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Abortion and the Life Support Argument

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jbouder
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0 posted 06-05-2003 09:54 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Thought I’d try to steer the conversation away from metaphysics and toward the less controversial dimensions of moral and political philosophy.    

With the Elephants controlling (albeit narrowly) all of the three branches of US Government, and with two Supreme Court Justices considering retirement (including Justice O'Connor), Roe v. Wade may be overturned within the next few years.  Hence, the following article:

From Alec Walen’s Article, If Roe v. Wade Is Overruled, What Arguments Should Abortion Rights Supporters Use?

quote:
Why Abortion Can Be Justified Even If A Fetus Is A "Person"

Suppose a fetus does indeed have the moral status of a person. It might seem that it would be permissible to kill it only if necessary to save the mother's life or to protect her from grievous bodily harm. In those circumstances, the mother's right to self-defense would be implicated: We can kill people who threaten us or others with serious bodily harm or death.

But a pregnant woman is not merely allowing a fetus to live. She is also carrying a fetus, thereby serving as its life support. The duty to serve as life support for another is altogether different from the duty not to kill another who is living on his or her own.

Consider Judith Thomson's analogy: Suppose you are attacked, dragged to a hospital, and hooked up to an unconscious person who will use your kidneys to filter his blood until he recovers from a rare disease. After seven months, you can sever your connection to him and he will likely be fine (though it would be best for him if you stayed connected for nine months). If you sever your connection any earlier than seven months, he will die.

As Thomson notes, while it would be awfully nice of you to stay connected to him, you are not morally or legally required to do so. Importantly, this is true even though you would kill him by disconnecting. Your staying connected would be a Good Samaritan act. While the law sometimes requires small Good Samaritan sacrifices, it no longer requires anyone to make such a demanding and personal sacrifice for the sake of another. (The last time it did, was when it made abortion illegal.)


The complete article is here: http://writ.news.findlaw.com/commentary/20030218_walen.html

I found this particular passage interesting:

quote:
But a pregnant woman is not merely allowing a fetus to live. She is also carrying a fetus, thereby serving as its life support. The duty to serve as life support for another is altogether different from the duty not to kill another who is living on his or her own.


In the author’s defense, he does bring up the persistent “viability” limitation to the above argument but, as we all know, skillful lawyers often succeed in obscuring lines that, to the average person, would appear more-or-less set.

I’m not as interested in engaging in a pro-life vs. pro-choice debate as much as I am in exploring what lies at the bottom of what I believe may be a slippery slope created by this argument.  With the paradigm shift away from institutionalization for people with severe physical and mental handicaps or disabilities, and in favor of home and community-based support, would it be possible to extend this “life-support” definition beyond physical attachment?  Could it be used to enable a family member with a severe disability, or one relying on life-support, to be euthanized if keeping the family member at home is shown to create a drain on the resources, time, and “quality of life” of family caregivers?  In what other ways could expanding the “life support” be applied?

May seem far-fetched … but only until one remembers California and the 9th Circuit.    

Jim

P.S. Brad, although I can’t resist poking fun at California, I must say I miss “In ‘n Out Burger.”  Honestly, I don’t know how you do it.


[This message has been edited by jbouder (06-05-2003 09:56 AM).]

Local Parasite
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1 posted 06-05-2003 10:02 AM       View Profile for Local Parasite   Email Local Parasite   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Local Parasite's Home Page   View IP for Local Parasite

Sure, if one person were hooked up to another person, then there's no legal obligation to keep them alive.  But this isn't just two people, it's a mother and her child, and as far as I can remember from the law class I took in grade 12, a parent has a responsibility to do all that they can to keep their child alive by making appropriate provisions...

I'd say letting it stir around in your womb falls under the same category as giving your child food and shelter appropriate to its survival.  In that sense, I seem to remember hearing about a little something called "neglect," which actually is against the law.  Nice try though... I'm still pro-choice but this argument I don't buy.

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Stephanos
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2 posted 06-05-2003 10:21 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Jim,

This view in my mind makes the actual "birth" a triviality.  It is the arbitrary line of the law where after birth, killing a baby is murder, but why?  What is this based upon, philosophically / morally?  The baby is no more independent really 2 weeks after birth than 2 months before birth.  It is a flawed argument for pro-abortion.  But then again... I personally have not seen any argument that is not flawed, for pro-abortion.

Stephen.  
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no
Ron
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LP said:
quote:
... a parent has a responsibility to do all that they can to keep their child alive by making appropriate provisions

That is true only insofar as the child is in the parent's custody. Many states (twelve, I think, including Michigan) have laws stipulating that any child can be "left" at a hospital or police station within X days of birth (thirty here) with no questions asked and no further responsibilities assumed. Even after X days, most states have some provisions for abandonment of parental rights. It could be argued, I think, that abortion falls under the umbrella of abandonment, at which point it becomes the state's responsibility to keep the fetus alive. The fact that the state can't possibly do so shouldn't be an issue.

Stephen said:
quote:
This view in my mind makes the actual "birth" a triviality.

And yet, it is inevitable that a line must be drawn, however arbitrary that line might be. Taken to the extreme, a woman's egg or a man's sperm each have the same potential for life that a four-week-old fetus has. Should cloning be perfected and legalized (and it will), every cell of the human body carries the promise of life. The line between potential life and independent life must be drawn somewhere.

Jim, let's change Thomson's analogy just a little.

Instead of being attacked and dragged to the hospital, let's say that the person agrees to spend the next nine months filtering someone's blood. Indeed, this poor person with the rare disease only undergoes the treatment because they have been assured their blood would be filtered for them by a volunteer. Does the volunteer have the right to change their mind?

I don't think either analogy can be easily shifted to family members with extenuating care needs. Is there any legal requirement for a child to care for an aging or infirmed parent? Not that I know. And the requirements for a parent to care for a child exist regardless of how onerous the care might be (or might seem).
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5 posted 06-05-2003 09:55 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

"The line between potential life and independent life must be drawn somewhere. "

Yes it must.  But it would make more sense to draw a line which would allow prophylactic measures, rather than to draw one that leads to destructive measures.  Controlling gametes is a far different matter than destroying zygotes and fetuses.  I would say that the line is not to be drawn between potential life and independent life.  Because even a one year old infant is not independent.  But the line should be drawn between potential human life and actual human life.  To me the line has been drawn already for us by the nature of things.  It is the difference between a zygote and a gamete.  A gamete is a potential cell with Mom or Dad's DNA , not a separate organism.  The zygote is a separate organism with it's own unique DNA.

Stephen.      
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"Is there any legal requirement for a child to care for an aging or infirmed parent?"

Perhaps not.  But someone must be taking care of that Parent.  If a child is able, and is said to be caring for the parent, and is allowing starvation, abuse, or physical harm due to neglect, then there are laws.  I see it often as an RN.  DFACS is very concerned about such situations.  And the analogy is not the same at all.  Not caring for an aged parent is a passive neglect.  Aborting a fetus is an active deed.  It is definitely against the law for children to kill their infirm parents.  That is the difference.  We are talking about abortion, not poor pre-natal care.   I guess that's where I clearly see Jim's point.  The life support analogy can be taken so far as to be applied where it shouldn't.  This analogy doesn't fit at all.  Life support is life support.  Pregnancy is pregnancy.  Caring for infirm parents is caring for infirm parents.  It's when the false proposition is made that the passive nature of discontinuing life support is somehow the same as actively aborting a baby, or actively euthanizing an eldery parent, that we run into danger.    


Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (06-05-2003 10:26 PM).]

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7 posted 06-05-2003 10:11 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Sorry Ron... I know I should put these all in one post.


"It could be argued, I think, that abortion falls under the umbrella of abandonment, at which point it becomes the state's responsibility to keep the fetus alive. The fact that the state can't possibly do so shouldn't be an issue."


It shouldn't be an issue?!  Yeah right.  Just like parents should be able to leave their babies alone in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains as well as at the hospital, because the fact that the mountains can't possibly keep them alive shouldn't be an issue.


Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (06-05-2003 10:12 PM).]

Ron
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But it would make more sense to draw a line which would allow prophylactic measures, rather than to draw one that leads to destructive measures.

It makes more sense to you, Stephen, but apparently not to the Catholic church. My point is that if the line is arbitrary, as it must be, then there will NEVER be complete agreement on where it is drawn.

Because even a one year old infant is not independent.

Neither is a 53-year old, Stephen.

But both are independent of the parent. Should the mother die in delivery, the child can survive. Should a woman die in the first or second trimester, current technology probably will not save the fetus.

And the analogy is not the same at all.

Uh, that's what I said, too, Stephen.

Sorry Ron... I know I should put these all in one post.

See? We agree on two things now.

Yeah right.  Just like parents should be able to leave their babies alone in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains as well as at the hospital, because the fact that the mountains can't possibly keep them alive shouldn't be an issue.

You missed my point entirely, I think. If the state is going to condone abandonment and is willing to assume responsibility for the child after birth, consistency would dictate the same standards be applied to children before birth. You can't tell a woman she needn't be responsible for a baby and still demand she assume responsibility for a fetus. Either she's responsible for a life or she's not responsible. We can't have it both ways.
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9 posted 06-05-2003 11:44 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

"It makes more sense to you, Stephen, but apparently not to the Catholic church. My point is that if the line is arbitrary, as it must be, then there will NEVER be complete agreement on where it is drawn."

yeah but the Catholic church is going the OTHER direction.  I agree that if you will err, err to the right.  And we are speaking of laws.  I never said that there should be complete agreement upon where the law is drawn.  That is impossible in this world.  But there are biological facts that speak strongly for conception being the line where a new organism emerges.  


Stephen: "Because even a one year old infant is not independent."

Ron: "Neither is a 53-year old, Stephen"


Right!  And if you read what I wrote, my point was that the line between potential life and "independent" life is not a valid one.  That's way too nebulous and arbitrary.  It should be between potential human life and actual human life.


" Either she's responsible for a life or she's not responsible. We can't have it both ways."

I never said I agreed with abandonment laws either.  But it is the lesser of two evils it seems since the one is passive (with at least some forethought of concern for the infant's survival) and the other is actively destructive and life ending.  Abandonment is not the same as killing.  But I agree with you that maybe we shouldn't have it both ways.  So let's have neither.  But if we are to have one, we sure shouldn't justify another wrong on account of it.  


Stephen.  


[This message has been edited by Stephanos (06-05-2003 11:47 PM).]

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10 posted 06-06-2003 12:03 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Ron,

The more I think about what you say about the state's responsibility, the more I seem to disagree.


If the State provides for abandonment, this seems to be a favor, a grace, an extention of help.  I know it could be argued that it's a subversive kind of help that does not help in the long run.  But does a favor make it incumbent upon the State to help where they can't possibly do so?  

Once a child is born, a whole new set of resources must be involved which the Mother may not have.  She may not be psychologically, financially, or physically able to care for the child.  I know that the same may be said of carrying the child to term, but there is a different spectrum of responsibilities involved.  The Child may be indeed better off raised by someone else.  I guess the difference for me still lies in the passive versus active approach.  Refusing to raise a child (where someone has stepped in) does not seem equal to killing a child.  I know that this whole abandonment thing might be seen as a fault of the State, and as something that would only encourage irresponsibility, but it could also be seen as an offer of help and grace.  Looked at this way, it would be impossible for the State to do anything like this pre-birth. Could it be comparing apples with oranges ... or maybe apples with apple seedlings?  That seems a tall order for the State... Do anything?  Then you must do everything!


Just some thoughts,

Stephen  

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (06-06-2003 12:07 AM).]

Ron
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... the line between potential life and "independent" life is not a valid one.  That's way too nebulous and arbitrary.  It should be between potential human life and actual human life.

Again, says you. It is very difficult to define mitosis, a few cells in a state of undifferentiated division, as "actual" human life. It's only a baby step from there to differentiated division. Better not clip your nails or cut your hair, lest you be accused of murder!

Placing the arbitrary line at the moment of conception may be more comfortable for some, may be more safe, but it is in no way any less arbitrary than putting it at the moment of birth.

The Child may be indeed better off raised by someone else.

And the very next sound you hear will be the voice of someone claiming the child may indeed be better off not being born.


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Ron, one issue with the abandonment argument you've set out:

In California (Nothing wrong with CA Jim, beautiful weather, and the whole state isn't LA ya know...) we too have an abandonment law, the entire reason for the law is to allow mothers the opportunity to leave the newborns somewhere, with someone, where the babies can be cared for. Not in a dumpster, or a park, or ladies room where the child will most often die. The laws do specify that the abandoned child must be left with medical authorities.

The spirit of the law is to give the unwanted children a chance at life.  This is the one element that is not consistent with abortion.  We may be able to consider abortion as abandonment, but it cannot possibly come under the same umbrella of protection as the abandonment laws provide.

Yesterday is ash, tomorrow is smoke; only today does the fire burn.
Nil Desperandum, Fata viem invenient

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quote:
The spirit of the law is to give the unwanted children a chance at life.

Is it, JP? I don't know the wording of the law and can only guess at the intent, but I would be very surprised if what you say is true. Most laws are geared towards the "welfare of the child." For most of us, yes, that means a chance at life.

Amniocentesis now allows the discovery of many conditions considered "nonviable," and is often the basis for a decision to abort. Should any child spend two or three years in terrible pain, only to die still connected to the same machines they were rushed to immediately after birth? Do these children, too, deserve a chance at life? What about the adult or aged, to all indications brain dead, but still breathing through use of a machine? At what point does life no longer serve the best welfare of the individual?

We need to recognize we are all making value judgements, and not necessarily touting a Universal Truth. The most important decisions that we, as a society, make are rarely black and white. Until we can see the shades of gray, we aren't seeing clearly.
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14 posted 06-06-2003 10:49 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Stephen : "the line between potential life and "independent" life is not a valid one.  That's way too nebulous and arbitrary.  It should be between potential human life and actual human life."


Ron: "Again, says you. It is very difficult to define mitosis, a few cells in a state of undifferentiated division, as "actual" human life. It's only a baby step from there to differentiated division. Better not clip your nails or cut your hair, lest you be accused of murder!
Placing the arbitrary line at the moment of conception may be more comfortable for some, may be more safe, but it is in no way any less arbitrary than putting it at the moment of birth.
"


Ron, you're being quite the obscurantist here.  With normal cell division, every cell is a functional part of the body, with the same DNA, not a new functioning organism that begins to progress from it's own unique code of life.  It's not all so shadowy as some would suggest.  Consider the following quote from a quite liberal source:

"One very lucky sperm out of hundreds of millions will penetrate the outside layer of the ovum and fertilize it. The surface of the ovum changes its electrical characteristics and prevents additional sperm from entering the ovum. A genetically unique entity is formed shortly thereafter, called a zygote. Half of its 46 chromosomes come from the egg and the other half from the sperm. It has a unique DNA structure, different from that of the ovum and the spermatozoa."


The moment my hair or fingernails begin to have their own DNA, I will reconsider your point.  Until then clipping fingernails and aborting unborn babies are still vastly different.


When you speak of "arbitrary" the way you do ... isn't this your way of reiterating that it is WE ourselves who have to make decisions? . . .  Well I already knew that.  But do you do this to suggest that no matter what we do, it is really all the same?  This does nothing except lump all of our choices into one category, and discredits any persuasive argumentation as to right or wrong, just or unjust, etc...  Yes EVERYTHING is arbitary in that sense, but we still can be arbiters for either  good or ill.  It just seems like that is a smokescreen to the questions at hand.  I would rather hear you defend where you would like the line drawn, and why, than to merely suggest somehow that every answer is equally valid, or invalid.  It would be a more respectable argument in my opinion, even if I disagreed with you.      



For those who aren't moved by a unique DNA sequence ... how about in 2  to 4 weeks where we get often a different blood type than the mother, and a 4-chambered beating heart?  



"And the very next sound you hear will be the voice of someone claiming the child may indeed be better off not being born."

And I agree, this is a consideration ... before there is already a growing baby in the womb.  


"What about the adult or aged, to all indications brain dead, but still breathing through use of a machine? At what point does life no longer serve the best welfare of the individual?"

Not a good comparison Ron.  One is passive ... not artificially supporting life, the other is active ... taking measures to end the life of a fetus.  I'm certainly not protesting the cessation of life support in many cases.

Stephen.    


[This message has been edited by Stephanos (06-06-2003 11:01 PM).]

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15 posted 06-07-2003 02:17 AM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

How is ending life-support passive? You actually have to "pull the plug."
serenity blaze
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16 posted 06-07-2003 06:19 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

You all make very intelligent argument.

But?

None of you, not ONE of you, has the right to interfere in my medical treatment.

Yet.

[This message has been edited by serenity blaze (06-07-2003 06:21 AM).]

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Ron:

I suppose the problem (or maybe the potential problem) I'm seeing with the author's argument is that it really isn't doing anything new except in one regard.  The right of privacy (freedom from intrusion in matters of a personal nature) can only be overcome if it can be shown that it is outweighed by a compelling state interest.  As the author points out, what is lacking currently in the law is recognition that the fetus is "human enough" to be afforded legal protections necessary to be a "compelling state interest."  

Somebody, eventually, is going to make this argument.  If Scott Peterson is convicted (he's being tried on two counts of murder ... one for his wife Laci and the other for his unborn son), I believe it will be on two counts of murder.  Together with the "Partial Birth Abortion" Bills being reconciled by the US House and Senate right now, I believe we will soon see law asserting the humanity of the fetus.

So what happens when the right of privacy is expanded to encompass a right to freedom from physical attachment ... even one that sustains a "compelling state interest?"  It is not the analogy so much as the potential applications of this doctrine that concerns me.  Why does the attachment necessarily have to be physical if the person is not exactly "living on their own?"

JP:

People argue over legislative intent all the time.  Usually you can find at least a short section at the beginning of an act explaining why the legislature believes the act is necessary.

LR:

I agree and disagree with you.  

hush:

Who said it was passive?

Serentity Blaze:

It looks like that is about to change.  That's why the article was written.  The pro-life argument, as you know, is that your right to undergo a medical procedure does not give you the right to perform a medical procedure that ends the life of another human being.  The pro-choice position has won the arguments regarding the humanity of the fetus to date, but it appears that is about to change.

Stephen:

I believe the line will be drawn at viability ... but that line is moving.

Jim


[This message has been edited by jbouder (06-07-2003 07:43 AM).]

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Serentity Blaze:

It looks like that is about to change.  That's why the article was written.  The pro-life argument, as you know, is that your right to undergo a medical procedure does not give you the right to perform a medical procedure that ends the life of another human being.  The pro-choice position has won the arguments regarding the humanity of the fetus to date, but it appears that is about to change.


The operative word? being YET. and...tsk to me for going where I know I should not have. But then? Why break a trend?

I will fight for the right, to have my, excuse me?
MY...medical record kept in the same constancy that YOURS is in.

My meds are none of your business.

Period?

er..no pun intended.

[This message has been edited by serenity blaze (06-07-2003 08:45 AM).]

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19 posted 06-07-2003 12:30 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Jim- Stephan did.

Anyway, I was thinking about this before I went to bed last night, because it's and interesting argument... but it doesn't quite hold up.

My mother has been on life-support before. In fact, go up to any ICU... I wonder how many will be on breathing machines? There is one important point here, though... my mother lived, and is alive today. Her illness, while chronic, was not terminal, and she recovered from those particular bouts of illness.

But if I had pulled the plug?

Life-support isn't solely designated for the brain-dead and those waiting to die. I probably wouldn't put a developing fetus into either of those categories... pregnancy isn't a terminal condition from which we are freeing either ourselves or the fetus.
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20 posted 06-07-2003 06:50 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Hush,

"How is ending life-support passive? You actually have to "pull the plug."



I was talking about the "essence" of the deed, not whether or not each particular act requires an active verb.

This is what I mean ...


Abortion is essentially "active" in the sense that it involves taking measures to end a life which would otherwise continue to live and develop as long as the Mother reasonably cares for herself.  

Ending life support is "passive" in the sense that it simply withdrawing any artificial means to prolong a life, which otherwise would not continue with ordinary care and sustenance.  


So one is to kill, the other is to refuse to save.


I know some may wonder if there is really a difference ... but there is.  Just consider the situations involved.  What are the conditions of the human involved in each respective case?  Usually the fetus has an excellent prognosis for physical life were it not for the abortion doctor.  It is ending a life that would otherwise most surely progress, and physiologically was meant to progress.  But  usually when artificial life support is withheld or discontinued, the person is in end stage disease of some kind, or has a very poor prognosis for recovery.  Working as a Registered Nurse, I know that in many cases where Patients have signed a DNR (Do not resuscitate) and have indicated in their "living will" that they don't want life support, it can be a fitting thing to let death happen.  But this is most often the decision of the Patient, at the end of life.  But an unborn baby, at the beginning of life, has no say.


So to summarize the bad comparison:

Abortion:

- Actively ending the process of life
- At the beginning of life
- The baby has no input in the decision.
- predominantly healthy with a good prognosis


Ending life support

- Ceasing or withholding artificial means to prolong life (ventilators,  feeding tubes, etc...)
- Usually at the end stage of life
- The patient often issues the choice, and even if not, has almost always had the chance to do so.
-  predominantly pathological with a poor prognosis


I hope that at least clarifies what I meant.


(BTW ... I empathize with what you and your Mother faced.  I am not against life support.  Being a nurse I have seen it's benefits ... and also it's downside.  I am just not for abortion, and don't think that the two are really comparable.  While someone might be able to criticize you if you had "pulled the plug" on your mother, I don't think they could have justly called it murder, because she couldn't have naturally survived.)  Now if you had slipped in a lethal IV dose of Potassium Chloride when your Mother was in the hospital for a Gall Bladder Surgery ... wouldn't it be a tad bit different?  (just an imaginary scenario)


Stephen  

      

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (06-07-2003 07:17 PM).]

Stephanos
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21 posted 06-07-2003 07:09 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Serenity Blaze,

"None of you, not ONE of you, has the right to interfere in my medical treatment.
Yet  ...

and

I will fight for the right, to have my, excuse me?
MY...medical record kept in the same constancy that YOURS is in.
My meds are none of your business.
"


This really has nothing to do with the issue of "confidentiality" if that's what you mean.  I agree with you that your "Meds" are your business, and I respect that.  This thread has to do with more of the legislative, philosophical, and moral questions surrounding abortion.  I am in agreement about your medical records.  The recent HIPPA laws are all about that kind of thing.

But what meds should be considered valid meds?  What medical "treatments" should be considered valid treatments?  There are those out there who smoke crack who would like to say "My meds are none of your business".  There are many who also feel that pregnancy isn't a disease that needs to be "treated" ... and therefore abortion is not to be considered a valid medical treatment.


Stephen.  
serenity blaze
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since 02-02-2000
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22 posted 06-08-2003 12:09 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

What is valid?

Shouldn't that be something I discuss with MY DOCTOR?

And forgive me, I tried to stay out of this one, knowing I get far too emotional on this topic.

So forgive me again for ducking out. But I have been there. And it was the wrong thing for ME to do. But I don't and won't presume to know what is best for all, especially after I have had the benefit of CHOICE, myself.

I thank you all kindly, and genuinely hope that such a decision never plagues your mind.
Ron
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23 posted 06-08-2003 04:38 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
The moment my hair or fingernails begin to have their own DNA, I will reconsider your point.  Until then clipping fingernails and aborting unborn babies are still vastly different.

Unique DNA is both an arbitrary and a moving target, Stephen. It's arbitrary because there is nothing in the uniqueness of a DNA chain that defines human life. Many cancers carry a unique chain (i.e., mutated), yet I doubt anyone would argue against excising them. Simply being "different" from the host organism isn't enough, by itself, to grant rights. Uniqueness is a by-product of human life, not a definition of it. It is also a moving target because, in not too many years, the DNA may be much less unique. By your definition, a cloned fetus will be just a fingernail?

quote:
Abortion is essentially "active" in the sense that it involves taking measures to end a life which would otherwise continue to live and develop as long as the Mother reasonably cares for herself.  

Ending life support is "passive" in the sense that it simply withdrawing any artificial means to prolong a life, which otherwise would not continue with ordinary care and sustenance.

It's not unusual to value "natural" over "artificial," but that is really the only distinction that can logically be made between pregnancy and heroic measures. Both are essentially life support systems, and the removal of EITHER is necessarily an active decision, not a passive one. The real issue isn't whether you (the generic you) agree with the decision being made, but rather whether you agree the decision should be made at all. Once a person is hooked to a machine for life support, are there any conceivable circumstances under which a doctor can justifiably remove the support? Once a woman is pregnant, are there ANY conceivable circumstances under which she is justified in removing her "life support?" I don't see how anyone can possibly answer Yes to one without answering Yes to both. And the minute you do, we are no longer arguing the sanctity of life, but rather the "circumstances" that lead to our value of life.

Stephen, you are trying to define a point on a continuum. What is the first numerical fraction between zero and one? No matter what number you pick, I can always find one both before and after it. And no matter how you want to define the moment of human life, there are compelling arguments that will move your point in one direction or the other. The alternative is to say that one second you're not human, and the next second you are. The Catholic church paints the point even before conception, recognizing that the potential for human life has intrinsic value. Others will place the point at viability. Every single point on the line is an arbitrarily chosen one. The conundrum is that none are logically wrong.

quote:
None of you, not ONE of you, has the right to interfere in my medical treatment.

But can't you think of instances, however unusual or rare, where such a right would be justified, Karen? What about twins, conjoined at birth and sharing the same circulatory system? Should one twin have the right to dictate medical procedures at the expense of the other?

Every single human right imaginable can (and usually will) be abused by someone sooner or later. That's why you can't yell Fire in a crowded theater. Taking your statement to the extreme, you are claiming the right to do anything you want right up until the moment of birth. Do you really feel society should allow the abortion of a nine-month-old fetus? If you have to answer No, then you just joined Stephen in trying to paint an arbitrary point on a very wide continuum.

It is tempting to argue, as Stephen has tried to do, for a "better safe than sorry" policy. But there is no "safe," and the only basis for such an argument is that human life, in and of itself, is sacred and must be preserved at any cost. Yet, I have never met anyone who truly believed that. Each of us acknowledges that at some point the cost of life becomes too high to pay. It always comes down to quality of life, rather than the sanctity of life. Whether you realize it or not, whether you like it or not, each of us places a value on life in ways not unlike we place values on cars and houses. Each of us can envision a point where we will pay "this much" and no more. Human life is a commodity.

It really doesn't matter whether the discussion centers on abortion, heroic medical treatment, suicide, war, or capital punishment. In my opinion, Jim is right to be concerned that justification for one will inevitably bleed over into other areas. IT HAS TO, because it's all about the same exact things. What is the price of human life? If you were to spend the next twenty years strapped to a bed and eating through a tube, would you contemplate suicide? Would you be willing to fight and die for the right to worship the God you choose? If so, you just set the price for your life. Would you send others to fight and die for that right? Is the freedom of a woman to choose, even at the expense of another human life, so very different? Is quibbling over the price someone sets on life really the same as arguing about the transaction?

I am not arguing pro-choice or pro-life, so much as I am arguing pro-logic. As a society, we must recognize that our policies on life and death are ALL inextricably connected. Until we do, we'll continue to face paradoxes that cannot be resolved through logic. Why should a woman who is raped be able to get an abortion? Should a woman be forced to carry a child to term if it means facing a real possibility of her own death? At what point does a fetus become human enough to be protected by society's laws? That arbitrary line on the continuum isn't being set by biology or science, or even by religious conviction or morals. It's being set by the value each of us, as individuals, is prepared to set on life.

It's being set by value judgements.
serenity blaze
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24 posted 06-08-2003 05:34 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

"Is quibbling over the price someone sets on life really the same as arguing about the transaction? "
um? can I just say thank you?

 
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