Would you assist in abortions? - page 26

I am just curious. Would you ever work in an abortion clinic? Would you give pills that would cause an abortion? Thanks... Read More

  1. by   Laura2000mi
    Fergus-

    Using my original argument...if you believe abortion is moral, then these are your only options:

    1. You have found an error in my argument which would make it invalid. If this is the case, please let me know.
    2. You know and can prove the point in which the human tissue becomes a baby, and only perform abortions prior to this moment.
    3. You believe the murder of innocent people is moral.

    There are no other options. This debate is over the potential killing of innocent people. It should warrant thorough logical reasoning. Pro-choice and pro-life people alike go around saying "I believe this...just because it is my opinion" and have no other basis for their argument. You can not escape the laws of logic. 1 + 1 will always = 2. If you cannot find error in my argument, I do not see how you can logically support abortion.

    I believe that the laws of logic can prove abortion to be immoral. If there is another argument which proves it moral, then I will change my stance. I don't use the fact that the government says it is legal to be my reason, or the fact that the Bible says it is wrong. I use logic.

    Regarding empirical reasoning...the greatest amount of happiness is relative and therefore not a good way to judge morality. Deontological argument is much more effective, because you can prove things a priori (through contraditcion). A priori logic (1+1=2) will always trump empirical logic.

    Take this argument for example:
    Women should be happy. Rape makes women sad. Being pregnant as a result makes them sadder. Killing the fetus will make them happier again, so abortion is moral. This is an empirical argument.
    On the same token: Fergus drives a nice car. Laura does not. Nice cars make Laura happy (as well as her husband and extended family...), so it is not immoral for Laura to steal Fergus' car. :chuckle

    Using the greatest amount of happiness theory is probably the worst thing we could use when arguing morality, in my opinion. There are no absolutes, and by my above argument, stealing would be okay, when we can prove a priori using deontological argument that it is not.

    I am also glad that we are able to argue without resorting to flames and such.

    So...what part of my original argument do you find fault in?

    Quote from Laura2000mi

    This is my argument against abortion...if you find any holes in it, please let me know. This is not a matter of opinion for me, but a black and white moral issue. So...here we go.
    ------------------------------------------------------

    For this argument, the definition of abortion is the killing of a person inside the womb. A person is defined as someone who has the ability to reason, or who will one day have the ability to reason.

    1. It is wrong (immoral) to kill an innocent person.
    2. It is not moral or immoral to kill human tissue (such as an amputation, removal of a tumor, fetal material before it becomes a "person", etc).

    There are three options for a fetus:

    1. It is always a person, and never just "human tissue", and thus it would always be wrong to kill it.
    2. It is always human tissue, and never becomes a human, and thus you can kill it any time. This is impossible since every person originates as a fetus, and eventually becomes a person...otherwise mothers could kill their five year old children, since they are still only human tissue.
    3. It originates at human tissue and at some specific point in time becomes a person.

    Most pro-choice people will agree with #3. The problem with this is that there is no clearly defined point at which the human tissue becomes a person. Since I define a "person" as someone who has the ability to reason, or who will one day have the ability to reason, then from the instant of conception, they are a person, since the fertilized egg will eventually become a reasoning person.

    IF the fertilized egg is not yet a person, then there MUST be some point where it becomes a person. In order for abortion to be moral (and not the killing of a person), then you must perform the procedure before the human tissue becomes a person. If you are pro-abortion, then you must know the magic point and be able to prove it using a logical argument...otherwise you are potentially killing innocent people...which I hope we all agree is wrong.
  2. by   fergus51
    Quote from Laura2000mi
    Fergus-

    Using my original argument...if you believe abortion is moral, then these are your only options:

    1. You have found an error in my argument which would make it invalid. If this is the case, please let me know.
    2. You know and can prove the point in which the human tissue becomes a baby, and only perform abortions prior to this moment.
    3. You believe the murder of innocent people is moral.

    There are no other options. This debate is over the potential killing of innocent people. It should warrant thorough logical reasoning. Pro-choice and pro-life people alike go around saying "I believe this...just because it is my opinion" and have no other basis for their argument. You can not escape the laws of logic. 1 + 1 will always = 2. If you cannot find error in my argument, I do not see how you can logically support abortion.

    I believe that the laws of logic can prove abortion to be immoral. If there is another argument which proves it moral, then I will change my stance. I don't use the fact that the government says it is legal to be my reason, or the fact that the Bible says it is wrong. I use logic.

    Regarding empirical reasoning...the greatest amount of happiness is relative and therefore not a good way to judge morality. Deontological argument is much more effective, because you can prove things a priori (through contraditcion). A priori logic (1+1=2) will always trump empirical logic.

    Take this argument for example:
    Women should be happy. Rape makes women sad. Being pregnant as a result makes them sadder. Killing the fetus will make them happier again, so abortion is moral. This is an empirical argument.
    On the same token: Fergus drives a nice car. Laura does not. Nice cars make Laura happy (as well as her husband and extended family...), so it is not immoral for Laura to steal Fergus' car. :chuckle

    Using the greatest amount of happiness theory is probably the worst thing we could use when arguing morality, in my opinion. There are no absolutes, and by my above argument, stealing would be okay, when we can prove a priori using deontological argument that it is not.

    I am also glad that we are able to argue without resorting to flames and such.

    So...what part of my original argument do you find fault in?
    I am enjoying this! Who would have thought an abortion debate could turn into respectful discussion?

    The part of your argument I find illogical is #2, the real heart of the argument. I don't think a fetus is a person before viability. People are INDEPENDENT living beings, a fetus isn't. Until it can live outside the womb, it is not an independent living being, so it isn't a person. It can BECOME a person, but it IS not. That's a big distinction. No one can argue that a term baby and a zygote are the same. They aren't. That's just a fact, so to expect them to have the same protections under the law because of potential doesn't make sense to me. Potential may or may not be realized. Are we going to outlaw male masturbation because they are wasting sperm that have the potential to become children? I certainly can't imagine all those male legislators going along with that one! LOL!

    If they are given the same protection, it opens a whole new can of worms which needs to be considered. Should embryos from IVF be all used or saved forever since discarding them is murder? Should birth control pills, depo, etc. be outlawed since they prevent implantation, causing murder? Should pregnant women be jailed if their lifestyle is not good enough, causing any harm to their fetuses (smoking, drinking, not eating dairy...)? Are there any cases where abortion IS acceptable and why (to save a woman's life, in the case of gross deformity, incest, rape, etc)? Are we going to investigate every miscarriage as a possible murder?

    Oh, the greatest good idea about simple happyness. It's about good. The best example is do we allow abortion to save a woman's life, even if we consider abortion murder because if we don't both the woman and the fetus will die? Or, my personal favorite would be what is the best way to decrease abortions in this country? I would argue in favor of better sexual education and birth control access, not legislation because it isn't practical.

    Deontology is fun, but only works on empirical facts (like 1+1=2). Your argument works on an underlying assumption, not necessarily a fact (that fetuses are people at all stages of gestation). For it to be a fact we would have to come up with the final binding definition of what makes a person and see if a fetus meets that definition.

    Your assumption in the anti-utilitarian argument is "women should be happy". Why? You'd have to come up with a reason. My assumption to start the argument is that "women should have total control of their own bodies" therefore they are allowed to choose abortion. I can argue that assumption because women are sentient beings and no one should control a person's body other than that person. Your body is personal, not the property of someone else as in slavery and you have free will (that's why rape is immoral). If they aren't allowed total control of their own bodies, who controls them and where does it stop? Do we get to force women to have natural childbirth because it is best for the fetus? Do we get to force women into cesareans? That's just rape of another form. The devil's in the details. When we argue in favor of benefecience and ignore the dangers of paternalism we're walking a tightrope.

    Again, this all just comes down to the question of personhood. Is a fetus a person and when? I argue at viability, because that's when it can live outside the womb. You might say at conception or implantation because that's when it has the potential to become a person. I'm not silly enough to know for sure that my pov is right, but it is the conclusion I have come to through the same process that you have.

    I enjoy discussing this with you. I think a person should have to constantly reexamine their own beliefs and you certainly make me do that Some points you convince me on, others I can reject, but they all make me think.

    sbic and Justus, thanks and I feel the same way. It is really refreshing to see that people can agree or disagree, but still keep things civil. It's always been a part of my upbringing since we used to do debate topics at the dinner table You'd probably all be surprised to know that my brother is COMPLETELY pro-life and my parents are mostly pro-life (they would be ok with it in the case of rape and incest, but still don't want it criminalized). I'm the only completely pro-choice one in the family, but they have never tried to make me feel bad about it.
    Last edit by fergus51 on May 5, '04
  3. by   fergus51
    OK, wait. I think you edited funny and my quote of yours came out funny. So in case it isn't clear, I think a fetus becomes a person at a certain point (viability) and isn't a person from the beginning since I consider a person to be an independent living human being.
  4. by   Laura2000mi
    The part of your argument I find illogical is #2, the real heart of the argument. I don't think a fetus is a person before viability. People are INDEPENDENT living beings, a fetus isn't. Until it can live outside the womb, it is not an independent living being, so it isn't a person. It can BECOME a person, but it IS not. That's a big distinction.

    So, by your definition, a person is an independent human being. Anyone or anything that is not independent is not a person. If something/someone is not a person, then it would not be morally wrong to kill them. I do not consider fetuses to be able to live independently, but neither can newborn babies, toddlers, young children, quadriplegics, humans (not saying people right here because by your definition they are not people) with certain mental disabilities, some elderly, etc. By your definition, it would be morally acceptable to kill all of these people. Are you sure you want to stick with "independence" = personhood?

    If they are given the same protection, it opens a whole new can of worms which needs to be considered. Should embryos from IVF be all used or saved forever since discarding them is murder? By my argument, yes.

    Should birth control pills, depo, etc. be outlawed since they prevent implantation, causing murder? Yes again. Birth control which prevents the woman from ovulating would be acceptable though, since without ovulation there can be no conception.

    Should pregnant women be jailed if their lifestyle is not good enough, causing any harm to their fetuses (smoking, drinking, not eating dairy...)? This is an entirely different argument. Right now I am simply arguing that abortion is wrong.

    Are there any cases where abortion IS acceptable and why (to save a woman's life, in the case of gross deformity, incest, rape, etc)?
    No.

    Are we going to investigate every miscarriage as a possible murder? I don't know, I am just arguing about morality and immorality. The consequences of something being moral or immoral do not have anything to do with the argument itself. If something is wrong, then it's wrong...even if that makes things a pain in the butt for everyone else.

    Oh, the greatest good idea about simple happiness. It's about good. The best example is do we allow abortion to save a woman's life, even if we consider abortion murder because if we don't both the woman and the fetus will die? If you suspected that someone you knew was going to kill an innocent person, could you justify killing that person? Since it can never be known for certain that aborting the baby will increase the odds of survival for the mother or fetus, this is much the same as not knowing for sure in the example above.

    Or, my personal favorite would be what is the best way to decrease abortions in this country? I would argue in favor of better sexual education and birth control access, not legislation because it isn't practical. The results of declaring something immoral or not have no bearing on the argument. I am not arguing how to reduce abortion, or government regulation, or anything of that nature. I am saying that if abortion is immoral, we shouldn't do it. If it is not immoral, then we can. The logistics that come afterward have no effect of the argument itself. Also, all moral decisions are a pain in the butt, or at least require some kind of sacrifice. If your husband never cheated on you, but never had the opportunity, is he making a moral decision? No. Further, if he never cheated on you, but daily has opportunities, doesn't this indicate sacrifice on his part to remain moral? (And we know how men are...)

    Deontology is fun, but only works on empirical facts (like 1+1=2).
    Eek. You just contradicted yourself. There is no such thing as an empirical fact. Relative observations, not facts, are empirical. If something is empirical, it cannot be a fact. Deontology deals with explicit facts, not opinions.

    Your argument works on an underlying assumption, not necessarily a fact (that fetuses are people at all stages of gestation). For it to be a fact we would have to come up with the final binding definition of what makes a person and see if a fetus meets that definition.

    Okay, you do not like my definition...can you disprove that fetuses have a capacity to develop reason? Your definition (people are independent living beings) was easily disproved. Unless you think offing five years olds is morally sound, then independence then has nothing to do with whether someone is a person or not. My original argument still allowed for the chance that your definition of a person was different than mine. You still have to be able to prove the point in which the fetus becomes a person. The only point that can be proven a priori is the moment at which the DNA becomes unique (ie. Different from both parents).

    Your assumption in the anti-utilitarian argument is "women should be happy". Why? You'd have to come up with a reason.

    No I do not, because the whole concept of utilitarian theory is based upon the idea that "the outcome that results in the greatest amount of happiness is moral." If you use utilitarian theory to argue anything, you have to assume that happiness is the desired outcome for the situation you are arguing. Happiness has nothing to do with whether something is right or wrong. It might make me a heck of a lot happier to kill Mr. X, but that does not make it moral. According to utilitarian theory, it would be moral, as long as more people would be made happy by killing him than by not.

    My assumption to start the argument is that "women should have total control of their own bodies" therefore they are allowed to choose abortion. I can argue that assumption because women are sentient beings and no one should control a person's body other than that person. Your body is personal, not the property of someone else as in slavery and you have free will (that's why rape is immoral). If they aren't allowed total control of their own bodies, who controls them and where does it stop?

    But, I would like to point out that a fetus is definitely not part of the woman's body. If it was, then the DNA would be identical. The fetus is a foreign tissue being housed by the woman's uterus. The woman also does not have the right to remove her uterus (even though that technically IS part of her body) because to do so would kill the person inside, which would be immoral. Also women aren't actually in control of their bodies anyway, or else they could just control not getting pregnant in the first place.

    Do we get to force women to have natural childbirth because it is best for the fetus? Do we get to force women into cesareans? That's just rape of another form. The devil's in the details. When we argue in favor of beneficence and ignore the dangers of paternalism we're walking a tightrope. This seems to have little to do with the argument at hand...


    Again, this all just comes down to the question of personhood. Is a fetus a person and when? I argue at viability, because that's when it can live outside the womb. You might say at conception or implantation because that's when it has the potential to become a person. I'm not silly enough to know for sure that my pov is right, but it is the conclusion I have come to through the same process that you have.

    So, if viability is what makes a fetus a person (and not independence), then you must be able to prove at what point a fetus is viable, a not perform abortions after that point. Otherwise you would be killing a person, which I think we both agree is immoral. How do we prove such a thing? You cannot. If you take a baby at x gestation and say "it is not viable" and abort it, you kill it. You cannot prove whether that baby was viable or not, because with abortion, all viability is zero. It is a circular argument: "This fetus was not viable [because we killed it] therefore since it was not viable, killing it was moral." In order for viability to be an accurate gauge of personhood, you need to prove it's viability before you perform the abortion. You cannot remove the fetus in one piece, lay it on the table, and if it dies say "ok, it's not viable, lets put it back in and then perform the abortion." If you remove the fetus and lay it on a table and it survives...then I guess you send the patient home because killing the fetus would then be immoral because it is viable, and therefore a person.

    You cannot take an average gestation age for viability and use that as your guide, because not all fetuses become viable at x gestation. It is different for every fetus. If you assume that fetus A is not viable because it has reached x gestation and abort it, you are potentially killing a person (by your definition) if indeed the fetus was viable at x gestation. Using viability as your guide is impossible, because there is no way of proving viability without potentially killing the fetus.

    My "Stedman's Medical Dictionary" says viability is:" capability of living; the state of being viable, usually connotes a fetus that has reached five hundred grams in weight and twenty gestational weeks." Note the use of the word usually. This means: cannot be known all the time. Also, twenty gestational weeks is not the entire term of gestation, there are twenty additional weeks of gestation in which abortion must be wrong, by your definition. This makes your argument a contradiction, since abortion can either be right, or abortion can be wrong. It cannot be both.

    OK, wait. I think you edited funny and my quote of yours came out funny. So in case it isn't clear, I think a fetus becomes a person at a certain point (viability) and isn't a person from the beginning since I consider a person to be an independent living human being.

    So is it viability or independence? It has to be one or the other, since to be both would be self-contradictory.

    Sorry if my quote came out funny. Don't mean to be confusing, just trying to save space...

    (Edited to correct embarrassing typo.)
    Last edit by Laura2000mi on May 5, '04
  5. by   fergus51
    undefined[quote=laura2000mi]
    so, by your definition, a person is an independent human being. anyone or anything that is not independent is not a person. if something/someone is not a person, then it would not be morally wrong to kill them. i do not consider fetuses to be able to live independently, but neither can newborn babies, toddlers, young children, quadriplegics, humans (not saying people right here because by your definition they are not people) with certain mental disabilities, some elderly, etc. by your definition, it would be morally acceptable to kill all of these people. are you sure you want to stick with “independence” = personhood?

    a newborn is independent. it survives outside of the womb. it doesn't need to live off of your body. a fetus is more like a parasite than a newborn in that sense and in comparison to all of your other examples. independent is not the same as self sufficient like you are implying or most college students wouldn't be people (kidding). maybe a better word would be individual or viable as in capable of living in the environment, not in another person's body? so yes, i want to stick with my definition of independent/individual/viable living being = person.

    if they are given the same protection, it opens a whole new can of worms which needs to be considered. should embryos from ivf be all used or saved forever since discarding them is murder? by my argument, yes.
    should birth control pills, depo, etc. be outlawed since they prevent implantation, causing murder? yes again. birth control which prevents the woman from ovulating would be acceptable though, since without ovulation there can be no conception.
    ok, you're consistent in your beliefs. i do think they are more extreme than most people's in this matter. i don't consider myself to have commited an abortion when i use bcps

    should pregnant women be jailed if their lifestyle is not good enough, causing any harm to their fetuses (smoking, drinking, not eating dairy...)? this is an entirely different argument. right now i am simply arguing that abortion is wrong.
    sorry, i thought you were arguing abortions shouldn't be allowed because they harm a person, the fetus. if that's the case, i don't see how we could ignore other ways women harm fetuses. implications always get me thinking

    are there any cases where abortion is acceptable and why (to save a woman's life, in the case of gross deformity, incest, rape, etc)?
    no.

    are we going to investigate every miscarriage as a possible murder? i don’t know, i am just arguing about morality and immorality. the consequences of something being moral or immoral do not have anything to do with the argument itself. if something is wrong, then it’s wrong…even if that makes things a pain in the butt for everyone else.

    again, i do consider the consequences. i thought you were arguing that abortion should be illegal and not just morally wrong

    oh, the greatest good idea about simple happiness. it's about good. the best example is do we allow abortion to save a woman's life, even if we consider abortion murder because if we don't both the woman and the fetus will die? if you suspected that someone you knew was going to kill an innocent person, could you justify killing that person? since it can never be known for certain that aborting the baby will increase the odds of survival for the mother or fetus, this is much the same as not knowing for sure in the example above.

    there are cases when we know for sure. ever seen really bad pih at 22 weeks, completely uncontrollable by medications? ever had a patient with an ectopic pregnancy? i have in my time as an ob nurse (not even going into all the other nightmare situations i've seen). there are 2 options, abortion or death.

    your argument works on an underlying assumption, not necessarily a fact (that fetuses are people at all stages of gestation). for it to be a fact we would have to come up with the final binding definition of what makes a person and see if a fetus meets that definition.

    okay, you do not like my definition…can you disprove that fetuses have a capacity to develop reason? your definition (people are independent living beings) was easily disproved. unless you think offing five years olds is morally sound, then independence then has nothing to do with whether someone is a person or not. my original argument still allowed for the chance that your definition of a person was different than mine. you still have to be able to prove the point in which the fetus becomes a person. the only point that can be proven a priori is the moment at which the dna becomes unique (ie. different from both parents).

    yes, a fetus may have the capacity to develop reason. may or may not realize that potential

    my definition hasn't been disproven since we were speaking of different things. i don't think a person has to be self sufficient in the sense that it can hold a job, pay for an appartment, get its own food etc. i do think it needs to be able to survive outside of another person's body.

    your assumption in the anti-utilitarian argument is "women should be happy". why? you'd have to come up with a reason.

    no i do not, because the whole concept of utilitarian theory is based upon the idea that “the outcome that results in the greatest amount of happiness is moral.” if you use utilitarian theory to argue anything, you have to assume that happiness is the desired outcome for the situation you are arguing. happiness has nothing to do with whether something is right or wrong. it might make me a heck of a lot happier to kill mr. x, but that does not make it moral. according to utilitarian theory, it would be moral, as long as more people would be made happy by killing him than by not.

    not happiness, good. the most good and you have to be able to say why it is good.

    my assumption to start the argument is that "women should have total control of their own bodies" therefore they are allowed to choose abortion

    but, i would like to point out that a fetus is definitely not part of the woman’s body. if it was, then the dna would be identical. the fetus is a foreign tissue being housed by the woman’s uterus. the woman also does not have the right to remove her uterus (even though that technically is part of her body) because to do so would kill the person inside, which would be immoral. also women aren’t actually in control of their bodies anyway, or else they could just control not getting pregnant in the first place.

    using the dna argument, my eggs would not be considered a part of my body because they do not have identical dna (only half of my stuff), and a man's sperm would not be a part of his body. plus, why is dna the deciding factor? am i not allowed to kill a tapeworm in my body because it doesn't have my dna? again, that's just dancing around the personhood question. having unique dna does not automatically make a something a person or confer rights to it.

    we do agree that the fetus is being housed in a woman's body. that means that whatever choices the woman makes about her body affect the fetus. i consider her right to not be used as an incubator to be important.

    i won't get onto the "she could control her body by just not getting pregnant" bit, cause we all know there are situations that are not in a woman's control that can lead to pregnancy. they are way more common than any of us would like to think

    do we get to force women to have natural childbirth because it is best for the fetus? do we get to force women into cesareans? that's just rape of another form. the devil's in the details. when we argue in favor of beneficence and ignore the dangers of paternalism we're walking a tightrope. this seems to have little to do with the argument at hand...

    i think it does. if you argue that it is immoral to harm a fetus, then all ways of harming a fetus need to be stopped. again, i am looking at the implications of your argument, which i now understand you were not interested in.

    again, this all just comes down to the question of personhood. is a fetus a person and when? i argue at viability, because that's when it can live outside the womb. you might say at conception or implantation because that's when it has the potential to become a person. i'm not silly enough to know for sure that my pov is right, but it is the conclusion i have come to through the same process that you have.

    so, if viability is what makes a fetus a person (and not independence), then you must be able to prove at what point a fetus is viable, a not perform abortions after that point. otherwise you would be killing a person, which i think we both agree is immoral. how do we prove such a thing? you cannot. if you take a baby at x gestation and say “it is not viable” and abort it, you kill it. you cannot prove whether that baby was viable or not, because with abortion, all viability is zero. it is a circular argument: “this fetus was not viable [because we killed it] therefore since it was not viable, killing it was moral.” in order for viability to be an accurate gauge of personhood, you need to prove it’s viability before you perform the abortion. you cannot remove the fetus in one piece, lay it on the table, and if it dies say “ok, it’s not viable, lets put it back in and then perform the abortion.” if you remove the fetus and lay it on a table and it survives…then i guess you send the patient home because killing the fetus would then be immoral because it is viable, and therefore a person.

    you cannot take an average gestation age for viability and use that as your guide, because not all fetuses become viable at x gestation. it is different for every fetus. if you assume that fetus a is not viable because it has reached x gestation and abort it, you are potentially killing a person (by your definition) if indeed the fetus was viable at x gestation. using viability as your guide is impossible, because there is no way of proving viability without potentially killing the fetus.

    my “stedman’s medical dictionary” says viability is:” capability of living; the state of being viable, usually connotes a fetus that has reached five hundred grams in weight and twenty gestational weeks.” note the use of the word usually. this means: cannot be known all the time. also, twenty gestational weeks is not the entire term of gestation, there are twenty additional weeks of gestation in which abortion must be wrong, by your definition. this makes your argument a contradiction, since abortion can either be right, or abortion can be wrong. it cannot be both.

    you're talking in circles here and i am getting a little dizzy. you most certainly can prove viability before abortion. certain things are required for life, like functionning lungs, skin, heart, kidneys etc. show me one 12 week fetus that was capable of surviving outside the womb and i will change my views, but you can't because it is impossible. i know that all the time and have no doubts. i won't be surprised if the age of viability changes with medical advances, but that's a ways off.

    the twenties are when things get iffy. i work in an nicu and our cutoff for agressive treatment is generally 23+ weeks (no way would we agressively treat a 20 weeker and anyone who thinks we should is obviously not experienced in the area!). even then, parents can choose to not opt for agressive treatment and let their child pass peacefully with them. i can't imagine those parents being called murderers.

    abortion absolutely can be right and wrong (depending on the circumstances). this is not a contradiction. i think it's wrong after viability (and many states and agencies do have restrictions on post viability abortions for this reason), because that is when a fetus is a person. before that the fetus is not a person so it isn't possible to murder it.

    you don't think circumstances affect morality at all? most of us would agree that murder is wrong, but is it morally wrong to kill in self defense? i would say no, so killing can be moral and immoral. that's just me.


    ok, wait. i think you edited funny and my quote of yours came out funny. so in case it isn't clear, i think a fetus becomes a person at a certain point (viability) and isn't a person from the beginning since i consider a person to be an independent living human being.
    so is it viability or independence? it has to be one or the other, since to be both would be self-contradictory.

    viability, individuality, independence... whatever words we want to use to describe the ability of a fetus to survive outside of a woman's body
    Last edit by fergus51 on May 5, '04
  6. by   Laura2000mi
    "A newborn is independent. It survives outside of the womb. It doesn't need to live off of your body.... Maybe a better word would be individual or viable as in capable of living in the environment, not in another person's body?

    If you removed the fertilized egg from the moment of conception, and put it in a test tube, or some other place, it would still survive for a period on its own. (IVF) Therefore, from the moment of conception, it IS capable of living in the environment. Or is the amount of time it is capable of survival the discerning factor? If so, then abortion is always wrong, because you will never know how long the fertilized egg/fetus would have survived if you didn't abort it.

    "OK, you're consistent in your beliefs. I do think they are more extreme than most people's in this matter. I don't consider myself to have commited an abortion when I use BCPs."

    Consistency is important in logic, and in life as well. And note: I do not consider ALL birth control to be causing abortion...just certain ones (ones that prevent a fertilized egg from implanting).

    Sorry, I thought you were arguing abortions shouldn't be allowed because they harm a person, the fetus. If that's the case, I don't see how we could ignore other ways women harm fetuses. Implications always get me thinking.

    Yes...they get me thinking too. Please do not think that the details aren't important to me, or relevant in society, I was just trying to stick with this argument, so that the main focus was not lost. We could argue all these additional things, but they would be irrelevant to the argument of the morality/immorality of abortion.

    My definition hasn't been disproven since we were speaking of different things. I don't think a person has to be self sufficient in the sense that it can hold a job, pay for an appartment, get its own food etc. I do think it needs to be able to survive outside of another person's body.

    See above. (fertilized egg, amount of time for survival, etc.)

    Not happiness, GOOD. The most GOOD and you have to be able to say why it is good.

    If I remember correctly, utilitarian theory deals solely with empirical evidence to prove the most happiness. Aristotle's virtue theory deals with the most good in a situation. Both use empirical evidence, but both "prove" morality/immorality using different reasoning. So...you tripped me up on that one by changing from utilitarian theory to virtue theory. Tsk tsk tsk.

    Using the DNA argument, my eggs would not be considered a part of my body because they do not have identical DNA (only half of my stuff), and a man's sperm would not be a part of his body.

    Sperm and eggs are not part of your body. BUT the eggs and the sperm individually will never become a sentient living being, or achieve viability. So, it is not a moral issue anymore than the tapeworm you referred to. (a tapeworm also could never become a person on its own)

    Plus, why is DNA the deciding factor?

    I never claimed that DNA was the deciding factor. I merely pointed out that the fetus isn't part of the woman's body.

    I consider her right to not be used as an incubator to be important.

    What gives her this right? Does the man have a right not to be used as a sperm donor? Does a woman have the right not to urinate? What right to breath does a woman have under twenty feet of water? People do not have rights over biological functions. Women ARE incubators, therefore they do not have the right (nor ability) to chose what their bodies can or cannot do. Rights are something you always have. If you have the right not to be an incubator, then you could decide to be an incubator with no outside interference. Also, you could will the baby away with you mind. Rights must involve choices, and must always be available to you, or else they are not rights.

    I won't get onto the "she could control her body by just not getting pregnant" bit, cause we all know there are situations that are not in a woman's control that can lead to pregnancy. They are WAY more common than any of us would like to think.

    You misunderstood where I was going with that. I said "Also women aren't actually in control of their bodies anyway, or else they could just control not getting pregnant in the first place." Meaning, if women actually had control over their body in the way they have control over their limbs, they could just "shut off" their reproductive cycle, and not worry about pregnancy in the first place. Sorry for the confusion, I should have elaborated.

    You're talking in circles here and I am getting a little dizzy . You most certainly can prove viability before abortion. Certain things are required for life, like functionning lungs, skin, heart, kidneys etc. Show me one 12 week fetus that was capable of surviving outside the womb and I will change my views, but you can't because it is impossible. I know that all the time and have no doubts. I won't be surprised if the age of viability changes with medical advances, but that's a ways off.

    So please, PROVE to me the point at which the fetus is viable. Do not tell me when it is not viable, tell me the earliest point at which it is viable. Tell me at what point you can ALWAYS remove the fetus from the mother and it will survive on its own. Particularly, keeping in mind that any living tissue can be removed from the body and survive for a (short) period of time (reattaching limbs, IVF, etc.)

    The twenties are when things get iffy. I work in an NICU and our cutoff for agressive treatment is generally 23+ weeks (no WAY would we agressively treat a 20 weeker and anyone who thinks we should is obviously not experienced in the area!). Even then, parents can choose to NOT opt for agressive treatment and let their child pass peacefully with them. I can't imagine those parents being called murderers.

    "Iffy" does not prove or disprove anything. If I jump out of a 30 story window, my chances of survival are iffy. It doesn't mean I won't survive, it just means that we are not sure. So if my intentions are survival, I should probably NOT jump out of the window (because it is "iffy" when doing so that I will continue to survive). And if my intentions are to be moral, I should probably NOT have an abortion (Because it is "iffy" when doing so that it wouldn't be the killing of a viable fetus, and therefore murder).

    Abortion absolutely can be right and wrong (depending on the circumstances). This is not a contradiction. I think it's wrong after viability (and many states and agencies do have restrictions on post viability abortions for this reason), because that is when a fetus is a person. Before that the fetus is not a person so it isn't possible to murder it.

    You don't think circumstances affect morality at all? Most of us would agree that murder is wrong, but is it morally wrong to kill in self defense? I would say no, so killing can be moral and immoral. That's just me.


    So rape then can also be right AND wrong, and is acceptable in some circumstances. What are these circumstances? Moral issues are always absolutes, or else they are not moral issues. Killing in self-defense by definition can not be murder (Unless you intend to kill them, in which case it isn't self defense anymore, is it?). There must be intent. Also, killing by itself is non-moral, since it is the intent that changes the moral polarity. Murder is a moral issue since it always involves willful killing of a person. If the fetus is a person, it is murder. If the fetus is a tissue, it is surgery. There is a difference. And no, circumstances do not have any affect on morality, for morality is absolute.

    Viability, individuality, independence... Whatever words we want to use to describe the ability of a fetus to survive outside of a woman's body.

    Since all three have very different meanings, it would probably be best to pick one for the sake of the argument.

    Ok. Your turn.
  7. by   tntrn
    Laura and fergus:

    I am following this, or trying to. You are both far more versed in ethics and theory and debate that I, but I would ask you, Laura, to give some proof that immediately upon fertilization, there is guaranteed viability, which is part of what I think you are saying.
  8. by   fergus51
    [quote=laura2000mi]
    if you removed the fertilized egg from the moment of conception, and put it in a test tube, or some other place, it would still survive for a period on its own. (ivf) therefore, from the moment of conception, it is capable of living in the environment. or is the amount of time it is capable of survival the discerning factor? if so, then abortion is always wrong, because you will never know how long the fertilized egg/fetus would have survived if you didn’t abort it.

    ok, a little sleepy, but i can't stay away from the bb tonight, so here goes. a fertilized embryo is destined to not survive outside the womb (before a certain gestation). it is not capable of surviving and becoming a person in the environment. arguing that it can is like arguing a human can survive underwater just because we don't die the instant we go under. everyone would agree that we can survive for a period underwater, but that isn't the same as being able to survive underwater, kwim? that's just playing with the fine print. show me a fertilized embryo that became a person without a womb and i'll reconsider on that one.

    my definition hasn't been disproven since we were speaking of different things. i don't think a person has to be self sufficient in the sense that it can hold a job, pay for an appartment, get its own food etc. i do think it needs to be able to survive outside of another person's body.

    see above. (fertilized egg, amount of time for survival, etc.)

    see above response (man surviving underwater, etc.)

    sperm and eggs are not part of your body. but the eggs and the sperm individually will never become a sentient living being, or achieve viability.

    how are my eggs not a part of my body? why does a part of my body have to have identical dna to the other parts to be considered a part of my body? and if i don't own my own eggs, who does? i'm just curious on that one.

    i consider her right to not be used as an incubator to be important.

    what gives her this right? does the man have a right not to be used as a sperm donor? does a woman have the right not to urinate? what right to breath does a woman have under twenty feet of water? people do not have rights over biological functions. women are incubators, therefore they do not have the right (nor ability) to chose what their bodies can or cannot do. rights are something you always have. if you have the right not to be an incubator, then you could decide to be an incubator with no outside interference. also, you could will the baby away with you mind. rights must involve choices, and must always be available to you, or else they are not rights.

    what gives her the right is that her body belongs to her and no one else. that's why slavery and rape are wrong, because your body is yours. in any case where they can control their biological functions they have every right to do it.

    women can choose to carry a baby or not, so by definition it involves choices and is always available to them (be it through a legal abortion or all the other ways women have instigated abortions through the centuries). i don't see why the fact that it requires outside interference negates that. we can use outside interference because that's a part of our nature as humans. it's like saying i don't have the right to cut my hair short because i required scissors to cut it. seems besides the point to me. it's true that i can't stop my hair from growing, but i can use scissors.

    as an aside, women don't have to be incubators and are not necessarily all even capable of being incubators for babies. i have never been pregnant or incubated anything, i am still a woman. to be an incubator i would have to incubate. so no, i am not an incubator.


    you misunderstood where i was going with that. i said “also women aren’t actually in control of their bodies anyway, or else they could just control not getting pregnant in the first place.” meaning, if women actually had control over their body in the way they have control over their limbs, they could just “shut off” their reproductive cycle, and not worry about pregnancy in the first place. sorry for the confusion, i should have elaborated.

    i get you better on that one. thanks for the clarification, there have been a lot of "she should have kept her legs crossed" type posts and i thought this was another of the same type. unfortunately being in ob for a few years i saw a lot of women in there because of nasty situations.

    fortunately, thanks to modern medicine a lot of women like me can shut off their reproductive cycle! thank you depo shots (my doggy and i like things the way they are right now)! i don't ovulate, i don't get pregnant and i don't incubate because i choose not to right now (i am barely mature enough to be a dog owner, let alone a parent!). i don't know how this would impact your view. does it matter that women have to use a drug or instrument to shut off their reproductive systems? if so, why?


    so please, prove to me the point at which the fetus is viable. do not tell me when it is not viable, tell me the earliest point at which it is viable. tell me at what point you can always remove the fetus from the mother and it will survive on its own. particularly, keeping in mind that any living tissue can be removed from the body and survive for a (short) period of time (reattaching limbs, ivf, etc.)

    you can always remove the fetus before 20 weeks and know it isn't viable. it just won't survive (and i am not talking about for a few minutes, it is like a man underwater), not possible. sad, but true nonetheless. so before then, abortions are not killing babies.

    “iffy” does not prove or disprove anything. if i jump out of a 30 story window, my chances of survival are iffy. it doesn’t mean i won’t survive, it just means that we are not sure. so if my intentions are survival, i should probably not jump out of the window (because it is “iffy” when doing so that i will continue to survive). and if my intentions are to be moral, i should probably not have an abortion (because it is “iffy” when doing so that it wouldn’t be the killing of a viable fetus, and therefore murder).

    "iffy" wasn't meant to prove abortion is ok at that stage, quite the opposite. it was meant to describe the time when it is possible for a fetus to be viable, not necessarily likely, but possible just like you could possibly survive a 30 story fall. i agree that having an abortion at that point is wrong. before that point the fetus is not viable (not even possible) so that's when it is still ok to have an abortion.

    ..... killing in self-defense by definition can not be murder (unless you intend to kill them, in which case it isn’t self defense anymore, is it?). there must be intent. also, killing by itself is non-moral, since it is the intent that changes the moral polarity. murder is a moral issue since it always involves willful killing of a person. if the fetus is a person, it is murder. if the fetus is a tissue, it is surgery. there is a difference. and no, circumstances do not have any affect on morality, for morality is absolute.

    nope, not for all of us, it's called relitavism (i really can't spell). i generally dislike it, but it is true in many instances. would it be immoral for me to steal a loaf of bread to feed a starving person? no. would it be immoral for me to steal a million bucks to live in the bahamas? yes. in both cases the intent was to steal, but the circumstances do affect the moral weight of the act.

    intent? well, if you shoot someone to stop them from shooting you, you did intend to kill them. you may not have wanted to or enjoyed it, but you made a choice and did it anyways. i think it's ok, but i am not under any illusions about it. normally i think killing is wrong, but in this case i don't. a lot of people don't like the idea of moral relativism, that's why people start playing with semantics and technicalities to make it fit their moral views (it's not "killing" that's immoral, it's "murdering"). absolutes seem a lot better, but i just don't believe in a completely black and white view of the real world anymore.

    viability, individuality, independence... whatever words we want to use to describe the ability of a fetus to survive outside of a woman's body.

    since all three have very different meanings, it would probably be best to pick one for the sake of the argument.

    i;m open to suggestions. i just don't want to keep typing "whatever words we want to use to describe the ability of a fetus to survive outside of a woman's body".... plus i should have added " and develop" and that makes it even longer..... i don't really care about the semantics, i think you know what i mean now.

    ok, going to bed now.... night.
  9. by   teeituptom
    well shuckins, this is beyond me

    I am pro choice

    I also wont assist in abortions because after seeing a few I found it leaveing me very unhappy. ergo. I dont assist.
  10. by   Laura2000mi
    Quote from tntrn
    Laura and fergus:

    I am following this, or trying to. You are both far more versed in ethics and theory and debate that I, but I would ask you, Laura, to give some proof that immediately upon fertilization, there is guaranteed viability, which is part of what I think you are saying.
    Actually, that is the key to our argument. You must prove that after twenty weeks (or whatever number) there is guaranteed "viability", in order for viability to be the discerning factor. It HAS to be absolute. Not "likely". Absolute. The burden of proof lies in that there is no guarantee even after this elusive point of viability has been reached. So, is viability viability if it's not ALWAYS viable?

    Also, the definition we have for viability must be narrowed down, to explain what the difference is between a fetus in the first week of pregnancy, and a fetus in the twenty first. If you remove either fetus, they may both die if left alone. However, if moved to nurturing environment (1st week: a womb, 21st week: extreme neonatal care), they may both survive. There must be something unique to the fetus as a person, vs. the fetus as tissue or else they are the same thing.

    I am not saying that immediately upon fertilization, there is guaranteed survival. What I am saying, is that survival is no more "guaranteed" after viability, so by definition, viability cannot be the standard point at which the fetus loses it's tissue status, since viability is not proven to be a universally standard benchmark. All we have is a generic, inspecific idea of viability. Stating that a fetus has reached the age of viability does not make it viable. Stating that the fetus has not reached the age of viability does not make it inviable. So what is viability then, if the state of viability is not different from the state of inviability?
    Last edit by Laura2000mi on May 6, '04
  11. by   fergus51
    [quote=laura2000mi]actually, that is the key to our argument. you must prove that after twenty weeks (or whatever number) there is guaranteed "viability", in order for viability to be the discerning factor. it has to be absolute. not "likely". absolute. the burden of proof lies in that there is no guarantee even after this elusive point of viability has been reached. so, is viability viability if it's not always viable?

    why does it have to be absolute? i don't get it. is there anything that's absolute?

    why can't it be the other way around? non-viability is absolute before the 20s. so before the 20s we know it can't survive so abortion is ok before that point.


    also, the definition we have for viability must be narrowed down, to explain what the difference is between a fetus in the first week of pregnancy, and a fetus in the twenty first. if you remove either fetus, they may both die if left alone. however, if moved to nurturing environment (1st week: a womb, 21st week: extreme neonatal care), they may both survive. there must be something unique to the fetus as a person, vs. the fetus as tissue or else they are the same thing.

    make it the 23rd week. i wouldn't work at any place that treated at the 21st week.... do you mean you want to know what is physically different between a fetus at 21 weeks and a zygote that makes one a person and the other tissue?

    i am not saying that immediately upon fertilization, there is guaranteed survival. what i am saying, is that survival is no more "guaranteed" after viability, so by definition, viability cannot be the standard point at which the fetus loses it's tissue status, since viability is not proven to be a universally standard benchmark. all we have is a generic, inspecific idea of viability. stating that a fetus has reached the age of viability does not make it viable. stating that the fetus has not reached the age of viability does not make it inviable. so what is viability then, if the state of viability is not different from the state of inviability?

    i still don't get why it has to be guaranteed or why non-survival before the 20s being guaranteed doesn't cut it? by your words, viability is not absolute, which i get, but non-viability is absolute at a certain point, so does that make them different? i really don't know. i don't get it. it seems like you don't think non-viability can be absolute, when i know it can.
  12. by   tntrn
    As I stated before I am trying (hard) to follow this. With all due respect, I am able to follow Fergus' arguments better than Laura's and I think that's due primarily to writing style. We all have our own style, don't we

    However, Laura, I still do not see why viability must be absolute at "twenty weeks or whatever" when you've pretty much admitted that it can't be proven at fertilization. To me, those who believe that the fertilized egg is now a person, and therefore are opposed to abortion from that point forward for that reason, have just taken on the burden of proving to the rest of us that viability is possible from that point forward.

    I think it's obvious to those of us who've worked in settings where we've seen middle trimester births that some of those babies are not viable. I'm of the opinion that just because we can doesn't automatically mean we should.

    It is the pro-lifers who insist that life begins at conception. It is some of them who insist that that "life" is also a person. So prove it, please.

    Again, I am impressed at the reasonable tone of this discussion. It's making me think, although my mind hasn't been changed, only reinforced.
  13. by   Laura2000mi
    Fergus-

    Please understand that I have the utmost respect for you as a person and as a nurse, and sincerely do not mean to be disrespectful or rude when posting this. I have spent a long time "tweaking" this so that it hopefully comes across the way I intend it. I apologize in advance if any of this is offensive to you.

    That said, we really need to level the playing field if we are going to continue this debate. I have enjoyed "sparring" with you, but right now I feel that you are not arguing using logic, and so I need to reiterate some things.

    In logic, there are absolutes. Their must be, or there is no logic. The whole basis for logical arguments is if all the premises are true, the conclusion must also be true and the argument is valid. If the premises are false, the conclusion then is false and the argument is invalid.

    If I prove x = y, and y = z, then x = z. Always. There is no escaping it. You then must concede to my argument. That is the whole idea of logic, that you can prove things a priori.

    1. When people die, they are no longer living.
    2. George Washington is no longer living.
    3. Therefore, George Washington is dead.

    Since #1 and #2 are both true, #3 must also be true.

    I say that morality is absolute. You say that it is relative. You are wrong.

    The argument "abortion is moral AND abortion is immoral" is a contradiction. It is absolutely 100% IMPOSSIBLE. It is the same as saying "x = 1 and x does not = 1". This is mathematically, a priori, always, 100% incorrect. This is not my opinion, it is a well accepted, logically established fact. Abortion, therefore, must either be moral or immoral. It cannot be both. It cannot possibly be relative. It must be absolute, or it is a contradiction, and ALL contradictions are logically impossible. You cannot describe one thing or idea that has a certain quality and at the same time does not have that quality. It is illogical and impossible. Try it:

    "I am Laura and I am not Laura."
    "The earth is round and the earth is not round."
    "Stealing is wrong and stealing is not wrong."
    "You are a nurse and you are not a nurse."
    "3 + 2 = 5 and 3 + 2 does not = 5"
    "God does exist and God does not exist."
    "Abortion is moral and abortion is not moral."

    If you cannot concede to this, then you are not using logic, and any argument you give me has no more logical merit than "the sky is blue, today is Thursday, therefore abortion is immoral." If you think you have a logical argument which proves that abortion can be moral AND immoral, you are mistaken. All life as we know it is bound under the laws of logic. There is no escaping it. I can say for a fact and be absolutely sure that abortion is either moral or immoral. It cannot be both. It cannot be relative.

    You have ignored a direct question that applies to your argument that morality is relative.
    In post #331, I said: "So rape then can be right AND wrong, and is acceptable in some circumstances. What are these circumstances?"

    You ignored this question, leaving it out of your reply back to me. You cannot prove that morality is relative, but I can prove a priori that it is absolute. If you accidentally overlooked my question, that is one thing, but if you intentionally didn't respond because you knew you were wrong, this makes me question whether arguing with you is productive (not productive meaning someday I will change your mind and make you believe what I believe, but productive in that we are both exploring our arguments openly and in a logical, fair way). If you logically prove an argument to me, I will concede to it. Likewise, you should do the same.

    If you still insist that morality is relative, even though I have provided you with an a priori argument which proves the contrary, I must conclude that you are not using sound logic when formulating your arguments. If we both aren't using the same method to prove our arguments true or false, then there is no point in continuing the conversation, and both our time has been wasted. You are a smart person. I do not understand how you can possibly conclude anything other than morality must be absolute, given my argument. I have given you everything you need to come to this conclusion.

    The reason arguing a moral issue is so intriguing to me is because I KNOW for a FACT that it must be either moral or immoral. There is a right and a wrong answer every time. We may not be able to prove the issue to be moral or immoral right now, but the correct answer exists nonetheless. It is like searching for a treasure that you know MUST exist. You just need to find it. Likewise, the correct answer to our argument "is abortion moral or immoral?" does exist, we just need to find it.

    If you agree to use logic as a means of proving or disproving your/my arguments, then I will happily answer your questions regarding viability and absoluteness. If not, then I must respectfully end our argument here. Fair-well and good luck.

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