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A Fetus Is Human

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An excellent analogy, although I disagree with the part I put in bold. Once you agree to something, you don't get to change your mind.

Well, I suppose if a contractual obligation is not involved, you can change your mind.

Aside from that, what seems to be missing in most debates over abortion is the fact that in most cases the conception at issue is the result of consensual sex.

One of the risks of sex is pregnancy. Everyone who isn't stupid knows that.

Contraceptives aren't perfect. Everyone who isn't stupid knows that too.

Measures to prevent STDs aren't perfect either.

There are risks in having sex. Sometimes there are consequences. Individuals are responsible for the consequences that might arise from those risks. For women it might mean pregnancy. For a man it might mean causing a child to be conceived. For both, it might mean an STD.

That's the way it goes. When one has sex one accepts the risks. One doesn't get to change his or her mind.

That's not to say abortion is wrong. There are times when it is, such as later in pregnancy. Technological and scientific advancements will at some point in an undetermined future lead to an answer on when an unborn child is viable enough to make it morally wrong.

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Technological and scientific advancements will at some point in an undetermined future lead to an answer on when an unborn child is viable enough to make it morally wrong.
Why?

Consider this: for instance, as technology stands today, a woman can -- through sex -- make a good faith effort to convert her egg into a human being. So, why do we not hold this to be the moral thing to do? The egg is completely viable, in every sense of the term.

Is the key difference one of internal (to the woman's body) viability vs. external viability. If so, if technology reaches the point where fertilzation is possible in some type of external device, would women be obgliged to save each egg? Would guys be immoral to waste (aka kill) any sperm?

Edited by softwareNerd
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The burden of proof should lie with the life-taker, and the benefit of the doubt should be with the life-saver."When in doubt, don't"... A hunter who hears rustling in the bushes shouldn't fire until he knows what is in the bushes. Likewise, a Court which doesn't know when life begins, should not declare open season on the unborn.

To extend your analogy: a hunter who hears a rustling in the bushes, fires. A policeman witnesses this, and immediately arrests the man for shooting what could have been, could not have been a human in there. We don't know. There is evidence something was certainly there, and was shot, but we can't tell whether it was a man or a deer. To be on the safe side, we lock him up for 10 years for manslaughter.

I'm afraid that's not how the law works, Shyboy. Even if it were impossible to define the concept human (which it isn't, otherwise it would be an anti-concept) we could not create a law around such a weak concept. Furthermore, we could not be sure, beyond reasonable doubt, what he is actually responsible for and as such, we could not charge him as being guilty of anything.

That is the way the law works Shyboy; unless, of course, you think it is moral to judge men as guilty, by a standard you can't even describe.

Edited by Tenure
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Just a quick matter of curiosity: can anyone tell me at what point most abortions actually take place? Don't we have the science to perform an abortion as soon as a girl finds out she's pregnant (say, 4 weeks at most)? Isn't this before the physical form of the fetus is anything remotely resembling a human?

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Just a quick matter of curiosity: can anyone tell me at what point most abortions actually take place? Don't we have the science to perform an abortion as soon as a girl finds out she's pregnant (say, 4 weeks at most)? Isn't this before the physical form of the fetus is anything remotely resembling a human?
There is RU-486, the so-called "morning after" pill, which can be taken upto 72 hours after sexual intercourse. Not sure how prevalent it is. Almost all abortions are performed within 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Here is some old information from the CDC, but I doubt the percentages would have changed substantially. Scroll down and you will see all sorts of data-tables. In summary, about half of all abortions happen within 8 weeks. About 90% were at 12 weeks or less.

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I haven't exactly read all of the posts up to today, but I'd like to ask: has the original poster presented his argument yet? Particularly on the basis of rights, and who therefore is entitled to them (and why)?

If he hasn't, I don't see much point in debating this subject with him, though I don't think fetuses have rights.

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If abortion is moral than so is killing young dependent family members if you decide they have become 'rights-restricters'. At the 'brain waves' stage of development at least. There there is consciousness, and it is human consciousness albeit an underdeveloped mode. Abortion is an act of non-retaliatory killing. You cannot morally sanction murder. The only room for moral judgment in and relevant to this debate is whether parents have a moral obligation to ensure the survival of their children. If they do, abortion is immoral and children cannot be considered 'rights-restricters'. If they don't, then abortion is still immoral. Under that premise, having the baby and immediately placing it out on the sidewalk to fend for itself wouldn't be immoral and therefore would not be a illegal.

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This is actually inaccurate, or needs clarification. What does "cannot" mean in this context?

Excuse me for being vague, but what I mean by "cannot" is "unable due to impossibility". Since the right to life is really a right to an action to sustain your life, the fetus does not have a right to life as it is unable to sustain it by rational means. Unable since, well, it's stuck there in the womb.

What is it that you think is inaccurate?

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That is the way the law works

Yea okay, The same law that maintains that a violent act against a pregnant woman is a violent act against two persons.

The Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-212) is a United States law which recognizes a "child in utero" as a legal victim, if he or she is injured or killed during the commission of any of over 60 listed federal crimes of violence. The law defines "child in utero" as "a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.

Now I know I'm dealing with What Ifs here but...

What if the pregnant lady gets shot and it kills the baby but not the lady? One attempted murder charge and one murder charge? And another scenario, whatif the baby gets shot and killed but the woman stays alive and said it was okay about the baby because she wanted an abortion anyway? Just an Attempted murder charge? This law shouldn't be in place if abortion is legal it is a contradiction.

I think if I try to defend my argument any further I understand that it wouldn't be objective, and it would be just plain redundant. No need going 37 pages of redundancy. You all made some great points, I don't really have too much room to argue.

Edited by shyboy
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Yea okay, The same law that maintains that a violent act against a pregnant woman is a violent act against two persons.

The Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-212) is a United States law which recognizes a "child in utero" as a legal victim, if he or she is injured or killed during the commission of any of over 60 listed federal crimes of violence. The law defines "child in utero" as "a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.

Now I know I'm dealing with What Ifs here but...

What if the pregnant lady gets shot and it kills the baby but not the lady? One attempted murder charge and one murder charge? And another scenario, whatif the baby gets shot and killed but the woman stays alive and said it was okay about the baby because she wanted an abortion anyway? Just an Attempted murder charge? This law shouldn't be in place if abortion is legal it is a contradiction.

I think if I try to defend my argument any further I understand that it wouldn't be objective, and it would be just plain redundant. No need going 37 pages of redundancy. You all made some great points, I don't really have too much room to argue.

In other words, the law is not objective.

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but I'd like to ask: has the original poster presented his argument yet? Particularly on the basis of rights, and who therefore is entitled to them (and why)?

Your answer would be best discovered if you looked at his posts over all 2 of the pages in this thread. Given that other abortion-related threads have gone 20 pages or so, your work should be easy by comparison.

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Yea okay, The same law that maintains that a violent act against a pregnant woman is a violent act against two persons.
That's a lousy argument, because it's based on a lousy law. The law was well-denounced by Objectivists when it was passed. The question is not (should not be) "how does a particular US / state law treat a fetus", it is "Is a fetus a person". And, as you've seen, it is not.
This law shouldn't be in place if abortion is legal it is a contradiction.
We're quite aware of the incoherent and contradictory nature of law in the current US.
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Abortion is an act of non-retaliatory killing. You cannot morally sanction murder.
Removing tumor is non-retaliatory killing; wasing your hands is non-retaliatory killing; killing a chicken in non-retaliatory killing; picking a flower is non-retaliatory killing. Murder is simply not defined a "non-retaliatory killing".
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In other words, the law is not objective.

Sure it is. You violate someone's right to their property, you pay.

If a woman chooses to have a baby and someone causes an action that results in the woman losing the baby, that person must be held accountable for causing that loss. This applies whether both the unborn child and the woman dies, or only the fetus dies. In either case, someone's actions cause the denial of something that someone wanted (be it the carrier of the child or someone who has arranged for it to be adopted).

We require this kind of accountability for other damages and violations of people's property. That unborn child is property of the woman carrying it, or of the person who has arranged for its adoption or surrogacy if that were the case, because it is an object that someone has laid a claim to by wanting the child.

Another way to look at it is the standards of wrongful death suits. From my point of view being a husband and father, I would suffer a loss certainly if my wife died. If she died while pregnant with my unborn daughter, would have been a greater loss to be deprived not only my wife, but the child we both wanted and were about to have. If someone had done that to me, I would do anything within my power to make sure that they pay for it no differently than I would seek accountability from an arsonist who burns my house down.

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Sure it is. You violate someone's right to their property, you pay.
This would be fine if the law was very clearly explicit about this conceptual idea of a fetus being property rather than being an individual, and about the crime being destruction of property rather than being murder.

The principle is extremely critical in its potential application to abortions. In fact, it is so important that it would be better to let the destruction of property go unpunished if its the abstract legal basis has the potential to be applied to curtailing abortions. Any law that comes close to defining a fetus as a human being should be opposed on principle, even if it is framed as if its current intent is only to stop non-abortion destruction of a fetus.

Maybe a lawyer can enlighten us here, but I would not be surprised if the law already has some means by which someone who molests a pregnant woman and destroys her fetus in the process can be prosecuted for doing so. Recent moves to punish this specifically, have clearly been driven by the anti-abortionists and should be resisted on that basis too.

The anti-abortionists will keep trying to drive narrow wedges into the law. The same thing can be seen in their attempts to pass parental-notification laws in the case of minors. They try to use the best in us to help their cause. While parental-notification can make sense in some cases, of all the issues in the world on which we want the law to move, it is hardly the most important, and as implemented will probably end up being a mixed-bag. Therefore, it should be resisted politically. Do not let the anti-abortionists get your political vote without giving something in return. If they want to pass a law like parental-notification, let them throw in something you want: like a constitutional amendment prohibiting any restrictions on first and second trimester abortions. They won't do that? Well, then it is their problem... make them fight for every little inch.

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Maybe a lawyer can enlighten us here, but I would not be surprised if the law already has some means by which someone who molests a pregnant woman and destroys her fetus in the process can be prosecuted for doing so.
An example would be ORC 2903.01(A): "No person shall purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the death of another or the unlawful termination of another’s pregnancy." and below under (F) "Whoever violates this section is guilty of aggravated murder"; 2903.02(A): "No person shall purposely cause the death of another or the unlawful termination of another’s pregnancy" known as second degree murder, and so on to 2903.05 (A): "No person shall negligently cause the death of another or the unlawful termination of another’s pregnancy by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance as defined in section 2923.11 of the Revised Code.", the first degree misdemeanor "negligent homicide". In 2903.09(A): "'Unlawful termination of another’s pregnancy' means causing the death of an unborn member of the species homo sapiens, who is or was carried in the womb of another, as a result of injuries inflicted during the period that begins with fertilization and that continues unless and until live birth occurs."

The point is that this law tacks on an arbitrary stipulation to the murder statutes, rather than subsuming that under the general rule on murdering people. The law could equally be amended to say "or the seeing-eye-dog of any blind person", and it would be no more sensible or senseless than the current arbitary law. Note that a "viable unborn human" is in fact defined as a "person" in Ohio under 2901.01 (B )(1)(a)(ii). It is only thanks to a convoluted "exception" elsewhere in 2901.01(B )(2)(a) that abortion is not murder in Ohio. The logic is then: "A viable fetus is a person; you may not kill a person; but you may kill a person if it's a fetus and you are the woman with the fetus or have the woman's consent". This kind of conceptual chaos can easily be "cleaned up", and we have the clear conclusion already in the law -- a fetus is a person.

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That law does not look good at all. Just as I feared.

Actually, I made a mistake in what I wrote. I should have used the word "had" rather than "has". Should have said: I would not be surprised if the law (prior to being changed to make fetus-destruction seem like murder) already had some means by which someone who molests a pregnant woman and destroys her fetus in the process can be prosecuted for doing so.

Suppose we were to roll the law back 50 years (I assume fetus destruction was written in recently). Now, in the 50 year ago scenario, if a criminal assaulted a pregnant woman and destroyed her fetus while doing so, would he be guilty of a crime more severe than the assault alone. Would it be like assault plus "property destruction" or causing some additional harm?

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Tumors are genetically different from the original cells, too. Based on your argument we should also give them rights, and make sure no one murders any innocent tumors? It is in their nature to need the body's nutrients, after all. And they're certainly human cells.

(I think this sufficiently demolishes the first part of your argument; having separate DNA is not the basis for a human being having rights. Someone else can have the feelings part :thumbsup:).

A tumor will never become an adult human being. It will never think. It is merely a disease.

A fetus is like a human being in a comma, incapable of the total range of human experience, but deserving of rights because it can, or at least will wake up.

The question of "is a fetus a human being?" is separate from "is this act of abortion, or all acts of abortion acceptable?". You can make the case that abortion is self-defense. To compare a fetus to a tumor however, is absurd and irrational.

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I think this point is debatable, still, you should not be held in bondage to a contract in perpetuity. If I agreed to be the 'life support' for another person, I think I would have the right to change my mind about it later as well.

A pregnancy lasts for nine months, at which point the baby can be given up for adoption. It is not a contract in perpetuity. It's also not something the fetus chose, he has no control over being in the woman's body. The woman on the other hand, has full control over it (and I don't mean after the fact). Even in cases of rape, the woman could have controlled the pregnancy.

If you woke up in a coffin one day, with other people being able to hear you scream, I think you would be really pissed off if they just said "I'm not his fucking slave, I'm not digging him out". I think you would regard it as murder if the person saying this is responsible (unintentionally as it may have been) for you being into the coffin.

No. Life is self-generated action. THAT is the fundamental difference between a fetus and a baby, and that is why killing a fetus is NOT infanticide.

Please explain how a baby fits that definition better than a fetus. A baby is a fetus that just happens to be located elsewhere and get his food from a different tube. Until it grows into at least early childhood, it is not more "self-generated" than an ant, and in fact, it is less so.

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A pregnancy lasts for nine months, at which point the baby can be given up for adoption. It is not a contract in perpetuity. It's also not something the fetus chose, he has no control over being in the woman's body. The woman on the other hand, has full control over it (and I don't mean after the fact). Even in cases of rape, the woman could have controlled the pregnancy.

If you woke up in a coffin one day, with other people being able to hear you scream, I think you would be really pissed off if they just said "I'm not his fucking slave, I'm not digging him out". I think you would regard it as murder if the person saying this is responsible (unintentionally as it may have been) for you being into the coffin.

A 1st trimester fetus is not a sentient, conscious person, it does not scream, it does not get scared, it does not have dreams and hopes, it lacks the physiological mechanisms required to achieve these things. The analogy of waking up in a buried coffin is not applicable.

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A 1st trimester fetus is not a sentient, conscious person, it does not scream, it does not get scared, it does not have dreams and hopes, it lacks the physiological mechanisms required to achieve these things. The analogy of waking up in a buried coffin is not applicable.

So if you don't wake up, it's ok?

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A tumor will never become an adult human being. It will never think. It is merely a disease.

A fetus is like a human being in a comma, incapable of the total range of human experience, but deserving of rights because it can, or at least will wake up.

The question of "is a fetus a human being?" is separate from "is this act of abortion, or all acts of abortion acceptable?". You can make the case that abortion is self-defense. To compare a fetus to a tumor however, is absurd and irrational.

Tumor/Fetus comparison is totally absurd, I agree. I will add that a fetus is NOT 'like' a human being in a coma. A fetus is a human being who is conscious and can hear, see [light and dark], taste, smell and most importantly think! A person could argue that a 'couch potato' is incapable of the total range of human experience.......[joke]

At what point are the cells specialized enough to do this? [think] Does it matter? [something to debate]

This photo was taken during fetal surgery - fetus's [baby's] hand grasping the surgeon's finger. http://www.snopes.com/photos/medical/thehand.asp

There seems to be a great debate about how it happened, once again I ask - does it really matter? I'm just forwarding this to those who can't visualize a fetus - newly developing human being.

The only rational conclusion you can draw is that a fetus is definitely a human being. My experience has shown me that very young babies are capable of reason, but cannot verbalize it yet. In fact their pure selfishness makes good sense and is very logical and reasonable.

I could also argue that I've met several people [fully developed] who don't think. I don't know how you could prove that a fetus can't.

post-4711-1207159046_thumb.jpg

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No. Life is self-generated action. THAT is the fundamental difference between a fetus and a baby, and that is why killing a fetus is NOT infanticide.

Can you elaborate on this?

I get the difference in word definition - fetus - infant, whatever. I don't want a debate about words, I am really interested in the issue.

"Life is self-generated action" doesn't seem to be much of an explanation. I am trying to understand your point, but can't.

Thank you.

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No. Life is self-generated action. THAT is the fundamental difference between a fetus and a baby, and that is why killing a fetus is NOT infanticide.

Is an 18 year old an 'adult'? How about a 17 year old? does it happen when you are 20? Aren't these just words that we make up to describe stages of life? Sure they work to help us manage the world, driving age, drinking age etc. but in a conversation such as this does the choice of word mean anything?

How can calling a "developing human being" a fetus vs. infant vs. child vs. adolescent make any difference to the fundamental question?

A fetus can be 'born' and survive well before full gestation. How does that make it any less human.

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