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Thread: Is a blastocyst a person?

  1. #1 Is a blastocyst a person? 
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    This November, when the citizens of Colorado vote for a new president, we will also have the opportunity to vote on an amendment to the Colorado state constitution as follows:

    Be it Enacted by the People of the State of Colorado:
    SECTION 1. Article II of the constitution of the state of Colorado is amended BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION to read:
    Section 31. Person defined. As used in sections 3, 6, and 25 of Article II of the state constitution, the terms "person" or "persons" shall include any human being from the moment of fertilization.
    Here are the affected sections, rewritten as the amendment would require:

    Article II, Section 3. Inalienable Rights. All persons, including any human beings from the moment of fertilization, have certain natural, essential and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; of acquiring, possessing and protecting property; and of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.
    Article II, Section 6. Equality of Justice. Courts of justice shall be open to every person, including any human being from the moment of fertilization, and a speedy remedy afforded for every injury to person, including any human being from the moment of fertilization, property or character; and right and justice should be administered without sale, denial or delay.
    Article II, Section 25. Due Process of Law. No person, including any human being from the moment of fertilization, shall be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.
    It’s an amendment designed to overthrow Roe v. Wade and make abortion illegal in all cases (no exception for any reason), and make the use of morning-after pills illegal (since a fertilized egg does not need to be implanted to be considered a human). Among other consequences, many forms of contraception would become illegal, the discarding of “extra” fertilized eggs in fertility clinics would become illegal, miscarriages might be subject to potentially criminal investigation, strenuous physical activity by women after sex could become subject to potential child-endangerment charges, and treatment of a woman’s illness would become contingent on not harming a blastocyst.

    The amendment’s promoters claim "This victory is the voice of the people and all credit goes our Creator". The victory in question is their success in getting the issue onto the ballot for a vote, by means of petition signatures.

    This is another case of people trying to legislate their beliefs and their god into our lives, and unfortunately it seems to have a good chance of succeeding.


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  3. #2 Re: Is a blastocyst a person? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    This is another case of people trying to legislate their beliefs and their god into our lives,
    Don't we all try to legislate our beliefs into someone else's life? It's called government.


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  4. #3  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    True. My real question is the one in the title block.
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  5. #4  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    no - it may be life, but it's not a person
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  6. #5  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard i_feel_tiredsleepy's Avatar
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    Of course it's life, but so is mold and pond scum.
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  7. #6  
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    Would anybody care to speculate when the pond scum becomes a human being?
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  8. #7  
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    Certainly when it is self-aware. Arguably earlier, when it can feel pain. Before that, in terms of a declaration of personhood, it is hard to distinguish dividing cells that are a blastocyst ... from dividing cells that reside in any other part of the body.
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  9. #8  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    that's the problem with continuums : it's quite easy to see that at one end there's a clump of cells + at the other a human being, but less easy to define any kind of Rubicon inbetween

    in the end, where in this continuum you decide to plant the golden spike to define a human being is more a political and ethical rather than a scientific decision
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  10. #9  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    There may not be a Rubicon, but you still know if you're in Rome and not Vienna.
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  11. #10  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    that's what i said - if you're near one of the extremities of a continuum, there's no question about where you are, it's in the transition zone that it becomes a matter of (often arbitrary) definition

    the decision where to place the marker may be AIDED by science, but it will not be MADE by science
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  12. #11  
    Forum Professor Obviously's Avatar
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    "Is a blastocyst a person?", in my opinion no. It is a potential person.
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  13. #12 Re: Is a blastocyst a person? 
    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    This is another case of people trying to legislate their beliefs and their god into our lives,
    Don't we all try to legislate our beliefs into someone else's life? It's called government.
    But I thought the point of having a constitution was to ensure that certain issues are not mucked about with - including the non-establishment of religion, the bill of rights and so on...

    What will it take for this amendment to be passed, in terms of voting and procedure?
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  14. #13  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    i want to pass an amendment for teaching evolution in churches, as part of balanced treatment :wink:
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  15. #14 Re: Is a blastocyst a person? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunshinewarrior
    But I thought the point of having a constitution was to ensure that certain issues are not mucked about with - including the non-establishment of religion, the bill of rights and so on...

    What will it take for this amendment to be passed, in terms of voting and procedure?
    You and I may each have a different idea of where on the continuum human life begins. This may or may not be based on a religious belief. We each have a right to pursue legislation that reflects our own belief. It has nothing to do with establishment of religion.
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  16. #15 Re: Is a blastocyst a person? 
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunshinewarrior

    But I thought the point of having a constitution was to ensure that certain issues are not mucked about with - including the non-establishment of religion, the bill of rights and so on...

    What will it take for this amendment to be passed, in terms of voting and procedure?
    I believe it will take a simple majority at the polls. Our constitution includes a clause that allows citizen initiatives to bypass the normal workings of our elected bodies. Many of us think it is too easy to change the constitution. (A few years ago we enacted simultaneous amendments that required annual increases in spending on public education and reduced the amount of tax money available for this. The elected bodies are supposed to weigh the consequences and make rational decisions, but highly motivated citizen blocs don't necessarily do this.) This is straying heavily into politics so maybe it doesn't belong in Health and Medicine, but anyway here's what it says:

    The legislative power of the state shall be vested in the general assembly consisting of a senate and house of representatives, both to be elected by the people, but the people reserve to themselves the power to propose laws and amendments to the constitution and to enact or reject the same at the polls independent of the general assembly
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  17. #16  
    Moderator Moderator AlexP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    no - it may be life, but it's not a person
    Agreed. I feel that a living thing isn't really a 'person' until it's born, and becomes a part of society. I also feel that a 'person' has a personality, and specific character traits that define it as an individual. That's not to say that an embryo or I suppose even a blastocyst as mentioned in the thread title has no value or isn't human (even the blastocyst has the human genetic code in it), but there needs to be a distinction between 'person' and 'human.'
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chemboy
    I feel that a living thing isn't really a 'person' until it's born, and becomes a part of society.
    Do you mean when it is born it becomes a part of society, or is there a period of time after it is born and before it becomes a part of society?
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  19. #18  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    imo an embryo becomes part of society as soon as the mother becomes aware that she is pregnant - why else would she be so distraught when she miscarries ?
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  20. #19  
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    Off topic:

    If being a part of scociety becomes the measure of being a person, then is an isolated group (one that is not part of society) allowed to go about killing one another?

    Back to the original post: Could it be that this measure is on your ballot as a means of turning out the far right in the hopes of gaining a few more percentage points for the republican candidate. I imagine this sort of tactic is sometimes used to influence turnout.
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  21. #20  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard i_feel_tiredsleepy's Avatar
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    Even if someone accepts that an embryo is a human being, it is ridiculous to give it equal legal status to other humans. This ties the hands of doctors, if they have to make a decision between saving the life of a blastocyst and the life of the mother. Say a mother has cancer and would require treatment to save her that would inevitably require aborting the fetus, if the fetus is not killed, both will likely die. This proposed law is a tad narrowsighted even for anti-abortion legislation.

    I personally believe potential to be a human being, is not a human being. I would say abortions should be legal in the first trimester before development of the brain.
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  22. #21  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by free radical
    Could it be that this measure is on your ballot as a means of turning out the far right in the hopes of gaining a few more percentage points for the republican candidate. I imagine this sort of tactic is sometimes used to influence turnout.
    The originator is a sincere but ungrammatical young woman named Kristi Burton who takes her instructions from God. We all know where that can lead. The letters at the end of this article are quite interesting.

    http://www.rockymountainnews.com/new...gn-for-unborn/

    I don't know if the far right have hijacked her cause for their own reasons but they are certainly supporting her financially, including Mike Huckabee, Alan Keyes and a holy host of other Republicans from within and without the state. There's also a convenient list of businesses that I will now avoid.

    http://www.coloradoforequalrights.com/node/11
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  23. #22  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    This is what behaviorist Konrad Lorenz says about person-hood (he calls it personality in this quote):

    "If it is argued that animals are not persons, I must reply by saying that personality begins where, of two individuals, each one plays in the life of the other a part that cannot easily be played by any other member of the species. In other words, personality begins where personal bonds are formed for the first time."

    I'm not saying this quote should be taken as the final definition of person-ness or anything like that, but consider: I think that to most mothers, as soon as they know they are pregnant, their baby becomes, to them, an irreplaceable individual. This is why, as marnix said, they are distraught when they miscarry.

    I think this is probably the underlying motivation for a lot of right-wing thinkers when it comes to abortion. An unconscious one, probably. To them this bond between a mother and even a blastocyst is something very important and precious, for reasons they may not be able to articulate, so they attempt to find logical reasoning for it by other avenues.

    Just my two cents.
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  24. #23  
    Moderator Moderator AlexP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Quote Originally Posted by Chemboy
    I feel that a living thing isn't really a 'person' until it's born, and becomes a part of society.
    Do you mean when it is born it becomes a part of society, or is there a period of time after it is born and before it becomes a part of society?
    I meant when it's born, but marnixR has made me think, and now I'm inclined to say that a 'baby' is a part of society as soon as the mother is aware of it. Perhaps it could be said that a person is a part of society once they have some sort of impact upon other people... Here's marnixR's post for reference...

    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    imo an embryo becomes part of society as soon as the mother becomes aware that she is pregnant - why else would she be so distraught when she miscarries ?
    "If it is argued that animals are not persons, I must reply by saying that personality begins where, of two individuals, each one plays in the life of the other a part that cannot easily be played by any other member of the species. In other words, personality begins where personal bonds are formed for the first time."
    I basically agree with this quote... a person has personality, and personality is about having unique traits that make one an individual, which fits with the idea of the above quote. Personal bonds are formed because of uniqueness, without which no one would really been considered 'special' to another person, and that uniqueness is each individual's personality.
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  25. #24  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    In the case of in-vitro fertilization, left-over embryos are often destroyed. Under the proposed amendment this would presumably become murder.

    In paralith's quoted reference, I am trying to see how this would apply.

    The parents must decide (before embarking on the procedure in the first place) what the fate of the extra embryos will be. An emotional bond with the unneeded embryos is presumably possible, but the decision as to whether or not an embryo "plays in the life of the other a part that cannot easily be played by any other member of the species" can only be made by the parents. It is not for any other individual or entity to determine the state of the bond, if any, between, mother, father and embryo.

    Therefore, while the definition of personhood in paralith's quote may be a good one, it is still not a basis for transferring reproductive choices from the individual to the state.
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  26. #25  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    Therefore, while the definition of personhood in paralith's quote may be a good one, it is still not a basis for transferring reproductive choices from the individual to the state.
    And just to be clear, I'm definitely not trying to say that it is. Only that feelings along those lines are probably one of the main motivating forces for many anti-abortionists. And that feeling deserves a certain degree of respect, though I steadfastly believe any decisions in that area should solely be made the parents.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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  27. #26  
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    And just to be clear, I'm definitely not trying to say that it is.
    I absolutely understand, and in no way meant to suggest otherwise.
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