Life & Abortion: An Intelligent Philosophical Discussion

celtic_crippler

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I always enjoyed classes like Philosophy and Ethics. They make you really "think" and examine certain issues and this one seems to be a hot topic at the moment.

I do ask that If you can't keep your emotions in check that you do not participate in this thread. Thanks!

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I don't think the debate in regards to abortion is really about what is "life" but rather when is a life considered "sentient".

Cells by themselves contain all the functions necessary for life: regulation of their internal environment, take in and use energy, respond to their local envirnonment, develop and maintain their complex organization, can produce offspring (divide to form new cells.)

...but is a cell "sentient"?

The word sentient comes from the latin sentire meaning to percieve or feel.

Merriam Webster contains three definitions:
  1. Responsive to or concious of sense impressions.
  2. Aware
  3. Finely sensitive in perception or feeling.
Some argue that a life is sentient if it can feel and distinquish between pleasure and pain.

At what point does a fetus become aware?

At what point is it responsive to or able to distinquish between pleasure and pain?

There is a viable debate for abortion when it truely comes down to the life or well-being of the mother being in jeopardy. Then the debate becomes which life will be sacrificed.

In that case what factors should we weigh?

What makes one life more important than another?

What makes a "life" a life as we define it?
 

Bill Mattocks

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Although my religion bans abortion and other forms of birth control, personally I have my own opinions.

My opposition to abortion is not based on sentience, but on humanity.

A cytoblast or an embryo or a fetus or a baby - if it is not human, I do not place the same value on it that I place on the same set of cells that is human.

If my concern were for suffering, I would have to be a vegetarian, as surely animals suffer and I kill (by proxy) and eat them anyway.

If my concern were for sentience by the common measurements of intelligence, I would have to believe that killing a chimpanzee or a dolphin or a whale - etc - is equivalent to murder of a human being, as many of them have shown traits we formerly held to be properties of humans only.

However, our societies mostly value human life over all other life, and I am in agreement with that valuation. We seem to differ only in terms of what we consider human. Everyone draws the line someplace, and mine is drawn at conception. Not because my religion demands it, but because from the moment of conception, that new life is human. Thinking, capable of feeling pain, viable outside the womb - all distinctions I do not make. It is human, and that is enough for me.

I respect all other opinions on the subject, but this is mine.
 
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celtic_crippler

celtic_crippler

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Although my religion bans abortion and other forms of birth control, personally I have my own opinions.

My opposition to abortion is not based on sentience, but on humanity.

A cytoblast or an embryo or a fetus or a baby - if it is not human, I do not place the same value on it that I place on the same set of cells that is human.

If my concern were for suffering, I would have to be a vegetarian, as surely animals suffer and I kill (by proxy) and eat them anyway.

If my concern were for sentience by the common measurements of intelligence, I would have to believe that killing a chimpanzee or a dolphin or a whale - etc - is equivalent to murder of a human being, as many of them have shown traits we formerly held to be properties of humans only.

However, our societies mostly value human life over all other life, and I am in agreement with that valuation. We seem to differ only in terms of what we consider human. Everyone draws the line someplace, and mine is drawn at conception. Not because my religion demands it, but because from the moment of conception, that new life is human. Thinking, capable of feeling pain, viable outside the womb - all distinctions I do not make. It is human, and that is enough for me.

I respect all other opinions on the subject, but this is mine.

So is it the potential to become human that is the basis of your position?

Once the sperm enters the egg it then has the potential to grow into a person though many variables could prevent it from coming full term you still consider it a human being at that point. Am I correct?
 

Bill Mattocks

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So is it the potential to become human that is the basis of your position?

No, not exactly.

Once the sperm enters the egg it then has the potential to grow into a person though many variables could prevent it from coming full term you still consider it a human being at that point. Am I correct?

Yes, that is correct. It may not make it to term and be delivered as a breathing baby for any number of reasons, but it will definitely not be born as something other than human.

I therefore take the moral position that to intentionally end the life of this human would be wrong under many, but not all, circumstances. And I am not clear myself on what circumstances precisely I would agree with and which I would disagree with. Just talking in general terms here.
 

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I always thought that if it gets its nutrients from its host it is a parasite or a cancer.

To me a fetus is the same thing until it comes out of the womb and is able to breathe on its own.

Life or abortion is a woman's choice it is her body a personal choice based on her circumstance.

Many people kill insects without thinking twice about it. Many people kill germs,microogranism why should one be worth more than the other?

My opinion is to do what benefits the most sometimes this is cruel,unfair but that is the price of existing in this realm.
 

Joab

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I always thought that if it gets its nutrients from its host it is a parasite or a cancer.

Joab: Wow! that woke me up! Are you suggesting a fetus is similiar to a parasite or a cancer? or are you suggesting it is indeed a parasite, can't see anyone believing it is a cancer.

To me a fetus is the same thing until it comes out of the womb and is able to breathe on its own.

Joab: Wow, that really woke me up! I guess you answered the first question, I had heard there were people like you, I suppose everyone has the right to their opinion, I am speechless, your really serious here? Really?

Life or abortion is a woman's choice it is her body a personal choice based on her circumstance.

Joab: So up until the baby is born the woman can kill it eh, even moments before birth because it is a cancer and a parasite and it is invading her body eh? Your something of a radical on this issue.

Many people kill insects without thinking twice about it. Many people kill germs,microogranism why should one be worth more than the other?

Joab: So a human being is on the same level as germs, micro organisms and insects until it has actually come out of the uterus, kill it like a germ up to seconds before delivery but after that no you say. Glad you draw the line somewhere.

My opinion is to do what benefits the most sometimes this is cruel,unfair but that is the price of existing in this realm.

So the individual must be sacrificed for the good of the collective eh? Kind of reminds me of Marxism I suppose, especially Stalinism, Nazi Germany comes to mind as well, sacrifice the individual for the good of the collective, this is rather chilling...
 

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My wife was a "pro-choice" supporter for many years as we dated...once we married and she became pregnant with our first child she "changed sides".

She says that the whole "its a parasite till its born" thing is a bunch of hoopla used by supporters to justify what they do. She says that once she felt the first kick and movement that it was obvious (to her) that this was "something separate" with its own "ideas" (Im going to turn over in here if you like it or not mom).

Being able to say that the head of a crowning baby is still fair game is ghoulish IMO.....
 

Joab

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My wife was a "pro-choice" supporter for many years as we dated...once we married and she became pregnant with our first child she "changed sides".

She says that the whole "its a parasite till its born" thing is a bunch of hoopla used by supporters to justify what they do. She says that once she felt the first kick and movement that it was obvious (to her) that this was "something separate" with its own "ideas" (Im going to turn over in here if you like it or not mom).

Being able to say that the head of a crowning baby is still fair game is ghoulish IMO.....

Ghoulish, chilling, frightening come to mind...
 

JadecloudAlchemist

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Joab: Wow! that woke me up! Are you suggesting a fetus is similiar to a parasite or a cancer? or are you suggesting it is indeed a parasite, can't see anyone believing it is a cancer.

I am suggesting something that feeds off another life form in order to survive is a parasite.
2 : an organism living in, with, or on another organism in parasitism 3 : something that resembles a biological parasite in dependence on something else for existence or support without making a useful or adequate return

A cancer some may see it as because it is a growth of cells:
: a malignant tumor of potentially unlimited growth that expands locally by invasion and systemically by metastasis b: an abnormal bodily state marked by such tumors

To me a fetus is the same thing until it comes out of the womb and is able to breathe on its own.
When it is able to come out on its own and breathe on its own then it a human life before that inhaling of air it is part of the woman and uses her as its host like a parasite.

Joab: Wow, that really woke me up! I guess you answered the first question, I had heard there were people like you, I suppose everyone has the right to their opinion, I am speechless, your really serious here? Really?
People like me I do not know what that means?
Joab: So up until the baby is born the woman can kill it eh, even moments before birth because it is a cancer and a parasite and it is invading her body eh? Your something of a radical on this issue.
If the fetus must be removed to save her life then she must do what she must to survive. It does not matter what I think is right or wrong it is up to that person to make the decision with their doctor what the best approach is. Most Doctors will not terminate a fetus after a certain point and every case is different so it is up to the woman and her doctor to do what is best for her parasite and herself.
Joab: So a human being is on the same level as germs, micro organisms and insects until it has actually come out of the uterus, kill it like a germ up to seconds before delivery but after that no you say. Glad you draw the line somewhere.
To be prolife for one thing but neglect another is what people do. An ant and a Human both have life how can I choose which one has more merit than the other? Killing fetus if it is to save a woman's life or is for the greater good as determined by her doctor should be her right to choose.
its a parasite till its born" thing is a bunch of hoopla used by supporters to justify what they do. She says that once she felt the first kick and movement that it was obvious (to her) that this was "something separate" with its own "ideas" (Im going to turn over in here if you like it or not mom
You are more than welcome to adopt a tapeworm from your body in a way you do give life to it as it feeds off of you.
 
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celtic_crippler

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I always thought that if it gets its nutrients from its host it is a parasite or a cancer.

There are many classifications of life. Does the classification of a life form make it okay for another to kill it?

To me a fetus is the same thing until it comes out of the womb and is able to breathe on its own.

Being that you were once a fetus, this is how you view yourself at that point in your life?

Are you saying that not being able to breathe air disqualifies a thing from being "alive"? The fetus does "breathe" in the womb, though not "air." It still requires oxygen.

Life or abortion is a woman's choice it is her body a personal choice based on her circumstance.

What about personal responsibility? In most cases it's the woman's choice to partake in the activiy that leads to pregnancy. Do you feel a woman has no responsibility to the potential human she helped to create of her own free will?

Does her ability to access resources needed to destroy the life growing inside her make her decision to terminate it right because the fetus is helpless and does not have the same resources to do the same to her? Or do you view it the same as removing a tick from your scalp and burning it to death with a lighter?

Granted, there are extreme circumstances where the woman had no choice. In that case, I think you may have more of a point. Feel free to elaborate. :)

Many people kill insects without thinking twice about it. Many people kill germs,microogranism why should one be worth more than the other?

They are not to a true Buddhist; all life is sacred.

But anyway, just to clarify: you feel that one's position in the "food chain" dictates their right to kill?

Do the reasons behind the killing matter to you?

Good question: Why should one life be worth more than another? Should all life be of the same value? How does that notion apply within the same species? Why?

My opinion is to do what benefits the most sometimes this is cruel,unfair but that is the price of existing in this realm.

The good of the many outweigh the needs of the few? Perhaps.

Where abortion is concerned it's a 1:1 ratio though so how do you explain that rational? Unless you consider the fetus a 0, then I guess it's a 1:0 ratio?

So the individual must be sacrificed for the good of the collective eh? Kind of reminds me of Marxism I suppose, especially Stalinism, Nazi Germany comes to mind as well, sacrifice the individual for the good of the collective, this is rather chilling...

There's probably not one society that's never held the good of the many over the few, even the U.S.A.

I suppose it's especially chilling if you fall into the classification of "the few." One's perspective may be different if one is part of "the many" though. But I don't think this really applies to this discussion.

Again are we saying the fetus does not count? If you hold that it does then it is a 1:1 ratio and that argument is moot. Which brings us back to the major subjects of this thread; when is a fetus considered a human life, what parameters make it so or do not make it so, when is one life more important than another?

Ghoulish, chilling, frightening come to mind...

Why?
 

Bill Mattocks

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Good question: Why should one life be worth more than another? Should all life be of the same value? How does that notion apply within the same species? Why?

My belief is utilitarian. I begin first with myself - I place the highest value on my own life. This is selfish, which is rational and logical.

Within my species, I place the next highest value on my family, then friends, then acquaintances. From there, casual strangers, countrymen, all humans in general. After that, dogs and cats and such.

I do not argue that human life is superior to any other form of life, nor that human life is intrinsically valuable or worthy. I choose human life over other life because I am human and it is in my best interests to do so.

I am also a member of a society that has generally accepted mores and values. One of them says that killing humans is generally unacceptable, and I, as a member of society, accept that. My society also says that some actions humans may perform render them unfit to live among us, and in general, I am accepting of that concept as well, although I believe that currently, our methods are flawed and that we should refrain from capital punishment until and unless we get those fixed.

A subset of our society believes that taking the life of an unborn child is also unacceptable, and I also choose to accept that viewpoint. It fits easily into my religious beliefs, it 'makes sense' to my internal logic, and I feel good about it.

Why human? Because I'm human. What makes human life better than other types of life? Nothing, I suppose. But if I have to choose, I choose us.
 

Bill Mattocks

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joab
Ghoulish, chilling, frightening come to mind...

Why?

I can't speak for others, but for myself, the notion of partially delivering what would otherwise be a living, healthy, human child, and then ending its life intentionally makes me slightly ill. I suppose no more than seeing one of those horrible videos on Youtube where a person is shot in the head or their head cut off or their skull crushed right in front of the camera. I find it repellent because I cannot imagine the child as anything other than a child, not an object.

I have no children of my own. But I have delivered a child, I have cut the umbilical cord, I have changed babies and fed and burped and walked and cuddled them. This experience has changed me, I believe for the better. I have seen the baby's head crowning. I cannot draw a bright shining line and say "You may still legally end this life but you only have 10, 9, 8, 7..."
 

JadecloudAlchemist

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There are many classifications of life. Does the classification of a life form make it okay for another to kill it?

Sometimes you have to take a life to save a life. This is known as how a sword can be seen as a tool of death and a tool of life.

Being that you were once a fetus, this is how you view yourself at that point in your life?
If I throw myself away how can I view myself?

Are you saying that not being able to breathe air disqualifies a thing from being "alive"? The fetus does "breathe" in the womb, though not "air." It still requires oxygen.
No it is still alive in the womb like a parasite. If you have a tapeworm inside you would you let it stay inside you and live off you or would you kill it?

What about personal responsibility? In most cases it's the woman's choice to partake in the activiy that leads to pregnancy. Do you feel a woman has no responsibility to the potential human she helped to create of her own free will?
Lots of rape victims. Potential human is not human. It is a group of cells like cancer. It lives off its host like a parasite.
Does her ability to access resources needed to destroy the life growing inside her make her decision to terminate it right because the fetus is helpless and does not have the same resources to do the same to her? Or do you view it the same as removing a tick from your scalp and burning it to death with a lighter?
Pulling a tick off your skin,aborting a fetus,pulling out a tapeworm is the same it is denying life for the parasite for its host to live.
Morality is up to you.


They are not to a true Buddhist; all life is sacred.
Dali Lama kills insects.

But anyway, just to clarify: you feel that one's position in the "food chain" dictates their right to kill?
No because all creatures kill. A mosquito is not high on the food chain but it kills humans with disease. A tiger may be high on the food chain but microogranism and bacteria can kill it.

Do the reasons behind the killing matter to you?

Sure. We are not talking about killing for pleasure here. We are talking about killing for survival.

Good question: Why should one life be worth more than another? Should all life be of the same value? How does that notion apply within the same species? Why?
That is the question indeed!!
Would the mother be better off with the abortion would this help other sentient beings? If the mother died to give birth would this be the best approach for sentient beings? If you are going to place life value on a being than it would have to be how does it generate energy to benefit other beings which would seem almost impossible.

The good of the many outweigh the needs of the few? Perhaps.

Where abortion is concerned it's a 1:1 ratio though so how do you explain that rational? Unless you consider the fetus a 0, then I guess it's a 1:0 ratio?
How does the death affect others which sends ripples to the mother's mother,The father,his coworkers and so on eventually being able to effect everyone. The fetus may project the same ripples a delicate situation.

Again the situation is not up to me it is up to the mother having the child and her doctor to decide what the best choice is. Wether we agree or not what one should or should not do it does not matter for the doctor and mother will choose their action according to how they see fit.
 
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celtic_crippler

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Sometimes you have to take a life to save a life.

We're back to who or how one assigns value to one life compared to another.

If I throw myself away how can I view myself?

That's what I was wondering.

No it is still alive in the womb like a parasite. If you have a tapeworm inside you would you let it stay inside you and live off you or would you kill it?

Guess it depends on whether it bothered me or not. LOL Probably not.

I think we know where you stand now in regards to the status of a fetus. Correct me if I'm wrong, but in your eyes it's simply a parasite and you have no respect for parasites. Correct?

Lots of rape victims. Potential human is not human. It is a group of cells like cancer. It lives off its host like a parasite.
Pulling a tick off your skin,aborting a fetus,pulling out a tapeworm is the same it is denying life for the parasite for its host to live.

Cancer is a cluster of abnormal cells. I fail to see how you draw the comparrison to a a cluster of normal cells.

I pointed out that there is a basis for the argument of abortion in cases where the female had no choice in becoming pregnant.

You on the otherhand have dodged the question I posed of personal responsibility in cases where the woman choose to have sex and thereby accept the consequences. Please re-read my post on that before responding (just so I don't have to type it again here, lol)

Morality is up to you.

True.

Dali Lama kills insects.

Does he? Do you have a pic or something? Regardless, do you hold that as enough to deny life to another living thing?

No because all creatures kill. A mosquito is not high on the food chain but it kills humans with disease. A tiger may be high on the food chain but microogranism and bacteria can kill it.

And cancer kills. Okay then, what is the basis of your viewpoint?

Ah, and while I'm at it let me throw this out there:
Isn't abortion contrary to the perpetuation of our species? Are we on the path to extinction by our own hand?

Roll with it! LOL...but again, please keep emotions in check and use logic to back up your position. Thanks! I'm enjoying this discussion so far.



Sure. We are not talking about killing for pleasure here. We are talking about killing for survival.

That is the question indeed!!
Would the mother be better off with the abortion would this help other sentient beings? If the mother died to give birth would this be the best approach for sentient beings? If you are going to place life value on a being than it would have to be how does it generate energy to benefit other beings which would seem almost impossible.

How does the death affect others which sends ripples to the mother's mother,The father,his coworkers and so on eventually being able to effect everyone. The fetus may project the same ripples a delicate situation.

Again the situation is not up to me it is up to the mother having the child and her doctor to decide what the best choice is. Wether we agree or not what one should or should not do it does not matter for the doctor and mother will choose their action according to how they see fit.[/quote]
 

Bill Mattocks

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parasite, cancer, etc

Is it possible that you use these words for their emotional content?

I can imagine that referring to a fetus as a 'parasite' to a person with strong pro-life beliefs would be liable to start a riot. Is this your intent?

If not, surely there must be other words that would illustrate your point.
 

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Is it possible that you use these words for their emotional content?

I can imagine that referring to a fetus as a 'parasite' to a person with strong pro-life beliefs would be liable to start a riot. Is this your intent?

If not, surely there must be other words that would illustrate your point.

Its always easier to kill something you have de-humanized.
 

elder999

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Is it possible that you use these words for their emotional content?

I can imagine that referring to a fetus as a 'parasite' to a person with strong pro-life beliefs would be liable to start a riot. Is this your intent?

If not, surely there must be other words that would illustrate your point.


Actually, several physicians that I know, including separate ones for both of my children's mom's pregnancies, explained pregnancy as being a "parsitic relationship," and described the fetus as "a parasite."

Once again, from the Merriam-Webster's Online English Language Technical Manual:

par繚a繚site Pronunciation: \ˈpar-ə-ˌsīt\ Function: noun : an organism living in, with, or on another organism in parasitism ;An animal or plant that lives in or on a host (another animal or plant) that obtains nourishment from the host without benefiting or killing the host.

Main Entry: par繚a繚sit繚ism Pronunciation: \ˈpar-ə-sə-ˌtiz-əm, -ˌsīt-ˌiz-\ Function: noun 1: an intimate association between organisms of two or more kinds; especially : one in which a parasite obtains benefits from a host which it usually injures

Seems a fetus fits that defintion. "PArasite" obviously has a negative connotation for many, and so is inflammatory-a little closer examination reveals that there's nothing necessarily negative about calling a fetus a parasite-nor is it, strictly speaking, incorrect.
 

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Seems a fetus fits that defintion. "PArasite" obviously has a negative connotation for many, and so is inflammatory-a little closer examination reveals that there's nothing necessarily negative about calling a fetus a parasite-nor is it, strictly speaking, incorrect.

One can be very correct and very nasty. I've a degree in it, but I mostly try to remember to keep my blade sheathed.
 
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