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A Fetus Is Human

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Not quite. a fetus is human. No one can deny it. A cancerous tumor growing on your lung is human, too. So is a cyst obstructing your bowel, or a diverticulum in your throat. They're all undeniably made of human cells with a full complement of chromosomes and a nucleus no different from any other cell's in your body.

And so?

Until such a time as cloning becomes widespread, yes.

And so?

Of course it's innacurate. The mother only has one appendix (assuming she has one at all). Her feet are not her appendix, either.

And so?

Stick to fundamentals. A fetus cannot exist alive outside thee mother's womb. It is, essentially, a parasite on the mother's body. If she doesn't want it there, there's no reason why she should keep it there. Whether it is or not her appendix, or human, or genetically distinct (all of which are given because otherwise it would not be a human fetus), are irrelevant facts. So is the fact that the fetus can feel pain, assuming it can. Body parts, for example, react to various stimuli. Cancer cells grow their own blood supply and defend themselves as best they can. So what?

Hey - a fetus CAN exist outside the mother's body......several weeks before it is 'born' usually. Should there be another word to describe a fetus when it has reached the developmental stage where it can survive out of the womb? Do you have an argument for an abortion just minutes prior to natural delivery? i.e. woman's 'fetus' is at 40 weeks gestation, she is in labor, she decides she doesn't want to deal with the baby ruining her life, is this an appropriate time to choose to abort it? Should she have the right to about it at full gestation? Remember is has not been 'born' yet.

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Hey - a fetus CAN exist outside the mother's body......several weeks before it is 'born' usually. Should there be another word to describe a fetus when it has reached the developmental stage where it can survive out of the womb? Do you have an argument for an abortion just minutes prior to natural delivery? i.e. woman's 'fetus' is at 40 weeks gestation, she is in labor, she decides she doesn't want to deal with the baby ruining her life, is this an appropriate time to choose to abort it? Should she have the right to about it at full gestation? Remember is has not been 'born' yet.

This topic has been discussed here extensively. Please use the search function to find out the answers/counter arguments to your questions.

Welcome to the forum!

Edited by ~Sophia~
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Hey - a fetus CAN exist outside the mother's body......several weeks before it is 'born' usually. Should there be another word to describe a fetus when it has reached the developmental stage where it can survive out of the womb? Do you have an argument for an abortion just minutes prior to natural delivery? i.e. woman's 'fetus' is at 40 weeks gestation, she is in labor, she decides she doesn't want to deal with the baby ruining her life, is this an appropriate time to choose to abort it? Should she have the right to about it at full gestation? Remember is has not been 'born' yet.

Agreed - if you search the forums, you will find a more elaborate answer to this question. But for a shortened version: Ayn Rand says that the abortion debate is really only applicable to the first trimester, since that is pretty much the only time during which legal abortions are administered, and there is a large difference between a fetus in the first trimester and one that is merely a few weeks away from birth.

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.

I would agree with Andre's answer on this. How is the parasitic lifestyle of a fetus any different from that of a baby's? Neither can survive without specific attention from a parent. A baby cannot provide its own food, nor can it shelter itself.

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Ayn Rand says that the abortion debate is really only applicable to the first trimester,...
You're either misreading what she said, or you're paraphrasing something I've missed. Could you provide a reference?

From everything I have read, including the recent "Answers" book, she wanted abortions to be legal in all trimesters. She did draw some difference between the people who would ban first-trimester abortions, and those who were concerned with later stages. However, this does not imply that she herself was dubious about third-trimester abortions.

I'm not arguing the merits here; merely trying to clarify what Rand herself thought. It's an important distinction. If you have a quote that shows otherwise, I'd appreciate seeing it.

Edited by softwareNerd
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Yes.

Okay. The proper penalty for murder is death. However, since killing someone in their sleep, or in a coma, doesn't count as murder, instead of putting abortionists to death when they are awake we'll wait until they fall asleep. Fair? We'll make sure it's painless. Your reply is simply absurd. What counts is not the state of mind at the particular point in time, but the fundamental nature of the being in question. The fundamental nature of a fetus is that it is human and it will "wake up". It will wake up earlier than many people who go into a coma, and it will wake up later than when people go to sleep, but it -will- wake up. A cow will not wake up. A tumor will not wake up.

Now, the fact that it is human does not mean, necesarrily, that it is wrong to kill it. I don't think all abortions qualify as murder. However, given the responsibility of the woman for the situation in which the fetus is in, for it's dependency, you cannot just brush the killing aside by saying "the woman isn't a slave to provide him with food and shelter for nine months". She put him in that grave (even if she didn't mean to), she has a responsibility to dig him out.

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What counts is not the state of mind at the particular point in time, but the fundamental nature of the being in question.
You're right, and the fundamental nature of the fetus at that point in time is that it is not yet a human being, but a fetus. Whether it has the potential to grow into a human is not relevant, it is not one yet. Edited by softwareNerd
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I would agree with Andre's answer on this. How is the parasitic lifestyle of a fetus any different from that of a baby's? Neither can survive without specific attention from a parent. A baby cannot provide its own food, nor can it shelter itself.

The only difference is that, with current technology, only one person can take care of the fetus, the mother, which happens to be responsible for his situation. A baby on the other hand can be adopted, so if the parents don't want to take care of him, other people can. I think the best step forward would be advancing technology to the point where it is possible to remove a fetus from the mother's womb and put him in a different womb (natural or artificial) without killing it.

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You're right, and the fundamental nature of the fetus at that point in time is that it is not yet a human being, but a fetus. Whether it has the potential to grow into a human is not relevant, it is not one yet.

Is a one month old baby a human being, or can it can killed at will? Is a 2 year old child a human being, or can it be killed at will? What, specificaly, do you believe separates the fetus from an actual human being, and at what point does a homo sapiens become a "human being", specificaly?

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How is the parasitic lifestyle of a fetus any different from that of a baby's? Neither can survive without specific attention from a parent. A baby cannot provide its own food, nor can it shelter itself.

The difference is one of time. A zygote becomes a fetus within about three months while it will take at least nine months to get to the state where it is referred to as a baby. That being said, it is important to recognize that fetuses are not asked to be created nor are babies asked to be born. With regards to a baby, a mother should be both legally and morally required to be the baby's caretaker. If she brought a child into the world without making proper plans on how to take care of it, she has created a victim.

On the other hand, a zygote, embryo and fetus must live in a biological parasitic relationship with its biological mother. Although the zygote/embryo/fetus did not ask to be born, this does not necessarily give it the right of continued existence at the mother's expense. The pregnant woman did not necessarily engage in actions to specifically create the zygote/embryo/fetus in her body, even if she did engage in unprotected consensual intercourse.

That being said, I think we can objectively say that a mother has a right to an abortion up to some point, before the baby is born. I very much doubt that we will be able to objectively say where to draw the line specifically but I think that we can objectively say that a line should be drawn. Specifically, the line should provide ample time for the pregnant woman to choose if she wants to have the baby.

In implementation, an abortion policy should also allow for medical exceptions as to my understanding, sometimes intact dialation and extraction becomes medically necessary or just the safest possible option.

I think the best step forward would be advancing technology to the point where it is possible to remove a fetus from the mother's womb and put him in a different womb (natural or artificial) without killing it.

Yes but this still leaves open the question of who should pay for such an operation and to sustain the fetus outside of the mother's womb? A baby who would be born of such a procedure but lacks a provider and a parental guardian is a victim. Moreover, a woman who gets an unwanted pregnancy should not be enslaved to have to financially provide for the baby that will result.

Needless to say, I am not opposed to such a procedure if someone else would be voluntarily willing to properly provide for the baby and for the associated medical expenses to have it survive outside of the womb.

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

If you lack the physiological mechanisms REQUIRED for conscioussness and sentience, then it is not the same thing. It's not a question of not 'waking up' its a question of waking up being physically impossible. If a 'brain dead' person were buried in that coffin, it would be an applicable analogy, and no I wouldnt extend any effort to dig up a brain dead person, as they are no longer a person, but just a body.

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If you lack the physiological mechanisms REQUIRED for conscioussness and sentience, then it is not the same thing. It's not a question of not 'waking up' its a question of waking up being physically impossible. If a 'brain dead' person were buried in that coffin, it would be an applicable analogy, and no I wouldnt extend any effort to dig up a brain dead person, as they are no longer a person, but just a body.

If you are hit by a truck, which injures you in a certain manner, it is physically impossible for you to wake up without medical aid, possibly very intensive medical aid, which might not work. That is, you are biologicaly unable to wake up. However, a "hit and run" is a crime. The crime is "not digging the person out of the hole you shoved them in". If you put someone in a coma, by accident, you are moraly responsible for keeping that person alive for as long as it takes for her to wake up. A brain-dead person will not wake up no matter what you do. In essense, you are incapable of saving a brain-dead person, it's outside the field of choice.

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On the other hand, a zygote, embryo and fetus must live in a biological parasitic relationship with its biological mother. Although the zygote/embryo/fetus did not ask to be born, this does not necessarily give it the right of continued existence at the mother's expense. The pregnant woman did not necessarily engage in actions to specifically create the zygote/embryo/fetus in her body, even if she did engage in unprotected consensual intercourse.

If you purposefuly create a victim, you are a criminal. If you accidentaly create a victim, you are responsible. The two are completely different things. You don't have to mean to run over someone in order to be responsible for getting the person proper medical care.

That being said, I think we can objectively say that a mother has a right to an abortion up to some point, before the baby is born.

Only if the pregnancy presents a clear danger to her life. ALL abortions made simpy to avoid the responsibility of taking care of a baby are an act of murder no different than shooting someone you just ran over in the head. Aiding people who engage in murder makes you an accomplice, criminaly responsible for that person's crime.

I very much doubt that we will be able to objectively say where to draw the line specifically but I think that we can objectively say that a line should be drawn. Specifically, the line should provide ample time for the pregnant woman to choose if she wants to have the baby.

She does not a right to choose not to.

In implementation, an abortion policy should also allow for medical exceptions as to my understanding, sometimes intact dialation and extraction becomes medically necessary or just the safest possible option.

Yes, if it is necessary to protect the woman's life, she can kill the fetus. She can also kill a full grown adult. She can bomb a whole nation. To save one's life, there is NOTHING one is forbidden to do.

Yes but this still leaves open the question of who should pay for such an operation and to sustain the fetus outside of the mother's womb? A baby who would be born of such a procedure but lacks a provider and a parental guardian is a victim. Moreover, a woman who gets an unwanted pregnancy should not be enslaved to have to financially provide for the baby that will result.

It's not slavery to live up to one's responsibilities. However, here is a possibility you might not have thought of. The mother is merely forced to provide a loan to the child, to be repaid once he is grown.

Needless to say, I am not opposed to such a procedure if someone else would be voluntarily willing to properly provide for the baby and for the associated medical expenses to have it survive outside of the womb.

That would be ideal, yes.

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I don't think all abortions qualify as murder.

You keep using the word 'murder'. Are you familiar with the fact that murder is a specific legal term and that it has a specific legal definition? Put simply, murder is the UNLAWFUL killing of another human with malice aforethought.

Even if your argument was, as it appears to be, that aborting a fetus was a homicide, not all homicides are murders either.

However, aside from that it is not even close that all abortions are murders, regardless of the stipulations you personally okay, because abortion is LEGAL during the first trimester pretty much across the land (US).

Edited by RationalBiker
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If you purposefully create a victim, you are a criminal. If you accidentally create a victim, you are responsible.

Although correct, this point is irrelevant since an embryo, which is only a potential human being, does not possess any rights and therefore cannot be a victim. A victim is only created if the infant is born.

As I understand it, this is a necessary pillar in your argument. If an aborted embryo truly is a victim, then all abortions would be immoral. That being said, if you want to try to articulate an honest and compelling case to argue that an aborted embryo is a victim using Objectivist principles (including why the embryo has the right to live at the mother's expense), I would be very interested in reading it.

ALL abortions made simply to avoid the responsibility of taking care of a baby are an act of murder no different than shooting someone you just ran over in the head.

Rather than just repeat that a woman has a right to choose, I will try to identify the fundamental philosophical premise that leads to our disagreement. Excluding all abortions out of medical necessity from our discussion, to outlaw all abortions to me seems to amount to rejecting life as the standard of value, where by "life", I mean flourishing, human qua human life. This is obviously different from holding biological life as the standard of value. To outlaw all abortions is to turn sex from potentially being one of the highest celebrations of human life to a risky activity that must be proceeded with extreme caution, as the female participant will be forced to carry the child to birth if she happens to get unintentionally impregnated during intercourse. Although contraceptives certainly make the probability of impregnation very small, they cannot guarantee that one will not get pregnant.

Possessing a fulfilling sexual relationship with a person you love can be a cornerstone of an emotionally healthy life. To outlaw abortions really can introduce a lot of anxiety into engaging in intercourse and will diminish the value of such activity given the legally imposed great risk. I do not see carrying embryos to birth as a higher purpose that is worthy of a woman being forced to sacrifice her greater values. I see no objective reason to ban all abortions or even call them immoral.

However, here is a possibility you might not have thought of. The mother is merely forced to provide a loan to the child, to be repaid once he is grown.

I thought of this and I rejected it. To force a woman to provide a loan for a baby that she did not want and would have aborted had the procedure been legal is immoral and is a violation of her rights.

On another note, are you also in favor of outlawing morning after pills?

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You keep using the word 'murder'. Are you familiar with the fact that murder is a specific legal term and that it has a specific legal definition?

The word murder denotes a killing which one should not be allowed to engage in (that is, which is unlawfull). Specificaly, it denotes that the killing itself was the crime, as opposed to say, not paying proper attention when driving or operating on a patient. Yes, I am aware of that.

Put simply, murder is the UNLAWFUL killing of another human with malice aforethought.

Malice aforethought is one among several qualifiers used to determine what kind of killing is, or is not, lawful.

Even if your argument was, as it appears to be, that aborting a fetus was a homicide, not all homicides are murders either.

Aborting a fetus is killing it. It may, or may not be, murder. You cannot determine that something is murder simply because a killing took place, I am fully aware of that.

However, aside from that it is not even close that all abortions are murders, regardless of the stipulations you personally okay, because abortion is LEGAL during the first trimester pretty much across the land (US).

And it is illegal in other places. Whatever law applies in a given location, it is arbitrary if divorced from the moral reasoning for its existance. An arbitrary law is invalid, and it is in fact the threat of the initiation of force, aggression. When we discuss legal matters, outside of the context of the courtroom (and in a sense even in that context), we are actually discussing a particular field of ethics. We are not discussing what laws are on the books, the books are themselves irrelevant. They are the map to law, not law itself.

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Although correct, this point is irrelevant since an embryo, which is only a potential human being, does not possess any rights and therefore cannot be a victim. A victim is only created if the infant is born.

How exactly is the embryo different than the newborn infant?

Rather than just repeat that a woman has a right to choose, I will try to identify the fundamental philosophical premise that leads to our disagreement. Excluding all abortions out of medical necessity from our discussion, to outlaw all abortions to me seems to amount to rejecting life as the standard of value, where by "life", I mean flourishing, human qua human life. This is obviously different from holding biological life as the standard of value.

A person who has just been in a car accident, depending on his injuries, is no more "flourishing, human qua human" than a fetus. Is defending that person's rights anti-life?

To outlaw all abortions is to turn sex from potentially being one of the highest celebrations of human life to a risky activity that must be proceeded with extreme caution, as the female participant will be forced to carry the child to birth if she happens to get unintentionally impregnated during intercourse.

Driving cars really fast, or jumping out of airplanes, or doing a huge number of other things is dangerous. That is an objective fact of life, what you would preffer is irrelevant. The fact you feel pleasure from it, or that it is a celebration of life, does not give you extra rights. You don't get to say "Driving really fast is how I celebrate life, so I can't really pay attention to people walking by".

Although contraceptives certainly make the probability of impregnation very small, they cannot guarantee that one will not get pregnant.

Hysterectomies do. And no, they don't prevent women from feeling sexual pleasure.

Possessing a fulfilling sexual relationship with a person you love can be a cornerstone of an emotionally healthy life. To outlaw abortions really can introduce a lot of anxiety into engaging in intercourse and will diminish the value of such activity given the legally imposed great risk. I do not see carrying embryos to birth as a higher purpose that is worthy of a woman being forced to sacrifice her greater values. I see no objective reason to ban all abortions or even call them immoral.

Carrying embryos to birth is a fundamental requirement of life. Your mother had to do it. Sex is a secondary value, it cannot be given precedence over the fundamental requirements of life. Eating comes before sex. Security comes before sex. And not aggressing against others (such as by killing them out of convenience) comes before sex. If you are getting a blowjob while driving and you hit someone, helping that person takes precedence over getting an orgasm.

On another note, are you also in favor of outlawing morning after pills?

I don't know exactly how they work, but my understanding is that they merely prevent the pregnancy, as the pregnancy does not actually take hold immediately, they do not end it. As such, I am against outlawing them.

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Yes, I am aware of that.

Then why did you make this statement, which clearly is not true if you use the word murder properly?

ALL abortions made simpy to avoid the responsibility of taking care of a baby are an act of murder no different than shooting someone you just ran over in the head.

There are abortions made for this reason that are legal, and thus not murder.

Malice aforethought is one among several qualifiers used to determine what kind of killing is, or is not, lawful.

But it is a specific legal requirement for a killing that is to be deemed a murder, which is the term in question.

Aborting a fetus is killing it. It may, or may not be, murder.

Okay, I guess then that you recognize the inaccuracy of this statement;

ALL abortions made simpy to avoid the responsibility of taking care of a baby are an act of murder no different than shooting someone you just ran over in the head.
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Then why did you make this statement, which clearly is not true if you use the word murder properly?

There are abortions made for this reason that are legal, and thus not murder.

But it is a specific legal requirement for a killing that is to be deemed a murder, which is the term in question.

Okay, I guess then that you recognize the inaccuracy of this statement;

Thank you for ignoring the part of my post where I deal with the point you are trying to make.

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Thank you for ignoring the part of my post where I deal with the point you are trying to make.

I didn't ignore any part of you post. I only included the relevant parts. Whether you personally agree that something should or should not be legal is not what is under discussion. You are using a legal term in a manner that ignores that it is a legal term. If you want to redefine words in your arguments, fine, but you bear the responsibility of clarifying when you do.

If you want your argument to be clearer, you would be better served by saying that you think abortion SHOULD be considered murder rather than saying it is when it clearer is not based on current law, at least in the way you described it to be murder.

I understand the distinction between the legal and the moral. The only thing that clouded it was your word choice.

And I didn't 'try' to make a point, I 'did' make a point.

And skip the sarcasm next time.

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If you want your argument to be clearer, you would be better served by saying that you think abortion SHOULD be considered murder rather than saying it is when it clearer is not based on current law, at least in the way you described it to be murder.

No, abortion is (under certain conditions) murder. If you want to make such an argument I don't even need to reply with an argument, I can just link you here to show you that you are, on your own terms, factualy incorrect to claim that abortion is not murder:

http://www.pregnantpause.org/lex/world02map.htm

Further, the killing of a fetus is, even in places where abortion by the mother's choice is legal, generaly regarded as murder.

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No, abortion is (under certain conditions) murder.

And abortion is not murder as described in the statement of yours that I brought to your attention, depending on where you live in the world, which pretty much negates the ALL in your statement. I could care less if some people 'generally regard' something is murder.

Your link is not an argument. It does not illustrate that abortion IS conclusively murder, it illustrates that depending on your location in the world the laws are different.

Based on your input, I recognize that your position is that abortion SHOULD be murder in the cases you mentioned. But as clearly evidenced by your own link, your statement that it IS murder remains inaccurate unless you clarify which laws you are operating under.

Past that, if you have no desire to recognize how you can make your own argument clearer, I see no reason to aid you further. My argument never was about whether it should or should not be, it was about whether it is or isn't and how you used the term inaccurately.

Edited by RationalBiker
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You're either misreading what she said, or you're paraphrasing something I've missed. Could you provide a reference?

From everything I have read, including the recent "Answers" book, she wanted abortions to be legal in all trimesters. She did draw some difference between the people who would ban first-trimester abortions, and those who were concerned with later stages. However, this does not imply that she herself was dubious about third-trimester abortions.

I'm not arguing the merits here; merely trying to clarify what Rand herself thought. It's an important distinction. If you have a quote that shows otherwise, I'd appreciate seeing it.

Never mind the vicious nonsense of claiming that an embryo has a "right to life." A piece of protoplasm has no rights—and no life in the human sense of the term. 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; to advocate the sacrifice of the latter to the former, is unspeakable … Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, i.e., the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living: the right of young people to set the course of their own lives. The task of raising a child is a tremendous, lifelong responsibility, which no one should undertake unwittingly or unwillingly. Procreation is not a duty: human beings are not stock-farm animals. For conscientious persons, an unwanted pregnancy is a disaster; to oppose its termination is to advocate sacrifice, not for the sake of anyone's benefit, but for the sake of misery qua misery, for the sake of forbidding happiness and fulfillment to living human beings.

"A Last Survey," The Ayn Rand Letter, IV, 2, 3

Edited by Antonio
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Past that, if you have no desire to recognize how you can make your own argument clearer, I see no reason to aid you further. My argument never was about whether it should or should not be, it was about whether it is or isn't and how you used the term inaccurately.

Ok. Couple of questions:

- How would you characterize the hanging of a man for homosexuality?

- Does it matter if it is performed by the government of Iran, or the guy down the street? What, precisely, is the difference?

- If two states compete for sovereignty in an area, which legal system is the one that decides if something is or is not a crime?

- Do you realize that it is illegal for you to critize the "Prophet" Mohammad, no matter where you live, as per the legal judgement (fatwa) of certain clerics?

- Does a group need to be able to enforce its legal judgements in order for them to be considered trully "legal", and if they do, does bombing an abortion clinic make abortion illegal?

- "I am the state." That is a famous quote, though nobody is quite sure who was the first person to say it. Most say Napoleon. Do you understand what it means, in fact?

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- How would you characterize the hanging of a man for homosexuality?

Homicide. If it were in a country that had a law against killing people for homosexuality, I'd call it murder. Either way I'd call it unjust.

- Does it matter if it is performed by the government of Iran, or the guy down the street? What, precisely, is the difference?

Yes, it depends on whether it is against the law or not if you want to call it murder since murder has a specific definition that distinguishes it from homicide or killing.

- If two states compete for sovereignty in an area, which legal system is the one that decides if something is or is not a crime?

Non-sequitur.

- Do you realize that it is illegal for you to critize the "Prophet" Mohammad, no matter where you live, as per the legal judgement (fatwa) of certain clerics?

Non-sequitur.

- Does a group need to be able to enforce its legal judgements in order for them to be considered trully "legal", and if they do, does bombing an abortion clinic make abortion illegal?

Non-sequitur.

Edited by RationalBiker
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Murder implies that you have already made a moral, that is a legal, judgement on the matter.

Wow. I can't believe you said this with a straight face in the anarchy thread while continuing to argue over the definition of murder as you have in this thread. Amazing.

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