Notice that if you ask "When does life begin?" you get a definition, not a fact. What does this mean for the debate between pro-choicers and pro-lifers, one side defining life to begin at birth, the other at conception? Doesn't it mean that it's a problem without a solution?

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I guess definition because it's sure not a fact.  If doctors claim a person dies when a heart stops beating, then we've resurrected millions of people.  We still don't know for a fact when life begins NOR when it ends.  Perhaps doctors should spend a week trying to revive a single human being because we don't know for a fact whether or not that person is dead?  That'd be ludicrous.  Are they giving up too soon and indirectly letting them die?  Doctors and scientists are split, subjectively as opposed to objectively, when life begins and ends.  A significant number pregnancies end in miscarriage within the first trimester anyways, so it's as if after the first three months we have much more certainty whether or not the fetus will survive.

I also wonder why we continue to perpetuate these ridiculous labels like "pro-life" and "pro-choice" as if some how we are either anti-life or anti-choice - these are all P.R. strategies that we've come to accept and shouldn't.  If we can call a fertilized egg human life, why can't we call sperm and eggs human life?  I just killed millions of bacterial life just by typing this comment and breathing.  Why can't we call the issue of abortion pro-slavery anti-slavery?  I mean, there are so many different labels we can give it.

I like those terms.

I'd also propose pro-woman and anti-woman.

I agree with you on the pro-woman, anti-woman. As Jon Stewart once said on The Daily Show, when he posted a picture of all the people arguing that abortion should be illegal... "This picture looks like the Who's Who of.....Who's Not Female....."

The main people pushing to criminalize abortion are the "Religious Right". A bunch of ultra-conservative, fundamentalist, Chrsitian MEN. I, as a man, have absolutely no right to force a woman to have an abortion. Nor can I force a woman to take birth control, or not take birth control, or anything else to do with her body. And I agree with several people here...men really don't care all that much. Unless a man is in an extremely serious relationship with a woman he is deeply in love with, this is what he thinks when she says "I'm pregnant."

Oh shit. $$$$. So much for that car I was saving up for. Crap, now if we split up, she gets a quarter of my income, and she will probably just keep the money and make her own parents raise the kid....shit.

You have no idea how much sulking my girlfriend gave me when I told her I don't ever want kids. She loves children, and I kept mumbling on about how annoying children are and when I turned my head to her (I was watching something) I saw her with that "What the hell, no kids??" look on her face. Now she slowly started to accept it and I hope she'll be over it soon.

Damn, hearing "I'm pregnant" would probably scare my heart into a skip. Children are cute as long as they belong to other people and you're exposed to them for very short periods of time, like 5 or 10 minutes max. But being a father myself would be a nightmare! Imagine the pregnancy.. urgh..

I have a 3 year old son. If you actually wanted that question answered. And I love him to death. I never wanted to have children, and my son was not planned. I do not regret it. On the other hand, the next time his mother became pregnant, we aborted. Which I also do not regret, nor does she. After going through a pregnancy, childbirth, and a year of raising a baby, going to work exhausted because he cried all night, baby-proofing my house, paying baby-sitters, not being able to do anything we wanted to do most of the time, etc....it was not even a question. As soon as the doctor said she was pregnant, she burst into tears and I started looking for the number to an abortion clinic.

Also, I have every intention of getting "snipped" very soon. This year. And I wish that all men who did not want to have children would do the same. Every life is not sacred. A lot of these babies grow to be leaches on society and live off my tax money and commit crimes. I wish they had all been aborted. People make the argument "That baby may have been the one to find the cure for cancer". And other ignorant arguments, we have all heard them. That baby could also have been the next Hitler, or a child rapist. Human life can become something that should be protected, depening on what you do with your life. If someone is making amazing scientific breakthroughs, or is making millions of dollars and using it in positive ways, or even just working their ass off to support their family and pay their taxes....I would say that their lives are important and worth preotecting. Someone who is fully able to work but instead lives off welfare, WIC, unemployment, etc.....I would not consider it a crime if they were "aborted" at the age of thirty. It would pain me more to see someone shoot a loyal dog than a useless person.

Doctors use a definition. It is merely a stipulation which is needed in order to have a procedure to follow. It doesn't really mean anything cosmic. We define marriage in much the same way: for legal purposes, a marriage begins when a certain legal procedure happens. There are other definitions of marriage, however, perhaps equally or even more valid.

Of course, the ovum and the sperm are alive and potential people before they ever get together but when I suggest anti-choice people carry this to its logical conclusion by making abstinence a sin they tell me I have missed the point. I have raised many questions about what this point is? The most emotive arguments against abortion say things like 'This would have been a photo of my child had its mother decided not to murder him' or 'Aren't you glad your mother did not abort you?' Both of the endings to this could be replaced with 'not abstain from pre-marital sex.' However I cannot get anyone to explain why preventing a potential child from being born by abstaining from sex is a better consequence for the potential child than aborting it whilst an embryo would be so it is nothing to do with the potential person's rights at all.

It is, as you say, all about when 'life' is said to start and by this the religious mean when the child has a soul as they are quite happy to eat meat and vegetables which are all alive - it is when that foetus becomes a PERSON. Medical science tells us a foetus is 'viable' at 24 weeks and that the central nervous system is not up and running until 27 weeks so no pain and no awareness until then. Given the complete lack of evidence for a soul I think it is only reasonable to go with the scientific version of when 'life' begins. In fact there is plenty of evidence that 'personhood', the 'self' that spark of individuality often called a soul lives in the brain as it is seen to be badly damaged or even gone entirely when the brain is damaged by injury or dementia.

In short, pro-choicers declare life to begin at 24 weeks and pro-lifers at conception. 'Life' actually began many years before either of those and sentience and awareness is known to begin at 27 weeks when the brain starts to lay down pathways. This makes pro-choicers right and is the reason abortion is legal.

The pro-life vs pro-choice does not deal with the question "when does life begin?" it deals with the question "At what point do we consider the fetus a person?".... The universe does not distinguish between the life of a bacteria, or a human. Ergo, if your positions is about the sanctity  of life. Then you better be a vegan, against the death penalty, and you better walk with a broom to make sure you don't step on any bugs by mistake. Also, be careful when you scratch your face since you might be killing hundreds of cells that have exactly the same genetic material of when you were a zygote. If you fail to comply with those guidelines then that is a big sign of your hypocrisy.   

Misanthrope, it is entirely relevant to animals when you are comparing them to infants.  You are trying to apply personhood of humans to pre-person humans.  An infant does not develop the capacity for rational thought or imagination until well after birth.  This is completely measurable as infants lack the capacity to even remember things that are removed from sight as I mentioned before for the first three months after birth or longer.  Imagination, reasoning, those aren't even on the horizon for infants.

Infants do not problem-solve.  Later on-as the brain and personhood develops, this capacity develops too.  But you are using mature humans in an abortion debate which isn't really making sense.  I am at least working with a 2.5 month old newborn here.  You are right, it has to do with intelligence.  A baby is pretty lacking in that department even months after birth.  This is proven using recognition testing, which is getting more and more precise since Piaget first started this study of human intelligence development so long ago.

You make some very valid points here, John. All the arguments that people can make about it being OK to kill animals are very much applicable to a fetus, since it is not sentient nor intelligent. Well put, sir.

Hey Brandon, thanks for the compliment, but the argument is just a summary of Peter Singer and Michael Tooley.  They really make the most astounding arguments concerning the issue of abortion and infanticide.

I was a conservative Christian at the time that I was introduced to Peter Singer.  It totally killed my belief that life happens at conception. Singer mentions that if life happens at conception, then the person splits into two different people if twinning occurs.

here is the full debate. http://hulk03.princeton.edu:8080/WebMedia/lectures/20060329marquis-...

You should see what happens to "feral" children. We take our brains/states of mind for granted. Our "advanced" brains are not that way by default, but by exposure to animals that are already advanced (i.e. its parents/family) and society.

I'd Google it and post a YouTube vid about feral children, but I have a feeling it'll be a futile endeavor.

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