Monday, July 29, 2013

What's the Harm in "Morning After" Abortions?

I've see no secular reason why very early term abortions should be prohibited. To explore this further, I went to Google+ and spoke with Catholic Apologist, Paul Schlenker.

Me: What's the harm in painlessly killing something that is not only unaware and unconscious; but incapable of pain, awareness and consciousness if not for some assumption of a soul?

Paul: The harm is that by killing an embryo that is unaware, unconscious, and incapable of experiencing pain is that you prevent that innocent human being from developing further, being born, and living the life it has a right as a human being to live.

Me: So, outside of preserving the embryo's potential, the only negative affect is the emotional reaction you and others who are uncomfortable with abortion experience, right? The potential argument is problematic now that any instance of DNA can be said to have the same potential when you consider cloning, not to mention the potential of a sperm and egg. To say everything with human potential must be realized in our modern world would result in overpopulation and the waste of human hair and tissue a felony. (Yes, this highlights advancements of science into an argument about otherwise natural development, but without taking into account modern science we couldn't know a women is pregnant early enough for this debate to be relevant.)

Paul: Human hair and human tissue are human life, but they aren't human beings. A fetus is a human being. Human hair and human tissue are part of a human being, but they aren't, in and of themselves, human beings.

Many pro-choice people say that abortion is justified because a fetus is only a "potential life", not an actual life. I think that's rubbish. A fetus is an actual human being from the moment of fertilization, and it is fully alive. If a fetus is only a "potential life", at what point does it become an actual life? The only logical and reasonable point at which a fetus becomes an actual life is at the moment of fertilization. 

Me: The point was obviously missed in regards to hair and tissue. You must acknowledge that no harm is done from the point of view of the embryo, because the embryo has no point of view. If not for potential, I don't understand your argument that there is harm done.

Paul: Do you think it should be permissible to kill a person in a coma?

Me: No, I don't think it should be permissible to kill a person in a coma if they are likely to come out of it. If they certainly won't, then it is fine. The difference is that an agreement to kill coma victims sets a precedent that could directly affect me, people I care about, or people others care about. I don't want them killed if and when they are in a recoverable coma, therefore I don't want any coma victims killed. Do unto others, as they say. Also, even though neither the coma victim nor the embryo want to die--(because they can't want anything) family members and friends almost certainly want the coma victim to reach the potential of regained consciousness while the parents of the embryo obviously don't want the embryo to reach consciousness because otherwise the question of abortion would be moot.

I edited this conversation to make it easier to read and filter out the peanut gallery. The entire thread can be read here. Abortion is one of the few topics involving religion in which I haven't completely made up my mind. Maybe your input will help me with that.

19 comments:

  1. "If a fetus is only a "potential life", at what point does it become an actual life?"

    I guess this is the real key question isn't it? A fertilized egg shouldn't be something to get real worked up about, and a fetus the day before it is delivered certainly is. But there is no day in the middle where it suddenly switches. It's a gradual change and it is somewhat ambiguous in the middle. There is no "point" where it becomes a life.

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    1. I will give my two pence worth here. I think the life problem can be determined by the breathing alone issue without need for either the mother or a machine. after all breathing oxygen is one of the core things that we need to do to live.

      I am not saying on delivery that doctors should not do CPR if the baby is not breathing, but if a fetus gets aborted at 4 weeks, it cant breath it is completely unsustainable using modern medicine, so it cant be life in my opinion.

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    2. Yeah...I don't know. That's why I don't argue much one way or the other for second and third trimester cases. The first couple days after fertilization is a different story.

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  2. As we see here, the theist is running on pure emotion and no intelligence, it's all about feelings and not at all about reason. They don't think about what they're saying, they only emotionally react to it.

    That's a problem.

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  3. I'm not a fan of abortions, myself, but I don't want them banned. Some thoughts to consider:

    Quite a large portion of fertilized eggs are aborted naturally (miscarried), for one reason or another, often without realization that there was a pregnancy.

    As I heard some scientists discussing the matter, along the lines of your point, they made the reasonable argument that at no time during the process is there not "life". Both the sperm and the egg are living cells. When the sperm enters the egg, they are still unique living cells. And when they combine into a gamete a living cell. So it is exceedingly difficult to discuss when life begins when life never stopped or started!

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  4. I fully grant that the fetus is a human life, but it's not an independent life until it can survive outside of the womb by itself. That's why I consider it part of the mother's body until that time.

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    1. Life isn't the marker for me, consciousness/awareness is.

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  5. Here is for me the essential problem with everything that was said by Paul. His first response is " The harm is that by killing an embryo that is unaware, unconscious, and incapable of experiencing pain is that you prevent that innocent human being from developing further, being born, and living the life it has a right as a human being to live."

    The embryo is defined as something that is unaware, unconscious, and incapable of experiencing pain. Hence it is not human besides the DNA argument. But then later in the sentence there is the appeal to life " you prevent that innocent human being from developing further". This is two very different thoughts in one sentence which makes no sense. Something is either unaware or aware, unconscious or conscious. It cannot be both at the same time and so the argument fails.

    The only problem that can arise in the abortion debate, is when it is no longer acceptable. But this has mostly been determined by how risky the procedures become later in pregnancy. Doctors only do them if it is a necessity as it is highly risky to the mother.

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  6. From the position of a woman: I never considered an abortion to be an option for me but I do not feel I have a right to make that decision for any other woman and I darn sure don't think ANY man has a right to. My situation allowed me to birth, raise, and educate five healthy kids. The women who are usually seeking an abortion are not that fortunate. It's their derision and certainly not a preacher or a congressman's!

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    1. That last sentence would be decision...not derision. I must have been thinking of holy than thou art scornful men when I made that typo. :D

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    2. I'd like to think the potential father has some say in the matter, but I agree it's ultimately the woman's choice.

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  7. Deity

    Even as a pro-choice advocate, I do not find your argument particularly convincing. The clincher is the coma scenario, which really highlights what's going on here:

    A fetus is an assemblage of cells that will, if no attempt is made to destroy it, eventually gain consciousness, feel emotions, suffering, etc.

    A person in a recoverable coma is also an assemblage of cells that will, if no attempt is made to destroy it, eventually (re)gain consciousness, feel emotions, suffering, etc.

    The two scenarios are equivalent. Your response is that "The difference is that an agreement to kill coma victims sets a precedent that could directly affect me, people I care about, or people others care about."

    I fail to see how the same argument doesn't apply to fetuses too. If my sister's fetus is aborted, for instance, then my own future happiness is influenced, because I won't experience the joy of playing with my young niece or nephew. In the same way, if my sister is in a recoverable coma, and she is allowed to die, my own future happiness is influenced, because I won't experience the joy of social interactions with my sister.

    Again, the two situations are equivalent.

    You also say "I don't want them killed if and when they are in a recoverable coma, therefore I don't want any coma victims killed. Do unto others, as they say."

    But this is precisely the same argument used by pro-lifers. They don't want fetuses killed, therefore they don't want them killed. Do unto others, as they say.

    The unavoidable fact is that, unlike a piece of skin or nail tissue, a fetus is on a path that leads to consciousness. It will, in all likelihood, become a fully fledged human being with full moral status, if no action is taken to tamper with its development.

    Morality is ultimately about assessing future outcomes - which choice is going to leave us in a better state of affairs down the road than all the others. And you cannot make this assessment if you ignore that one of the possible outcomes of the abortion decision is a long and possibly very happy life thanks to a fetus that is allowed to live, while the alternative is no life at all. These things must be accounted for rather than discarded before the calculations even begin.

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    1. Since when has anyone started killing patients in a recoverable coma? The only ones I've ever heard of them pulling the plug on are those who are declared brain dead with no hope of ever recovering.

      "Morality is ultimately about assessing future outcomes- which choice is going to leave US in a better state of affairs"

      Perhaps that is your definition of it but you don't get to decide what is morally right for a woman concerning her body after you impregnate her. Only she has a right to do that... just as only you have a right to decide whether or not you are going to sign a Living Will that will allow them to pull the plug.

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    2. Okay, Keith, as a pro-choice advocate, how would you defend the coma scenario?

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  8. Because every sperm is sacred
    Every sperm is great
    If a sperm is wasted
    God gets quite irate

    Every sperm is wanted
    Every sperm is good
    Every sperm is needed
    In your neighborhood

    Every sperm is useful
    Every sperm is fine
    God needs everybody's
    Mine and mine and mine


    Or something like that... :P

    However, all woman should burn in hell - just think about all those wasted eggs every time they have their period! All those eggs could have been a baby!
    Clearly, the church is wrong when they speak again sex before marriage.

    :p

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    1. Is that poem an original?

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    2. Nope, I stole it from Monty Python :)
      You will love this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUspLVStPbk

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  9. Good old Paul Schlenker. I remember him well. :)

    I think the only reasons he gets out of bed each morning is to proselytize and debate people, lol.

    As for people in comas, if there is no chance of them ever recovering, for example, they are completely brain dead, no activity at all in the brain, then I think it's actually abusive to keep them "alive" by artificial means such as feeding tubes and ventilators. The only reason people do that is because they aren't ready to accept the fact that their loved one is truly dead.

    It's part of what annoys me about the pro life crowd, they care everything about quantity of life (even in the case of a fetus, which isn't even a life yet), but don't give a damn about quality of life.

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