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Abortion vs Your Religious Beliefs


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The need for some sort of legal definition of when life begins is necessary when considering abortion, but that's more of a political discussion. I'd like to know if your religious (or simply moral) views allow for abortion at any time after conception. When does life begin according to your beliefs and can that ever be reconciled with the laws that need to exist to allow for abortion?

 

And if your spiritual answer is, "Life begins at conception," then how can we deal with that legally when, under that definition, any miscarriage of a pregnancy might potentially be investigated as a murder?

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In addition to Mooey's post, I would like to point out that this is in no way an argument based on logic, but a huge assumption on your part mixed with a seemingly limited knowledge of how pregnancy w

I'm not sure what you mean by "soul," but if you're talking about a supernatural entity, then what does that have to do with anything? Would not a soul also be a product of what it is "to begin with,"

I don't think anyone would argue that a raped woman should not be allowed to have an abortion. It seems clear to me that the emotional trauma is damaging enough to be worth the loss of the feotus. Of

Because we consider a single cell life as well. Look at single-cellular life forms.

 

Yes, it is living matter at the moment of conception. And the moment before conception, too. Sperm and eggs are living cells, too.

 

To avoid being too much of a pain, I'll just come right out and say that I think that life is simply a continuous process, that an individual life is a manmade distinction whose characteristics gradually emerge, and that any single cutoff point is necessarily going to be arbitrary.

 

Also, this isn't informed by any particular religion, because I don't have one, although some would probably disagree using broader definitions of "religion."

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Actually sperm and eggs are not living things by themselves as they do not meet the 7 criteria for life (homeostasis, organization, growth, adaptation, response and reproduction). Unfertilized eggs and sperm are classified as tissue.

 

A fertilized egg does meet the 7 criteria for life, however, and therefor is a life... not "living matter". DNA testing on a fertilized egg would also confirm that the egg was human. So a fertilized egg is a living human.

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A sperm and egg cell absolutely do meet those criteria. They reproduce by merging into a zygote, then dividing and growing for a decade or so. They, like the zygote, are just two stages in the same process.

 

And DNA testing on one of my skin cells would also show it to be human, so I don't know what that's supposed to mean.

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Hm, the Bible doesn't really say much about abortion. We do have a case of two prostitutes going to the highest court of the land arguing over which of them a child belongs to (story of King Solomon's wisdom); a woman's worth largely depended on how many children she had; children were highly valued in that time and there really isn't much talk of mothers trying to kill their own unborn.

 

Now, as to the question of when "life" starts. According to what we can tell, life started about 3.8 billion years ago, and has continued since then. At no point since then do we get life starting anew from non-life, or if it did there's no evidence for it.

 

Now, as to when "human" life starts. Each egg, sperm, and dead skin or hair cell is human tissue. Lots of human cells die all the time, and we could all care less. Human life started a few million years ago and has continued since then.

 

Each individual human starts at conception, where he gets the DNA and other material that composes him. However, more than one human life may start at conception: identical twins are formed from the same fertilized egg. We consider twins two distinct humans, and also two distinct persons, religious people generally say they have two distinct souls. We can intentionally split an egg cell into twins, so we can create human life and souls according to the claims made by many conservatives.

 

Personhood starts later, at some point during development of a human embryo or fetus. Most definitions of personhood require a functioning brain, so this starts quite a while after conception. However, this is probably going to be an arbitrary cutoff. We consider a human who's brain tissue has died to no longer be a living person. They are still living human but not a person, and so don't have a person's rights. They still have rights like a deceased person.

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A sperm and egg cell absolutely do meet those criteria. They reproduce by merging into a zygote, then dividing and growing for a decade or so. They, like the zygote, are just two stages in the same process.

 

And DNA testing on one of my skin cells would also show it to be human, so I don't know what that's supposed to mean.

 

By your own argument they do not meet the criteria as alone they do not meet the criteria for life. When they merge they meet that criteria, which is my argument.

 

By your argument a lump of carbon is life because one day it may merge with a enough hydrogen, oxygen and other elements to create a life form. The rulesdon't work that way, the entity must stand on it's own or not at all.

 

Furthermore, a skin cell would test as human, but it is tissue, not a life. You can't seperate the two with a fertilized egg, however.

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Personhood starts later, at some point during development of a human embryo or fetus. Most definitions of personhood require a functioning brain, so this starts quite a while after conception. However, this is probably going to be an arbitrary cutoff. We consider a human who's brain tissue has died to no longer be a living person. They are still living human but not a person, and so don't have a person's rights. They still have rights like a deceased person.

 

I'll skip most of your post for now as I think I mostly agree with it, and I may agree with you above but for one simple distinction: an embryo, if you choose to classify their personhood in the same fashion as a brain dead individual, you have to accept the special circumstance that that "brain dead" individual has, based on miscarriage rates, a 75% chance of "full recovery" from their "brain death".

 

In short, the embryo's "brain death" is short term in the majority of situations and therefor can not be readily equated with actual brain death that is irreversible through modern science (if ever).

 

I would guess that a person pronounced brain dead yet who had a 75% chance of full recovery would pose a serious challenge to the legal system if someone wanted to terminate that life during it's temporary ailment.


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The entity I'm referring to is not an egg OR a sperm, but an egg AND a sperm. So yes, it stands alone.

 

Then we agree, a merged egg and sperm are a life and do carry a complete set of human DNA.

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It isn't REcovery, though, because the person has never existed.


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Then we agree, a merged egg and sperm are a life and do carry a complete set of human DNA.

 

If you're being sarcastic, don't. I'm talking about an egg cell and a sperm cell considered together, not a zygote.

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I think these discussions often lack a distinction between life and sentience. We kill non sentient life all the time, from cleaning our house with detergent to brushing our teeth. The question of morality seems to be raised when sentience is involved.

 

That's why anti-abortion people usually show a picture of a dead baby; to expose emotion to a *SENTIENT BABY* now dead. That's a powerful image, but it's moot until the life is sentient.

 

I am not sure I agree that a zygote is life, but even if it is, it's absolutely not sentient, and the problem of morality doesn't apply to it.

 

 

If we're saying that killing life is immoral, then we should stop using antibiotics, detergents, floss, alcohol, and many many more.

 

If we're saying that killing sentient life is immoral, then we should wait until the zygote is developed, grown, the brain forms, and the baby shows signs of sentience before we should be worried about morality issues in aborting the pregnancy.

Abortions after the first trimester are considered more complicated and more rare, and since a fetus does not have sentience before the second trimester (*at least*), then there should be no problem to abort a pregnancy.

 

It's not sentient life yet. I'm not sure it is completely life, but even if it is, it's definitely not sentient.

 

We're just being holier-than-thou with our approach to the *potential* of a child, rather than looking at the situation at the moment and making a decision based on the current status.

 

~moo

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I'll skip most of your post for now as I think I mostly agree with it, and I may agree with you above but for one simple distinction: an embryo, if you choose to classify their personhood in the same fashion as a brain dead individual, you have to accept the special circumstance that that "brain dead" individual has, based on miscarriage rates, a 75% chance of "full recovery" from their "brain death".

 

In short, the embryo's "brain death" is short term in the majority of situations and therefor can not be readily equated with actual brain death that is irreversible through modern science (if ever).

 

I would guess that a person pronounced brain dead yet who had a 75% chance of full recovery would pose a serious challenge to the legal system if someone wanted to terminate that life during it's temporary ailment.


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Then we agree, a merged egg and sperm are a life and do carry a complete set of human DNA.

 

But this is different -- an embryo never was a person. It is not a "brain-dead person", it is a non-person. It has the potential to become a person, sure -- but then so do eggs, sperm, and lumps of bacon. We certainly aren't going to be treating a lump of bacon as a living human person, nor individual eggs or sperm, so why does it matter whether the embryo could potentially become a person? In any case if you accept that life must start at some point after conception, then where do you place the cutoff?

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But an embryo on its own is far more likely to result in a person than an individual egg, sperm, or lump of bacon. Isn't the likelihood relevant?

Yes, you shouldn't just go abort on a whim. There should be education to use contraception and not to get to a situation where abortion is out of "comfort".

 

In other cases, though, the likelihood stands against necessity or need, and it is up to the woman, who carries this "likelihood" to decide if the need or necessity is stronger, bigger and more dire than the likelihood of producing sentient life that might end up suffering (physically or mentally).

 

Aborting a likelihood can be debated, but it can hardly be called immoral. We involve ourselves in statistics and 'bets' and likelyhoods all the time without claiming it's immoral, this isn't much different. It *might* result in a sentient being, and it might not.

 

The consideration against having said fetus develop should be weighed against this likelihood to form the final decision.

 

~moo

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But choosing abortion is altering that probability. If I choose to abort, I am making that chance practically zero, whereas if don't, and I get the best medical treatment available, I'm making that chance very high.

 

To look at it from the flip side, suppose I have choices A and B:

  1. I choose to give someone a medical treatment that has a 90% chance of killing them, but is very cheap.
  2. I choose to give someone a treatment that has a 10% chance of killing them, but is far more expensive.

If I choose A for no reason but my own gain, I'm being immoral, aren't I? In the same way, choosing not to "give life a chance" can be immoral in most situations.

 

Right?

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But choosing abortion is altering that probability. If I choose to abort, I am making that chance practically zero, whereas if don't, and I get the best medical treatment available, I'm making that chance very high.

 

To look at it from the flip side, suppose I have choices A and B:

  1. I choose to give someone a medical treatment that has a 90% chance of killing them, but is very cheap.
  2. I choose to give someone a treatment that has a 10% chance of killing them, but is far more expensive.

If I choose A for no reason but my own gain, I'm being immoral, aren't I? In the same way, choosing not to "give life a chance" can be immoral in most situations.

 

Right?

 

It's still a question of relative morality, isn't it?

 

I step on a bug because I don't value the it's life. I feel the same way about a an embryo. Might equals right.

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But choosing abortion is altering that probability.

So is crossing the street, brushing your teeth, choosing shoes instead of boots, etc. Everything in life changes probabilities, the question is just what stands in opposition.

 

Or, more to the point -- how IMPORTANT is the probable result when you weigh it against the potential alternative.

 

When you choose to wear bright pink shoes to college you stop the probability of getting laid, but the potential alternative is to please your mother. When you choose to do that on the expense of the other, you weighed in your choices, and made a decision.

 

Same goes with abortion. I have a feeling that some of the reasons the discussion about abortion tends to deteriorate to extremes very often is due to some assumption that people who are pro-choice believe that the choice is easy to make, or the choice should be made on a whim. I don't think it is any of those, and as a woman and as someone who has a friend who had to go through it, it's not something she (or anyone, I suspect) would risk doing intentionally. It's NOT a nice experience. By far. Even if you support it.

 

So, we all make decisions in life and every decision is an interference on some sort of statistical probability. The entire point of making a decision is to weigh in the two options and decide which is the better one. Sometimes oyu have two bad ones, and you're forced to decide which one's slightly less bad, but nontheless, life is full of choices.

 

Abortion is one of them.

 

If the fetus is not sentient, then merely by the fact we have no problem killing non sentient life in general we shouldn't have an ethical problem with aborting a pregnancy before the fetus becomes sentient (and, AT LEAST, has a functioning brain).

 

It's therefore a decision to make, and I the discussion should be who should make this decision, or, more to the point, who has a right over their own body and who doesn't.

 

~moo


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p.s your examples are unfair. You are introducing emotional appeals in each of them; there's no doubt that the ETHICAL thing to do in 1 is not to risk killing the patient, specially when the risk is 90%. For this to be anywhere close to relevant in a debate over abortion, you need to first make the point that fetuses are alive and that the fetuses are comparable to a sentient, living person (the patient). Otherwise, it's just appeal to emotion, and it's a false analogy.

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It's still a question of relative morality, isn't it?

 

I step on a bug because I don't value the it's life. I feel the same way about a an embryo. Might equals right.

 

 

Equating that person with a bug may absolve you of personal guilt but would not absolve you of the killing. Might does not equal right beyond inconsequential selfish ideals.

 

Throughout human history the mass culling of human beings has been preceeded by a dehumanizing of the group to be exterminated.

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p.s your examples are unfair. You are introducing emotional appeals in each of them; there's no doubt that the ETHICAL thing to do in 1 is not to risk killing the patient, specially when the risk is 90%. For this to be anywhere close to relevant in a debate over abortion, you need to first make the point that fetuses are alive and that the fetuses are comparable to a sentient, living person (the patient). Otherwise, it's just appeal to emotion, and it's a false analogy.

 

Let's make a different analogy, then.

 

Dr. Frankenstein is creating a human in his lab. By carefully putting together the right parts, starting the right reactions, and stimulating the right nerves, he can create life where there was none before.

 

Late one night, Dr. Frankenstein is working on his human. He's got most of the parts together, and all he has to do now is hook the human's brain up to the lightning rod to start its mind and bring it to life.

 

"Igor! Throw the main switch!"

 

But at that moment, the angry villagers burst through the door, terrified of the prospect of yet another Frankenstein monster. (He said this one would have true morals, but they never believe mad scientists.) Brandishing pitchforks and torches, they roughly shove Dr. Frankenstein aside and hack his almost-alive creation to bits.

 

Is it wrong to destroy Frankenstein's monster? (He was right about the morals, by the way -- it was going to be a productive member of society, not a man-eating monster.)

 

I think this analogy is fair. Sure, the monster's larger than a fetus, but it shares some attributes: it's not yet independent of external systems (Frankenstein's machinery or the host mother), it will very likely soon be "alive" and independent, and its creation was a choice.

 

(Dr. Frankenstein often wonders how the unskilled masses manage to do what takes him, a genius, months of careful work. With the help of a skilled Igor, at that.)

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Let's make a different analogy, then.

 

Dr. Frankenstein is creating a human in his lab. By carefully putting together the right parts, starting the right reactions, and stimulating the right nerves, he can create life where there was none before.

It's not sentient until it proves to be. While the pieces are not demonstrating sentience -- even if the creature is all "assembled", it's not yet life, it has no difference from just a collection of spare parts.

 

Late one night, Dr. Frankenstein is working on his human.

BTW, that by itself is leading. You're saying 'working on his human', which is assuming that the creature *IS* human. Alive, sentient and human. That is a false assumption that requires quite a lot of evidence before it can be taken into consideration.

 

By saying he is working on his 'human', you're already leading us to have an emotional connection with this creation, and hence leading towards a conclusion.

 

Dr. Frankenstein is working on a "creature" at best and an assembly of spare biological parts at least.

 

He's got most of the parts together, and all he has to do now is hook the human's brain up to the lightning rod to start its mind and bring it to life.

It's not yet human. It's not yet sentient. It's not yet nothing other than a biological pack of parts screwed-in together.

 

"Igor! Throw the main switch!"

 

But at that moment, the angry villagers burst through the door, terrified of the prospect of yet another Frankenstein monster. (He said this one would have true morals, but they never believe mad scientists.) Brandishing pitchforks and torches, they roughly shove Dr. Frankenstein aside and hack his almost-alive creation to bits.

NO.

 

You are again stating an assumption, Cap'n. What's "almost alive"? You cannot state anything about this "creature" other than the fact it is an assembly of biological parts that physically resembles a (disturbing) human being. It is not alive. It is not sentient. It is not "almost" alive. What's almost alive?

 

It has the potential, perhaps, to be alive if more parameters will be introduced, maybe. But it's not there yet.

 

An early-stages fetus is a collection of cells. Some, actually, are indistinguishable from a cyst; in fact, there are 'mock' pregnancies involving cysts. Is it "almost alive" ? What's almost alive? It's either alive or it's not. It has the potential to, at some point in the future, if certain properties are added, to become what we define as life, and to become what we define as sentient. It's not there yet.

 

When it is advanced enough to be there, we don't consider the option of abortion. Late-term abortions are extremely rare and need a very special medical reason. This is both for the sake of the pregnant woman's health *and* for the sake of assuming the fetus already has a somewhat functioning brain (though not completely) and might be considered a sentient being.

 

"Almost-alive" might come right there, if it has meaning at all.

 

~moo

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But an embryo on its own is far more likely to result in a person than an individual egg, sperm, or lump of bacon. Isn't the likelihood relevant?

 

This may be true, but these probabilities are meaningless. Do we not tell our young girls to avoid having sex, or to at least use birth control when they do? We are requesting that they not create a new, living, human life. This is no different than abortion -- it preventing the potential of a new human life.

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This may be true, but these probabilities are meaningless. Do we not tell our young girls to avoid having sex, or to at least use birth control when they do? We are requesting that they not create a new, living, human life. This is no different than abortion -- it preventing the potential of a new human life.

 

Yes, but an embryo's probability of becoming a human is high, whereas a young girl's probability of becoming pregnant is significantly less. The chance of forming a human becomes much higher once you already have an embryo involved.

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