leila mentioned earlier.

    And yes, this dialogue has been quite interesting. I think you might find my stance as illogical and useless as I find your belief in God (I hope that doesn't offend you, that's just how I feel).


    JoAnna: Such a tough call for me. I fully believe in the idea that a person has the right to choose to end their own life, and if I remember correctly (can you believe this was 5 years ago? time flies) the main point of the Terri Schiavo debate was that her husband was under the impression she would want to have the feeding tube removed (yes, I also know that some questioned his motives) and her parents were not.
    I suppose in this case the right move would be to err on the side of life and retain her feeding tube. It's hard for me to say this because if I were Terri, I would absolutely want the feeding tube removed.
    This conversation has inspired me to look into getting a living will written for my husband and myself.

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  194. Mrs. M - So what you are saying is that if you are dependant on another human being for any vital functioning, you are not a person.

    So if I give a person CPR, do they cease to become a person when they are using my breath? Is their heart suddenly not their own because it's being "fueled" by my breath?

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  195. @ plantit
    "your definitional are laking."

    So is your grammar and use of the English language. But that is basically what I said. The "truth" is what it is, but yes, your belief is subjective. Just because your belief in a god has remained unchanged or uninfluenced - by say science (like in the case of evolution vs. creationism) or other people's acceptance of things like homosexuality - does not make it so, objectively. There is no proof. There is no rationale other than a theory that is precious to you as an individual. It also means others can come to their own conclusions as well, hence SUBJECTIVE.

    ps - yes it was moral to kill Tery Schiavo. Her brain was rattling around in her head like a walnut. The lights may have been on, but no one was home. I would be livid at my family if they did that to me, let alone paraded my drooling vacant stare all over TV to say "isn't this great??" Gross. Who wants their soul in limbo for years on end?

    But again, it all comes down to living will and making your wishes known. Poor Terri. I wonder what she thought of all of it?
    -REA

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  196. I would argue (since you're bringing up this specific point, not that I would have thought of it this way otherwise) that no, if you are providing CPR to someone, and they are effectively dead (heart has stopped beating, hence "resuscitation"), they are not a person.

    It is a wonderful thing, though, to perform CPR on somebody to keep oxygen going to their brain, and I absolutely would if I were in a situation that required it.

    It's just like carrying a baby to term: a wonderful thing that some people choose to do. Use their bodies and organs to give a nonperson the necessities to become a person in their own right.

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  197. REA -

    English is not everyone's first language. I don't know plantit's situation, but since the Internet is a worldwide medium of communication, I don't automatically assume that issues with spelling/grammar are due to ignorance.

    [ps - yes it was moral to kill Tery Schiavo. Her brain was rattling around in her head like a walnut.]

    Interesting. Is that a scientific term?

    [The lights may have been on, but no one was home.]

    Do you believe a person loses their soul after brain damage? Would you say the same about others who have come out of persistent vegetative states? Did their soul simply "re-implant" shortly before they awoke?

    [I would be livid at my family if they did that to me, let alone paraded my drooling vacant stare all over TV to say "isn't this great??" Gross. Who wants their soul in limbo for years on end?]

    Theologically, you can't be in limbo unless you're dead, and at any rate limbo is only theological speculation, not doctrine. Terri's parents obviously loved their daughter unconditionally, which I found beautiful.

    [Mrs. M: It's just like carrying a baby to term: a wonderful thing that some people choose to do. Use their bodies and organs to give a nonperson the necessities to become a person in their own right.]

    Language like this seems to suggest that pregnancy happens out of the clear blue sky, with no action on the part of the woman. (This is just my perception.)

    I would argue that if you choose to use your body to create the "nonperson" in the first place, you have a responsibility, even an obligation, to give that "nonperson" the necessities to become a person.

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