Can abortion ever be banned, while maintaining female rights?

Madblog recently wrote a series of posts. (Recent relative to when I wrote this, anyway.) Her posts were about abortion, the two pertinent points being this: abortion is a genocide, just like the Nazi extermination of the Jews; and, in response to the indignation she subsequently received, to set the challenge for atheists (because, as everyone knows, “pro-choice” is just code for “atheist”) to explain how abortion and genocide were objectively and inherently morally different. The challenge was to explain why genocide was objectively and inherently wrong, while not giving an explanation that would also cast serious judgement on abortion as well.

And that takes me straight to an aside: abortion should not be a preferred method of contraception. Abortion is a trade-off. It’s not nice. Women do not tend to make the decision lightly and any anti-abortion rhetoric that suggests otherwise should be met with the appropriate level of incredulity and scorn. Abortion is not a fantastic thing to be celebrated. It is a difficult decision for anyone who has to consider it, and it can cause both emotional and physical harm. I don’t think anyone is arguing it’s some moral excellence.
What I argue when I partake in this debate is that it’s not a moral equivalent to murder, or even killing a cat. It’s a bad whose moral worth is abrogated by the good of female reproductive rights. It’s one of those ‘pick between these awful options’ thing. And ceasing female reproductive rights (or stopping them forming in the first place) is decidedly worse than abortion.
(Madblog said nothing of this sort, I’ve added this aside for a wider audience.)

However, my answer to Madblog’s challenge was something she implored me to extend to the wider atheist community (particularly females). And I do really want answers to this, to the point that I am actually going to ask you to reblog and link to this to get as many answers as possible. I’ve not seen anyone argue this before, and so this is entirely new ground for me.

I have adapted my comment for the sake of this post, and it was this:

The act of murder induces fear and misery in the survivors, and ends an actual self-sustaining human life. Genocide is worse, because there are more lives involved and the sheer arbitrariness of it deepens the fear held by the survivors: ‘maybe the next arbitrary condition for murder will include me!’ It’s the ultimate dystopia, not least because many genocides are perpetrated on the false promise of a utopia.

Foetuses are not human lives. There is no medical definition of human death (and therefore human life) that includes a foetus until, at earliest, week 21; and that relates to brain-stem activity. Trying to define human life to extend to foetuses results in all sort of medical complications and paradoxes. And hopefully no one is arguing for a special case of just adding foetuses to the definition of human life as an addendum, because that is special pleading. The death of a human, legally and medically, relies on the cessation of brain stem activity. Murder, then, is just a subset of conditions relating to death. Pre-21 week abortions are not murder.

Not only do foetuses not have the brain activity to be human lives, but they are not self-sustaining lives. They are biological parasites (if they are not wanted). Biological parasites are different from social or financial parasites, like dogs and born children, which are self-sustaining life entitled to rights (at differing levels ― according to species and ability to suffer). I couldn’t, for example, demand a right to have our bodies links so that your body supports mine, if I were to ill to sustain my own life.

Although abortion may induce repulsion in many people (and that’s understandable), abortion does not lead anyone to reasonably fear for their own life, nor does it end a self-sustaining human life.

The fact that one is the cessation of a self-sustaining human life and the other is the removal of an unwanted growth is precisely the difference.

You may argue that foetuses have the potential to be self-sustaining human lives, and therefore we are talking about moral equivalents here. But that is a non sequitur: there is no reason one should consider “potentials” and “actuals” in the same way. For one, given current technology, tumours have the potential to be human lives. (You may find the comparison repugnant, but that is not the same as seeing the difference.)

Something seemed off about my answer. It was somehow incomplete. So I went on to do something I think many may rail against me for: I future-proofed my morality by permitting an absolute ban on abortions, given certain technological progress:

There may be a good argument for creating a broader definition of human life: If you define human life as that which is self-sustaining, with technological medical intervention, then this will include the babies born at phenomenally early-term stages and survived (as has happened). But, it can also include babies born at increasingly early stages, as technology advances. I don’t think there is anything inherently silly about this idea, as I believe human ecology is defined by knowledge and technology and so our species should have a dynamic definition of this technology-dependent sort.

What this would mean is that human death would no longer be defined at the cessation of brain-stem activity, but at the point that current technology cannot reasonably be said to bring back brain stem activity. (These, currently, are the same thing.) One implication of this is that 19-week foetuses could be human: they could be removed from the womb, ‘brought to term’ (so to speak) and have brain stem activity begin eventually. Abortions, at this stage, will have to be replaced with a more intricate operation that removes the foetus carefully. But, abortions at this stage are already surgical.

(Another, less ideal, consequence is that human life will depend on the country or even the region of the country and the medical technology available. That is not a nice consequence, and hopefully one that would encourage medical funding around the world!)

In this case, when technology is sufficiently advanced, it really would be a human life at conception. (That is not to say it really is a human life at conception now. This is strictly a technology-dependent definition. It is only if you accept this techno-centric definition of humanity that an ‘at conception’ blastocyst can be considered a ‘living human, potentially sustained by current technology’. If you don’t accept this definition, then the legal definition as it currently is, stands.) However, in this circumstance, if that is the moral direction we wanted to take (and that’s a big if), then sufficient technology would exist to remove the foetus and support it with medical intervention — and that process would replace abortions. The reproductive rights of women wouldn’t change, just the technology used to realise those rights.

I think that is the right interpretation of my future-proofed position on abortion: I think at the stage a foetus could be removed from the womb a reliably be kept alive, then that is not a foetus anymore; it is a baby. At that stage, I am willing to call that a human life. And so, at that stage, if a woman doesn’t want the child, her options are to undergo an operation to have the child removed and sustained (on the state ― she shouldn’t have to pay; ethics should not be about what you can afford) or carry it to term and put it up for adoption.

Yes, that makes some “abortions” (of course, they’re not abortions at this stage) at later stages more burdensome, but I think that is the result of this meaningful definition of human life.

And, yes, I think it is conceivable that technology will one day be at a stage where a foetus could be kept alive from conception, making the morning after pill a murder. But the technology to remove and sustain the baby will also exist, so the same reproductive freedoms still exist (in all circumstances).


(As a side note, to fund that, you’d need universal health care. I wonder how many anti-abortioners would support that. You maintain the woman’s right to not have the child, and the state pays to provide the medical intervention to ‘bring it to term’ as it were.)

276 thoughts on “Can abortion ever be banned, while maintaining female rights?”

  1. I have to say that I disagree.

    “Foetuses are not human lives. There is no medical definition of human death (and therefore human life) that includes a foetus until, at earliest, week 21; and that relates to brain-stem activity.”

    This seems like special pleading because if life required brain stem activity, that means everything without a brain stem would be nonliving. Lack of (measurable) brain stem activity might be a way to determine whether a human is still alive, but that’s not how biology defines life.

    You say foetuses aren’t self-sustaining, but neither are newborns or even children up to 3 years. Someone has to get food to their mouths and poop away from their bottoms. Also, I would say that harm coming to the defenseless (like babies or the very old) has a greater emotional impact than of able-bodied genocide victims.

    And babies cannot be parasites because their mere existence actually increases their parents’ fitness. Parasites decrease fitness.

    1. My argument wasn’t a biological one, it was a medical and legal one. If you want, I can find you the details. But nearly every developed country has this definition of human life.
      The actual biological system of a new born supports itself, removed from the mother. As it turns out, this is possible, with limited medical intervention, from about 25 weeks.
      It is important to not confuse a baby with a foetus. A born baby, or even a baby in the third trimester, is more vulnerable and emotive than a 30 year old — I accept that — but a 8 week foetus is not. The same sort of distinction exists in the parasite accusation.

      Also, what definition of fitness are you using?

      1. I don’t think so. It seems like an attempt to “do away” with the killing of what can PROVABLY be considered a child. Some people “know” that a child is a child at conception, but until we can PROVE it, forcing that belief on others is not reasonable

      2. It might be a legal definition, but it seems like a trick. Of course you can’t kill something that isn’t alive, but this legal definition doesn’t reflect the reality of life. Pro-life people aren’t concerned with legal life. That is, a 7-week unborn baby might not meet your standard of a legally alive human, but they are an alive human, not even a “potential” human, but an early stage of development human.

        Fitness: the genetic contribution of an individual to the next generation’s gene pool relative to the average for the population.

      3. Okay, that’s a very strange definition of fitness. But, yes, I can’t argue that having children is a genetic contribution to the next generation.
        The normal definition of fitness in biology is that of suitability to one’s environment.

        Secondly, I get that pro-lifers don’t accept that definition of human life. But, they haven’t really presented a definition. They’ve presented an assertion that a blastocyst is a living human, with no supporting argument.

      4. “My definition” or “your definition” or “anybody’s definition” of human life is irrelevant. A person can say anything they want, and believe anything they want. In order to impose those values on people who do not share that belief, there must be medical or at least legal support for it. So, even if we both agree that a 7 week baby IS a baby, without being able to prove that medically, how can we impose that definition on someone who does not believe that?

        The goal of propagating genetic potential might be a quality worth investigating, but it says nothing about the “fitness” of the individuals involved. Or the desirability of their genetic material.

      5. You’re correct that people’s beliefs are irrelevant to reality, and the reality is that zygotes meet most scientific definitions of life. This should already be a medically established fact. The abortion debate has nothing (or should have nothing) to do with whether unborn children are alive but whether or not they are “persons”. Zygotes are alive. They are organisms that metabolize, move, and grow. They are living organisms composed of human DNA, so they are human life, whether the law recognizes that fact or not.

        Propagating genetic material *is* fitness. That’s what fitness means in this context. Human children *cannot* be parasites because they are same-species increases in genes and therefore beneficial to fitness. Whether they are “unwanted” by individuals does not matter.

      6. Yes, a zygote is capable of most of the MRS GREN definition of life. Life is not the question. We don’t extend rights to life to insects or even some mammals. Human life is the question. And human life is defined by the activity in the brain stem.

      7. Of course zygotes are alive, and anyone who claims otherwise is either incredibly ignorant or deliberately evil. Or both. Whether zygotes are “people” is less cut and dried. Since the definition of death of a human is cessation of brain activity or circulation without expectation it can be restarted, that provides a supportable stage in development where it is a person. Earlier than that, it is battling beliefs.

      8. Cancer cells are “alive”, and I think they have some human DNA in them. But they are not and never will be “human”. Zygotes have the “potential” to be human (a guarantee under normal circumstances); whether that makes them human “now” can be, and is, debated. If there is not supporting proof, it does not appear these opposing beliefs can be resolved.

      9. You’ve stumped me with that one. I wanted to come back with, “Cancer cells aren’t an organism,” but that wasn’t what I was arguing. That moves the issue from, “Is a zygote alive with human DNA?” to”Is a zygote a human organism?”

        I would say I think zygotes are both, but I need to research more.

    2. Self-sustaining is probably a poor word choice. There are people 20 years old and older who should be “self-sustaining”, but due to injury or illness need medical help just to remain alive. And there are people who are no longer able to take care of themselves and need help with food and elimination just like babies.

      Babies “mere existence actually increases their parents’ fitness”? Really? Never having been pregnant, I can’t say for sure, but I’ve heard there is morning sickness, gestational diabetes, back and other problems, inability to sleep, etc. And for a while after the baby is born, there is not being able to sleep for more than an hour or so at a time. If you want to claim that for “children”, I might buy it, but fetuses and babies, not hardly.

      1. Perhaps there is something clumsy about the phrase “self-sustaining”. But people linked up to machines still have a functioning brain stem.

      2. I mean biological fitness. As in “survival of the fittest”. Babies carry on your genes.

      3. I’ve only seen fitness as I’m using it used in the sense of genetic success. A species perfectly suited to its environment that doesn’t reproduce is unfit.

      4. I think you’re taking the definition broadly, and kind of into another term. You’re thinking of genetic success or reproductive success.
        Fitness is about ability to evade predators, acquire food, locomotive efficiency and else utilise your habitat and niche.
        So, in terms of fitness, pregnancy, babies and even young children actually make humans vulnerable and less fit (in the evolutionary sense). But, of course, the trade off is genetic success. So, I think I understand what you’re getting at.

      5. The peacock’s tail feathers makes it more conspicuous to predators but more attractive to potential mates. These kinds of trade-offs are a constant in biology.

      6. Yes, a mating ritual is a part of a niche. The goal is to survive long enough have children that will also survive long enough to have children.
        But having children is not biological fitness. Everything that helps you to do that is fitness. And doing it is genetic success.

        But before we invest more energy into defining the difference between biological fitness and genetic success, so what? Even if having children did increase fitness, how does that weigh in on the conversation?

      7. Survival of the fittest has been suspended with respect to humanity. We use medical science and government programs to ensure the unfit have at least the same chances at survival and procreation as the fit.

  2. There is no such thing as “female” rights.

    There are only human rights.

    “Rights” based on anything but human nature are arbitrary and actually destroy authentic human rights.

    How can abortion be a human right when it has mass murdered nearly 60,000,000 innocent human beings since 1973, in the United States alone?

    The existence of the so called “female” right to abortion has meant the creation of a industrial genocide fueled by nothing more than raw appetite and coin.

    1. I assume you’re aware of both the conclusion of my article and the fact that calling abortion a genocide is ineffective for reasons articulated in this post…

      1. Allallt,

        Since modern science has proven that the fertilized egg is truly human and truly alive, killing it is murder.

        Now if the NAZI’s mass murdering 6,000,000 Jews is called genocide, then it follows that murdering 60,000,000 is genocide.

        The only way for your arguments to work is to reject the findings of modern science and the morality inherent in natural law.

        Thus, atheism which does exactly that, making genocide a tool of convenience for whoever holds power.

      2. “Since modern science has proven that the fertilized egg is truly human and truly alive, killing it is murder”
        Citation needed.

      3. (Definition) Genocide is the intentional action to systematically eliminate an ethnic, national, racial, or religious group. Killing 60M people is bad, but if they are not all the same ethnicity, race or religion, it is not genocide. And it does not seem designed to “eliminate Americans”, so that is a hard sell for genocide as well.

  3. An interesting concept, and one that makes a degree of sense from a moral viewpoint. I see some potential problems though.

    First of all, there is that “technology variance”. If a fetus is a human in Chicago but not a human in Sinaloa because of the technology difference, that raises a real dilemma. Humanity depends on Geography? Sounds like a problem, and ripe for a “loophole”.

    Second is, what are the penalties for committing “infanticide” of a fetus past the “human” stage of development? Is this a straight point in time, or must every fetus undergo some set of tests to determine its “humanity”?

    If the statute is a point in time, then there is the concept of “ignorance murder”. Fred performs abortions up to the statutory limit of, say, 16 weeks. What if the woman is incorrect and the fetus is actually 17 weeks instead of the claimed 15 weeks? Are either of them liable? What if the woman lies? What if a new technology is proven which lowers the limit to 12 weeks? How will Fred be advised of this? If he performs an abortion at 14 weeks, how can it be proven that he was advised? Will he be guilty even if it is proven he was NOT advised?

    Finally, you mention about this “not costing” the biological parents. I’m thinking it is a problem that they can just “dump” their kid (by legal definition) on the country, with likely a very high medical cost just to get the child to be self sustaining, and then bringing it up until it is adopted. Even if there were a way to deal with that cost, why should they get away “free”? It’s not about being “affordable”; it is being responsible for your actions, and if you do harm to society, being punished enough to encourage you to not do it again.

    Universal health care is not the solution to this, or health care in general. The concept sounds good, but most governments are not able to sustain high quality, timely service to “everybody”, because even without the typical inefficiency of governments, the cost is quite high, and politics and medicine (sadly) have differing goals.

    1. There are some very interesting challenges there.
      The Chicago/Sinaloa variance
      This is perhaps the one I find the most challenging. I’d like to make some hyper-liberal comment about changing the foreign policy from war to aid so that we can have some level of assurance about medical continuity, but that has its own practical issues. I’m tempted to say that’s just the consequence: if there’s less available technology then the solution to the conflict between the best possible resolution and reproductive rights is solved differently. Rights are already geography-dependent. It’s not an entirely unworkable situation.
      There’s a deeper practical question, though. Your challenge supposes a globally accepted definition. That’s unlikely, especially in religiously conservative countries.

      The “humanity” test concern
      I imagine new technology having published statistics for, say, 95% success rates on foetuses with no detectable health concerns at X weeks. That’s, I think, the first important thing to consider. “Detectable” implores the use of ultrasounds or any superseding technology. That process, to determine foetus age, is already part if the process because the woman needs to be informed of increased risks or changes to the type of procedure that needs to be done.

      Ignorance murder challenge
      Dr Fred should know exactly what technology is available in his hospital and the limits they can deal with. He should perform the scans. (If there is doubt, he should get a second opinion. Or maybe he should always get a second opinion.) The woman should then be informed of the situation and asked if she wants to proceed.
      The simple existence of new technology in Japan doesn’t change the technology available to Dr Fred. Even new technology in Dr Fred’s hospital that no one is yet trained to use does not change the technology available to him.

      The healthcare abuse challenge
      If what you want is for medical care to incubate your baby for you instead of having to go through your own pregnancy, then that is a service you should pay for. Just like abortion being a final decision, you should not be allowed to adopt your medically incubated child without paying the medical costs.
      Again, every country uses its own definition. That most democratic and developed countries agree of the brain stem definition does, I think, point to something important. But countries that cannot offer medical services like that don’t have to change from their current definitions. The last thing i would want is to reduce rights for a woman. But, in terms of improvement, imperfect systems will still be better than, say, Ugandan systems.

      1. All reasonable, but the underlying question still remains. If an abortion is performed after the legally recognized stage of development, is the physician chargeable with murder and conspiracy, and the woman with conspiracy?

      2. That would depend on circumstance. But, if two doctors have assessed the age of the foetus to be less than the age of some sort of technological removal and survival, then how the doctors came to that conclusion dictates the nature of the crime. Doctor incompetence would mean manslaughter. Some sort of corruption would mean murder. Some sort of technical malfunction may be criminal negligence by a technician.

        But one also have to accept the possibility of honest mistakes. Honest mistakes kill thousands of people every year. It’s a risk we accept.

        I can’t see that the woman can be held accountable, because she doesn’t really know when she fell pregnant if she’s sexually active.

      3. Excuse me. If a woman is “sexually active”, then she is deliberately risking getting pregnant. And if she does get pregnant, that is because of an action on her part which is completely under her control (unless rape is involved, which is a whole other subject). There is no way to 100% guarantee not getting pregnant except a hysterectomy or abstinence (even tube tying in males and females has on very rare occasions self “healed”). Thus, I claim that a woman who gets pregnant unintentionally (AND the man involved) should “be held accountable”.

      4. Held accountable for what? Being pregnant isn’t a crime. Ending a pregnancy isn’t a crime. It’s the doctor that decides whether a traditional abortion or foetus removal needs to take place (in this sci-fi future). What exactly is the transgression of the woman?

      5. Held accountable to some degree for engaging in activity which could have resulted and in this case did result in “harm” to others and was strictly for her own benefit. The child or child to be who was killed or whose future was eliminated, society overrun with unwanted children, the economy which paid for dealing with the situation.

        Not the worst possible “crime”, of course, but also not a transgression which should be ignored. If there is “no cost” to unwanted pregnancy (to the woman OR the man), then the odds of them repeating that behavior is likely not reduced.

        If I relieve myself into a system designed for that purpose, that is not a crime. If I do it into a source of drinking water, it may or may not be a crime depending on jurisdiction and exact circumstances, but in my opinion, always should be a “crime”.

      6. But what is the crime you are accusing her of. You didn’t name a single crime, there.
        Or are you thinking of making one up for this situation?

      7. I don’t know if it is a “crime” (maybe it should be, but that will likely never happen). All I’m saying is it should not be “free”. The woman (and man) involved should have to pay enough of the costs to encourage them to take more care in the future.

      8. I’m not sure abortions or having a baby surgically removed from your uterus (and it would be a baby if that’s the procedure opted for) isn’t traumatic enough.
        There is this idea of having a cap on how many abortions a person can have. I’m not sure how I feel about that. But perhaps a fine after a certain number is a workable idea.

      9. I’m pretty sure there are several women who have more than one abortion, and I’m positive there are several men who have fathered and abandoned multiple kids resulting in abortions or kids who do not have adequate support to become positive members of society.. So, the trauma of abortions, at least, would seem to be not severe enough to reliably discourage having multiple unplanned pregnancies. If the removal procedure is more traumatic, that might suffice, but I still think the parents should contribute to the costs.

      10. See, given this sci-fi world I’m positing, I’m implore someone to wait until after the deadline and get the removal procedure.
        Unless it’s financially damaging. Then I’d recommend not waiting. If you think you’re sure, rush to the clinic now!

      11. That is likely what would happen. I’m just in favor of people being responsible for their own actions, not making others (in particular, me 🙂 ) take care of it.

      12. I’ve noticed another problem that you mentioned and then didn’t linger on: all these children who need to be adopted. We may not have the infrastructure for that. Ignore the medical costs, there simply aren’t that many people who want to adopt.

      13. Yep, back when I believed in abortion, I thought it better the child be killed than alive and unwanted.

        That is also a problem area. Not only would there not be enough willing and suitable people to be adoptive parents, but of those who are suitable and willing, many would want to “shop for the ideal baby”.

        On a completely different (well related) tack, ever seen the movie Gattaca?

      14. This is the great things about putting ideas out there — someone else has the foresight to see the problems. I’m not sure that can be resolved; the whole point is the baby lives. And if SoM’s figures are right, that’s a massive problem.

        I haven’t seen it, but I can put it on a list of films I’ never actually get around to watching.

      15. It’s pretty good. Procreation is by genetic selection (mostly), and those who are not “superior” (called “invalids”) are treated as a lower (possibly even sub) class. The story follows an “invalid” who fakes his way into the space program, showing that guts and determination can beat better breeding.

      16. Oh, and if a woman deliberately goes around the legally specified “humanity” date to have the procedure, is she not then chargeable with conspiracy to murder?

      17. No. Because traditional abortions are also legal.
        The decision about which procedure is to be carried out rests with the doctors.

      18. Oh, I missed that. It seemed this suggestion was a REPLACEMENT for the current abortion methodology. If that is still allowed (for other than serious health issues with mother or child) after the legal “humanity” date of “x” weeks or days, then this new policy hardly seems worth implementing.

      19. I’m not sure what the source of our confusion is here, so I’m going to reiterate it to see if that clears anything up.

        I am proposing a new and dynamic cut off date for the latest date a woman can under go a traditional abortion. That date is the point at which the available technology could safely remove a foetus and ‘bring it to term’.

        Traditional abortions are still legal before this date.
        The removal operations are the only options after that date.

        The age of the foetus is determined not by the woman’s best guess of when she became pregnant*, but by two doctors’ opinions based on the available scanning technology.

        If a mistake is made, and a traditional abortion is carried out after the date at which it became illegal, I do not see the parents’ transgression.

        If parents undergo the operation to safe a child that otherwise would be aborted, I do not see how that is a transgression.

        If you want the parents to pay a fine for saving the foetus, where is the incentive to wait until you’re saving a life, instead of terminating a foetus?

        * there are all sorts of technical and reliability issues for this. For example, the date a pregnancy starts is actually the date of the missed period, not the day the sex happened. This is because it relates to the attachment of the foetus to the uterine wall. The scan is more reliable.

      20. What you stated here is what I originally understood; that is, that legally the fetus is a child after the currently specified “humanity” date. So my view is that if a person knowingly “kills” a child after that date, it be treated as a murder, and if a woman knowingly arranges to “kill” a child after that date, it be treated as conspiracy to commit murder. With exceptions if the mother’s life is in extraordinary danger if the pregnancy continues or the child is untenable.

      21. Okay — but you do to a Dr to terminate a pregnancy, it’s not up to you which procedure the Dr carries out. The Drs decide the age of the foetus and thus the legal method.

        So, unless you go to a back-alley person somewhere to get it done, the responsibility rests with the Dr.

  4. I will have to comment in dribs and drabs and I don’t expect to have adequate time to be comprehensive. Micro-point #1: I do not think that pro-choice is code for atheist. My responders were all self-identified atheists and were arguing from a voluntarily-stated atheist perspective.

    1. As you are avoiding this question on your blog, deleting comments in fact to avoid it, perhaps you will answer it here:

      Do you agree that the life of the mother takes precedence?

      Yes, or no.

    2. Madblog continues to avoid answering the question as to whether or not she believes the life of the mother takes precedence.

      From her silence, we must assume that she does not believe the life of the mother takes precedence.

      It’s an interesting position to hold.

      I don’t think it’s defendable.

      In fact, I think it is morally reprehensible.

      What it demonstrates is that Madblog is not, and never was, “pro-life,” rather simply “pro-forced-birth”.

      1. John answers a question for me which I have not answered at any time and imposes his own answer. One wonders at the arrogance.

        I do also wonder if anyone has seen him behave with such bullying toward a man?

      2. I’m actually going to take xPrae’s point on this, JZ (so it’s lucky he probably won’t read this post). You’ve asked this three times on this post, today: twice before madblog tried to answer at all (under a comment where she said she’s busy and will reply in dribs and drabs).
        If she doesn’t answer you, she doesn’t answer you. Everyone who cares has read the question and noted the lack of an answer.

        (For those keeping feminism points: JZ is not treating madblog differently to how he treats other bloggers, regardless of gender. I, however, have just stood up for a woman when I did not stand up for a man in the same situation. I am the patronising sexist. (But it comes from a good place, I promise.))

      3. Fair enough, but I only asked it twice, and she’s not busy as she’s replying in real-time over on her blog.

        It appears she’s just ashamed and embarrassed of her answer, which is understandable.

      4. Oh, and she only replied here because she wouldn’t allow that comment on her blog minutes ago, so I re-posted here, which forced her hand. I wasn’t actually “jumping the gun,” so to speak. There are two threads going on regarding this question she refuses to answer.

      5. That is not true. I posted JZ’s comment on my blog as well.
        I don’t “refuse” to answer. On the thread over at my place, the question was a non-sequitur clearly designed to provide cover for John’s avoidance of the question at hand which was relevant to the post. I simply like to guide the discussion on my blog per the relevance to the post and basic comprehension.

        Jz was DEMANDING an answer to a question which was related but would have derailed the conversation. Of course, he has a habit of control-freaking all over other people’s blogs and getting very aggressive when people don’t respond to his coups.

        Regarding the question: JZ has now decided what my answer would be without any evidence whatsoever and proceeded to condemn me on this imaginary answer. I have nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of and I have already explained to him that I will discuss that issue on a separate post.

        However, his puzzling excitement continues…

  5. I see you have some good discussions already in progress on “life”. If I may, my comment here will be too brief. Thus by default I risk misinterpretation, misinterpolation, and oversimplification; all conditions I rather loathe. Hence, I’ll simply leave these two pints (vs. points) to add to the discussions and dilemmas… 😀

    What is the precise standard definition of a quality life? What is the same for an unworthy life? And I’m currently unable to go into What constitutes consciousness.

    And for the 2nd pint…

    In relation to “quality life” definitions… If the fetus you save becomes an intersexed birth/human, will you fight for all of that person’s inherent rights until death?**

    ** – 1 in every 1,666 births has no clear XX or XY chromosome identification.
    ** – 1 in every 100 births cannot be differentiated as standard male or female bodies.


    1. I’d need to know how the definition of the ‘quality of life’ is relevant. Asking for a precise definition is a big ask, and not one I’m up to. But perhaps if I knew where you were going with this, I’d be able to point in the right direction. As for an unworthy life, I don’t think such a definition can be imposed.

      In relation to being intersex, that’s like transgender, right? Yeah, sure; they all get the same rights. Seems like a silly (and kind of unrelated) question.

      1. I see I should have listened to that ‘other voice’ in my head 😉 and waited another day or two before making my comment(s) to better sort my truncated thoughts. Apologies for my laziness to go into necessary detail. :/

        I did feel that the current discussions didn’t really require my further involvement — I think several are good.

        Therefore, my angle to your post requires more extensive composition and time for me to get it right. You are more than welcome to delete my comment and subsequent replies, if you’d like. I’ll just start over tomorrow or Saturday. I’m simply too busy, too tired. Sorry. My bad.

      2. Allallt – As much as I’ve tried to condense my revised comment, tackling your request to your audience and my improved dot-to-dot redrawing of my earlier comment on “life/quality-life” and “intersexed births” relevancy…

        the newer recomment is long. Long because these 3 subjects are highly charged and deserve considered thought and discourse. How would you like me to proceed Sir?

      3. It’s essentially two questions, right? One about quality of life and one about intersexed births. (I Googled it, and found out that intersexual individuals are ones with genitalia that is distinctly male or female. So, no need to explain that.)
        So, I’d recommend asking both questions and typing a brief explanation of why the question is relevant to the overall discussion. Just be comfortable taking up a bigger word count than you did last time.

        If I had to guess, both questions would relate to the question of ‘to what extent is the reasonable expectation that a child would have a poor quality of life defend the right to abortion?’ If that is the theme you’re aiming at, I do have problems with that: one should never be allowed to decide for another whether their quality of life is sufficient to defend living. It is a decision an individual can make for themselves (I believe), but not impose on another.

        If, however, you were taking a different angle, I apologise.

  6. Just a note, and I don’t mean to make this a diversion: Abortion is absolutely “celebrated” in the universe of popular feminism. You’ve not heard of the videos of women filming their abortions while cooing about how cool it is? The campaign to tweet how proud you are of your abortion(s)? A good feminist doesn’t grieve or struggle with recovery from this horrific experience.

      1. Perhaps you should actuallyread the linked article, before commenting further and looking like a fool?

        ”but don’t mistake her “happiness” for glib indifference. Gratitude fits better. Gratitude for the kind caregivers and medical procedure that empowered her to chart her future. “A shout is not a celebration or a value judgment; it’s the opposite of a whisper, of silence,” Bonow told the New York Times.”

      1. I’ll engage with the possibility that JZ raises, that the actual emotion going on is a gratitude that someone is willing to carry out that work and allow them to realise that right. That’s a possibility.
        But if it is as you’ve characterised it (and I think we have to be willing to take people at face value instead of the unfalsifiable psychoanalysing in the link JZ shared) then that’s disgusting.
        Or, uh, “viscerally distasteful”. Just to hold you to your own standard for a moment, that’s not the metric of morality, is it?

        I look forward to your response in a few hours when you return.

      2. We’ve got one organization saying they are real, and several saying they are faked. Every organization’s claim is in line with it’s mission, and I don’t know if any neutral source of information has weighed in, so it is a real challenge to figure out which side is truthful. Or maybe the truth is somewhere in the middle.

        I think Planned Parenthood lies in their name. I’ve never gone, but from what I’ve seen, they tend to encourage abortion over any kind of parenthood. Their supporters claim they provide “low cost woman’s health”, but do they ever provide any health related services other than contraception and abortions?

      3. Abortion is 90 some percent of their business. This is another huge topic I’m not getting into here. Suffice to say…you need to watch before you decide they’re faked.

      4. So it’s not sufficient for you that the accusation was made by an anti-abortion lobby, even after ‘Oversight and Government Reform Committee’ and ‘United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce Select Investigative Panel on Planned Parenthood’ found no wrong doing and a Grand Jury in Texas indicted the video creators.

        So much for the presumption of innocence.

      5. You see, even your sources of “news” are quite selective. There were determinations in their favor as well, but your sources didn’t tell you that. And again, PP is a very very powerful political presence which doesn’t play fair, and many “friends” in gov’t here…But I’m not gonna derail the discussion on this any further.

      6. All government agencies, and the government is staunchly pro-abortion. Are they accidentally or even knowingly wrong? Maybe, maybe not. That’s why I’m waiting for someone who does not benefit from their position to weigh in.

      7. And there it is, another lie.

        Why do you lie so often, Madblog?

        It reflects very badly on your credibility when every “fact” you try to present is a deliberate lie.

        The 94% number is a complete sham. Planned Parenthood’s own figure of 3% is also misleading. A number of organisations have attempted to find the “real” number, and it comes out at around 15%.

        And here is a really detailed assessment of the numbers:

      8. I watched. They didn’t seem faked. I also just watched “Ant-Man”, and it did not seem faked either. But was.

        A fake which is good is no less a fake. Are they fake? I don’t know. Maybe someday there will be evidence from an independent source which may resolve the issue. Or maybe not. But even if it was fake, I STILL would not approve of Planned non-Parenthood because of everything else I’ve heard about them.

      9. Except the legal system.

        I’m in the UK. I didn’t even hear about it until it was a scandal because it was demonstrably false.

      10. It was not demonstrable false. You do realize that Planned Parenthood has billions to spend on utter propaganda? Watch them then you may decide they are false; until you do you are speaking in ignorance.

      11. Ah, I see. We’re not going to trust investigation. Instead, Planned Parenthood are guilty because you can still imagine a way they may be guilty and you’d like people with an agenda to make up their own mind.
        Remind me to never vote for you. You are terrifying.

        Interestingly, though, even if they are selling foetus tissue, so what? That’s where the question gets really interesting. Yes, it’s ‘viscerally distasteful’, but I can only assume the only market value is for medical research. So, even if they are selling foetus tissue (which they could be, all I’m saying is that there is no reliable evidence they are) it’s not a transgression, it’s a medical ethics question.
        I found an interview where a woman claims tissues from her foetus were sold without her consent. Now, I see that as clear transgression; even if one can answer the broader medical question with a ‘yes, it’s okay to sell that for research’, it should get consent from the woman. But, how does she know? She can’t know, so the accusation is a nonsense.

      12. You are now personally demonstrating the problem with your premise, your post, and your moral worldview.

        There were investigations which went the other way. No imagination is necessary on my part.
        BTW there is no question that PP sells fetal tissue, even they don’t deny it but are proud of it. You are misinformed. Please understand you are listening to propaganda, not news here.
        I don’t want to talk about this either, and I didn’t bring it up.

      13. The basic premise is that human life is relatively valuable and relatively deserving of rights. That view allows you to express the rest, including this one here, that the dismemberment of unborn babies and the selling of their tissue for profit is morally OK.

        I’m going to leave now. I have a lot of real life to do now and I think I’ve done all I can here. Thank you for the opportunity to discuss and for probably giving me some extra traffic. Thank you also for a mostly respectful exchange.
        I will get to your challenge on my blog as soon as I can. thanks again.

      14. I’ve ” been clear enough, but you need to paint me the way you like in order to demean my thoughts.”
        I haven’t talked about value, yet. I can; I have a view about value. But I haven’t talked about value, I certainly haven’t said that life is valuable according to technology. (I’ve said it could be defined according to technology, and that would have certain implications.)

        And, yes, I’m quite happy for human tissues to be sold. If I died in a private hospital, I’d be quite happy for my body to be sold to a research facility. (Although, I’m much more likely to die in a nationalised hospital and donated to a nationalised research facility. If they carry about my wishes properly, that’ll be after my usable organs are donated.)
        But, this should be a consent-based thing. And, as the woman is the only person necessarily involved, her consent the consent to be asked for.

        I’m not normally such an economist on ethical questions. But as the woman is the only wellbeing-capable entity necessarily involved, and the rest are institutions and economics, it’s not that difficult a question, I don’t think.

      15. From what I see, they have admitted selling the tissue, just not at a profit or in violation of law. And after the tapes, they don’t charge at all any more.

      16. Well, considering the makers of the faked videos have been indicted on criminal charges I think we can safely say the issue is closed. The video was a fraud from beginning to end… a deliberately manufactured lie. Just another case of evangelicals demonstrating the depths of depravity they’re prepared to stoop to.

        “Creators Of Fake Planned Parenthood Videos Indicted On Criminal Charges”

      17. Indicted just means that it has been considered and there is enough evidence to stand trial, doesn’t it?
        I didn’t think it was the same as being convicted.
        I’m still very much in favour of the presumption of innocence. (Even when I am very suspicious.)

      18. I assume so. David Daleiden, the producer of the “videos” has even admitted they are a fraud.

        “The Producer Of The Planned Parenthood Videos Admits That They Are A Fraud”

        And this is a good article, also:

        The New England Journal of Medicine even released a statement lambasting the fraud and the “noise” it created.

      19. An interesting, and telling, point to make here is that Madblog knows the videos are a fraud. We’ve had this conversation before, some weeks ago. I’ve shown her the evidence. She is aware, but hasn’t adjusted her thinking accordingly so as to reflect reality.

        That is terrifying.

        She is not interested in reality, not interested in facts. She only wants to promote her agenda even though she knows it’s fraudulent.

        When a person demonstrates that type of willful ignorance, that willingness to lie, then there’s really not much you can do with such a person but contain them so they do not infect society at large.

      20. Well, I don’t know about “contain”. I wish rational discussion wasn’t so easily hijacked by fearmongering. Because, that’s what it is. Look at the issues people are willing to suspend the presumption of innocence on: there’s this debacle, rape accusations, paedophile accusations. If an accusation is distasteful enough, people suspend rational though. Even when it’s just an accusation.

      21. The thing is, talking about a society that doesn’t seem to have appropriate regard to its health and for contraception use is a discussion I can get behind.
        Talking about the fact that the primary purpose of abortions are meant to be in cases of rape, incest, medical concerns or contraception failure is a reasonable conversation.
        Talking about the seeming overuse of abortions where there was consensual sex and the pregnancy would be safe but they just didn’t use contraceptives and knew they didn’t want a baby — I’m not advocating banning that, I wouldn’t advocate banning that, but I do think that cultural issue needs addressing.

        But saying abortion is bad because you can fabricate a heinous thing a service provider might be doing is very questionable behaviour.

  7. It must be plain that if we base our assessment of fetuses on their viability status, and viability becomes an evolving or changing marker because medical science makes advances in keeping younger and younger babies alive, that viability cannot have ever been the objective measure of whether a fetus is a being with human status.

    1. Nonsense.
      Sorry to be terse about it, but something can be relative to circumstance and still be objective. Despite the language that surround the ‘morality’ discussion, relative and objective are not antonyms.
      I think part of the definition of our species should take account of the fact we rely on a niche defined by technology.

      1. That would mean that a 20 week unborn baby in 1700 or 1000 or 1967 was properly disposable but a fetus in 2016 at the same gestational age was a person worthy of human rights. It would mean, as has been pointed out, that a 20 week fetus in Malawi wasn’t a person but a fetus of the same condition in Los Angeles was.
        Do we become intrinsically more valuable because we have access to better medical technology? Is this what you’re saying?

        I’m sure you can see some implications. It is fundamentally elitist for one thing. It is illogical for another.

      2. I’m not sure I agree. If you posit that at some point in the development of a child, it acquires “rights” and prior to that point the mother’s rights are paramount, then that point, which will be highly contested, must have the maximum practical supporting evidence. One point in time which seems to have pretty reasonable evidence is the development of mental activity, since cessation of such activity is part of the definition of death of a human being. Prior to the technology necessary to verify the existence of brain activity, this point had no evidence (and it was not even part of the definition of human death). But now it does have that evidence and is part of the definition..

        Another point which always has had a lot of support is the point of time where the child can survive outside the mother’s body without extraordinary medical intervention. As technology improves, this point in time will get earlier and earlier.

        It would be nice if “everybody” agreed that human life started with conception, but that’s not going to happen. Heck, I don’t even agree with my younger self about that….

      3. Does anybody ever reflect on why viability is the magic point? Ought we not to PROTECT those who most need our protection rather than disqualify them for life based on their incomplete development?

        Incomplete (early) development does in no way equal death. These are two distinct and dissimilar states.

      4. It is suggested because it is supportable. Those who know God know that He considers it a child at conception (actually earlier than that). But since it is not possible to prove the existence of God or His wishes, that definition cannot be forced on those who do not believe in God.

        On the other hand, there are those who claim the child is not a child until it fully emerges into the world. This is a really stupid and even evil viewpoint, whose only redeeming feature is that it is incontrovertible. The kid is out or is not out, and that distinction cannot be argued.

        So obviously, there needs to be a point between conception and birth where most people agree the fetus is human, and for those who don’t agree, there is enough supporting evidence to force them to accept it.

      5. If the truth is that a fetus is entitled to human rights at conception, then why ought we to look for some half-measure point where agree with people who do not believe the truth? That necessitates that we are terminating human beings who are entitled to rights, and that then would be evil., especially since we know the truth.

      6. Something is not true because you or I believe it. Or even if 51% of the worlds population believes it. If we can’t prove it and nobody else can prove it, we cannot force the rest of the world to accept that belief. If we COULD prove that a child is a child at conception, then yes, finding some later point would be an unacceptable compromise.

      7. “If”.

        If there were some supportable reason a blastocyst that is composed of fewer cells than the nervous system of a house fly had inalienable human rights, then we’d be having a different conversation.

        But the concept of inalienable human rights is one conditional in that, and the other is supportable reasoning for extending it to something that has no brain stem and 75% of the time nature will terminate anyway.

        You don’t just get to assert inalienable rights and assert that they should be extended to a foetus at birth and then get all bewildered when we care more about the positions we can defend.

      8. Truth? As I’ve just pointed out to Cat, the foundations of your religion contradict your assertion of “truth” here.

        The Jewish Talmud resolutely asserts that life begins at birth: “[When the] greater part is already born, one may not touch it, for one may not set aside one person’s life for that of another.”

        In Jewish lore, therefore, the act of birth changes the status of the foetus from a nonperson to a person (“nefesh”).

        Christianity makes no statement regarding this, so the Jewish position must be taken as your religions position on the matter. Rights begin at birth.

        Personally, i don’t agree with this, but you are saddled with this position.

      9. No, we (or at least I) am not “saddled with it”. You keep trying to saddle us with it, but unless I have been misinformed, you are not God. Or the Messiah.

      10. That comment was for Madblog.

        Still, as Christianity is perfectly silent on the matter, wouldn’t the default position be the Jewish one, the one Jesus believed?

      11. I think EC gave a good answer moments ago (that you’ve just replied to), that applies to the accusation that he might be saddled with this distastefully late-term abortion described in Jewish lore: The argument that passage speaks to an empirical observation of human life. Something that, given technology, we are capable of doing much sooner than contemporaneous civilisations. (i.e. We can observe the formation of the brain stem — debatably.)

      12. No, no… The Talmud passage isn’t describing abortion, rather rights of the human being. It says when the majority of the baby is out then it must be treated a full human being will all rights.

        Apologies if that wasn’t clear.

      13. Sorry, that was clear I was jumping the gun on it’s significance to this discussion.

        But still, it’s a case of you afford it human rights once you can confirm it’s a human. We can do that earlier now, with empiricism and rational conjecture. That’s where the 24 weeks mark comes into play.

      14. 24 weeks for sustain brain functions, but full bilateral synchronisation is not until week 28. Still, to err on the side of caution I’d always fall to around week 20/21. Of course, this whole measure get’s thrown out the window if the mother’s life is in danger. If both can’t be saved, then her life must take precedence.

      15. In fairness, as one of my basic epistemic concerns with religion, you don’t know that “he’s not the messiah; he’s a very naughty boy.”

      16. “On the other hand, there are those who claim the child is not a child until it fully emerges into the world. This is a really stupid and even evil viewpoint, whose only redeeming feature is that it is incontrovertible.”

        That’s interesting as (whether true or not) it contradicts the foundations of Christianity. The Jewish Talmud resolutely asserts that life begins at birth: “[When the] greater part is already born, one may not touch it, for one may not set aside one person’s life for that of another.”

        In Jewish lore, therefore, the act of birth changes the status of the foetus from a nonperson to a person (“nefesh”).

        As Christianity makes no statement at all regarding this, the Jewish position must be accepted as the Christian one.

      17. Actually, this fits right into the technological discussion we are allegedly having. In those days, the only way it was possible to evaluate a child as a child was if it were outside the mother. Technology has improved; we can tell a child is a child earlier than that. How much earlier? Subject to discussion. But I guarantee you that a child in the process of being born is just as much a person as a child which has just been born, and to allow its murder because you call it “partial birth abortion” is unspeakable evil..

      18. “allegedly having”. 🙂

        The idea of a much earlier civilisation having to literally see the child to know it was a human life is actually a very good point. It would be interesting, though, as I drill this point for nuance, if you could explain whether you think that passage was written by man alone or inspired by God.
        Because, if that were a passage inspired by God, you could interpret that as God agreeing with this idea that human life has to be ’empirically known’ in some way, as part of the definition. In turn, that supports the idea I’m presenting, that human life ends up being tied inextricably with science and technology.

        If you take the more traditional view that the zygote is a human life at conception, then it is really hard to ponder why God would ever have inspired the passage that JZ shared.

      19. That is one of the concerns I genuinely get. It won’t even be the different between the US and Malawi, but the difference in funding given to a hospital in Washington vs a hospital in Cleveland. (Or, for a UK example, Bournemouth vs Grimsby.)
        But as hospitals, in a very real sense, relate to life, perhaps this more explicit enactment of the ludacrus situation we find ourselves in will be an incentive for countries to fix this terrifying lack of healthcare coverage.

        The idea is not elitist. The infrastructure is elitist.

      20. You cannot get at the problem by making life or technology absolutely fair. The problem has to be resolved at its foundation, which is a proper recognition of the rights of all persons.

      21. Fine, I’ll play devil’s advocate and accept that naive thought. Then abortion remains legal because until it has a brain stem, a foetus is not a person.

      22. That is a relative and arbitrary test which I guarantee will change. What then? You are suggesting in your post that a human being’s intrinsic value changes per advances in medic technology. It’s absurd on its face.

      23. If you think brain stem activity as a test for human life is arbitrary, then you’re simply unfamiliar with the topic. There has been a progression towards that idea for a long time.
        If you think I talked about intrinsic value, you’ve misread my post.
        If you think technology couldn’t play an important part of the definition of human life, you haven’t really considered it.

        You might consider that sounds dismissive. But as your argument was “arbitrary” “I guarantee will change” and “absurd” — yours wasn’t exactly engaged.
        I live in the UK and I eat food from New Zealand and have a phone assembled in China. Absurd doesn’t even come close to being an antonym or either reasonable or true.

      24. The current standard is birth, which then allows for “partial birth murder”. If we are not willing to accept a technological based earlier date, they I suspect all abortions, including partial birth murder, will continue forever.

        It is not, and without proof of God, never will be, a binary fight.

    2. Of course not. You would be hard pressed to find any fetus more viable than one which is in the process of being birthed normally. Yet, the concept of “partial birth abortion” is widely held.

    1. That is relevant only to the challenge posted at your blog. It is not relevant here.
      Secondly, the article doesn’t distinguish between mutilation and termination.
      Thirdly, I prefer not be linked to a thousand-word article and having to guess which bits you agree with and which of my points it addresses. It leaves far too much room for ambiguity (intentional or otherwise).

      So, can you summarise the bits you think are relevant under the comment I made to which it relates. It makes everything a long simpler.

  8. A tumor will never be a human person. If your science is telling you that, you need to vet your science better.
    A fetus WILL be a human person, every single time.

    All of this back and forth, trying to determine when this “becomes” something it wasn’t before. Do you not see how impossible it is to reconcile logically?
    It was something (not living/not human/not valuable) and then at some (you must admit) arbitrary point it poofs into something different (living/human/valuable).
    Explain how a thing changes intrinsically from one kind of thing to another entirely different kind of thing.
    Do you not see how desperately this strives to justify the premise (or fact as Z calls it?) that the human fetus is not an intrinsically legitimate being with human rights, or inalienable value?
    In order to justify a right to terminate said fetuses, for reasons other than an actual conviction that it’s true, but rather because it would be an uncomfortable political/moral/social position in which to put oneself?
    It must be plain that if we base our assessment of fetuses on their viability status, and viability becomes an evolving or changing marker because medical science makes advances in keeping younger and younger babies alive, that viability cannot have ever been the objective measure of whether a fetus is a being with human status.

    Why doesn’t a human fetus get credit for being a “potential”? I think we’re both awfully glad that our mothers valued our potential lives when we were in the wombs. This argument is another uneasy self-assurance that we aren’t responsible for valuing all those unwanted fetuses.

    1. “Explain how a thing changes intrinsically from one kind of thing to another entirely different kind of thing.”

      Two hydrogen atoms fuse to become a helium atom.

      Helium is not hydrogen.

      1. Whose saying an atom is not conscious? Integrated Information Theory firmly asserts it is, albeit at a fundamentally strange, alien level.

        But if you want a more recognisable example: Ape to Human evolution.

      2. Let’s not really go there? As soon as you find me a legitimate transitional species (so far the count is absolute zero), we can have that discussion.

      3. Pahahahahahahaha.

        Don’t get me wrong, I agree that it’s far too deep and unnecessary to get into discuss atoms and conscious, and far too inflammatory to talk about evolution, and is a red herring anyway…
        … but the fact that you would get that dumb jab about evolution and transitional forms in is simply hilarious.

      4. I hate to break it to you guys but the examples posted are not transitional forms…They are distinct species. There have been ZERO transitional fossils found, ever. Punctuated equilibrium was invented precisely to explain away this huge gap in the evolution narrative.

      5. I have no intention of turning this into thread on creationism.
        Suffice to say that academic article that get published on the issue, even by people at my university, disagree with you.

    2. Given current science, a tumour could become a human being.
      A foetus does not turn into a human every single time — it’s amazing the amount of early term miscarriages that happen, without anyone being responsible for that.
      No one has inalienable rights. That is a nonsense written into your constitution. Even under American law, all rights can be curtailed in certain circumstances. (And that is right.)
      Just because you can see that there could be some sort of gradation and a point cannot be identified where a foetus switches to a living human person, doesn’t mean it is fully a living human person the whole time.

      1. So you do not believe that there are ANY rights which are inalienable? That there are no rights but those which are handed to us from a governing body?
        I do not think you understand our documents. It means that although some rights derive from gov’t, there are others which we have as human beings and which cannot be taken from us justly and rightly.

        “Just because you can see that there could be some sort of gradation and a point cannot be identified where a foetus switches to a living human person, doesn’t mean it is fully a living human person the whole time.”

        A tumor can become a human being? In what bad sci-fi flick? Are you kidding?

      2. Actually, the “God given rights” – Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, ARE Alienable, if the responsibilities which go along with them are ignored. The State has the right and responsibility to remove the life or the liberty of an individual who is a real and present danger to the society. And the right to Pursuit of Happiness ends when it significantly affects other people.

      3. The Founders were not saying it’s impossible for those rights to be taken away but that it cannot be done righteously and legitimately.

      4. I suggest that if there is a person who goes out and violently rapes and then kills random people every chance he gets, then his victims can “righteously and legitimately” defend themselves even if the attacker dies as a result of that defense. And that the government, upon catching and legally convicting the person, can “righteously and legitimately” execute or imprison him.

      5. Let me ask you something. If you have a person who is proven beyond any doubt to be an unacceptable danger to society, what is the value in locking them away for the rest of their life? It is not (or should not be) pleasant or of value for them. A case could be made that society was just as protected by them being locked away as if the person were executed, but that is demonstrably not so. People escape from prison. People manage to get paroled. Officials release prisoners early for various reasons. And people in prison have been known to “mentor” other prisoners and even those not in prison.

      6. In a hypothetical thought experiment with certainty (“beyond any doubt”), the death penalty may be a very different discussion. If one could be certain of the danger posed and certain the person cannot be rehabilitated, then I think we have a very different discussion. I’m not sure where I’d fall in those circumstances.
        For the record, I am–apparently like xPrae (and it hurts me to admit that 😛 ) — very uncomfortable with retributive justice.
        In this thought experiment with perfect knowledge of guilt, risk and resistance to rehabilitation, I’m not sure why we have imperfect prison security, where they might escape.

        But outside of the thought experiment, where we have to deal with uncertainty in all things, I think the death penalty is a problem. That doesn’t mean I don’t think there shouldn’t be prison reform; I absolutely think there should. I think there should be focus on rehabilitation.

      7. So, you’re also against the death penalty (life), inprisonment (liberty), and war (life), as well as pro increased funding to mental health support (pursuit of happiness) and universal healthcare (life).

        Or, do some of these things collide and truncate against the rights of others?

      8. A tumour is a ball of human cells with human DNA which, for reasons not yet understood, has certain genes turned off. And, they’re closer to stem cells because of that than other body cells. And humanity has been able to clone for a long time. Questions?

        Give me one right that is inalienable.

      9. Our Creator has created us as intrinsically and eternal beings which have intrinsic rights, though those rights may be abrogated or disregarded by other people. We are unique beings who are made in His image, with certain implications. God honors our free will, he invites us to intimate relationship with him, he gives us the ability to communicate in unique ways that no other creature possesses…there are other implications but it’s a huge question.

        You are all missing the point here; I am not claiming that there are rights that cannot be abridged, only that we possess rights which are part of the package of being human.

      10. ” I am not claiming that there are rights that cannot be abridged, only that we possess rights which are part of the package of being human”

        What do you think “inalienable” means?

      11. We possess those rights because they are given to us by our Creator. We are intrinsically valuable beings. There is plenty to read about this; I am not giving you my own peculiar opinion here. Read up if you like! lol

      12. I’ve asked what you think the word “inalienable” means and to give one example of an inalienable right.
        Your response is to not address any of that and ask me to look up theological definitions of rights.

        So, let’s try this again:
        When you claim we have inalienable rights, what are you talking about? Somehow, you’ve made inalienable rights ones that can be abridged and removed. And you seem think you’re answering the question by invoking God. That’s silly enough, even without the context of this being an atheist’s blog where EquippedCat (who is a Christian) is also interested in Earthly understanding.

      13. Life is not inalienable (provably) And should not be. If you were to come at me with intent to alienate my right to life, I’d make every attempt to stop you which might alienate your right to life…

      14. Not sure what passage you are referring too. My comment was a joke, based upon my automatic “assumption” that all aliens are anal probers, which come to think of it, IS racist. But this is because I was abducted and anally probed. The aliens disguised themselves as my cousins Bobby and Rick, and made their spaceship look like Bobby’s van. (And this was meant as a joke too 🙂 )

      15. Sorry if my joke fell a little flat. I was taking a marijuana interpretation of “A man who lays with another man should be stoned”, instead of a punitive one.

        I tell you what, the aliens must have been studying Bobby and Rick for some time…

      16. The concept of “rights” is fraught with problems. At the highest level, any persons rights end when they smack up against someone else’s rights. And a right usually ends when it smacks up against the law of the land. And a right SHOULD end when the costs are not or can not be paid.

        I don’t like the concept of “rights”; it is grossly misused. Most everything which is claimed to be a “right” is not a right at all, but rather a privilege which comes with attendant responsibilities. Which the person claiming the “right” is usually unable or unwilling to fulfill..

  9. You all seem to live in a universe that, frankly, is not the universe I am familiar with: a universe with its own scientific “facts” particularly regarding the beginnings of human life. I have to tell you from the outside that your “facts” look more like beliefs than knowledge, more like articles of dogma than science. You (a universal “you”–to refer to pro-choice advocates in general) cling to them with some desperation, and your fear to question them is palpable, your society is insular.
    In the world I live in, it is bloody obvious that fetuses which occupy human females’ wombs are …babies. Human, living, precious every one. Everyone knows this.
    Why does every woman grieve when she has miscarried? Ask her if she knows that what she lost was no big deal, just a collection of organs with no more significance than a tumor? Please do not appeal to female emotions or hormones. She knows she has lost a child and she is not being silly.
    I need to break this to you too—your science on this is not the final word. It is in fact carefully self-selected popular scientism created for the purpose of defending a monstrosity and passed around like fact. I will not engage in a copy-and-paste contest; I can easily find anything on the internet to back up my claims too. It’s rather frustrating trying to prove the obvious.
    Can you not step outside of your world for one second and see how monstrous the pleading is for the unhumanity of human babies? Millions of human lives to be negated, devalued, deemed worthless in the service of a political end?

    1. “Why does every woman grieve when she has miscarried?”

      Provided she knew she was pregnant, because she’d mentally predicted a future which is now not going to unfold. Those expectations have vanished.

      Do women grieve the 50% of all miscarriages they never knew about?

      From the U.S. National Library of Medicine:

      “Around half of all fertilized eggs die and are lost (aborted) spontaneously, usually before the woman knows she is pregnant. Among women who know they are pregnant, the miscarriage rate is about 15-20%.”

      75% fail.

      1. They don’t grieve over the ones they don’t know about. They do grieve over the ones they do. It’s fairly simple, isn’t it?
        I would insist to you that a woman is not simply grieving over an imaginary future but over the very real loss of an actual child.

      2. They are grieving the loss of a future (plans) that will no longer come. It’s immediate and it’s jarring. They never knew the child so they cannot grieve that, merely the ideas they had.

      3. As a person, who’s had a miscarriage, I must school you now. You can, and do, grieve over the child you “never knew”.

        You grieve a person. You’re just gonna have to give me some credit here.

      4. I’ve had a partner who miscarried. No part of the fact I was very deeply sad does away with the fact that it was because of the loss of an imaginary future — one that seemed all-so-probable before.

      5. Might that not also be true for a completed person known for a while? I’ve heard people complain about someone on a regular basis before they die, and then canonize them after the subject of their complaints has died.

      6. Sure, but that “person” actually existed, did things, interacted, and by doing so, left real memories (good or bad) in other people’s minds.

      7. That’s for sure. Just saying though; one’s opinion of a person is often based on perception as much as reality; and their death has a way of significantly shifting perception.

      8. I think it’s fair to say that when a person dies you grieve the loss of that imaginary future, but also the loss of that character and the harm that came to that person you cared about.

      9. No, it’s an imaginary future.
        That doesn’t make it irrational.
        Poor exam results that mean you don’t get into the university you wanted are sad because of the way they change how one can reasonably expect the future to unfold.
        It’s about an imaginary future.

    2. The only thing you’ve said here of value worthy of replying to is the women who miscarry, grieve.
      The rest of it, and I’m being terse again, is nonsense.

      As for why women grieve, it’s probably because they really invested themselves in the idea they were going to have a baby. There’s nothing unreasonable about grieving because something very important to you, that you thought was about to become true, be denied. That is entirely grief-worthy. That doesn’t mean the foetus was a baby. It was a promise of a baby that was taken away.

      1. I have to say here that I am in absolute awe over the outrageous presumption by the men commenting on their superior knowledge of miscarriage. Allalt tells me how it affected him rather than his partner; JZ absolutely and smugly denies that any woman can possibly grieve the person she lost, PERIOD; and you all congratulate one another on your mutual assurances that you KNOW what a woman experiences when she loses a baby.

        I am ashamed for you all. You are unbelievably arrogant here.

        Don’t misunderstand me: a woman’s experience of miscarriage is not different because she is more emotional or hormonal about the loss. She does grieve over the person she has lost. The person has been carried inside her body and it was someone she knew.

        My point was that a woman has intimate and certain that she has lost a person. Wow guys.

      2. Yeah, see, the assumption that you have some special right to this conversation that I don’t is a nonsense. I know my partner grieved; it was in November and she still is grieving. I had no intention of taking away from my partner’s grief when I mentioned it affected me too, I simply meant to undo your stupid idea that only women get a say in this.
        But it’s a matter of empirical fact that she’s not grieving a person (even if she does say “he was a person to me”) because there was no person. It was a promise of a person.
        She didn’t know him. We had no idea what colour to paint the walls or whether he was gay or religiously minded; politically liberal or conservative; liked nature or was a techno-geek. The reason we didn’t know any of those things is because, regardless of the fact he’d developed finger nails, they are nonsense questions regarding my dog, let alone an organism without a brain stem.

      3. I never suggested that only women get a say, only that you men were all being totally dismissive of the woman’s KNOWLEDGE….If your partner has told you that he was a person to her, and your attitude is still as you describe here…you would do better to get off your computer and cultivate your relationship. Sorry to get personal, but I’m telling you that you are still being dismissive of her grief (if that was a real statement and not a “just suppose”).

        She did know him. He was living inside her, for goodness sakes.

      4. Actually, on your own post “Disorganised comments on recent posts” you do say only women should get a say.
        And then you dismiss JZ’s and my positions on the grounds of gender.
        I’m willing to take “I never suggested that only women get a say” as a concession that you shouldn’t have said it, though.

        I’m going to ignore your dumb conversation regarding my relationship. But, you can call it dismissive all you want, if someone claims to know a person who never existed, that person is mistaken. That’s the case, no matter how confident they are or how emotionally they say it. He wasn’t a person. List any characteristics of personhood, and he had none of them.
        If you just emotionally feel someone is a person, that’s a nonsense. I don’t have to intellectually deal with that. Emotionally, I do. I went out of my way to say abortion isn’t easy — and miscarriages are even harder still. But there’s a massive difference between the objective world and the emotional one.
        I’m not going to throw out definitions of a person just because someone is convinced something that meets none of the criteria of personhood is a person. No matter how sure they seem.

      5. I never said that, nor would I.
        I’m telling you that you all, for your own good, that you are not recognizing how arrogant, unsympathetic and clueless you sound. I’ve done what I could.

      6. Not “wrong” though.
        Oh, you people who hold to your virtues of understanding what is true; you sure do come across as arrogant and unsympathetic.
        So what? I’m not saying there’s nothing to grieve over. There is. I’ve said that more than once. The arrogant person here, so far as I can see, is you. You’re the one insisting only the loss of an actual person is worthy of grief, or that because you feel something strongly it must be true.
        If you think I’m going to deal with you — a stranger on the internet — the same way I deal with my partner, you also don’t understand human relationships very well.
        I mean, what are you implying? That she gets to say he’s a person because she feels it, and I don’t get to say he’s not a person because that is a word that has a meaning with criteria that foetus without a brain stem doesn’t meet.
        Because she has an emotional view, I should be censored? Is that really your view?

      7. You are now saying that I’ve said several things which I’ve explicitly stated I was not saying. II have not given exclusive right to grieve to the woman, but have invited you to grieve with her. I have explicitly appealed to her knowledge, not her emotional state. I have not said only her experience was “worthy” of grief.’ve been clear enough, but you need to paint me the way you like in order to demean my thoughts.
        I have never implied that a woman “gets” more rights than the man, but that the man does not “get” to dismiss her grief. And you are certainly doing that.

      8. Several points:
        (1) I never said that you said the right to grieve is exclusively the woman’s. I said that you said only the loss of a person is grief-worthy. And that’s bullshit. We didn’t lose a person. We lost a promise of a person.
        (2) If you think that’s dismissive, I don’t care.
        (3) You are saying that a foetus is important and thus are lending it the term “person”. I actually give a damn what personhood is. Personhood means something. Foetuses are not a part of that.
        (4) She hasn’t invited me to grieve with her, and she doesn’t get to invite me. It was ours. Not hers.
        (5) I don’t actually care how much you say she and you have this knowledge, but it’s not actually knowledge. It is a feeling. A feeling I have no doubt is real. But not one that maps to reality in this area.

  10. Choosing between two awful options may be what life often serves us, that is true. But your approach suggests that all dilemmas are actually morally neutral, and it’s only a matter of one being more expedient than the other, or less viscerally distasteful than the other. That’s there’s no true right, or true wrong.
    I must differ in that I believe that, and any critical thinking bears out, that there must necessarily be an objective moral right. In that case, it may be simply wrong to dispose of a fetus. That is possible.

    1. I am starting to find this rather tiresome. I’ve written a post that outlines a possible way in which abortion could be fully banned, while still protecting rights. That’s the argument I’ve made here.
      And of all your comments, 1 is relevant (the one about a relative-to-technology definition of human life).
      Everything else is anti-abortion propaganda that doesn’t mean anything in relation to my post. You’ve written posts where this discussion would be relevant. I’ve even posted relevant comments under them that could spark the conversation. Why are you having it here? (And why didn’t you have it when I wrote this post as a comment under your blog months ago?)

      Look, I like you. I find you an insightful and passionate person and that does lead to interesting discussions. But you’re just preaching here.
      Nothing could make that more obvious that the accusation of being “morally neutral”, in a post where I try to balance two moral concerns.

      1. Well hello again. What I find when I come back is a wall of stuff to respond to. I will try to sort through it but it will be spotty.

      2. Your response here is rather dismissive. Indeed I am replying to your points one by one. I guess the problem is that I didn’t put my points in the proper spots after your comments. Sorry.

        You did in fact bring up bodily autonomy in your post here. How is it not relevant?

        What you are reading as “propaganda” is my attempt to reason with you.You are saying you are unable to process what I’m actually saying rather than read it as propaganda? That’s sad for you but I assure you I’m saying something of substance. I’m not being emotional (beyond some annoyance) but rather I am reasoning with you and asking you to think in new ways about your suppositions.

        As for improper positioning of comments. I am frankly overwhelmed by the volume of stuff which is physically all over the place and not exactly carefully organized. Again sorry.

        My statements are all entirely relevant. I’m puzzled by your comments they are not connected to the issue.

      3. Sorry that you consider it dismissive. I’m simply pointing out that your comments to no relate to the theme of my post. And, there’s a perfectly good place on your blog to talk about abortion in the broader sense.
        But this post was about technology and how it might permit a complete ban on abortions without limiting rights to an abortion.

      4. My response is relevant because I think your solution is first, absurdly sci-fi and second, a failure at reconciling the rights problem, for the reasons I discuss. It does not have any effect upon the rights of either party–the mother or the child; and it can never happen. The issues I discuss are still there.

      5. ‘Absurdly sci-fi’? Do you mean ‘implausible’? Because medical technological progress is the only reason early-term births are viable. Nature didn’t just get more forgiving, we created the technology to allow that to happen.
        Deaths in labour have decreased for much the same reason.
        But, fine, if your objection is that you don’t think it will happen therefore it’s not worth intellectually being prepared for, then that’s your problem.

        As for it not reconciling the right problems, I find that a strange accusation. What problems does it not reconcile?

        I think what you mean is that I’m not just surrendering to your idea that inalienable human rights — more rights than we give to children — should be extended to a foetus. It’s not quite the same thing.

    2. “True” right or wrong is a slippery concept. Let us say it becomes “universally” agreed that it is wrong to kill a fetus because it would be unfair to deprive him/her of their potential. The problem is, in some cases the child would be doomed to suffer horribly.

      1. By that reasoning, we had better have a panel of some kind which decides whether each child will have a worthwhile life free of suffering before we allow them to be brought to term. You guys are not connecting the dots between your own assumptions.

      2. Well, as far as I can tell, there has never been anyone who has had a life free from suffering.

        Perhaps a more realistic definition could be arrived at. A child has fairly well understood requirements to grow into a person with a decent chance at a “worthwhile” life. If the child does not have adequate food, shelter, affection and education, it does not bode well. In my opinion, there should be minimal standards set up, and those who cause/become pregnant without a reasonable expectation of being able to meet those standards, would be chargeable with child abuse.

      3. Is that an exclamation about the wisdom of my thought, or an expression of a view that it is not only ok, but laudible to bring a child into the world you know you can’t support? That having kids is a “right”, not a responsibility?

      4. It is not an exclamation over your wisdom. You are not processing the implications of your suggestions, which would require a kind of government totalitarianism more extreme than has been attempted so far anywhere.

      5. I don’t think calling ‘abortion’ child abuse is as extreme than calling it murder.
        I think it’s wrong, but let’s get some perspective here: you want it criminalised. So, how is EquippedCat being totalitarian?
        EquippedCat is talking about a financial fine, instead of a criminal one. That’s less totalitarian than what you are implying.

      6. I don’t want it criminalized. I want it illegal, and finally unthinkable…When did I ever say I wanted it criminalized?

      7. It has been thinkable throughout all of history. And has been thinkable even when it was illegal. If it was unthinkable, it would not have to be illegal.

      8. It could go there (and given the nature of government, probably will). But we already have the government taking peoples kids for spanking them, or letting them play in a playground 50 feet from their front door or homeschooling them. Those forms of “abuse” are not as damaging as starvation, etc…

      9. Even if it is due to contraception failure?

        (I’m not even going to ask about cases of rape — I just assume they wouldn’t be chargeable then.)

      10. Yes. Sorry, but if you can’t afford a child, you can’t afford to do the activity which can produce children. So what if it is hugely enjoyable? The concept that a person can do whatever they want and not be held accountable for reasonably foreseeable results is a major part of why we as a race are as messed up as we are.

        ALL forms of contraception, including surgical, have a chance of failure even if used perfectly correctly. So blaming its failure is part of the “it’s someone else s fault” mentality. .

      11. We are going to disagree on whether sex should, in practicality, be banned, except for when the people want a child. (That is the only way of not falling foul of this proposed law you’re advocating.)

        Obviously, I’m saying that from within the view that it is a baby at conception, which I don’t agree with.

      12. No, I’m not calling for non-procreative sex to be banned or criminalized. I’m must saying that IF you engage in sex, AND a pregnancy results, that there are consequences unpleasant enough that people expend some effort to avoid it; plus it would be nice if the “cost” to others in society is kept to a minimum.

  11. I apologize. Now that I’ve dropped my packages on your doorstep, I will be away from my computer for several hours. Sorry. It will be interesting to see what I find when I get back.

  12. From Madblog:
    “I’m going to leave now…Thank you for the opportunity to discuss and for probably giving me some extra traffic. Thank you also for a mostly respectful exchange.
    I will get to your challenge on my blog as soon as I can. thanks again”
    Hours later, long after Madblog has thanked Allallt and left the discussion we find Zande foaming at the mouth with accusations of lying, presuming to know what goes on in Madblog’s mind and calling for her incarceration.
    “When a person demonstrates that type of willful ignorance, that willingness to lie, then there’s really not much you can do with such a person but contain them so they do not infect society at large.”
    I guess I could comment on Zande’s adolescent chest thumping after the discussion ends because one of the parties gets off the keyboard to go do real life stuff. Or the absence of original thinking rattling around that well programmed head of his. Or his completely unimaginative but predictable response to disagreement. Lock ’em up? Really, John? That’s the best you’ve got? Gee, I would’ve figured re-education camp or Room 101 or psychotherapy or Vulcan mind meld. But I guess the brute force appeal is just too strong to such a lazy intellect.
    So I won’t bother commenting on Mr. Zande. But you, Allallt? This is your forum. Free exchange matters. Do you really think a commitment to “free exchange” will be taken seriously if you indulge this kind of “shut ’em down!” vitriol? Manners go a long way to keep a discussion on track and productive. Think it over.

    1. Hi Lang

      Whoever said anything about “locking someone up”?

      It appears you’ve let your imagination run away with itself here.

      That being said, if you’d like to gather yourself and debate the subject in a coherent and adult manner, then I’d be more than happy to engage.

  13. Alright, let’s try this again. Lol I think there are multiple angles to take on this debate and I didn’t do a very good job earlier. Apologies again Allallt & equippedcat.

    Bear with me a minute while I pose some initial thoughts to ‘set the scene’. Also Allallt, as you probably know I don’t fall into the explicit category of Atheism. If I’m anything other than a Bohemian Freethinking Humanist, I have some Agnostic tendencies due to Homo sapien brilliance and limitations. But for the sake of your post’s request, I’ll add my now untruncated BFT Humanist spin. Thanks for your patience with me.

    Obviously the key argument & controversy here is What constitutes “life”? Allallt, your post and comments sufficiently cover a number of key points to nail-down “life” versus non-life. Your post began with two points from Madblog’s blog:
    1 — “Abortion is genocide.”
    2 — A challenge for atheists “…explain how abortion and genocide [are] objectively and inherently morally different.”

    I want to first note that I’m in agreement with you Allallt regarding contraceptive abortion. I can explain why if necessary or requested.

    To argument #1Abortion is genocide.” I have a simple question for those declaring or inferring this equivalency:

    What were the moral, ethical, legal justifications for the United States dropping the two atomic bombs on Hiroshima & Nagasaki Japan in August 1945, which instantly incinerated and physically maimed over 129,000 human beings (genocide), including babies and pregnant women?

    To argument #2How are abortion and genocide objectively, inherently, morally different’?

    While examining the debate of abortion = genocide, I think some answers to my atomic-bomb-question will assist in contrasting the differences. One of the most popular answers given by the U.S. Defense Department, State Department, and all related military branches & offices, as well as surviving WW2 American veterans of the Pacific theater and THEIR families… was that the atomic bombings SAVED over 750,000 more American lives, over 375,000 more British lives, and around 100-million more mainland Japanese lives had an amphibious invasion of Japan been the ordered alternative. So… whose lives were more valuable and whose were unworthy?

    Many people argue that dropping the bombs on Japanese citizens was genocide. Yet, by doing so, the Allies SAVED at least 101,125,000 more lives and likely thousands of Allied POW’s. Why do ideologies justify certain types of life/lives and death(s), and not all types of life-lives/death(s)? That is the question/issue I was poorly attempting to raise the other night in my exhaustion.

    Going by common definitions and contexts of genocide, in my opinion abortion cannot be its equivalent. This is probably why we have the term “homocide” as well as genocide. Here is where I personally see common threads between the two: Both human actions of abortion and genocide are conducted from some definition of “life” and death — and both actions/reactions try to preserve a type of “life” or type of death-risk. Here are where ideologies often get scrambled and/or maligned, and poorly fashioned.

    And there is a subthread intentionally woven in both genocide and abortion: a “quality of life” preserved or imposed. In my preliminary opinion of this subthread, like you’ve stated Allallt, the scale of outcomes seem/are incompatible. Genocide is enacted upon ‘undesired’ ethnic groups, nations and their armed forces because of incompatible ideologies. Abortion is dictated by the mother first and hopefully the father, for better or worse (probabilities), and then the child’s earliest domestic environment.

    Because I am a limited pro-Choicer (pre-24 or 28-weeks), I cannot fall into the highly rigid category of pro-Life. Some of their arguments are centered on irresponsible sex between pre-educated partners of which I’m in alignment. However, some/several of the pro-Life arguments are inconsistent or littered with fabrications. One example I wanted to present using intersexed data and birth-rates was pro-Life’s inconsistency of defining and arguing prenatal and post-natal genetic discrimination. In socio-economic practice their ideologies conflict; in some areas they brutally conflict.

    If you’d like Allallt, since this recomment is so long, I can put that argument/topic in a new seperate comment, if you care for it at all. I’ve also “reblogged” your post on my blog as you requested.

    Thanks Allallt. Hope I’ve done a better job. 🙂

    1. In distinguishing genocide and the large number of terminated foetuses, there are actually a lot of minor technical differences that weren’t fully worthy of mention, but are still technically true. For example, genocide has to be aimed at a demographic, but abortion is a global phenomenon that makes no distinction for ethnicity for gender.
      Also, genocides can be said to be enacted by a defined group. Abortions are carried out in a 1:1 ratio (approximately).

      How one defends the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs is a difficult question, I think. Although, lives saved is a good (yet entirely speculative) start. Although, laws of engagement do outlaw the use of nuclear weapons like that, even in the case of war. I don’t think Hiroshima and Nagasaki can be justified. A very small group of people agreed to kill a large number of innocents. That is genocide.

      However, in the case of abortion, a woman decides to terminate a foetus. Even in the most emotive terms, as used by pro-lifers, a woman decides to kill a baby. That’s nothing like a genocide where a defined group or single individual is responsible for the deaths of many.

      But I do think the real distinction lies in the definition of life.

      I am, however, still unsure about the intersex argument. Are you implying that some pro-lifers are then pro-infanticide for intersex children?

      1. Nagasaki and Hiroshima were not genocide, per the definition of genocide. There was no intention to eliminate the Japanese, just convince them to stop fighting us. Once they did surrender, we turned around and helped them out, showing that we did not hate them or intend them harm at the racial level.

      2. How one defends the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs is a difficult question, I think. Although, lives saved is a good (yet entirely speculative) start.

        Those numbers of ‘saved lives’ were based upon all the island-hopping invasions the Allied Pacific forces had completed, into the double-digits I believe, and based upon the Japanese code of never surrender, etc, their estimations were probably pretty accurate. For me, it’s a compelling reason to save more lives, and to minimize the certain PTSD cases that also effect KIA families — i.e. the ripple-effect psychological repercussions, Japanese and Allied. Hence, those initial numbers could be considered too moderate.

        A very small group of people agreed to kill a large number of innocents.

        Well, in the 1940’s U.S. political system, back then we were actually more egalitarian-democratic and our Congressmen (who represented all precincts/districts in the entire country) voted unanimously to go to war against the Axis forces and to win. But you point is still valid if you are referring to those men on the Manhattan Project, and then our highest political and military leaders along with Great Britain.

        I am, however, still unsure about the intersex argument. Are you implying that some pro-lifers are then pro-infanticide for intersex children?

        Not pro-infanticide. But in their social, political, and economic treatment of such ‘abnormalities’ that in their own language and ideologies was supposed to be “God’s intended prenatal creation of precision that happens to be non-binary.

      3. Ah, I see my details on WWII are not all that complete. And, it may have prevented deaths, but such a thing is speculative and even if those numbers are robust, a broader moral lesson, I find that a risky position.

        I see what you mean about the intersex (and transgender and even gay) births and people. (I’ve intentionally listed them in the approximate age order they become apparent.) Their language is all about protecting life and God’s creation, until the individual doesn’t fit their narrow expectations, then suddenly they implement ‘otherising’ and dehumanising language language.

      4. I don’t think I could have put it any better, or more concise! Lol Thank you Allallt for saving your readers from my pedantic excesses! 😉

      5. That was exactly where I would have also gone! Many pro-Lifers simply do not understand the lastest discoveries in embryology, endocrinology, genetics and chromosomal marking, neurology, cognitive psychology, evolutionary psychology, familial demographics, and as I’ve touched on intersexed development & birth! They blindly hold to their antequated monism and ideologies that simply and comprehensively DO NOT JIVE with millions of years of Nature or its immense evolved biodiversity and neverending pluralism! Ever fluid, every possible color of the spectrum and more! Not a naive black-and-white! 🙂

      6. It’s also a question of what tolerance is and how you deal with what you don’t understand.
        I think I’ve said this before, but take transgenderism as an example. I have no idea what that feels like; none of my ‘feelings’ are conspicuously gendered. I can’t tell the difference between feelings I have because of my gender, because I am human, ones that are uniquely mine or are entirely fleeting.
        Therefore, when a transgender people says they ‘feel like man’, even though that is not what was assigned to them at birth — or, even more alien to me, when they identify with a gender that is neither male or female — that alludes to an entire genre of feelings I don’t have access to. I cannot pretend to understand or sympathise on any level. And yet, none of that is a good reason to withhold tolerance.

        And that, I think, alludes to a problem that exists among the socially conservative: because they don’t understand, they want to sort of deny it. To assume everyone basically functions the same way they do, and therefore this ‘gay’ thing must be a ‘choice’ (and a ‘wrong’ one at that).

        I think that’s a strange way to view the world in all its complexity and splendour.

      7. A most EXCELLENT addition Allallt. Thank you! And I especially embrace your last sentiment and would humbly graciously add:

        …view the world in all its daunting mysterious complexity and splendour, both known and yet to be known!

        Indeed Allallt. I second that! (raises his glass to salute)

      8. It is not that it is “bad” for a person to hold to their beliefs. Where the problem arises is when someone tries to force their belief(s) on someone else. Facts can be forced (whether they SHOULD be forced is debatable), but beliefs cannot validly be and should not be forced.

        For instance, I hold to the “antiquated” view that humanity begins at conception. Thus, I cannot cause or encourage or support anyone in having an abortion. However I did not hold that belief before I became born again, and used to celebrate the availability of abortion as an effective solution to a vexing problem. Since my change in position required my submission to God, and since I (and everybody else) can not prove God’s existence or preferences, it is invalid and should be avoided to require anyone who does not believe in this particular God to accept this belief.

        I believe God sorrows for every child aborted, but He knows which ones will be and which will not, and it is my hope that He does not “waste” a soul on a child which will never be. Or uses a soul which “has no need” to go through life. And it is my firm conviction that laws are not the “solution”. Let us say that we managed to get a law which outlaws abortion completely. Is God going to be happy? I doubt it, since the DESIRE for the abortion is still there, and the desire to “sin” is itself a sin. And someone who is prevented from getting an abortion because of “those (@#$&()*%@ Christians” are likely to be pushed further from God, not drawn towards Him, and that may cause Him even more sorrow.

        Or in other words, God is all powerful; what say we let HIM enforce HIS laws, and we concentrate on enforcing those laws which are for OUR benefit.

      9. It is not that it is “bad” for a person to hold to their beliefs.

        I agree equippedcat as long as the concept John Maynard Keynes embraced and is also embraced:

        When the Facts Change, I Change My Mind. What Do You Do, Sir?

        Then I’m fine with people believing in WHATEVER their wildest imaginations can create. I enjoy great fiction as much as the next.

        For the rest of your considered comment… a Christian God, born-again, and even MORE importantly the nature of “God” as revealed through General and Special revelation, it is an entirely different discussion not appropriate for this post and comments. Suffice to say, I come from the very opposite direction and conclusions your journey took you: from non-Xian, to “born again” & into seminary, 10+-years in that life, then out again to Freethinking Humanist once those two revelation sources were much more closely and thoroughly examined.

        Thank you equippedcat for your civil discussions. I really do appreciate that. 🙂

      10. Let’s not confuse facts and beliefs. Facts can be proven; beliefs cannot. A “valid” (or at least “reasonable”) belief is one which cannot be disproved.

      11. I totally agree. That equation works both ways, even multiple ways. I guess the question then becomes what exactly are “facts” and what exactly are “beliefs” or I’d add plausible facts versus non-global beliefs. All sorts of ways to go with that.

    1. I don’t normally get so easily baited by keywords without content. But I am intrigued as to what that comment would look like if it were fleshed out a little.

      But, I’m basically familiar with radical feminism and oppression theory…

      1. I’ve heard of “radical feminism”. But what is “oppression theory”. The term “theory” implies it is something which seems to fit observed fact, but has not been rigorously verified.

      2. Oppression theory is basically the idea that within society there exists a power hierarchy, and the higher rungs of that hierarchy manipulate social convention to reinforce their own power.

        It does seem the word “theory” is over used in the social sciences.

      3. Yes. Masses of bigger picture, including systems theory, religious authorities — even eco-feminism to an extent.
        You invited me to a debate. Now, I can’t pretend I know I’ll disagree with you or be familiar with the topics you raise. So, I can’t promise anything like a debate. But… where are you going with this?

      4. No, not really. Is there a bigger picture? Perhaps. But the purpose of this particular discussion was intended to cover an improved resolution to the contentious abortion issue. Some people claim that humanity begins at conception and the mother has no rights at all and some other people claim that humanity begins at birth (in a few cases, even after birth) and that prior to that time the baby has no rights at all. This article proposes a more supportable point of humanity in an effort to balance the rights of the woman with the rights of the baby. So it has nothing to do with “reasonable” feminism (although some “radical” feminists might claim it does), and as a proposal, nothing to do with “oppression” although if it was attempted to be implemented, it might develop into or against oppression.

      5. Yep, patriarchy is a social system in which males hold primary power, as opposed to matriarchy. What does that have to do with this discussion?

      6. Well, it might be in diametric opposition to a matriarchy, but it’s also to the exclusion of egalitarian meritocracies or other power structures. (We could quite accidentally trade a patriarchy in for an equal-gender oligarchy.)

        I’m curious and excited to see where roughsea is going with this, too. Hopefully it isn’t just patriarchy’s role in the wider abortion discussion.

      7. Very South Wales: Bristol.
        Born in Peterborough.

        Yes, patriarchy rings a bell. A lot of different people have a lot of different conceptions of what exactly it looks like, but in basic terms, it’s male-privileged power structures. The Church is one of them. The men’s club that often exists at CEO levels is another. Male government is another, but to a lesser extent (in part because female voter turnout is higher).

        This is starting to feel like a game of Jeopardy. I understand trepidation in entering a new blog, not knowing whether the commenters and author has any existing knowledge or tolerance for an issue. But my post was about quite a narrow question of technology being able to keep the realisation of the right to terminate a pregnancy, while also banning abortions. So without fleshing out your ideas a little, I’m really not going to be able to give you a vibe for whether I’m going to suffer white-man-rage.

  14. Have not read all of the comments, but must make a little point… There is a medical and scientific difference between contraception and abortion. I make the distinction because people are generally so ignorant about how contraceptives actually work and pro-lifers tend to lump contraception and abortion together and attack both with the same zest and legal strategies. Suddenly, every birth control pill is an “abortion pill,” etc. Contraception is preventing pregnancy, preventing fertilization – egg and sperm meeting, the zygote from implanting into the lining of the uterus. Condoms, birth control pills, IUDs, diaphragms, etc. are contraceptives. Abortion is preventing birth. Pregnancy already established. Abortion is never a method of contraception. It’s impossible.

    1. Actually, it is the pro-choice contingent which lumps contraception together with abortion. Planned Parenthood in particular, because they do in fact consider the morning-after pill “contraception”. They have been explicitly promoting abortion services AS contraception for years.
      It is very useful for pro-abort activism that we on the pro-life side been seen as being against contraception, and it is a total fabrication. While there are many people who choose not to use certain kinds of contraception, I am not aware of anyone in the pro-life camp who lobbies against contraception or wants at all to outlaw it.
      It is PP which terms some forms of abortion as contraception, and then promotes the lie that we are against contraception when we are only against those methods which are actually abortions.

      1. Firstly – Catholic Church in Africa. I mean, get your facts straight. Not that it’s wholly relevant, there are certainly people who want to outlaw contraception.
        Second – the morning after pill is contraception – it prevents conception.

      2. When you’re a member of the Catholic Church in “Africa” let me know and I’ll speak to them.

        PP terms all abortion as contraception, then tells the public we want contraception outlawed. Plain and simple. It has proven very useful in their propaganda.
        Pro-lifers distinguish the two, which isn’t difficult.

      3. Contraceptives, by definition, prevent conception from taking place, by isolating sperm from the egg, preventing the sperm or the egg from being available, or killing or disabling one or the other.

        Doesn’t the morning after pill induce menstruation? If this is the case, it would cause any egg, including one which has been fertilized, to be discarded. Since conception has or may have taken place, this would not qualify as “contraceptive”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s