Would you assist in abortions? - page 28

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
    No, I am not saying abortion is immoral and moral at the same time. I am saying circumstances and time affect it. You conceded that murder is not murder if it isn't a person being killed (like the tapeworm). If a fetus is not a person before a certain point, like I think, then it isn't wrong to abort it before then and is wrong to abort it after when it becomes a person.

    I agree. The reason you appear to be contradicting yourself (by appearing to say that abortion is wrong and abortion is not wrong) is because I define abortion as the murder of a person. If the tissue is not yet a person, then I wouldn't define the procedure as abortion, I would call it "surgery" or "tissue removal" or something of that sort. When I use the word abortion, I am assuming that it is a person being killed. When you use the term abortion, it could be a person OR tissue. So we agree. (If you make your definitions as specific as possible, I won't be able to accuse you of contradiction, and arguing will be much easier, because we will both know what the other is saying. )

    Since I already gave examples of when stealing and killing are moral, I thought that was enough to say that there are instances where morality is affected by circumstances.

    I would say that stealing is never moral. Lets say that your children are about to die of hunger. You rush to the nearest grocery store and steal a few canned goods. You race home, but your children are already dead when you arrive. You stole for nothing. You say "stealing is moral in order to save your children". But in fact you did not save them, they are already dead. So, you acted immorally by stealing, since it was only ok to steal if your kids were saved. Since we can never know the outcomes of our actions, we can never use outcomes to justify morality. Outcomes cannot be proven beforehand, only guessed at.

    The same could be said of lying. It is always wrong to lie. Let's say a man was chasing a small boy, trying to kill the boy. The boy runs into your house in a panic, and out the back door. The man shortly follows. He sees you standing there and asks "which way did he go?" You can lie to the man or not lie. Many people would lie and said "he ran upstairs", hoping the man would be thrown off the trail, and the boy would escape. So, you lie, the man stays in the house, but the boy has climbed back into the house through an open window, hoping that the man was close enough on his heels to see that he had exited the house through the back door. But...you lied, and so the man was still in the house, and is now face to face with the boy and kills him. If you would have told the truth, the boy might have survived. We cannot justify immorality in "certain situations" because we can never know for certain the outcomes of our actions. "Lying is moral, because the boy's life will be saved" is not adequate justification for immorality...because we will never know for sure "if the boy's life will be saved". In situations where we do not know [for certain] what the outcome will be (which is every situation), morality is the only option. [Though if you were really quick on your toes, when the man asked you "which way did he go" you could just not say anything and avoid the moral issue altogether.]

    Killing CAN be moral (killing in self defense, killing a tapeworm, killing during war). Murder (the intentional killing of an innocent person) can not. Remember, you must be as specific as possible when arguing logically, because it is when we are not specific that our arguments might become contradictions, or be misinterpreted. If I ever said that killing was always immoral, I misspoke, and apologise.

    But really, I still don't think "Is morality absolute or not?" is even important to the question of "Is abortion immoral or not?". We're being sidetracked.

    I think it is relevant. If we prove that morality is absolute, then we know for a fact that abortion cannot be moral sometimes and immoral sometimes. We know that it must be one or the other, from the beginning of time until eternity. And if we prove that morality is absolute, then that in turn disproves all of your special circumstances arguments. When something is absolute, no circumstance can change it. (The only "circumstance" we could use is when you or I do not define abortion explicitly. Abortion being defined as the murder of a person in the womb. I wouldn't really call that a "circumstance", but an oversight.)

    Your real argument is murder is wrong. Abortion is murder. So by extension, abortion is wrong. (Like the x+z, x=y so y=z thing right?). Correct me if I am wrong. That's a perfectly logical argument consistent with your beliefs and I understand why you would believe it.

    Yeah for logic!

    And if abortion occurs when it isn't a person yet, it can't be murder, so it can be morally ok.

    Yes! Yes! Abortion is immoral because the fetus is a person. "The procedure commonly referred to as abortion but which only kills/removes human tissue, not an actual person" is not immoral (and also not abortion). I know that in "real life" abortion can be interpreted by the general population as both killing of a person and killing of a fetus. But when we are arguing logically, we need to be explicit with our definitions.

    Can you acknowledge that IF a fetus isn't a person, it isn't murder and by extension isn't immoral? To me, that means the real question relates to a fetus being a person or not.

    Yes! That is exactly what I am saying! Yeah, now we're getting somewhere. The ONLY factor which we need to look at in our arguments is "at which point does the fetus become a person". That is the question. Totally morality or total immorality hang on this question.
    Last edit by Laura2000mi on May 6, '04
  2. by   Laura2000mi
    Okay fergus (and all else reading this), this is my very first, original "all-by-myself" argument. The other stuff I was arguing was based somewhat on things I was taught by other philosophers, but the following argument is my own (and therfore probably not very good ). It is an attempt to prove that conception is the moment that "personhood" (for lack of a better word) is attained.

    Is my argument sound? Probably not.
    Does it prove anything? Probably not.

    But, regardless, I am still going to throw it out here so you all can tear it apart and show me where it needs to be "tweaked". Hopefully this will make me a better "mini-philosopher".
    -------------------------------------------------------------------

    1. Murder is the killing of an innocent person and is always immoral. Murder cannot be moral and not moral, for that is a contradiction. It must be one or the other, and I hope we all agree that given the two choices, we would all say that murder is immoral.

    2. There is a specific instant at which a fetus becomes a person. Every fetus must endure this specific instant, otherwise not all fetuses would become "people", and some adults in our society would be defined as adult fetuses (not "people"). We could then kill any adult who was merely an "adult fetus" at any time for any reason, because it is not immoral to kill a fetus if it is not a person.

    3. The point of transition into personhood must be exactly the same for every fetus. The event must be universal. There is no other option, for we cannot look at a random fetus and predict what specific event gives this fetus personhood. If x causes a fetus to become a person, x must cause every fetus to become a person. The formation of cartilage cannot grant "personhood" to some fetuses and the beating of the heart grant "personhood" to other fetuses. If the point a fetus become a person was not universal, there would be no way to establish that the necessary event had occurred, and personhood could never be determined. If personhood can never be determined, you will never know if the fetus is just human tissue or an actual person. Abortion would then always be immoral, since it is immoral to murder a person. If you cannot prove that the fetus is not a person, you cannot justify killing it, at the risk by acting immorally.

    4. Something must physically happen within or to each specific fetus which has the direct effect of bestowing personhood, and it must change the fetus in some way. (Change must occur to the fetus, otherwise the moment could never be proven to have occurred). If you cannot provide evidence of the moment, you cannot PROVE that the moment has occurred and if the fetus is a person or not, and you could never justify abortion.

    5. There is only one event that physically occurs at a specific instant, in exactly the same way for every fetus: the joining of the egg and the sperm to create a fertilized egg. Every other milestone is slightly different from fetus to fetus. The fertilized egg will not for CERTAIN divide into two cells at x specific time. Likewise, the heart will not begin beating at x specific time for each fetus. Viability will not be CERTAIN at x specific time, etc. In order for abortion to ever be moral, you would have to be CERTAIN that the event has indeed occurred, so that you are not potentially murdering a person. You can be certain that the egg and sperm have joined to form a new tissue, because a fertilized egg will contain DNA that is different than that of the egg and sperm (not too mention a full 46 chromosomes, instead of 23).

    6. Therefore, life/personhood begins at the uniting of the egg and sperm to create a fertilized egg. From this point on it is a person, and killing it is murder (which is immoral). If killing a fertilized egg is murder, than all abortion is also murder and therefore immoral.
    Last edit by Laura2000mi on May 6, '04
  3. by   tntrn
    Whew! Now I know why I like mathematics! There's just one answer to the problem, although you might be able to get there by different methods. I can follow the thought process you have offered, but if the aim is to convince people that personhood begins at conception, I'm still not there. Is the intent of your philosophical argument to change the minds of those who believe abortion should be an option? And if given the assigment, how would you argue for freedom of choice?
  4. by   Laura2000mi
    Quote from tntrn
    Whew! Now I know why I like mathematics! There's just one answer to the problem, although you might be able to get there by different methods. I can follow the thought process you have offered, but if the aim is to convince people that personhood begins at conception, I'm still not there. Is the intent of your philosophical argument to change the minds of those who believe abortion should be an option? And if given the assigment, how would you argue for freedom of choice?
    I admit that I am not able to "prove" that personhood begins at conception, but that is the earliest possible point where it could begin, and so by using that point as (conception), I know a priori that I will never murder an innocent person, and thus never be immoral (in regards to murder. We are all immoral at SOME point in life). I cannot prove that I am right, but I have absolutely no risk of being immoral.

    If you use any point other than conception as your moment of "personhood" and cannot absolutely prove that you are correct, you will always run the risk of murdering an innocent person. You may be correct and the fetus is question is not yet a person (and so the procedure was not immoral), but the risk is always there nontheless. If say that "I am not sure if this is immoral or not, therefore it is possible I could be acting immorally" and you commit the act, I think (I am not certain though) that is just as immoral as knowing for a FACT that what you are doing is immoral.

    Example: If I drive through a neighborhood and shoot at the houses with a semi-automatic weapon and kill someone, I have acted immorally (murder). If I drive through a neighborhood and shoot at the houses with a semi-automatic weapon but I do not kill anyone, I have not committed murder. I think you can argue that since I wan't sure if people would be killed or not by my actions, but my intent was to kill them, I was indeed acting immorally.

    I don't argue to try to make people "believe the same as me". I argue because when we do so (in a consteuctive fashion) everyone learns more about what it is they believe and WHY they believe it. I argue because I KNOW there is a right and a wrong answer, and I want to figure out what it is. If one day I (or anyone else) is able to PROVE that personhood begins at conception, I would certainly HOPE that society would then argee that since abortion is immoral (the murder of an innocect person), we should no longer do it. Maybe that is alot to ask of society? I don't know. People do things all the time that they KNOW is wrong.

    How would I argue freedom of choice? Hmm. All women obviously have the "choice" to do whatever they want. Having the ability to choose something does not make the thing moral. I have the "choice" to rape someone, but I choose not to, because rape is always immoral. I do not 100% understand what you are asking me. Are you asking me to argue "for" fredom of choice? I will try my best. But if I am not answering your question, ask me again, and hopefully I will better understand what you are saying...

    Well, the only way that removal of a fetus from the womb with intent to kill it could possibly be moral is if the fetus was not yet a person...unless you believe that murder (the intentional killing of an innocent person) is always moral. (Murder cannot be moral and immoral, it is always moral or always immoral.)

    Let's assume that personhood starts at viability. (We cannot prove viability for certain only can "reasonably expect" viability...for we cannot know the future. But right now, let's say viability is the point of personhood. NOTE: not the defintion of viability as in "x gestational week" or "x weight", but viable in that it WILL survive outside of the womb.) Prior to the fetus becoming viable, it is ok to kill it, because it is not yet a person, merely tissue. Any "procedure" (I hesititate to call it "abortion" because abortion must involve murder of a person under this logical argument) which removes the tissue is not immoral. Any procedure which occurs after viability is abortion and therefore immoral. Circumstances of the pregnancy cannot logically change this.

    Now let's assume that personhood starts at birth. You would have to be very specific in how you define "birth". Is "birth" when the fetus leaves leaves the vaginal canal? Then fetuses born by cesarian section are not people. Is "birth" when the fetus leaves the uterus? Then to make the "procedure" moral you must make 100% sure that the fetus is dead before you remove it from the uterus, or else the second the living (but possibly/probably damaged) fetus was removed it would become a person and you would then have to provide it with life saving medical care, for killing it after it after it left the uterus would be immoral. So...using "birth" as your personhood point is really difficult. You would have to be EXTREMELY explicit with what you define "birth" as.

    I do not believe that the "circumstances" can ever logically allow for abortion (killing of a person) to be moral, since that would be a direct contradiction ("x = 1 AND x does not = 1"). But I guess we could argue some common arguments for pro-choice. All of the following arguments assume that the fetus IS a person. (If the fetus is not yet a person, there is no need to argue it because the "procedure" would be moral anyway.)

    "Women have the right to control what happens to their bodies."

    I disagree with this statement, because if women had the right to control their bodies, then they could actually do it. I do not believe women have "control" their bodies.

    When I say that, I mean the part of us which chooses between morality and immoraltity (the "free will" part) cannot control our entire body. Our free will can control parts of our body: our hands, our mouths, anything voluntary. The biological part of a woman controls all of our involuntary functions. If the free will part could control our entire body, then women could say "hey ovaries, I am not ready to get pregnant yet, but I want to have sex. So don't ovulate and we're covered." I would not say that "women have the right to control their bodies", because they do not have the ABILITY to control their bodies. How can somehave a right to something that is impossible? I would say "women have the right to control some parts of their bodies, the parts that are voluntary." The parts which are involuntary (ex: the reprodcutive system) cannot make us be moral or immoral (the reproductive system merely does its function. It cannot influence morality, for we have no direct control over it. (Does this make sense? It is really hard to articulate what I am trying to say...) Also...I remember Fergus asking about pills: women can take pills which alter the reproductive system's cycles, so can they indeed "control" their bodies. I would still say no, the pills are controlling the bodies, not the woman herself.)

    "Women have the right not to be used as incubators."

    I would disagree with this too. Women ARE biological incubators. We cannot choose to be incubators sometimes and sometimes not, because if all the "stuff" is still there, you are still in fact a biological incubator. The fact than an incubator is empty does not mean it is no longer an incubator. It is just not currently "incubating". If the woman physically removes the part of herself which performs the incubating (ie: hysterectomy), THEN she is no longer an incubator, and would then no longer have the ability to become pregnant, and would never have the option of choosing abortion. Until then, a woman is an incubator, and cannot have a right not to be used in that way. ("I am a wife, but have the right not to be used as a wife" also does not work. If I am a wife, I am a wife. Simply thinking "I have a right not to be a wife right now, so I am no longer a wife, and cannot be used as a wife" does not make it true.)

    "Women have the right (insert any statement here)"

    This can never be the start of an argument which is trying to justify abortion. All people have rights. Arguably, one right that every innocent person has is the right to be left alone (if you are guilty of committing a crime, you forfeit your right to be left alone, therefore the police can take you to jail); the right to keep on living. If the fetus is a person (and if it isn't than there is no argument, because the "procedure" is not immoral), then it too, must have rights. Even if you adamantly believe that "the woman has the right to.....", and even if they actually DO have whatever right you are arguing, there is no escaping the fact that the fetus must have rights to. If the fetus has a right to live (and it does if it is a person), then the woman cannot take it away from it. Some rights are not more "rightful" than other rights. Even if you say "the fetus has the right to be left alone because it is a person, so the mother has the right to be left alone (not be burdened by pregnancy) because she is a person", AT BEST you have a stalemate, because all rights are equal. One person's right to be left alone is no more important that another person's right to be left alone.

    I know there are more arguments which can be made, but I am at work right now, and need to close here. Do you have any special circumstance which you would like me to argue? I can continue on later if you would like.
    Last edit by Laura2000mi on May 7, '04
  5. by   tntrn
    I guess what I am asking you is this: if you were a student debater, and if this topic was the subject of debate, and if your "side" of the debate was to argue for choice and if your grade depended mightily on winning the debate, how would you go about it? My understanding of debate is that you are given a topic and assigned a side to defend and let the debate begin.

    You are obviously passionate about this topic and the pro-life side of it, but as an also obvious experienced debater, how would you defend the other side.

    Some of the arguments you have presented seem to be circular to me. I've read each and every word, so I learned that from your posts. I think everything here so far proves to me most of all that there is no one clearcut right or wrong answer and we must all follow our hearts.
  6. by   Spirit-A-Glow
    the only factor which we need to look at in our arguments is "at which point does the fetus become a person". that is the question.
    [font=courier new]this is the most important point and like your example of the starving children, if you wait a little longer - the child will die without food - like hear if you wait and see if it is a human being or not, you will birth a child. so is it living? does dead tissue turn into a human being?
  7. by   sbic56
    I found this pro-life debate with a search. I have to say it is the best I have seen in that it does make some concrete points that most are unable to do. Interesting how it mentions the brain activity starting at about 40-43 days, as there was a biblical reference in this thread somewhere about that being when the "soul" enters. (Also included in that post was that boys get souls before girls. Okedoke. ) Anyway...I think both sides will be able to appreciate this author's comments.

    http://www.equip.org/free/DA020-4.htm
  8. by   Laura2000mi
    Quote from spirit-a-glow
    the only factor which we need to look at in our arguments is "at which point does the fetus become a person". that is the question.
    [font=courier new]this is the most important point and like your example of the starving children, if you wait a little longer - the child will die without food - like hear if you wait and see if it is a human being or not, you will birth a child. so is it living? does dead tissue turn into a human being?
    i am not sure what you are saying here.

    dead tissue does not turn into a living being, no. life cannot come out of death.

    but we know for absolute certain that one of these three things must be true:

    living tissue (a fetus) is always a human being,
    living tissue (a fetus) is never a human being, or
    living tissue (a fetus) becomes a human being.

    if it is always a human being, it is always immoral to kill it.
    if it is never a human being, it is never immoral to kill it.
    if it becomes a human being, it is not immoral to kill it prior to the point at which it becomes a human being.

    what were you inferring by the rolling eyes smiley?
  9. by   Laura2000mi
    Quote from tntrn
    I guess what I am asking you is this: if you were a student debater, and if this topic was the subject of debate, and if your "side" of the debate was to argue for choice and if your grade depended mightily on winning the debate, how would you go about it? My understanding of debate is that you are given a topic and assigned a side to defend and let the debate begin.

    You are obviously passionate about this topic and the pro-life side of it, but as an also obvious experienced debater, how would you defend the other side.

    Some of the arguments you have presented seem to be circular to me. I've read each and every word, so I learned that from your posts. I think everything here so far proves to me most of all that there is no one clearcut right or wrong answer and we must all follow our hearts.
    I guess I would say then that my only logical argument to support the pro-choice side is this:

    If you kill the fetus prior to it becoming a person, then it is never immoral. If you kill the fetus after it becomes a person, then it is always immoral. If you do not define abortion as the killing of an innocent person in the womb, but define it as "the killing of a fetus in the womb who has not yet become a person", then abortion is not immoral, and people who are pro-choice are validated.

    That is the ONLY way I could argue that abortion is ever moral. All other arguments are empirical and have to do with things that cannot be ABSOLUTELY determined (happiness, goodness, etc.). My argument is deontological (a priori) in nature, and uses inherent rights. A priori arguments always trump empirical arguments, because arguments using "things we know to be absolutely certain" can never be disproved by arguments using "things we have strong opinions about".

    If the class I am in was ethics, then my argument should receive an A. If the class I was in was "debate", then I suppose I could fail the assignment. It really depends on the teacher.

    If you would like, I could email my ethics professor my above "argument for pro-choice" and see what grade he gives me...

    I could/would never argue that "x = 1 and x does not =1". If a teacher gave me that assignment, I would walk out of the room, because it is impossible. For some things, you cannot play "the devil's advocate" and logically argue the position. Some things...are just impossible. Debating them is therefore worthless.

    If you find that my arguments prove that there is no clear-cut answers about anything (maybe I just misinterpreted what you were saying?), you are mistaken. There is no clear-cut argument to support the moment a fetus becomes a person. We must follow are hearts (and hopefully use our brains [logic]) in that aspect. But every argument regarding morality (is this moral or is it immoral?) MUST have an answer...we just don't always know for certain what that answer is.

    What arguments seem circular? Please tell me so I can make them stronger (being totally honest, not sarcastic). I don't pretend to know all the answers, I just know that all the answers can be known. That is why I like to debate.

    P.S. I would in no way call myself an experienced debater. The first time I ever even tried to argue in this style was last fall, when I took bioethics. I will admit, I didn't understand most of what I was taught at first. But, after awhile it began to sink in, and now I feel I am fairly decent at logical debate. Experienced? No. But decent? I suppose. It helps alot when you realize that there are certain "rules" that can never be broken, or else the entire argument is invalid (contradiction, "absoluteness", etc.).
  10. by   Laura2000mi
    Quote from sbic56
    I found this pro-life debate with a search.

    http://www.equip.org/free/DA020-4.htm
    Thank you very much for the link. It is going to take me a long time to digest it. Deep stuff!
  11. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    I'll have to bookmark the site to read later, right now i'm to my eyeballs in drug reports.
  12. by   julieftRN
    Quote from fergus51
    Peg, I think you and I have been through this. To me, there is a really big difference between a living baby and an 8 week old embryo, so my beliefs on how a baby should be treated are different than how an embryo should be treated. I don't consider an embryo a baby or alive since it isn't at viability, so I don't consider it killing. I don't believe in abortion after viability and most states have laws to prevent this except in cases where the health of the fetus or the mother are at stake.

    .
    Just a question, but what would you consider viable at 9 wks as opposed to 8 wks? Just curious.
  13. by   fergus51
    Quote from julieftRN
    Just a question, but what would you consider viable at 9 wks as opposed to 8 wks? Just curious.
    No. Viability is a term used to describe a fetus at the age where it can be born and survive with medical care. So until the 20s (23 weeks and up is considered viable in most hospitals), it isn't viable. As far as I am concerned, abortion before viability is ok.

    I must have missed all the extra posts on this topic since the last time.

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