In this discussion I would like to talk about abortion. It is always something I have felt very strong about and would argue to the ends of the earth on. I have always been Pro-Life, always. Ever since I became an Atheist, this topic keeps popping up in my head. Since it is something I have not wanted to confront, I have been pushing it to the back burner. Now that I have given it some thought I would like to tell you where I used to stand and where I stand now. When I was a Christian my thought process was "Abortion is Never the right choice unless the mother and child will both die." So even if the child were to survive and the mother dies, abortion is still not the right choice. Some might even consider that murder, I guess. To answer this question I'm sure someone will ask, Yes I would have and still would give up my life for my child. Well, now I'm sort of seeing things a bit different. If a female gets raped and gets pregnant from it, abortion is ok, (sad all the way around - for everyone).  If a woman chooses to abort a baby due to the risk to the mothers life, Ok. If the baby will have a very very very difficult life and in turn make the parents have an equally difficult life, ok. To me abortion is a horrible thing, if someone wants to have an abortion just because oops I got preggo. That is horrible. If you don't want kids do everything in your power to NOT get pregnant. Simple as that. Life is a beautiful an precious thing, and yes I do believe it is special.  Any and All comments are welcome :)

Tags: abortion, pro-choice, pro-life

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Every single instant spent in the womb has developmental purpose. The moment of birth IS indeed a defining moment when the foetus is ready for undoctored life. Medical intervention enables us to defy the biologal timing of birth, that does not change the fact without medical intervention, the moment of birth is crucial. We may be humans before birth, but we are only persons after birth.
It is addressed in the comments section.

Posted by: Thebear, just an agent of peas | December 1, 2010 9:17 AM "There is no black-and-white boundary between non-personhood and personhood — it's an arbitrary line drawn in a continuum."
I must respectfully disagree, or at least modify. There is one very easy defined line between personhood and non-personhood. It even has a special name and is revered as a special occations in all cultures I know of. It's called birth.
One modification though is that not all cultures reconize personhood at birth, it might come quite a bit later.
People who advocate personhood before birth are universally westerners who've lost the distinction between a person and a human.
Potentital isn't the same as the real thing.

Posted by: PZ Myers | December 1, 2010 9:40 AM Nope, birth is also arbitrary, and it has not been even a cultural universal that newborns are regarded as fully human. I've had a few. They weren't.
Hell, in some cases people's brains never become fully functional... at least not as far as I can tell.
Actually, I've heard full brain maturity happens at about 30 years old.
The reference for the 30 year date for maturity of the human brain is here http://main.zerotothree.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ter_key_brainF...
Posted by: PZ Myers | December 1, 2010 9:40 AM Nope, birth is also arbitrary, and it has not been even a cultural universal that newborns are regarded as fully human. I've had a few. They weren't.

I'd say that they are fully human, but not fully a person. It is a small distinction, but an important one. My daughter is 4 months old and I can, I think, start to spot small signs here and there of a rudimentery person developing.

For the first month or two, I was amazed by her because she was not a person at all, but a force of nature. Evolution incarnate, if you will.
@Adriana,

"there is a very definitive natural boundary which is birth"

Is a baby more human a minute after birth than a minute before? That makes birth seem as arbitrary as any other distinction.

I think PZ meant what he said: "There is no black-and-white boundary between non-personhood and personhood — it's an arbitrary line drawn in a continuum."
Yeah, MacInnes,

I'm talking about a viable fetus, removed from the womb. It's no longer a fetus.

Hormones kick in and (usually) result in all these things happening. But sometimes the newborn needs human intervention to start breathing. If the fetus is still not human, does that mean it's morally acceptable to not help the baby start breathing?

Also, just because birth causes hormones to kickstart a few organs is no kind of rationale, in my opinion, for personhood. Hormones cause puberty to kick in as well. Does that mean we aren't human persons until after puberty?
But sometimes the newborn needs human intervention to start breathing. If the fetus is still not human, does that mean it's morally acceptable to not help the baby start breathing?

It is morally acceptable to weigh cost against gains for any procedure.
My issues with weighing cost against gains is: who decides? By what standard do we claim it is okay to kill a baby (NOT fetus)?

I believe it's a whole different can of worms, legally and morally, after the fetus is outside the womb, alive and viable.

You know, people . . . if the value of human life is not absolute, we need to value it as much as possible. I have a strong moral objection to any cavalier attitude toward human life -- and a living, viable fetus removed from the womb is a baby, a human being worthy of all the dignity and rights of any other human being.
Your scenario was about withholding treatment, not about killing babies. Letting a person die is not the same as killing them.
@Kris,

"Your scenario was about withholding treatment, not about killing babies. Letting a person die is not the same as killing them."

I didn't say otherwise. I asked a question: "If the fetus is still not human, does that mean it's morally acceptable to not help the baby start breathing?", in response to MacInnes quote of Adriana's assertion that there are biological differences immediately after birth as compared to immediately before birth -- and (presumably) that these differences demarcate "a very definitive natural boundary which is birth"

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