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A Fetus Is Human

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Antonio, Thanks for providing the quote.

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 (emphasis added)

The way I read this is...

... that Rand thought the question of banning abortion in the first trimester was almost unarguable. From some Q&A in the "Answers" book, I conclude that she considered first trimester bans to be vicious, not simply mistaken. On the other hand, it is obvious that a good and thoughtful person would pose a question like: if a child has rights, why not a child who is five minutes from birth, or one day from birth, or even in the last trimester. I interpret Rand as saying that she can understand those types of arguments: e.g., people asking whether a child is human and conscious (in some sense) some time before birth. These are sensible questions that one may argue about. On the other hand protecting protoplasm is one step away from protecting sperm.

While she acknowledged that these are questions that scientists can resolve and people may argue about, she always held that birth was absolute, and that is where she would draw the legal line. One may speculate whether she could have been convinced otherwise, but as far as I know, she did not change her opinion. [see "Answers", Ch 2 "Ethics". Section "Applied Ethics", where she mentions both: the fact that scientists may conclude the child is conscious some time before birth, and her stance that birth is the place to draw the line.]

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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.

A legal judgement is something that can be made by individuals. States are not magic entities with the power to make laws. They are merely the most able to enforce them. That was the point I was attempting to make with the questions you marked as "non-sequitur".

Edited by andre_sanchez
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How exactly is the embryo different than the newborn infant?

I already answered this but to reiterate, the newborn infant was kept by its mother for over nine months and is substantially more developed. The embryo has been in existence for less than three months.

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?

Defending an individual's rights is always pro-life. The issue in the event of an accident is if the individual can recover to the extent that he can still function as a human being, that is, still have a properly functioning brain, then he still has his rights, even if he is temporarily incapacitated. However, if the individual suffers irreparable brain damage, such as what occurred in the unfortunate case of Terri Schiavo, then he is no longer a human being.

Moreover, rights are not gained or lossed depending on if an individual is currently flourishing. Even recreational drug addicts still have individual rights, despite being repulsive and self-destructive human beings. Instead, rights stem from what freedoms the typical individual should have in a social context to allow for the long-term (I forgot to mention this important adjective earlier) flourishing of individuals, as humans. We cannot base a discussion of rights on unfortunate aberrations such as those injured in automobile accidents. If the vast majority of individuals were victims, then there would be no long-term survival of human civilization.

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".

You have attacked a strawman several times, one of which I have quoted, that incorrectly presupposes my argument stemmed from Hedonism. I need not respond further to any of these.

Hysterectomies do.

No, but they require the woman to permanently remove part of her uterus. It is a gross injustice to force a woman to choose between surgically transforming herself to prevent unwanted pregnancies and being forced to carry all pregnancies to birth. Especially when there is a safe procedures for terminating unwanted pregnancies that can be performed within the first few months of gestation.

Carrying embryos to birth is a fundamental requirement of life.

No, this is not a fundamental requirement of the impregnated woman's life.

Again, if you want to make serious progress on this issue, focus on arguing why a zygote/embryo/fetus has a right to life using higher principles. This is not self-evident.

Edited by DarkWaters
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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.

You disengenously mix different uses of the term 'wake up' if a man is hit by a truck and his neo-cortex is destroyed, there is no possible way in which he can wake up, regardless of medical technology. He is dead. This is clearly different from a man who is hit by a truck and has severe trauma to his torso and is unable to sustain conscioussness because of limited blood flow, his personality remains intact. Making a brain living person brain dead certainly is a crime, you are turning them from a person, into a non-person, you are killing them. Making a brean dead person into a merely dead person is not a crime.

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.

Exactly, that is what a fetus is. We do not charge doctors with murder when they euthenize brain dead patients because the patient is all ready dead, and was long ago. A fetus prior to developing the neo-cortex lacks the physiological mechanisms required for concioussness, it is in effect 'brain dead'

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You disengenously mix different uses of the term 'wake up' if a man is hit by a truck and his neo-cortex is destroyed, there is no possible way in which he can wake up, regardless of medical technology. He is dead. This is clearly different from a man who is hit by a truck and has severe trauma to his torso and is unable to sustain conscioussness because of limited blood flow,

Indeed, I agree with all that.

his personality remains intact. Making a brain living person brain dead certainly is a crime, you are turning them from a person, into a non-person, you are killing them. Making a brean dead person into a merely dead person is not a crime.

Exactly, that is what a fetus is. We do not charge doctors with murder when they euthenize brain dead patients because the patient is all ready dead, and was long ago. A fetus prior to developing the neo-cortex lacks the physiological mechanisms required for concioussness, it is in effect 'brain dead'

A fetus is not a brain dead person. The fundamental requirement of being brain dead, as opposed to being comatose, is that it is irreversible. Being in the state of a fetus is NOT irreversible. That is precisely the point. The fetus will grow and develop into a full grown adult, the brain dead person will not. YOU used to be a fetus. It is only because you were one, that you are now what you are.

Edited by andre_sanchez
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I already answered this but to reiterate, the newborn infant was kept by its mother for over nine months and is substantially more developed. The embryo has been in existence for less than three months.

Why is that relevant? More important, why is that a determining factor?

Defending an individual's rights is always pro-life. The issue in the event of an accident is if the individual can recover to the extent that he can still function as a human being, that is, still have a properly functioning brain, then he still has his rights, even if he is temporarily incapacitated.

That is precisely the state of a fetus.

However, if the individual suffers irreparable brain damage, such as what occurred in the unfortunate case of Terri Schiavo, then he is no longer a human being.

That is precisely NOT the state of a fetus. Further, in the case of Terri Schiavo, it WAS murder, because while the husband has no responsibility to take care of her, he has no right to determine if others can or cannot do so. The reason brain dead people do not need to be helped is not because "they are already dead", but because there is nothing you can do to help. You do not have a right to actually inflict harm on them, merely to withdraw support.

Moreover, rights are not gained or lossed depending on if an individual is currently flourishing. Even recreational drug addicts still have individual rights, despite being repulsive and self-destructive human beings. Instead, rights stem from what freedoms the typical individual should have in a social context to allow for the long-term (I forgot to mention this important adjective earlier) flourishing of individuals, as humans.

Exactly!

We cannot base a discussion of rights on unfortunate aberrations such as those injured in automobile accidents. If the vast majority of individuals were victims, then there would be no long-term survival of human civilization.

What?! That doesn't make any sense. We are not used aberrations to have a discussion about rights, we are using appropriately contextual examples to have a discussion about rights. Rights are not intrinsic. They are objective. They are based on concretes, not floating abstractions.

You have attacked a strawman several times, one of which I have quoted, that incorrectly presupposes my argument stemmed from Hedonism. I need not respond further to any of these.

If your argument is not based on hedonism, I have misunderstood it. Please restate it in a different manner.

No, but they require the woman to permanently remove part of her uterus. It is a gross injustice to force a woman to choose between surgically transforming herself to prevent unwanted pregnancies and being forced to carry all pregnancies to birth. Especially when there is a safe procedures for terminating unwanted pregnancies that can be performed within the first few months of gestation.

It's only safe for her, it is fatal to the fetus. There is a risk in driving that you might hit someone. You cannot avoid this risk unless you don't drive. It is not a gross injustice to make people choose between driving, and accepting the risks involved in driving. What -is- a gross injustice is to make the actual victim, the one being killed, into a sacrificial lamb.

No, this is not a fundamental requirement of the impregnated woman's life.

It is, in fact. She began her life as a fetus. If her mother had not helped her, she would be dead. You would be dead. I would be dead. All human beings require this. I repeat, ALL human beings, require this. It is not a freak occurence.

Again, if you want to make serious progress on this issue, focus on arguing why a zygote/embryo/fetus has a right to life using higher principles. This is not self-evident.

I have, actually. The fundamental nature of a fetus is the same as that of any other human. While the nature of an isolated egg or sperm is to die, just like skin cells, when they join they become something else. The nature of a that something else is to grow into a healthy human being, and this does not even require the active cooperation of the mother, she could be asleep the whole pregnancy. The fetus is merely using the only resources it has available. If after an earthquake you were stuck in someone else's apartment, unable to leave, with nothing but their food to eat, you are being neither a parasite nor a thief by eating it in order to stay alive.

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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.

In summary, about half of all abortions happen within 8 weeks. About 90% were at 12 weeks or less.

RU 486 (Mifeprex) is an option for up to 8 weeks of pregnancy or less. It is a form of chemical abortion caused by the combination of two medications: mifepristone and misoprostol.

Up until this point it is still considered an embryo (it is only 2 inches long from top to bottom). It is after 8 weeks that it starts being called a fetus.

In IVF clinics hundreds of thousands of embryos are being put in deep-freeze - most of which do not "survive" thawing process. In addition, there are hundreds of thousands of additional unused embryos that are actively destroyed every year (down the drain).

I find it very interesting that pro-life demonstrations are not directed at the labs that have "killed" these massive numbers of embryos. Instead their attention has been concentrated on:

-the few dozen embryos whose stem cells were removed and used to create cultures for medical research (those embryoes do come from IVF clinics).

-wanting to take away women's right to have a control over their reproductive life (which means over their life)

Furthermore, it is estimated that up to 50% of all embryos are aborted spontaneously before the woman knows she is pregnant. Among known pregnancies, the rate of recorded spontanous abortion is approximately 10% and usually occurs between the 7th and 12th weeks of pregnancy.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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Furthermore, it is estimated that up to 50% of all embryos are aborted spontaneously before the woman knows she is pregnant. Among known pregnancies, the rate of recorded spontanous abortion is approximately 10% and usually occurs between the 7th and 12th weeks of pregnancy.

Just for clarification, do you mean the embryo dies without human intervention?

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Just for clarification, do you mean the embryo dies without human intervention?

Reasons may be various (internal to the embryo or external). Should we fault a woman for running toward a bus stop within that time period, for example? What if that was the cause? Would that classify, according to pro-lifers, as negligence causing death? If rights start at conception then it should be. They are not consistant aren't they?

Anyway this was not the heart of my post. Just some background info.

Fundamentally, this is about protecting life as much as environmentalism is about protecting the environment. The goal is quiet different.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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A legal judgement is something that can be made by individuals. States are not magic entities with the power to make laws. They are merely the most able to enforce them. That was the point I was attempting to make with the questions you marked as "non-sequitur".

But you made no point at all with that claim. I honestly don't think I can further this discussion with you if you 1) refute claims I didn't make (I never said anything about a state or a country being magical) and 2) you continue to make up the definitions of your terms as you go along (like how you make up definitions for murder and legal).

You can't claim to have made any point because we are apparently not talking about the same thing. I'm talking about the way things are (the facts) and you are talking about the way you want things to be (your wishes).

At this point I'll let my argument stand as is.

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RU 486 (Mifeprex) is an option for up to 8 weeks of pregnancy or less.
Thanks for the info, Sophia.

I now realize that folks who say it must be used within 72 hours are speaking of stopping the procress before the embryo implants in the wall of the uterus. News articles and blogs speak of "morning after pill" and "emergency contraception" and mention the 72-hour limit. I wonder if many of the authors know that it can be used to terminate a pregnancy for 8 weeks, or whether they knew that but were consciously drawing a distinction between terminating a pregnancy versus "preventing" it.

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I think our fundamental disagreement is on what rights, if any, a zygote/embryo/fetus has. That being said, I am not going to respond to other disagreements we may have that I think reduces to this, largely in the interest of time.

It's only safe for her, it is fatal to the fetus. There is a risk in driving that you might hit someone. You cannot avoid this risk unless you don't drive. It is not a gross injustice to make people choose between driving, and accepting the risks involved in driving. What -is- a gross injustice is to make the actual victim, the one being killed, into a sacrificial lamb.

I think this is an invalid analogy. Yes, I agree that the driver is responsible for his actions if he is at fault for injuring a pedestrian with his vehicle. However, although the victim is rightfully entitled to a substantial number of benefits that are objectively determined from the extent of the afflicted injury, he is not morally entitled to receiving an indefinite amount benefits at the driver's expense. In other words, we can objectively say that there exists a limit to the obligations of the driver towards the accident victim.

Similarly, yes, a pregnant woman who had consensual intercourse voluntarily engaged in actions that resulted in her pregnancy However, I still perceive that to automatically force her to carry the child to birth greatly exceeds her moral obligation to the embryo/fetus.

It is, in fact. She began her life as a fetus. If her mother had not helped her, she would be dead. You would be dead. I would be dead. All human beings require this. I repeat, ALL human beings, require this. It is not a freak occurrence.

This is not what I was referring to. Yes, every individual living today required their biological or surrogate mother to carry them to birth. However, I see no reasoning as to why this implies that it is a fundamental requirement of a woman's life for her to carry every pregnancy she acquires to birth regardless of her situation.

Anyway, I still imagine that you strongly disagree with all of the above. However, unless if you have a new twist to a counter argument, we might as well agree to end the discussion here, lest we repeat our same fundamental arguments indefinitely but with different analogies.

Edited by DarkWaters
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DarkWaters,

A couple of questions:

1. Can you tell me what the fundamental difference between a fetus and a baby is?

2. Can you tell me what the fundamental difference between a fetus and a young child is?

3. Can you tell me what the fundamental difference between a fetus and a comatose (not braindead) person is?

I have seen no answer to this. The morality of abortion aside, I believe your argument in favour of it is contradictory, and therefore incorrect. Do you support the right to commit infanticide? If you do, then we can discuss the matter with that in mind. If not, you have to explain the difference. Specificaly, you have to explain what grants babies and young children rights and why that does not apply to a fetus.

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For me the decision is entirely personal, for the woman only, and the government must stay outside. The fetus originate and exists trhough and inside its mother, terminating the pregnancy is an exclusive choice of her.

The big responsibility is not towards a month old fetus but towards commiting to raise a child. If you're not, then there's no reason to continue the pregnancy.

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...1. Can you tell me what the fundamental difference between a fetus and a baby is?... a young child is? ... a comatose (not braindead) person is?
One is a human being and the other will become one if allowed. On the other hand, they're both made up of atoms, so maybe there's no "fundamental" difference.
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One is a human being and the other will become one if allowed. On the other hand, they're both made up of atoms, so maybe there's no "fundamental" difference.

You have to explain why a "baby/young child/comatose patient" is a human being, and why the term does not apply to a fetus. It's not enough to make a statement.

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You have to explain why a "baby/young child/comatose patient" is a human being, and why the term does not apply to a fetus. It's not enough to make a statement.
Human beings have eyes, brains, legs, they breath, they observe, they are born, they think, they have names, they make sounds,... comatose ones once did most of those things, so they're comatose human beings. A fetus something that is growing into a human being. It is not that difficult. However, that's neither here nor there, because none of that proves or disproves that human beings ought to have a right to life.
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Human beings have eyes,

If I cut off your eyes, are you then not a human being? A bee has eyes, is it a human being? Please stick to essentials. Having an eye is irrelevant.

brains,

A bee has a brain and eyes. Is it a human being? This element however is at least essential (so far as we understand the mind).

legs,

If I cut off your legs, are you then not a human being? Bees have legs, brains and eyes, are they human beings? Please stick to essentials.

they breath,

While I think it would be incorrect to make "breathing" an essential component of being human, I suppose the claim is fair in the sense that humans need oxygen in order to power their bodies. Bees breathe, have legs, have brains and have eyes, are they human beings?

they observe,

In the sense that they perceive the world through their senses, yes, it's fair to say that is an essential requirement of being human. Bees observe, breathe, have legs, have brains and have eyes, are they human beings?

they are born,

You are defining a human being as a non-fetus. Birth is an event, not an attribute. Nonetheless, bees are born, observe, breathe, have legs, have brains and have eyes, are they human beings?

they think,

Can you please define "think" in a way that applies to babies, yet not to animals or a fetus. If you believe an 8 month old unborn fetus is still to be regarded as a fetus, please use him and if not, please use the highest level of development you believe a homo sapiens can reach while still being classified as a fetus.

they have names,

My dog has a name, and in fact, bees are born, observe, breathe, have legs, have brains and have eyes, and if someone names them (babies do not name themselves, do they?) they have a name, are they human beings?

they make sounds,...

Bees make sounds, are born, observe, breathe, have legs, have brains and have eyes, and if someone names them (babies do not name themselves, do they?) they have a name, are they human beings?

The only attribute you have listed that bees are unable to meet, is think. In a certain sense, bees even meet that. You would have to define "think" so that it is above the capacity of bees, and once you manage to get over that, there is a large number of other non-human animals with greater capacities. In fact, a baby does not seem to be any more capable of "thought" than a grown monkey, dolphin, or any number of animals. If you have evidence to the contrary, please provide it.

comatose ones once did most of those things, so they're comatose human beings.

Is a comatose human being NOT a human being?

A fetus something that is growing into a human being.

So to be clear, babies, young children and comatose patients all meet the definition of a human being, correct?

However, that's neither here nor there, because none of that proves or disproves that human beings ought to have a right to life.

Indead, it does not. This is about separating at a fundamental level, a fetus from a baby. Otherwise, they need to be treated the same. What rights a baby has is not relevant to the question of a fetus being, or not being, fundamentaly the same as a baby.

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Obviously my list was not exhaustive. You could add more: a nose, two hands, two legs, twenty digits. I have no idea what you mean by "fundamental". A human being does not reduce to something like "rational faculty", but nor does it reduce to "fertilized egg". All this is completely besides the point really, isn't it? We use terms like "embryo", "fetus" and "human being" as distinct biological stages for a reason. If you classify them all under one concept, it really does not matter whether you use the term "human being" for that wider concept. So, if you call a fertilized egg a "human being" that really does not make any difference to anything. It simply means you're using the term "human being" for a concept for which that term is not normally used. Just calling something a human being does not imply that it should have rights. If one adopts your terms, it simply means that a certain category of entities that you are terming human beings, should not have rights.

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