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Abortion

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Hestiasmissives

Humans vs Zygotes

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If you consider a zygote to be human, what is your opinion on the some 400,000 frozen zygotes currently in fertility clinics? What happens if the couple decides not to go ahead with parenthood for whatever reason? In your opinion, would it be murder to change their minds and not pursue parenthood? What if another infertile couple wanted the zygote? Would it not be murder not to release the zygote to the second couple to bring the potential child to term? What if no one wanted the zygote? Should it be held in frozen perpetuity because disposing of it would be murder? Or could it be used to save someone's life by offering stem cells for a new pancreas for a diabetic or lung cells for a person with cystic fibrosis.
Niall001
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Scrumfish, might I have your address so that I can rape and kill you? I'm sure you wouldn't object to this because you support my right to do what I want with my body and its my life.
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Re: Abortion

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I checked with him. Hes american but unfortunately hes spending a year in Germany at the moment. He doesn't own the document. It just came up in his Ethics class once.Sorry
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PeterDF
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Re: Abortion

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NiallAt the heart of your argument is the presumption that there is something special and unique about human life. Would you object if a chimp or a bonobo were to be given an abortion? Now, as Jane Goodall has said (I'm paraphrasing but I think I'm about right) "Sadly, we differ from apes by degree rather than in essence." It is easy for you to say that humans are distinct from animals, but let us suppose that all the ancestral human species were still alive. Let us suppose that australopithecines were still walking the African savannah, we might justifiably say that they were just animals that happened to walk upright, but would that argument hold for say Homo erectus? What about Neanderthals; they buried their dead and their brains were on average bigger than ours? What about all the intermediate species, sub species and varieties, which must have existed? Your argument about the specialness of human life is easy to make only because all the intermediates are extinct. You object ferociously if a human zygote is destroyed despite the fact that it cannot possibly be aware of its own existence, it certainly cannot experience pain and its mother may have consented to its destruction, or perhaps may not even be aware of its existence. Do you object as ferociously if a feeling, sentient self-aware creature like a mother chimp was shot so that its baby could be sold into captivity, despite the fact that they can both certainly feel pain, and almost certainly know love - or something very much like it - for each other?The fallacy that human beings are distinct and separate from the rest of nature is hubristic and demonstrably wrong. If it is allowable to exclude apes from the family of sentient beings then why not exclude other beings that look a bit different from us, like black people or people who are different from us in other ways, like Moslems.Nature unfortunately does not make things easy for us. Things can't always be categorised easily; they don't always come neatly carved up into little pieces so we can put convenient labels on them. Roman Catholics, and those who oppose abortion have a certain set of principles. But consider the mother who finds that her unborn child is severely disabled and unlikely to survive, or who has been brutally raped and finds herself pregnant and knows that - rightly or wrongly - she would never feel love for her unborn child. Suppose she doesn't share your religious views or that of the pro-life supporters. Surely it would be completely inhumane to deny her the chance of a better life.You will note that I used the word humane in the last sentence. You might say that abortion is inhumane, but it is also inhumane to compel someone to a life of misery, when there is an alternative. Would it be humane to block stem cell research on human embryos, which might save millions from the scourge of Alzheimer's disease, on the basis of the principles of a minority of people.One of my daughters is a nurse, and she says that the position in this country is that abortions are allowed up until the point where the embryo is presumed to be capable of feeling pain. This seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable balance. I too feel very uncomfortable about late abortions, because where I agree with you is that we must ascribe value to human beings. I just think that we should also respect other feeling breati=hing beings too. And I think that the basis you have chosen for ascribing those rights is - despite what you say - arbitrary and would in some circumstances lead to unnecessary distress.Even the most ardent pro-life supporter could not argue that a human zygote is self-aware or a feeling breathing human being, but if it is loved and wanted by its mother it has acquired - in my view - a special status on that basis. But it is not yet a human being. It is a set of instructions describing some aspects of what the grown human being will be. A piece of paper with those instructions printed on it would not be a human being either. Edited by: PeterDF at: 3/6/04 2:41 pm
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Chris OConnor

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Re: Abortion

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PeterDFInredible post. Sound reasoning.Chris "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them"
Niall001
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Peter:

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Peter, Chris is right that was an excellent post.It brings up many interesting issues that I love to read about.But I'd have to say that the presumption that theres something special and unique about human life is not a presumption that lies in my argument, but in every legal system that I'm familiar with.We all draw 'THE LINE' somewhere. I accept that there is no logical basis for acting as though humans are somehow different in nature, but that doesn't mean that I have to treat animals like humans or humans like animals. My argument wasn't that we are somehow different from animals. My argument was that almost all humans behave as though we were. We behave as though there was something different about humans. If through our behaviour, we accept the premise that human life is valuable and different than all other life, then those rights extend to the unborn, which is human.If you believe that abortion should be permitted because of the fact that humans aren't special, then what you propose is that we create a new perfectly logical system in which rape, murder and theft are also permissable. Thats not a system that anyone wants to see. All I'm looking for is continuity.Our civilisation stems from the premise that human life is valuable. It is ridiculous to question that premise when debating abortion unless you are willing to question the entire system. Are you willing to abandon the entire system for the sole purpose of premitting abortion?I feel guilty about not addressing any of your other points, but I think that if I were to do so, it would cloud my argument. The only other thing that I'll add is that it is highly likely that the rape victim and the mother of the disabled child probably share my beliefs, whether they know it or not.
Kostya

Re: Abortion

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I think the central question when we talk about abortion is question of morals and values. Behind whom or what do we recognize the right to life? Niall keeps repeating the "mantra" about allowing rape or murder as being logically consistent with pro-choice argument, but this is not correct. The reason we find murder or rape immoral is because we recognize that one's rights are being violated. There are conflicts of interests between 2 entities (persons) with presumably equivalent set of rights and individual freedoms. In case of abortion, common pro-choice position that was brought up many times in this discussion is that zygote does not and should not have equivalent rights with individual human persons. Therefore, there is no conflict of interests; there is only one set of interests
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PeterDF
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Re: Abortion

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NiallQuote:that was an excellent postthanks!Quote:My argument wasn't that we are somehow different from animals. My argument was that almost all humans behave as though we were.But should we? Are we right to question this point of view if it is irrational or inconsistent?Quote:the presumption that theres something special and unique about human life is not a presumption that lies in my argument, but in every legal system that I'm familiar with.But isnt this a non-argument? You are adopting an ultra-conservative viewpoint. You are saying that this is how things are and implying that that is how they must stay.Either the philosophical basis of the western legal system is sound and capable of withstanding rigorous analytical critique in light of new scientific discoveries, or it isn't. If someone feels it isn't, then it is appropriate to him/her to point out where the deficiencies are.I agree with Kostya's view:Quote:the central question when we talk about abortion is question of morals and values. It seems to me that this all comes back to two conflicting philosophical schools of thought. Neither of these seem entirely satisfactory to me, but I think a balanced position between the two is probably the most rational approach to take.On one hand there is the position of the empiricist philosopher John Locke whose ideas were born out of the enlightenment. He thought that man had a God-given set of rights and that these should be enshrined in law. He strongly influenced the founding fathers in the US and his ideas were influential when the American constitution was drawn up.On the other side of the debate is the view of the more pragmatic utilitarian philosophers Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. I think I'm right in saying that Bentham rejected the idea of rights altogether. They thought that matters should be decided on what Mill called the Greatest Happiness Principle, by which he meant that each situation should be assessed on its merits and whatever solution would cause the least distress overall should be the right one. (Mill however did not entirely reject the concept of rights
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A quick post

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Peter, I'm not of the opinion that we should just accept the world as it is, but here, my argument operates under the presumption that the current system is correct. The reason for that isn't because I absolutely agree with the current model, its because its the only way to control debate and stop it spiraling into a broad argument about everything and nothing.I would support banning abortion. Thats a 'real world' possibility and so my argument isn't going to examine alternative means of defining life etc. Its not going to touch on the nature of morals. Its going to be about consistency. Several premises are almost universally accepted and, whether valid or not, I'm going to make use of them. I don't agree with the GHP. I don't think that its ok to kill neo-nazis just because they make life uncomfortable for people. Vengance makes people happy, hell it makes me happy, but I don't think that it matters. I remember that a few years ago there was some californian people who went to court in order to obtain certain human rights for some chimp. The chimp was fairly compared to a five year old child. At the time, I believed that the chimp should have recieved those rights, but now I think differently.Giving those rights to the chimp would not have made sense. The argument went that because he was as smart as some humans, he should recieve the same rights. But implicit in the argument was the idea that our value is determined by our ability. now I know I'm repeating myself, but if that were the case, then we would have to create a hierarchy of all beings. So a fully grown chimp would be considered more valuable than a newborn. An infant would be considered inferior to a teenager and so on. In school, I would have been entitled to do what I want with the class dunce, just becaue I was more intelligent than him.In the end, all I'm saying is that most people, illogical as it may be, believe that humans should be treated as special, unique creatures which are more valuable than animals. The laws which govern our societies are based on that principle. Here, I'm not arguing for a change of system. I'm arguing that the laws that govern society be consistent with the founding principles. If it were the case, that the assumption that humans are special creatures with a right to life regardless of ability wasn't a founding principle of our civilisation, then you'd have a case for ALLOWING abortions to be performed. Then it would be about individual choice. If you remove that principle from your civilisation, then anything should be allowed.Strangely though, countries which permit abortion, have not removed that principle, they just seem to ignore it when it comes to the rights of the unborn. And that is bloody inconsistent.
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Re: Abortion

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Kostya, I've been meaning to address your post, but time isn't on my side. First off, and this is just an enquiry, are you aware of your subtle semantic slanders?Second please tell me, why is the ability to feel pain significant. Are you implying that its ok to kill someone so long as its painless? What about red-haired people? Generally, they posess a lower pain threshold. Are they anymore human for it.In relation to your mice analogy, under most legal systems, killing a chimp is not a crime. Yet a fully grown chimp would be more 'human' than a new born baby. Do you believe that the killing of a newborn should be allowed, or that killing chimps should be prohibited?Furthermore, in relation to your 'potential person' argument, are you suggesting that children should not be considered as valuable as fully grown adults?THe brain-dead argument was really what interested me. I'll come back to that.The difference between a sperm/egg and a zygote is that the zygote is a new distinct genetic entity.
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