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Thread: Introducing Reason to the Abortion Debate

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    That ain't Falco. Savi's Avatar
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    Introducing Reason to the Abortion Debate

    This is a position paper I wrote for my composition class. Please let me know what you think.





    The purpose of this document is to demonstrate the invalidity and irrelevance of many of the most common pro-life and pro-choice arguments, and to explain why only one thing actually matters in this debate: Abortion does not reduce the quality of life for either the unborn or anyone else, and so there is no reason to object to it. Both sides of the abortion debate are guilty of faulty reasoning. Many of the arguments against abortion are insufficient and not grounded in reality. Likewise, many of the justifications for abortion are equally insufficient and misleading. People on both sides of this issue will benefit from reading this. I will address and scrutinize some of the most common arguments from both sides.


    Before I do this, it is important to make the one legitimate case for abortion that exists. According to the latest medical research from the Journal of the American Medical Association, it is unlikely that a fetus can perceive pain before the third trimester (Lee, Peter Ralston, Drey, Partidge, Rosen, 2005), which begins in the 28th week. The International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology reports that a fetus can likely feel pain after 26 weeks. It also states that a fetus might be able to have an “unpleasant conscious experience, even if not pain” at 16 weeks (Glover, Fisk, 1999). The Centers for Disease Control reported that 4.3% of legal induced abortions between 1992 and 1999 were obtained at the gestational age of 16-20 weeks, and 1.5% were obtained after 21 weeks (U.S. CDC, 2002). This means that 94.2% of legal induced abortions took place before 16 weeks. Little information is available regarding induced abortions beyond 26 weeks, but we can logically conclude that the percentage of abortions that took place at that stage is lower than 1.5%. To summarize, a vast majority of abortions (greater than 98.5%) take place before the fetus is capable of experiencing pain. 94.2% of abortions take place before the fetus is even capable of having an unpleasant conscious experience. If the fetus cannot suffer from these abortions, there is no reason to object to them. In fact, there is no reason to object to any action that is not responsible for lowering the quality of life.


    (continued in the next post...)

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    That ain't Falco. Savi's Avatar
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    (continued from previous post)

    The first major objection to abortion is that it’s morally wrong because life is sacred. If the argument is that all life is sacred, then the acts of hunting, eating meat, and hand washing would be immoral. Hand washing especially is practically an act of genocide for microorganisms, but no one who is pro-life seems to care. If the argument is that only human life is sacred, and humans are making the argument, I would say it’s a biased point of view.

    Another point that is debated is the exact time or stage of development when a fetus is officially considered a baby or person with rights like everyone else. This is mostly a semantic issue. There are different stages of development within a human lifetime from conception all the way through adulthood—zygote, embryo, fetus, infant, toddler, child, teenager, adult, senior citizen. These are just arbitrary labels that refer to the same entity at different times during his or her life. The terminology is not a relevant factor. Whether we consider a fetus to be a person has no bearing on whether it is one.

    People often wonder when life officially begins. According to Alan Templeton, a geneticist at Washington University, the answer to this puzzle is simple; life began billions of years ago and has not stopped since then (Templeton, 2005). In other words, perhaps we’re asking the wrong question. Nevertheless, it seems pretty clear that there is life at all stages of development. Even so, this does not address the issue of whether ending that life causes it to suffer, and whether it is an acceptable practice.

    Many pro-choice people claim that the child is a part of the mother when it’s in the womb, and becomes a separate entity when it’s born. They feel that they have a right to bodily autonomy, the freedom to do whatever they want with their own bodies. In fact, however, no one is telling them they can’t do what they want with their bodies. Opponents of abortion are merely saying that it’s the body of the fetus that is being mistreated, not the mother. The fetus has been compared to an extremity and an appendix to satisfy the bodily autonomy argument. Some have gone further by comparing it to a parasite. A fetus cannot logically be compared to an extremity or an appendix, because it has its own unique genetic code. There is no part on a person’s body that has a genetic code that is different from the rest of the body. The parasite argument is a strange one that’s not likely to win anyone over to the pro-choice camp. Parasites have a tendency to attack their host. A fetus accepts nourishment from its host. That’s quite a difference. The pro-life claim that women are acting upon the body of another when they choose to have an abortion is true. However, it does not demonstrate that the action reduces the quality of life for the unborn.

    Some pro-choice people argue that the fetus depends on the mother for survival, and so it doesn’t deserve to be protected until it is independent. It should be stated that a person never really becomes independent in this world until they can maintain a stable job and pay their bills on time. Even then, we’re still dependent on countless other people in society to grow food for us to buy at the supermarket and drill oil for us to use in our cars. We really aren’t truly independent. We’re just more independent than a fetus. But where exactly do we draw the line? The concept of one’s degree of independence doesn’t help anyone make a case for or against abortion because it says nothing about whether an abortion causes suffering. A reasonable discussion about abortion should always come back to that.

    No discussion about abortion is complete without a large portion dedicated to the concept of human rights. The pro-life crowd claims that all human life has rights, while the pro-choice crowd claims that rights are mysteriously granted to someone when they’re squeezed out of the womb. This is one of several pro-choice arguments that seems to do nothing for their case. No one has ever quite figured out why the physical location of the child matters. Nevertheless, the concept of rights is an interesting one. Based on the way rights are often described, they seem to be nothing more than intense desires. A right is something we want so badly, we’re willing to convince ourselves that we’re entitled to it. There is no reason to believe that anyone owes us something just for being alive. The assertion that we have a right to various things that we want very badly is extremely bold and requires rational justification. Unfortunately the only arguments for the origin of rights that one is likely to encounter are that they are granted by God or by nature. The God claim is a simple one to address. To say that rights came from God is only a valid statement if one can demonstrate that God exists. Additionally, one would have to demonstrate that God’s nature is that of a right-granting humanitarian. The requirements to prove this claim are absolutely astounding. The claim that nature gave us our rights is equally baseless because nature has no will. It doesn’t care one bit about whether we get what we want. Whatever it “gives” us are things we just stumbled upon by accident or discovered on our own. The only reasonable conclusion about rights is that we have none. We just made up the concept of rights in order to get what we want.

    Another objection to abortion is that many women often feel guilty after having one. This argument can be countered with a simple explanation of how science works. Whenever there are two or more variables affecting a result, we must isolate each one to see if it is an independent cause of the result. The two variables here are the abortion procedure and the belief that abortion is wrong. When both are present, the person will feel guilty afterwards. If only one is present, the person will not feel guilty. For example, if someone gets an abortion without the belief that it’s wrong, she won’t feel guilty. If she believes it’s wrong but chooses not to get one, she won’t feel guilty. The reason some women feel guilty after an abortion is because of the combination of the two aforementioned variables. This means that neither one by itself is independently responsible for guilt.

    Yet another pro-choice argument that will never help their case for abortion (firstly because it’s dehumanizing, and secondly because it is of no importance to the issue) is that a fetus is merely a bundle of organs and tissues, often referred to as a “glob of goo” or some similar term. First of all, it’s no more a glob of goo than an adult. We too are essentially wet sacks of tissue and organs, if one decides to look at it that way. Secondly, whether we are called globs of goo or people does not affect our ability to suffer.

    The central theme in a reasonable discussion of abortion should always be about whether abortion reduces the quality of life. Even though abortion ends life, it does not reduce its quality. This is a key distinction. The quality of life is specifically defined by the sum of the pleasant and unpleasant experiences one has. If the life of a fetus abruptly ends without the quality going down beforehand, there is no reason to feel upset about it. When determining whether an action is acceptable, the only factor to consider is the effect it has on the quality of life. This is because the quality of life is the only thing any of us actually care about. Our relationships, goals and aspirations, accomplishments, hobbies and pastimes, pursuits and endeavors, enjoyment and appreciation of art and beauty, and all sorts of other things we do fall under the category of things which improve our quality of life. That's why we do them. Meanwhile, we want to avoid things that reduce our quality of life. Our entire lives revolve around this concept, even if we don’t realize it. Since medical research shows that abortion does not reduce the quality of life, it is simply unreasonable to object to it.

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    That ain't Falco. Savi's Avatar
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    References

    Glover, V., Fisk, N. M. (1999). Fetal pain: Implications for research and practice. International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 106, 881-886. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.1999.tb08424.x
    Fetal pain: implications for research and practice - Glover - 2005 - BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology - Wiley Online Library

    Lee, S. J., Peter Ralston, H. J., Drey, E. A., Partridge, J. C., Rosen, M. A. (2005) Fetal pain. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 294(8), 947-954. doi: 10.1001/jama.294.8.947
    Fetal Pain, August 24/31, 2005, Lee et al. 294 (8): 947 — JAMA

    Templeton, A. R. (2005). When does life begin? An evolutionary genetic answer to a central ethical question. Retrieved from http://content.karger.com/ProdukteDB...2/embryo_1.pdf

    U.S. Centers for Disease Control. (2002). Abortion surveillance – United States, 1999. Retrieved from Abortion Surveillance -- United States, 1999

  4. #4
    hwyangel
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    If someone ended your life in a painless way it wouldn't effect the quality of your life. Just thought you might like to hear how it sounds when directed at you. It's easy to think of a life being expendable when its not yours.

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    Quote Quote by: hwyangel View Post
    If someone ended your life in a painless way it wouldn't effect the quality of your life. Just thought you might like to hear how it sounds when directed at you. It's easy to think of a life being expendable when its not yours.
    This isn't a reasonable counter-argument in light of the last paragraph. The only "you" comparable to a fetus would be a person born into a vegetative state and who remained in one until "someone ended [their] life in a painless way".


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    hwyangel
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    Though I don't agree with you, it was well written. But babies can not do any more than someone in a vegetative state until they start to roll over at about 3 months after being born.A fetus not only doesn't remain in a vegetative state but has an entire lifetime of possibilities.
    In fact if the comparison were fair you could include the fact that a fetus does not require any real effort other than 9 months of mild discomfort and inability to lift heavy objects, consume narcotics or run marathons. Medical, vitamin supplements and extra nutritional foods are covered by government funding.
    And one more thing if you don't mind. Abortion is four times more deadly than childbirth and cause permanent damage, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
    Last edited by hwyangel; 20th October 2011 at 09:51 AM.

  7. #7
    hwyangel
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    Scientificly a human is identified by there unique DNA. Many mistakes have been made in the past by trying to identity a human by their color, size, intelligence, or level of independence.

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    That ain't Falco. Savi's Avatar
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    Quote Quote by: hwyangel View Post
    If someone ended your life in a painless way it wouldn't effect the quality of your life. Just thought you might like to hear how it sounds when directed at you. It's easy to think of a life being expendable when its not yours.
    I've thought about this before. When the person in the given situation is me instead of someone else, it doesn't change anything. It doesn't make a difference whose life is ended.

    There are three basic characteristics that the act of ending a life must have in order for it to not cause a reduction in one's quality of life. 1) It has to be instant and painless. 2) The victim cannot realize ahead of time that he's about to be killed, otherwise the anticipation will cause him to live in fear. 3) There must not be anyone who cares about him and wishes to see him alive.

    If these conditions are met, no one's quality of life will be reduced. Abortion has all three of these characteristics, which is why I don't object to it. If you still think that killing someone of any age (in the manner I described above) is wrong, it's probably because of one of two things: A) You believe that the quality of life is actually being reduced somehow. B) You believe that the quality of life is not the only thing that matters; you believe there is more to the moral value of an action than its effect on the quality of life.

    If it's A, I'd like to know how. If it's B, I'd like to know what else actually matters.

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    If you are ending a life then you are ending the quality of that life. While you may not be causing suffering to that life by ending it, you are ending it's quality. Meaning, it has no more quality. You'ved stated that we desire to improve the quality of our lives. If something has ended the quality of a life, then it has taken that quality away. It cannot have quality any longer. Therefore, the quality of it's life is reduced, and, extinguished.

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    blasphemer grandpa's Avatar
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    Quote Quote by: RobotBeeps View Post
    If you are ending a life then you are ending
    the quality of that life.
    While you may not be causing suffering to that life
    by ending it, you are ending it's quality.
    Technically true, though II'm not sure how much it matters. Aren't we talking about qualities that we assign? If not for my anger or yours, a fetus would not become much of a societal issue. In fact, a fetus can't make decisions to reduce
    some unnecessary suffering, or to willfully inlict any. Its primary quality is its connection with its mother.

    Grandpa h.
    Post by post, building his arguments by smashing a couple of theirs -- for America.

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    Stephen Best barts's Avatar
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    All abortions take place because continuing a pregnancy is inconvenient. The "inconvenience" can be anything from a threat to the life of the mother to merely not wanting a child.

    The hypocrisy in the abortion debate, it seems to me, is that we cause all of sorts of human death and suffering to sustain our lives. Why abortion would be any different seems odd. For example, we gleefully pursue economic activities that impoverish others and cause illness and disease and injury. We sell products like cigarettes, Big Macs, and Coco Puffs that we know harm people. We wage wars on people who have done us no harm, all for economic or personal political gain. The list is almost endless.

    Human beings are quite ruthless, and in their actions generally hold cheap human life, indeed all life. Do many people in America, for example, care when US drones slaughter dozens of people attending a wedding in order to kill one alleged Taliban terrorist? It seems not.

    So why are some so squeamish about abortion? Few of those who are opposed to abortion have any interest in doing anything or paying anything to support a child saved from abortion. It seems their real purpose is to inflict gratuitous suffering for their own enjoyment, to gratify their own sensibilities, on those who have or provide abortions.
    Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd - Voltaire

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    blasphemer grandpa's Avatar
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    Quote Quote by: barts View Post
    All abortions take place because continuing a pregnancy is inconvenient.
    The "inconvenience" can be anything from a threat to the
    life of the mother to merely not wanting a child.
    Of course, oponents of abortion will note how inconvenient it might be for the child. But that brings us to my point just above.

    But let's face another fact: Many are against it for fear of going to Hell.

    Grandpa h.
    Post by post, building his arguments by smashing a couple of theirs -- for America.

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