Tuesday, March 24, 2020

How many abortion question are there? Actually five


I actually think there isn’t one question of abortion (are you pro-life or pro-choice. There’s five (!). 

Here are the theses at issue:
1) Is abortion bad? That is, to it cost something from a moral standpoint that should require serious moral considerations in order to justify it? (I think obviously yes, but not everyone on the pro-choice side agrees).

2) Are abortions wrong? Here we are looking at it from the standpoint of moral decision-making. Under what circumstances, if there are any, are abortions justified from a moral standpoint.

3) Is anti-abortion legislation morally appropriate? In particular, should we be putting people in jail to prevent abortions? This issue determines whether the pro-life or pro-choice label can be applied, as I understand it.

4) Is anti-abortion legislation constitutionally feasible? You can give pro-life answers to 1-3, but then say that since Roe was rightly decided as a matter of Constitutional law, we would need an amendment to overturn it. Of course, pro-lifers typically think that Roe was the product of a departure from the One True Jurisprudential Theory, which is Scalia-style originalism. So if we get enough Scalia-style originalists on the Court, we should be able to get Roe overturned and then abortion legislation will be determined by democratic choice on a state-by-state basis.

5) Should we prioritize abortion as a reason for voting? I have heard the argument that even if I agree with the Democrats on all other policy questions, even if I think that the Democratic candidate is a decent guy (or gal), and I think the Republican candidate is the biggest jerk that ever walked this earth, I ought to vote for the Republican candidate in order to save those babies.

51 comments:

bmiller said...

I'm not seeing the distinction between 1) and 2).

There is more to 3) than "putting people in jail to prevent abortions" just like there is more to legislation to avoid child abuse than arresting the abusers. However, there are already laws against harming the unborn in almost every state. Unborn Victims of Violence Act already has the legal infrastructure and precedence in place to protect the unborn.

Regarding 4). Just like Dred Scott was overturned in the courts without a Constitutional Amendment, there is nothing preventing the present or a future Supreme Court from doing the same to Roe.

Regarding 5). I've never heard anyone make that particular argument.
If someone made that argument to me, I would tell them that yes, voting for candidates that would allow murder is at least remote material cooperation with a grave evil and they shouldn't do that. Neither are they obliged to vote for a candidate that would enact other different evils. They could simply refrain from voting for evil at all. If all candidates were equally for killing the innocent, (God help us) then voting for any of them would result in the same outcome, so it's not a consideration.

Legion of Logic said...

I ought to vote for the Republican candidate in order to save those babies.

Well let's take the pro-life position to the next level.

Let's say the Republican position stays the same, while Democrats have "evolved" and their official position is that it should be legal to kill an infant up to three months of age, since that is when the danger of SIDS speaks and, thus, they are still only potential. Not to mention how sexist it is to expect women to devote all their time and energy to a baby if they regret not killing it in the womb.

If that was the only point you disagreed with Democrats on, would you vote for them because the Republican was a jerk?

Legion of Logic said...

That should read "danger of SIDS peaks", not speaks. I love autocorrect.

bmiller said...

If that was the only point you disagreed with Democrats on, would you vote for them because the Republican was a jerk?

I guess that depends on what you consider a jerk. Is a person a jerk if he is in a position to try to stop people from being killed and either favors the killing or allows the killing to proceed? That's about as "jerky" as you can get in my book.

One Brow said...

I find a curious gap in the list of questions: the requirements placed upon women.

2a) Is forcing a woman to carry an unborn child against her will wrong? Are the moral considerations serious enough to force women into indentured servitude?
3a) Is preventing a woman from legally ending her servitude morally appropriate?
5a) When we agree with a candidate on every other issue, but that candidate endorse enforced indentured servitude of women, is that a sufficient reason to not vote for them?

That such questions never come up from certain quarters speaks to the huge patriarchal bias in their viewpoints.

One Brow said...

Legion of Logic said...
Well let's take the pro-life position to the next level.

Let's say the Republican position stays the same, while Democrats have "evolved" and their official position is that it should be legal to kill an infant up to three months of age, since that is when the danger of SIDS speaks and, thus, they are still only potential. Not to mention how sexist it is to expect women to devote all their time and energy to a baby if they regret not killing it in the womb.

If that was the only point you disagreed with Democrats on, would you vote for them because the Republican was a jerk?


Las I checked, there were orphanages, wards of the state, and other means of substituting for parents. There is no substitute for a mother's womb.

Legion of Logic said...

Las I checked, there were orphanages, wards of the state, and other means of substituting for parents.

Whether orphanages exist or not, if Democrats promoted legalizing killing up to three months of age and that was the only policy that Victor disagreed with them on, would that be a deal breaker?

If he says "no", then of course he is logically consistent with his disdain for one issue being a deal breaker, his atrocious morals aside. But if he says "yes", then he agrees that there is a line that can be crossed that overwrites all else.

There is no substitute for a mother's womb.

Democrats and much of the left currently support killing up to birth, including those that are fully "viable" and could be given up for adoption.

Starhopper said...

1. I don't understand the question. Is there a typo in the 2nd sentence?

2. Yes.

3. Strange wording. Is any legislation "morally" appropriate? Or is legislation judged by different standards?

4. Not being a constitutional scholar, I'm not qualified to answer.

5. Absolutely NOT. Whatever your views on abortion, there are an abundance of issues far more important. I totally and unhesitatingly regard abortion as a great moral evil, but it still ranks in importance behind at least 6 other issues that I can think of without breathing hard.

And you forgot to include 6. Do anti-abortion laws work, or are they as efficacious as drug laws or speed limits?

bmiller said...

Starhopper,

What is a greater evil than the direct intentional killing of innocent people?

One Brow said...

Legion of Logic said...
Whether orphanages exist or not, if Democrats promoted legalizing killing up to three months of age and that was the only policy that Victor disagreed with them on, would that be a deal breaker?

I think support of murder, when there are other options, would be.

Democrats and much of the left currently support killing up to birth, including those that are fully "viable" and could be given up for adoption.

How would you legislate against that? What would such a law look like?

Is there a difference between "support killing" and "oppose laws that would be used to prevent killing" or "support the right to decide"?

Legion of Logic said...

I think support of murder, when there are other options, would be.

I would sure like to think so, but he would have to answer for himself since he is the one who posted "save those babies" in a seemingly flippant manner.
And then, assuming he agreed that it would be a line too far, we could move on to the qualitative difference between a newborn and that exact same infant an hour before birth, and why shoving scissors into one's skull is evil and the other is a "choice", and why one is a line too far and the other is not.

If that difference can't be expressed without invoking the woman's body, then the argument is that there are circumstances in which shoving scissors into an infant's skull to kill him or her is acceptable for the "greater good". And once that logic is accepted, then it is not a stretch to say that there are circumstances in which killing a two month old could be viewed as "the greater good". The oft-cited "unwanted therefore will have a bad life" argument comes to mind, along with the severe financial, mental, and physical toll a new baby can exact on parents in a difficult situation. These are both arguments used in favor of pre-birth killing, so again, the reason why one is irrelevant and the other a line too far would have to be explained.

As to legislation, I'm with Starhopper for the most part. Our problem is the cultural rot on the left that celebrates the "choice" and promiscuous sexual behavior while ignoring the death occurring in the abortion. Until that perception is changed, legislation will be inadequate no matter what the law does or does not do.

Starhopper said...

"Until that perception is changed, legislation will be inadequate no matter what the law does or does not do."

BINGO! That's why I do not prioritize a candidate's stand on this issue, when I decide who to vote for. Abortion ought never to have been turned into a political issue in the first place, when it is a cultural one.

But where Legion looses me is his "cultural rot on the left". Abortion is not a left/right issue at all. In fact, the only person I know for certainty to have had an abortion is a fervent Trump supporter.

One Brow said...

And then, assuming he agreed that it would be a line too far, we could move on to the qualitative difference between a newborn and that exact same infant an hour before birth, and why shoving scissors into one's skull is evil and the other is a "choice", and why one is a line too far and the other is not.

Who are these women, and these unborn, that undergo abortion an hour/day/week before birth? Who carries around an unborn baby for 8+ months, and only then decides to terminate it? What sort of mindset must they be in?

Legion of Logic said...

Who are these women, and these unborn, that undergo abortion an hour/day/week before birth? Who carries around an unborn baby for 8+ months, and only then decides to terminate it? What sort of mindset must they be in?

It's not about how often women have late-term abortions. The Democratic Party, for all intents and purposes, supports a legal framework of no restriction on abortion, including viability as a measure. That means that the Democratic Party does not believe the law should protect the unborn at any stage of pregnancy - including the minute before birth. If they have, please show me the quotes. I couldn't find any prominent Democrat in favor of any restrictions.

To Starhopper and Victor, a party who wants to legalize killing the unborn up to the moment of birth is not a big deal if the Republican is a jerk. Hence my question, if the party "evolved" so that "potential" lasted through the primary danger period of SIDS, and they supported legalizing the killing of three month old infants, would they still vote for them over a jerk?

bmiller said...

Until that perception is changed, legislation will be inadequate no matter what the law does or does not do.

No doubt laws against abortion will not prevent all abortions and in that case we could say the legislation would be inadequate. But let's ask some questions that this position logically brings up.

What is the metric we would use to determine if the legislation is adequate or not? The number of abortions performed? Then what is the quantity of that metric that we would all agree that any higher than this number would be inadequate and any number lower than this would be adequate? 0 abortions?

OK, now that we have that number, let's do the same for any other analysis for any other goal of legislation to test for logical consistency. People murder although there are laws and prison time for breaking those laws. Should we then not pass laws against murder or shrug our shoulders and vote for a candidate that enables the direct immediate murder of innocent people because he'll promise you utopia? (Y'all know who offers deals like that don't you?)

In fact, no legislation is 100% effective in achieving the goal of that legislation and so to be consistent one would have to oppose any legislation. That includes laws to relieve poverty, "The Green New Deal" or any other project leftist "Christians" favor as "the greater good" and therefore use to rationalize their tacit support of abortion.

But of course it's not really about whether laws would be effective or not. That discussion is just dodging the real issue, that of the status of the entity being aborted. Starhopper doesn't think the unborn are humans like you and I, deserving of the protection of the state (in opposition to his professed faith) and that is crux of the issue. Starhopper and people like him simply are beyond persuasion on this issue, just like those Hindus who thought Sati should be allowed were beyond persuasion.

Sati is still practiced but at least not at the scale as before the law was passed. Maybe some people still think it should be permissible to kill a widow or female child, but the law prevents them from carrying those murders out. Sometimes you have to pass laws against murdering people even some of the populace are ignorant of they are killing people.




bmiller said...

Sorry:

S/b" even if some of the populace are ignorant of the fact they are killing people."

Starhopper said...

"Starhopper doesn't think the unborn are humans like you and I (sic)"

Now where did you get that crazy idea?

bmiller said...

I got it from your reference to the equality of the immorality of killing the unborn as similar to destroying a natural rock formation.

If you think killing the unborn is the same as killing any other person then I'll await your explanation and examination of your support of various legislative acts.

bmiller said...

Delicate Arch is in no way a person. But to wantonly destroy it would surely be an immoral act.

Legion of Logic said...

I'm just wanting a simple question answered: Would a party that wanted to legalize the killing of infants up to three months past birth be crossing a line in which a Republican jerk is preferable, even if the killing is the only point of disagreement with Democrats?

Regarding legislation, all it takes to undo is the other party gaining power. Society itself needs to see abortion for what it is, and support other solutions.

Starhopper said...

"I got it from your reference to the equality of the immorality of killing the unborn as similar to destroying a natural rock formation."

I don't recall ever making such a comparison. Kindly refresh my memory.

Starhopper said...

Legion, your question is stupid. I'll answer it once you answer this one:

If the Republican Party wanted to legalize the extermination of all Native Americans yet still aligned with your views in every other respect, would you still refuse to vote for a pro-choice Democrat?

bmiller said...

Starhopper,

Your post on December 11, 2019 1:17 PM

Here:
https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=10584495&postID=5294530646128988238

Is there a way to directly link to the comment? Haven't found a way yet.

bmiller said...

Regarding legislation, all it takes to undo is the other party gaining power. Society itself needs to see abortion for what it is, and support other solutions.

My point is that the same can be said for any legislation. Righteous laws have at least 2 purposes: 1) to uphold what is just and 2) to punish/prevent evil doing.

I'm sure you've heard people make the argument that "If it was wrong, it would be against the law". Now that's a logical fallacy, but there are people incapable of understanding that either intentionally or unintentionally. I wouldn't underestimate how many of these people there are.

Starhopper said...

"your reference to the equality of the immorality of killing the unborn as similar to destroying a natural rock formation"

Bmiller, you are a past master at either twisting someone's words or at completely missing their meaning. What I wrote was "Delicate Arch is in no way a person. But to wantonly destroy it would surely be an immoral act." The (obvious) intent of that totally true statement (do you dispute it?) is that personhood is a separate issue from the morality or immorality of an action. I.e., abortion is an intrinsically evil action, whether or not the fetus is a person. So I was actually emphasizing the dissimilarity of the two instances. To make the two actions "equal" would defeat mt argument. For it to make any sense at all, they have to be totally different.

Legion of Logic said...

Actually, it's not a stupid question, judging by the fact you won't simply answer it.

If the Republican Party wanted to legalize the extermination of all Native Americans yet still aligned with your views in every other respect, would you still refuse to vote for a pro-choice Democrat?

You think giving me a choice between two parties that want to legalize choice killing is equivalent to me giving you a choice between a party that wants to legalize choice killing and...a jerk? Really?

That said, killing someone more capable of experiencing pain and fear is the greater crime in my mind, so assuming no vote isn't an option, I would vote Democrat in that scenario.

Is legalizing the killing of a newborn unacceptable to you?

bmiller said...

Bmiller, you are a past master at either twisting someone's words or at completely missing their meaning.

Then I completely missed your meaning. We were discussing the morality of abortion. Victor's position is that a fetus is a "potential" person so it is morally permissible to destroy it. I asked repeatedly for clarification, so I'd be a pretty bad 'word twister' if that was my intention.

You stated that you doubt that personhood starts at conception, then put forth the analogy of a growing human being to a car lacking all it's parts as being a reasonable position to deny personhood. You then continued to argue against the Church's position citing Dante and Aquinas. So when you tell me that you think abortion is immoral and then tell me that destroying a rock formation is immoral I took it, in context, that you were arguing that although the unborn are not persons it is still immoral to destroy them. I took it that this was what you mean when you say that abortion is immoral.

The (obvious) intent of that totally true statement (do you dispute it?) is that personhood is a separate issue from the morality or immorality of an action. I.e., abortion is an intrinsically evil action, whether or not the fetus is a person.

But this does not follow from that discussion. If someone's argument is that the unborn are just part of a woman's body and not a person (and you've seen people make that argument I assume), then abortion is no more immoral than getting your appendix removed.

So I was actually emphasizing the dissimilarity of the two instances. To make the two actions "equal" would defeat mt argument. For it to make any sense at all, they have to be totally different.

Do you care to tell me what your argument really is then? Because all I saw you doing in that discussion was making a pro-abortion argument.

One Brow said...

Legion of Logic said...
If they have, please show me the quotes. I couldn't find any prominent Democrat in favor of any restrictions.

https://www.politico.com/2020-election/candidates-views-on-the-issues/health-care/abortion-contraception/

During a Fox News town hall, Sen. Amy Klobuchar said "there are limits there in the third trimester that are very important — about — except for the health of the woman.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden's position on abortion has essentially spanned the entire spectrum — in the 1980s, Biden, who is Roman Catholic, supported a constitutional amendment that would have let states reverse the Roe decision, and he was previously quoted saying the decision "went too far" (although he's since changed his position).

Generally, Roe vs. Wade allows significant restrictions in the third trimester, so supporting it is not supporting universal access to third-trimester abortions.

Legion of Logic said...

Thank you for providing the Klobuchar quote. I was aware of her position, but she isn't what I would exactly call a leader of the party. Though I guess running for president makes one prominent, which is the word I used, so there is that. Biden will say whatever would get him elected, so trying to gauge what he actually thinks would probably be futile.

Generally, Roe vs. Wade allows significant restrictions in the third trimester, so supporting it is not supporting universal access to third-trimester abortions.

Correct, but other than Klobuchar, I believe every Democratic candidate who actually answered the question wanted zero government restrictions at any stage. No longer is the Democratic Party the party of Bill Clinton and his "safe, legal, and rare" position, nor are they even Barack Obama's position of restricting third trimester abortions. Today's Democrats are full legalization through the full term, which includes the minute prior to birth for all philosophical and legal purposes.

Starhopper said...

My argument is that the personhood of the fetus is irrelevant to whether or not abortion is an immoral act. To argue that the two are inextricably entwined, then all sorts of logical absurdities follow. If it is only immoral to destroy a person, but perfectly OK to destroy an inanimate object, then no one could criticize me if I went into the Louvre and defaced the Mona Lisa. After all, it's not alive.

Now one could argue that some things are more immoral than others, and that killing a person is more evil than blowing up your car (which it is), but in this discussion that takes us perilously close to leaving the door open for moral relativism. Far better to keep "personhood" out of the argument altogether.

That was my point. If you choose to die on the hill of personhood, you might find your defenses outflanked by an opponent who disagrees with you on what constitutes a person.

The weirdest thing about this long argument between you and me is that we appear to have identical positions as to abortion. What we disagree on is what should be done about it.

bmiller said...

Starhopper,

My argument is that the personhood of the fetus is irrelevant to whether or not abortion is an immoral act.

OK. This position didn't appear to be what you were arguing for, at least to me. But it doesn't seem to be a strong argument against abortion.

Now one could argue that some things are more immoral than others, and that killing a person is more evil than blowing up your car (which it is), but in this discussion that takes us perilously close to leaving the door open for moral relativism. Far better to keep "personhood" out of the argument altogether.

It would be nice if abortion proponents wouldn't use the ambiguous term "personhood" as a criteria to determine the morality of abortion, but they do. And they use it in conjunction with the fact that some things are more immoral than others to justify abortion (a fact we can't deny and a fact that you've acknowledged in this statement). I'm afraid I have to disagree with your strategy if it's meant to convince someone that killing the unborn is equivalent to murder.

That was my point. If you choose to die on the hill of personhood, you might find your defenses outflanked by an opponent who disagrees with you on what constitutes a person.

I don't think either Legion or I have insisted on fighting on the hill of "personhood". That's the hill Abortion defenders choose to fight on. Ignoring their arguments or refusing to engage their arguments leaves them in their ignorance.

The weirdest thing about this long argument between you and me is that we appear to have identical positions as to abortion. What we disagree on is what should be done about it.

I'm not convinced that's true.

Starhopper said...

Here is the first paragraph of an opinion piece in the Washington Post on line:

After watching so many on the right deny the science of climate change for so many years, I am not remotely surprised to now see so many “conservatives” denying the reality of the novel coronavirus. I am, however, shocked to see that the “pro-life” movement is so willing to sacrifice the lives of the elderly and ailing in a sick attempt to restart the U.S. economy while we are struggling with more coronavirus cases than any other country. Apparently, the right-wing devotion to life ends at birth.

And the remainder of the article is even more damning.

So much for the Republican Party being the pro-life party. Now that the gloves are off and the man behind the curtain exposed, there is no longer any sense behind refusing to vote for a Democrat solely on the "life" issue.

You want to talk about "hoaxes"? The idea that pro-lifers must vote Republican is the biggest hoax of all.

bmiller said...

Hahaha!

The fact that you actually cite an "opinion" piece from Jeff Bezo's as fact says tons about your gullibility. It's pretty funny that a leftist takes the opinion of the world's richest capitalist as Gospel truth.

bmiller said...

Sorry. SB "Jeff Bezo's blog"

bmiller said...

BTW. Did the WP run the Tara Reade story?

Starhopper said...

""Jeff Bezo's blog""

Thank you for admitting that you live in a bubble of alternative facts.

I watch (on line) FOX News. Do you ever watch MSNBC? To not do so would be like driving your car wearing an eye patch.

I regularly check out Anthony Esolen's blog. Do you perhaps ever visit Democracy Now!? If not, then you're driving blind.

bmiller said...

Good grief.

Do you just ignore everything I write? I check out stories from sources left, right and center since they are all biased not only in what they report but also what they don't report.
If anything the sources I listen to the most are leftist.

That's why I know about Tara Reade. How about you Bubble Boy?

bmiller said...

I'm not convinced that's true.

And this is a good example of why. You cite sources that you've got to know are lying about the "pro-life" position.

Starhopper said...

All I can say to that is "It was the Moops!"

bmiller said...

The Moops were undocumented immigrants.

Starhopper said...

Whaddaya mean, "undocumented". It says "Moops" right there on the card. Isn't that a document?

bmiller said...

What you are doing is a trivial pursuit.

Victor Reppert said...

I do know about Tara Read. Did she talk about this way anyone at the time? Does she have a better case than Summer Zervos or Christine Blasey Ford? This seems to popular on the pro-Sanders wing of the Democratic party.

bmiller said...

Victor,

You can google Tara Reade and find all that out. But I'm gonna assume you'll believe any accusation against Trump or any SC candidate he nominates and disbelieve any accusations against your candidate and so your question is pretty pointless.

What I'm pointing out is that you can't find this out from CNN, MSNBC, NPR etc. So many double standards it makes my eyes cross trying to keep track of them all.


One Brow said...

I believe Tara Reade.

bmiller, do you believe Christine Blasey Ford?

bmiller said...

I've mentioned that this story sounds very similar to the Kavanaugh accusation. Both come many years after the alleged event, plausibly for political reasons to disqualify a candidate.

Blasey Ford was anti-Trump and couldn't remember basic details of the traumatic event, like the year or location. Didn't mention it to anyone, even her parents at the time (they noticeably didn't sign her support letter). The witnesses she named have no idea what she was talking about, not to mention the other discrepancies and odd behavior in her account.

So no, I don't believe her.

Reade is a Bernie supporter, so anti-Biden. She claims she told people, but I doubt the MSM covers it other than to tell us the story has been debunked because she's a Russian agent or whatever. We'll never hear testimony or counter-testimony nor see any evidence so it would be foolish to make a judgement. Her accusation is possibly true but she has motivation to lie.

StardustyPsyche said...

Victor,
1) Is abortion bad?
Oversimplified question. Define abortion. Any intentional or negligent reduction of the probability that sexual intercourse will result in a live birth of a term baby?

If so, then condoms are an abortifacient

How about interfering with implantation? If so, the the pill and IUD are abortifacients.

How about destruction of a human zygote? If so then in vitro fertilization that does not implant every embryo is abortion.

How about removing a non-viable fetus? If viability is the test of humanity then humanity is not intrinsic to the human being and is only a matter of the current state of neonatal intensive care. As the artificial womb is developed all pregnancies will be viable.


2) Are abortions wrong?
Another oversimplified question. First you need to define abortion, see above.

You have neglected the most important question of all.

Q)Is a particular fetus on a particular day a human being with an intrinsic moral right to his or her own life?

If yes, then abortion of that particular fetus on that particular day is morally wrong to the utmost degree for any reason, except unless the continuation of that pregnancy poses a clear danger to the life of the mother, in which case her right to self defense takes precedent over the child's right to life.

If no, then abortion of that particular fetus on the particular day is a moral non-issue and can be performed with no more regard for the survival of the removed tissue than one has for clipping your toenails.

All other questions of morality, legality, and practicality are derivative from this only important question, which, Victor, you neglected to ask.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
Reade is a Bernie supporter, so anti-Biden. She claims she told people, but I doubt the MSM covers it other than to tell us the story has been debunked because she's a Russian agent or whatever. We'll never hear testimony or counter-testimony nor see any evidence so it would be foolish to make a judgement. Her accusation is possibly true but she has motivation to lie.

Disbelieving both is at least consistent. Thank you for answering.

StardustyPsyche said...

The OP, quite surprisingly, neglects the only important question, the most basic question of all.

Q) Does a particular abortion take a human life?

If yes, then we have the basis for outlawing that particular abortion, including jailing every person who knowingly assisted in it, unless the abortion was performed in self defense for the mother.

If no, then there is nothing wrong with that particular abortion and there is no basis to pass any laws against it beyond regulations covering similar medical procedures.

The only important question can be re-framed:

Q) When does a human being first become a human being?

Perhaps the biggest error of thinking out there is a time displacement error.

Potential does not equal actual.

Two teenagers of the opposite sex at a drive in movie have the potential to produce a human life. If all they do is watch the movie they are not guilty of killing a human being.

The future is not the present.

Blocking the progression of a potential human life is not killing a real human life.

Brain activity is what makes a human being a human being and I can prove it.

A person dies when brain activity ceases. One can cut off a leg, replace the heart with a machine, go blind, or suffer any other injury and as long as brain activity remains then that person is still a living human being.

But halt brain activity and all else becomes irrelevant. The heart can still pump, the lungs can still breath, but if the brain stops working the person has died.

Therefor the only rational test of humanity is brain activity of a level analogous to the threshold of death.

Abortion prior to that threshold is just another medical procedure.

Abortion after that threshold is homicide, for which the only justification is self defense.

Victor Reppert said...

Does abortion take a human life? Well, it results in a death, and that death is the death of a member of the species homo sapiens, not canis familiaris or felis domesticus.

But does taking the life of a species member have the same moral gravity as taking the life of a two-year-old, as the hard pro-life line implies? Given that to get an abortion a mother stops providing a life support system for another life, with the potential for harm to herself in so doing, this is a relevant factor in decreasing the moral gravity of abortion. Another is the fact that the fetus, at least until very late in the pregnancy after most abortions have already taken place, this is another factor that, to my mind seriously mitigates the gravity of abortion. So I am disinclined to use murder rhetoric to talk about abortion. There is, I suppose a sense we could attach to the word "murder" which applies to any instance in which we take the life of a member of homo sapiens and there is not sufficient justification to support the action as at least morally equivalent to the alternative action. But I think the word has connotations that go beyond that definition, which I prefer to avoid.

At the same time, just because the biographical life of the fetus has not begun, and it only has its biological life, does that mean that nothing is lost in an abortion? I know the hard pro-choice position tries to defend this, but I cannot. I think there is a significant loss when something that develops through a natural process into a human person, and is a human entity, is destroyed. So, abortion is bad, though under conceivable circumstances it may not be wrong, in that the alternative action, carrying the pregnancy to term, may do more harm than abortion. But, I suspect, these cases are not in the majority. Most abortions, I think, are less moral than the alternative.

StardustyPsyche said...

Victor,
"Does abortion take a human life? Well, it results in a death,"
A death of human cells is not the same as the death of a human life. That is a common equivocation, most likely inadvertent here.

"and that death is the death of a member of the species homo sapiens"
That is not an established assertion. On what basis do you consider 2 human cells to be a member of the species homo sapiens, as opposed to tissue of the sort in members of the species homo sapiens?

"not canis familiaris or felis domesticus."
Supposing I have one kidney removed. That tissue is of a member of the species homo sapiens, not some other species. That tissue has in each of its cells copies of DNA from which, potentially, a clone of me could be grown.

First one must define what makes a human being a human being, as opposed to a collection of living tissue.

The boundary between a living human being, a person with a right to life, as opposed to a mere collection of living tissue has been defined in medical practice, law, and ethics for many years. The criteria for death is based on brain function.

It is a functioning brain that differentiates a living member of the species homo sapiens from a mere collection of living human tissue. A person ceases to be a person when the brain ceases to function. That is the law, and is well established in medical practice and medical ethics.

On what basis would one define the end of a human life as when the brain ceases functioning although the rest of the body may well continue to function, yet, the beginning of life may be considered a small collection of cells with no brain at all?

" Given that to get an abortion a mother stops providing a life support system for another life, with the potential for harm to herself in so doing, this is a relevant factor in decreasing the moral gravity of abortion"
Knowingly withholding life necessary support by a parent such that the death of the child results is an intentional homicide by depraved neglect, hardly a mitigating factor in the criminality of the parent.

"There is, I suppose a sense we could attach to the word "murder" which applies to any instance in which we take the life of a member of homo sapiens and there is not sufficient justification to support the action as at least morally equivalent to the alternative action"
What defense is there for the intentional taking of innocent life other than self defense?

Abortion prior to brain function X does not end a human life, rather, it removes mere human tissue.

Abortion after brain function X does end a human life and is justified only by self defense, else it is an intentional homicide.

Brain function X has been fairly well defined for the end of life, but the analogous level has not yet been well defined for the beginning of life. However, if there is no brain then clearly there is no brain function at all, so we can begin to define X with that lower bound of 0.