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Abortion Question

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Jacob86
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To my knowledge this particular aspect of the issue of abortion has not been discussed yet- but if it has, please point me in the direction and ignore this thread. :)

I am posting under Ethics rather than Politics because I'm more concerned with the basic ethics of this issue upon which political decisions are based.

As far as I can tell most of the people on the "pro-abortion" side seem to view the fetus as a parasitic invader into a woman's body and thus the ethical legitimacy of aborting it.

However, (excluding extremely rare instances such as rape) it is sort of common knowledge that intercourse leads to pregnancy apart from effective intervention. Therefore, at the very least, isn't abortion a rather crude form of abdicating/evading one's responsibilities?

If you know that intercourse naturally leads to pregnancy and you proceed to engage in intercourse while expecting to avoid pregnancy, aren't you attempting to evade a metaphysical reality of nature?

Isn't it also rather absurd to refer to a fetus as a parasitic invader when you knowingly engaged in an action which resulted in the "parasite" forming in your body? And if this is legitimate, why is it not also legitimate to turn around and take legal action against the male who introduced the necessary half of the parasite into your body (in spite of the fact that the intercourse was consensual)?

I am not putting this forward as a FULL argument against abortion, but rather as a response to an irrational attitude which seems to support abortion.

Additionally though, can anyone point me in the direction of a thread/article from an Objectivist position which clearly and concisely answers the question about WHEN exactly the "fetus" passes from "parasite" with no rights to "human" with rights?? And what the rational justification is for such a position on the distinction between parasitic fetus and human child?

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To my knowledge this particular aspect of the issue of abortion has not been discussed yet- but if it has, please point me in the direction and ignore this thread. :)

I am posting under Ethics rather than Politics because I'm more concerned with the basic ethics of this issue upon which political decisions are based.

As far as I can tell most of the people on the "pro-abortion" side seem to view the fetus as a parasitic invader into a woman's body and thus the ethical legitimacy of aborting it.

However, (excluding extremely rare instances such as rape) it is sort of common knowledge that intercourse leads to pregnancy apart from effective intervention. Therefore, at the very least, isn't abortion a rather crude form of abdicating/evading one's responsibilities?

No.

If you know that intercourse naturally leads to pregnancy and you proceed to engage in intercourse while expecting to avoid pregnancy, aren't you attempting to evade a metaphysical reality of nature?

No.

Isn't it also rather absurd to refer to a fetus as a parasitic invader when you knowingly engaged in an action which resulted in the "parasite" forming in your body? And if this is legitimate, why is it not also legitimate to turn around and take legal action against the male who introduced the necessary half of the parasite into your body (in spite of the fact that the intercourse was consensual)?

Can't comment without specific citations of what you are talking about. Don't understand the second part of your question

I am not putting this forward as a FULL argument against abortion, but rather as a response to an irrational attitude which seems to support abortion.

Additionally though, can anyone point me in the direction of a thread/article from an Objectivist position which clearly and concisely answers the question about WHEN exactly the "fetus" passes from "parasite" with no rights to "human" with rights?? And what the rational justification is for such a position on the distinction between parasitic fetus and human child?

The entity passes from fetus without rights to baby with rights, i.e., it moves from part of a woman to an independent being, when it is born. The justification is observation of this fact combined with grasping what the concept 'rights' means and what type of entity the concept applies to.

Edited by A is A
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However, (excluding extremely rare instances such as rape) it is sort of common knowledge that intercourse leads to pregnancy apart from effective intervention. Therefore, at the very least, isn't abortion a rather crude form of abdicating/evading one's responsibilities?

If you know that intercourse naturally leads to pregnancy and you proceed to engage in intercourse while expecting to avoid pregnancy, aren't you attempting to evade a metaphysical reality of nature?

This same logic would result in the conclusion that a smoker should not treat his lung cancer, because "he earned it." The fact is, we all take actions with risks every day, and when those risks actually obtain, we should be perfectly free to deal with the consequences in whatever way we see fit. The fact is, even people who make this "responsibility" argument about abortion wouldn't dream of making it in analogous cases which don't involve sex. The basics of the situation are: you are taking an action which involves the risk of something unpleasant happening, and you are taking medical action to alter the unpleasant situation if it occurs. The same basic structure applies to the smoker who treats his lung cancer, or to the fast food junkie who seeks medical attention when he has a heart attack. Or consider the very closely analogous case of a person catching syphilis or gonorrhea by having sex, and then going to a doctor to cure it. Would you also tell these people to just "deal with it?"

I'd imagine not, and neither would most of the people who make the responsibility argument. However, they are willing to make the argument in the case of abortion because of their additional premises about the immorality of abortion. This argument fundamentally relies on the premise that abortion is already "different" and "immoral" while other methods of dealing with consequences are not. Thus, it cannot be used to provide or support an argument against abortion.

Also, you're attempting to equivocate with the term "evade" to make your argument sound more appealing to Objectivists. Evasion as the core vice means unfocusing your mind and refusing to think about reality or consequences. Your example individual does not evade in this sense when she gets an abortion. She may have done this when she was having sex and not thinking about the consequences, but the act of getting an abortion is one of accepting reality (the reality that she's pregnant) and actually doing something about it. She's only evading in the sense of dodging or avoiding the situation through willful action; she's not evading in the sense of refusing to think about what she's done and what could happen. There is absolutely nothing wrong with evading in the sense that you use the word; in fact, it's a profoundly moral action to recognize the reality of a situation and to take conscious steps to improve that situation for oneself.

As for all that parasite talk, I think you've incorrectly identified that as a core of the pro-abortion side. I feel like it's mostly used to attempt to shock the other side into taking a second look at the way they view a fetus. It is really incidental to the argument itself.

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However, (excluding extremely rare instances such as rape)

Not to take this off topic.. but in the midst of all the other flawed logic of your argument which has already been handled well by Dante I feel the need to point out that rape is not at all rare. Look up sexual assault statistics. Rape is tragically common.

As of 2009 it is estimated that less than 40% of rapes are reported to the police. Even so statistics average 1.3 sexual assaults a minute in the US. This does not even factor in sexual abuse of children.

Thus do I end my public service announcement.

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Not to take this off topic.. but in the midst of all the other flawed logic of your argument which has already been handled well by Dante I feel the need to point out that rape is not at all rare. Look up sexual assault statistics. Rape is tragically common.

As of 2009 it is estimated that less than 40% of rapes are reported to the police. Even so statistics average 1.3 sexual assaults a minute in the US. This does not even factor in sexual abuse of children.

Thus do I end my public service announcement.

in fairness, one must consider not only how many rapes occur, but how many rapes result in pregnancy. That would be a more relevant statistic. However, I agree with you that rape is not that rare.

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This same logic would result in the conclusion that a smoker should not treat his lung cancer, because "he earned it." The fact is, we all take actions with risks every day, and when those risks actually obtain, we should be perfectly free to deal with the consequences in whatever way we see fit. The fact is, even people who make this "responsibility" argument about abortion wouldn't dream of making it in analogous cases which don't involve sex. The basics of the situation are: you are taking an action which involves the risk of something unpleasant happening, and you are taking medical action to alter the unpleasant situation if it occurs. The same basic structure applies to the smoker who treats his lung cancer, or to the fast food junkie who seeks medical attention when he has a heart attack. Or consider the very closely analogous case of a person catching syphilis or gonorrhea by having sex, and then going to a doctor to cure it. Would you also tell these people to just "deal with it?"

I'd imagine not, and neither would most of the people who make the responsibility argument. However, they are willing to make the argument in the case of abortion because of their additional premises about the immorality of abortion. This argument fundamentally relies on the premise that abortion is already "different" and "immoral" while other methods of dealing with consequences are not. Thus, it cannot be used to provide or support an argument against abortion.

Also, you're attempting to equivocate with the term "evade" to make your argument sound more appealing to Objectivists. Evasion as the core vice means unfocusing your mind and refusing to think about reality or consequences. Your example individual does not evade in this sense when she gets an abortion. She may have done this when she was having sex and not thinking about the consequences, but the act of getting an abortion is one of accepting reality (the reality that she's pregnant) and actually doing something about it. She's only evading in the sense of dodging or avoiding the situation through willful action; she's not evading in the sense of refusing to think about what she's done and what could happen. There is absolutely nothing wrong with evading in the sense that you use the word; in fact, it's a profoundly moral action to recognize the reality of a situation and to take conscious steps to improve that situation for oneself.

As for all that parasite talk, I think you've incorrectly identified that as a core of the pro-abortion side. I feel like it's mostly used to attempt to shock the other side into taking a second look at the way they view a fetus. It is really incidental to the argument itself.

I'd buy your cancer analogy if the cancer spontaneously left the body and went on to become a rational, self-sufficient entity without killing its host. Same for a cholesterol lump. Same for gonorrhea and syphilis bacteria.

But since there has never been a single recorded case of lung cancer, a lump of cholesterol or any bacterium developing rational faculties, I see a small problem with your analogies.

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I'd buy your cancer analogy if the cancer spontaneously left the body and went on to become a rational, self-sufficient entity without killing its host. Same for a cholesterol lump. Same for gonorrhea and syphilis bacteria.

But since there has never been a single recorded case of lung cancer, a lump of cholesterol or any bacterium developing rational faculties, I see a small problem with your analogies.

Nine months gives "spontaneous" a new definition as far as I know.

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I'd buy your cancer analogy if the cancer spontaneously left the body and went on to become a rational, self-sufficient entity without killing its host. Same for a cholesterol lump. Same for gonorrhea and syphilis bacteria.

But since there has never been a single recorded case of lung cancer, a lump of cholesterol or any bacterium developing rational faculties, I see a small problem with your analogies.

This just proves my point that this whole approach to the abortion question is not very useful. The opponent of abortion who tries to take this tact of responsibility ends up relying on other reasons and preconceptions about abortion to finish the argument, other reasons which are not tied directly to the whole approach of 'responsibility for not avoiding the consequences of one's actions'. The analogies are perfectly valid for examining the narrow reasoning given forth in the OP (abortion as evasion of consequences); I was not trying to end the abortion debate with them. You have just illustrated quite clearly where this particular approach to the debate leads: right back to the central questions of abortion.

Edited by Dante
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  • 1 month later...

This same logic would result in the conclusion that a smoker should not treat his lung cancer, because "he earned it." The fact is, we all take actions with risks every day, and when those risks actually obtain, we should be perfectly free to deal with the consequences in whatever way we see fit.

While your post is thoughtful, and even though I agree with it almost 100%, I would be careful when analogizing sex with smoking. The former is a necessity for a happy, rational life. The latter is a "vice," which, when overdone, can lead to serious health problems, and is completely nonessential in any other capacity.

On the topic of avoiding metaphysical realities, the OP must realize that contraception is a metaphysical reality just as much as unprotected sex leading to the possibility of pregnancy is. The possibilities of our metaphysical reality, provided to us by the ingenious and inventive human minds that work in the field of contraception, have allowed us to pursue a necessity for a happy life without the risk of pregnancy. If only they could figure out how to do this same thing in the case of smoking!

The only way one can avoid a metaphysical reality when engaging in intercourse is if they do so expecting no possibility of pregnancy without utilizing some method of contraception. The OP is likely confusing metaphysical reality with "basic" or "uncivilized" mankind, which leads me to suspect that he/she is not versed in the Objectivist response towards those who insist upon a mind-body dichotomy.

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While your post is thoughtful, and even though I agree with it almost 100%, I would be careful when analogizing sex with smoking. The former is a necessity for a happy, rational life. The latter is a "vice," which, when overdone, can lead to serious health problems, and is completely nonessential in any other capacity.

- Thats pretty harsh, you dont think smoking in any way can enhance your experience of life?

Its obviously not a requirement, but to dismiss it as having no upsides and even being a "vice" seems kind of silly.

Fine dining is not a requirement of life, and certainly rarely something missed by those whom have never tried it, aswell as a serious health hazard when overdone - that does not mean its necessarily a bad thing.

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I would be careful when analogizing sex with smoking. The former is a necessity for a happy, rational life. The latter is a "vice," which, when overdone, can lead to serious health problems, and is completely nonessential in any other capacity.

Going on the assumption that everyone views sex as enjoyable (which they don't), it would still not be a necessity to live a rational life. Likewise, just because of the harmful effects of smoking, it hardly categorizes the user as someone who cannot lead a rational life.

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While your post is thoughtful, and even though I agree with it almost 100%, I would be careful when analogizing sex with smoking. The former is a necessity for a happy, rational life. The latter is a "vice," which, when overdone, can lead to serious health problems, and is completely nonessential in any other capacity.

It would seem that this difference would work in my argument's favor. So, my analogy was to point out that we do not think that this "evasion of responsibility" argument applies in other cases, like lung cancer for smokers. If you're saying that sex is more integral to a happy, rational life than smoking (which I don't disagree with), then as a result we should be even more willing to deal with the negative consequences of sex however we can, because we understand that the people engaging in sex are fulfilling a requirement of a happy, rational life.

In any case, I provided several analogies, including one very close one involving sex and STDs. Any one of them illustrates my point.

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- Thats pretty harsh, you dont think smoking in any way can enhance your experience of life?

Its obviously not a requirement, but to dismiss it as having no upsides and even being a "vice" seems kind of silly.

Fine dining is not a requirement of life, and certainly rarely something missed by those whom have never tried it, aswell as a serious health hazard when overdone - that does not mean its necessarily a bad thing.

I didn't say that smoking cannot enhance your experience of life in any way. I said that it is nonessential. I smoke a pipe 1-3 times a week, and I would be the first to tell you that it is not an essential aspect to my life whatsoever. Anybody who did view smoking as an essential part of their lives would probably not be smoking tobacco (or probably even cannabis for that matter, which I also used to do).

Going on the assumption that everyone views sex as enjoyable (which they don't), it would still not be a necessity to live a rational life. Likewise, just because of the harmful effects of smoking, it hardly categorizes the user as someone who cannot lead a rational life.

People who do not view sex as enjoyable have serious issues that need to be resolved, and they most certainly do not live a rational life. Leonard Peikoff even said that sex is more essential to life than art.

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