Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken
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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Abortion in general: the concept of personhood 

Jordan asks some good questions in comments, the answer to which may have been missed. So a new post. Here's Jordan,

You said that you do not believe life begins at conception.I have only one question for you-- then when does it begin? You must choose some random point if you don't believe that when egg and sperm collide, those cells are human life. Is it when children can survive outside the womb? Medical science is continually pushing that timeframe back, so you better keep up on your research so you can know when life begins. I would hate to make a mistake and have an abortion at 23 weeks and then find that a doctor across the country had saved a baby that young...

The operating definition of whether or not someone is "living" seems to be whether or not they are "wanted".

I've not said I "do not believe life begins at conception." This is not a pertinent question to bring into the abortion debate: one does not question that a transplanted kidney, a vial of human eggs and a separate vial of human sperm, nor Ulysses S. Grant's corpse in Grant's Tomb are all human life. The question that must be asked is "When ought we assign personhood to human life?" May answer is,

Until we can assuredly assign rights to a fetus through the scientific method, the time we ought to assign rights is the week at which the fetus has a reasonable chance at surviving outside a woman's womb with the best technology available.

In other words, the operating definition is not "whether or not they are 'wanted'", but "whether or when a fetus is a distinct individual". I can think of no better point at which a fetus becomes a distinct person with distinct rights than the point at which it's body has developed sufficiently for science to sustain it's own life without another human's body assisting its metabolism, respiration, immune system, etc.

Regardless of whether or not you think that life begins at conception, the point is that if those cells are given their natural environment and aren't disturbed, a human is born. Messing with the process at any point affects the end result.

In the context of the debate from which this stems, frozen embryos are certainly not produced in a "natural environment", so it's puzzling why a "natural environment" has entered in from the side claiming frozen embryos are people. The fact of man merging with machine is at the heart of the debate.

To head anticipated responses off at the pass, one can't reasonably use a biblical reference without claiming that life begins at ejaculation, Genesis 38,

Then Judah said to Onan, "Lie with your brother's wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to produce offspring for your brother." But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother's wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the LORD's sight; so he put him to death also.

God killed Onan for using the "pull-out" method (this is where we came up with the word "onanism"). Sperm was thought to be the seed of future generations, women were just a receptacle for the sperm to grow in. We're also speaking of a book that urges one to utterly destroy all life and property in cities that worship gods other than Yahweh (Deuteronomy 13 & 32, for instance).

So science and logic, please.

Post a Comment

Comments:

Erik, you have said:

"I can think of no better point at which a fetus becomes a distinct person with distinct rights than the point at which it's body has developed sufficiently for science to sustain it's own life without another human's body assisting its metabolism, respiration, immune system, etc."

This point can vary from child to child, do you propose some kind of weighted average to decide the approximate point? And which scientist's best guess would be the official decision on this?
I'm not proposing legislation, rather stating an idea as far as I feel comfortable as accurately representing a position I can defend.

I would listen to arguments that a fixed day of pregnancy ought to be used, I would listen to arguments that two doctors must sign off if an abortion is performed in a particular week range. On these particulars, I have no strong opinion.

"Best technology available" is purposefully vague as well: best technology the patient can afford, best technology availably in the county the woman lives in ...?

The idea I am expressing is that a fetus that has some probability of survival apart from a woman's body - using some definition of "best technology available" - is a fetus whose rights ought to be considered.

Or to put it another way, I believe assigning different rights to different trimesters as we do on the federal level now is flawed. Rights should be assigned on the basis of whether the fetus is a whole and functional organism.
Sorry, being vague and using probability when you are talking about a human life just doesn't cut it with me.
Again, the abortion issue is not about human life, it's about legal rights of a fetus vs. legal rights of a mother.

I'm unsure what's offensive about presenting an basic idea on such a complex issue. To look at it from a rational perspective, jump out of abortion and try to explain in a few sentences when you believe it's moral for a person to use deadly force to protect themselves or someone else. I feel that I would be able to say, "Sorry, that's too vague for me when we are talking about a human life."
You would be correct that in a self-defense situation, there can be errors causing the death of an innocent life. The perpetrator would then be tried in a court of law. Are you prepared then to have disputed abortions be held up to the same process if it is deemed a wrongful death?
Having a set (but floating) day of pregnancy would avoid such legal problems.

However through the other idea I mentioned, two doctors signing off on an abortion within a certain rage of weeks, of course, the doctors would be legally liable for their signing off on it.
It occurred to me the irony of you mentioning self-defense, since the unborn children are defenseless in EVERY abortion. And you know that the ONLY time I do support allowing an abortion is to save a mother's life (which I think is EXTREMELY rare) but is like self-defense for the mother.

I still say that having floating weeks and doctors vouching for what would be their best guess is like you are arbitrarily putting a value on some human lives because of some random date. Too many variables. What's wrong with picking conception as a definite date that can be easily verified?
Nothing's wrong with picking conception as the date you won't abort a pregnancy after.

But unless you can provide rational and non religious reasons why your view should be law, you are just wishing you could translate your feelings into law.
a couple points -
this IS a democracy - laws can be based on what the people choose. the nation was started as a place where people could come to be free to worship the God of the Bible as they choose. laws were formed BASED on the Bible... religion DOES come into play.
morality, right and wrong, have to have a basis somewhere. the Bible gives clear instructions on right and wrong in many issues - thus the foundation for laws begin - otherwise everything is relative based on individual experience and opinion....
which leads us to today - the basis of law began with religious morality and on areas not clearly explained people have come into this democracy to decide together what the best way to handle a law should be - that is based on varying opinions which are decided based on many different reasonings - many of which include the people's religious beliefs.
additionally, there is no way in the world that i am going to rely on science to be the decide factor on when my unbirthed child (or anyone else's) can be protected. science only offers so much information and often with continued study they find out 10 years later (or 20 or 100) that they were wrong... these are mere mortals learning as much as they can as fast as they can. they are not gods who should set the standards for the world and all that lives.

no doubt science has afforded us many wonderful gifts in life - i have a great respect for science and those who learn...but i am not about to let what they just so happen to know today be what decides my moral ethics - especially where the life of a child is at stake.
"laws were formed BASED on the Bible... religion DOES come into play."

The opinion that the laws of our country were formed BASED on the Bible never ceases to floor me. Our Founders (many of them christians, some deists, etc.) debated and spent 3 months carefully wording our constitution, yet the words "Christ", "God", "Creator" (that's in the Declaration of Independence) are not mentioned once in the most important document drawn up in the history of our country, let alone the world. Why? Because it was a given? If so, what other "givens" are hidden in the "intentions" of our founders? The right to wear hats on Sundays? The right to dig a hole to stick your head in? I would argue that a society completely removed from the influence of the Bible on some far-off secluded island could draw up a constitution for themselves and we might find that - WOW - their laws seem to be based on the Biblical law, yet they've never been exposed to the Bible! Why? Because many of the Biblical laws are so common-sense that any society could draw up laws that would be easily comparable. I guess then it would be a given that they were influenced by a Christian God during their law-making.

"Morality, right and wrong, have to have a basis somewhere". How far do we want to take that? Is our country losing part of its moral basis because most people drive over the speed-limit, breaking the law? Or because some people don't tip their wait-persons sufficiently? Or because certain faith-guided pharmacists will prescribe a boat-load of Viagra for a man's integrity (not even for pro-creation purposes most of the time) while refusing birth-control to a woman?

Sorry -- quit off topic, but so is the previous response for the most part.

Happy Saturday to all!
again, let me remind you:
people have come into this democracy to decide together what the best way to handle a law should be - that is based on varying opinions which are decided based on many different reasonings - many of which include the people's religious beliefs.

religious beliefs - biblically centered or not - DO and ALWAYS WILL come into play when laws are decided in a DEMOCRACY. your views may be based on something atheistic, satanic, buddhist, scientific, or any other system of belief. bottom line? democracy - we ALL have the right to speak up and decide what laws are put into place. if mine are based on the Bible and that bothers you, well, that's just how it has to be in a democracy... we both hope the majority will side with us and that our opinion on whatever subject will "win" out when it comes to laws being decided on the issue.
Anonymous Religious Democracy Commenter -

You have the right to formulate your views on abortion from reading tea leaves for all I care.

There's a big difference between a) deriving laws from religious scripture or authority and b) a citizen agreeing or disagreeing with legislation while their opinion is informed by their religion.

The first describes theocracy, the second, a religious person participating in secular government.

You advocate for the first when you try to claim, "laws were formed BASED on the Bible ... "
Erik says:

"But unless you can provide rational and non religious reasons why your view should be law, you are just wishing you could translate your feelings into law."

Easy for you to say, your feelings on abortion are already the law.

But I don't think that my reasoning is religiously motivated anyway nor is is irrational. I am simply saying that human life should be given respect, and that killing a human life is not showing it respect. I think conception is a definitive moment to say something that is alive that is made from humans and IS human deserves respect.

Your ambigous view of when "personhood" that determines when a life deserves respect because of its vagueness is opening the door to disrespectful actions to the most vunerable humans, the unborn.

Err on the side of caution I say and respect ALL human life. Treat others as you would want to be treated, and I think Confucius (sp?) said that before Christ did.
I was with Beth completely until the last paragraph. But I do agree in all things human we should go the extra mile to be cautious, respectful, and do the utmost to value life. Good for you Beth.
I'm curious what was disagreeable in my last paragraph, it seems to me that it echoes what I had in my previous paragraphs...
Beth -

Read my original post again: I'm not going to dispute that an embryo, sperm, eggs, big toenails are all "human life".

It's up to you to show what human life personhood should be assigned to, as I did.
Erik, a sperm or egg or toenail by themselves are not human life. The first two are ingredients needed for human life, the third is a part of a human. But an embryo is a human being in its very earliest form, and thus as I said deserves respect, which is personhood. This is my logic. Your logic of basically anything goes is in a nutshell, ridiculous.
Seriously? Human sperm is not human life?

If a human sperm is not life, what is it?

If it's not human what is it?

You use a different argument for the toenail: it "is a part of a human." Are you suggesting here that only whole humans count?
A woman has all the eggs in her body that she could ever need, a man all the sperm he could ever need. Left alone in these separate bodies, they will never become a separate human life, and if ever they leave that body without joining with the other (through menstruation for example) they can never and will never become a human life. So yes, to call sperm human is wrong, it is inside a human body, but it is not "a human" in and of itself.

Do you need me to draw some pictures?
No pictures needed, I just need a better explanation of why the corpse in Grant's Tomb, a toenail, or a sperm are not human life.

I don't think you're letting my arguments set in, for instance you earlier responded, "your feelings on abortion are already the law." My ideas are not reflected in law at all, federal law at least.
How can you define human life as something dead?

A sperm can never be anything by itself but a sperm. It is from a human, but it is not A human.

Cut the toenail off a human body, and it can never be part of a living thing again. It is not A human.

How can you even compare a toenail to a human being? Talk about disrespect!

Yes, your crazy feelings that having two doctors sign off on killing the unborn or assigning some totally artitrary date to allow abortions is not the law of the land, but its a lot closer than my feelings that no abortions should be allowed ever.
Beth -

You are now making a distinction between "human life" an "a human life". Can you explain? ... without using the words "human" or "life" in any definitions you give?
I use the two terms interchangibly.

Life as in "a being", and human to distinguish from animals and plants that are alive.

Human life = human being(s)
A human life = A human being

Furthermore, I think a human being is a person. I totally don't understand how you can separate the two!

I understand you like to try to compromise, and you think that distinguishing personhood from human life is the answer. I don't like negoiating with human lives. Our perception and the reality of when a fetus is viable outside the womb has changed so much in say, the past 37 years, that I am not comfortable pinning down an arbitrary date as the magical moment a fetus is viable.

Do I think there is such a date when a baby is not viable outside the womb? Absolutely. Am I comfortable with arbitrary dates being decided on when that is? Not on your life.
Beth -

Now you're bringing another term into is "human being" which doesn't help. Is a human being not buried in Grant's Tomb?

You say "Furthermore, I think a human being is a person. I totally don't understand how you can separate the two!"

I think a human being is a person, which may be the root of your confusion: The body in Grant's tomb is a human being and a person; Elmer Fudd is a human being and a person.

You say a fertilized egg is person, yet at the same time you come to this conclusion by "[erring] on the side of caution''; there is doubt built into your definition, which is fine if you're making a decision for yourself, but not when you are calling for the criminal prosecution of others.
It's hard to actually comment back to a person who thinks Elmer Fudd is a person...

Hello!!! Yes, I agree with you that there is no way of knowing exactly when a human being is a human being that doesn't deserve to die! That is why I say err on the side of caution!

It's not about me making the decision for myself, and letting everyone else decide for themselves who lives and who dies. If that were true, then why prosecute anyone who kills another? I'm sure they have "decided" for themselves that killing the other person is justified somehow.

I'll chalk up you calling a cartoon a person due to the late hour. See, I like to give the benefit of the doubt to EVERYONE!
I have a question for both of you:

If Roe Vs. Wade is overturned at some point in the future, what will the next issue be to criminalize women?

It seems to me (and maybe I'm being fantastic by suggesting it) that the next step could be to prosecute women who don't treat their bodies as delicate potential carriers of life 24/7 .... for instance, a woman who drives a drag race car should not be allowed to have intercourse for the threat to a new embryo from her actions would surely raise the danger of a miscarriage. Women shouldn't skydive, women shouldn't brake hard for bunnies in the road, and they just shouldn't engage in any activity that would endanger the chances of the embryo that may have just been created through intercourse. Can we make laws to regulate when women can and can't do things they want to because an embryo may be at risk (whether or not we have any proof that conception has occured or not)? Why not err on the side of caution and legally restrict all potential life-carriers to actions that protect embryos and give those embryos more rights than their carriers?

Just asking. My question is not presented very well, but I think you get the idea. I'm sincerely curious. Where does the control of a woman's reproductive rights begin and end?
Wow, I am still having a hard time with Elmer Fudd being given personhood by Erik but he won't grant the same to embryos.
Beth -

I didn't make an argument granting personhood (please read link) to Elmer Fudd, I said it's accurate to say he and the body in Grant's tomb are human beings and a people.

The point being that your argument is, in a nutshell, Embryos maybe are human life, therefore I can't allow a woman to abort one." Personhood is the is the very thing one must argue for in the abortion debate - and for good reason - I don't disagree that embryos are "human life", but it doesn't follow that they should be legally protected as, for instance, toenails are also human life, but it would be ridiculous to claim this means toenails deserve legal protection.

So, can you frame your argument to aim at granting personhood to embryos? Thanks.

Paul -

Your scenarios aren't fantastic. In fact, I had deleted the very point from a comment before I made it as I thought there was already enough on the table. My formulation was "Shall we prosecute a woman who causes a miscarriage by falling while jogging for manslaughter?"
We're simply asking that no one be allowed to kill children (in or out of the womb)...this is a law regarding legalities of the purposeful taking of life - not parents who act irresponsibly. Preventing pregnant women from jogging or working in whatever career they choose was your idea. Yes, I think that is far-fetched.
I respect that request, yet it is far from a simple one when you involve the government in a woman's body.

Though I find ending pregnancies very sad and one of the most difficult decisions any woman might have to face (especially in the case of rape, incest, or when the woman's life is in danger), I believe that when you legislate what women can and can't do with their own bodies, you've begun to slide down a dangerously slippery slope (hence the far-fetched scenarios of what determines a disregard for life in the case of a woman's actions that could unknowingly end a pregnancy).

Women who carry babies to full term for adoption should be praised. Women who use birth-control should be praised. People who adopt should be praised. And women who make the difficult decision to end a pregnancy should be allowed their privacy and leave the issue between them and their God and their conscience.

Right now, we're playing God every day in Iraq and around the world at the expense of innocent human lives, supposedly to protect our interests and spread democracy. When the Bush administration takes an innocent human life in my name as an American citizen, I am appalled. If the life of an embryo is as valuable as the life of an Iraqi child, why do most pro-life people look the other way? Why the hypocracy? Err on the side of life? When it's convenient? Helpless embryos are more innocent than an Iraqi child ... is that why it's more important? Pro-life yet not necessarily pro-all life? Life is sacred sometimes?

If gender roles were reversed, I have a feeling that this guarantee of safe and legal abortion would be upheld fervently by men in power ... they would be screaming "Don't tread on me!" to every anti-abortion activist. We're trying to achieve equal rights, but men, it seems, will always feel that they have power over women and women shouldn't be able to play God like they do. Think about it.

Respectfully ...
Anonymous -

You say "Preventing pregnant women from jogging or working in whatever career they choose was your idea. Yes, I think that is far-fetched."

How so? Murder is when you kill someone intentionally, manslaughter is when you kill someone unintentionally, but out of criminal negligence.

If an infant dies because it's mother neglected to feed it, the mother would be charged with manslaughter. If you believe a fertilized egg is the same thing as infant, would you not want to charge a pregnant woman who did not eat and caused a miscarriage with the same crime?
Erik and Paul, if I may give you a brief lesson on the joys of womenhood, namely the menstrual cycle. :-)

EVERY month a menstruating woman's body prepares the uterus for the possiblity of a pregnancy. The hormones thicken the walls of the uterus to prepare it for a pregnancy. See, a woman's body is naturally designed for nuturing even before the egg enters the womb!

If the egg gets fertilized by a sperm and conception occurs, no doubt many women jog, bike, have sex, and do all sorts of things that you named as being "dangerous" before they realize they are pregnant. Chalk it up to Intelligent Design that the woman's womb in these early stages protects the developing baby!

As a matter of fact, I was searching one website about exercise during pregnancy and mostly it can be harmful in the third trimester, when surely the woman not only knows she is pregnant, but probably wouldn't feel much like skydiving at that point.

So, you both can skip your silly arguments that women have to walk on eggshells "in case" they are pregnant!!

There are things that can be harmful early in pregnancy, for example whenever I get an x-ray, even at the dentist's office, I am asked if there is ANY possibility than I COULD be pregnant.

Once a mother knows she is pregnant and does things that are known to be harmful, such as those warnings on roller coasters for example, then yes, I do think she is being negligent. If she tries to starve herself and starves her baby, then yes, she is being negligent. If she does crack cocaine, she is being reckless and negligent.

I hope this clears up the dilemma for you two, because I really don't want to have to draw pictures.

But, I will if I have to!!
Erik, did you read the link that was at the end of your link to me?

http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/personhood.htm
i've now trudged through Peter Kreeft's essay and am glad he understands that personhood - not being human or alive - is the correct center of the abortion debate.

He uses a lot of fallacies (and understandably hints that he doesn't think much of logic). Most notable is his straw-man argument. He says there are seven pro-choice arguments, then refutes the and declares victory. He did not try to rebut my definition of personhood: the point at which there are two bodies that can survive independently of one another.

I imagine the argument occurred to him, and he just chose to pretend it it was the same argument that he refutes in #7, which is not a refutation of the actual argument posed.

Maybe I'll write him a letter and ask how he would respond to an argument he didn't set up to knock down.
Beth writes, "So, you both can skip your silly arguments that women have to walk on eggshells "in case" they are pregnant!! ... Once a mother knows she is pregnant and does things that are known to be harmful, such as those warnings on roller coasters for example, then yes, I do think she is being negligent."

Do I need to give you a biology lesson? If a woman has unprotected sex, she knows she might be pregnant. Missing a period may be another cue.

If a blastocyst is just like an infant or third trimester fetus, how can you possibly claim that a woman would not be criminally negligent by doing something she knows would endanger her blastocyst?

Or are you actually saying we should prosecute women whose behavior contributes to any miscarriage?
About the author of the essay I posted, Erik says:

"He did not try to rebut my definition of personhood: the point at which there are two bodies that can survive independently of one another."

And so we are back to square one of all the comments!!!

Erik says:

"Rights should be assigned on the basis of whether the fetus is a whole and functional organism."

Yet, he cannot say exactly when that is.

Perhaps if anyone could say with certainty when a person is a person, I could understand this. In the absence of a definative answer, I cannot.

Furthermore, Erik, did you totally miss what I was saying about early pregnancy? The female body is designed to protect the early unborn baby even before it actually begins. Did you know that the 40 weeks of pregnancy include approximately 2 weeks prior to conception? Why do you think that is?

So, women who don't even know they are pregnant because they haven't even missed their period are unknowingly protecting their fetus by the very nature of their bodies!

I assure you, Erik, the wonders of human life are more amazing than the beautiful pictures you have been posting from Lake Calhoun, and I am moved by even those pictures.
Beth said: "... all sorts of things that you named as being "dangerous" before they realize they are pregnant."

I was referring to scenarios like the G-force of a dragster or the force of a parachute opening, not something as simple as exercise or bike riding, which is clearly not dangerous for a normal pregnancy.

And you are so right, Beth; a normal healthy woman's womb is amazingly built to protect a brand new embryo whether it was designed by God or not, but the question was whether or not negligence could result in prosecution - for either murder or manslaughter - somewhere down the line should Roe Vs. Wade be overturned. The question was where do we draw the line?

By the way, I love your posts, Beth, you seem to be a very pleasant, kind, and thoughtful person, which is why I'm sincerely very curious for you to answer this question!

All the best ...
Beth -

We're back at square one because we never left. Nobody can think of a way to refute my argument!

You say, "did you totally miss what I was saying about early pregnancy? The female body is designed to protect the early unborn ..."

So what? A woman's behavior can cause a miscarriage, and if you think a blastocyst should have the same rights and you and I, where's the justice?

You' seem to be saying that if a woman doesn't know she's pregnant and miscarries a person with the same rights as you and I due to her smoking, caffeine or alcohol intake, or bungee jumping, she shouldn't be prosecuted?

That's a horrible thought! If you didn't know I was right behind the wall you chose to discharge your gun into while you were having a party, you should get off scott free? Ugh.
Erik says:

"Rights should be assigned on the basis of whether the fetus is a whole and functional organism."

Yet, he cannot say exactly when that is.


A great friend of mine just had a little baby girl after going through the IVF process. She was delivered via C-section at 25 weeks (and tragically, her twin did not make it). Her doctors told her that 25 weeks was the amount of time she needed to make it to before going into labor where the baby's chances of survival outside the womb were best. Still, the little girl has had 3 major surgeries, but is hanging in there. Thank the Lloyd.

So, even at 25 weeks, the chance of survival outside of the womb is risky (as seen by the death of her baby's twin sister).

No one can pinpoint a specific date, but it is common knowledge now (with our medical technology) that 25 weeks is the earliest.
Paul, for one thing I sadly but highly doubt that Roe v Wade will ever be overturned. And even if it was, the states could decide, and so quite frankly many abortions would still occur.

Therefore, I really have redirected my pro-life efforts towards highlighting the idea that we need to respect all human life (which I mean the preborn as well as those born who have not died from natural causes) and to dispel disrespectful ideas that are becoming more acceptable, such as abortion.

Abortion by being legal is viewed by many as acceptable. Therefore, to make people think otherwise is like swimming upstream, it's not an easy task. But I feel in my heart that it is wrong, and so I continue to speak out against abortion.

So, then, to answer your question better about women who choose to do activities that could be harmful if they were pregnant. My overall feeling is that if they do not know that they are pregnant, they cannot be held accountable for their actions. Have you read the book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven? Sometimes things we think are innocent actions turn out hurting others, sometimes we never even know our actions caused a chain reaction of events that end up hurting others or even ourselves.

To put inadvertent actions on the same playing field as having a doctor insert instruments to extract a developing fetus, to me, at least, is a moot point. The first is accidental, the second is deliberate.

I will go one step further. In most cases of abortion, I truly believe that the women are being taken advantage of in their state of vunerability and being told that abortion is acceptable and so they should have no qualms about going through with it. So, really it is the people who are profiting from legal killing that sicken me, not the women who are being manipulated by them.
I should also mention Paul that prevention of unwanted pregnancies is something I would prefer to focus on instead of dealing with the consequences. But if pregnancies still occur, I think we all have a moral obligation to give support to the mothers who do choose life affirming options, such as adoption, or if they decide to keep the baby.

To Erik, I don't own a gun that could be discharged, but if I did and an accidental death occurred I'm not sure I could be prosecuted. Or is that involunatary manslaughter? But what's that got to do with not knowing you are pregnant and inadvertantly causing a miscarriage? As I have said, the woman won't even know usually that she has had a miscarriage, because she will not know she was pregnant!!
I think this post deserves a follow up, but responding quickly to a few things here yet:

Beth, "... to dispel disrespectful ideas that are becoming more acceptable, such as abortion."

I don't really know if that's true, in the US at least. Republicans and social conservatives have made it an issue during the last few decades. Barry Goldwater was pro-choice.

Roe v Wade could quite reasonably be overturned if a couple SC justices die or retire in the next three years.

Manslaughter is inadvertent killing due to negligence or neglect. If you don't think manslaughter should ever apply to miscarriages, i don't see the sense in you being against abortion. WA women could just take the right herbs, or change her diet in another way to induce miscarriage. Are you going to outlaw or restrict the sale of pennyroyal?
Beth -

Yes, if you inadvertently but negligently kill someone, it's manslaughter. Drunk drivers often get charged with manslaughter, it's often the charge in accidental firearm deaths.

The argument I'm making is that women could (knowingly or unknowingly) bring about a miscarriage at a time when they reasonably should have known they were pregnant. If you view a miscarriage as a abridgement of a embryo's right to life, I just don't understand how you could say, "Awww, well, she probably didn't know she was pregnant."

Thus my analogy to firing a gun through a wall at a party: reasonable people would have reason to assume they may kill someone by firing the gun at the wall. (same thing for drunks who decide to drive).
Thank you, Beth. Really. I honor your respect for life. I, too, have a deep respect for life ... and I fear that my views on a woman's right to choose make some feel that I do not have that deep respect, which is unfortunate ...

I have to respond to this, however: "In most cases of abortion, I truly believe that the women are being taken advantage of in their state of vunerability and being told that abortion is acceptable and so they should have no qualms about going through with it."

Women go to abortion clinics to have abortions, they are not lured in by TV ads or coupons or salesmen on the street. I have had many friends explain to me their reasons for going to those clinics and none of them have ever said that they were talked into it or that it was an easy decision. And that is the point of all of this -- abortion is a hard choice made by a woman (or a couple) who has to struggle with her conscience to come to a decision (in most cases) and it is my opinion that it is their choice and their choice only. Abortion is not pretty, it's not a procedure like having your teeth cleaned -- talk to anyone who has had an abortion and they will tell you that it was a very difficult decision, if they will allow the openess to talk about it in this society. We should keep our hands off their conscience and let them decide ... after all, God gave us free will. Even before the abortion became a safe medical procedure, how many ways have fetuses been aborted throughout history? How many women have died?

My wife is 48 years old. She is still fertile. If, for some reason, we get pregnant, we will have to weigh the choice of having a child at her age and the chances of disabilty that come with it --- not to mention that due to her family history of Parkinson's and Osteo Porosis, she would risk her own life severely by making the choice to go through with the pregnancy. If, for moral reasons, we decided that abortion was not an option, would I feel right in endangering her life to bring another into the world? No. I would not. I love her and I value her life more than an embryo, that's just the way it is. We would have an abortion. We deserve that right.

That's all for now (I think). Getting tired, but very grateful that you answered my question, Beth. thank you.
There is a presidence to all of your questions, you know, abortion used to be illegal. And that was before birth control pills and condoms! What did they do back then if a woman knowingly or unknowingly caused the death or her child? I doubt they outlawed penny-whatever-Erik-said, just like fertilizers that can be used in making bombs is not outlawed.

I still don't think it will be overturned, Erik. Guilani is pro-choice and lots of Republicans want him to be President. I am dealing with the reality that abortion in my lifetime will remain legal.

In a perfect world, there would be no infertile couples who want babies, nor unwanted pregnancies. Our world is not perfect, and all I can do is stand up for what I believe, fight for those who I feel have no voice, and pray for everyone who is going through both the wanted but unfulfilled desire to have a child as well as those struggling with one that they did not plan for.

This is all I can say, really, from the bottom of my heart. Nothing else from me.
the instance of a mother killing her fetus (and not being charged for it ) occured in Texas just recently.

curious thing the father got two life terms for "causing" the miscarriage that he mother wanted but he was charged with w law which punishes someone who causes the death of a fetus when the mother DOES want to have the child.

read the article its quote enlightening and illustrates the vagaries of how we view abortion.


http://www.houstonpress.com/issues/2005-04-28/news/feature_1.html
This comment is for Paul, if he is still out there wondering if women shouldn't be allowed to skydive while pregnant, to validate my claim that the human body is so well designed as to protect the unborn - here's a great news story!

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,178545,00.html

 

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