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!

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You noticed that too? Makes me wonder if he isn't scrambling to find responses among his canned sermons.

Aren't we the only species who cry due to emotions?

As our puppies have matured, it has become rather obvious that we can tell when they are boored, lonely, hungery, happy, excited, are teasing, etc. More than once my wife and I have seen the wonderful 'smile' that the puppies give us when we get home, they are playing, or they 'get us' when they tease.

We have noticed also the number of words and gesters that they understand. The term 'bath' can make them disapear, 'walk' and 'ride' will make them run to the door and nearly scrap the paneling off! The term 'Cookie' will make them run to the kitchen and assume the position.

They taught us that they are hungery when they lick our hands in the morning.They seem to understand that cleaning up the yard means bringing sticks to mommy.   

We have seen interesting indications of creativity and problem solving. Once our oldest was late for her walk, I took off up our road on a different path and she meet me by taking a separate leg of a triangle as an intersept. I was rather empressed my this. 

Our youngest has found different ways to never be stuck behind our fence. We have early given up trying to keep her in. She meets us in the driveway when we get home, to get the first hug, I expect. 

Have you ever seen the documentary on the "Crying Camel?" Extremely interesting true story of a mammal's rejection of a newborn and subsequent acceptance.

I'm pro-life, but for non-religious reasons. I find that abortion itself is usually unnecessary, violent, inhumane, and often downright barbaric. We, as a society, need to advance ourselves past the need for such things with better education, and frankly, the doing away with of religious beliefs that birth control options like pills or condoms are morally wrong and cannot be used under any circumstance.

However, I do not believe a fertilized egg is a human (it doesn't even have a spine!). In fact, it's very common for eggs to get fertilized, but they just never attach to the uterus wall, so they have no chance. They are naturally expelled from the body when the monthly flow begins. The woman never even realizes it happened at all. There are many times, also, when the egg WILL attach to the wall, and may even begin to burrow into the lining, but will stop doing so for whatever reason, and then the body goes into menses and flushes it out. All natural, yet again. Like before, usually the woman will not even know it had happened. Chances are, most women have been "pregnant" several times in their reproductive lives if they have been regularly sexually active and have not used protection.

My opinion is that things start getting into the point-of-no-return realm as soon as the spinal column begins to form. And they are most DEFINITELY off when the heart begins to beat. Unfortunately, that doesn't leave a lot of time. The spine begins to form somewhere around 4-5 weeks in, which is about when a woman can even get a positive pregnancy test. I should mention I consider that to be a gray area, though. I personally don't feel it's right to end the life at that point in time, but the heart hasn't formed or begun to beat yet. The heart begins to beat around 6 weeks in. I've seen that with my own eyes on an ultrasound. Obviously, that little goober is alive.

I advocate the Plan B or Morning After Pill like mad, if a woman should suspect she could potentially have gotten pregnant from an unprotected sexual encounter. At the same time, though, I very, very strongly advocate for contraceptive use. I say use all the available tools you have at hand to make sure it never happens in the first place, leaving abortion completely out of the picture. Planned Parenthood and the Health Department provide free or low cost birth control pills and condoms. I strongly suggest the use of BOTH those options at the same time. I also suggest, if possible, to combine those along with other methods, like spermicide and anything else that could prevent an unwanted pregnancy from ever happening at all.

Another easy, free, and actually 100% religiously acceptable method for birth control is basal body temperature charting. I strongly encourage all women, whether they are trying to conceive a child or not, to use BBT charting. After a few months of doing so, a woman gets a good idea of when her fertile period is, and she can opt to either not have sex at all during those few days, or use birth control options during those days to prevent fertilization from happening. All you need is a thermometer and a pen and paper next to your bed to write your temperature onto in the morning when you first wake up. So simple! Free! Totally ethical!

I am also disturbed by the possibility that the unborn child may be feeling extreme pain when it is being destroyed. Pain is our most basic of sensations. Given that a fetus does react to being poked or jabbed relatively early in development, that suggests they can feel SOMEthing. There has been some study as to whether a fetus can feel pain, and the results have come back that they are actually able to sense pain on some level. I feel that if an abortion has been deemed medically necessary after a certain point, it is only the humane thing to do to administer pain killers to the baby so that its suffering can be lessened during the procedure.

I am highly against the use of abortion for birth control reasons only. I feel such a thing is completely unnecessary, and if the couple (it takes two, after all) were too ignorant to make use of birth control options, or allowed a religion to tell them they couldn't do such a thing, then they should accept their responsibilities and deal with the consequences of their poor choices. If they truly cannot support the child, there are many, many couples out there who are looking to adopt. I know quite a number of them, myself, as I have battled infertility for many years, and have gained many friends with the same affliction. They would be happy to take the "burden" off someone else's hands.

I understand that sometimes abortions are deemed medically necessary, and I do not speak against these. Sometimes, the life of the baby or the mother is at such a great risk that ending the pregnancy is the only option. But I do still feel that pain relief should be administered to the unborn child during the process.

Unfortunately, the reality is that there will always be those who will choose not to use birth control options to their best advantage, or those who will always allow religion to tell them what to do with their sexual lives. I accept there's nothing I can do, and I don't preach to those who are pro-choice or who otherwise want to end the life of their unborn child. But this is what I think about it all, for what it's worth.

I feel that, just because they haven't yet been born doesn't mean they're no less qualified for the right to life as those of us out here in the open world. Like us, they only get one life, and they never even got to experience light or touch. So short, and so tragic... And it could have been so easily prevented (cases of rape/incest not withstanding, of course)!

I'm pro-life, but for non-religious reasons.

Fair enough.

I find that abortion itself is usually unnecessary, violent, inhumane, and often downright barbaric.

Yet you seem unaware that these are just propaganda pushed forward by the religious.

Propaganda, sure, but it doesn't sound like Rachel bought it for religious reasons.

Besides, it doesn't say anywhere in scripture when a fetus deserves protection, so people's assumptions that God said something about it are unfounded.

Umm. I think they invoke that "Thou shalt not kill" one, though, don't they?

My understanding is that 'kill' should actually be taken to mean 'murder'.  After all, weren't the ten commandments handed down back in the day when God still wanted us to spill blood over various offenses?  I'm not sure what offenses a foetus may have committed, but it's a surefire bet that the Catholics have something bad on 'em. 

It makes sense that the "kill" in the commandment actually means murder. Otherwise, it would have been specifying vegetarianism or even the eating of only already dead things. (Please, vegans, don't take this as a propaganda moment.)

The Catholics have the old original sin thing on them.

More seriously, as Wittgenstein once said, "To understand a language is to know a way of life." What that means, basically, is that we can't really ever know what they meant for sure.

You're right of course, and I know you know what I'm about to add for the benefit of other, potential idiots:

Thou shalt not kill is such a general statement that it could be interpreted as "thou shalt not even stomp on cockroaches or locusts", or (here's a good one) "thou shalt not go to war for bad reasons".

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