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What Has the 'Pro-Life' Movement Won?

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Boydstun
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Not that these put the considerations onto solid ground:

Historically, the first movements of the fetus, or the quickening, were used as a rough guide as a before/after line to be drawn in the sand.

Recently, a case hearkening back to 1792 has been brought up, and the discovery of counterpoint tendered back in 2015 referencing the same time era. One based on Nancy Randolph, the other on Mary Wollstonecraft. The first illustrates how the founding fathers considered that the issue was left to the individual's consideration, while the latter outlines an interventionists case against abortion. Note, on the latter, rather than pinning the onus on the Christian God, it is couched in terms of nature.

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On 7/20/2022 at 6:17 PM, Boydstun said:

Rights between various adults are the whole story.

These are hard subject to discuss. Having said that, I do in fact agree, although I wish I did not.

This implies that the right of a child (outside of the womb) to exist simply means the right to not be killed/harmed rather than (unanimously) not attended to and allowed to die. Meaning if all adults want to walk away from the child, the child has no moral right to force any of them to take care of it. There is no right of the child to the actions of the parent or parental figure or custodian unless there is a contractual agreement (or declaration/demonstration by a parent) amongst the adults to take care of the child. Meaning there is no inherent "duty" to take care of a child, which sounds heinous to say like that.

Perhaps, fortunately, by nature, adults, amongst ourselves would find it unacceptable to allow the demise of a child unless it was a last resort/a dire situation.

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On 7/20/2022 at 9:17 PM, Boydstun said:

Whenever the fetus has become capable of sustained survival outside the womb with or without artificial support, it is a living being worthy of adult protections and support (far beyond such worthiness of one's dog, for example). And adults willing to step up and provide that protection and support should have a right against interference with their project by other adults. . . . Rights between various adults are the whole story.

25 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

These are hard subject to discuss. Having said that, I do in fact agree, although I wish I did not.

This implies that the right of a child (outside of the womb) to exist simply means the right to not be killed/harmed rather than (unanimously) not attended to and allowed to die. Meaning if all adults want to walk away from the child, the child has no moral right to force any of them to take care of it. There is no right of the child to the actions of the parent or parental figure or custodian unless there is a contractual agreement (or declaration/demonstration by a parent) amongst the adults to take care of the child. Meaning there is no inherent "duty" to take care of a child, which sounds heinous to say like that.

Perhaps, fortunately, by nature, adults, amongst ourselves would find it unacceptable to allow the demise of a child unless it was a last resort/a dire situation.

Yes, actually, we youngsters manage those adults fine (photo below). Seriously, adults will want to protect and support the infant/child, and other adults cannot with right prevent that project. I think it is good if a lot of leeway is given to guardians as to decisions about nutrition and upbringing and education of the child, where legal sanction has been given (however conventional) to have that guardian relationship to the child. But no such legal exclusive relationship needs to entail giving the guardian also the right (against intervention by other adults) to harm or neglect the child. 

(My parents with their first child.)

E,L,L.jpeg

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36 minutes ago, Doug Morris said:

What about the argument that people who bring a child into the world thereby assume an obligation to provide what it needs to develop into an independent adult?

This would be a contract between who and who. The parents and the rest of society? Or some in the society? Or the parents and GOD? Or is it a contract between who the child will be and the parent?

This sounds like a social contract argument. Unless the society is so closely intertwined that any activity one person makes is credited and debited toward a societal pot. Almost like getting a social score for your behavior.

I wouldn't know how else to make that case.

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On 7/20/2022 at 6:45 PM, tadmjones said:

Do you agree with the position that the correct identification of a human life incorporates not only the potential for consciousness but the experience of consciousness outside of the womb?

Yes.

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Posted (edited)

Doug, the idea that people who bring a child into the world thereby assume an obligation to provide what it needs to develop into an independent adult was invoked by Nathaniel Branden in 1962 in his answer, in The Objectivist Newsletter, to the question, What are the respective obligations of parents to children and children to parents?

Concerning the obligations of the parents, Branden took it that it is a moral responsibility to assume responsibility for one’s actions. And he took that responsibility to include bringing the child to independent adulthood. The parents brought the child into existence, like it or not, and therefore they have this responsibility. Easy Truth’s questions are very good.

Ayn Rand later (1974) drew a distinction between what she called “duty” (which is irrational and a concept to be spurned) and “obligation” (which is sane). Her distinction arises in the course of discussing Kant’s ethics as in Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. Once Kant had purged motivation for acts of all factors such as context, consequences, interests, or inclinations, one can get to the purely moral element in a choice, which is from a sort of duty. Rand counters: “Who would want to be loved not from inclination, but from duty?”

In place of the concept of duty in moral reasoning, Rand would put the concept of causality, specifically human final causality. Do not act without knowing the purposes of your actions and the means needed for that end. The goal and its required means are weighed in the context of one’s other goals and values.

Rand does speak to one’s moral responsibility for causal consequences of one’s actions, more generally than N. Branden’s Q&A in the specific case of human offspring years earlier. Rand cast the rational concept of “obligation” as based on contracts, on hypothetical causal imperatives such as “If you want to live, you must eat,” and on "What do I owe my fellow man? Rationality." But near the end of her essay, she based obligation, as distinct from Kantian duty, on rational promises and agreements. Exclusively! And that would make Easy Truth’s questions exactly the right ones, thinking within that constriction of the idea of moral obligation.

I propose, however, that Rand was selling rational obligation short near the end of her essay. Following Richard Epstein’s theory of strict liability in tort law, as I do, one is legally responsible for harms one causes to another even though it was entirely accidental. Conceiving and bearing a child is not entirely accidental, of course. But I want to expose an element of Rand’s value theory that comfortably underlies the Epstein approach to liability in tort, even though his focus was on how much more sensible is his theory for that area of law than the dominant alternative theory. His idea is that if A caused harm to B, then A is required, by force of law, to do what is possible to make B whole again. Epstein never remarked, but I noticed many years ago, that this makes some sense from a moral idea. That idea is that every person is an end in themselves, and they should be left to harm only themselves, not anyone else. That is a moral principle to which Epstein’s legal principle seems to accord.

Having children, of course, is not itself bringing a harm to them. Life is good, notwithstanding life is struggle. In the case of modern humans, they not only have a life, but make a life for themselves. One of the possible important, meaningful, and joyful projects constituting their life they make for themselves is having children. Some of us choose not to undertake the project of making new human life, and we rather take on projects of making brain children. If one takes on the project of bringing about new human lives, even if it was partly accidental; by one’s own taking-on, one is under moral obligation (to one's own rationally valuing self) to muster the means the end requires or beg assistance in doing so. The end has allure for its project-taker, and it is a special allure which is the new adult life, again starting the cycle of human life* at the end of the parents’ project. This allure, of course, does not deprive the project or the decision to undertake it of moral worth. Rather, it is part of the best within us.

Edited by Boydstun
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On 7/20/2022 at 9:17 PM, Boydstun said:

... As to when an infant or child becomes a person, that is a gradual process.

The growth into full adulthood is gradual, but the moral and legal status of being a person with certain rights obtains at birth.

On 7/20/2022 at 9:17 PM, Boydstun said:

We usually and correctly think of individual rights as belonging to (obtaining between) autonomous human persons and sourced in such personhood. In abortion rights and child rights, the question all along the way is not about rights of the little one not yet autonomous, but about rights of various adults concerning protection and support of the particular little one at all stages of development. Persons not the mother don't have a proper right to control the pregnancy until the fetus is capable of sustained life outside the womb with or without artificial support. It is only then that support-projects by persons not the mother can get underway without impressing the mother into service of their project. In other words, when does the fetus/infant become a person has always been a faulty and distracting way of looking at the rights that are actually in play over Law concerning abortion. Rights between various adults are the whole story.

"Persons not the mother don't have a proper right to control the pregnancy until the fetus is capable of sustained life outside the womb with or without artificial support."  Technological advancements in medicine may make possible sustained life outside the womb with artificial support earlier and earlier in the pregnancy.  Making the rights of mothers dependent upon not just technology but some judge's or legislator's assertion about that technology is not good practice of law.  This is in principle far more amenable to restrictions on abortion than I would ever be.  It also assumes that technology is provided but is silent on who provides and pays for it.  How can you reconcile this position with what I thought was presented as an intransigent pro-abortion rights position?  

 

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21 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

These are hard subject to discuss. Having said that, I do in fact agree, although I wish I did not.

This implies that the right of a child (outside of the womb) to exist simply means the right to not be killed/harmed rather than (unanimously) not attended to and allowed to die. Meaning if all adults want to walk away from the child, the child has no moral right to force any of them to take care of it. There is no right of the child to the actions of the parent or parental figure or custodian unless there is a contractual agreement (or declaration/demonstration by a parent) amongst the adults to take care of the child. Meaning there is no inherent "duty" to take care of a child, which sounds heinous to say like that.

Perhaps, fortunately, by nature, adults, amongst ourselves would find it unacceptable to allow the demise of a child unless it was a last resort/a dire situation.

Children can be and are neglected, abused and murdered in violation of every principle of how any person ought to be treated.  But because no contract law pertains nothing is to be done?  I am grateful for the innovation in human society that is criminal law.

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Posted (edited)

Grames (re your post before last): It has always been part of my position. Viability is variable in case-by-case, and the case law from the Supreme Court in the 70's rightly left the assessment of viability in the individual case to the judgment of the attending physician and excluded the law getting into the room with the doctor(s) to throw in its (its advocates') opinion on the question. There has never been a problem over the possibility of drastic movement of times at which a fetus (or sooner) is viable due to advances in medical technology. (I formulated my position in 1984, and I'm a bit surprised now that the typical times have not shifted so very much in all this time.) The assessment of viability still should remain in the judgment of the attending physician(s). I think you just did not get all the nuances of my position.

On the financial side, as you would expect, I do not approve of funding medical procedures by taxation, but by private, voluntary means.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Boydstun said:

Doug, the idea that people who bring a child into the world thereby assume an obligation to provide what it needs to develop into an independent adult was invoked by Nathaniel Branden in 1962 in his answer, in The Objectivist Newsletter, to the question, What are the respective obligations of parents to children and children to parents?

Concerning the obligations of the parents, Branden took it that it is a moral responsibility to assume responsibility for one’s actions. And he took that responsibility to include bringing the child to independent adulthood. The parents brought the child into existence, like it or not, and therefore they have this responsibility. Easy Truth’s questions are very good.

Ayn Rand later (1974) drew a distinction between what she called “duty” (which is irrational and a concept to be spurned) and “obligation” (which is sane). Her distinction arises in the course of discussing Kant’s ethics as in Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. Once Kant had purged motivation for acts of all factors such as context, consequences, interests, or inclinations, one can get to the purely moral element in a choice, which is from a sort of duty. Rand counters: “Who would want to be loved not from inclination, but from duty?”

In place of the concept of duty in moral reasoning, Rand would put the concept of causality, specifically human final causality. Do not act without knowing the purposes of your actions and the means needed for that end. The goal and its required means are weighed in the context of one’s other goals and values.

Rand does speak to one’s moral responsibility for causal consequences of one’s actions, more generally than N. Branden’s Q&A in the specific case of human offspring years earlier. Rand cast the rational concept of “obligation” as based on contracts, on hypothetical causal imperatives such as “If you want to live, you must eat,” and on "What do I owe my fellow man? Rationality." But near the end of her essay, she based obligation, as distinct from Kantian duty, on rational promises and agreements. Exclusively! And that would make Easy Truth’s questions exactly the right ones, thinking within that constriction of the idea of moral obligation.

I propose, however, that Rand was selling rational obligation short near the end of her essay. Following Richard Epstein’s theory of strict liability in tort law, as I do, one is legally responsible for harms one causes to another even though it was entirely accidental. Conceiving and bearing a child is not entirely accidental, of course. But I want to expose an element of Rand’s value theory that comfortably underlies the Epstein approach to liability in tort, even though his focus was on how much more sensible is his theory for that area of law than the dominant alternative theory. His idea is that if A caused harm to B, then A is required, by force of law, to do what is possible to make B whole again. Epstein never remarked, but I noticed many years ago, that this makes some sense from a moral idea. That idea is that every person is an end in themselves, and they should be left to harm only themselves, not anyone else. That is a moral principle to which Epstein’s legal principle seems to accord.

Having children, of course, is not itself bringing a harm to them. Life is good, notwithstanding life is struggle. In the case of modern humans, they not only have a life, but make a life for themselves. One of the possible important, meaningful, and joyful projects constituting their life they make for themselves is having children. Some of us choose not to undertake the project of making new human life, and we rather take on projects of making brain children. If one takes on the project of bringing about new human lives, even if it was partly accidental; by one’s own taking-on, one is under moral obligation (to one's own rationally valuing self) to muster the means the end requires or beg assistance in doing so. The end has allure for its project-taker, and it is a special allure which is the new adult life, again starting the cycle of human life* at the end of the parents’ project. This allure, of course, does not deprive the project or the decision to undertake it of moral worth. Rather, it is part of the best within us.

That last paragraph is about moral obligations to oneself in this sort of project. I should add the question of rights. For a parent or guardian to breach the moral obligation to themselves in the project by bringing harm to or neglecting the young child (such as not feeding them) is not only a failure of obligation, but an interference with the right of other adults to undertake the project with respect to this child. In cases of older children, injury of the child would be regular violation of the rights of that human person who is that child.

There seems to be some disagreement over how long in life of the offspring support is owed it by the parent. During the last couple of generations, more and more years of formal education have been aimed for before entering the workforce, and I do not know how long parents should be obligated to support that education. When I went to college, my father did not see any responsibility he had to pay for it. I could not get a student loan because my father made too much money. It would seem that lawmakers by that time thought parents were rightly obligated to pay for college education of children if they had the means. (As it worked out in my case, all of my savings from work during my lifetime to college time was spent in the first year. My mother shown in the photo had not raised me and had not been around me since I was in grade school (summer visits to her place in the country). She offered to help pay for my college education, which is how it came about that I got a start on advanced learning.) Once I did earn a college degree, I could find work only at the bottom, working behind the counter of a fast-food place and then at unskilled labor of various sorts for a number of years. In the society-thinking about going to college as part of the process of becoming employable and self-sufficient, there was a mismatch for people like me off studying Physics and Philosophy for the love of it. Economically, for a long time in my life, nothing more than high school, and not even that, was enough for making a living for myself (though not for a family).

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13 hours ago, Boydstun said:

For a parent or guardian to breach the moral obligation to themselves in the project by bringing harm to or neglecting the young child (such as not feeding them) is not only a failure of obligation, but an interference with the right of other adults to undertake the project with respect to this child.

So a moral obligation includes an accident that you have caused. But this is taking responsibility for something that you did not choose. Now, I have seen this "coming back in to integrity" behavior work in the case of addiction, where they are drunk and break the neighbor's window and have no memory of doing but he/she knows that he/she did it, like video exists of him doing it. In that case the person takes responsibility, fixes the window and pays compensation for emotional damage, owns the action, gives assurance it will not happen due to xyz, and it allows the alcoholic person to come back into a state of integrity.

In this case a teenage couple don't fully understand the consequence of what they are doing, or rape etc. Nevertheless, they do it and a potential child is created. The question still is "while it is in the body of the woman", do  other people EVER have a right to force the woman to do something with her body either to keep or expel the potential child?

From what I can see, the moral right to force a woman to bear a child simply does not exist. Unless one argues something like the child has rights and if you violate them you will go to hell. A consequentialist argument that would make sense if there was a hell. The secular arguments seem to relate to some sort or utilitarian social scoring, that if you are not good for society, we can make you do things. It is a huge problem when "good for society" ends up meaning good for "some people in society".

But the argument I have wondered about is still the issue of viability related to the rights of the adults involved. The moment one person shows up to say I will take care of the potential child, it is viable (philosophically speaking, not legally). And if a potential child is viable, does the volunteered custodian have any rights in the matter before birth?

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1 hour ago, Easy Truth said:

So a moral obligation includes an accident that you have caused. But this is taking responsibility for something that you did not choose.

I'm confused.  This about the obligation a mother has to a child she's given birth to right?  If that's the case then this isn't an accident.  This is intentional.  People don't give birth accidentally.   

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1 hour ago, Craig24 said:

I'm confused.  This about the obligation a mother has to a child she's given birth to right?  If that's the case then this isn't an accident.  This is intentional.  People don't give birth accidentally.   

This refers to the fact that people can conceive stupidly/accidentally/involuntarily.

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7 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

This refers to the fact that people can conceive stupidly/accidentally/involuntarily.

Ok but aren't we saying a woman has a right to terminate the pregnancy?  Why would this be relevent?

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6 minutes ago, Craig24 said:

Ok but aren't we saying a woman has a right to terminate the pregnancy?  Why would this be relevent?

Yes, I would argue that a woman has a right to terminate a pregnancy at anytime while the potential entity is in her body. Some disagree and I want to find out the core argument against it.

The argument seems to center around when it is identified as a baby, you shouldn't be able to kill it, which requires defining too. Killing it (via the mother's action) may be not eating properly or ingesting something that turns out to be bad for it.

So the relevance is that the argument seems to center around the fact that the baby exists, be it voluntarily or by accident. That even if it were by accident, the rest of society seems to have right to force the mother to bring it to a proper birth (whatever that would mean). Which would imply that the baby has some right. It is very politically incorrect and offensive to flat out say, the baby has no right to be taken care of. It is taken care of via love, or loving which is different from having a right. And if there is NO love for it anywhere to be found, there should be NO forcing of the mother to take care of it (be it giving birth or even after).

And granted, they have a personal obligation to do it. But how would that translate to rights and force?

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Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

. . .

But the argument I have wondered about is still the issue of viability related to the rights of the adults involved. The moment one person shows up to say I will take care of the potential child, it is viable (philosophically speaking, not legally). And if a potential child is viable, does the volunteered custodian have any rights in the matter before birth?

That would be "physically speaking", rather than "philosophically speaking". Viability is purely a physical condition. That there are parties willing to support the viable fetus does not confer the status "viable". It is rather: passing the point of viability, others can take on the project of support without requiring continued pregnancy of the mother.

To your question, ET: Yes, just as the volunteered custodian (or the agencies for such possible custodians) has rights in the matter of other people's children in the community. Their right is not over the body of the pregnant woman, but over a part of her body coincident with the whole. Specifically, it is a right over what anyone, including the mother, can do with that entity once it is assessed as viable. A right against the killing of the viable fetus,  delivered infant, or young child is not a right those developing little characters hold against all the adults in the community, rather, it is the right of adults in the community against anyone killing those living entities. Admittedly, the right stems from the specialness of the project of making progeny of the human species. (The community would not have a right against our family killing at birth an undesired litter of pups from our dog.)

(This way of looking at the abortion issue I have advocated [since first formulating it in 1984] was built around Rand's idea of what a right is, which partly but importantly included the point that rights are coordinating principles under which each person is left, vis-a-vis others, to their autonomous self-activity. Keeping moral obligations to others tied to potentials or actualities of the others making their own life, composed of certain sorts of projects, is also consonant with Rand's ethics. However, if one lets that idea of Rand's I mentioned above, near the end of her essay "Causality versus Duty" that the only rational obligations between people are those by promise, agreement, and contract, run everywhere; then one cannot go the way I have gone on this. With my outlook, of course, contract cannot be the only way under which governments can be legitimate. I'd like to mention, however, that while I have described all this as "my outlook", that cannot be a fully correct ascription. I have my own metaphysics now, and because of a couple of differences in its most basic part with Rand's in its most basic part, it seems likely that if I were to develop a value theory and ethical theory [partly] upon that new base it would differ from what can be drafted from Rand's.)

Edited by Boydstun
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4 hours ago, Boydstun said:

Their right is not over the body of the pregnant woman, but over a part of her body coincident with the whole. Specifically, it is a right over what anyone, including the mother, can do with that entity once it is assessed as viable.

Isn't there a contradiction here? There is no right over the pregnant woman  but over what is "inside" her body.

As an aside, I looked at one of your references and it clarifies the concepts of omission vs. commission when it comes to the suffering of another. https://mises.org/library/law-omissions-and-neglect-children

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Let us assume there appears a insect (a hugely benevolent one) that is rare and goes into your body through your ear or nose and ends in your stomach or so. It does nothing harmful to you, but it grows in your stomach into something that if taken out, will feed 1 million people for a year.

A utilitarian or communist or altruist (or even Democrat or Republican) in general would say, for the majority or the masses , we should get that insect out of you for the good of the people, common good etc. etc. and there is a 1 percent chance that you could die of the operation.

An argument can be made that If you were "rational" you would take the one percent chance of death and make a large amount of money selling the insect within your body. But you don't want to take the one percent chance and it is your body. But then the argument is made that there is something in your body that is not part of your body that does not belong to you. That is where my objection lies regarding the issue of "it's inside your body and it is not your body". It is a cleaner argument to say anything inside you belongs to you and all that ownership implies.

It seems like I'm making the case that there is a physical boundary that determines what is your body and what is not. So what is inside your skin is yours, be it your body or not. I simply can't see a justification for anyone without the consent of the mother determining what happens to the potential child by right or by love.

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1 hour ago, Easy Truth said:

Isn't there a contradiction here? There is no right over the pregnant woman  but over what is "inside" her body.

. . .

A right to the viable fetus, a right held by others, will not give them a right over the woman's circulatory system, another part of her body, nor any part of her body not that fetus.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Easy Truth said:

. . . I simply can't see a justification for anyone without the consent of the mother determining what happens to the potential child by right . . .

Boundaries of bodies fully distinct and organically autonomous, as is usual, is the paradigm situation under which we conceive of rights. And in the paradigmatic case, we throw in as well that the bodies are with sovereign minds capable of voluntary self-regulation and consensual relationships with others. But I don't think it would be correct to transport the resulting character of rights tout court over to cases in which body boundaries are not separated, such as in pregnancies or in siamese twins. Getting to separateness and individuals capable of autonomy could be goal of what should be done, but we'll need some deeper additional moral principles along the way to knowing what should be done along the way to that end.

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10 minutes ago, Boydstun said:

A right to the viable fetus, a right held by others, will not give them a right over the woman's circulatory system, another part of her body, nor any part of her body not that fetus.

Then to clarify, a right to a viable fetus, in this context, means a right after it is born. Is that correct? Meaning the right to action, like hold the entity/baby does not extend before birth.

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

Then to clarify, a right to a viable fetus, in this context, means a right after it is born. Is that correct? Meaning the right to action, like hold the entity/baby does not extend before birth.

No, a right of others to a viable fetus is simply after it reaches viability, even while still undelivered (the mother, of course, has right of first refusal, but we have assumed that refusal in the cases at issue). At birth, such a fetus makes the big transition we all made to breathing and not relying on the mother's circulatory system. (I think this point of mine is at odds with what Rand thought and what many others against abortion regulation thought.)

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3 minutes ago, Boydstun said:

No, a right of others to a viable fetus is simply after it reaches viability, even while still undelivered (the mother, of course, has right of first refusal, but we have assumed that refusal in the cases at issue).

Then let us say that at some objective stage in development, it is now viable, and it is inside the mother's body. A right of others to a viable fetus means a right to action. What actions do they have a right to? On one hand they don't have a right to the circulatory system of the mother, but they have a right to the fetus. So others have a right to DO what with the fetus?

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