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  • Abortion

    Abortion is a Boiler Room topic. As we can see the S9 thread is already getting heated because of personal views on the matter.

    Please use the S9 thread for only post discussing abortion only in context of how it affects Buffy. Personal thoughts or experiences can be given when explaining how you think Buffy might react or feel or another character would about Buffy's choice.

    There have been tasteless jokes, insults to people's personal experiences, and blanket generalizations about morality of abortion. Do not do these things in here as well. You must also read and accept the Boiler Room rules before posting in here.


    I have copied non Buffy related posts from that thread into starting this thread.

    Lydia made the punch!

  • #2
    I am disturbed by the idea of drawing a line to decide when life has validity and/or merit. Who gets to measure that? Do we ignore that a fetus can start to recognise voices, dream etc just because it is still in the womb? The existence of a fetus is the existence of a developing person. I don't judge people that have abortions for their own reasons. I probably would if raped or if the developing baby had severe handicaps, but I don't see why we have to pretend that it isn't ending a life when it simply black and white is.

    EDIT: Posted before I saw Ehlwyen's post, apols.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Stoney
      I am disturbed by the idea of drawing a line to decide when life has validity and/or merit. Who gets to measure that? Do we ignore that a fetus can start to recognise voices, dream etc just because it is still in the womb?
      Could you elaborate on that? It's really not clear to me how a fetus could tell someone if they dream or recognize voices, and I'm pretty sure that there is no human in existence or ever was who remembered things that happened while they were a fetus in the womb.
      You keep waiting for the dust to settle and then you realize it; the dust is your life going on. If happy comes along - that weird unbearable delight that's actual happy - I think you have to grab it while you can. You take what you can get, 'cause it's here, and then...gone.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by TimeTravellingBunny
        Could you elaborate on that? It's really not clear to me how a fetus could tell someone if they dream or recognize voices, and I'm pretty sure that there is no human in existence or ever was who remembered things that happened while they were a fetus in the womb.
        Well obviously they can't. I don't know how they measure but they obviously do for research, heart rates possibly? I don't know how much of it is considered proven or is still being debated, and have no personal medical knowledge, but I think the point of recognising a mother's voice is pretty accepted:
        While fetuses hear much the way we hear a next-door stereo (lots of bass, not a lot of high frequencies), they are able to hear voices filtered through tissues, bones, and fluid. By week 24, they recognize - and are calmed by - the voice of their mothers. They, of course, can't distinguish words from one another; rather, the rhythm and melody of voices they hear serve as their foundation for language. Dr. Michael Roizen

        http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0513080440.htm

        Google will come up with loads of stuff.

        Comment


        • #5
          Per rule, I'm replying to a non-"Buffy" post here.

          Originally posted by shipperx View Post
          I don't want to get into people's deeply held convictions. Everyone has them and they are up to the individual.

          However, I will say that citing Rasmussen is akin to citing Fox News. Rassmussen has a decided slant in its methodology and uses its work to push a certain view in the media. Almost ubiquitously. Research the individuals who run it. Better, dig into the data stats of the demographics of their polls. Up until the week before an election when they suddenly get accurate, they are consistently right-skewing outliers. By design. Look at the internals about the demographics of the sampling. They deliberately skew towards weighting their demographic samples more Republican, more conservative, more Southern, and older. It's their methodology. All pollsters who keep up with that sort of thing know it, it's in their public internals citing demographic sampling. It's a feature not a bug.

          Additionally, we might note with all the 'polling data', every time 'life begins at conception' has been put on a ballot for a public vote (such as in Mississippi recently) , it has gone down in flames.

          Women want their rights. Go figure.
          Well, as nice as it is to see such well-worn gems like "when in doubt, it's Fox News' fault", you really haven't offered a specific fact to impugn this polling, and it's far from the only poll of this sort. More Americans of both genders when polled consistently deem abortion a moral wrong in most circumstances, and it's usually a more strongly held position among women than men. It is what it is.

          And while you may enjoy trying to boil the whole topic down to bumper-sticker simplicitly with "women want their rights. Go figure", you're sort of missing the point. Polling will also show that, yes, they want their rights (and men want them to have them); although typically it's a closer call on the rights question than the moral question.

          So "women want their rights", but those same women, at least in the United States, also by percentage have a definite opinion of the differences between how that right is exercised. For instance, there is, culturally speaking, at least in the United States, a moral distinction made between someone who terminates an ectopic pregnancy or because they don't want to raise a special needs child, and someone who does it for no other than reason than that the condom broke and "hell, no" to motherhood. Even NBC's "ER", no bastion of conservative thought, managed to convey offense and outrage at the example of a woman who obtained serial abortions for the purpose of gender selection (I can still remember Juliana Marguilies' Carol yelling at her in disbelief and contempt as she strode smugly out of the hospital after learning that she was again pregnant with a girl instead of the boy she wanted).
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          • #6
            Originally posted by Stoney View Post
            Well obviously they can't. I don't know how they measure but they obviously do for research, heart rates possibly?
            Well this is a very difficult question even in the medical community, so to say. We have to realise that there is not only the medical point of view, but a lot of religionistic and philosophic angles to this as well.
            Strictly medically speaking we have the lines drawn by the law, that is 12 weeks for a "voluntary" abortion - 12 weeks because this is the point when the organogenesis, the forming of the internal organs begins. After that, another line is 24 weeks. Between the period of 12.-24. week of pregnancy legally a woman can have an abortion that is medically advised, in case the fetus has genetic abnormalities or the course of the pregnancy is threatening to kill the mother (mostly in the cases when the placenta penetrates the surrounding tissues to the point where during its expulsion after labour there would be such a massive bleeding that the mother could die from a blood loss). 24 week line is stated by the law because currently embryos at least 24 weeks old are considered to be able to be saved. Of course, very often these, at this point babies, are so damaged by the extensive care that the quality of life is... debatable at best, but the law applies that they have the right to live, if they are born and survive the first 24 hrs.
            So this is the current law. Of course that "status of embryo", how current ethics calls this problem, is much more complex than that, even though these are just hypothetical questions, seeing as legally the subject matter is already solved.
            Currently there are 2 main opinions amongst the people involved, that being "ontological personalism" and "fuctional empirism". Ontological personalism believes, based on religious views mostly, that the human fetus is a a full person from the moment of conception. The sperm penetrates the wall of the ova, and from that moment on, fetus is a valid human being, who should be admitted the civil rights that belong to all the people, first of them the right for life and genetic integrity.
            Functional empirism on the other hand has a different approach. People who follow this opinion don´t agree on the lines strictly, but the basic idea is, that "a person" has certain attributes that characterise it. Generally these characteristics are the ability to feel complex emotions, the ability to communicate, form complex thoughts, the ability to begin and maintain relationships - not only with ourselves, but with each other as well. Based on this definition, a human fetus does not qualify as a human being, therefore we can´t expect it to have human rights. A seed is not a tree, it only has the potential to become one, if the conditions are right. The line here isn´t strictly set - some people believe, that since humans are characterised by the ability to feel, fetus should be considered human from the 15th day, since this is the day when the neural fold, a future central nervous system, begins to form. From this day the fetus slowly gains ability to feel. Other people consider the line to be at 21 days, seeing as this is the day when the primitive heart starts to beat. For others it is so called "quickening", the first movement that mother can feel, because according to old religions quickening is the moment when the fetus receives human soul. These lines also differ from country to country, for example in China a fetus becomes human with its first breath (therefore it is not illegal to kill the fetus even after it is born, as long as it doesn´t manage to breathe before they do it). Extreme opinions on this are, that since the truly human attributes are gained by babies at around 24months of age, this is when they are considered humans, but of course that would mean that killing an infant under 2 years would not be held as a crime.

            For myself, I feel that it is important to realise, that this is a topic that is so affected by personal and religious views and in the midst of all that people tend to disregard the facts. I am personally quite offended by all the anti-abortion posters where there are the tiny bloody fetuses held in someone´s arms and the movies, where they show how during an abortion "the baby is trying to escape the doctor, it silently screams as the doctor is killing it". You have the right to have your opinion on it, and feel as strongly as you want, but to me this is a very offensive way to treat knowledge. The baby is not trying to escape, the baby does not scream - even when it is a medically necessary abortion (and most of the propaganda posters are taken from these abortions), the fetus does not have any mental capacity to realise what is going on, to escape, to be scared. Human brain doesn´t evolve to this kind of stage until legally the abortion cannot be administered. I believe that for a mother who wants her child, having to give up on it because medically the child would not survive, or it would but with no quality of life at all, this is already a painful topic. There is no need for posters with bloody fetuses on them, because a voluntary abortion is administered at stage when the fetus is about 40mm and it doesn´t have any ability to feel pain, so for women who decide that they can´t go through pregnancy, this is a terribly misleading image.
            Think all you want, but I believe that a woman should have the right to choose, just as every human being has the right to choose on anything else, and no one can force a woman to go through pregnancy that she doesn´t want to or simply can´t afford to.
            In the end, we all are who we are, no matter how much we may appear to have changed.

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            • #7
              My primary argument for what you'd call "ontological personalism" is pretty straight secular metaphysics. I took a philosophy course that talked about moral analysis, how one would judge if an act was moral in and of itself -- one example was to ask yourself "if I do this, and the instant later the world ended and it had no consequences whatsoever, would it still be 'wrong'". That's an exercise that got me to thinking about incrementalism and instantaneous changes.

              In this context, I got to thinking -- becoming a person is a pretty big deal, right? Surely there must be some objectively measurable event at which this occurs, some bright line. So I started combing through the process of reproduction. I thought... well, what about birth? Everyone is born some way or another. But then I thought... what's so special about birth? The child is not intrinsically any different before entering the birth canal or after or during. Is it the umbilical cord, that bodily dependence? I don't think it could be, since, well, I don't consider similar bodily dependence shared by Siamese twins, or, for that matter a blood transfusion, to negate personhood.

              So I turn to "viability", and I think it's a strong candidate -- an instant before a developing child is viable to survive outside the womb and the instant after covers a major metaphysical milestone. But then I see the problem that it's completely unobservable until tested, at least right around that threshold of time; you would never find out until after the fact.

              So I look at conception and, there we are -- an instant before, there is nothing; an instant after, there is something. And that something has unique properties that make it distinctly human in nature, because it can never become anything other than human. And unlike viability, it's self-evident -- either conception has occurred or it hasn't.

              So based on no belief other than that the start of personhood has to start with some objective fact which is common to all people, conception wins, IMO.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by KingofCretins View Post

                So I look at conception and, there we are -- an instant before, there is nothing; an instant after, there is something. And that something has unique properties that make it distinctly human in nature, because it can never become anything other than human. And unlike viability, it's self-evident -- either conception has occurred or it hasn't.

                So based on no belief other than that the start of personhood has to start with some objective fact which is common to all people, conception wins, IMO.
                Well this is a pretty straightforward logic if you think about it, and technically there is nothing wrong about it either. The difficulty here is that if you take conception as the beginning of personhood and therefore right from the moment of conception the fetus has its human rights and its right to live should be protected, the same logic could be applied to other tissues as well. The paradigm "an instant before, there is nothing; an instant after, there is something" actually applies to a lot of cells in the human body. The sperm is nothing but a cell, the ova is one cell, at the moment of conception (well technicall hours after, but that is not important at the moment) there are 2 cells, which hours later become 4 cells, which become 8 etc. etc. On the same note, this process occurs with blood cells as well, it occurs with epithelial cells - basically the only cell in our body that does not have the ability to create something is neuron, other than that all the other cells do have this ability and creating something is the way we are made, after all. Yet no one questions the right to (not) live when it comes to all these other cells. Of course, that this is taking the point to extremes, but it was a point I read in one of the medical journals and I think that it is rather interesting point of view.
                In the end, we all are who we are, no matter how much we may appear to have changed.

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                • #9
                  The countries which grant women their right to terminate a pregnancy in their own body have timeframes for a reason.

                  They have to do with where you see something with the potential to become a human being or an actual independent human being. A fetus in the early stages (or quite far along already) is not able to live independently of the mother's body. She is sustaining it with life. Her life. It's a fundamental right that we can all decide what we do with our life, our bodies and parts of it. The mother carrying the child of term is literally the gift of life and no one can be forced to give a gift.

                  People trying to appropiate women's bodies by taking that choice away from them with laws (that naturally never work, because a woman not ready will and does find a way, just more horrible ones) and turn them into rightless broodmares is imho a leftover of slavery.

                  This is the first issue in the comic where I think Buffy is remotely back to it's tv days of targeting important women's issues. Allthough I have little hope that they will on the long haul.

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                  • #10
                    The problem is Destiny that some of those definitions of being human would rule out living mentally handicapped people - the ability to feel complex emotions, the ability to communicate, form complex thoughts, the ability to begin and maintain relationships.

                    All of the medical markers you provide (ability to feel pain etc) are interesting but there is a degree of subjective opinion then as to which ones become valid as potential deal breakers morally in ref to abortion. This is why I go with what King says - the start of personhood has to start with some objective fact which is common to all people, conception wins.

                    Look, abortion is not illegal and I do think there are times when it can be for the best (severe handicaps which would negate quality of life) and plenty of occasions when it is understandable (underage, rape) but these all become subjective. I have no problems with that but it doesn't change the fact that a potential life is stopped during its development, it is aborted. Whether or not aborted = terminated = killed is just an emotive response around semantics or words. The life was there, it isn't anymore.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Destiny View Post
                      Well this is a pretty straightforward logic if you think about it, and technically there is nothing wrong about it either. The difficulty here is that if you take conception as the beginning of personhood and therefore right from the moment of conception the fetus has its human rights and its right to live should be protected, the same logic could be applied to other tissues as well. The paradigm "an instant before, there is nothing; an instant after, there is something" actually applies to a lot of cells in the human body. The sperm is nothing but a cell, the ova is one cell, at the moment of conception (well technicall hours after, but that is not important at the moment) there are 2 cells, which hours later become 4 cells, which become 8 etc. etc. On the same note, this process occurs with blood cells as well, it occurs with epithelial cells - basically the only cell in our body that does not have the ability to create something is neuron, other than that all the other cells do have this ability and creating something is the way we are made, after all. Yet no one questions the right to (not) live when it comes to all these other cells. Of course, that this is taking the point to extremes, but it was a point I read in one of the medical journals and I think that it is rather interesting point of view.
                      The difference is that left alone general cells wouldn't become a person. A fetus which remains viable and is left alone will become a person.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Stoney View Post
                        The difference is that left alone general cells wouldn't become a person. A fetus which remains viable and is left alone will become a person.
                        No, it will not. That is exactly my point. A fetus left alone will not become a person. If it was like that, there would be no controversy. Out and into the uterine replicator it would go. But it's not. Only a fetus sustained by the body of the mother will become a person. And if she wants to sustain, wants to give this gift is the mother's decision.
                        Last edited by Nixennacht; 09-02-12, 04:57 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Stoney View Post
                          The problem is Destiny that some of those definitions of being human would rule out living mentally handicapped people - the ability to feel complex emotions, the ability to communicate, form complex thoughts, the ability to begin and maintain relationships.

                          All of the medical markers you provide (ability to feel pain etc) are interesting but there is a degree of subjective opinion then as to which ones become valid as potential deal breakers morally in ref to abortion. This is why I go with what King says - the start of personhood has to start with some objective fact which is common to all people, conception wins.

                          Look, abortion is not illegal and I do think there are times when it can be for the best (severe handicaps which would negate quality of life) and plenty of occasions when it is understandable (underage, rape) but these all become subjective. I have no problems with that but it doesn't change the fact that a potential life is stopped during its development, it is aborted. Whether or not aborted = terminated = killed is just an emotive response around semantics or words. The life was there, it isn't anymore.
                          Of course, I didn´t mean to give you an impression that I want to negate your opinion or reasoning, for reasons that you just gave yourself - there is a degree of subjective opinion, and all matters that come burdened with that do not have simple answers.
                          To your thought "The difference is that left alone general cells wouldn't become a person. A fetus which remains viable and is left alone will become a person. " - no one can argue with that, but the semantics here unfortunately play a huge role. Conception is a point, where a life form is created. I think that this is undebatable. If you want to say, that conception is where the human life begins, that would be perfectly right as well. On the other hand, Im not sure if we can say that conception is where personhood begins. Because that implies that the 2 cell formation is a human being, and even though I don´t identify myself with the extremes you pointed out (ruling out mentally handicapped people - I put in those opinions purely to show different points of view), calling a cell formation "a person" is not justifiable.
                          Of course that given the right conditions, those cells do become a human, unlike erythrocytes or leukocytes or other -cytes, but we don´t call those "person". So there is a completely new life form with a potential, but it is not a person, just as blood cells are not tiny babies.
                          Now if the conditions are right and these cells do evolve, and evolve, and then evolve some more and form tissues, then there is an obvious and undebatable reason to give them more appreaciation than any other cells deserve. The functional empirism here, at least to me, holds a very valid point, which is that the human growth is a gradual process, therefore the acquiring of human rights and attributes should be gradual as well. The act of drawing the line here is a whole other issue, and a whole lot more complicated one, but it seems empirically logical, that a 32-cell blastocyste holds a greater value than 2-cell formation, a fetus with bases of organs formed should hold a greater value than a 3mm formation which does not have anything except for muscle tissue.
                          In the end, we all are who we are, no matter how much we may appear to have changed.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Nixennacht View Post
                            The countries which grant women their right to terminate a pregnancy in their own body have timeframes for a reason.
                            Yes, to bracket the various matrices of "desire to terminate pregnancy" calculated vs. "existential discomfort over value of developing human life". The mere fact that there is such a thing is a timeframe exists in law is a tacit admission that whatever's going on in there is generally understood to have ever-increasing independent worth.

                            They have to do with where you see something with the potential to become a human being or an actual independent human being. A fetus in the early stages (or quite far along already) is not able to live independently of the mother's body. She is sustaining it with life. Her life. It's a fundamental right that we can all decide what we do with our life, our bodies and parts of it. The mother carrying the child of term is literally the gift of life and no one can be forced to give a gift.
                            It's an odd thing that you mention it, because the law has no trouble imposing positive duties on parents with regard to the measures they must take to ensure the safety of their children, ex utero, legal obligations on "what they do with their lives".

                            People trying to appropiate women's bodies by taking that choice away from them with laws (that naturally never work, because a woman not ready will and does find a way, just more horrible ones) and turn them into rightless broodmares is imho a leftover of slavery.

                            This is the first issue in the comic where I think Buffy is remotely back to it's tv days of targeting important women's issues. Allthough I have little hope that they will on the long haul.
                            Yes, it's very much about "Buffy" being topical, it's just being done in a way that is demonstrably inconsistent with her own attitude on life, living, her role in the world, etc. But, all in the name of targeting an important issue.

                            EDIT:

                            Originally posted by Nixennacht View Post
                            No, it will not. That is exactly my point. A fetus left alone will not become a person. If it was like that, there would be no controversy. Out and into the uterine replicator it would go. But it's not. Only a fetus sustained by the body of the mother will become a person. And if she wants to sustain, wants to give this gift is the mother's decision.
                            Uh, yes it will, obviously. All else being equal and proceeding within spec, that handful of cells will be a human being and can't become anything else. It's not going to suddenly turn into a Weimeraner. It's not going to be a pony or an XBox. I think it's incredibly disingenuous to act as though the stages of human development work as though there are four or five distinct metaphysical constructs, that the zygote "ends" and the fetus "begins" and then the fetus "ends" and then the baby "begins", and none has any meaningful connection to the others.
                            Last edited by KingofCretins; 09-02-12, 05:02 PM.
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Nixennacht View Post
                              No, it will not. That is exactly my point. A fetus left alone will not become a person. If it was like that, there would be no controversy. Out and into the uterine replicator it would go. But it's not. Only a fetus sustained by the body of the mother will become a person. And if she wants to sustain, wants to give this gift is the mother's decision.
                              Ambivalence towards a pregnancy doesn't end it. The attitude and feelings of the mother don't end it. The decision to terminate a pregnancy and the act of having an abortion does, if this didn't happen and the fetus remains viable then a baby will grow and develop in the womb. If the fetus doesn't remain viable an abortion would be irrelevant anyway.

                              Originally posted by Destiny View Post
                              To your thought "The difference is that left alone general cells wouldn't become a person. A fetus which remains viable and is left alone will become a person. " - no one can argue with that, but the semantics here unfortunately play a huge role. Conception is a point, where a life form is created. I think that this is undebatable. If you want to say, that conception is where the human life begins, that would be perfectly right as well. On the other hand, Im not sure if we can say that conception is where personhood begins.
                              OK, we can say conception is the point that life is created, abortion the point when life is ended.

                              Because that implies that the 2 cell formation is a human being, and even though I don´t identify myself with the extremes you pointed out (ruling out mentally handicapped people - I put in those opinions purely to show different points of view), calling a cell formation "a person" is not justifiable.
                              Of course that given the right conditions, those cells do become a human, unlike erythrocytes or leukocytes or other -cytes, but we don´t call those "person". So there is a completely new life form with a potential, but it is not a person, just as blood cells are not tiny babies.
                              Now if the conditions are right and these cells do evolve, and evolve, and then evolve some more and form tissues, then there is an obvious and undebatable reason to give them more appreaciation than any other cells deserve. The functional empirism here, at least to me, holds a very valid point, which is that the human growth is a gradual process, therefore the acquiring of human rights and attributes should be gradual as well. The act of drawing the line here is a whole other issue, and a whole lot more complicated one, but it seems empirically logical, that a 32-cell blastocyste holds a greater value than 2-cell formation, a fetus with bases of organs formed should hold a greater value than a 3mm formation which does not have anything except for muscle tissue.
                              This is the problem. The line drawing doesn't negate the fact that in good physical conditions, all being equal, that cell formation will become a person. Whether you personally consider it one at 3wks, 6wks, 12wks etc etc doesn't alter the fact that a process of life development has started and will result in a person. My interest in this argument isn't as a pro-life or a pro-choice person, I really do see both sides. Where I get frustrated is with people who are pro-abortion not accepting it as killing a life because it needs to be a bubble wrapped action. I appreciate it is a very emotive scenario and I see the need and desire to disassociate the action from death. Why can't people just accept that it isn't illegal, but it is ending a life which has started. It is a spade and I don't condemn people for making their life choices but it isn't going to suddenly not be a spade.

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