Recently I've been thinking about the abortion issue. I, myself, am pro-choice for many reasons: namely rape, incest, and birth defects. I also don't believe the catholic church when they say the soul enters the fertilized egg cell at conception (silly catholics). Murder! How so? During the first trimester when it is legal to have an abortion, the embryo has no consciousness whatsoever. It would definitely not qualify as a full human being by any means. My question is: beyond the religious concept of a soul being "snuffed out" before birth, are there any reasons to be pro-life? I haven't found any yet. Please enlighten me if you know of any.

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I hate the term pro-life. Who do you know who is pro-death? It's a stupid, propagandist term. There is a debate going on in Victoria, Australia at the moment as to whether to decriminalise abortion. Opponents are saying it will 'open the floodgates' - as if women are lining up in droves, anxious to put themselves through pregnancy terminations! It's not like they're giving out free hamburgers!

Personally, I don't like the idea of having an abortion, but fortunately, I was never in the position to have to make that decision. My personal feelings, however, are completely incidental to the issue - I should only get to choose what happens to my body, not anyone else's.

Anyone who does not believe in abortion is absolutely free to choose not to terminate their pregnancy and I don't think there is a non-theist anywhere who would try to interfere with that choice. Regardless of my own personal feelings about abortion for me, I would defend to the death the right of any woman to terminate her pregnancy after appropriate consultation with her doctor and appropriate medical professionals.
"I hate the term pro-life. Who do you know who is pro-death? It's a stupid, propagandist term."

They're both skewed. To someone absolutely certain that abortion is murder, what kind of a name is "Pro-Choice"?

As for me, I hate abortion... But I'm just not sure it's my right to stop others from doing it.
The Fury wrote on September 10 Murder! How so?

This is of course the entirety of the argument against legal abortion, that it is murder. This is true, of course, if at any point during gestation we grant to the fetus the legal rights and protections that are guaranteed to people. So the pro-life issue is write into law their value judgment that a potential human should be treated as a legal person.

The Fury continued: During the first trimester when it is legal to have an abortion, the embryo has no consciousness whatsoever. It would definitely not qualify as a full human being by any means. My question is: beyond the religious concept of a soul being "snuffed out" before birth, are there any reasons to be pro-life? I haven't found any yet. Please enlighten me if you know of any.

I am a utilitarian, so I consider the correct policy to be the one that results in the greatest good for the greatest number. The unusual aspect of abortion policy is that normally it is a simple matter to decide whose interests must be considered – everyone affected by the policy or action. But here we must decide whether to count the interests of the conceptus, and at what stage. If we decide that we must begin to count its interests at some medically definable point, such as fertilization, brain activity, or viability, then of course abortion after that point is murder.

As a utilitarian, I believe that this question must be answered by looking at the consequences of the decisions in peoples’ lives – that is, the effect on society as a whole. The burden on those who want to make abortion illegal is to show that society would be better off if a ban were passed. To try to decide “personhood” on some intrinsic, medical attribute is a fundamental error, confusing facts with an act of valuation.

In America in the 21st century, I believe that the interests of society are best served when the decision is left to the woman and her support group, such as marital partner and doctor. That is not necessarily always true, however. In a sparse nomadic population, however, maximizing fertility could be necessary for the survival of the tribe. In such a situation, it would be perfectly understandable to outlaw abortion and contraception.
If the soul entered at conception that would make God the murder of approximately 75% (IIRC) of all zygotes. Only a very small percentage of blastocysts actually implant in the uterus and result in a live birth.

I don't like the term pro-life either. If one is truly pro-life they would also need to be anti-death penalty, anti-war and so on. It's propaganda, just like calling their opposition 'pro-abortion'.

I don't have any answers to your question. I am pro-choice for reasons that have already been stated by Kristy and George.
I realize that a child has no consciousness immediately after conception, but the fact that you're growing something that "will" be a child is enough that I doubt I could ever go through with an abortion, even if I was ever in the situation, and my parents ever gave me the choice.

I mean, there are little sperms in guys and unfertilized eggs in girls all the time, and I've heard the argument about how we don't try to save those, so they could add up to life too, and how therefore the entire argument is ridiculous. And I can understand that, but when a child is growing inside you, it's a lot more real. And I think the emotional strain of realizing that I was developing an actual child I'll never know would be too much for me.

But that's just MY feelings. And I've neevr been pregnant, so it's not like I can just say "I'd do this!" with all confidence.

The only real reason I can draw from this against abortion is that some girls do get scarred by it, regret it, etc. And I'm sure that's hard.
"The only real reason I can draw from this against abortion is that some girls do get scarred by it, regret it, etc. And I'm sure that's hard."

An unplanned pregnancy is going to cause scarring and regrets - no matter whether the woman decides to abort or decides to keep the baby (or have the baby and adopt it out).

I agree that the decision to abort would be extremely emotional. However, consider the effects on a 16 or 17 year old girl having a child, disrupting her education, risking possible health problems as a result of the birth, putting herself into economic hardship (probably for the rest of her life), and having herself and her child legally tied (through support and visitation rights) to a man she probably never would have married and with whom she may have nothing, other than the child, in common. Further, she doesn't just end up legally manacled to this man for life, but her life and her child's welfare will be effected by his family and by any partners he chooses to have. If that's not a recipe for psychological scarring, I don't know what is!
Well obviously neither side is perfect, if they were this would be easy. And I think in the end that's why the choice has to be made, even if it makes me uneasy. Most people who have children never regret it, but it can affect their lives in negative ways, and almost "end" it in others, particularly in the case of a single mom. It can also have negative effects on the child, having a single, unprepared parent...

I was just throwing that out there because I have heard of cases like that. I think it could be terrifying for someone who reconsidered later on. But you can't really consider either after it's all over, can you?
In reality land, the women who suffer the most from unplanned pregnancy are the women who give up their children for adoption. I'll have to dig up the data that demonstrated this, but the results have been consistent on the issue since the 1980s, at least.

Most of the women who end up "regretting" or feeling "scarred" by having an abortion in the past are the ones who come from, or wind up joining, evangelical/fundie cults. Not all, but a sizable portion. Or they're people who want to blame abortion for the bad decisions they were making at that time of their life, say getting pregnant by a married man, or not using birth control properly (if at all), etc.
Yeah, see... I'm from a nice little *Mormon* cult so there's no escaping those maternal instincts.

A friend of the family recently got pregnant and gave her baby up for adoption. I can't understand how she could, knowing her. If I got pregnant, this is what I see myself doing: I'd keep the thing, bitching and moaning through the entire pregnancy, and then raise it, knowing full well that it was the stupidest thing I could have done. And I'd do it proudly, because I'm a sentimental moron.

Yes, I'm being serious. Sadly.

And I think I'm being viewed as a lot more conservative than I actually am... I didn't say I was against it after all.

...Your avatar... Aquaria... it looks like Hyde....
Thanks for your input everyone. I am mostly in favor of the choice to have abortions due to rape, incest, and birth defects, but I support women who wish to have abortions for other reasons. If a woman wants to have an abortion because she is unprepared for motherhood or cannot support a child, then I think it is for the best. Furthermore, if that woman is forced to have a child that cannot be taken care of properly because of pro-life policy, it doesn't benefit her or the child. I think it's the woman's right to choose what would be the best course of action. I find it pretty ironic how many proponents of pro-life ideology are also pro-gun and pro-death penalty. Maybe it's just Americans...
Jim Ashby wrote on September 11, 2008To my thinking, there are too many needless abortions resulting from irresponsible sex.

If a woman gets pregnant from “irresponsible” sex, then the responsible thing for her to do, in the overwhelming majority of cases, is to have an abortion.

A moral agent demonstrates responsibility by dealing with the consequences of her actions to provide for the good of all. If a woman is not in a position to provide the material, emotional and social support for a child that would predict a successful parenting outcome, she has a moral obligation to terminate the pregnancy. Especially if the woman is young, giving birth may disrupt her education and ability to build for a materially secure future. The future of her mate may likewise be harmed, and both may be harmed if they enter an ill-chosen marriage,

Society is harmed by the birth of children to women who cannot properly care for them. For example, children who are reared in single-parent homes are much more likely to drop out of school, to be arrested, to commit serious drug offenses and to get pregnant as an unmarried teen. Most significantly harmed is the child, who will have a much better chance for a happy and successful life if his birth is postponed by a few years.

Jim Ashby continued: All this talk about when life begins is beside the point. It's a rationalization that shifts the focus from the real problem: a woman has an unwanted pregnancy.

The point of all of the talk about “when life begins” is to justify a state interest in the life of the fetus in order to justify criminalizing abortion. Actually, the discussion usually is over attributing “personhood” to some stage of fetal development. This argument is intrinsically flawed because it confuses medical facts with an act of valuation. Personhood arises when the society says to the conceptus “We recognize you as one of us, and guarantee to you all of the rights and protections that the law provides to us.” Of course a society may make this valuation for potential humans at any point, but the ethical question is how this value can be justified.

As a utilitarian, I believe that we can only justify this valuation by showing that it promotes the greatest good for the greatest number – that is, the common good. The evidence that I’ve read indicates that the common good is most promoted by keeping the state out of the abortion decision, and leaving it to the people who are in the best position to make a responsible decision.

Jim Ashby continued: She's not pregnant with a cow or horse or mouse or whale or dog: she's pregnant with a human. If the fetus is viable enough to avoid miscarriage, the fetus can only be "terminated" by human intervention. This seems like murder to me.

A potential human is no more a human than an acorn is a tree.

Jim Ashby continued: But if I did have an unwanted pregnancy and decided to abort, I would not be able to escape the guilt of my choice. I've done some unpleasant things in my life but I've never taken a human life.

Society has been enormously harmed by the stigmatization of abortion, which has deterred women from their obligation to abort a child for whom she has little likelihood of a successful parenting outcome. She should not feel guilty for a decision that will improve her own life, the lives of her mate and those in her network of personal support, the wellbeing of society as a whole and most particularly the life of the child whose birth could be postponed to a later time.
Jim Ashby wrote on September 12 You cling to utilitarianism as if you've found THE way to think of the world.

I’ve explained my ethical reasoning, and only ask those who disagree to explain why

Jim Ashby continued: You asserted that, "If a woman gets pregnant from “irresponsible” sex, then the responsible thing for her to do, in the overwhelming majority of cases, is to have an abortion."

Isn't that just too easy? Forget about responsibility; ignore the risks: after all, you can always get an abortion later.

A moral agent may not terminate responsibility when she becomes pregnant. She has at that time enormous responsibility for her future wellbeing and that of her spouse, family, society and her future child. Depending on her circumstances those responsibilities may create an ethical obligation to terminate her pregnancy. To eliminate the consideration of abortion, as you recommend, is entirely irresponsible.

Jim Ashby continued: That's the problem with utilitarianism: you stand on numbers, not principle.

Perhaps you should explain to us how you justify your principles, Jim. As I understand what you’ve written, you hold to the "sanctity" of fetal life. We usually hear this from Christians who claim to know this from the inerrant word of god revealed in their holy scripture. Since you do not claim that, I presume that you hold a secular meaning for ‘sanctity,’ but what precisely is your intended meaning? If it is nothing more than a personal value, how can you argue against others with different values?

Jim Ashby continued: The real issue is, "Should ANYBODY terminate a potential human life?" When life or "person-hood" begins -- or the status of social consensus -- are IRRELEVANT questions that serves only to occupy us with philosophical substitutes for a moral decision.

As Kristy has pointed out already, sperm and eggs are also potential human life, but you have asserted no obligation to keep them from dying. You seem to believe that it should be self-evident that at the time of conception a value is created that prescribes our ethical conduct, but you have not explained the value of the fetus beyond your personal preference.

Jim Ashby continued: Morality can't sway with public opinion: the public is fickle…. (M)orals are decided by individuals, not by the prevailing majority of groups, societies or governments.

I agree completely. Recognizing individual moral agency requires us to keep the law from preventing people from fulfilling their ethical obligations. In the United States in the 21st century, this is best accomplished by leaving the abortion decision to the individuals with that moral agency.




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