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Old 04-18-2003, 05:44 PM   #1
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Abortion.

First of all - I'm not starting this thread as a place to debate whether abortion is acceptable or not because I'm sure we all have our own opinions on this subject and are unlikely to change our opinions based on something we read here. Instead I'm starting this thread to have a discussion about how people who are pro-life think their beliefs should apply in practice.

My own opinion is that I'm pro-life in that I personally believe abortion is wrong and would never choose to have one. However, I also don't believe that I should force my opinions on other people, and therefore I believe abortion should remain legal, with reasonable limitations of course. I've always justified that to myself on the basis that my belief that abortion is wrong isn't based on scientific evidence, because I don't believe it is possible for a scientist to "prove" when life begins, but rather on my personal, moral beliefs. Therefore I don't think I have a right to force my personal beliefs on other people.

However, some people would argue that almost all of our beliefs are based on personal beliefs rather than definite evidence, so by that logic we couldn't ever try to campaign for legislation supporting our beliefs. They'd also argue that if you are really pro-life then you would believe that abortion is so terrible that you would have to believe it ought to be illegal.

So...what do y'all think?
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Old 04-18-2003, 06:17 PM   #2
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Well I think you're asking a much broader question than abortion but the subject title is misleading.

I think you're right when saying that there are a lot of things in life that can't be "proven" as right or wrong. There are a lot of grays in this world and a lot of things that can be seen as "lesser of the two evils" type issues. I echo your view of abortion, but some people will never see it that way. Drug laws are very similar. I don't like drugs, I don't partake in drugs, but I think the drug laws are ridiculous. I think the money we have spent on the "war on drugs" has been a big waste. I think drug laws should treat addicts like sick people rather than felons. But that's my view.

The thing is I can't ask for legislation on a lot of my personal beliefs because it wouldn't make sence. Here's how my theory works. Jesus would be a horrible politician. Oh I'd vote for him, but there's no way he could run the U.S. His view on war would be to "love your enemy, turn the other cheek". His view on the economy "give your riches to the poor". Ones spiritual or personal beliefs can't always be used in legislation. Sometimes you have to separate yourself from your personal beliefs. I don't know if any of what I said makes sence...maybe I'm just babbling.
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Old 04-18-2003, 09:36 PM   #3
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Okay, I'll warn you before you have to read further that I don't have an answer to the question . But I do think it's an interesting topic, so I would like to comment on it, if anyone's interested.

Here's my take on abortion, as informed by a layman's knowledge of evolutionary psychology.

First of all, outside of religion, there are no moral absolutes. That's right, no good and evil. Because where could these standards come from, if not from something outside of humanity, such as God?
But we all feel that we "know" when something is good or evil, so where do these intuitive feelings come from?

Evolutionary psychology says that they come from a thing called reciprocal altruism, which basically means being nice to others in the hopes that they'd be nice to you in return. The theory goes that in the ancestral environment, this was an evolutionary advantage (literally helping each other to survive) so the ancient humans who did this got more of their genes into the next generation. So we've all inherited those genes - the ones that give us that tendency to be nice to others.

So, our moral tendencies work on scale that goes not from good to evil, but from "be nice to others" to "be mean to others". Some things map to this just fine: murdering someone is obviously evil; conveniently, it also fits on our real moral scale (toward the "being mean" end), so no one really questions that it's a bad thing.

But what about abortion? Where does "killing one's own unborn child" fall on a scale from "be nice to others" to "be mean to others"? It's like comparing apples and, I don't know, avocados. An unborn child is not one of the "others" that we interacted with when our moral tendencies evolved.

To me, this explains why there is no clear concensus on abortion, and why many of us have mixed feelings about it - why it's such a "gray area" for us. Our evolved morality just isn't equipped to deal with the issue.

I know, doesn't help with the practical matters, but just something to think about.
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Old 04-19-2003, 10:51 AM   #4
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Actually, there is plenty evidence thet life begins at conception.

I ahve to ask this question, Fizzing...Why do you think abortion is wrong? Is it because you feel that life begins at conception? If so, then you think abortion is wrong because you feel it is murder.

I don't know of any other reason that a person would think abortion is wrong than the belief that it's murder. If it's not murder, than why is it wrong?

I don't mean to be rude, Fizzing, I really don't, but I think it's a cop-out to say "I believe abortion is wrong, but I don't think it should be illegal." If you think abortion is murder, then why don't you think it should be illegal? Don't you think all murder should be illegal?
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Old 04-19-2003, 12:52 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by 80sU2isBest
I ahve to ask this question, Fizzing...Why do you think abortion is wrong? Is it because you feel that
life begins at conception? If so, then you think abortion is wrong because you feel it is murder.
I do think abortion is wrong because life begins at conception. The reason I think life begins at conception is simply that I can't think of any other logical time to define as the beginning of life. To me, it would only make sense to state that either life begins at conception or life begins at birth. I certainly can't agree with the idea that life begins at birth, because otherwise I would have to agree with abortion literally up to the day before a child is born and that idea disgusts me. Therefore I believe life begins at conception, which of course raises the question of whether

Quote:
I don't mean to be rude, Fizzing, I really don't, but I think it's a cop-out to say "I believe abortion is wrong, but I don't think it should be illegal." If you think abortion is murder, then why don't you think it should be illegal? Don't you think all murder should be illegal?
I know you're not being rude, and I see exactly what you're saying there. That's part of the reason I asked this question, because I've been thinking a lot about this lately and I'm not sure that even I agree with what I said in my original post.

The way I've always explained it to myself is that certain things, such as murder, should always be illegal because there is a very broad consensus that they should be illegal, whereas on the question of abortion there isn't a broad consensus that it's right or wrong - there are a vast number of individual opinions, so nobody has a right to force their beliefs about abortion on to everyone else. So my usual argument would be that abortion stays legal because many people don't have a problem with it, and we can't deny them access to abortion based on someone else's moral beliefs. HOWEVER...by that logic wouldn't I also have to argue that if a person thinks murder is okay, the state has no right to persuade them otherwise? After all, if we assume that a government thinks abortion is murder, then doesn't it have a responsibility to prevent murder of unborn children, just as it has a responsibility to prevent murder of people?

Then again...I still think about a lot of the pro-choice literature I've read, and about women who die from unsafe abortions in countries where abortion is illegal, or about women who lose their homes, or are beaten by their partners for becoming pregnant, and that sometimes makes me think abortion should be available. But then again, we wouldn't justify a person murdering another person in those circumstances, so if abortion is murder, then how can we justify abortion even in those circumstances?

Sorry to have made this post so long...I'll be quiet now.
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Old 04-19-2003, 01:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by StrangerTides
But what about abortion? Where does "killing one's own unborn child" fall on a scale from "be nice to others" to "be mean to others"? It's like comparing apples and, I don't know, avocados. An unborn child is not one of the "others" that we interacted with when our moral tendencies evolved.
I see how that could explain the lack of consensus on whether abortion is moral or not. Personally I think that although clearly an unborn child is different to people we interact with on a daily basis, it is still another person and therefore should be treated with the same respect we would give another person. Therefore if we believe it would be wrong to kill a person, it's also wrong to kill an unborn child.

That said, I think your post gave some very interesting ideas about why abortion is controversial.
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Old 04-19-2003, 01:33 PM   #7
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Sometimes, we dont always believe it is wrong to kill a person. Not saying you do this, or anything regarding abortion btw fizzer. But our laws and moral judgements make allowances at times. Why do we have so much variance?

I'm sidetracking...


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Old 04-19-2003, 07:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by 80sU2isBest
I ahve to ask this question, Fizzing...Why do you think abortion is wrong? Is it because you feel that life begins at conception? If so, then you think abortion is wrong because you feel it is murder.
I'm not Fizzing, but I find the question interesting.

I believe abortion is wrong for ME. Why? Because I have certain spiritual and/or religious beliefs which have me leaning in that direction, although this is not a cause I am passionate about either way.

However, I fully recognize and RESPECT the fact that there are many people in the world who are not religious and they don't see abortion as wrong or sinful. I don't think it is right for me to impose my views for them because I don't believe my views are the only way. It is a complicated issue, and I recognize that there are complicated reasons for choosing it or not. Nonetheless, I believe it must be available for women around the world, because even if it's not available legally, women will pursue it illegally.

People have the right to make their own choices. I disagree that life begins at conception, I believe it begins at the time the fetus is viable outside the uterus. That is my opinion based on my educational and professional background in the medical science field. As such, I don't agree that abortion is murder, and therefore don't think that it is wrong for the general populace, though it may not be the right decision for me. The option should be there - if you are adamantly against it, nobody's forcing you to have an abortion.

Different sides will never agree on when life starts, but we all have the right to decide for ourselves. Some decide on the basis of emotions, some decide on science, some decide on a combination of both, and none of those are wrong or right. We all have to choose our own path.
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Old 04-19-2003, 07:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by anitram
I disagree that life begins at conception, I believe it begins at the time the fetus is viable outside the uterus.
I could probably agree with that, but for the fact that I don't understand how anyone can decide a particular time at which a fetus becomes viable outside of the uterus. Is it at 39 weeks when the child would usually be born? Is it at 35 weeks if the child is born prematurely?

Presumably if someone were able to set a date at which a child could survive outside of the uterus, then it would be reasonable to allow abortion up to that point, right? However, I believe that right now the earliest a child has been born and survived is 26 weeks? (Please do correct me if I'm wrong, I'm sure you have more knowledge about this than me!) So right now a person with that opinion might say that abortion should be legal until the 26th week (ie when the fetus is viable outside the uterus). But what happens if a child is born one week earlier than that and survives? Would we then say abortion ought to only be legal until 25 weeks? Then wouldn't that mean that any abortion previously carried out at 25 weeks was murder because the fetus could have survived?

I agree with lots of your post (particularly the fact that women who don't have access to abortion might seek unsafe abortion) but I'm just not sure how the belief that life begins when a fetus is viable outside the uterus would work in practice? Maybe you could explain?

Thanks,
Fizz
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Old 04-19-2003, 08:03 PM   #10
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Well, we have decreased the number of weeks due to medical equipment alone. That is, life is being sustained artificially, and it is also the reason why severely premature babies are at very high risk for a number of long term problems later on in life. There's a lot of literature following preemies for years, and some really great reading on PubMed, but unfortunately in order to access most of the articles there you need to have a proxy server or you have to pay for them.

To me, an organism is viable when its organs and central nervous system are adequately developed to sustain life. A 12 week fetus does not fall into that category. Even with machines, you can only bring it down to a certain age, beyond which the baby will not survive. I'm unsure what the youngest baby delivered is, but I do believe it is something around 24 weeks. I would have to check, however.

The exact day might be arbitrary - say 23 weeks plus. Sure, 23 weeks - 1 day is arbitrary. But that doesn't change the fact that a first trimester fetus is not viable in any shape, way or form, and therefore I don't have an issue with 1st trimester D&Cs. It is only in the late second trimester that this definition even comes into play, and the number of abortions at that time constitute a minority, no matter what the 'partial birth abortion' (invented term, by the way) folk would like you to believe.
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Old 04-20-2003, 12:19 AM   #11
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I think it's clear that some kind of human life begins at conception, but the real question is whether we are morally obligated to protect that life with our laws and cultural traditions. And again, that's where we have a disconnect, because our moral sense did not evolve by counting weeks of gestation, it evolved by ancestral humans being kind to their neighbors and getting the benefit that their neighbors were kind to them in return. So while it's logical to say an unborn human is also deserving of our respect, there was none of this logic involved when our morality was developing - whatever behavior resulted in greater reproductive success was selected for.

In fact, to go off on a little tangent, this morality probably only evolved among small groups, so even trying (admirably) to apply our morality on a worldwide basis is a stretch for our minds. This also explains why so many people find it easier to dehumanize those who don't share our own language, culture, or beliefs: the ancestral environment was probably tribes who thought in terms of "us or them", so we don't instinctively feel as morally responsible to all people everywhere as we do to whatever groups we identify with, even though logic tells us that we should.
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Old 04-20-2003, 11:57 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by StrangerTides
I think it's clear that some kind of human life begins at conception, but the real question is whether we are morally obligated to protect that life with our laws and cultural traditions.
To me, one of the most important moral principles people have is a respect for human life. Murder is one of the most abhorrent crimes we can think of precisely because it takes a human life. So if, as you say, "some kind of human life" begins at conception, then abortion would be taking away that "kind of" human life, and therefore surely it's also wrong and that life should be protected?

(For the record, I've changed MY opinions that many times in this thread that I'm not even presenting coherent arguments anymore, I'm just typing out my thoughts. Apologies if none of this makes sense. )
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