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Abortion and parental rights

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Stephanos
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25 posted 06-14-2003 08:11 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

"... the offspring viewed as a commodity in genetic reproduction as I described it isn’t related to oppression or harm in any way"

Abortion is oppressive and harmful to the life of the unborn.  Or were you referring to something different?


"Terminating parental obligation post birth by terminating the life of the child would be parental infanticide, I would therefore firmly draw the line between parental infanticide and terminating parental obligation."

You evaded my question quite dexterously.  Again, what I am asking is, since you do not believe that a line should be drawn at all, why and upon what basis do you draw the line firmly at birth?  What really is the difference 10 minutes before birth and 10 minutes after birth, that would warrant such a change in your policy?



"Sorry I didn’t answer your question as to why are males legally held to responsibilities after birth I’ll redress that now.

Society has determined that they should.
"


You still did not answer the question.  My question was WHY SHOULD males be legally held responsible after birth?  If males weren't held responsible legally, and you had asked me to explain giving reason and support as to why they weren't,  would it be a valid answer for me to just say "Because society says so"?  This is avoidance.  I am asking upon what basis has society determined that they should.  I really would like to hear your answer.  From how you responded, it seems that any law (just or unjust) could be protected by pointing out the fact that it has been established.  


"The fact that the male participated in an act that requires two people makes him legally co-responsible for the offspring in the eyes of society, it does not make his investment in that offspring any greater than negligible in comparison to the females investment."


So legal responsibility should be based upon the fact that the male participated in an act that requires two people?  Why isn't the same standard considered when it comes to abortion decisions?  After birth you are applying a different standard ... an act of participation to hold the male responsible.  While before birth you are applying the nebulous standard of "investment", to exclude the male's responsiblity and rights.  My question is how can you justify this double standard?


Stephen.    


[This message has been edited by Stephanos (06-14-2003 08:12 PM).]

Stephanos
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26 posted 06-14-2003 08:27 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Toad,

I want to reconsider something I wrote, and how you responded.

Stephen: "Really?  How about a mother who feels that she has the right to terminate her parental obligation at 2 weeks post birth ... and not only terminate her obligation, but do so by an act of terminating the life of the baby?  Where do you draw the line and why?"


When you responded to this you said the first part accurately reflected your views.  But you drew a line right down the middle, and stated that the second part about terminating life would be infanticide.  But there is no line drawn when it comes to abortion.  In fact, the only way the mother can terminate her obligation pre-birth is to terminate the life of the unborn.  My question is why you are willing to draw the line and forbid taking the life immediately post-birth, but not immediately pre-birth?  Don't give me a "society says" style answer.  I want to know from someone who doesn't believe the line should be drawn anywhere pre-birth, why should the line be drawn even post birth?  Why is infanticide and late term abortion so vastly different?


Stephen.    

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (06-14-2003 08:33 PM).]

Jason Lyle
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27 posted 06-14-2003 09:37 PM       View Profile for Jason Lyle   Email Jason Lyle   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Jason Lyle

ack, more non answers to my question.
Stephanos
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28 posted 06-14-2003 11:34 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Jason,

I gave you a summary of my answer in post # 23.  You didn't really respond to what I wrote.  Sorry, if I have contributed to the diversion of your thread to the pro/ anti-abortion argument.  But there's only so far you can go with this post before the question is brought up.  I am basically in agreement with you that if women can choose abortion, then men's rights (along similar lines) are not even considered.  But since I don't think in any way that men should have the right to choose abortion, or even to "abort" their responsibilities, I have to go back and ask are abortion rights of women any different?  It seems if one is invalid then both are.  I am basically in agreement with you, but maybe looking at the photo-negative of this consideration.  What do you think?  Do you think men should have the right to abort their responsibilities?  

Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (06-14-2003 11:35 PM).]

Ron
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29 posted 06-15-2003 01:23 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Jason, your original question was:
quote:
My question is philosophical. If a woman has the right to abort, should the man have the right to abort parental rights and responsability?

The instant you used the word "parental," you injected a presumption that turned your question into another abortion issue. There are no parental rights and responsibilities, for the man or for the woman, until it is recognized that a child exists. The moment that recognition is given, neither the man nor the woman has the legal right to end the child's life. In short, the mother and father have essentially the same rights and responsibilities under current law.

Stephen said:
quote:
What you say does not for a moment make the questions of this thread invalid.  It may show that different people disagree upon which questions should be asked, but that's nothing new.

"Have you stopped beating your wife yet?" is very rarely a valid question, Stephen, because it is based on an unspoken assumption and ANY attempt to answer the question is an implicit acceptance of that assumption. The questions asked in this thread are of the same ilk. Any answer, either for or against a man's rights, will only affirm the contention that a child exists. Remove that supposition, and the questions here make little sense. Should a man be consulted before a woman seeks treatment for a STD? An argument cannot be convincingly won simply by assuming it has been won.

quote:
If you're trying to convince all sides that they shouldn't feel the way they do ... or even that they shouldn't try to convince others by persuasive argument, then I simply disagree.

What I'm arguing, Stephen, is what I usually argue: the need for trying to understand both sides of an issue.

Would you kill to protect those you love from otherwise certain death? Okay, now, would you kill to protect those you love from torture and maiming? Mmm, getting into some gray areas, yet? Would you kill to protect those you love from psychological damage? From sustained hunger and deprivation? At what point does the life of a stranger become more valued than the cost of your family's safety and comfort?

Now, at what point does the potential for life become more valued than the cost a woman might have to pay to become a mother?

ALL of these questions are essentially the same, and NONE of them should be easy to answer. Indeed, most can't be honestly answered until actually faced. Why should the life of your family be worth more than the life of the terrorist trying to kill them? Why should a woman's social, mental, and economic well-being be worth more than an eight-week-old fetus? The questions are not unrelated and, in spite of what some might like to believe, the answers are NOT self-evident. You can perhaps justify killing a terrorist because you likely believe his own actions have lessened the worth of his life. I very seriously doubt the terrorist would agree. A woman can justify the termination of a fetus if she can, as you did with the terrorist, lessen the worth of its potential life. For her, for you, for all of us, it all comes down to one thing being worth more than another.

Abortion didn't suddenly surface with Roe versus Wade, nor will it ever go away should that decision be reversed. Some battles will never be won in the courts because, ultimately, you cannot legislate morality unless the vast majority of the people already agree with the legislation. Abortion will continue, either legally and relatively safely, or illegally and with great dangers, as long as women place less value on a fetus than they do on their own perceived well-being. Those who argue for the sanctity of life will never convince anyone of anything except, in most cases, their own hypocrisy.

Convincing others to place greater value on a fetus is only half the battle, and I fear in most instances, it's a misguided effort. Merely claiming value for something doesn't impart value, and it takes a truly remarkable writer to make others accept one's own valuations as personally and universally relevant. We can call a fetus a child all day long, but until a woman feels like a mother, our impact will be minimal. It's an uphill struggle, at best, a tilting at windmills, at worst.

The other half of the battle, and the half I think is more winnable, is to lower the cost to meet the perceived value. How many teenage girls are deathly afraid to tell their father they are pregnant? How many women drop out of college or quit their jobs rather than face the shame of being an unwed mother? How many meet the financial costs with no insurance and too little aid? How many look at our state-run excuses for child care and placement and justify abortion as the lesser of evils? The stigma we place on the unwed mother is nontrivial and COMPLETELY unnecessary. It serves absolutely no purpose, certainly not as a deterrent, and it raises the cost of unwanted motherhood to a level few will willingly pay. If the value of a fetus is so great, why do most people place so very little value on the woman who gives it life?

When faced with the decision to kill in order to protect what we love, most of us quickly realize that the sanctity of human life is a myth. A glorious myth, but in the face of reality, still a myth. Those who face what they see as the destruction of their lives and future aren't so very different.

Stephen, I'm not trying to convince you or anyone that persuasive argument is futile. I'm suggesting, rather, that the arguments need to make more sense to those you might wish to convince. And the only way I know to do that, the only way that ever works, is to seek a clearer understanding of what you would argue against. At the risk of an old cliché and a mixed metaphor, until we walk a mile in their shoes we'll never have any idea where the blisters are forming. And the Band-Aids we blindly place will do little good for any of us.
daniel_martin
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30 posted 06-15-2003 12:45 PM       View Profile for daniel_martin   Email daniel_martin   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for daniel_martin

after studying philosophy for too long, this subject just makes me shudder!

why can't we get away from moral valuations?

[This message has been edited by Ron (06-15-2003 02:31 PM).]

Brad
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31 posted 06-15-2003 01:15 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Why should we put up with you?
daniel_martin
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32 posted 06-15-2003 02:18 PM       View Profile for daniel_martin   Email daniel_martin   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for daniel_martin

now that's a philosophical question.

you can only argue it on utilitarian grounds.. but then there are always hidden aspects that time can only demonstrate.

Jason Lyle
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33 posted 06-15-2003 04:35 PM       View Profile for Jason Lyle   Email Jason Lyle   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Jason Lyle

Stephen,
I read your reply, and agree with what you said.I believe as you do, that theoretically men should have this right.Only because if one is legal, then the other makes sense also.
To answer your question, I do not want this right.It would be a law that would cause pain, and suffering to children.So even if I had a philosophical right to a law like this.I do not want it.

Ron,
I can appreciate what you are saying as to how I worded my questions.The way it reads does make some assumptions.Once a women decides to carry a pregnancy to term.Some other assumptions are made as well.One of these assumptions is that the father will have something to do with the childs life after it is born.In a perfect situation, that something will be love, financial support, involvement, teaching,etc.In a bad situation, it is probably just child support and court battles.
To reword the question,If a woman decides to carry a pregnancy to term, and the father does not want to father a child.Should he have the right to "abort" his parental rights and responsabilities?

If I read the last part of your post correct,I agree here also.Whether I agree with abortion being legal or not, a total ban on the practice will not solve the issue.

Nor have I walked a mile in the proverbial shoes.I do not judge those who disagree with me and I don't believe I have the right to judge anyones decisions purely on my own convictions.

Toad,
Don't give up on the thread, I valued your replies.I was worried it would turn to a strictly abortion argument, which will never be won.I dont know of any moral argument that could be.A moral argument can only be an exchange of disagreements.

Daniel,
I have never studied philosophy, so teach me something.Is a moral valuation not a philosophical one?
Tim
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34 posted 06-15-2003 04:38 PM       View Profile for Tim   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tim

The other half of the battle, and the half I think is more winnable, is to lower the cost to meet the perceived value. How many teenage girls are deathly afraid to tell their father they are pregnant? How many women drop out of college or quit their jobs rather than face the shame of being an unwed mother? How many meet the financial costs with no insurance and too little aid? How many look at our state-run excuses for child care and placement and justify abortion as the lesser of evils? The stigma we place on the unwed mother is nontrivial and COMPLETELY unnecessary. It serves absolutely no purpose, certainly not as a deterrent, and it raises the cost of unwanted motherhood to a level few will willingly pay. If the value of a fetus is so great, why do most people place so very little value on the woman who gives it life?

Huh? Would appear to be contrary to the situation that exists in the part of the world I live in.  A level "few" will willingly pay? The number of children in single mother homes is rapidly approaching the number of children living in homes with divorced parents on a national level.  In inner cities, the number of births to unwed mothers exceeds births to married couples.  Have you checked your local hospital lately and determined how many births are to single mothers and how many of those mothers are 11 through 15 years of age?  Most high schools around here have day care centers for unwed mothers. I shan't enter the abortion debate, but the idea that stigma of unwed mothers is a serious problem is just totally out in left field to me.  The women I know do not drop out of school or quit work because of the shame of being unwed mothers.  I live in the bible belt and do not consider it unusual to find single women having children with absolutely no desire to be married.  There may be vestiges of the stigma remaining in baby boomers, but in the generation of child bearing age, if there is a stigma, then there are one heck of a lot of stigmatized women out there.
jbouder
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35 posted 06-15-2003 06:04 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Jason:

Philosophers like Hume, Mill and Ayer attempted to reduce moral valuations to mere opinion (and I believe they failed).  If all moral philosophy is mere opinion, how could any philosopher criticize what the Nazis did to the Jews during WWII?  I don't think it is possible to deny the self-evident truth that the Jewish people had their rights to life and liberty stripped from them.  And it was wrong for the Nazis to do that.

Jim

P.S. Even Nietzsche was an outspoken opponent of racism and anti-Semitism.

P.P.S. Eight-year-old kicking me off the computer ... more later.

Jim
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36 posted 06-15-2003 08:23 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Ron said

quote:

The other half of the battle, and the half I think is more winnable, is to lower the cost to meet the perceived value. How many teenage girls are deathly afraid to tell their father they are pregnant? How many women drop out of college or quit their jobs rather than face the shame of being an unwed mother? How many meet the financial costs with no insurance and too little aid? How many look at our state-run excuses for child care and placement and justify abortion as the lesser of evils? The stigma we place on the unwed mother is nontrivial and COMPLETELY unnecessary. It serves absolutely no purpose, certainly not as a deterrent, and it raises the cost of unwanted motherhood to a level few will willingly pay. If the value of a fetus is so great, why do most people place so very little value on the woman who gives it life?



My position is probably tightly aligned with most of what Ron has posted (although we may never know if those are his positions or if he's just postulating   )

But, on the above reference I did have a very close friend who would have had some things to say that would both agree and disagree -- her words, not mine.

quote:

As a Feminist, I find that the notion that a woman must give up her pregnancy -- because to have a child to care for would in some way weaken her -- is not liberating women at all. It only empowers the patriarchal society that dictates that for women to succeed they must become like men. They must be able to have sex without consequences. They must be un-encumbered and maverics.

Abortion to enhance the quality of life of the mother or to avoid a poor quality of life for the child is just giving in to the hard and masculine. It says the nurturing side of humanity is weak. To be a woman is to nurture -- it is our nature -- and it is the strength of humanity that has allowed us to survive, evolve, and become creatures with the intelligence and creativity to have an internet.

To destroy a life in favor of this paradigm is to give control to men!

I know that society doesn't say a woman MUST give up a pregnancy but, if a woman wants to have a career and earn money we make it difficult for her to have a child.

The problem is with what our society places the value upon. Why the [edit] is the propigation of the species not the MOST valuable activity? Why are mothers and teachers not the center of the economy?

And, I know we all like to think we keep our femininity but, some aspects of Feminism have masculinized us. The notion that nurturing is stereotyping women is actually just another co-option of the male dominated culture. We've been told that if we are to be successful we must be like males.

And I know that many men take responsibility for thier sexual activity. In fact.. sooner or later most do. But all of them go through a time in their life when they have irresponsible sex. And none of them ever worry about getting pregnant.

Cheap and accessible abortions is just another way of empowering their irresponsible behaviour.

I am not out to destroy the capitalist western culture. I merely seek a society in which a woman is not percieved to be weak because she is pregnant. I see a world where there are no crisis pregnancies because men are responsible and women can carry thier children to term without impunity.




[This message has been edited by Local Rebel (06-15-2003 08:48 PM).]

Tim
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37 posted 06-15-2003 10:48 PM       View Profile for Tim   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tim

I assume that Ron was postulating.  I do so, because the argument he made in the highlighted paragraph is based upon assumptions. (which I fail to find persuasive or logical)  I fail to see how the feminist quote applies to those assumptions. Ron indicated that both sides of the argument ought to be explored.  Not a problem.  As indicated, I not engaging in the abortion debate.  I have no desire to and apologize for sidetracking the discussion.  
The problem I have is this one paragraph which I find to be illogical and not representative of the changing views of society over the last half century.  
Ron indicates stigma is not a deterrent to unwed motherhood.  I am not arguing whether unwed motherhood is good or bad, but I fail to see how one cannot correlate the overwhelming numbers of births to unwed mothers to the substantial weakening of the stigma attached to unwed mothers.  
If Ron is playing the devil's advocate, all well and fine, but we do not live in "I Love Lucy" land anymore.  I would be more inclined to accept the feminist viewpoint more than Ron's although I doubt many teenage girls make decisions based upon such a thought process.
daniel_martin
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38 posted 06-16-2003 03:35 AM       View Profile for daniel_martin   Email daniel_martin   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for daniel_martin

firstly, i wasn't claiming that moral valuations weren't philosophical content, what i was stating is that i am sick of it. This is mainly because i've just finished a paper on morality, and am sick of writing about them

secondly, Ayer, Hare, (not so much Mill, being a liberal, thus his philosophy being underpinned by absolutes) argued not so much against the valuation, but the meta-ethical motive behind them.
Nietzsche is the most relevant name you quoted, and i'd say that largely he succeeded on existentialist grounds.

But if you want a philosopher that truly forced our thinking on moral judgements, it has to be Heidegger
jbouder
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39 posted 06-16-2003 09:23 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

D-

Well, I might agree with Hume, and even Nietzsche, that it is futile, at least rationally, to make prescriptive judgements on existential or descriptive grounds alone.  How does Hiedegger deal with self-evident, prescriptive valuations?

For example, Mortimer Adler writes:

quote:
Starting with the self-evident truth that we ought to desire what is really good for us, and adding the descriptive truth that all human beings naturally desire or need knowledge (which is tantamount to saying that knowledge is really good for us), we reach the conclusion that we ought to seek or desire knowledge.  The conclusion has prescriptive truth based on the criterion that what it prescribes conforms to right desire, desire for something that we by nature need.


I think you can construct similar arguments around other human desires and needs to reach similar conclusions (e.g., freedom, life, etc.).  Granted, the objectivity of the desires and needs must be defended evidentially, but isn't that what we are discussing here?

Back to the discussion, I believe the abortion debate is over whether the unborn child, fetus, or whatever you want to call him/her/it is human and ought to live, and whether "forcing" a woman to have the child inequitably encroaches on her individual freedoms.  In order for the latter argument to be tenable, I believe the former question must be answered in the negative.  Without resorting to dogmatic assertions (either for or against abortion), deciding when the "product of conception" become human must be supported evidentially.  I think that is pretty easy to do in the third trimester of development, but becomes more difficult in the second an first ... at least for now.

Jim

[This message has been edited by jbouder (06-16-2003 09:25 AM).]

Jason Lyle
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40 posted 06-16-2003 10:45 AM       View Profile for Jason Lyle   Email Jason Lyle   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Jason Lyle

Jim,
Thanks for the answer regarding moral valuations, I will read more on these philosphers.

LR,
Quote
"I am not out to destroy the capitalist western culture. I merely seek a society in which a woman is not percieved to be weak because she is pregnant. I see a world where there are no crisis pregnancies because men are responsible and women can carry thier children to term without impunity."

I would love to live in this world your friend seeks.Though I cannot agree with her comment that pregnant women are viewed as weak.I watched my wife go through two pregnancies, and I have never seen that much strength in a person.
I agree, as long as a woman is forced to sacrifice things like careers, and force to bear more of the burden in raising children.Core issues in abortion cannot be addressed.But there will always be a sacrifice, it is the nature of parenthood.The sacrifice just needs to be equal from both parents(in rearing children, sorry ladies, I can think of no way to equalize bearing them)

Jim,
I wasn't asking if a man should be able to force a woman to terminate a pregnancy.As long as abortion is legal, that can never happen.I was asking that if a woman has the legal right to terminate a pregnancy, should a man have the legal right to terminate his responsability if a woman decides to carry a pregnancy to term?

[This message has been edited by Jason Lyle (06-16-2003 10:47 AM).]

jbouder
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41 posted 06-16-2003 11:55 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Jason:

The issues are not the same.  Once the child is born, the playing field changes and both parents are legally, and I think morally, obligated to contribute toward the needs of the child.  As Ron put it, it's called responsibility.

Dad does have an out in most jurisdictions, however, if the mother marries or remarries or if another assumes responsibility for caring for the child (i.e., adoption).

Every man, by the way, has the right to choose whether or not to plant the seed in the first place.  Or he can have a vasectomy.

Jim

Jason Lyle
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42 posted 06-16-2003 12:35 PM       View Profile for Jason Lyle   Email Jason Lyle   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Jason Lyle

Ahh, but you are now talking about thinking ahead, that would have avoided this whole discussion.My question was before the birth...or after it is the same.the out you are talking about happens way later.
The adoption does not take place until said loser dad refuses to take care of his obligations, and a better man steps in.

Jason
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43 posted 06-16-2003 01:47 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Setting aside the humanity of the fetus matter for a moment, are you suggesting that the State should be able to compel women to undergo potentially harmful medical procedures without their consent?  Sounds like despotism to me (and a little like rape).  Assuming a man is given the "right to choose" a forcible abortion, if something goes wrong with the procedure and the woman dies or is rendered infertile, should the man be liable for damages?  If she dies, should he be prosecuted for murder or manslaughter?

Jim
Jason Lyle
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44 posted 06-16-2003 06:03 PM       View Profile for Jason Lyle   Email Jason Lyle   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Jason Lyle

Again, I am not suggesting a woman should be forced to have an abortion.That would be absurd.I am suggesting a man should be able to sign a peice of paper that legally states that he will not be responsable for a child he does not want, should the women decide to carry it to term.Which is also absurd.
Stephanos
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45 posted 06-16-2003 09:46 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Jason,

But how can you say that an absurdity should be?  Only if the grounds for that absurdity will inevitably result in absurdity.

1)     A = B
2)     A = C
3)     C must also equal B

A = 1
B = 1
C = 2

The third statement is true only if the second statement is true.  If you start off assuming the second to be true, then it logically follows that the third has to be true.  But if the third is shown to be false, then the second must be false.


I know moral issues are not really comparable to logic, but I did this to illustrate the similar relation of things.  If women have these rights then men should have these rights.  But clearly Men should not have these rights.  Then neither should women have these rights.    

  

Giving legal freedom to end an unborn life in the womb leads to absurdity ... Though not precisely similar, men's potential rights as to the fetus follow from the same grounds that female "rights" do.  Maybe it is the "grounds" that lead to absurdity ... the grounds that anyone should have the power to end an otherwise healthy life process ... which (if you don't accept it's humanity now) will inevitably be human.  I think the presumed "rights" for either a man or a woman to end life in utero is the source of the confusion we see.


Stephen.
      
Ron
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46 posted 06-17-2003 12:21 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

1)     A = B
2)     A = C
3)     X must also equal B

That logic is a little closer to what I see being bandied.

If you are to ask if a man should be able to sign away his responsibilities for a child, it should then be compared to the abandonment laws discussed earlier in this thread. Do those apply only to women? Is the mother the only parent who can deliver a new-born to medical authorities and then walk away? I honestly don't know. But at least the comparison is a valid one.

Now, if you want to compare men and women in terms of abortion issues, let's talk about vasectomies. Snip, snip. All those hundreds of thousands of unborn spermatozoa, two or three or four of which might have realized their potential and grown into loving and caring adults, who in turn would have had children who would have had children who would have had more children. Snip, snip, and generations of unborn people die. Why? So the man could have sex with no responsibility for his actions. What? Gametes don't count? Go look any three-year-old in the eye and realize as you do that had either parent been using birth control, that child would not even exist. Right? Wrong? I don't know. But at least the comparison is a valid one.
Stephanos
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47 posted 06-17-2003 12:51 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

"Now, if you want to compare men and women in terms of abortion issues, let's talk about vasectomies. Snip, snip. All those hundreds of thousands of unborn spermatozoa, two or three or four of which might have realized their potential and grown into loving and caring adults"

Ron, one is a done thing ... the other a "might do".  It may be the difference between a signed contract and one left blank.  There is a big difference between a gamate and a zygote.  A gamete will never by itself turn into a baby ... not in a million years.  Because it is not an organism, it is a somatic cell of an organism.  The human embryo is a separate organism.  You will of course say that it's still just an arbitrary judgement on our part, but a compelling one.  The difference is compelling enough to consider that for a sperm to join an egg and form a zygote, an active choice must be made to do so... usually with full knowledge.  With the fetus, nothing must be done moreso than the general care of oneself and birth will happen ... and even that doesn't have to be done to the utmost.  I've seen babies born out of the most careless situations imaginable.  But when a scaple or a suction device is introduced, the unborn child doesn't have a chance.  You might point out the differences of my comparison.  But are you blind to the differences of yours?  


Stephen

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (06-17-2003 12:53 AM).]

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48 posted 06-17-2003 01:42 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Of course there are differences, Stephen. Until you or I give birth, those differences are a bit inevitable. But I'm comparing apples and oranges, while earlier comparisons were between apples and tennis balls.

The one is not a "done thing," not until the fetus is viable, and the "might do" is pretty much a will do for most men outside the clergy and under the age of a hundred. No, a gamete will never by itself turn into a baby. Neither, by itself, will a zygote. And, yes, it an arbitrary judgement, but not at all a compelling one. You are essentially saying that one has "more" potential for life than the other. You might as well argue that a child with an I.Q. of 120 should be educated, but a child with an I.Q. of only 90 should not.

Human life cannot be easily defined by a point on a line. My life didn't suddenly spring into being during a brief second when my parents were having sex. Had my mother miscarried, perhaps never even knowing she was pregnant, I would not today exist. Had either parent been using birth control, I would not today exist. Had my grandfather been killed in war, I would not today exist. Had my great-grandmother been executed by the state, I would not today exist. The decisions and actions that led to me go back hundreds of years, and each is so vitally important that the elimination of even one would surely eliminate me. At what point during those few hundred years did the potential for my life suddenly deserve the protection of society? Why is that point more important than any before it?
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49 posted 06-17-2003 03:03 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Ron,

Your stretching this back to Adam does very little to prove that gametes should be treated as individual human life.  Regardless of what this type of muddling does for the argument, there is a basic scientific recognition that conception is the beginning of a unique human organism.  Embryology textbooks state that fertilization is the place where somatic cells make the transition into another organism.  Can we pinpoint an exact moment as to fertilization?  No, but can we pinpoint exactly anything?  We can get pretty close.  Your argument about the possibility of inserting infinitely smaller slices of individual moments between points on a continuum proves what?  That's philosophical bologna.  A positive pregnancy test, or a missed menstrual period, and we're safely past the uncertainty regarding fertilization.  Is the unborn viable to live without the mother?  No.  It wasn't meant to.  Neither can a week old infant survive without the mother's constant care.  


"My life didn't suddenly spring into being during a brief second when my parents were having sex."

How do you know?  You definitely had a beginning as an individual organism.  And I would say valuable as a human from the moment of your beginning.


"Had my mother miscarried, perhaps never even knowing she was pregnant, I would not today exist."

Miscarriages are regrettable.  But we have no moral responsibility to what we cannot control.  


"At what point during those few hundred years did the potential for my life suddenly deserve the protection of society?"


I would daresay that all along the line, your ancestors were recognized as human beings and protected, which also protected your potential life.  But where you do not yet exist as an organism, you yourself cannot be protected as a person.  You can't even be adequately predicted!  If you want to compare gametes in the loins of your Great Great Greats, with a human embryo, you are comparing dirt and apples!  Embryology may have nothing to say about "personhood", but it is definitive about the beginning of the human organism.  Oh and I just read recently (correct me if I'm wrong) but people can be charged with manslaughter in twenty some odd States for killing a fetus through an accidental act, or an act of violence.  Yet we can also abort them.  The point needs to be defined, and if we pin the point on developed properties rather than mere pregnancy, these properties will always spill over into the born community as well.  There is a strong argument that a newborn is not self aware either.  Does that make him or her non-human?  

The human organism has an identifiable beginning.  Perhaps this beginning is not indentifiable to the infintesimally small and discrete point you would like to exact from me to prove your argument.  But I think every young lady can tie down a moment of realizing her pregnancy.  And practically this is all we need.  Given that we, as human organisms, require a beginning  (with conception being the naturally given, and traditionally accepted line of recognition), it would make much more scientific, philosophical, moral, and legal sense to ascribe intrinsic human value according to what we are in essence and nature, rather than what properties we might come to develop.  


Stephen.
        

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (06-17-2003 03:07 AM).]

 
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