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 thenelli01

Late Term Abortion

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I know there are a lot of abortion topics on this site, apologies if this is a duplicate - I didn't want to get lost in an old thread and didn't want to read through all of the old topics.

I wanted to get some thoughts on this.

For an argument against late term abortion and birth as the clear line: there is a point, maybe around 6 months(ish), where a mother has a moral (and legal - ideally) obligation to carry out the pregnancy, given that her health isn't at risk. At around 6 months (ish) or however far along the process it is determined, the fetus is developed enough to be considered human - it experiences consciousness, feelings, could live outside of the mother at this time if given the opportunity, etc. At this point, the mother has a responsibility to carry out the pregnancy because it is by her action that the cells were able to develop inside her body to the point where it actualized into a human being deserving of rights. Although it is the mother's body and she has the right to do what she wishes with it, she does not have the right to kill another human being after initially extending an invitation (I mean this metaphorically, though I suppose it will be a point of contention, especially using the word invitation). The fetus is "trespassing" at this point, but that does not give her the right to kill it when it depends on her for life. She had a responsibility to abort the cells before it developed to the point of a human being deserving of rights.

I liken this to when you invite someone on a boat and travel into the ocean. You are cannot get upset with them in the middle of the ocean and claim that they are trespassing as it is YOUR boat and demand that they get off your property (i.e. jump in the ocean, leading to their death).  In the same fashion, you cannot demand a fetus get removed from your body after you have implicitly invited them through inaction.

I'm not stuck on this argument, I just was thinking about it and wanted to get some thoughts. 

Edited by thenelli01

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.

Hi Nell,

If I recall Roe correctly, the 6-month mark was taken as significant not because at that point the fetus passed into being a human, but because of your other feature of that time: the fetus will have reached a development such that it could live outside the womb, live independently of its mother if supported by modern medicine and whomever pays for that. Roe’s mark there had two built-in considerations making the 6-month time not exact and not fixed against future contraction: (i) when a particular fetus might be viable outside the womb (judgment of viability in the case being made by attending physicians), with present technology, can vary somewhat from one fetus to another, though around 6 months was typical and (ii) with medical technological progress, the typical time at which viability outside the womb is reached could be pulled in to earlier and earlier times.

I suppose that if entirely “test-tube babies” become a reality in the future, then any fetus or conceptus could be removed and grown to infancy independently of further support from the mother’s body.

I’ve always supported Roe. It looks like the opponents have finally gotten enough anti-abortionists on the Court to overturn it, that is, to let each State determine the question within its own State boundaries. Here are a law professor’s brief and informative remarks on the recent moves on third trimester and their connection to preparations from the freedom-of-the-mother-to-abort side for the post-Roe legal situation in States in which abortions are not made illegal throughout pregnancy.

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/state-battles-over-abortion-policy-anticipate-a-post-roe-world

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9 hours ago, thenelli01 said:

I know there are a lot of abortion topics on this site, apologies if this is a duplicate - I didn't want to get lost in an old thread and didn't want to read through all of the old topics.

I wanted to get some thoughts on this.

For an argument against late term abortion and birth as the clear line: there is a point, maybe around 6 months(ish), where a mother has a moral (and legal - ideally) obligation to carry out the pregnancy, given that her health isn't at risk. At around 6 months (ish) or however far along the process it is determined, the fetus is developed enough to be considered human - it experiences consciousness, feelings, could live outside of the mother at this time if given the opportunity, etc. At this point, the mother has a responsibility to carry out the pregnancy because it is by her action that the cells were able to develop inside her body to the point where it actualized into a human being deserving of rights. Although it is the mother's body and she has the right to do what she wishes with it, she does not have the right to kill another human being after initially extending an invitation (I mean this metaphorically, though I suppose it will be a point of contention, especially using the word invitation). The fetus is "trespassing" at this point, but that does not give her the right to kill it when it depends on her for life. She had a responsibility to abort the cells before it developed to the point of a human being deserving of rights.

I liken this to when you invite someone on a boat and travel into the ocean. You are cannot get upset with them in the middle of the ocean and claim that they are trespassing as it is YOUR boat and demand that they get off your property (i.e. jump in the ocean, leading to their death).  In the same fashion, you cannot demand a fetus get removed from your body after you have implicitly invited them through inaction.

I'm not stuck on this argument, I just was thinking about it and wanted to get some thoughts. 

People will have pre-developed arguments against the boat/trespass argument, I'd imagine, but I believe you're on the right track.

The way I've come to think about this is: imagine, as Boydstun suggests, that in the future, fetuses can grow/develop entirely outside of a mother's body. When we begin, with a fertilized egg, we will not have a human being -- we will not have an entity with rights.

That egg will develop, the cells will divide, and it will pass through the various stages, zygote, embryo, blastocyst, fetus. At some point, we will have a human being -- an entity with rights, and presumably entitled to the protections thereof. At the beginning of the process, the fertilized egg is property, and should the mother want it terminated, we would offer neither moral nor legal objection. At some point later, a person will have developed from that fertilized egg and it will no longer be property. This can clearly be seen at, say, three years of age -- the three year old is not property, and should the mother want it terminated (and act in any capacity to achieve this), we would throw her in prison with warranted disgust.

So there is a point between the absolute beginning and, say, three years, where we would allow that this is an individual human being. Our question becomes, what is that point? In earlier discussions on this same topic, I believe I've related it to the development of a rational capacity (i.e. the development of the architecture of the brain such that reason is possible to the entity). The broader point is that, how we treat the entity at any stage, in reason, it depends upon what it is, in fact; it is a question to be settled by science.

My lay guess is that this point is not precisely forty weeks, but at some point earlier.

Edited by DonAthos

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10 hours ago, DonAthos said:

So there is a point between the absolute beginning and, say, three years, where we would allow that this is an individual human being.

Why three years? Why not four or five? About half of 1 year olds can walk, and many can say a word or two. Is walking the cut-off? Talking? 


But you settle on 40 weeks, based on rational capacity. Not sure what that concept means... the faculty constantly grows. Its a few years before kids even understand the difference between reality and the observation of reality... which is why they hide their face and think you can't see them. And, then, as they begin to understand the existence of object and subject, they also start to understand that there is cause and effect. And then they reach the stage where they think every cause has an effect, and so they constantly ask "why"... in a never-ending stream. At that stage, they've got the rationality mechanics working. 

 

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So where is the rational cut-off point and why that particular point?  I've always (*always since I've become pro-abortion that is) thought it's definitely fine during the first trimester, and "okay-ish" during the second. Later than that I think it becomes wrong in most cases as we are no longer talking about a mass of cells or a semi-developed fetus, but instead have something that's now actually a baby.

Point is I don't know when the actual demarcation when abortion is properly a choice and when it becomes basically infanticide, I just have a rough idea of where it is.

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42 minutes ago, EC said:

So where is the rational cut-off point and why that particular point? 

Given the nature of the process, there's never going to be a way to argue something like Day 36 if okay, but Day 37 is not. To my mind, one can argue at the granularity of a month or something like that. 

The focus on "when does this thing become a human" is basically the correct one, but I think the primary argument is still a philosophic one, not a biological one. In other words: why the heck do we recognize each other's rights at all. The philosophical argument that begins with a visualization of adults who want to interact with each other and recognize certain rights they will agree to not cross, regarding curtailing the other's total freedom of action. Lose that focus, and the argument dangle in the air (technical term for "is rationalistic" :)  )

Personally, I would not want the law to draw the line any time before birth. Of course, we know that this too can become an argument about "here to draw the line"... mom goes into labor, baby starts to slide out, baby's head emerges, baby fully emerged, umbilical cord cut, baby is crying, nurse washes baby down. I would not want the law to be peering into the process. I think that focus loses track of the philosophical point of why we come up with the concept of rights in the first place. So, I would want the law -- particularly the law of evidence -- to have a heavy presumption on the legality of the actions of the adults, granting them freedom of action and freedom of attestation. 

I should add though, that this is a discussion of theory. Living in the U.S., I might even support a constitutional amendment that draws the line somewhere in the third trimester, depending on how it is worded. One key is that  the wording would have to be that any restrictions imposed by law for abortions before that -- like admitting privileges for doctors, or the width of hospital hallways, should be explicitly declared unconstitutional. The second would be that the amendment should allow abortions beyond the line, if there is really a reasonable danger to the life of the mother. The third is that abortions should be allowed after that line if the child is not going to be a viable human being, and will die shortly after being born.

Edited by softwareNerd

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On 3/7/2019 at 9:38 PM, thenelli01 said:

At around 6 months (ish) or however far along the process it is determined, the fetus is developed enough to be considered human - it experiences consciousness, feelings, could live outside of the mother at this time if given the opportunity, etc.

Just because the fetus could survive outside the womb, that doesn't mean it has the right to that outcome.

Also, you say a 6-month fetus experiences consciousness and feelings. Do you have a source for this claim? Because I've read otherwise. The fetus remains in a deep sleep-like state until birth, and self-awareness doesn't begin until many weeks afterward.

A fetus is physically dependent upon the mother's exercise of her rights. Therefore it has no right to its own life until it acts toward the removal of that dependency. The first objective act toward such an independent state is bursting through the womb during the birth process. This is not a volitional act, but it is a self-generated one, and could represent the source of a right to physical independence.

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12 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

 

21 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

Just because the fetus could survive outside the womb, that doesn't mean it has the right to that outcome.

Also, you say a 6-month fetus experiences consciousness and feelings. Do you have a source for this claim? Because I've read otherwise. The fetus remains in a deep sleep-like state until birth, and self-awareness doesn't begin until many weeks afterward.

 

I put “etc” to indicate that there needs to be some objective standard of being considered an actualized human being, but not necessarily the one (or only the few) I’ve listed. 

I think if a fetus could survive outside of the womb, that would indicate its developed nature and capacity for independence, which would seem to be a good standard to support that it should be considered human. (Open to arguments here)

With respect to the 6 month mark for feelings and consciousness - I specifically wrote “6 month(ish)” or whatever timeline is determined. My point isn’t to nail down an exact pin point on the time, but a philosophical standard saying “at (any) point x, when the fetus has these qualities a, b, c then it should be considered an actualized human being and deserving of rights.”

21 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

 

A fetus is physically dependent upon the mother's exercise of her rights. Therefore it has no right to its own life until it acts toward the removal of that dependency. The first objective act toward such an independent state is bursting through the womb during the birth process. This is not a volitional act, but it is a self-generated one, and could represent the source of a right to physical independence.

A born child is physically dependent on a mother’s exercise of her rights also. If the mother doesn’t use her money to buy her child food and feed it, the child will die. The issue isn’t dependence on the mother, the issue is when does the fetus get rights deserving of being protected by the mother.

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32 minutes ago, thenelli01 said:

A born child is physically dependent on a mother’s exercise of her rights also. If the mother doesn’t use her money to buy her child food and feed it, the child will die. The issue isn’t dependence on the mother, the issue is when does the fetus get rights deserving of being protected by the mother.

No, a born child could be cared for by someone else. A fetus in the womb can only be sustained by the mother. You have to violate the mother's rights to alter that status.

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51 minutes ago, thenelli01 said:

I think if a fetus could survive outside of the womb, that would indicate its developed nature and capacity for independence, which would seem to be a good standard to support that it should be considered human. (Open to arguments here)

Even if "humanness" is defined by that standard, you haven't established that it's a human with rights. You don't have a standard for rights. Do you believe rights are intrinsic to "humanness"? I don't. That's why I focus on the baby's actions toward independence. The relevant aspect of the fetus' nature is not its potential state, but its actual state, which involves its actual actions. If the standard is merely "humanness" then rights should be recognized at the conception of a human fetus. After all, a human fetus is human. But if you're talking about a human being, we need a definition of such a thing. I don't think "a fetally viable entity" qualifies.

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19 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

Even if "humanness" is defined by that standard, you haven't established that it's a human with rights. You don't have a standard for rights.

You don’t know me well enough and haven’t spoken to me long enough to know whether or not I have a standard of rights.

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46 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

No, a born child could be cared for by someone else. A fetus in the womb can only be sustained by the mother. You have to violate the mother's rights to alter that status.

It would still be incumbent on the mother to transfer the duty to someone else, which entails physical dependence on the mother. Unless you think it’s morally permissible for a mother to have a child in an alley and abandon it there to die?

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FYI 

I just realized this topic is going on in the politics subsection with the same example about the lifeboat. 

I remember I quickly read that example of the lifeboat a while ago and then recently thought how it could apply to abortion without remembering that that was what the topic was about. Sorry, I haven’t been on this forum as much lately and when I do I just skim.

Apologies on the duplicate.

I’m gonna go through the old topic to make sure I’m not just repeating what was said and see if I can offer something new...

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1 hour ago, thenelli01 said:

You don’t know me well enough and haven’t spoken to me long enough to know whether or not I have a standard of rights.

Which is why I asked you: "Do you believe rights are intrinsic to humanness?" I only meant that you haven't provided your standard for rights in this topic thread. I also hope you'll include your definition of a human being. You say a viable human fetus is a "human being," but how do you define a human being? I'm basically agreeing with Rand's position: a human is a rational animal and "a child cannot acquire any rights until it is born," because that is when it becomes a rational animal. However, I do think a case can be made for rights starting at the beginning of the birth process, rather than at the end.

If you think a viable human fetus is a rational animal, then that is something we could discuss. But is that your position?

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1 hour ago, thenelli01 said:

It would still be incumbent on the mother to transfer the duty to someone else, which entails physical dependence on the mother. Unless you think it’s morally permissible for a mother to have a child in an alley and abandon it there to die?

Before birth the baby physically relies on the mother's healthy body. After birth it does not. The mother could die or abandon the baby in an alley, and it will continue living. How long it survives depends on the environmental context and whether someone else cares for it. But its physical life does not depend on the mother. It depends on gaining the values it requires to sustain its own life. Even as a tiny infant a human being has reflexes aimed at survival. When it gets hungry it'll cry out and attract potential saviors. Anyone could then put a milk bottle to its lips, and it would automatically suck on the nipple. It can act in this manner precisely because it is not dependent upon the mother. It is a physically independent entity.

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1 hour ago, MisterSwig said:

You say a viable human fetus is a "human being," but how do you define a human being? I'm basically agreeing with Rand's position: a human is a rational animal and "a child cannot acquire any rights until it is born," because that is when it becomes a rational animal.

What's your definition of "rational animal"? Why is a late-term fetus (say, 1 week before birth) not a rational animal, whereas a post-birth infant (1 week later) is a rational animal?

In general, what is the metaphysical nature of the being in question at various stages in the process? If we break this down, we are starting with a sperm and an egg: two distinct beings of certain kinds. Next, upon fertilization, these two combine into one single being of a certain kind, a zygote. This zygote goes through various developmental stages, from an embryo, to a fetus, to an infant, to a baby, a child, then finally an adult (and lastly, after the adult dies, a corpse).

I can see three main perspectives on the various states of metaphysical nature here:

1. At the point of a conception, there is a new living organism that is genetically human. This is one and the same organism from conception to adulthood. This argument seems to be the most defensible from a metaphysical standpoint in my view.

2. At some stage in the development of the fetus this organism attains consciousness, which fundamentally alters its metaphysical nature (this has been known since the time of Aristotle as "ensoulment", usually identified somewhere between 40 and 90 days; or under common law the "quickening" which is identified between 14-20 weeks). This argument is at least defensible from a dual-aspect metaphysics point of view (where the physical body and the consciousness both have basic metaphysical standing), however I see a difficulty in explaining how the post-ensoulment being is not in fact still one and the same being as the original organism, just at a later stage of development. Why is the mental/conscious aspect of its being not relevant or applicable prior to it being fully functional and active?

3. At sometime during post-birth childhood development, the child becomes capable of fully conceptual consciousness, at which point its metaphysical nature is fundamentally altered, since it has obtained the key feature of moral personhood. At some number of months of age (or perhaps years), the baby's consciousness has exceeded the purely perceptual level and is capable of understanding and communicating with language. This position shares the same difficulty as #2, although it seems less defensible metaphysically as the baby already has consciousness at the base level, so there is an even bigger question as to when and how something has truly metaphysically changed. It also raises the question of whether the child may still have conceptual consciousness prior to it's capability of effectively demonstrating it in communication.

Based on your metaphysical stance, there would be different moral implications as far as where the line is drawn for a rights-violating murder:

1. Abortion is wrong beginning from the point of conception

2. Abortion is wrong after some point during the first or second trimester

3. Abortion is categorically permitted, as well as infanticide up until some number of months or years in childhood development.

There is an additional factor of uncertainty - if you are uncertain whether or not some action is murder, should you do it at all? I think its morally indefensible to commit such an act. So even if your best guess is that #2 is the case, unless you can attain certainty that #1 is not true, you shouldn't engage in abortion at all (likewise if your best guess is #3, unless you can be certain that the consciousness isn't conceptual sometime at or after point #2, you shouldn't engage in abortion after that line).

Setting the standard based on "birth" or "independence" isn't basing it on the real issue of its metaphysical nature, so I don't think these lines are defensible.

Edited by intrinsicist

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1 hour ago, intrinsicist said:

What's your definition of "rational animal"? Why is a late-term fetus (say, 1 week before birth) not a rational animal, whereas a post-birth infant (1 week later) is a rational animal?

A rational animal is a multicellular organism of the kingdom Animalia, possessing a rational faculty. An organism is an individual living body composed of organs.

A late-term fetus is not a rational animal primarily because it's not an individual body yet. It's not its own organism. A fetus is still anatomically a part of the host organism, the mother. It is physically connected by the placenta and umbilical cord.

Edited by MisterSwig

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On 3/8/2019 at 4:41 PM, Boydstun said:

.

 the fetus will have reached a development such that it could live outside the womb, live independently of its mother if supported by modern medicine and whomever pays for that. Roe’s mark there had two built-in considerations making the 6-month time not exact and not fixed against future contraction: (i) when a particular fetus might be viable outside the womb (judgment of viability in the case being made by attending physicians), with present technology, can vary somewhat from one fetus to another, though around 6 months was typical and (ii) with medical technological progress, the typical time at which viability outside the womb is reached could be pulled in to earlier and earlier times.

 

Not sure if this made international news, but, recently in Japan, a baby boy who stopped developing in the womb and was born weighing 268 grams through C sectio, was nursed in an ICU for five months, and then released from hospital with a clean bill of health.

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1 hour ago, Nicky said:

...  .., and then released from hospital with a clean bill of health.

Wow Got to love modern science. There'll likely come a time when the "test tube" baby concept will become something that can go from conception to full development.

In that context arguments about using the mother's body, and about the mother making the decision because the fetus is in her body, will not be relevant. 
 

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11 hours ago, thenelli01 said:

With respect to the 6 month mark for feelings and consciousness - I specifically wrote “6 month(ish)” or whatever timeline is determined. My point isn’t to nail down an exact pin point on the time, but a philosophical standard saying “at (any) point x, when the fetus has these qualities a, b, c then it should be considered an actualized human being and deserving of rights.”

This is what I was asking too.  I think sNerd thought I was asking for a specific age in days or something. However his answer overall was very good after that.

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8 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

 I'm basically agreeing with Rand's position: a human is a rational animal and "a child cannot acquire any rights until it is born," because that is when it becomes a rational animal. However, I do think a case can be made for rights starting at the beginning of the birth process, rather than at the end.

Geez if this is her position then it's illogical (I never thought I'd say that about something she said).  There is *zero* difference in what the child *is* depending on what side of the woman's, um, body parts it's currently at in the span of minutes or hours of it being born. A child doesn't magically transform into a rational animal in a short time span based on what side of a vagina it's currently at.

Edited by EC

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11 hours ago, EC said:

A child doesn't magically transform into a rational animal in a short time span based on what side of a vagina it's currently at.

No magic involved. It's a natural separation process. Sometimes speeded along by doctors. 

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On 3/9/2019 at 2:06 PM, MisterSwig said:

Which is why I asked you: "Do you believe rights are intrinsic to humanness?" I only meant that you haven't provided your standard for rights in this topic thread.

You could have asked what my standard is (which is fair and legitimate) instead of prefacing the question with the claim that I don't have a standard. You don't know me. 

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On 3/9/2019 at 2:41 PM, MisterSwig said:

Before birth the baby physically relies on the mother's healthy body. After birth it does not. The mother could die or abandon the baby in an alley, and it will continue living. How long it survives depends on the environmental context and whether someone else cares for it. But its physical life does not depend on the mother. It depends on gaining the values it requires to sustain its own life. Even as a tiny infant a human being has reflexes aimed at survival. When it gets hungry it'll cry out and attract potential saviors. Anyone could then put a milk bottle to its lips, and it would automatically suck on the nipple. It can act in this manner precisely because it is not dependent upon the mother. It is a physically independent entity.

So you are in favor of the right of mothers to have a baby in an alley and leave it to death?

I say death, because that is what will happen most likely, without any assistance from third parties. What if the mother has a baby in the desert or in a rural mountain town in Colorado, where third parties aren't around? Can we leave a baby in the snow to fend for itself because it is a 'physically independent entity' that has a self responsibility to gain 'the values it requires to sustain its own life.' 

The baby is physically dependent on the mother because of its undeveloped nature, and the mother has a responsibility to the child (until adulthood or transfer of that duty) because she is the one who brought the child into the world. Despite what you say, babies would not be able to survive very long in this world without someone taking care of it (proof is meet any newborn and read the stories of babies that ARE left to fend for themselves - spoiler: the ending is usually tragic). The mother brought the baby into the world and, therefore, she has the responsibility to make sure its rights are protected. She cannot expect anyone else to take care of it. 

Edited by thenelli01

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