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Late Term Abortion

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57 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

In a nutshell, how can an individual become the creator, by way of her body, of a viable life -- and also -- the destroyer of life? Here is a self-contradiction, not easy to live with, for the woman above all, naturally.

You assume that an abortion destroys life. It would help to know what, in your view, differentiates life from non-life. This has been a matter of some debate on the thread.

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5 hours ago, whYNOT said:

"Sexist"? That is puzzling. You should explain that. Are females not also capable of irrationality?

 

It was the way you were talking about it, emphasizing irrationality rather than the possible rational reasons. If your skeptical position (and having some skepticism is good) is that granting a right of late-term abortion would lead to even more irrational abortions, and that you didn't take the time to mention any rational reasons to seek a late-term abortion, I don't think you're being fair (and for you, you usually err on the side that someone is being rational). I'm not going to get into it much more than that. 

If I'm misjudging you, let's at least start from the rational reasons someone would get a late-term abortion. I think is plenty to say that it is exceedingly rare to find any woman at all at any stage who feels completely okay about getting an abortion. It's also plenty to say that doctors really do give good medical advice, and rarely if ever do anything just because a patient asked. Any surgical procedure is like this. At no point do we need to talk about the motives of mother any differently than we talk about someone getting knee replacement surgery (before viability anyway).  

Swig's recent post is what I was trying to convey. I'm fine with discussing the moral difficulties of abortion (that is, how could one decide whether they should or shouldn't have an abortion?). The problem I find is looking for any reason to suppose that late-term abortions must be going on for only bad or irrational reasons. 

 

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14 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

You assume that an abortion destroys life. It would help to know what, in your view, differentiates life from non-life. This has been a matter of some debate on the thread.

Not quite.  I am constantly stressing "viable" life. 

From your link: 

"Only a living entity can have goals or can originate them. And it is only a living organism that has the capacity for self-generated, goal-directed action. On the physical level, the functions of all living organisms, from the simplest to the most complex—from the nutritive function in the single cell of an amoeba to the blood circulation in the body of a man—are actions generated by the organism itself and directed to a single goal: the maintenance of the organism’s life.

An organism’s life depends on two factors: the material or fuel which it needs from the outside, from its physical background, and the action of its own body, the action of using that fuel properly. What standard determines what is proper in this context? The standard is the organism’s life, or: that which is required for the organism’s survival".

----

I.E. The "organism" (embryo/fetus) is indeed engaged in "self-generated, goal-directed" action. It gains its nutrients ("material or fuel") and its shelter from its mother's blood and body, but its growth and life "are actions generated by the organism itself...". (And "...directed to a single goal: the maintenance of [its] survival").

There's no problem here. No contradiction between biology and metaphysics. Life -- "on the physical level" in the womb and an individual's later life as self-generated, goal-directed, rational being. 

At the point a fetus is gaining a higher probability, with advanced medical care, to survive outside the womb - which is variable, the most extreme cases being about (if I recall right) 22 weeks since conception, and the survival factor improves accordingly - I think it is an actual life. So, from about 6 months in, that last trimester becomes increasingly pivotal. Take the comparison of a fetus in late term removed by C-section, say within a few weeks of delivery - with a baby born normally at full term, and what difference is there? They each depend on post-natal care, although one is in an incubator, and neither is fully autonomous. Compare these with the (healthy)fetus which is aborted within a few weeks of delivery. Again, what is the difference? The former are living and the last is not.

Remember too: "One may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy, but the essential issue concerns only the first three months. To equate a *potential* with an *actual* is vicious..." and so on. 

It is right I think that Rand left this open to future debate, likely foreseeing future medical advances (and -perhaps - ethical questions). Very well, I am arguing "about the later stages". I do claim that the late-term fetus is an "actual life". I'll leave something for consideration: Viability is the new birth.

Edited by whYNOT

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17 hours ago, Eiuol said:

It was the way you were talking about it, emphasizing irrationality rather than the possible rational reasons. If your skeptical position (and having some skepticism is good) is that granting a right of late-term abortion would lead to even more irrational abortions, and that you didn't take the time to mention any rational reasons to seek a late-term abortion, I don't think you're being fair (and for you, you usually err on the side that someone is being rational). I'm not going to get into it much more than that. 

If I'm misjudging you, let's at least start from the rational reasons someone would get a late-term abortion. I think is plenty to say that it is exceedingly rare to find any woman at all at any stage who feels completely okay about getting an abortion. It's also plenty to say that doctors really do give good medical advice, and rarely if ever do anything just because a patient asked. Any surgical procedure is like this. At no point do we need to talk about the motives of mother any differently than we talk about someone getting knee replacement surgery (before viability anyway).  

Swig's recent post is what I was trying to convey. I'm fine with discussing the moral difficulties of abortion (that is, how could one decide whether they should or shouldn't have an abortion?). The problem I find is looking for any reason to suppose that late-term abortions must be going on for only bad or irrational reasons. 

 

Well, Eioul, I was drawn into this discussion by politics, pronouncements by politicians senselessly pushing for later term abortions. (Hillary Clinton in her campaign debate, and now others). My one response was: leave well enough alone, you idiots. Roe vs. Wade is a good line to stand by for pro-choicers. What some pols are doing now is just a power-play, I think, seeing if they can upset the opposition/anti-abortionists into making a dumb over-reaction.. Nobody (a few) really wants it or needs such a drastic extension, we know from statistics.

People in a society really want predictability and consistency, no matter how they disapprove of certain things.

What you point out is that most women are usually most rationally selfish/self-responsible when it comes to pregnancy. I agree. Which only highlights the amorality of grandstanding politicos who encourage the evasion and irresponsibility of delaying an abortion until late term.

For the pregnant woman, she will do what the large majority always do: Make up her mind early on, one way other, and once committed to go the whole way to motherhood, to be undeterred by obstacles in the way of her higher value. With such commitment, only life- and health threatening events will stop her. And then her doctor will take appropriate action, as between any patients and doctors.

 

Edited by whYNOT

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5 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Not quite.  I am constantly stressing "viable" life. 

The idea "viable life" is confusing, unless by "life" you simply mean fetus. Viable means capable of living outside the mother, not actually living inside her. So, are you saying that the fetus is a life that is capable of living outside the mother? If so, wouldn't that suggest two different life forms, fetal life and infant life?

5 hours ago, whYNOT said:

I.E. The "organism" (embryo/fetus) is indeed engaged in "self-generated, goal-directed" action. It gains its nutrients ("material or fuel") and its shelter from its mother's blood and body, but its growth and life "are actions generated by the organism itself...". (And "...directed to a single goal: the maintenance of [its] survival").

In the Lexicon entry, the first quote contained Rand's definition of life: "a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action." This comes from Galt's speech in Atlas Shrugged and was used again by Rand in her article The Objectivist Ethics. Do you also claim that a fetus sustains its own action?

Now, you claim that the fetus generates its own growth. However, if it were not anatomically attached to the mother, but freely afloat inside her womb, it certainly would stop growing. This fact must mean that its growth is generated by the mother. Otherwise, why would it stop developing? Indeed, in rare cases, something like this happens with complete placental abruptions, where the baby stops growing and is stillborn.

5 hours ago, whYNOT said:

I'll leave something for consideration: Viability is the new birth.

The viability argument doesn't interest me anymore. It just gets more and more absurd. I suppose if a fertilized egg could be removed from the mother and developed with "advanced science" in a lab, then would conception become the new birth?

Edited by MisterSwig

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3 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

 Do you also claim that a fetus sustains its own life?

 

"On the *physical* level the functions of all living organisms, from the simplest to the most complex...are actions generated by the organism itself..."

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4 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Well, Eioul, I was drawn into this discussion by politics, pronouncements by politicians senselessly pushing for later term abortions.

As Eiuol said, the Democratic push to allow more freedom than the average voter is asking for is a question of principle. You're right that it has cost Democrats votes and even seats. However, the way the system of primaries works, every now and then one of the parties will push its candidate into a stance that appeals to those who are politically active within their own party, at the cost of losing the actual election. 

I disagree with the assumption that this topic is somewhat settled around the Roe v. Wade line. The GOP tries way harder than the Democrats to move the line. And, at the state level, the GOP has managed to rob lots of of their rights. With Trump moving the SCOTUS balance even more Christian than before, the risk to rights have become more real. Since Trump has good odds of winning the next election, the threat is serious. 

Of course one ought not judge the rightness of something by percentages. If, 1% of women have their rights denied, that is  big deal. Nevertheless, if the country can hold the line at Roe v. Wade, that's probably better than the alternative that the GOP seems likely to push upon us.

Edited by softwareNerd

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On 4/15/2019 at 8:15 PM, MisterSwig said:

The idea "viable life" is confusing, unless by "life" you simply mean fetus. Viable means capable of living outside the mother, not actually living inside her. So, are you saying that the fetus is a life that is capable of living outside the mother? If so, wouldn't that suggest two different life forms, fetal life and infant life?

In the Lexicon entry, the first quote contained Rand's definition of life: "a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action." This comes from Galt's speech in Atlas Shrugged and was used again by Rand in her article The Objectivist Ethics. Do you also claim that a fetus sustains its own action?

Now, you claim that the fetus generates its own growth. However, if it were not anatomically attached to the mother, but freely afloat inside her womb, it certainly would stop growing. This fact must mean that its growth is generated by the mother. Otherwise, why would it stop developing? Indeed, in rare cases, something like this happens with complete placental abruptions, where the baby stops growing and is stillborn.

The viability argument doesn't interest me anymore. It just gets more and more absurd. I suppose if a fertilized egg could be removed from the mother and developed with "advanced science" in a lab, then would conception become the new birth?

"...then would conception become the new birth?". Let's examine this, reductio ad absurdum as it may seem at first. 

A "fertilized" egg in lab conditions, given the right conditions and nourishment, can end up as a fully-formed human infant - some day. Where and how does one draw the line? But a line there has to be. He/she/it, certainly is not birthed the normal way, or birthed by normal Cesarean section, but at ~some~ point, +/- 6-9 months in the future must be considered a human being. So--if this developed human were to have its life-support extinguished and allowed to perish, could that be ethical? I believe not.

 

Obviously, even a newborn infant requires ongoing sustenance; the nutrients and oxygen the mother's body supplied it in utero "sustained"  its life, and essential nourishment, shelter, etc.  doesn't end with birth, going on until its teens. But, essentially the mother is a bystander to its growth and life. Life, a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action - doesn't mean that any organism goes out to find its sustenance (no more than a plant which either has water, sunlight and soil in its vicinity, or dies), the human 'organism'  is dependent early on upon its environment too, whether womb or 'test-tube'. Much later, can a individual sustain his own life. 

We know this "self-sustaining and self-generated action", for an organism, an animal - and man - to be the fundamental justification for rational selfishness. I mention that to bring up the "Objectivist ethics [which] holds man's life as the standard of value..."  

I hasten to add, this isn't a direct argument against abortion on a late-term fetus' life. It is once again a moral argument applied to whomever (e.g. mother, but not only her) chooses the action.

 "Man's life" is the standard of value. Not, each individual's "life" (nor especially an individual fetus' continued existence). Instead, that is a highly abstract principle that serves as a guide and "gauge" to each, for living life "proper" to man. I suggest the fundamental moral argument against late-term abortion on a fully-formed, viable fetus which can continue life outside the uterus, is that the act is not proper to man; therefore improper for the individual ; therefore, for a society.

"Life begins at birth" is being overtaken by medical discoveries, with more to come. Clearly Objectivism is uniquely invaluable to inform science and politics, ethically and otherwise, so to avoid and refute the prevailing subjectivity and mysticism. 

Edited by whYNOT

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On 4/15/2019 at 2:12 PM, whYNOT said:

What you point out is that most women are usually most rationally selfish/self-responsible

That's not what I'm pointing out. I'm pointing out that is perfectly possible to have a late term abortion for rational reasons. I don't see why it matters to say that a woman should have done it sooner. It doesn't make a difference. Of course it's usually better to get a medical procedure early rather than later, but that's it. 

By looking for a middle ground, finding moral rather than legal fault in women who have late-term abortions, you only ended up bringing in in sexism and judgments without evidence. Sexism, because you are making a claim specific to women, with standards and questions that aren't posed for other medical procedures of similar risk.

If you agree that abortion should be legal, then there is no reason to treat it differently than another medical procedure. Waiting a while for a medical procedure sometimes is the most rational thing to do. As far as abortion, the only moral concern is why wasn't better contraception used initially.

Argue as much as you want about late-term abortions, it makes sense to discuss. But it's not just or fair to discuss presumed irrationality of getting a late-term abortion without even one example. 

On 4/15/2019 at 2:12 PM, whYNOT said:

People in a society really want predictability and consistency, no matter how they disapprove of certain things.

Consistency is not generally something people in society seek out. It's relatively uncommon. But anyway, that's beside the point.

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6 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

That's not what I'm pointing out. I'm pointing out that is perfectly possible to have a late term abortion for rational reasons. I don't see why it matters to say that a woman should have done it sooner. It doesn't make a difference. Of course it's usually better to get a medical procedure early rather than later, but that's it. 

By looking for a middle ground, finding moral rather than legal fault in women who have late-term abortions, you only ended up bringing in in sexism and judgments without evidence. Sexism, because you are making a claim specific to women, with standards and questions that aren't posed for other medical procedures of similar risk.

 

Argue as much as you want about late-term abortions, it makes sense to discuss. But it's not just or fair to discuss presumed irrationality of getting a late-term abortion without even one example. 

 

It seems I was the only one who has even posed the option of *adoption*. Given that, why would one choose abortion (at late stage)?

Nope, I can only infer that it is the "principle" that matters: the right, abortion on demand at the time "I" demand it. (All *despite* the fact that most women refuse to take advantage of that). Well, I can and will query the morality of that principle - while accepting anybody's rights to do whatever they please. Freedom from self- responsibility, is nothing to build individual rights upon in a society, and won't last. Is this libertarian?

And I have several times said that there are rational reasons for (late-term) abortion, and they could be medical, physical or psychological . 

"Sexism and judgments". You understand the Objectivist morality. Then you also understand that morally, gender is immaterial - for me, anyway? 

"Without evidence"? What evidence? That a fetus will survive, by replacing its mother's nourishment for nutrients supplied, ex utero? That is the evidence I need.

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Without evidence, referring to women who get late-term abortions that you are judging as irrational or making bad decisions. I wasn't referring to discussing viability of the fetus.

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7 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Without evidence, referring to women who get late-term abortions that you are judging as irrational or making bad decisions. I wasn't referring to discussing viability of the fetus.

I'm willing to bet that 99% of the women getting late term abortions are acting morally and rationally in that respect.

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On 4/17/2019 at 4:56 AM, Eiuol said:

Without evidence, referring to women who get late-term abortions that you are judging as irrational or making bad decisions. I wasn't referring to discussing viability of the fetus.

If by rational one means, what suits one best at this time, irrespective of denying one's (once, supposedly) greater value for a lesser - I can't see it as being a rational reason, but hedonistic or pragmatic. E.g. my husband has just left me, does not qualify as sufficient grounds, I think. Rationality also places emphasis on one's own consciousness. There needs be, hierarchically, a great objective dis-value to overturn one's initially greater value. Outside a medically essential cause, such justifications are rare, seems to me. Speaking with women, a big agreement is that next to nothing would stop them giving birth to the baby after the fetus had grown to an advanced stage. That resolve is rational, committed to reality. They mostly express repugnance at the idea of having that intimately-connected, much anticipated, life crushed and sucked from their bodies. Men's reactions are similar. 

Edited by whYNOT

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On 4/17/2019 at 12:27 PM, softwareNerd said:

I'm willing to bet that 99% of the women getting late term abortions are acting morally and rationally in that respect.

Okay, perhaps. I go back to politics: the 'rightful principle' of late abortion which some politicians are proposing. A "principle" which is a meaningless gesture few need to use, going by what statistics say, is impractical - and (if one acknowledges viability) is irrational- amoral. When promoted (by pols, especially) such a principle surely has to be un-principled, detached from reality.

Edited by whYNOT

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18 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Okay, perhaps. I go back to politics: the 'rightful principle' of late abortion which some politicians are proposing. A "principle" which is a meaningless gesture few need to use, going by what statistics say, is impractical - and (if one acknowledges viability) is irrational- amoral. When promoted (by pols, especially) such a principle surely has to be un-principled, detached from reality.

The point is:  the politician may support late-term abortions to get primary votes. However, a key segment of those primary voters support it on principle. (As do I, btw)

Edited by softwareNerd

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What if instead of discussing at which point a human being becomes an entity with rights, we discuss when any entity gains rights? Whether or not late-term abortion for humans is moral can only be decided when humans and all animals are abstracted out of the picture. All the problems with this discussion is that we are all "too close" to the issue. When does an AI gain rights? Answer that, and it tells you how to properly answer the question for *all* types of life that potentially possess's the ability to reason conceptually.

We have to correct philosophy so that it applies to all types of entities that possess conceptual consciousness or it can lead us to the wrong answers, like in this exact case. 

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5 hours ago, EC said:

What if instead of discussing at which point a human being becomes an entity with rights, we discuss when any entity gains rights?

Also related...."when an entity gains what rights".

Children are a special legal category in most legal systems, and rightly so. It is correct for the law to recognize that a child needs some adult looking out for them -- a guardian. One might phrase this as the child having as many rights as an adult, but that ignores the core to the concept of rights: a human deciding, for themselves, in their own minds, and then acting upon their decision freely. 

As for AI... that's beyond my experience of reality.

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For it to acquire rights the AI would have to be a conceptual consciousness, and that I fail to conceive of. An AI can be programmed for its knowledge (and its ethical system), but not the means to knowledge. iow, "fed' the content not the process - the "acts of consciousness". Therefore, it has no free will, cannot conceptualize independent goals, nor make independent evaluations, can have no autonomous values, (and not experience relevant emotions). Simply, it must have the 'capability to make errors', built in. A contradiction of the AI's purpose to men. Do we want to allocate rights to such a being? Somebody who knows more about AI, please expand.

Edited by whYNOT

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Has a fetus ~earned~ the 'right' to continue living (after it reaches a predictable stage, primarily increasing and regular brain activity, one could venture) ? Not to be confused with the "right to life" of which individual rights are corollaries, applied to individuals much older who have freedoms of action. But it can (?) be protected by law on the basis of achieving "actual" status as a human being. Not at present, that's clear, but with individual rights.(Open to debate)

(As the factual/logical argument goes, there is little change in its essential identity, between, say, 2 weeks before parturition, and 2 minutes after. If its life is ended in either case, the one is called abortion and the other is murder).

Edited by whYNOT

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17 hours ago, EC said:

We have to correct philosophy so that it applies to all types of entities that possess conceptual consciousness or it can lead us to the wrong answers, like in this exact case. 

Is there an AI with conceptual consciousness? I'm not aware of one.

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On 4/14/2019 at 8:57 PM, Eiuol said:

The problem I find is looking for any reason to suppose that late-term abortions must be going on for only bad or irrational reasons. 

This idea of irrationality comes about as follows:

  • we start by thinking of abortion as a post-event contraception. 
  • therefore, there appears to be no rational reason to wait; meanwhile, the fetus is growing from a clump of cells to something more substantial and integrated

With this mental model,  it is easy to think that the line from pre-sex-contraception to late-term abortion is a line of increasing irrationality

The problem is that this mental model has little to do with facts and reality of why people have abortions at different points in time. 

What we would find, if we examine actual women having actual late-term abortions, is tat the later ones actually appear more, rather than less, justifiable...to an outsider.

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