Redux: Rape, Abortion, and "Personhood"

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by Tiassa, Nov 1, 2012.


Do I support the proposition? (see post #2)

Poll closed Nov 11, 2013.
  1. Anti-abortion: Yes

  2. Anti-abortion: No

  3. Pro-choice: Yes

  4. Pro-choice: No

  5. Other (Please explain below)

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  1. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    It's not really an effective warning when you won't offer any clue on who or even what is the intransigence .... much less on the nature of it being deliberate or not.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2014
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  3. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    This then becomes an argument arising from eugenics ... which draws it's own level of ethical criticism.
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  5. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    No it doesn't, you're obfuscating the issue, which is understandable. Putting eugenics on the table is a strawman, do stay on topic.

    It's about the ethics of forcing someone who, according to you should be afforded full personhood into this position.

    If someone forced you into the position of playing russian roulette with a 6-shooter holding three rounds, would you?

    If I said to you: Pick a number between 1 and 10, if you get it wrong I'll inject random parts of your body with hydrochloric acid, would you play?

    Extending the right to die to children is like wise not a matter of eugenics. In fact Belgium is debating that as we speak.

    The point being made here is not one of Eugenics, but rather one of inevitability.

    In pushing the "viability" argument, you are forcing someone who is unable to make the choice for themselves into a situation where if they survive, which is even odds, the likelyhood of a normal life is low, and the most likely outcome is some degree of life altering disability.

    The only thing I'm doing here is pointing out the consequences of your decision and questioning the alleged ethical supeeiority of your position.
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  7. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Perhaps this kind of reasoning shold also be applied to solving the world's hunger and unemployment problems?

    You know, no man, no problem, and all that.
  8. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    Sooo if Tiassa wants a hold, why are people replying, then again if tiassa wants a hold he could have closed the thread.

    I'm sorry but this issue is one of gradients, you can't lump me in with the pro-lifers simply because in that one kind of case I side with a the fetus, might as well call me a terrorist as well. Should I call you an advocate of child murder because there is no situation what so ever in which the child's life would come before the rights of the women, by your ethics?

    In that one case once the fetus becomes viable its rights start to be considered and need to be weighed against the rights of the mother, usually the mother wins out, but via my ethics a terminally ill women does not have the right to take her viable fetus to the grave with her. What would be inconsistent is me coming out with an outcome that does not work via my own ethical framework.

    No absolutely not every time! I stated so repeatedly already, repeatedly stated several metrics via which the mother's rights would outweigh the fetus: being sentient, being a part of society, etc. Rarely would the mothers rights be outweighed by the fetus, only in a case where somehow it is either kill a viable fetus (such that somehow aborting will do less harm to the mother then extracting it alive) or the mother AND the mothers life span and quality of life is already so compromised that she won't survive a full pregnancy anyways. Oh and and cases of a mother being a brain dead beating heart cadaver would warrant siding with the viable fetus via my ethics.

    Was the fetus viable, No, then she should have been allowed an abortion via my ethics. Even if the fetus was viable by my ethics the outcome would have been immediate extraction of the fetus alive, followed by chemo, a delay of treatment of a hours at most.

    Again here are the parameters of the scenario in which I side with the fetus:
    1. the fetus needs to be viable, that means 24 weeks or latter, not 13.
    2. the women needs to be dying such that she will be dead before a full term pregnancy.
    3. extracting the fetus alive (c-section, induce labor) will be more harmful to the mother then extraction it dead (abortion).

    It must have all 3 of those.

    No, it's not, that event violates my ethics as the fetus was not viable.

    I believe a women should have a choice about what goes on inside her body as well, all I'm saying is that if a women wants a viable fetus removed (aborted), it is just going to be removed alive, placed in an incubator and given up for adoption (because the mother does not want it). So I'm not forcing women to carry pregnancies to term that they don't want. There is no difference in that from a pro-choice stance: women still have a choice to have it extracted, it just after 24 weeks it should be extracted alive, not intentionally killed, it should be put in an incubator to fight for its own life free of burden to the mother, against her will.

    Exceptions where the mother still retains the right to have it kill intentionally, and not just have it extracted, can be given to cases where the fetus is so deformed or diseased as such that it can't survive outside the womb yet, or will likely not survive long outside the womb even if birthed after a full term all this I would qualify as still making the fetus inviable and thus abortion is still a righteous option. Making an exact cut off leads us into eugenics, assuming that we don't count all the abortions on demand before viability of defective fetus, in that case we simply don't ask why the women wanted it aborted so we can pretend eugenics is not happening, which ever it is, it is better for society.

    Or when the mother's health would be hindered such that the risk to her life and quality of life of a c-section/induced labor would be greater then then a late term abortion and greater then the quality of life of the fetus, which is limited at that point. Since the fetus has no consciousness, no social value, what value it can provide is purely hypothetical, besides the statistical value of greater then 50% chance that it can survive outside the womb (point of viability). It would require that the mothers life and quality of life would need to be phenomenally degraded for the fetus's rights to override hers.

    As such I judge that if a terminally ill women would be more likely to die from a c-section then an abortion, and her viable fetus has a good chance at surviving and living a normal life span and she on the other hand is very unlikely to live beyond a full pregnancy, then the c-section is the best option. Aside for that and cases of brain-dead beating heart cadavers, I see no other situations in which the mothers rights are overridden by the fetus.

    I'm sorry but most laws are made usually be people that never experience what the laws are made for. Roe vs Wade was decided entirely by men for example. You might find that ironic (although I don't know how it fits the definition of “irony”) but I abide by their decision and that means viability is a point at which abortions can be regulated and requiring special circumstance, I advocate in its place c-sections/labor on demand passed the point of viability.

    I also think it particularly sexist to state that laws that affect one gender more then another need be only made by members of that gender. We live in society together and I would only find that acceptable if we live in two completely segregated societies. Until then we ALL have a right to say, criticize or state opinion on any law or social policy, regardless if it could never directly affect us.

    What are the parameters of the original hypothetical I'm missing?

    no, not really.

    Good I'm glad we can agree on something... sort of.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
  9. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Again with the strawman arguments. Do you have antything honest to say or are you happy trolling and being treated as a troll?
  10. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    What your missing is the choice is between risking your life (via russian rollette or HCl injections) or guaranteed death. I think most people would choose the former. Look if the mother does not want a viable fetus, we can either kill it and remove it, or remove it alive and let it take its chances in the incubator. So either we grant someone else the special right to choose to kill you outright or have you risk a 50:50 chance of life and of that a good chance of life time infirmity; or we choose by law the option that more likely for you to survive.

    I'm very pleased your willing to do that, ethical frameworks must be constructed, tested and retested not simply created perfect out of nothing but a single premise. So please do hammer away.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2014
  11. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    No, actually I'm not.

    I'm not so sure. If a terminal illness could only be cured by a procedure that had a 22% chance of leaving you highly dependent on caregivers and with an IQ more than 3SD below the mean if you survived, a 50% chamce of you not surviving, and only a 10% chance of surviving and having a 'normal' quality of life. Would that procedure even make it past clinical trials?

    is that not part of the point of the right to die debate? The right to end ones own suffering instead of living with debilitating illness?

    I don't necessarily disagree with this stance, the biggest problem here is that we then get whining self professed libertarians like Light Gigantic kvetching about communism and personal responsibility when the government put taxes up to fund the expansion of the specialized NICU wards required, and the staff to tend them, as well as the investment required in adoption services.

    I've very pleased your willing to do that, ethical frameworks must be constructed, tested and retested not simply created perfect out of nothing but a single premise. So please do hammer away.[/QUOTE]
  12. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    how is an argument that introduces birth defects not an argument about eugenics?

    This statement of yours :

    At what point do the lifetime of disabilities imposed or potentially imposed do more damage than ending the fetus?

    is not about dying as a consequence of birth defects ... its about living (since "lifetime" is kind of the operative word in the phrase) with the consequences of them and weighing them against the option of things being better off if they didn't exist ... which is, of course, the eugenical argument.

    Naturally, people with such defects find this argument highly offensive.
  13. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    But is that not the case of abortion verses extraction? Is it not either kill it or have it fight for life in the incubator?

    I'm not sure that is equivalent to abortion verse extraction. First off I can find studies with effects that are not as bad as your wiki citation, for example this article states an average IQ of only 8.4 points less then average with similiar grades and school completion rates to normal people. Mind you all premature date counts as a women could request an abortion at any stage of pregnancy. Now sure it is going to be hard to find a doctor willing to do an abortion for a 35 week fetus, but instead of letting a doctor strip a women of her rights, let her have an early delivery or c-section instead, should we let her abort a 35 week fetus because it only 5 weeks shy of a full term?, of course not, but removing it via C-section or induce labor is just the same to her and much better for hte fetus. I'm just moving that logic down to a set 24 weeks, or 50% chance of survival, without implying that disable people should be killed before they are born. Where else could we make the cut off then? at what chance of disability would you make the cut off?

    Second off this is not a treatment for a disease this is an alternative to being aborted.

    Ah but how do you ask a fetus if it wants to live that life or agree to be aborted instead? If we are going with negative utilitarianism, that is trying to reduce suffering is our goal, then yes we should not try to save viable fetuses up for abortion, we should also not save premature babies either, we should also considering kill hoobos in their sleep, euthanize incurably insane people, and in fact why not just kill any crippled person or any person with an arbitary high probability of being crippled as humanily as possible, without their consent or knowledge that we going to kill them? Hence the problem with deciding as a matter of law that it is ok to kill a fetus simply because it is or is likely to be crippled: we open the doors to eugenics and "saving" people from a level of suffering that we arbitarily choose for them as too high to live with.

    I'm find with that. Remember that late term abortions at 24 weeks and beyond are extremely small: According to a dead-linked study on wikipedia it is only 0.08% of all abortions in 1997 or approximately 1,032 per year in the USA that just a drop in the bucket of the nearly 500,000 permature births in the USA per year.
  14. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    You know, I was intending to answer to the OP presumption of personhood at conception, PAC (less unwieldy that LACP, as there is no question of "life" at conception, only rights), but I now think this whole thread is moribund (or should be). I may start a heavily moderated thread (i.e. no tolerance for ad homs) in Religion to do so, but this one has become just sad.
  15. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Because I'm not discussing birth defects. I am discussing post partem defects imposed as a consequence of someone else choice. The defects that arise as a consequence of anothers decision to remove the fetus from the womb before it is fully developed.

    Is still not a eugenics argument. But thankyou for trying to troll more.
  16. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Why do you think it is necessary to draw a hard-and-fast line about when a fetus is a person?

    I would say that personhood exists on a sliding scale, and not just for fetuses but also for people with brain problems and for non-human animals. It seems to me that the extent to which one being's rights as a person should take precedence over other rights or interests of other beings depends on what kinds of rights you're talking about in each case, and whether they are basic rights or derived rights.

    Note, also, that the right-to-life argument goes like this:

    1. It is wrong to kill a person.
    2. An unborn fetus is a person.
    3. Therefore, it is wrong to kill an unborn fetus.

    Discussions of the issue almost invariable focus on point 2. However, it could be argued that, in some circumstances, point 1 is wrong. It may well be that it is not always wrong to kill a person, especially where other significant moral interests are at stake.


    Here is your position, as expressed by you at one point earlier:

    What do you define as "viability". Is it the point at which an unborn child could survive independently of the mother, perhaps with additional life-support technology? How early could that be? And does it mean that as technology improves the age of "viability" will also be pushed back to prevent abortions at an earlier and earlier stage of pregnancy?

    Also, what kinds of "specific medical reasons" are you talking about? Does saving the life of the mother count as a valid reason all or only some of the time?

    Is it worth considering, do you think, the likely quality of life of the unborn child in deciding whether to allow an abortion or not?


    Are you saying that abortion should be officially allowed in order to prevent back-yard abortions?

    What's your view on the issues of personhood? When does a fetus become a person, according to you? From the moment of conception?

    Provisional upon what? Who ought to decide on a case-by-case basis as to whether an abortion should be permitted? Doctors? A government panel? An ethics board of some kind? (Made up of who?) What say, if any, should the mother have in the decision?

    Isn't that how it works already?
  17. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Things that concern me about this discussion

    I have read over the last few pages of back-and-forth between ElectricFetus, lightgigantic, Bells and Tiassa.

    I am a bit disappointed that neither "side" seems willing (or perhaps able) to discuss the topic without resorting to ad hominems[/b]. Bells is a hysterical woman. EF and lightgigantic are misogynists. Tiassa is taking siding unfairly with Bells. And so on.

    I'm not sure who raised it first, but do we really need to directly talk about any of the participants fellating another in this thread? Is that really the level this discussion has sunk to?

    Clearly, you're all a bit emotional about the topic. I realise that people have strongly-held views on abortion. I have strongly-held views myself. But if we can't debate the issues in a polite manner, then we might as well be out there picketing abortion clinics, or throwing eggs at those who do. Neither action is likely to be particularly effective in changing public policy. What is needed, instead, are some well-expressed and reasoned opinions on the general issue and the borderline cases.

    One thing to be really careful about is not to ascribe views to the "other side" that they haven't actually expressed. I'm seeing a lot of that here, on both sides. "You said X, but if we follow that to its logical conclusion you must also advocate Y and Z and J. And J involves killing innocent babies! You evil man/woman!" "And what you've said must mean you think A, B and C, which means that all choice would be taken away from mothers to be. You evil man/woman!"

    If somebody's views are illogical or would produce a ridiculous or unfair result, that can be pointed out. There's really no need to hurl insults or label people as trolls just for putting forward their views.


    Back to the topic.

    What worries me from the pro-life crowd is that I mostly see a desire to remove the decision making in each case from the very people who are closest to and most affected by the decision. Prime among those is the mother carrying the child/foetus, of course. If some expert panel, for example, is to decide that a woman can't have an abortion, what kind of support, if any, will be given to the mother subsequently? Or is it all over once the baby is born?
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Indeed. Suppose you capture a terrorist who has killed five of your citizens, run him through your country's enlightened judicial system, find him guilty, and--since capital punishment is not legal in your country--you put him in prison for life. A week later his fellows kidnap twenty of your citizens, and promise that they will kill them all if you do not let their comrade out of prison and put him on a plane back to Crapistan by Thursday.

    It would have been better to kill him.
    I feel the same way about it. Particularly when a moderator stoops to the level of our resident troll population. How can we apply the rule against personal insults to them, if we don't also apply it to ourselves???

    If you're a moderator and a member directs a personal insult against you, the proper response is to ban his ass, not to direct a personal insult back at him!

    Oh please, can we banish the Newspeak and go back to English? It's pro-abortion and anti-abortion. The Catholic Church is the archetypal anti-abortion institution, and their hospitals will happily watch an adult woman die so as to avoid aborting a fetus that has no chance of survival anyway. To call this "pro-life" is Orwellian.

    Again, the Catholic Church is the paradigm for the anti-abortion movement. It is a phallocracy straight out of the Paleolithic Era. Women have no power at all. As soon as one of their orders of nuns speaks up against the rules established by the male priesthood, they are summarily de-wimpled--or whatever the verb is.

    Bingo. These people seem to only care about children before they're born. If Freud were alive he'd have a field day with this psychosis.

    I still find Mrs. Fraggle's advice on the subject to be the wisest: "I'll give a flying fuck what men think about abortion, the first time one of you assholes gets pregnant."
  19. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    I am against capital punishment, even for terrorists.

    And giving in to terrorist demands only leads to more terrorism. Which is why most governments have an overt policy of not negotiating with terrorists.

    Personally, if I'm participating in a thread and am having a vigorous disagreement with somebody, I generally let the insults slide. As a moderator, you have an unfair advantage against somebody you are directly arguing against. You can slap a ban on them; they can't slap a ban on you. Except in the most extreme cases, it's almost always a very bad look for a moderator to ban somebody with whom they are in heated disagreement. It tends to look like personal bias, no matter how justified it may be.

    Very few people are pro-abortion. I think that term unfairly characterises the pro-choice position. Anti-abortion is a reasonable characterisation, but supporters of that point of view do not label themselves that way. I don't see the need to put people off side straight away in a discussion by refusing to address them by the term they have chosen for themselves. It's like insisting on calling somebody by a nick name you have chosen for them rather than by the one they prefer.

    I agree with you that the Catholic Church has a lot to answer for. I'm not so sure about applying the adverb "happily" above. I'm sure that most pro-life people and organisations believe that they are doing the right thing and making hard decisions. The same applies to those arguing that abortion should be available.

    I see that as a serious inconsistency in the positions of many pro-life proponents.

    Men are 50% of the population. I don't see why, as a man, I shouldn't be allowed to express my thoughts on this issue.

    On the other hand, I have a lot of sympathy with the general argument that the people closest to the situation ought in many circumstances to have large weight placed on their decisions. The opinions of those with a purely academic interest and who have never had to make such a choice themselves should perhaps be given lesser weight.
  20. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member


    Thank you, James. I and others, at different times, have tried to make that case. But with a supermod and a mod providing tactic consent, a lone mod and a poster or two are of little consequence in trying to end ad hominems. I even brought this up as a policy issue, but was generally told I was being silly. It is very discouraging when it appears that posting guidelines about name-calling, ad hominems, and insults are not likely to be enforced/enforceable.
  21. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    It seems to me it would be a bit hypocritical for moderators to start enforcing rules against insults in a discussion in which they themselves are engaging in similar behaviour.

    In the case of this thread, I'm not advocating handing out official warnings or bans to anybody. I'm simply suggesting that all participants could show a bit more decorum.
  22. Bells Staff Member


    When someone comes out and makes a frankly bizarre statement, such as it is acceptable to simply let a woman die or to perform surgery that will kill her faster, because apparently, it's a "so be it" issue or when another asks you, despite repeatedly and politely explaining one's views, 'what if you stuff a newborn baby back into the uterus after reattaching the umbilical cord, can she abort it then?', do you take such questions and comments as "their views"?

    EF hounded me for pages and pages, because I deliberately did not engage in his ridiculous arguments that for all intents and purposes, served solely to troll this thread, with LG egging him on. He kept asking me the same question over and over again, even though I had answered it too many times to count and each time he would ask it, he would twist what I said around, all while claiming to be playing the devil's advocate. It went on for days. Is this him expressing his views? Or is it trolling?

    What about when what you have repeatedly stated and clearly stated is lied about and misrepresented? Is it trolling by this point, or just expressing his views if everything you say is lied about and misrepresented? How about when you are accused of wanting to murder babies? And then when you respond with disgust at such accusations, you are told that you may as well offer the trolls trolling this thread a blowjob? Is that expressing an opinion? How about when another man tells you that you should remain silent and not respond to the sexual harassment and when you do respond, tells you that well, you opted to give a blowjob, "yet again" (because I apparently fellate men on this site regularly?). Is this expressing an opinion?

    This kind of ridiculous crap has been going on for over 300 posts. Are you suggesting that I should not react with emotion when I am sexually harassed?

    How about when I am accused of wanting to murder babies?

    If a man tells you that responding to him, after he has complained and whined about you ignoring him for too many posts to count, is akin to offering him a blowjob, is that expressing an opinion?

    I am genuinely curious, James.

    Where do you stand on being told that you might as well suck someone's cock than respond to being lied about and misrepresented and slandered as someone who wants to kill babies? If my calling them misogynistic trolls for such arguments made in this thread is offensive? Well, too bad. I was just "expressing my views".

    I will say this now and in public, since this is being dealt with in public. If being sexually harassed is now part of the job description, then yeah, I won't accept that.
  23. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Mod Hat — Two cents

    Mod Hat — Two cents

    I think the larger point is that these people we've been arguing with should have simply been thrown out a long time ago. The only question I would have on that count is why they weren't. Our colleague very well knows the answer to why they weren't. It's the same answer it's always been.

    It's true, this thread is my error. There are people who participated in this thread who should have been suspended or simply tossed out over a year ago. But, you know, that's the thing about vested interest. People complain if you act with an appearance of vested interest; people complain if you refuse to act in order to avoid the appearance of vested interest.

    As our colleague Fraggle Rocker noted, the appropriate response to some of this conduct is not to engage it, but to simply suppress it. Indeed, looking back over six years to a row about misogyny, it would seem our neighbor LG has been carrying on in the same fashion the entire time. At any point in those seventy-two months, we would have been justified in kicking him to the curb, but we didn't, and we all know why.

    The only point I would make on name-calling is that the alternative would have seen a good number of our regularly-contributing members expelled over the years. To that end, one might wonder why we set political quotas for moderator elevations. No, really, I might be one of, if not the last elected moderators, but had I been a candidate for certain appointments in the time since, I would not have been given the job on account of having the wrong political views.

    So given that we have been undertaking extraordinary efforts to accommodate a certain group of people, I think James' disappointment is at least a little disappointing in itself insofar as he damn well knows the history involved here, and has chosen for various reasons to ignore it. Don't get me wrong, I understand; someone still has to play the middle, accommodating road in order to assuage the hurt feelings of those who behave badly but don't want their behavior noted. But, still, it doesn't really help anything. It's not useful.

    If we are to have this discussion now, we cannot discount history and pretend this is a new phenomenon. And we really ought to have that conversation in another thread. You know, fifteen months, sixteen hundred posts, two threads, and we're still not discussing the topic.
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