Understanding through Discussion


Welcome! You are not logged in. [ Login ]
EvC Forum active members: 67 (9079 total)
131 online now:
kjsimons, PaulK (2 members, 129 visitors)
Newest Member: Test Moose
Post Volume: Total: 895,222 Year: 6,334/6,534 Month: 527/650 Week: 65/232 Day: 4/38 Hour: 0/0


Thread  Details

Email This Thread
Newer Topic | Older Topic
  
Author Topic:   Legal Death, Legal Life, Personhood and Abortion
RAZD
Member (Idle past 724 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 1 of 316 (181634)
01-29-2005 9:52 AM


This is from a personal essay on the ethics, cultural concerns and morality of abortion and the boundaries of human life, including the implications for stem cell research. Parts of this were posted on this board before, and I recently had a request to reopen this topic to discuss my views. The previous post was on the {Points on abortion and the crutch of supporters} thread in the {coffee house} forum (now closed).

see http://http://www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=14&t=238&m=322#322

What follows is slightly revised from the previous version, with the addition of the sections on premature birth and stem cell research. Some changes were also made to the "Human-ness" section and my conclusions.

{{edited to fix links}}
{{edited to link picture to website for refreshing if needed}}
{{edited to make the parallel but logically inverse construction of the legal definition of life to the legal definition of death more obvious, the words are not changed.}}
{{edited to add text in silver to further clarify the position being argued.}}


Introduction

I am going to upset some people, I know, but there is an issue here that needs to be addressed on this question, and it is an issue of consistency.

In one sense, once you start arguing about "when does life begin" you need to take the argument to it's logical conclusion -- the very first single living cell, some 3.5 billion years ago or so. There has been a continuing transfer of living material from that point in time to every living thing in existence today. THAT is when {life} began.

In another sense, the material that makes up every living thing is in a constant state of being replaced. People have an entirely new skin every 2 months or so. Other parts take longer to be replaced, but every part that forms a living adult human being today was not a part of that {being} when they were a child. The molecular and cellular material that makes up a living {being} today was not what made a living {being} in the measurable past. If all life is in a constant state of flux then how can one say where it "begins" (or ends)? It is not logical to define human life based on the existence of one or even a few cells.

Thus to state that life "begins" when an egg is fertilized or at some other point in the cycles of cell division and growth is just as arbitrary as saying it is when a child is born, or even, say, reaches the age of ten.Often a fertilized egg passes completely out of the uterus without implanting on the wall, sometimes it implants within the fallopian tubes, frequently a (uterus) implanted blastocyst will become detached or rejected, and miscarriages are common at all stages of pregnancy. None of these instances result in human life: the {life begins at conception} is an arbitrary standard that does not give us an adequate measure of when a human life begins. While using a tenth birthday as a standard would give us an arbitrary standard that does result in human life, it also is inadequate for defining the human life of children under 10.

It used to be a fairly common practice to leave babies unnamed until they had survived for a year, as high infant mortality was so common. Infanticide was also a common way to deal with unwanted children in the past. In some places this is still so, but medical improvements have made this uncommon in the more developed cultures. Cultural values change over time, there are no hard and fast cultural rules, especially when they are based on arbitrary standards. The best guides we have available are rational, logical morals developed from first principles, and even these are subject to further development.

What is important to consider is when does a life start or stop being a person? What is the quality that we as humans consider important for determining when and if a person exists, when it starts or ceases to exist?

On common moral grounds, it is important to be consistent at both ends of the spectrum of life. Thus the concept of beginning needs to be consistent with current medical practice in determining when a human life has ended. These latter criteria have been developed over a significant period of time with a lot of ethical input from all sides into the specific considerations involved, and a look at them is instructive.

There are usually two levels considered. One is the legal concept of clinical death where doctors unequivocally declare a patient to be dead. The other is the concept of brain dead, where the body can continue to breath and circulate blood as long as nutrients are supplied, but there is no conscious brain activity or capability left that is in control of that life.


Legal Death

The first legal standard of death is very clear -- from
the Legal Definition of Death (click)
:

UNIFORM DETERMINATION OF DEATH ACT
§1. [Determination of Death.] An individual who has sustained either
(1) irreversible cessation of circulator and respiratory functions, or
(2) irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem, are dead.
A determination of death must be made in accordance with accepted medical standards.

That's the legal nuts and bolts of it: either failure of {heart\lung} system or total brain failure. Any person with either of these failures is universally and legally considered to be dead.
The word "irreversible" is used to refer to common medical practical limits to resuscitation.


Legal Life

When considering this in terms of beginning rather than end, the same conditions should apply. Where the irreversible failure of either system qualified for death, the irreversible instigation of both is logically necessary for life. Likewise "all functions" would become "any functions" of the brain. This could be reworded in a format similar to the death act above as follows:

UNIFORM DETERMINATION OF LIFE
§1. [Determination of Life.] An individual who has sustained either:
(1) irreversible instigation of circulator and respiratory functions, and
(2) irreversible instigation of any functions of the (entire) brain, including the brain stem, is alive.
A determination of life should be made in accordance with accepted medical standards.

Note that this is derived logically from the legal definition of {death} to the form of the legal definition of {NOT death = life}, and thus it is legally applicable and morally, culturally as acceptable as the universal definition of death.

Usually, I believe, the heart and circulatory system develop first, followed by rudimentary activity in the brain stem, then upper brain areas, followed last by the development of the respiratory systems. Typically the limit to saving premature babies depends on the level of development of the lungs -- before a certain point the lungs just cannot be made to function. This point would have to be determined by professionals in each case, based on the actual level of development the fetus has reached.

Note that this would in effect make the point of "uniform life" to be {not birth so much as} the earliest possible point at which {assisted premature} birth would be medically feasible without causing significant effect on the end result.

This would be consistent with many cultural definitions of when life begins, while taking into consideration the current and increasing medical ability to sustain premature births.

If a fetus does not meet the criteria to pass this "uniform life" test then it legally could be declared non-living (medically dead), and abortion would no longer be an issue. In my opinion this sets a latest possible limit on the question of abortion to the point where legal life cannot be ruled out, and anything after that cannot be justified from a legal or moral standpoint.


Premature Birth

There are fundamental differences between a fetus and a baby, including some changes that occur shortly after birth before the baby is fully functioning as a living breathing laughing human. These changes are part of the challenge in helping prematurely born babies to live (which they normally do not do when there is no treatment):

From
Fetus - wikipedia article (click)

The circulatory system of a human fetus works differently from that of born humans, mainly because the lungs are not in use: the fetus obtains oxygen and nutrients from the mother through the placenta and the umbilical cord.

With the first breath after birth, the system changes suddenly. The pulmonary resistance is dramatically reduced. More blood moves from the right atrium to the right ventricle and into the pulmonary arteries, and less flows through the foramen ovale to the left atrium. The blood from the lungs travels through the pulmonary veins to the left atrium, increasing the pressure there. The decreased right atrial pressure and the increased left atrial pressure pushes the septum primum against the septum secundum, closing the foramen ovale, which now becomes the fosse ovalis. This completes the separation of the circulatory system into two halves, the left and the right.

The ductus arteriosus normally closes off within one or two days of birth. The umbilical vein and the ductus venosus closes off within two to five days after birth, leaving behind the ligamentum teres and the ligamentum venosus of the liver respectively.

In addition to differences in circulation, the developing fetus also employs a different type of oxygen transport molecule than adults (adults use adult hemoglobin). Fetal hemoglobin enhances the fetus' ability to draw oxygen from the placenta.

From
Fetal Hemoglobin - wikipedia article (click)

Fetal hemoglobin (also hemoglobin F or HbF) is the main oxygen transport protein in the fetus during the last seven months of development in the womb. Functionally, fetal hemoglobin differs most from adult hemoglobin in that it is able to bind oxygen with greater affinity than the adult form, giving the developing fetus better access to oxygen from the mother's bloodstream.

As blood courses through the mother, oxygen is delivered to capillary beds for gas exchange, and by the time blood reaches the capillaries of the placenta, its oxygen saturation has decreased considerably. In order to recover enough oxygen to sustain itself, the fetus must be able to bind oxygen with a greater affinity than the mother.

Fetal hemoglobin's affinity for oxygen is substantially greater than that of adult hemoglobin. Notably, the P50 value for fetal hemoglobin (i.e., the partial pressure of oxygen at which the protein is 50% saturated; lower values indicate greater affinity) is roughly 19 mmHg, whereas adult hemoglobin has a value of approximately 26.8 mmHg.

These are substantial changes that occur at birth and transform a fetus into a baby. The term "unborn baby" is misleading, as it ignores these substantial differences. A fetus with adult hemoglobin will not get enough oxygen to grow and develop, and a baby with a fetal heart will also die.

There are also limits to how early a fetus can be removed from the womb and be kept alive by medical technology. This limit lowers steadily as technology and knowledge improve, but there appears to be a limit at which the result is less than desirable to many people.

From Premature babies' disability risk (click)

Just over 1,200 were born alive and 811 were admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit. Of these 314 survived to go home.

The first phase of the study revealed at two and a half years old 50% of those studied had some form of disability.

In a quarter of the children severe disabilities were identified, including cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness and arrested development.

The latest results show that 40% of the surviving children had moderate to severe problems in cognitive development at the age of six, compared to 2% of a control group of their classmates.

Bright Asamany, born at 24 weeks, is one of the most severely disabled of all the children who were born in 1995 ... his father, Kennedy, says ... if they had another baby born as early as Bright, he would say "turn off the machine, there is no need to continue".

These premature babies, "premies," are not born fully functioning (mature) babies, they needed machines to replace functions of the natural womb to finish their development, and would have normally die without it. In one sense they are not fully "born" until they can survive off the machines, but it is normal social convention to consider them born as they have been removed from the womb (the same rational is used for the term "partial-birth abortion" although for different end purposes).

We don't know if the 400 premies not admited died before they could be, or if their parents decided not to use the services available, as was their right (the "no heroic measures" decision also common at the end of life).

Only 38.7% of the premies admitted to the neo-natal intensive care survived, and of those on 50% did not have significant complications\disabilities. This is a 19.4% "success" rate.
If we can remove a fetus and keep it developing and growing with medical procedures, but the result is not a fully functioning human being -- due to mental or physical handicaps caused by the premature removal -- then I would argue that a limit has reached regardless of whether the end result is living, a limit where the result is not desirable to everyone. This point appears to have already been reached in my opinion, as only about 20% of premature births born at 24 weeks are not permanently, severely, mentally handicapped. This gets up into the area of the second standard for life, the issue of "personhood" (see next).


Personhood

The second standard is a little more difficult to establish on a broad cultural and social basis except by taking into considerations the beliefs of the family involved and the diversity of levels acceptable to individuals. This includes the concept of personhood. From Biology, Consciousness, and the Definition of Death (click):

(NOTE: these are excerpts -- with some loss of context: see whole paper for complete context)

Some philosophers and scientists have argued that the whole-brain standard does not go far enough. Several leading authors on the subject have advocated a higher-brain standard, according to which death is the irreversible cessation of the capacity for consciousness. This standard is often met prior to whole-brain death, which includes death of the brainstem -- that part of the brain which allows spontaneous respiration and heartbeat but is insufficient for consciousness. Thus, a patient in a permanent coma or permanent vegetative state (PVS) meets the higher-brain, but not the whole-brain, standard of death.

From the present perspective, then, the core-meaning argument does not settle the question of the nature of human death. A more promising approach, on this view, is to take seriously the fact that we are not only organisms; we are also persons. According to one prominent argument for the higher-brain standard, the capacity for consciousness is essential to persons -- essential in the strict philosophical sense of being necessary: Any being lacking this capacity is not a person. It follows that when someone permanently loses the capacity for consciousness, there is no longer a person associated with the body. The person who was, is no more -- that is to say, she is dead. Thus, the argument goes, human death is captured by the higher-brain standard.

Finally, any effort to base a standard for human death on "our" values confronts the problem of value pluralism. While liberal intellectuals, and perhaps a majority of Americans, are likely to regard a future of permanent unconsciousness as meaningless, many people -- some of them religious fundamentalists -- would disagree. For the dissenters, biological life in PVS or permanent coma is at least life and therefore valuable (perhaps infinitely so). For at least some of these people, such a state is meaningful because it is a gift from God, a gift that must not be thrown away through active killing -- or defined away with a new definition of death.

It is firmly established, both in case law and in medical ethics, that competent adult patients have the right to refuse life-supporting medical treatments, even artificial nutrition and hydration. By the same token, an appropriate surrogate can refuse life-supports on behalf of the legally incompetent if there is sufficient reason to believe the patient would have refused treatment in the present circumstances. Because of this broad legal and moral right to refuse treatment, life-supports that are unwanted or are considered unhelpful -- including life-supports for permanently unconscious patients -- can be terminated without first declaring the patient dead.

This last paragraph is the key to my thinking. Until the fetus has achieved the status of "personhood" discussed above, the "appropriate surrogate" -- in this case the family -- can decide to terminate life support, and if the patient naturally expires due to failure of the {circulator and respiratory functions} to maintain life on their own, then the legal issue is settled.

Certainly in cases where continuing a pregnancy endangers the life of the mother, the doctors could perform an early-term C-section, and once the {fetus\premature child} was removed the family could direct that "no heroic measures" be taken to see if the {fetus\premature child} survives or dies a natural death on its own -- this choice is currently legal, as there are people of certain religious beliefs that they would chose to let nature take its course and have insisted on their right to their beliefs. This certainly fits with the end of the material quoted above:

"Because of this broad legal and moral right to refuse treatment, life- supports that are unwanted or are considered unhelpful -- including life-supports for permanently unconscious patients -- can be terminated without first declaring the patient dead."

I submit to all for consideration, that any method that results in the removal of a fetus from a womb, but that does not harm or endanger the {patient} in any way except for the removal of life-support, and that only upon the request of the "appropriate surrogate" (here that would be the immediate family), results in a legal death due to natural causes.

The issue of individual rights is such that any standard which allows people to enjoy a right that does not inflict harm on other persons cannot morally be refused, and conversely, that any standard which tries to restrict such a right (that does not inflict harm on other persons) from some people is unethical. This holds even though some people may choose to live by what they view as a higher standard themselves (if they do not harm other persons by doing so). In this regard the concept of "personhood" shows where the legal choices should be allowed.

There is a sensible strict definition of when the limits of life are met, both at the beginning and at the end. In both cases there are groups of people that may wish to use a further definition of "personhood" to determine whether it is desirable to provide life support in the gray areas when the criteria are not fully or clearly met, and in those cases an "appropriate surrogate" -- the immediate family -- can make the decision to withhold life support to allow the process to reach a natural end.


Humanity and Human-ness

Can you tell what species this is?
(From Evolution Reflected in Fetal Development - if you have trouble seeing the picture you can visit their site, or you can visit my site essay, or I can e-mail you a copy)



(click here if you don't see the picture)

Highlight between these brackets for the answer:
{...it is a chimpanzee fetus ...}

There is a third marker of humanity that could be discussed, but it leads towards touchy situations for the severely mentally handicapped, and that is the question of "human-ness" -- when can we say that a life is fully human. When does the fetal development of a human differentiate it from the fetal development of, say, a chimpanzee or some "sub-human" form?

BUT -- I don’t think argument in this area is fruitful or pertinent as the provisions above are more inclusive and direct in dealing with the issues while avoiding the issue of living people who may or may not fit the definitions.


My Personal Conclusions on Abortion

Do I think that abortion should be across the board on demand? Not really, for at some point the question has to be raised, "why now, why wasn't it done earlier?" -- especially when we get to later (third trimester) term abortions.

Do I think that abortion should be allowed as a "final answer" form of birth control? Yes, definitely. BUT ONLY while there can be no question of "personhood" or the development of the critical life systems of heart, lungs and brain.

This would most certainly apply before cell specialization has occurred. Thus there should be absolutely NO QUESTION about the legality of the "Morning After" pill being as freely available over the counter to anyone as condoms are (and if anyone thinks that this would become the control method of choice has not been paying attention: I think one experience with it would make uncautious women much more cautious). I also think it is totally the woman's choice at this point whether or not to use this method.

After the point has been reached where the fetus has begun to develop the systems critical for life, sufficient time has passed that a decision, conscious or not, has been made to go beyond that point, and other ethical questions are raised. Personally, I believe that personhood begins to form early, even as soon as there begins to be upper brain function in a fetus. Certain experiments with music have shown that babies are able to recognize music that was played while they were in the womb (and this has also been confirmed for other primates). Many mothers will tell you that different children behaved differently before birth.

On the other hand we have the inability of the premature medicine to prevent mental disability for babies born earlier than the 24 to 25 week, so that would be a lower limit to fully realized personhood: in essence the end of the second trimester, week 26 or 27, where we have good success rates for premature births.

Do I think there are other justifications for abortion? Yes, certainly to save the life of the mother (right up to the moment of birth). And also where the condition of the fetus indicates a severe enough medical problem that it becomes an ethical question for the family on whether or not they want to continue life support. Families normally do not choose to "pull the plug" on comatose patients that are otherwise healthy and mentally complete and possibly able to gain full life functioning at a later time, whether old or young.

Where late term abortions are considered, I think it would be more appropriate to do a "premature C-section" than any extraction methods. This would resolve any medical issues and leave the viability of the {fetus/child} up to the abilities of medical practice and the wishes of the "appropriate surrogates" on the extent of "heroic measures" necessary. The right of families to withhold extreme medical techniques and allow a natural death have been established and accommodate the beliefs of many people in the process, religious and secular.

This would have to apply for any fetus where prenatal medicine can assure a healthy and fully functioning child under normal circumstances, and as we see from current practice this is reached somewhere after the 26th week: certainly this would apply to all "third trimester" abortions.

Using the logic of the requirements for legal death to define the requirements for legal life first, and then on the judgment of the "appropriate surrogates" and their valuation of "personhood" to make decisions on the need to maintain life support systems when they feel it is appropriate, builds a framework in which the issue of abortion can be discussed on a rational medical basis while still allowing us, as a culture, to confront "the problem of value pluralism" -- to adequately allow for the full diversity of beliefs that exist. (it's a values thing eh?)


Implications for Stem Cell Research

The implications for stem cell research derive from the legal definition of death and the issue of personhood as well, and the choices made by the family in regards to sustaining life support systems.

Again, looking to legal death for guidance, we see that families have a choice when they decide to terminate life support of a relative on whether to donate organs for other people or to donate the body to research.

Following this model there should be no question that allowing the use of cellular material from an embryo or a fetus is a question that should be left to the family to decide.

This holds whether the embryo or fetus is from an abortion, the medical death of a early C-section fetus or an embryo made during fertility procedures but not used. There is no ethical question on the use of adult stem cells for research, and with the ethical question of legal life being resolved, there can be no ethical question on the use of fetal stem cell research: in both cases the materials are donated to research by the "appropriate surrogates" -- the families involved.

Enjoy



(Note: this is an essay and as such represents the opinions of the author.)

{{edited to fix links}}
{{edited to link picture to website for refreshing if needed}}
{{edited to make the parallel but logically inverse construction of the legal definition of life to the legal definition of death more obvious, the words are not changed.}}
{{edited to add text in pink to further clarify the position being argued.}}
{{edited to change pink text to silver to make it easier to read.}}

This message has been edited by RAZD, 01-30-2005 10:41 AM

This message has been edited by RAZD, 08*25*2005 08:46 PM


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand

RebelAAmerican.Zen[Deist
{{{Buddha walks off laughing with joy}}}


Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by Quetzal, posted 01-29-2005 12:45 PM RAZD has replied
 Message 6 by riVeRraT, posted 01-29-2005 9:41 PM RAZD has replied
 Message 55 by Jazzns, posted 02-01-2005 7:48 PM RAZD has replied
 Message 63 by Dr Jack, posted 02-02-2005 6:47 AM RAZD has replied
 Message 202 by Trump won, posted 02-15-2005 11:51 PM RAZD has replied
 Message 313 by RAZD, posted 08-30-2005 10:52 PM RAZD has not replied

AdminNosy
Administrator
Posts: 4754
From: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Joined: 11-11-2003


Message 2 of 316 (181653)
01-29-2005 11:25 AM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

Could you fix the link. None of it worked for me (in Firefox).

This message has been edited by AdminNosy, 01-29-2005 11:25 AM


Replies to this message:
 Message 5 by RAZD, posted 01-29-2005 1:36 PM AdminNosy has not replied

Quetzal
Member (Idle past 5191 days)
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01-09-2002


Message 3 of 316 (181659)
01-29-2005 12:45 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by RAZD
01-29-2005 9:52 AM


Very nice essay Razd. Well and logically presented. My only quibble would be with the legal definition of "life". I tend toward the point where "human" can be defined, if you limit it to "the point when the neocortex is functional and fully formed". After all, if anything, higher cognition is what separates us from the other primates. This occurs roughly at the end of the second and beginning of the third trimester. Which also happens to be roughly the point where a fetus can reasonably be expected to survive outside the womb with some assistance, as you noted.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by RAZD, posted 01-29-2005 9:52 AM RAZD has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by RAZD, posted 01-29-2005 1:20 PM Quetzal has not replied

RAZD
Member (Idle past 724 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 4 of 316 (181665)
01-29-2005 1:20 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Quetzal
01-29-2005 12:45 PM


That would be where the "personhood" part comes in to play to allow for the variety of values and beliefs.

thanks.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by Quetzal, posted 01-29-2005 12:45 PM Quetzal has not replied

RAZD
Member (Idle past 724 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 5 of 316 (181669)
01-29-2005 1:36 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by AdminNosy
01-29-2005 11:25 AM


may be a bug?
done. the only ones I had trouble with were the picture (.jpegg?)

and the link to the source site for the picture, where I had written html code for the site and used an abbreviated version as the text of the link -- browser kept trying the abbreviated version rather than the "hidden" link. this may be a bug in the system.

the link to netscape you sometimes need to refresh to make it work. the problem is at their end.

I use firefox now too, so that is not the problem.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by AdminNosy, posted 01-29-2005 11:25 AM AdminNosy has not replied

riVeRraT
Member (Idle past 249 days)
Posts: 5755
From: NY USA
Joined: 05-09-2004


Message 6 of 316 (181728)
01-29-2005 9:41 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by RAZD
01-29-2005 9:52 AM


OMG
Well, I'm going to put down my Christianity for a reply here, God forgive me.

I am going to address each of these outrageous claims one by one, to uncover the "truth" in your bunch of lies.

If I wasn't against abortion before, I sure as hell am now, after reading the biggest bunch of BS I ever heard in my life.

If I wasn't a Christian, I would seriously consider being one now, after reading that crap.

First off, let start by saying, (hold your breath everyone) I speak from experience on abortion. Until you have either have one, or endorsed the abortion of your own child, I think you really just don't know what the heck your talking about.

That's right ladies and gentlemen, riverrat had a child aborted. I was engaged to someone, and it didn't work out, so I thought at the time that it would be a wise thing to do, instead of bringing a baby into life that wouldn't have a mother and father together. I was a victim of a lie, and it hurts me so freaking much, that I am crying right now as I write this. Wtf was I thinking? This was way before I was a Christian. I feel like I murdered my own child, and the pain is still with me 12 years later. I told everyone here way back, that I would not tell any lies in this forum, and I have opened my life up to all you. If abortion was illegal, that child would be alive today, and I wouldn't have made such a mistake.

Even the person "Roe" is now against abortion.
http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/1998/roe.wade/

She has come to know the full realization of abortion.

I believe in pro-choice. The choice is don't have intercourse, unless you are ready to raise a child. I am the biggest offender of this, as you can see. I am not going to blame soceity, but that's how I was raised. Porno was ok, sex before marraige was great (after all, who am I hurting?). These things and many others are the hardest to break free from now that I am a Christian. But they hold you like a prisoner.

Now that you understand where I am coming from, I will proceed to disect your essay.


In one sense, once you start arguing about "when does life begin" you need to take the argument to it's logical conclusion -- the very first single living cell, some 3.5 billion years ago or so. There has been a continuing transfer of living material from that point in time to every living thing in existence today. THAT is when {life} began.

That has nothing to do with abortion, and very little to do with your own personal life. It wasn't the decsion that started life on this planet that made you be born, it was the decsion, and responsibility of your parents to start your life.

If you think that it was the resposibility of the thing that started life on this planet to justify abortion, then it is the responsibility of such force, or chance to decide if you live or die, not yours.


In another sense, the material that makes up every living thing is in a constant state of being replaced. People have an entirely new skin every 2 months or so. Other parts take longer to be replaced, but every part that forms a living adult human being today was not a part of that {being} when they were a child. The molecular and cellular material that makes up a living {being} today was not what made a living {being} in the measurable past. If all life is in a constant state of flux then how can one say where it "begins" (or ends)?

With that kind of illogical reasoning, then you could go on to say that murder is perfectly legal then, because none of us are really living. To base the abortion on this reason does not give it any foundation whatsoever. So you can drop that theory.


Thus to state that life "begins" when an egg is fertilized or at some other point in the cycles of cell division and growth is just as arbitrary as saying it is when a child is born, or even, say, reaches the age of ten.

So then you want it to be legal to kill ten year olds?
What a bunch of crap.


It used to be a fairly common practice to leave babies unnamed until they had survived for a year, as high infant mortality was so common

What's in a name?


Infanticide was also a common way to deal with unwanted children in the past. In some places this is still so, but medical improvements have made this uncommon in the more developed cultures.

Does that make it right? Should we adopt all of the laws of those people as well? I'm sure you don't want that. Let's take some steps back, why don't we.

Heck, lets just beat our wives and drag them into the cave by their hair and give them a good pounding.


What is important to consider is when does a life start or stop being a person? What is the quality that we as humans consider important for determining when and if a person exists, when it starts or ceases to exist?

This is your next mistake, as starting and stopping are 2 completely different things, I will elborate further.


If a fetus does not meet the criteria to pass this "uniform life" test then it legally could be declared non-living (medically dead), and abortion would no longer be an issue. In my opinion this sets a latest possible limit on the question of abortion to the point where legal life cannot be ruled out, and anything after that cannot be justified from a legal or moral standpoint.

This is so dam twisted, it is scary, and I think you need help.

Look at the comparison you make. You are comparing a person on life support to a fetus. You are only taking one little portion of the overall picture to make a stupid justification.

Let's look at the whole picture together, shall we?

First off, a person on life support. This person has already had the chance to live. He wound up on life support, not by his parents doing, but by life in general. He had the right to life, now by forces beyond is control, life was taken away from him. He is dead. The fact that he was put on life support has nothing to do with the fact that he is dead.

Second misconception:
If we leave him on the life support, will he ever continue to grow into a normal person with a full life? No, he will just lay there and be dead, but breathing. A fetus if you leave on "life support" will however have a good chance at living out a life, that may or may not be hard, but it has a chance.

So by those 2 thoughts alone, the uniform death act as a means of justification for abortion, has just been thrown out the window. You lost your second leg.


There are fundamental differences between a fetus and a baby,

That does not determine if it is life or not.
There are fundamental difference between a baby and an old man on oxygen. Is it ok to kill them too? More murder.


There are also limits to how early a fetus can be removed from the womb and be kept alive by medical technology. This limit lowers steadily as technology and knowledge improve, but there appears to be a limit at which the result is less than desirable to many people.

The key word in that statement is "removed". You are now trying to justify abortion with abortion, what a freaking joke. Wake up dude.


There are also limits to how early a fetus can be removed from the womb and be kept alive by medical technology. This limit lowers steadily as technology and knowledge improve, but there appears to be a limit at which the result is less than desirable to many people.

Thanks for the lesson on the natural course of life.


This last paragraph is the key to my thinking. Until the fetus has achieved the status of "personhood" discussed above, the "appropriate surrogate" -- in this case the family -- can decide to terminate life support, and if the patient naturally expires due to failure of the {circulator and respiratory functions} to maintain life on their own, then the legal issue is settled.

So tell me, just when is an umbilical or the developement of a fetus equal to:

quote:

life-supports that are unwanted or are considered unhelpful -- including life-supports for permanently unconscious patients

Umbilical cords are now unwanted, and unhelpful in sustaining life
Plus fetus are permenently unconscious. Let's take a pole and see what people think.

Since that " last paragraph is the key to my thinking" and I just blew it out of the water, I can see no option but for you to change your stance on abortion.

You and anybody else that agrees with you. You all must change now.

However:


Do I think there are other justifications for abortion? Yes, certainly to save the life of the mother (right up to the moment of birth). And also where the condition of the fetus indicates a severe enough medical problem that it becomes an ethical question for the family on whether or not they want to continue life support. Families normally do not choose to "pull the plug" on comatose patients that are otherwise healthy and mentally complete and possibly able to gain full life functioning at a later time, whether old or young.

I agree with that completely. But let me say that I know many people that were told that there child was not going to be any good, and they refused to accept that, and now have perfectly normal children.

My step-son is a testimony to that. He was born pre-mature, was on life support, and the plug was going to be pulled. My wife prayed to God and asked him, if this is your will to keep this baby alive, then let me know. The next day a Doctor by the name of Larry, took over the care of my step son, and brought him through it. Yes, he is slightly handicapped, with hearing, seeing, learning, and breathing problems, but he his the best kid I know of the face of this planet. His heart is so pure, and true. He has managed to go to college, and he drives himself around, and even baby sits my younger ones. He is 100% self sustainable. He makes better decsions that people with "brains". I'm sure if you aslked him his thoughts on abortion, he would be against it. I am honored to know such a guy as my step son Larry. Yes he was named after the doctor.

Stem cell research:
I have no problem with that, but since I am against abortion, I would have a problem with babies being aborted just to do research. If that was ok, then can we kill you to have a kidney, I might know someone who needs one?

I have to go back to this one, lol


UNIFORM DETERMINATION OF DEATH ACT
§1. [Determination of Death.] An individual who has sustained either (1) irreversible cessation of circulator and respiratory functions, or (2) irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem, are dead. A determination of death must be made in accordance with accepted medical standards.

Then you say:
"The first legal standard of death is very clear -- from "
Apparently not for you.

I guess you missed the word irreversible.

What amazes me is why I even have to explain this stuff. I can't believe there are people in the world who would rationalize this, and the other hand I am not suprised.

This is the worst thing I have ever seen written.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by RAZD, posted 01-29-2005 9:52 AM RAZD has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by crashfrog, posted 01-29-2005 10:03 PM riVeRraT has replied
 Message 10 by RAZD, posted 01-30-2005 12:56 AM riVeRraT has replied

crashfrog
Member (Idle past 786 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 7 of 316 (181731)
01-29-2005 10:03 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by riVeRraT
01-29-2005 9:41 PM


The choice is don't have intercourse, unless you are ready to raise a child.

I'm glad that you live in Happy Fantasyland where choosing not to have intercourse means that you will never, ever have intercourse.

Those of is in reality, however, have to make policy based on the fact that plenty of people have intercourse without particularly wanting to.

I can't believe there are people in the world who would rationalize this, and the other hand I am not suprised.

I can't believe that there are people in the world for whom the abortion issue is as simple as you portray it. An honest person would look at the issue and say "well, on one hand, we're killing humans. On the other hand, we'd be forcing women to be pregnant and give birth against their will, and pregnancy is still the leading cause of death for women under 20 around the world."

When we kill a fetus, the fetus doesn't notice. It doesn't have a mind. It's like destroying an animal. Contrast that to the loss of life experienced by the woman who dies in childbirth, or whose life plans are irrevocably lost due to the responsibiliy of an unwanted child.

I'm sure I sound callous and heartless to you, as you do to me. But I'm being honest with you, as you were with us, because I respect you and your position, and I understand it, and I'd like you to come to the same understanding about mine. I realize that I'm setting the freedom and choice of one human being over the life of another. And maybe that doesn't make sense to you. But what the fetus is losing, it doesn't even notice. How can it therefore be worth anything? It's certainly not worth what the adult woman loses.

This isn't a simple choice for people like me, and no, we don't feel totally fine about it. But we've come to the decision we think is best. You're free to disagree. But lets not pretend like this is a simple issue for anyone involved.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by riVeRraT, posted 01-29-2005 9:41 PM riVeRraT has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by SoulSlay, posted 01-29-2005 10:53 PM crashfrog has replied
 Message 15 by riVeRraT, posted 01-30-2005 7:12 AM crashfrog has replied

SoulSlay
Member (Idle past 4930 days)
Posts: 44
From: billy's puddle, BC
Joined: 10-26-2004


Message 8 of 316 (181735)
01-29-2005 10:53 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by crashfrog
01-29-2005 10:03 PM


I'm glad that you live in Happy Fantasyland where choosing not to have intercourse means that you will never, ever have intercourse.

Those of is in reality, however, have to make policy based on the fact that plenty of people have intercourse without particularly wanting to.

What, are you talking about rape? I don't think that is quite common enough to say "plenty" of people have intercourse without wanting to.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by crashfrog, posted 01-29-2005 10:03 PM crashfrog has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by lfen, posted 01-29-2005 11:20 PM SoulSlay has not replied
 Message 12 by RAZD, posted 01-30-2005 1:06 AM SoulSlay has not replied
 Message 13 by crashfrog, posted 01-30-2005 1:12 AM SoulSlay has not replied

lfen
Member (Idle past 3997 days)
Posts: 2189
From: Oregon
Joined: 06-24-2004


Message 9 of 316 (181738)
01-29-2005 11:20 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by SoulSlay
01-29-2005 10:53 PM


I don't think that is quite common enough to say "plenty" of people have intercourse without wanting to.

The statistics for rape are most likely way under reported. And remember most rape is not stranger rape under threat of violence but the rapist is known to the woman, so called date rape though it need not be on a date. The projected figures for rape are probably subjected to polictical manipulations and might be over estimated, I'm not sure how to tell.

Perhaps you and Crash could give a range of percentages that you think reflect what the rape statistics might be?

Do you factor in incestuous abuse? Women who are a bit drunk and high and cajoled into sex? I would like to hear what percentage you think it would need for rape to be considered "common enough" to include "plenty" of people. Your comment comes off sounding sexist and insensitive as well as uninformed.

lfen

This message has been edited by lfen, 01-29-2005 23:21 AM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by SoulSlay, posted 01-29-2005 10:53 PM SoulSlay has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 11 by RAZD, posted 01-30-2005 1:05 AM lfen has not replied

RAZD
Member (Idle past 724 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 10 of 316 (181752)
01-30-2005 12:56 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by riVeRraT
01-29-2005 9:41 PM


so where are the holes?
That was a nice rant, riVeRraT, and full of emotion, but also full of strawman arguments that show them up for what they are: your opinion.

I thought you were going to shoot my essay down, but not one fact was refuted - as we shall see.

The choice is don't have intercourse

Everything before this statement is totally irrelevant to the issue. This assumes that abortion is abhorrent to all, it isn't, therefore this is not an issue for those people. People who engage in intercourse while not intending to have children outnumber those that do, based on the sales figures for condoms alone. Are these people intending to have an abortion? Don't be ridiculous. You are conflating several different things together.

We all know that birth controls do not always work, so the issue is what is the next level of protection. There is no moral difference between a morning after and a morning before pill in result. This is a perfectly legitimate choice to be available to all people who regularly use birth control.

That you would not take it does not mean that no one else should be able to. That you would choose abstinence does not mean that anyone else should be forced to.

That has nothing to do with abortion, and very little to do with your own personal life. It wasn't the decsion that started life on this planet that made you be born, it was the decsion, and responsibility of your parents to start your life.

It has everything to do with the argument about the "beginning of life", because it exposes it for the strawman that it is. Life does not begin with conception anymore than it began 3.5 million years ago. Likewise your argument assumes that all sex is a decision to start a life: it just ain't so, no matter how you spin it. Morning after choice is no different than night before. You lose more cells lying in bed than are disposed in either method, each one of them just as much "life" as those cells inside.

I am here because my parents decided to raise a child, not because they decided to have sex (which, btw, they still do). Most people (happily) make that distinction, and they have the legal right to make that decision. You have no right to impose a narrow restrictive, regressive, ultimately immoral standard on others, no matter how you coat it, sorry.

With that kind of illogical reasoning, then you could go on to say that murder is perfectly legal then,

Another strawman, as that is not claimed at all, anywhere here. In fact the section on personhood argues against it. All this is showing is that a cell is not a human life, nor are any groups of undifferentiated cells human. They are no different than the thousands of cells sloughed of normally in the course of the day by every single person in that regard. The differences between that and murder are orders of magnitude of scale. Do you commit murder when you shampoo? Don't be ridiculous. Address the issue not the strawman.

So then you want it to be legal to kill ten year olds?
What a bunch of crap.

Another strawman, as that is not claimed at all, anywhere here. What is argued is that the "beginning of life" standard of fundamental christians is as arbitrary as drawing a line at ten years old. That is the fundamental problem with an arbitrary standard -- one arbitrary line is as good as another. What we need is a standard that is not arbitrary. I do not see you providing one or addressing that issue. This essay does.

Heck, lets just beat our wives and drag them into the cave by their hair and give them a good pounding.

Another strawman, as that is not claimed at all, anywhere here. Again, how does this apply to the argument? You are getting lost here: address the issue.

This is your next mistake, as starting and stopping are 2 completely different things, I will elborate further.

Hopefully with a real argument. Your first part is all logical fallacy and opinion without a single piece of evidence or even a statement of a counter position (to be backed by evidence).

Look at the comparison you make. You are comparing a person on life support to a fetus. You are only taking one little portion of the overall picture to make a stupid justification.

So the "life support" could be terminated and the fetus would still grow? Tell me how it is different from life support eh?

First off, a person on life support. This person has already had the chance to live. He wound up on life support, not by his parents doing, but by life in general. He had the right to life, now by forces beyond is control, life was taken away from him. He is dead. The fact that he was put on life support has nothing to do with the fact that he is dead.

Actually a person on life support is not legally dead, or the support would be automatically terminated with no question regardless of the family. The issues on the question of whether or not to continue life support are (1) is it likely for the person to {gain\regain} conscious life and (2) is that life likely to be one of value as a person.

Second misconception:
If we leave him on the life support, will he ever continue to grow into a normal person with a full life? No, he will just lay there and be dead, but breathing. A fetus if you leave on "life support" will however have a good chance at living out a life, that may or may not be hard, but it has a chance.

Looks like the misconception again (what was the first?) is yours. Most people on life support recover and lead normal healthy fully functioning lives, frequently with no effect from their period on life support. It is only in the rare cases where conscious normal life is not regained that the question of termination arises, or where the result will just not be a person such as existed before (because of sever brain damage).

You are conflating the intentional abortion of a normal fetus with all abortions, and that is just not the case. There are often good medical reasons to terminate life support for the very reasons that are used, and the logical justification is the same in both cases, and the ones that need to make that decision is the family -- again in both cases. You have not provided a counter argument to that position: please address the issue.

So by those 2 thoughts alone, the uniform death act as a means of justification for abortion, has just been thrown out the window. You lost your second leg.

Except that you have failed to address the issue of what the uniform death act means OR what it's logical inverse also means.

That does not determine if it is life or not.
There are fundamental difference between a baby and an old man on oxygen. Is it ok to kill them too? More murder.

There are more differences between a fetus and a baby than between a baby and an old man on oxygen. More murder? Lol - only of your strawmen. The issue here is that a fetus is not an "unborn child" with a different heart and blood and other features (the lungs of a fetus or very different from your old man, but the babies isn't). Please address the issue.

The key word in that statement is "removed". You are now trying to justify abortion with abortion, what a freaking joke. Wake up dude.

Wrong again. I have to wonder if you really read the contents before you blow off an irrelevant remark like this. I am talking about premature birth and the limits of medical technology as well as the limits of the biology of premature infants to be able to become fully functioning human beings.

Umbilical cords are now unwanted, and unhelpful in sustaining life

Again you are conflating the abortion of a healthy normal fetus with all abortions, and there are instances when the fetus will not attain a conscious life. In those instances the families should have the right to decide - as surrogates for the fetus - what is kinder, based on their personal beliefs and not have those of other people forced on them at such a time.

Since that " last paragraph is the key to my thinking" and I just blew it out of the water, I can see no option but for you to change your stance on abortion.

No, what you failed to do was to read and comprehend the point being made, for you have not addressed it at all. Please address the issue and not what you think the issue is.

I agree with that completely.

Funny, but that is the logical conclusion of the essay that you have just vented all over with false interpretations, bombast and misrepresentative strawmen arguments. How can you agree with the conclusion if you really disagree with the argument {{"You and anybody else that agrees with you. You all must change now." ... is that an oopsie?}}

Stem cell research:
I have no problem with that

Good.

I would have a problem with babies being aborted just to do research.

And seeing as that is not even suggested, why should that be an issue?

I have to go back to this one, lol
"The first legal standard of death is very clear -- from "
Apparently not for you.
I guess you missed the word irreversible.

I guess you missed the logic of the Legal Definition of Life being the inverse of the (current) legal standard of death. Perhaps if you read for greater detail you would see what is really being said rather than your wild caricature.

Sorry, but I do not see any argument to refute the points made in the essay that are not just opinion and bluster, not one fact to refute the positions laid out to reach the logical conclusion that you (in fact) agree with.

So much for the holes.

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand

RebelAAmerican.Zen[Deist
{{{Buddha walks off laughing with joy}}}


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by riVeRraT, posted 01-29-2005 9:41 PM riVeRraT has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 16 by riVeRraT, posted 01-30-2005 7:32 AM RAZD has replied

RAZD
Member (Idle past 724 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 11 of 316 (181754)
01-30-2005 1:05 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by lfen
01-29-2005 11:20 PM


topic
the topic is the legal definition of life and how it relates to abortion (and stem cell research)

not rape.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by lfen, posted 01-29-2005 11:20 PM lfen has not replied

RAZD
Member (Idle past 724 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 12 of 316 (181755)
01-30-2005 1:06 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by SoulSlay
01-29-2005 10:53 PM


topic
the topic is the legal definition of life and how it relates to abortion (and stem cell research)

not rape.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by SoulSlay, posted 01-29-2005 10:53 PM SoulSlay has not replied

crashfrog
Member (Idle past 786 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 13 of 316 (181758)
01-30-2005 1:12 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by SoulSlay
01-29-2005 10:53 PM


Totally off-topic
What, are you talking about rape?

Yes, but other situations, too.

I don't think that is quite common enough to say "plenty" of people have intercourse without wanting to.

One in three women will be a victim of sexual assault in her lifetime. I'd say that's plenty.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by SoulSlay, posted 01-29-2005 10:53 PM SoulSlay has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 17 by riVeRraT, posted 01-30-2005 7:36 AM crashfrog has replied
 Message 18 by RAZD, posted 01-30-2005 8:11 AM crashfrog has not replied

berberry
Inactive Member


Message 14 of 316 (181759)
01-30-2005 1:21 AM


I've long seen plausible arguments on both sides of the abortion debate. I don't think it's realistic to expect Roe v Wade to be overturned; if that court decision is seen by most people as threatened, I think we'll witness a major movement of many moderate reds over to the blue side.

I think the best solution for all concerned is to work to reduce the number of abortions.

There was a time when repeated abortions would leave a woman sterile, but as I understand it that's no longer true. That may be one reason that abortion has become so common. I think I understand how the rat feels because so many people here in Mississippi feel the same way, but as I see it expecting people to not engage in sex is simply unrealistic.

I think the best solution is to promote the so-called morning-after pill. It works simply by preventing a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterine wall. Since fertilized eggs commonly wash away in any case (in fact, it is the odd egg that manages to attach itself to the wall), taking that pill should present no moral dilemma.

I realize of course that many moralists will still have problems with this and probably want this pill made illegal, but given the facts of how that pill works I don't think their opposition makes any sense. Some people are simply opposed to other people enjoying sex, and that will probably never change.


Keep America Safe AND Free!

Replies to this message:
 Message 19 by RAZD, posted 01-30-2005 8:19 AM berberry has not replied

riVeRraT
Member (Idle past 249 days)
Posts: 5755
From: NY USA
Joined: 05-09-2004


Message 15 of 316 (181790)
01-30-2005 7:12 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by crashfrog
01-29-2005 10:03 PM



Those of is in reality, however, have to make policy based on the fact that plenty of people have intercourse without particularly wanting to.

If you read my reply, you would see that I would support abortion in that case.

You obviously didn't read the whole thing, and jumped down my throat for no reason.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by crashfrog, posted 01-29-2005 10:03 PM crashfrog has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 21 by crashfrog, posted 01-30-2005 11:55 AM riVeRraT has replied
 Message 315 by LinearAq, posted 07-17-2006 9:56 AM riVeRraT has not replied

Newer Topic | Older Topic
Jump to:


Copyright 2001-2018 by EvC Forum, All Rights Reserved

™ Version 4.1
Innovative software from Qwixotic © 2022