Round 2: Abortion. Argue with me, I dare you!

The title is a bit misleading, as I don't actually have much of a stance either way. I haven't ever thought about this in depth, but now I am forced to. (I have another debate). :P

Today, my teacher asked me what I thought about abortion, and I felt that any answer I gave would be a lie, because I hadn't yet answered these questions:

When does life begin?

When does life end?

Later, when we spoke after school, he asked me another question:

Who creates life?

This is the most puzzling, and I had no idea what he meant at the time. Now, though, I guess that he was really asking "When a human being is born into this world, is it due to the man and the woman? All of humanity? God?"

The last, I cannot accept as my answer, because I don't believe in any god.

I believe that a human being is a beautiful thing, that good is good, and evil is evil. Beyond this, I'm not sure of much at all.

(Update: I think I said something I hadn't truly considered. The way that I said "Good is good, and evil is evil," might lead you to believe that I think there's a clear-cut difference between the two. I'm still not sure about some of these things).

I think it would help if I could hear and understand others' views on this.

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Kiteman9 years ago
I think you're probably capable of answering these big questions for yourself. Do a bit of research by all means, but make sure that your conclusions are yours. If you allow somebody else to tell you the answers to these questions, you have entered the realm of Religion (see my thoughts here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/brunel/A3982511 ). If you allow somebody else to tell you what you think, and refuse to allow you (or anybody) to question the answers, you have entered the realms of Fundamentalism.

Run for your life.

Who creates life?

Isn't there a constitutional/legal separation between state and church in the USA?

This teacher of yours just broke that law, especially if they are pretending to have any answers to that question other than "nobody - it evolved". If this teacher is anything other than a teacher of philosophy, my first reaction is to report them. Get them reprimanded for overstepping their legitimate role.
He goes to a private school. They can talk about reliigion all they want.
oldfart Kiteman9 years ago
I don't think it should be illegal to ask this, except the you should be changed to "what creates (created) life. I don't think anything will be accomplished by arguing this, as one side claims the right of the woman is being violated and the other is claiming the fetuses rights are being violated. This is a no win situation, as from each of their points of view they are both correct. So there can be no middle ground. The only solution is that abortions would be legal but no one would ever want one. And this isn't going to happen. Some questions to ask might be: Should a woman be forced to gestate. (carry the baby to term) How is this to happen if she is set on aborting the fetus? Shall she be locked in prison in a rubber room or in a locked hospital ward? Is she not the owner of her body, the ultimate example of property ownership, and have a right to use that body as she wishes? If murder is always wrong, how do we explain the state ending the lives of people they deem beyond redemption through the death penalty? How about war? Do we have large funeral doings for miscarried fetuses? Why not? If fetuses have rights, then how can we explain that we deny a toddler the right to run into the street or be alone near a swimming pool? They are older and therefore shouldn't they have the right to their liberty? We may choose to care for our young, even our unborn, but does that mean they have some claim on our lives? (this is kind of getting way out there but interesting to think about) and-- By the same token, if our unborn and children have total claims against our lives, isn't this the definition of slavery? Do they "own" our lives? What is the definition of human being, are people born fully developed or evolve into functional rational humans at a later time? If not what is the age of majority for anyway? I don't believe that we have any right to abuse children, or anyone else for that matter. And that goes for animals too. But if we confer rights onto beings that cannot understand or comprehend the responsibility that rights bring. then what do we do when the wolf kills the deer, or the child wants to play with something dangerous? Take them to court and punish them? So the fetus may be a living thing, as an acorn is a living thing, but an acorn is not an oak tree and a fetus is not a human being. Yet.
dchall89 years ago
Have you noticed that views on capital punishment and abortion tend to be opposed? In other words, it's OK to do one but not the other?

No I never noticed that the views on the humane capital punishment of a convicted felon was in conflict with the view of crushing the skull of an innocent fetus. And you say it's okay to do one but not the other? Why would that be?

MY opinion is that it's ALWAYS the women's (and to a lesser extent the man's) choice.

What about a scenario where a serial murderer, who's family tree has a history of genetic disorders, rapes a woman. Should it be her choice to terminate a pregnancy as a result of the rape?

My opinion is that once the woman has made the choice of having unprotected sex, she is out of choices. After that she has the RESPONSIBILITY to take care of her body, and the life inside, as if she were protecting any other child, born or unborn.

If a woman gets raped, that is a tough situation, but the growing fetus needs to be protected to term and thereafter. The fetus is innocent of the father's sin. Knowing there is a genetic component of behavior can help with raising the child, but it not an automatic death penalty. What if it was a family history of alcoholism? or bad breath? Who gets to decide which genes are to be allowed to survive? The Supreme Court? Congress?

We humans are the caretakers of the Earth. We are the only species who can decide to not do something for reasons of morality. We are separated from the animals by the ability to go against our instincts for sex and to kill animals for food. I'm not trying to get biblical but the Ten Commandments are not just a good idea. They are well reasoned list of behaviors that every successful society needs to at least consider adhering to.

The commandment in question, regardless of how anyone's religion numbers them, is the hopelessly oversimplified, "thou shalt not kill" one. Well, kill what? People? Fetuses? Convicted criminals? Animals? Kill a few hours at Home Depot while the missus is getting her hair done? I think the more appropriate, if not much more descriptive, wording is, "Thou shalt not commit murder." The punishment for a (convicted) murderer has nearly always been established to be a societally sanctioned execution, not a revenge or retaliatory murder. But if it ever comes down to keeping the convict alive and locked away, I can go with that.

Assuming the fetus has committed none of society's sins, then why can the fetus's carrier (soon to be the mother) unilaterally decide to execute it? Suddenly she has a right to kill because this baby is inconvenient and doesn't fit into her life's plans? And her ability to decide to execute it supersedes her societal responsibility and obligation to protect? And she can do that because the fetus has not yet poked her head out? Where does this stuff come from? Show me the chapter and verse for that! Is there any question as to whether the unborn fetus might not actually become a born human at the end of the 9-month gestation? I just don't understand where these women got the right to execute a soon-to-be human child without an enormous societal outrage. What has become of the shame?

I hesitate to use examples of people living today who might have been aborted by some people's standards of decision, but Dr. Stephen Hawking has been diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's disease). Sometimes there is a genetic component in that disease, but in his case, I do not believe that is true. Nevertheless, that disease might become someone's reason for abortion. Twenty years after Dr Hawking's doctors predicted his death, he published his famous "A Brief History of Time." Over the years, Hawking married and has three children. It is now 20 years after the book publishing and 40 years after his doctors thought his life would end (naturally). Dr Hawking is still active and currently holds Sir Issac Newton's chair as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University. The man is a genius on the order of Einstein, Newton, Galileo, and others. Unfortunately the same argument can be made for Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Pol Pot. But my point is that Hitler's, Stalin's, and Pol's fetus' were innocent of their father's atrocities AND their genetic happenstance.

We may not know today why some children are born different, but we will never know why if they are aborted. Good, bad, or indifferent, we are all here to glorify our humanity. A society that allows killing of the human fetus is in a very sad state.
royalestel9 years ago
What the?! Ok, I'm not even going to read the other posts, but here's my take-- We, as humans, don't know for sure when life begins. We also universally agree that murder is wrong. Since we don't know for a fact when life begins, we can't say for sure when abortion is murder. However, we ought to err on the side of safety and protect the innocent. I have never understood why a person does not go through the inconvenience of a pregnancy and birth in the US and put their child up for adoption rather than risk murdering an innocent child.
Oh yeah, as any parent of a child with special needs can tell you, a life with a "disability" is absoutely one worth saving. I'll have no eugenics in my personal life, thank you very much.
Wow, I haven't really had a chance to read all the posts on this thread, but I'll add my 10 cents worth later on. For any of you wondering where people are getting those bible references, just go here, and do a search.
More later,

trebuchet0310 years ago
Well, First -- Kudos to your teacher for asking tough questions with many correct answers.

It looks like it has been said... But I too will never go against a woman's wish. If I happened to be the one that got us into this situation - I do not want to be a factor in whatever decision is made. Whatever the decision - I will support it, because I obviously made my choice, so it's time to stick to it... I guess, in a sense, I try to be a gentleman.

Religion..... Occasionally, I get made fun of for this (especially living "I-4 corridor" of Florida - a sort of bible belt) - but I follow a form of agnosticism. Unfortunately, other organized religions of blurred what this truly is... But here's my take - and the only one that matters to me.... 1. You can ask the question - Is there a "God" but (like many religions), you CAN NOT answer this question - it is unknowable. 2. Should there be a "heaven" and if there is said "God" AND s/he wants me there - it will be because I was myself and did not make an attempt. Take me for who I am, and not for what I think you want me to be.

Now before anyone goes off saying I've never been exposed.... When I was a young child - I went to Mass, Sunday school etc. (My father is catholic). When I was a little older, I went to temple and I am Bar Mitzvah (My mother is Jewish). Still later, I read quite a bit of the 5 Pillars (Islam). In the beginning of college, I really liked the philosophy of the four noble truths (Buddhism). Of EVERYTHING that I have read and been exposed to... I really enjoyed the philosophy of the eightfold path of Buddhism - really, speak not to harm, avoid actions to harm and make your actions genuine, do not harm others, do not dwell on the negative, keep your body healthy etc. etc. Honestly, I don't think about it all the time -- but when I'm stressed out or something/someone bothers me, it's a good fall back on - it got me out of a mild depression (homesick) so to me, it was obvious that this was a good thing (for me).

Lastly, I NEVER EVER will put my philosophy onto another person. I will, however, help someone relieve stress when it's obvious something bothers them. Usually, that's in the form of saying "there's nothing that can be done now - wait until it matters to worry about (whatever it is that bothers them)."

So now that you know where my philosophy comes from for the most part... Before I say my stance, allow me to give yet another philosophy perspective on the subject. As is in Buddhism, life begins under three conditions - egg, sperm and a being ready to be reborn. Without interpretation, abortion is wrong. However, it is permissible under circumstances for the mother's sake. Depending who you ask, the later one waits, the "more wrong" it becomes. All that said, the philosophy makes a VERY big separation between biological and what you would call a soul (actual life itself). Preservation of "life" deserves the utmost respect and protection - but "life" does not necessarily mean the physical embodiment (read: exceptions for disorders et. al.). The subject is a rather big topic within the Buddhist community (and I don't claim to be an expert). The fundamental question is - does abortion violate the First Precept and the bigger question "what is 'life'" as the term "life" is left ambiguous. It is recognized that in order to survive, we must eat - which takes away the lives of plants et. al. This is necessary as life has plenty of moral wounds and moral healing - it is not a linear motion of right and wrong, nor is it shades of gray... It's give and take.

In recap, I am saying that if you take a quick look - abortion is wrong under the philosophy. But, reading further - you'll find it is a VERY compassionate philosophy open to great interpretation.

As for what I think..... As an American and as our fundamental laws were written - we have freedom of religion, freedom from religion and rights not explicitly states may not be infringed upon. Under this, I believe there should be no law against.

To be honest, there was a time when it was illegal.... But that didn't stop it from happening... And it continued in a very dangerous way :/

If you take on bit of advice, make this it.
If you choose to be sexually active - TALK. Bring it up with your partner BEFORE anything happens. Condoms are not 100% fool proof, nor is the pill, nor any other form of contraception. But talk BEFORE anything happens so should something unplanned happen - your decisions were not made emotionally (for any case).

Now, to respond to what has been said already - and some really great things have been...

1. Las Vegas
Good and evil are human creations. Is a wolf evil when it fights another wolf for dominance of the pack? Is a dog evil when it catches and kills a cat? No to both. They are simply acting on their natures. Only humans have defined evil and it changes as society changes.
Nail on the head....

2. westfw:
Abortion is a really tough question because it's hard to accept that the BEST solution to a problem may not be a GOOD solution to the problem. (And I think that I worded that carefully enough that you can use it either way.)
So true for many things... The best solutions typically cost you the most - again, that should work for any case ;)

3. faust
When the fetus is in the womb, it is still part of the mother. It also lacks the ability to reproduce.
This is something seldom stated, yet very important. however, I've usually heard it as "it never had the ability to reproduce" as defect, age etc. can change that.

4. HamO
You don't believe in God?
See above :p Does it make me exempt if I said no? Or not in the same way you do?

5. Also HamO
Life begins at conception.
This is also a very interesting point... As contraception does NOT mean pregnancy - in fact, this is quite frequently the case (this is why you hear people "trying" but not very successful)... Another seldom point spoken of...

6. Viron
Did anyone notice that RU-486 (a name for an abortion pill)
is not any particular chemical name, but a wicked silly way of saying
(as in text code) "ARE YOU FOR IT ALL GONE"?

If you've ever seen said pills (because it's not one pill), it's referenced as "Mifeprex" which is also not a chemical name... Really most meds are not called by chemical names, instead by trade names ;) 486 was a clinical trial number.... In any case, IUDs are another form of both contraception and emergency contraception. Levonorgestril (sp?) is another emergency contraceptive drug... You may know it (or not) by "plan B" ;) Remember that all of these are classified as contraceptives (as by how they work), which by definition means before pregnancy (preventing ovulation).

I searched Google for "ARE YOU FOR T ALL GONE" Link and didn't get an hits :/ ?
A slight correction to the end of your very long comment- many of these contraceptives don't prevent ovulation; they prevent implantation. There's also some overlap- the pill is designed to prevent ovulation, but can also discourage implantation.

I've no interest in getting bogged down in the joys of ethical meta-discourse, but wanted to set the biological effects straight.
Thanks for the correction :D
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