Smart amoeba: "Hey that smells interesting. I'd better go check it out to add to my extensive collection of interesting things." Squirms closer to interesting smell. "Crap. It's a predator." I know, it's a matter of averages. Sucks to be an outlier.
Mel and Stephan, I agree that the idea of value is key to understanding the abortion issue. It really is ultimately an economic issue, not a moral one. It's all about parental investment and selfish genes. If the mother decides she can't provide for her fetal bundle of genes or doesn't want to risk this particular pregnancy in order to pursue some other strategy for looking after her genes, then it's her business what to do with the fetus. Once a baby is born, then those genes are off on their own journey, and they selfishly care about themselves. Of course, they selfishly care about themselves in utero, but they don't own the uterus. Genes really are the property of their owner until they're viable on their own.
Simply state what you think are the underlying arguments in the abortion debate.
Here's what I hear:
1.Sex is to be performed for reproductive purposes only
2. Those that violate 1. should be punished.
3. A woman is a set of reproductive organs, nothing more nothing less. She may think otherwise, and if she refuses to do her duty we'll make her.
4. We'll try to claim "personhood" for the fetus as our central argument in order to get the baby factories off track. If we really thought it was the same as murder we'd try to reclassify it so that it can be punished in the same way. Instead we'll put red tape around medically necessary "late term" abortions, harass clinics that provide sex education and birth control to the poor, and dump money into abstinance only education.
1. Abortion will happen whether or not its legal, at least when its legal it can be done safely.
2. Pregnancy is full of both permanent and temporary medical risks including death, therefore consent must be given by the person taking said risks.
3. Girls beneath a certain age are at a greater risk of death, particularly sexual abuse victims that become pregnant during early puberty.
4. "Personhood" and "rights" can not be established until both of the following criteria have been met:
a. Sentience has been establshed.(as in the ability to sense pain and seek nurishment on instinct)
b. Reliance on a parasetic relationship has been severed.
I think we should recognize, from the get-go, that it's highly unlikely that anybody's stance on this controversial issue is going to change if they've already staked out a position (though it's been known to happen). The contentious and emotional aspects of this controversy are unavoidable when both sides of the argument have valid points. It's not surprising that so many proponents, both pro-life and pro-choice, become extremists with very little provocation at all.
Atheists here and in general tend to be progressive in their politics and social values. Judging from what I've seen here and elsewhere, atheists are predominantly pro-choice.
All societies, in their laws, place high value on human life. The severest consequences are meted out for taking, or trying to take, human life. But those same societies are not averse to taking life: war, capital punishment, even assassinations. I am a microcosm of society in that regard: I want to value human life as much as possible but recognize there are times when taking life is justified, even necessary. Cold-blooded murderers should be executed, Adolph Hitlers and Osama bin Ladens should be assassinated and wars should be fought to protect our way of life.
It all boils down to intent. To keep us honest, intent should align with results.
Unless you suffer some neurological disorder like autism or had a feral childhood (raised by jungle apes), you know what hurts you -- therefor, you know what hurts others. This knowledge is part of the human condition and comes with experience and empathy. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The Golden Rule is an excellent foundation for morality, ethics and law. The bottom line is that we should not harm others unnecessarily. For most of our typical, usual, concerns, this simple rule is all we need as a moral guide.
But then there's those untypical, unusual, concerns. Like abortion.
Abortion is a complicated moral issue. One doesn't need to be religious to have strong feelings against abortion. There have been some A|N atheists -- even female -- who have come out against abortion. I think that, realistically, NOBODY is FOR abortion . . . those who support abortion rights are really for CHOICE.
I understand all the worn-out arguments from both sides. My own position (where adult sex is concerned) is that, in this day and age, it is irresponsible for adults to have sex without contraception (condom, pill, whatever) if they don't want a baby. The kind of sex that leads to unwanted pregnancy takes 2 heterosexual partners, so contraception should be the concern of both partners. Abortion should also be the concern of both partners, although I understand that the woman makes the ultimate decision.
I said that abortion is a moral issue. And it is. But it's not a clear-cut moral issue. If capital punishment and war are not murder, can abortion be considered murder? Once the fetus is viable (20 to 24 weeks), I'd have to say yes.
But what about before viability? There are so many strong opinions about this, it's hard to be sure what to believe or who is right. But I think most people can agree that, unless the mother's life is at risk, it's too late to abort if the fetus is viable.
I believe it's important to uphold the value of human life as much as possible. Because abortions were once illegal, we know all the tragic stories that come with criminalizing abortion. If a woman really insists on an abortion, then it's a good thing it's legal. But it should only be legal for the first 19 weeks of gestation. With such a controversial matter, there's no way to please everybody. I, personally, draw the line at aborting a viable fetus. In this regard, my position agrees completely and wholeheartedly with abortion laws as they currently exist in the U.S.
Many question the route the Supreme Court took to its Roe vs. Wade decision. I don't know about that. But I do believe that their decision strikes the best and most reasonable balance between the pro-lfe and pro-choice camps.
My moral sense tells me that, if I can't value human life absolutely, I need to value it as much as possible. Legal abortions before fetal viability gives ample time for a couple to decide what to do. But I can't, in good conscience, endorse abortion beyond the 19th week (viability) except to save the mother's life.
The ultimate pro-life claim is that abortion is murder. This is opposed to the ultimate pro-choice claim that a woman's body is her responsibility. There is no middle ground that everybody will agree to. The courts staked out a position that life (and therefor, murder) is undeniable at viability.
That makes sense to me. After all, viable is viable. It's at viability that the claim of murder becomes real and tangible. Viability is where the scales are convincingly tipped in the favor of the pro-lifers.
Now, I can imagine scenarios where even this obvious boundary might be violated. Obviously, the mother's life should not be threatened by the pregnancy. But there's also cases involving crimes like incest or rape, where the victim was too afraid or ashamed to come forward until it's too late.
In reality, it would be extremely difficult to justify a reason for NOT deciding to abort within the 19 week period before viability. But with over a hundred million women of child-bearing age in the U.S., valid cases will arise. It's a pity that law can't be flexible enough to judge exceptions on a case-by-case basis. If there were some way to do so, without subverting the law entirely, I would certainly endorse it.
For me looking at RvW it is a good example that judges can do very poor reasoning.
If only persons are the things that have equal moral value or right to life then you need another justification/rationale for things that aren't persons.
Rights are based on having desires for things, we as persons and have a sophisticated desire for continued existence, a rock doesn't. A rock cannot be harmed. But nor does a foetus or a baby.
Harm- if you can kill a thing and not harm because it doesn't care whether it is harmed or not, -or put another way doesn't or cannot care about its future-it in principle we can kill a baby and not harm it, if it is done in a human way because we haven't crossed it's desire not to suffer.
What a baby has has a desire not to suffer which is on par with many animals.
Also we don't stop from killing animals because they are viable or sentient or that other people can care for them.
So if that reason doesn't work for animals it cannot work for babies -they belong to the same class of things non persons- not that is if being ethically consistent is important.
Just belonging to a group isn't ethically releveant you need to look at the underlying nature of their desires.
So if you are going to treat like things alike based on their desires and not be speciest you should in reality treat a baby and a foetus like you treat other animals.
RvW is mess anmd poor reasoning the only reason Liberals can get away with it is that viw your constitution a baby is a legal person fropm birth so even if it it doesn't have a desire for life it is given one via a technicality and this sloppy reasoning need only be addressed in academic circles.
It has been an enlightening discussion, I am now more comfortable with my stance on the abortion issue. I'm leaving the thread. I wasn't expecting a abortion debate, and I'm honestly not really interested at this point.
Continue to have productive discussions like this one, hopefully everyone can learn something from you Simon.
Women should have a right to have a child or not. I dont understand how arbotion becomes a moral issue at all.
A Foetus is not a human being, and a chicken egg is not a chicken.
The only reason women generally feel bad about the issue is people making it a moral issue.
A Foetus has absolutely no human rights.
Well, it's actually a guideline, which means there's some flexibility. I think it would be fairly difficult to wade thru a thousand-page thread, but people will always want to discuss certain topics. Sometimes you just want to hit reset.