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Babies are not "self-sustaining entities"---if they aren't sustained by parents, they will die. Are you saying, then, that babies aren't human?

No, I am saying that essentially, anything outside of the womb is self-sustaining. A baby breathes, digests, and lives for itself. It is a separate functioning entity and therefore is a human being.

If you'll notice, many adults are not "self-sustaining" by the definition you implied, so I am left to believe you must have been trying to avoid the issue.

Also, what do you mean by a "potential" human? Are you suggesting that the fetus has a potential to turn out as a dog, or a fish?

Obviously not. Are you being evasive or are you genuine?

If you are indeed serious, then by potential, I meant "capable of being, but not yet in existence." Potential, as opposed to actual.

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ex_banana-eater,

You wrote: "Life is a continuum, but a potential human does not have the rights of an actual human. A living human is a self-sustaining entity, so a fetus is not a living human, and potentially being one does not mean to treat it as if it were one."

Babies are not "self-sustaining entities"---if they aren't sustained by parents, they will die. Are you saying, then, that babies aren't human?

Also, what do you mean by a "potential" human? Are you suggesting that the fetus has a potential to turn out as a dog, or a fish?

I've always had a problem trying to understand an Objectivist deliniation between a "potential human" and a human. At this point, I'll have to agree with you, Sherlock: so far, I haven't seen any evidence that proves where the fetus ends and the human being begins. I'm inclined to take the position that the human being begins with the fetus: the first stage of development of the human being.

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Dominique,

You wrote: "The embryo does not grow into a baby on it's own. Each embryo must rely on the mother's body for it's life giving sustenance to grow until it is viable. The embryo itself is only part of the equation. So by your own logic: an embryo is not a person, nor is a placenta, they do not grow into humans on their own, and so are not "potential persons"

But you are making implications (or creating conditions) that I did not: I never posited that an embryo is a person solely because it has its own distinct DNA, but used the fact that it does to distinguish it from a sperm, an egg, or an organ of the mother's body. Of course the embryo depends on its mother's body, but that dependency doesn't take away from its personhood, any more than an infant's dependency on removes its personhood.

You wrote: "The emphasis I added in your top quote is to point out the way you hold that seperate DNA is the mitigating factor. If you do not believe the DNA is what makes all the difference to you what is your argument?"

I used the distinctive DNA of an embryo to refute the idea that the fetus was something akin to an organ, sperm, or egg. Do you have an answer to that argument?

You asked: "So do you propose that the embryo and/or fetus are developing rationally in the womb? Is that your position? Embryo's have a *right* to host bodies? What is your position here? Are you arguing against Objectivism in general?"

Let me answer these briefly: 1) I did not speculate at all as to the "rationality" of the developing fetus. I merely observed that it develops---life is a continuum. 2) No. 3)What a strange thing to say---I have never heard of a "right" to occupy a womb. You'll have to explain this one to me. 4)No.

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But you are making implications (or creating conditions) that I did not: I never posited that an embryo is a person solely because it has its own distinct DNA, but used the fact that it does to distinguish it from a sperm, an egg, or an organ of the mother's body. Of course the embryo depends on its mother's body, but that dependency doesn't take away from its personhood, any more than an infant's dependency on removes its personhood.
Why not? These are (as ex-banana mentioned) two seperate types of dependency. An embryo cannot live outside of the mother's body.

I used the distinctive DNA of an embryo to refute the idea that the fetus was something akin to an organ, sperm, or egg. Do you have an answer to that argument?
Right, which is what your argument is based on. My answer is that the issue of DNA is arbitrary. It is still merely human tissue. Tissue has no rights.

You asked: "So do you propose that the embryo and/or fetus are developing rationally in the womb? Is that your position? Embryos have a *right* to host bodies? What is your position here? Are you arguing against Objectivism in general?"

Let me answer these briefly: 1) I did not speculate at all as to the "rationality" of the developing fetus. I merely observed that it develops---life is a continuum. 2) No.   3)What a strange thing to say---I have never heard of a "right" to occupy a womb. You'll have to explain this one to me. 4)No.

I'll respond in kind: 1)this is an arbitrary assertion. Noone contests that life is a continuum 2-3) Well then why are arguing for it? Where do you suppose the unwanted embryo be moved to? Where do you suppose it is in the first place? If embryos do not have a right to occupy a womb, then what pray tell is wrong with removing them?? 4) Just making sure, because you are certainly arguing against the right to life of women in favor of their biological ability to produce embryos, which is, fundamentally, advocating self-sacrifice of the woman for the sake of undeveloped tissue residing inside her own body. That appears to me on the face of it, an argument against the philosophy itself. Perhaps you could explain to me how your position does not deprive women of their right to life?

[edited to change posessive of embryo's to plural embryos (freudian slip?)]

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stephen_speicher,

You wrote: "Afterall, my claim is that a fetus is not a human being, since it is not an independent biological entity."

I'm not sure I agree with your definition of "human being". Specifically, I question the condition, "independent"---what do you mean by independent? If you mean self-sustaining, then infants, those in comas, etc. aren't human beings. If by "independent" you mean unattached to a mother, then it would be OK to kill an infant as long as its umbilical cord is still attached. It appears to me that your distinction really boils down to a change in location and relationship to the mother and the surrounding world (air and food). However, there are cases of the baby in the womb being alive when the mother is dead (I'm thinking here of the recent case of the woman who was killed and her baby ripped out while still alive). If the mother dies, and is no longer a living human being, then is that baby a human being while it remains alive in the womb? Does the fortunate accident (or hideous crime, in the case I mentioned)of being rescued from a dead womb confer "human being-ship" upon a previously non-human being?

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ex_banana-eater,

You wrote: "No, I am saying that essentially, anything outside of the womb is self-sustaining. A baby breathes, digests, and lives for itself. It is a separate functioning entity and therefore is a human being."

Premature babies most definitely do not meet your requirements and must be in incubators. Are they not human beings?

You wrote: "If you'll notice, many adults are not "self-sustaining" by the definition you implied, so I am left to believe you must have been trying to avoid the issue."

No, not at all---in fact, that simply bolsters my argument. Those who are in a coma are still human beings though they cannot sustain themselves but require outside asistance.

You wrote: "If you are indeed serious, then by potential, I meant "capable of being, but not yet in existence." Potential, as opposed to actual."

There are no potential beings that are actively growing into actual beings. The being is actual, the functioning is potential---how can something develop ("develop" is a function), as a fetus clearly does, unless it exists in the first place?

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Dominique,

You wrote: "An embryo cannot live outside of the mother's body."

Have you ever seen preemie babies? It is amazing how small (and young) they are; yet they can survive outside the womb, albeit with an incubator providing what the womb does. Are those preemies not human beings? Yet it's OK to kill a fetus in partial-birth abortion that is much, much older than those infants, and who probably could survive outside its mother's body. Your argument boils down to location and viability. What I am in the womb---a human being or non-human being---cannot be determined by what machines (incubators) exist outside the womb.

You wrote: "My answer is that the issue of DNA is arbitrary. It is still merely human tissue."

Sure, it's tissue. But whose? It's not an organ (the DNA shows that), but a growing, developing human being.

You wrote: "If embryos do not have a right to occupy a womb, then what pray tell is wrong with removing them??"

It is wrong because it kills an innocent human life.

You wrote: "Perhaps you could explain to me how your position does not deprive women of their right to life?"

Women do have a right to life---I just don't see why they (and they alone, with no regard for the father) have the right to take the life of another.

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Have you ever seen preemie babies? It is amazing how small (and young) they are; yet they can survive outside the womb, albeit with an incubator providing what the womb does. Are those preemies not human beings? Yet it's OK to kill a fetus in partial-birth abortion that is much, much older than those infants, and who probably could survive outside its mother's body. Your argument boils down to location and viability. What I am in the womb---a human being or non-human being---cannot be determined by what machines (incubators) exist outside the womb.
Are we arguing for the right to kill preemies in incubators? No, we are saying a woman has a right to her own body and to not allow any tissue to grow inside her if she does not wish for it to do so.

Sure, it's tissue. But whose? It's not an organ (the DNA shows that), but a growing, developing human being.
it's the mother's tissue as long as it is attached to her body.

You wrote: "If embryos do not have a right to occupy a womb, then what pray tell is wrong with removing them??"

It is wrong because it kills an innocent human life.

so they do have a right to occupy a womb then?

You wrote: "Perhaps you could explain to me how your position does not deprive women of their right to life?"

Women do have a right to life---I just don't see why they (and they alone, with no regard for the father) have the right to take the life of another.

I'm weary of this now, Rational Cop has already told you that all these refutations are disclosed prior in this thread. If there is something new, I will address it, but this is repetitive and boring. It is also offensive for you to continuously assert that women (my being a woman) are at the mercy of their biological functions. Until such time as the so called *pro-life* movement has established embryo nurseries where all unwanted embryoes, fetuses and whatever other types of tissue you'd like to *save* can be donated or sold, I will advocate a woman's right to terminate her pregnancies as she sees fit.

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stephen_speicher,

You wrote: "Afterall, my claim is that a fetus is not a human being, since it is not an independent biological entity."

I'm not sure I agree with your definition of "human being".

I did not state a definition of a human being; "independent biological entity" is what is meant as the "being" part of a human being.

Specifically, I question the condition, "independent"---what do you mean by independent?

I am referring to biologically independent, meaning an entity whose physical structure, biological structure, biological systems and regulatory functions are self-contained. A fetus is, physically, a part of a woman's body, an organism whose radically different physiological structure makes it biologically dependent on the physical system of which it is a part. For instance, the fetus lacks functional lungs and intestines, and it derives its oxygen from the placenta. This changes when the first breath is drawn at birth, when the respiratory circulation is shunted from the placenta to the lungs.

These are the essential facts which need to be addressed. And, please, I beseech you, put aside your borderline cases and focus on the essence of the issue. We define an issue by focusing on it essentials, not what happens on its fringe.

Also, just because you may not like the implications of facts, is no reason to reject those facts. If you accept the facts, you must eventually accept their implications, but you cannot go back and change the facts because you do not like the implications. So, for the moment forget about the consequences. Do you see why, because it is not a physically, biologically independent entity, that a fetus is not a human being?

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The new life begins when that distinct entity begins to develop, which is when it is conceived---how is that arbitrary?

The fertilized egg is only a "new" life in that the egg is now fertilized. It is not "new" in the sense that you mean--a new human being. There's no miraculous new life. It is the same living tissue which is still a part of the host, only now it is undergoing a process of change due to fertilization.

It isn't as if one moment there was one life, and now there are two (a new one). At no point yet has a new life been created. All that has happened is the host's egg was fertilized.

Upon conception, the egg and sperm unite and change into an embryo--not a human being. The embryo still has to change into a fetus before it can then change into a human being.

Biologically, an embryo and a human being are radically different. Anyone can see that. It is not a matter of irrelevant variations in skin color or intelligence, or meaningless differences in "location." It is a matter of major, fundamental differences in physical and mental development. On one hand, an embryo is physically and mentally dependent upon its creator. Without its creator, the embryo would die. Its development is completely dependent upon the body of which it is a part. On the other hand, a human being is physically and mentally independent from its creator--from its mother. A baby can be taken care of by someone else.

You say that an embryo can live outside the womb in a dish? Fine. But how are you going to get it out of the womb? By initiating force on the pregnant woman? Even if you get it out alive, that doesn't change the fact that up to the point where you extracted the embryo from the womb, it was dependent upon its creator. And as long as the embryo remains dependent upon its creator, it is not an independent human being. It is a dependent creation of a woman. It has no rights of its own.

To wrap up, a fertilized egg clearly is not a human being. That is a complete fantasy on your part--an arbitrary assertion. You have presented no objective evidence to support your claim. Human DNA does not equal a human being. And it won't ever equal a human being--no matter how hard you try. Human DNA is simply human DNA. It can exist in an embryo. It can exist on the floor of a barbershop. You have proven absolutely nothing with your DNA argument.

Again, you are focusing on DNA to the total exclusion of the entity of which DNA is only a part. Step back from the microscope for a minute or two and look at the human animal.

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Premature babies most definitely do not meet your requirements and must be in incubators. Are they not human beings?

They are separate functioning entities from their mothers. A premature baby is independently existing from a host organism, it is not a part of another being anymore.

No, not at all---in fact, that simply bolsters my argument. Those who are in a coma are still human beings though they cannot sustain themselves but require outside asistance.
Yes, they are human beings, not parts of ones, since they are independently living. I'm not saying that a man with a pacemaker is not alive, I'm saying a part of a mothers body is not a self-sustaining independent entity. For example, her hand does not have rights just as her fetus does not have rights.

There are no potential beings that are actively growing into actual beings. The being is actual, the functioning is potential---how can something develop ("develop" is a function), as a fetus clearly does, unless it exists in the first place?

It was never disputed that a fetus does not exist.

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Stephen,

Again, I appreciate your thoughtfulness (thankfully free of the rancor that characterizes some of the discussions I've had on this forum)

You wrote: "These are the essential facts which need to be addressed."

I am not disputing the facts you mention---they are simply reality. However, I don't see the difference between "developing human being" and "human being" providing the warrant to kill. With your definition providing the warrant, then partial-birth abortion is perfectly fine right up until natural labor has the feet out but the head still in the birth canal. You write, "Also, just because you may not like the implications of facts, is no reason to reject those facts. If you accept the facts, you must eventually accept their implications, but you cannot go back and change the facts because you do not like the implications", but I do in fact, reject this rationalization that permits partial-birth abortions. Many evil regimes have had very sophisticated rationalizations for declaring certain classes of persons as "non-persons" and thus worthy of killing. But I thank you for your clear exposition: I came onto this forum because, when I was younger, I thought of myself as an Objectivist. I had occasion to re-think some of my assumptions, and realized that I probably did not understand Objectivism fully for me to describe myself as such, and so came here for some clarification, which you and others have provided. This particular issue makes it crystal-clear to me that I am not an Objectivist, so that question is settled. Though I hope you won't mind if I stick around and throw in my two-cents' worth from time to time...

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Dominique,

You wrote: " No, we are saying a woman has a right to her own body and to not allow any tissue to grow inside her if she does not wish for it to do so."

This is a bit like someone saying, "I have a right to eat twelve pizzas and six quarts of ice cream a day, but I do not wish to become fat." Most abortions are simply an after-the-fact means of birth control: here's a hint: sex creates babies. That is its purpose. If you don't want babies, don't engage in the one act that is designed to create them. I have nothing but pity for victims of rape; or mothers whose pregnancies threaten their physical lives, and they face a difficult choice: if those people choose abortion, then I would still grieve the loss of the child involved, but could understand the action. But the vast majority (well over 90%) of abortions are done because two people stupidly engage in sex before they're ready to deal with the perfectly predictable outcome, and then decide to kill a human life instead of rising to the occasion. Have you seen ultrasounds of even very young fetuses? They have hands, eyes, a beating heart, fingerprints, etc...you can call it tissue if you wish, but tissue doesn't have a separate indentity from the body it's a part of, which a growing fetus certainly does. You're simply playing word games with reality.

You wrote: " it's the mother's tissue as long as it is attached to her body."

But it's not the mother's tissue, though she supplies its needs: it has its own DNA. If it were just tissue, it would have the same DNA as the mother. And are you saying, then, that it is OK to kill a newborn baby as long as the umbilical cord is still intact?

You wrote: " so they do have a right to occupy a womb then?"

This is so bizarre: an innocent human has a right to life. If you posit the question in this wierd way, which puts a developing child in the role of an enemy agent or illegal squatter, I don't know what to say to you. You have a strange concept of motherhood that is so utterly alien to mine, that I don't think we will be able to understand each other.

You wrote: "It is also offensive for you to continuously assert that women (my being a woman) are at the mercy of their biological functions."

No, I think that a responsible woman (and I am a woman too) is aware of the reality of her biological functions, and doesn't frivolously kill innocent humans because she chooses to engage frivolously in an activity that is designed to create babies.

You wrote: "Until such time as the so called *pro-life* movement has established embryo nurseries where all unwanted embryoes, fetuses and whatever other types of tissue you'd like to *save* can be donated or sold, I will advocate a woman's right to terminate her pregnancies as she sees fit."

None of this has anything to do with the morality of killing innocent humans. You can, in fact, substitute "Jews" for "unwanted embryoes, fetuses and whatever other types of tissue you'd like to *save*" and you have the "final solution" to another troublesome class of non-persons.

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Moderator's Note: After lengthy consideration and consultation with other moderators, I have decided to open a fresh thread on the Abortion topic. I have no intention (nor the right) to ban this topic altogether, and one should not assume that was my aim in closing the previous thread.

Rather, I will draw attention to two specific aspects of the forum rules (in addition to the one stated previously about redundant information) which I expect will be adhered to during the continuation of this discussion.

(1) This site supports discussion of (a) the principles of Objectivism, as defined by the works of Ayn Rand and supported by the Ayn Rand Institute, and; B. their application to various fields. Therefore participants must not use the website to spread ideas contrary to or unrelated to Objectivism.

This means that if a user attempts to promote a position on this topic in opposition to Objectivism and/or Objectivist principles, that user risks moderator action and / or the deletion of his/her content. This is not a forum to spread any ideology or opinion one might have on this matter.

(2) This forum will not tolerate posts which contain personal insults or are otherwise devoid of intellectual content.

Abortion is hot button topic which frequently generates high emotion and drama. Users that do not heed this rule will also risk moderator action and the deletion of his/her content.

Of course, all other forum rules apply as well. I only draw attention to those specific sections as I suspect the potential exists that they will be the most likely rules to be violated.

That said, you may resume your normally scheduled discussions.

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The anti-abortion argument rests on the notion that rights accrue to human life, as opposed to human beings. According to this view, an embryo has the same rights as the woman carrying it, including the right to life.

But what is the right to life?

Objectivism does not merely assert that man has rights; nor does it claim that a creator endows man with rights. Instead, the Objectivist theory of rights starts with a fact: man is a rational being. He survives by thinking, producing what he needs to survive, and by keeping and/or trading what he has produced.

The fact of man’s identity as a rational being means he has certain fundamental requirements – the most fundamental of which is that he must be free from the initiation of force by others. The concept of rights is a means of defining and asserting this requirement vis-à-vis other men.

This, then, is the meaning of the right to life: it is the right to initiate and sustain a process of thought to guide a process of production that creates the values (property) needed to sustain his life.

Observe the context in which rights have meaning: the coexistence of independent, rational, volitional beings that survive by initiating thought-directed, goal-oriented action. This situation creates the need to define the proper relationship between such beings. It is this context that creates the need for the concept of rights.

(Children are a special case. Though at first they do not initiate life-sustaining action at a conceptual level, at the moment of birth they become independent beings, capable of consciousness, volition and rationality, their bodies performing all of the biological processes needed to sustain life — breathing their own air, processing their own food, cleansing their own blood, etc. They are now biologically independent human beings, which entitles them to be free of the initiation of force and more: it entitles them to the parent’s material support.)

This theory is discussed in greater detail by Miss Rand in her essay “Man’s Rights” in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. I offer this bare-bones version of it as the background for a question to those who oppose abortion.

My question is this: given the preceding derivation of the principle of man’s rights, how do you apply that principle to a fetus – an entity that is completely dependent on the mother’s physiology and is incapable of consciousness, of rationality, of volition, of initiating any sort of action.

I challenge those opposed to abortion to show us why such an entity possess the right to life as defined above. Please justify the notion that the right to life can be construed to include the right to use another person’s body against their will.

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... I think that a responsible woman (and I am a woman too) is aware of the reality of her biological functions, and doesn't frivolously kill innocent humans because she chooses to engage frivolously in an activity that is designed to create babies.

You have not proven that an embryo is a human being. You continue to evade the real debate, and now you are left with mere ad hominem attacks on your opponents.

Here you are basically saying that women who have an abortion didn't take sex seriously, therefore abortion is wrong. However, whether someone is sexually frivolous has no bearing on the question at hand: is an embryo a human being?

None of this has anything to do with the morality of killing innocent humans. You can, in fact, substitute "Jews" for "unwanted embryoes, fetuses and whatever other types of tissue you'd like to *save*" and you have the "final solution" to another troublesome class of non-persons.

Here again you begin with the fantasy that an embryo is a human being. Then you imply that people who have abortions are like Jew-killers during the holocaust. What does this have to do with the question at hand: is an embryo a human being?

Your DNA argument has been countered and dismissed. I submit that all you have left are personal attacks against us.

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I hesitate to post in this topic because of its divisive nature, but I need to post more and I am interested in the discussion so I thought I would give it a try. For me, it is really irrelevant if an embryo is a human being or not (though in my opinion it is not.) Even if it is a human being, it has no right to stay in the mother's body, and so she has every right to remove it, even if this causes death (as it will in any realistic case.) I am a human being, and I certainly have no right to any part of someone else's body, so I can't see that any unborn baby would have this right. The only thing I am uncertain about would be a case where a woman wanted an abortion so late in her pregnancy that the fetus could survive on its own (except in the case of medical necessity, where it is obvious to me that she has the right to an abortion.) However, such a situation would be incredibly rare so it is not really relevant to the broader discussion (though if anyone has an opinion on this case I would be interested to hear it, as I have not come to a conclusion yet.)

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Scientist,

Your post paints a rather odd picture of the relationship between mother and offspring. The embryo does not magically appear in the mother's womb as an illegal squatter, but instead is the completely predictable consequence of having sex, the purpose of which is to produce babies. If a woman doesn't want to have a baby, she ought not to engage in the activity that produces them. If I were to take your approach and apply it to other aspects of human behavior, I could say, then, that despite eating a dozen pizzas and 6 quarts of ice cream a day, fat cells do not have a "right" to inhabit my body.

Also, why do you suppose a human embryo is not a human being? Is it not a human? If so, please tell me how it is that you arrive at that conclusion. Is it not a being? Please tell me how you arrive at that conclusion. When does an embryo, then, become a human being? Do brain waves; heartbeat; fingerprints, etc. enter into your conclusion of what is and what is not a human being? I need more information in order to have a discussion.

Also, you wrote: "The only thing I am uncertain about would be a case where a woman wanted an abortion so late in her pregnancy that the fetus could survive on its own."..."However, such a situation would be incredibly rare so it is not really relevant to the broader discussion"

This is partial birth abortion. And no, it is not rare.

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Mr.Swig,

You wrote: "You have not proven that an embryo is a human being. You continue to evade the real debate, and now you are left with mere ad hominem attacks on your opponents."

No, it's simply that you won't accept the evidence I do offer that an individual's life is a continuum beginning at conception. And I am not engaging in ad hominem attacks. I was not able to address your last post to me because the thread was closed down, but that wasn't because you had presented convincing arguments against my position.

You wrote: "Here you are basically saying that women who have an abortion didn't take sex seriously, therefore abortion is wrong."

No, I'm not saying that. I am saying that abortion is wrong because it takes the life of an innocent human being.

You wrote: "However, whether someone is sexually frivolous has no bearing on the question at hand: is an embryo a human being?"

I agree. I mention the irresponsibility aspect merely to counter the odd concept (advanced by Scientist and Dominique) that the embryo is a kind of illegal squatter, instead of being what it is: the logical consequence of engaging in the activity designed to produce them. Evading responsibility for one's actions is not something I will ever sanction.

You wrote: "Here again you begin with the fantasy that an embryo is a human being."

Yup, I do maintain that, and you haven't given me any reason to think otherwise.

You wrote: "Then you imply that people who have abortions are like Jew-killers during the holocaust."

Yup, right again: abortions are the result of a group of humans (the born) deciding that another group of humans (the unborn) are non-persons or sub-humans, just as the Nazis did. The predictable result of these sorts of distinctions is a pro-killing policy.

You wrote: "Your DNA argument has been countered and dismissed."

No, far from it! I think you might want to consult your basic biology testbooks. I didn't respond to your last post on the previous thread, but that was only because the thread was closed, not because I couldn't counter your replies.

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I could say, then, that despite eating a dozen pizzas and 6 quarts of ice cream a day, fat cells do not have a "right" to inhabit my body.
This is a specious argument. Rights pertain only to one class of objects: humans. Fat cells can no more have "rights" than rocks can. Argument by analogy isn't very useful.

This is partial birth abortion. And no, it is not rare.

So-called "partial-birth" abortions are performed when the fetus is a danger to the mother's continued life and the head is too large to easily pass through the birth canal. The other alternative, dismembering the fetus inside the womb puts the life of the woman in serious jeopardy.

I think you might want to consult your basic biology testbooks.

The right to life is not based on biology. Again, your argument is specious. A human being is not a genetic code. If this were true, you could treat identical twins as interchangeable parts. "Oh, I killed one of the twins, but that's okay . . . his genetic code is still alive!" Bah.

A potential human is not a human. Even children enjoy fewer rights than adults, and no ADULT has the right to demand support at the expense of another if that adult doesn't wish to provide it. Are you saying that a potential human that isn't even born yet enjoys greater rights than a full adult? Bah again.

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Sherlock, your problem rests with your method of definition. Embryos are indeed not simply another group of humans, comparable to Jews, Blacks, or Engineers. They are potential human beings. Using your logic, one could argue that I am murdering dozens of potential humans every week by not impregnating every female I meet.

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No, it's simply that you won't accept the evidence I do offer that an individual's life is a continuum beginning at conception.

...I am saying that abortion is wrong because it takes the life of an innocent human being.

... I mention the irresponsibility aspect merely to counter the odd concept (advanced by Scientist and Dominique) that the embryo is a kind of illegal squatter, instead of being what it is: the logical consequence of engaging in the activity designed to produce them. Evading responsibility for one's actions is not something I will ever sanction.

...abortions are the result of a group of humans (the born) deciding that another group of humans (the unborn) are non-persons or sub-humans, just as the Nazis did. The predictable result of these sorts of distinctions is a pro-killing policy.

Sherlock, please see the first post of this thread which clearly states:

(1) This site supports discussion of (a) the principles of Objectivism, as defined by the works of Ayn Rand and supported by the Ayn Rand Institute, and; B. their application to various fields. Therefore participants must not use the website to spread ideas contrary to or unrelated to Objectivism.

This means that if a user attempts to promote a position on this topic in opposition to Objectivism and/or Objectivist principles, that user risks moderator action and / or the deletion of his/her content. This is not a forum to spread any ideology or opinion one might have on this matter.

And keep in mind Ayn Rand's statements regarding abortion, clearly stated under the heading for Abortion in the Ayn Rand Lexicon:

An embryo has no rights. [snip]A child cannot acquire and rights until it is born. The living take precedence over the not-yet-living (or the unborn)

Abortion is a moral right-which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body? ["Of Living Death" TO Oct 1968]

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. [snip]Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, ie the nonliving, the anti abortionists obliterate the rights of the living: the right of young people to set the course of their own lives. [snip] Procreation is not a duty: human beings are not stock-farm animals. For conscientious persons, an unwanted pregnancy is a disaster;  to oppose it's 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 fufillment to living human beings.["A last Survey" ARL IV 2,3]

The question of abortion involves much more that the termination of a pregnancy: it is a question of the entire life of the parents. As I have said before, parenthood is an enormous responsibility for young people who are ambitious and struggling, but poor: particularly is they are intelligent and conscientious enough not to abandon their child on a doorstep nor to surrender it to adoption. For such young people, pregnancy is a death sentence: parenthood would force them to give up their future, and condemn them to a life of hopeless drudgery, of slavery to a child's physical and financial needs. The situation of an unwed mother, abandoned by her lover, is even worse.

I cannot quite imagine the state of mind of a person who would wish to condemn a fellow human being to such a horror. I cannot project the degree of hatred required to make those women run around in crusades against abortion. Hatred is what they certainly project, not love for embryos, which is a piece of nonsense no one could experience, but hatred, a virulent hatred for an unnamed object. Judging by the degree of those women's intensity, I would say that it is an issue of self-esteem and that their fear is metaphysical. Their hatred is directed against human beings as such, against the mind, against reason, against ambition, against success, against love, against any value that brings happiness to human life. In compliance with the dishonesty that dominates today's intellectual field, they call themselves "Pro-Life"

By what right does anyone claim the power to dispose of the lives of others and to dictate their personal choices ["The age of Mediocrity", TO June 1981]

(Edited by me to fix some spelling errors and to make the quotes more complete. They are still shortened by me to save space, but I believe they are still contextually accurate. The full versions can always be read Here )

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If we are to accept everything Ayn Rand said without subjecting it to analysis and discussion then there's little point in having this forum. Sherlock's questions are fine as long as he (she?) is willing to listen to the reasons for the answer.

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