So I was having an online discussion with my younger brother a little more than a week ago about abortion. Being a devout and pro-life Catholic he held the opinion that life starts at conception, that it a fertilized egg is human and should be treated as human because it is a unique life different than the host parent. I have also been reading bio-ethics and many different places on the debate and they all seem to revolve around trying to justify scientifically what I can best describe as trying to answer the question, "when is an embryo tantamount to a human being?" 

     Of course, that one question gave way to the larger question, "What makes us human?" Where do we define the limits of humanity? Is it strictly in a biological sense as in form, shape, and structure? Is it in potential in the case of infants? Is it in behavior; could someone act in a way that they are no longer considered, if even for a moment, a human? Is it in ability whether physical or mental? Is humanity a transitive property; in other words, is it a label that can be taken away or does it last regardless once it has been gained? Are their varying degrees of humanity where a person could be considered "more human" than someone else?

I am very curious to hear all of your thoughts and ideas!

Tags: humanity

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Unfortunately, the one non-subjective answer is also the least enlightening. It is also the least pertinent to the original question at issue, namely the discussion of personhood, fetal rights, and abortion. This discussion is informed by biology, but it is decided by society: an amalgamation of culture, logic, law, and so on.

Okay. Then you are back to the many different answers, which means no single answer to the question which means no answer at all.

Sure, there's no simple answer. Many different answers means many different answers, not no answer. Society arrives at a consensus of sorts in the form of law, but that can shift as society does. It's not a factual question, IMO, it's a judgment. There are biological facts that are indisputable, obviously, but value-judgments are not factual issues.

Sorry Saggy, to hijack your thread for just a sec, but I just wanted everyone to know that this is World Humanist Day!

World Huminists Emblem

As you were --

Abortion as a form of birth control is wrong and should be illegal.  If there is a valid medical reason for an abortion, thin it should be permitted.  Also I think a woman should have a choice to carry a child which is the result of rape or incest.

Wrong based on what?

What even makes it your business, much less the state's?

Women already can choose to keep a child no matter how conceived. What made you think otherwise? The question is whether the government should be able to forbid her from terminating a pregnancy.

As far as I'm concerned, if a woman wants to have abortions as a form of entertainment, I don't give a flying sh**.

As far as I'm concerned, if a woman wants to have abortions as a form of entertainment, I don't give a flying sh**.

I just wanted to agree here.

Where is the harm?
So what exactly makes this kind of abortion wrong?

One can hardly point to a single aspect and say, "There - THAT's the thing that makes us Human!" It's more like a mosaic, a jigsaw puzzle, from which sociopaths have a piece missing.

One of those pieces (see how nicely I segued into this, without facing accusation of hi-jacking the thread?), is that we tend to enjoy observing nudity, and the Religious Right, during Little GW's administration, used the FCC to levy heavy fines against TV networks that allow onscreen nudity, such as we may remember from such shows as "NYPD Blue," and while I'm no aficionado of Dennis Franz's butt, I resent any infringement on his right to show it - I can always close my eyes. Well, today, Big Johnny Roberts and the Supremes overturned the FCC reg banning brief TV nudity, so it looks like we just got back one of those pieces of the puzzle that makes us human, the right to glimpse a little boob and bum. Can I get a Hallelujah!?:-)/\:-) high five

I fear that this discussion is one of those best suited to long, lazy Sunday afternoons, with a lot of good weed available.  I would not want to try to give an answer to this question without plenty of chemical stimulation and also social stimulation. 

Not that this question is not worth asking, but, it is, in my opinion, almost impossible of useful answer.  I, personally, do not believe there is any one or any set of characteristics, which taken in isolation, can be called the key to understanding humanity. 

To contradict myself flagrantly, I think if there is anything which can be said to identify us as human, it may be our sense of humor.

To get back onto ground where I am more comfortable, sarcasm, " What is it which makes a ham sandwich a ham sandwich?  Is it the rye bread?  Is it the mustard?  Is it the smithfield ham?  Or, is it some hidden unknowable essence?" 

Only the executive chef knows for sure.

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