Monday, November 03, 2003

Bye Bye Baby

I don’t know of any more debated subject then that of abortion. It’s a difficult topic, with emotions running high on both sides of the issue. Oh sure, each camp has a pile of information as to why they are correct. The major flaw with each position is that they come from a narrow minded viewpoint.

Does this mean my opinion is any less flawed? Hardly. This topic has been running through my mind for years. Every time I hear about it in the news, I start thinking about what I believe should be the right choice. The truth is, I have been waffling between both sides, and I’m probably still not sure what the best course of action is. I’m always up for a challenge though, so it’s time for me to climb down off the fence and tackle this subject head on.

Please don’t get the wrong idea when reading this article. I don’t pretend to have all of the answers, nor would I presume to tell you how you must believe this problem be resolved. In fact, after reading my views you may come out of this even more confused then you went in. So let’s get going and see where this takes us.

While contemplating this subject for the umpteenth time, I tried to get a feeling for how it could be broken down. Many complicated things can usually be broken down into more simplistic parts. After the simple parts are analyzed and understood, then they can be reassembled and hopefully we can then gain a better insight and conclusion for what we were so confused about in the first place.

The act of simplifying the various components of abortion is not meant to trivialize the subject in any way. This is not a flippant attempt to gain some sort of following on my way of thinking. I am not a leader of any cause, and I am certainly not a follower of any special interests. My goal is to try and come to grips with a battle that has divided the world, and try to see if I could help myself to better understand what was at stake in the answers.

I’d like to begin by answering the question of where life begins. After giving this only a brief moment of thought it was very apparent to me that life begins at the fertilization of an egg by the sperm. Isn’t it obvious to anyone that from that moment on there is a new life in the making? I’d really be curious to hear from anyone who does not agree with this view.

Just because the life is not physically recognizable as a baby, does not make it any less viable. The fact remains, that once fertilization has occurred, the new life is on an express ride to being a human being. Therefore, any termination of that life should be classified as killing that life.

It sickens me to think that people are trying to measure the amount a life has grown and judging at which stage it is considered a human. I’m sorry, but this seemed extremely basic to me, yet at times in the past I found myself listening to the other side of the argument like there was some scientific explanation at when a life was a life. In the end, no complicated smoke and mirrors are needed. Any person with a basic understanding of how babies are made can tell you when they become a life.

Now that we have the foundation of when life begins for a human being, lets move on to the actual act of when aborting that life is acceptable. While we’re at it, let’s remove the term abortion, and just call it what it is, murder.

Is murder too strong of a word for you? It even feels weird to write it, but if we accept the previous facts of when a life begins, then the ending of that life on purpose must be called murder. The term abortion seems like an attempt to make it sound like it’s a medical procedure rather then purposely killing a human being.

Keeping with the process of breaking things down to their simplest components, let’s say that there are two occasions when the murder of a fetus can take place as an abortion. These I like to call the “Oops”, and the “Uh-oh”.

The “Oops” thought process for the murder is for those occasions when a baby was not planned. This can be from a one-night stand, kids that are not yet adults, or even legally married people that accidentally slipped one past the goalie. Whatever the circumstances, these babies began life without their parents being able to foretell their coming.

Oops babies should never be murdered under any circumstance. No matter the embarrassment to religious circles from unwed mothers, the difficulties raising a child by a child, or the financial strain it might place on a family to have another child. In these cases, the fact is, you made the decision to have sex, and it’s time to take responsibility for that decision.

Sure an Oops baby can cause strain, be hard work to raise, or make stupid people talk about it behind your back. So what? Would these be grounds for murder? Gee, should we allow the killing of children if a family has to file for bankruptcy? Thin the herd so the rest of the family survives? Of course not, so why should we allow it early on?

If a family or mother truly cannot support, or mentally deal with, a new baby, then they should still have to carry it to term, look it in its helpless little eyes, then give it up for adoption if they still feel the need. There should be no question in these cases.

Now “Uh-oh” babies are a different story. This is where I am a little fuzzy on when an uh-oh baby comes along. I have heard that there are medical reasons that murdering the fetus is required, maybe to save the life of the mother, or that there is something seriously wrong with the fetus, like it will be born without a brain. To me, it sounds perfectly plausible that there are cases that must be treated medically for sound medical reasons. The same reasons that doctors make all of their decisions, to save a life or to prevent unnecessary suffering.

If you’re a regular reader of my articles, you probably are aware that I am a big fan of freedom. Although freedom is a great thing, it also comes at a price. Some people mistake the term freedom as meaning that they have the power to do anything they want, to whomever they want, and whenever they decide. This is not true. Freedom should be something that is granted as long as the granting of that freedom does not harm another human being. In the case of murdering unborn babies, you are not free to choose who lives and who dies.

Women in our country have incredible amounts of freedom. In fact, I’d say that the United States of America is probably one of the few countries that allow women almost any freedom they desire. Women can use birth control, vote, and pretty much pursue any career of their choosing. Sorry ladies, but I would be the first to stand in the way for the freedom for you to murder unborn babies.

I will concede that in some areas women still have difficult times, but they should realize that we all have trouble in some form or another in our society. Minority races, women, and even the proverbial white male all have areas where who they are can limit their access. Perfection will always be fleeting, but we continue to try.

So, should we look down upon women who have had abortions in the past as murderers? Certainly not! This subject has been so confusing for so long that I can’t even imagine having to make such a choice. I do think as a society we need to focus on treating it for what it is, and educating the masses as to why it is murder.

There is no freedom of choice issue, there is no religious versus atheism, or anything else here. We do not allow people to murder other people for any reason in this country, so the time has come to take a firm stand on this one. Of course, there is the death penalty, but let’s save that one for another time.

Finally, the old argument that women will just go into dark alleys to have it done is a lame one. People will also buy drugs, and murder people, this does not mean we legalize drugs and murder so it can be done in a more civilized manner. No matter how you slice it, abortions are murder. I’d love to hear an opposite opinion.

11 comments:

  1. The following is from a discussion that was over on facebook, yet it is about this blog entry, so I moved it here as well...

    Kimberly: "Oh man, I apologize in advance if I come off as heated. It isn't when ~life begins~. We obviously do not have a problem with the sanctity of life (as a generalized concept) in society because we kill animals and then omnom on their yummy bits. "Just because the life is not physically recognizable as a baby, does not make it any less viable." It has nothing to do with what a fetus looks like. If, as a society, we think it's cool to kill a fully developed animal, one capable of love, compassion, sadness etc, why is it not okay to kill a clump of cells with no cognition whatsoever? That's really what it comes down to for me. It has nothing to do with "life" and everything to do with the fact that each individual person has their own view of life, what it is, how different humans are etc. and because we will NEVER, EVER, EVER all 100% fully agree on that, abortion should be fully legal, available and left to individuals to decide.

    You've also left out cases of non-consent in your blog. And what about low income women, who traditionally have lower access to birth control? You realize that the crime rates went down in the early 90's because of Roe V Wade and the ability of lower income women to get rid of these ~oops~ babies (aka future at-risk teens). Never mind the fact that the baby now becomes a punishment for the woman (not the man, which is a fun thing to think about) in case of mistake. Condoms only work 97% of the time. And adoption! Suddenly the women is only a vessel for a baby and no longer a mother. Well, cool, if you want to go through the agony of childbirth for a kid you'll never get emotional pay off from, good for you, but I could never risk my vagina literally ripping into my anus for a kid I was going to hand over.

    So, yeah. I find it extremely disingenuous that we fawn all over the sanctity of a fetus which is reliant on the mother to live at all (a parasite) but we're ambivalent about MURDERing (to use your term) non-human animals.

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  2. You're seriously comparing the life of an animal as equal to the life of a human being?

    All life to me is not to be taken lightly, but I also recognize that animals are part of our food chain.

    Killing animals for food, or killing babies for convenience, are two completely different things to me. I'm sort of amazed I would even need to make a statement like that when regarding abortion.

    It's obvious that we don't agree on the definition of life when it comes to a fetus, so that's not really a point anymore in the discussion. :)

    One thing that I'm curious about when people say that because they have their own view on life, they should be allowed to choose when it begins. Apparently, when they can end it as well.

    If someone views life even less then you, and decides that some humans need to be sacrificed for their own belief system, do we allow this as well because they don't believe that everyone's life is necessary?

    This would support your statement that, "because we will NEVER, EVER, EVER all 100% fully agree on that, [your level of death here] should be fully legal, available and left to individuals to decide.

    In our society we do not let individuals choose when it's okay to murder another human, regardless of whether they "fully agree" to it or not.

    Although I would still feel it wrong, I can understand the need for non-consent pregnancies to be aborted. I would classify this under the medical reasons. Which in this case would no doubt be more for the sanity of the mother. A child conceived in that manner, however, could still be brought to term and raised, and loved, just the same.

    As far as the lower income issues are concerned. Why don't we just wade into the ghetto's and kill all of the lower income people and get them all out of the gene pool? Really? We should allow people to kill their offspring so they don't grow up to be a burden on society?

    I would much rather see another approach.

    Personally, I would offer as many of them that would like the ability to get "fixed" for free! Much more humane I would think, and probably work a heck of a lot better!

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  3. Apparently I had the comments locked down a little too tight, so once again I am moving Kim's replies over here. :)

    Kimberly:"You're seriously comparing the life of an animal as equal to the life of a human being?" You're seriously playing dumb about how I could do such a thing? Or do you not think a human is an animal?

    When you make your argument based on the preservation of life? Yes, I will point out how that is vague and subjective. Specifically: a fully grown cow or horse or something vs a pre-self-sustaining human. Animals are part of the food chain, which we do sometimes eat... yes (never mind that we hunt for sport, slice off shark fins and throw the entire shark back in the ocean, strip them for their pelt, euthanize them). Guess what? Humans are animals and also part of the food chain. So this separation you're creating between the two is silly. You're basically saying we're outside of nature or somehow above it all. And obviously human beings are a more complicated iteration of life; we have complex language, art, and the kind of consciousness that creates culture. Do we have any more right to life than a cat or dog? No. We're animals just like them.

    No, this is the thing I'm trying to make you see: we do agree on when life begins as it involves a fetus. We can start at the same idea and end up in different destinations, while we both hold to our views with logical consistency. I see the world differently than you do.

    If you'd like to define the second a sperm enters an egg as the beginning of life for that being, then fine. We can agree on when life begins, but still not agree about why or why not its varying forms should be interfered with and THAT is why abortion should be legal. 'I shouldn't even have to tell you that,' as you say.

    "One thing that I'm curious about when people say that because they have their own view on life, they should be allowed to choose when it begins. Apparently, when they can end it as well." Nope, not saying I get to choose when it begins. As far as I'm concerned, you can go even further and call masturbation murder and willful abandonment of children. Putting comfortable boundaries on a process that is above and beyond my human comprehension is not my thing. I'm saying that definition is actually irrelevant because our society is inconsistent on the "sanctity" of life in other areas.

    I do believe we are, and should be, able to choose when it ends on a personal level. We can do this individually with suicide, and there is a growing movement on reforming the legality of assisted-suicide, which I support. We can choose to not undergo treatment for disease, we start wars, we have the death penalty. We choose all the time. The problem is that a fetus can not survive outside a woman, and the talk then becomes a struggle between how much of it is "her" (she must sustain it for it to live). So we can agree on complex cellular organisms containing life, but not with the premise that it is equal to the mother's. After all, you do the same when you don't agree that the life contained within an animal is equal to a human's.

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  4. Kimberly Continued...
    "In our society we do not let individuals choose when it's okay to murder another human, regardless of whether they "fully agree" to it or not." We make judgments on societally-accepted human murder all the time. We feel secure in taking the life of adult humans in retribution (death penalty), never mind that justice is imperfect and some people may be wrongly executed, because we buy into an eye for an eye. And war... how do you justify that sort of killing? Or is that kind of killing okay because we can rationalize it and set those particular humans as 'other'? Again, these are things I don't have a *huge* problem with (if I see a guy shoot my dad, I'm shooting him in the face. If someone is invading my country, let's slaughter his followers), and you can reason them away all you want, but the "life is sacred" argument doesn't hold up well to our violent policies. As for an individual basis, this leads in nicely to my next paragraph.

    ‎"If someone views life even less then you, and decides that some humans need to be sacrificed for their own belief system, do we allow this as well because they don't believe that everyone's life is necessary?" Ignoring the fact that you've insinuated I don't value life, or value it somehow "less" than you, let's compare human life vs human life in my philosophy, since you're having a problem comprehending the nuance of my argument, and I'm probably having difficulty in communicating it. Fully grown woman vs a fetus. Fully grown woman has: thoughts, dreams, goals to complete. By taking her life, you are frustrating those goals, stifling her active ambition. In-utero child has: ... life. The inability to live on its own, nonetheless think consciously. Aborting a fetus, a creature capable of less than a fully developed animal, is therefore a non-issue to me. I have no problem eating animals, I have no problem with the removal of a clump of cells that isn't even capable of the ambition of walking yet. Even cats have ambitions that death can foil; dinner, stalking a bird, scratching a couch. A fetus does not. Therefore, killing another adult/child for no reason is far more messed up than killing a clump of cells that can hardly process its environs.

    Or to use your own phraseology: You're seriously comparing the killing of a man with friends, a career, and other foundations behind him and before him with the killing of a bunch of incomplete, parasitic cells?

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  5. And continued... :)
    "As far as the lower income issues are concerned. Why don't we just wade into the ghetto's and kill all of the lower income people and get them all out of the gene pool? Really? We should allow people to kill their offspring so they don't grow up to be a burden on society?" Your hyperbole here is actually crossing into insulting, thank you. By placing power in their hands (I am not sweeping in making some magnanimous life or death decision for them, this is a decision by THEM, the individual, as to what is best for the context of their life at that time) so that they can judge what they are financially & emotionally capable of, because when they are not given the choice and are forced to over-extend themselves in poor living conditions it affects the entire society (namely: we pay for it). Then we remove funding to places like Planned Parenthood that can actually help prevent abortion in the first place by providing low-cost birth control, when federal funds never went to abortion there in the first place. We're lowering lower income families' access to birth control and then taking away their backup options afterwards. To me, that smacks of institutionalized racism and it's disgusting. Would you moan and groan about having to take care of those children who end up on welfare and then call their mothers welfare queens? Because living in Orange County, I hear that kind of logic a lot.

    Don't even get me started on how difficult it is to get a doctor to "fix" a woman without medical necessity; it takes shopping around to many doctors, even when they know pregnancy could result in her death. Why? Because we apparently value the potential for humanity more than we value humanity itself. For me, that's the issue and life has nothing to do with it. We make concessions about 'life' all the time, but humanity is a harder thing to pin down. That differentiation, that locus of when the cells are 'human' and not suddenly cells anymore... that's what people tend to be fighting over and why there are shades in abortion laws according to scientifically evident developmental stages.

    Your argument: fetus=alive, abortion=removes life, therefore abortion=wrong/murder.

    My version: cockroach=more complicated form of life than a fetus, cockroach=alive, bug spray=removes life, therefore bug spray=wrong/murder.

    Or, to be less facetious: This issue is not as black and white for everyone as it is for you. You complained at my equivalence of human life and other animal life; well I complain at your equivalence of fetal human life and grown (which includes childhood) human life.

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  6. Okay, let me try to reign this in a little and keep it very “on topic”. Can I write flamboyantly about life, the universe and how I think it all interrelates to abortion. Yes, but i feel it tends to drag things way off course.

    First of all, the article is not about the overall sanctity of all life on the planet. It is merely my specific viewpoint on abortion.

    Since you’re really adamant about dragging the animal analogy into this, let’s work that direction first.

    I consider a fetus, or a “pre-self-sustaining human”, as an innocent human life that cannot defend itself. To me, it puts it in the same category as any child that cannot defend themselves.

    When a baby is first born it technically can’t sustain itself. Like any newborn, including your precious animal analogy, it still must be taken care of and defended. In the womb, or lying on the ground, it is an innocent life incapable of living without care.

    Just because it is “pre-self-sustaining” does not automatically make it fair game to be exterminated at will any more then a newborn baby would be.

    There is a point where we must call it a baby, a human being, and I choose to make that determination when it starts the process of evolving into a human. A sperm and an egg by themselves do not have the cellular makeup to begin that process, and therefore are not considered a human.

    We are separate from the animals in many ways, but are animals and us both “alive”, I can only answer with, duh! :)

    The point is that animals defend their young with a passion sometimes more extreme then ours. Why should we be any different. We ARE animals, and I feel the need to defend our young just as most of the animal kingdom does.

    Why are you so willing to let our young be killed?

    You fight vehemently to defend the rights of animals to live, yet seemingly could care less about the right to defend the innocent life within your own species.

    I don’t believe that we should harm any living creature, and I oppose all of the things you point out in the uncontrolled slaughter and torture of animals.

    How can the definition of when life begins be “irrelevant”? When it comes to the topic of abortion it’s pretty much the most relevant point there is. :)

    I also agree with you that we should be allowed to choose if we would like to end our own lives. Assisted suicide, or whether or not to be treated for a life-ending disease should be our right. This should be for people that are in complete understanding of what their about to do. I think allowing teenagers to off themselves willy nilly would be a bit extreme for example. We should still try to help troubled folks at all costs.

    Things like the death penalty and war don’t apply here. If we took Innocent people off the street, gassed or burned them, then you would have a point. Our justice system, or the defense of this country, although yes they involve death, are in a whole different category.

    Wow! I was sort of shocked when you said that a, “Fully grown woman has: thoughts, dreams, goals to complete”, and that was your reasoning for “the removal of a clump of cells” as justifiable. So in your viewpoint, the more “thoughts, dreams and goals” one has, the more worthy they are to live?

    When a newborn baby first makes its appearance, how many dreams and goals does it have? Until they can begin to understand what dreams and goals even are, should they be expendable? In your infinite wisdom, at what point does a fetus/baby cease to be important enough to protect? If ever?

    BTW, enjoying the discussion!

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  7. Kimberly said...
    ‎"First of all, the article is not about the overall sanctity of all life on the planet. It is merely my specific viewpoint on abortion." It is not "merely" your view, because you call for legislative action based on your view at the end ("There is no freedom of choice issue, there is no religious versus atheism, or anything else here. We do not allow people to murder other people for any reason in this country, so the time has come to take a firm stand on this one."). It is a call to action for repealing our current laws, that refuses to see subtlety in the stages of human life, or acknowledge the legitimacy of any philosophy but your own (which you can't even recognize as being such), and that I must refute.

    You can not base your argument *to change our current laws on abortion* on life at conception without analyzing what you mean by "life". Your logic is: Life begins at conception (further, we've uncovered, to your mind this conception immediately insinuates humanity into the cells), taking a human life is murder, therefore abortion is murder. I disagree with your premise that a sperm and an egg uniting immediately equates to humanity or worthiness. It can not even live on its own until 6 months.

    I'm adamant about dragging the animal analogy into this because they are more complicated beings than a fetus. This shows a glaring cognitive disconnect in your philosophy to my mind. Again: I eat animals, I'd just like to call a spade a spade. You believe life in a human womb is somehow more special than the life of an animal. You. believe. that. You could be right, who cares? But there is no science that says it is so. This is spiritual belief and has no place in our laws.

    "I consider a fetus, or a “pre-self-sustaining human”, as an innocent human life that cannot defend itself. To me, it puts it in the same category as any child that cannot defend themselves." Again, to point out your wording: *you* consider a fetus that way, those are *your* constructed categories. That is not, scientifically what it is (the part of our brain that controls consciousness, the thalamus, does not form connections until 28 weeks in, its nervous system can't control bodily functions until week 24) , especially in comparison to a child that is functionally processing & storing the world around it. Just because it has the potential to become a newborn, does not make it so at the time it is aborted. A newborn that can not defend itself can still exist outside its mother without dying and is thereby differentiated from its earlier stages. I really don't have to go into why late-term abortions are comparatively rare and often made illegal at the state level, right? We've been engaging your philosophy (which it is, make no mistake) because I've wanted to show you that we can define the same word different ways, see the same situation but interpret it differently. This makes your point of view a philosophy. Science can't say that humanity begins at conception or brain development, so our opinions should not be legislated. Leave the laws alone.

    "When a baby is first born it technically can’t sustain itself." Actually, it can. It's called 'coming to term', and it usually happens around week 35/36 of the embryonic stage; a baby can potentially be taken out at 33 weeks though it only survives thanks to machines. It no longer needs to be biologically hooked into the mother to absorb nutrients (and oxygen), the definition of a parasite, and can now survive on its own outside of her. Obviously it can not feed itself, but it is also not *physically reliant to another being for survival*, and only after birth does a newborn use its system (mouth, stomach) the way that they will for the rest of their lives.

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  8. Kimberly continues...
    ‎"Like any newborn, including your precious animal analogy, it still must be taken care of and defended." Sure, but again, that is not what I meant by a fetus being biologically parasitic. My precious animals. I bring them up to point out that we can agree on when 'life' appears in an organism (you believe animals have life, too), but can't even agree on the boundaries of the meaning of the word/concept of humanity (you believe: sperm+egg=life=humanity, I believe: sperm+egg=life, matured brain=humanity. That is philosophy. Your opinion is philosophy. Stop trying to wash over everyone else's views just because you don't share them. You believe life is on a scale at the species level, I believe it is so within the species, to boot. I believe what animates us is the same that animates them, and if we can kill a complex cow organism, we can kill a simple human one (obviously, adult humans are more complex than cows. The Food Chain & having a more complex brain, after all). And just to be clear: I *don't want* that kind of hippy-animal language in our government because it is subjective opinion, just as I don't want your hippy-human language in our government because it is subjective opinion. And the very basis of civilization and the contract of government is based on human cooperation, so stop insinuating legalized abortion leads down some slippery slope to man killing man in the streets, or mothers killing children after birth. Infanticide is not accepted in our culture, and is in no danger of becoming so because of abortion; in fact, legalizing abortion has lowered infanticide rates.

    "In the womb, or lying on the ground, it is an innocent life incapable of living without care." So, you're saying the fact that a fetus is "innocent" that automatically makes it worthy of living? And here I'll note that this is because it is biologically incapable of thought, not because it has made a conscious decision to be "innocent"; this is some edenic conception of the moral goodness inherent in human life that is not scientific and should be left out of the discussion with regards to our laws. If you can differentiate between degrees/betterness/whatever of life between humans and animals, why do you have such a problem imagining a philosophy that does so within humanity itself; that does not see a human being as containing 'humanity' (and thereby having legal rights) but developing it?

    "Just because it is “pre-self-sustaining” does not automatically make it fair game to be exterminated at will any more then a newborn baby would be." Do you really not see the difference between a fetus and a newborn/adult? I remind you that we've established we don't value the notion of 'life' (the purpose of why I brought animals in to the discussion) but rather 'humanity'; that we can't agree at what point that humanity begins shows that other views exist of the issue exist other than yours, that legislation based on your view is filling in a scientific grey area with subjectivity instead of individual choice. If you can't even admit that the belief that humanity begins when life begins is a philosophy you hold and not something science can prove or disprove, then we shouldn't be having this conversation because it will just continue in circles.

    "There is a point where we must call it a baby, a human being, and I choose to make that determination when it starts the process of evolving into a human" Again: You choose! And that's cool, good on you! But I choose to say that it is a baby when it can actually be capable of self-identity, consciousness, and just generally receiving stimulus that connects it to the outside world. Hell, being its own organism would be enough. But understand: They're both absolutely subjective definitions. We physically become individuals at birth, that is where the protection of the law kicks in.

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  9. And continues...
    ‎"The point is that animals defend their young with a passion sometimes more extreme then ours." ...that was never remotely a point. The existence of a mother-child bond was never in question. "We ARE animals, and I feel the need to defend our young just as most of the animal kingdom does." Mmkay, you're moralizing again, but good for you and your sweeping definition of 'our young'. Talk to me about this in terms of legality, please, because otherwise I'm going to get into how frequent infanticide is in primates (it exists in other animal groups as well, though I'm less familiar with them as they are outside the bounds of my anthropology minor), usually but not always to control offspring that are not of their own direct line, though. Pigs, rabbits, beetles and fish contain parents/caregivers that commit infanticide on their own. So, animals also: 1) kill children that are not their own, 2) kill children that are their own. Again, this is all irrelevant to the legality of human abortion, but just to show you we're not some unique case in the animal kingdom.

    "Why are you so willing to let our young be killed? You fight vehemently to defend the rights of animals to live, yet seemingly could care less about the right to defend the innocent life within your own species." Why are you making this personal? See, this is the problem. You're approaching ad hominem instead of addressing the legal and philosophical issues of actually legislating your view point in the United States. To answer your personal attacks, though: 1) I don't fight to defend the rights of animals to live. They're fucking delicious. There is no way vegetarianism/anti-fur/anti-leather should or could be put on the law books. 2) As a continuation of my logic: I don't defend the rights of organisms less complex than animals to live, either. Because that's hypocritical on my personal scale of degrees of life. I'm "willing to let our young be killed" because at that point they have no cognition, and are sustained only by biological link. I'm willing to remove a clump of cells that could one day grow because it is not, at that point in time, developed. A fetus isn't even wired properly for the *potential* to feel pain until after month 6. And to step in and remind you of the reality of abortion, it is the after-effect of failed birth control or a situation in which one was not available; there is no societal desire for it to be the main mode of birth control. Abortion rates have stayed pretty stable since legalization (here are the stats for the last 8 years http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0102.pdf).

    "I don’t believe that we should harm any living creature, and I oppose all of the things you point out in the uncontrolled slaughter and torture of animals." Oh, excuse me, but BS. Do you eat meat? I do. Therefore you (I assume you aren't a closet vegan) & I both obviously do believe that we can harm living creatures. "Uncontrolled" is your way of getting out of that argument, but no dice because: if you believe it's okay to kill in "controlled" situations, then you DO believe that we can harm "any living creature" and the statement that "I don't believe we should harm any living creature" is absolutely bogus. Therefore the question of life is not at stake, it is the question of what it is to be human, and there is no bigger religious/spiritual question. Science can tells us the stages of human development and their completion just before obvious biological individuation (disconnection of placenta); only philosophy can tell us if life is enough for humanity or if perception and self-construction from cognition is.

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  10. And ends with...
    "How can the definition of when life begins be “irrelevant”? When it comes to the topic of abortion it’s pretty much the most relevant point there is. :)" Irrelevant in that we both agree on its definition, in that we've established it is humanity and not life that this discussion is really about. Life does not immediately imbue rights under the law (see: animals, plants). The issue is how you define a human being. You think it's conception-based, I think it's when the fetus' brain can process & relay information. Someone else might define it as the moment the placenta breaks off and the baby becomes truly its "self".

    "I also agree with you that we should be allowed to choose if we would like to end our own lives. Assisted suicide, or whether or not to be treated for a life-ending disease should be our right. This should be for people that are in complete understanding of what their about to do. I think allowing teenagers to off themselves willy nilly would be a bit extreme for example. We should still try to help troubled folks at all costs." Yeah, definitely. Terry Pratchett has a great campaign going on right now. He has Alzheimer's and wants to be allowed to end his life before he is too far "gone" and is no longer himself. His viewpoint is rather like mine (our brains make up our humanity). Obviously assisted suicide is about dignity at the end-of-life for the terminally ill and not healthy individuals, as you pointed out.

    "Things like the death penalty and war don’t apply here." They did before you had determined a separation of life and humanity in your philosophy. "If we took Innocent people off the street, gassed or burned them, then you would have a point." Except we wouldn't do that. Because everyone can agree that those people are human and legally innocent because of the choices they have made to not commit crimes or murder. A pre-term fetus, however, is innocent only because of it is disconnection from the world around it. To quibble with your philosophy, I don't know how you can say a fetus is more 'innocent' than a cow or something in that respect.

    "Wow! I was sort of shocked when you said that a, “Fully grown woman has: thoughts, dreams, goals to complete”, and that was your reasoning for “the removal of a clump of cells” as justifiable. So in your viewpoint, the more “thoughts, dreams and goals” one has, the more worthy they are to live?" No, in my viewpoint the capability to have dreams and goals at all, even unconscious ones, makes something worthy of not having its goals frustrated by my hand. A fetus is nowhere near capable of such things until its thalamus begins to integrate. Further, it is not about the volume of such things but the ability of the mind to create such conceptions at all.

    "When a newborn baby first makes its appearance, how many dreams and goals does it have?" Filling lungs with air, satiate hunger (for the first time), flee (or seek) stimulus etc. So... plenty. "Until they can begin to understand what dreams and goals even are, should they be expendable? In your infinite wisdom, at what point does a fetus/baby cease to be important enough to protect? If ever?" You don't need to understand motivations to have them. Cats surely don't self-analyze why they chase a bunny or lick themselves, but their mind compels them to it anyways. These processes are unconscious; a fetus does not have the capacity for such. Up until very close to birth, a fetus is just too biologically immature to operate in this way.

    "In [my] infinite wisdom" you're blind to the very fact that your conceptions come from a unique philosophical vantage point instead of (what you believe is) some intimate knowledge of universal reality, and it makes me sad.

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  11. You seem very upset that most of what I say is my opinion. I would like to point out that this is a blog, and shocking revelation, every article in this blog is...wait for it...my opinion. :)

    I am not trying to pass a law on my belief, but have merely put them down here because it’s what I enjoy doing. Writing down my thoughts so that it might spark a conversation. I’m actually pleased that something I have written has got someone fired up.

    We could go around and around on this for a long time, but I believe we have both covered our opinions ad nauseam at this point, and to continue would not be very beneficial to the topic.

    My parting comment is that we simply view where legally "protected" life begins differently, and that's okay.

    You believe that until the fetus has developed "humanity" it has no rights and should not be protected from death.

    I believe that live begins at the point of conception, and that the new life that is growing has the right to live.

    Regardless of the philosophical and scientific issues consider this.

    When a woman is first told she is pregnant, the life growing inside of her is considered to be her baby.

    I feel to think any differently, no matter how you justify it scientifically, theologically, or philosophically, is callous.

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