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Thread: Morality of Abortion

  1. #1 Morality of Abortion 
    Forum Masters Degree Golkarian's Avatar
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    There is a thread dealing with a particular dilemma, but I wanted a more general thread, more about the morality of abortion rather than its legality.

    I will start with my opinion which might be contraversial here.

    For late term abortions I think the differences between the fetus and a new born child are to minute to justify an abortion in ordinary circumstances, as a utilitarian I would say that if the baby and the mother were to die, and only the mother could be saved, that abortion would be permissable, this applies to my views on early term abortion as well (see the rest of the post).

    For early term abortions, it seems to me, that more consideration should be given to a developing fetus/embryo. Most of us wish not to be killed, it is because we wish want to continue living, experience the potential life we have not experienced. Therefore we must value potential life as much life that already exists.

    I will deal with two objections (to the potential life argument):

    1) One might object that potential life applies to sperm, egg and fertilized eggs that don't implant. I think this is true, but there is no way of preventing this. People might say that masturbation would be comparable to genocide if what I say is true, but so would intercourse, even if it ends in pregnancy. When Catholics say contraception is evil for this reason, they cannot be right, because every action, unprotected sex, sex, even abstinence leads to the loss of potential life.

    2) Another objection goes like this: A boy is under 19 (in a country where it is illegal to buy alcohol under that age). To say that a fetus/embryo has a right to life just because it has a right to potential life, is like saying this boy has a right to buy alcohol because he has the potential right to do so. I think this objection fails because abortion is more like preventing the boy from turning 19, abortion prevents the embryo or fetus from ever fulfilling its potential right to life.

    I'm probably going to get chewed out for this ... but your thoughts are welcome.


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  3. #2  
    Forum Ph.D. Raziell's Avatar
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    The mother should decide nomatter what and morals should be kept out of the issue completely

    It is a far lesser evil with a world that is immoral but is free, than a world that is moral and is not free so to speak.

    The world is allready heavily overpopulated and forcing children that werent meant to be - into this world only causes suffering both for the child and its surroundings.


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  4. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raziell
    The mother should decide nomatter what and morals should be kept out of the issue completely
    Well that's ridiculous, of course morals need to be taken into account otherwise how does one know where the line is?

    Is it just when the child is born? Or at 3 years old can a mother decide the child "wasn't mean to be"? So at what point does a child become a child that has rights?

    If you are suggesting it IS when the child is born, how can you justify that considering that a there is almost no difference between the child in the womb and the next day when it's out of the womb?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raziell
    It is a far lesser evil with a world that is immoral but is free, than a world that is moral and is not free so to speak.
    How is preventing abortion preventing speech? As it seems to me abortion prevents speech of people who were prevented from living in a society in which free-speech is possible.

    And shouldn't a mother be able to consider the morality of an action when she decides if she should have an abortion?
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by JX
    If you are suggesting it IS when the child is born, how can you justify that considering that a there is almost no difference between the child in the womb and the next day when it's out of the womb?
    To the mother, the difference is that once she has gone through the pains and (hopefully) joys of childbearing, the child has more of a foothold in her emotive sphere.

    To the media and the general public, the difference is that born babies make cute photos while fetuses make blurry ultrasound images. Also, born babies cry in heartrending voices; fetuses can't.

    To the child, the difference between being dismembered alive in the womb or out of it is, not much. But hey, who cares, babies don't vote, buy, or lobby.
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    My opinion on this subject is the same as that of Bill Hicks:

    "You're not a person until you're in my phonebook."

    Comedy aside, I think that to argue morality in a world where 1.2 billion people are starving as a result of western greed, is to be a hypocrite. In the grand scale it's no more immoral to have an abortion than to not eat your dinner. That dinner had the potential to save a life; yet you threw it away!

    If I were to take a more balanced and less judgemental stance, I would say that a life is not necessarily well lived; and if one takes the utilitarian perspective, then it is such that if you are in a bad economic state, you're only subjecting your future child to a life of crime or misery. Should you bring a child into that kind of a world? Who will it benefit?

    I also mostly agree with Raziell's statement on freedom; though I'd like to have the best of both worlds.
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    Apophasis, you are not addressing the basic question: what, and why, and when, makes the difference between what some people call "potential life" and a child that has rights.

    How is what you wrote about "bringing a child into the world" (as if an unborn fetus were somehow out of the world, do you believe the womb is another name for the Guf?) - so, how is your phrase different from discussing whether or not a toddler should be "brought" to schoolgoing age (rather than smothered in the crib), perhaps in a country where the school system is a mockery and the parents can't afford books?

    Should I "allow" my wife to reach the stressful age of menopause? Or, say, the age of retirement, given that she's likely to have a measly pension then?

    Yes, I am being provocative. Now tell me in what way you are not, asking about the unborn the questions which are so shocking when asked about toddlers or adults.

    BTW I do hope my wife is not in your phonebook.
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    It stands as a puzzlement to me why humans deem it appropriate (ie, "moral"?) to practice abortion on themselves as a consequences for their failure to act appropriately to begin with, whereas humans almost never practice abortion on pets, barnyard animals, domesticated animals or wildlife that have little or no control over their own behavior.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrmonroe
    It stands as a puzzlement to me why humans deem it appropriate (ie, "moral"?) to practice abortion on themselves as a consequences for their failure to act appropriately to begin with, whereas humans almost never practice abortion on pets, barnyard animals, domesticated animals or wildlife that have little or no control over their own behavior.
    I understand your thesis, but it seems contrary to reality.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by jrmonroe
    It stands as a puzzlement to me why humans deem it appropriate (ie, "moral"?) to practice abortion on themselves as a consequences for their failure to act appropriately to begin with, whereas humans almost never practice abortion on pets, barnyard animals, domesticated animals or wildlife that have little or no control over their own behavior.
    I understand your thesis, but it seems contrary to reality.
    I agree. People who own pets usually either have them neutered, so they can't get pregnant in the first place, or, like in the case of barnyard animals, want them to get pregnant as their newborn become an asset.
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  12. #11  
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    I meant that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and humans don't seem as instinctively (read "mindlessly") driven to mate as animals seem to be. And yet, some humans seem unable to prepare in advance for what they might do and, most likely, will do.
    Grief is the price we pay for love. (CM Parkes) Our postillion has been struck by lightning. (Unknown) War is always the choice of the chosen who will not have to fight. (Bono) The years tell much what the days never knew. (RW Emerson) Reality is not always probable, or likely. (JL Borges)
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrmonroe
    I meant that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and humans don't seem as instinctively (read "mindlessly") driven to mate as animals seem to be. And yet, some humans seem unable to prepare in advance for what they might do and, most likely, will do.
    I don't really see how this addresses our reply about your post on pets - or rather, I could see the argument if we did, in fact, find it immoral or inappropriate to perform abortions on animals.
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    Well, what I mean is, here we are as humans, the most advanced, capable, thoughtful and resourceful species on the planet. There are some/many among us who don't take enough precaution to avoid pregnancy, so they resort to abortion, the morning-after pill and whatever. It's not as though humans are mindless horny toads who can't help themselves and will copulate with anything that moves.

    So, as I said, it's a puzzlement to me that being the most capable species, humans cannot exercise sufficient forethought. We know to neuter/spay our pets, and we breed our barnyard animals as we deem appropriate. Maybe its easier for someone to control the situation when they're not "hormonally" involved. Maybe humans really are a bunch of careless horny toads.

    In regards to the OP, I think everyone recognizes that it's unfortunate to resort to a pound of cure instead of the forethought to use an ounce of prevention.
    Grief is the price we pay for love. (CM Parkes) Our postillion has been struck by lightning. (Unknown) War is always the choice of the chosen who will not have to fight. (Bono) The years tell much what the days never knew. (RW Emerson) Reality is not always probable, or likely. (JL Borges)
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    Quote Originally Posted by JX
    I could see the argument if we did, in fact, find it immoral or inappropriate to perform abortions on animals.
    Extremely late-term abortion is sometimes carried out on broadtail sheep (also known as Karakul or QaraQul) to produce precious fetal sheepskin fur; it's a practice found in approximately the Caucasus region and further east, dating back to Mongol times.

    I am sure that many people, including human abortion pro-choicers, would find it abhorring.
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    Good point. Maybe it would be okay to club baby seals, if they were aborted baby seals.
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  17. #16  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leszek Luchowski
    Quote Originally Posted by JX
    I could see the argument if we did, in fact, find it immoral or inappropriate to perform abortions on animals.
    Extremely late-term abortion is sometimes carried out on broadtail sheep (also known as Karakul or QaraQul) to produce precious fetal sheepskin fur; it's a practice found in approximately the Caucasus region and further east, dating back to Mongol times.

    I am sure that many people, including human abortion pro-choicers, would find it abhorring.
    Again, I am failing to see how this is relating to the debate at hand. We're not exactly aborting human babies for their precious soft skin, are we? Surely the intent plays a part in the morality of the issue?
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    Quote Originally Posted by JX
    Quote Originally Posted by Leszek Luchowski
    Quote Originally Posted by JX
    I could see the argument if we did, in fact, find it immoral or inappropriate to perform abortions on animals.
    Extremely late-term abortion is sometimes carried out on broadtail sheep (also known as Karakul or QaraQul) to produce precious fetal sheepskin fur; it's a practice found in approximately the Caucasus region and further east, dating back to Mongol times.

    I am sure that many people, including human abortion pro-choicers, would find it abhorring.
    Again, I am failing to see how this is relating to the debate at hand. We're not exactly aborting human babies for their precious soft skin, are we? Surely the intent plays a part in the morality of the issue?
    We harvest (or, ideally, we would) aborted fetuses for their stem cells. It's similar, though there is a difference in intent, the end result is the same. In that light, if the end results are the same, are the actions truly different morally, simply because there was a different intent behind them?
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    Quote Originally Posted by JX
    Again, I am failing to see how this is relating to the debate at hand. We're not exactly aborting human babies for their precious soft skin, are we? Surely the intent plays a part in the morality of the issue?
    Why should using a sheep fetus's skin be of any concern to anyone? Even if animals had rights like people, then the animal fetus is still a non-being (using pro-choice thinking). It is just some soft skin tissue.
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  20. #19  
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    We harvest (or, ideally, we would) aborted fetuses for their stem cells. It's similar, though there is a difference in intent, the end result is the same. In that light, if the end results are the same, are the actions truly different morally, simply because there was a different intent behind them?
    Whoa now, no we don't.

    Embryonic stem cells, at least in the West, are only derived from the unimplanted embryos that would otherwise be discarded from in vitro fertilization clinics.

    It's a big jump to go from a package of 64 cells smaller than the head of a pin, that's never been inside a womb, and would never independently have a chance at becoming a human being, to calling it a fetus.

    Also, the actions are not similar. Someone who aborts because of severe handicap, lack of ability to care for a future child, or in case of rape is not aborting for the purpose of producing stem cells for researchers. With that kind of hardline consequentialist reasoning, you might as well declare yourself a mass murderer: you withholding some of your wealth for luxury expenses, when it could be used to cure a child in the 3rd world of a fatal disease, is equivalent to getting on a plane to Liberia to strangle a 9 year old.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Even if animals had rights like people, then the animal fetus is still a non-being (using pro-choice thinking). It is just some soft skin tissue.
    I have to disagree that this is conventional pro-choice thinking. Pro-choicers don't believe that a baby isn't a person until it comes out, it's trying to figure out at what point a fetus becomes a person. PCers such as myself don't believe that a fetus is a person at conception, that in the beginning stages a fetus IS just a mass of cells. But I don't think you'll find many people that believe a baby doesn't become a person in the womb.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    We harvest (or, ideally, we would) aborted fetuses for their stem cells. It's similar, though there is a difference in intent, the end result is the same. In that light, if the end results are the same, are the actions truly different morally, simply because there was a different intent behind them?
    As IFT explained, that's not actually what's happening. But even if it was, I would argue yes. There aren't farms of pregnant women who are getting pregnant just to have abortions for stem-cell research. And I do see a difference in purposely having abortions for something and having to have an abortion to terminate a pregnancy for whatever reason.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JX
    Quote Originally Posted by Leszek Luchowski
    Quote Originally Posted by JX
    I could see the argument if we did, in fact, find it immoral or inappropriate to perform abortions on animals.
    Extremely late-term abortion is sometimes carried out on broadtail sheep(...)
    Again, I am failing to see how this is relating to the debate at hand. We're not exactly aborting human babies for their precious soft skin, are we? Surely the intent plays a part in the morality of the issue?
    I did not really propose this fact as a very relevant point in the (human) abortion debate. I was merely responding to JK's remark, by offering a rare case where abortion is performed on animals, so we can make a sligthly better guess as to how people react, or would react, to this practice.
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  24. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by i_feel_tiredsleepy
    you might as well declare yourself a mass murderer: you withholding some of your wealth for luxury expenses, when it could be used to cure a child in the 3rd world of a fatal disease, is equivalent to getting on a plane to Liberia to strangle a 9 year old.
    The latter is slightly worse, since the plane flight increases atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and accelerates global warming.
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  25. #24  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by i_feel_tiredsleepy
    you might as well declare yourself a mass murderer: you withholding some of your wealth for luxury expenses, when it could be used to cure a child in the 3rd world of a fatal disease, is equivalent to getting on a plane to Liberia to strangle a 9 year old.
    The latter is slightly worse, since the plane flight increases atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and accelerates global warming.
    Hmm, well only if you're not using that withheld wealth to take an equally long plane flight somewhere else. In fact, it would be doubly bad if you were taking a luxury trip to Liberia to strangle a different 9-year old.
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    The action is the exact same, though. Unless abortions are preformed differently depending on the intention for the abortion. I wasn't trying to make the point for inducing abortions for the purpose of collecting stem cells, but rather, that aborted fetuses should be harvested for that purpose. I thought at one point in time in the west they were, no? Embryo, Fetus, same basic thing. Unborn human child. I don't see the moral issue with utilizing a dead lump of cells, despite it's origin. Why not use the dead fetus? What else is used for? Afaik, they are simply medical waste, right? Why not use them for what we can?

    Quote Originally Posted by i_feel_tiredsleepy
    With that kind of hardline consequentialist reasoning, you might as well declare yourself a mass murderer: you withholding some of your wealth for luxury expenses, when it could be used to cure a child in the 3rd world of a fatal disease, is equivalent to getting on a plane to Liberia to strangle a 9 year old.
    This is not even close to relevant to the moral stance I put forth and you know it. The two are completely non-equatable. I might as well be charged with mass murder for ejaculating outside of a woman's vagina, and allowing the sperm to die...

    "withholding" my funds to support my own lifestyle and not paying for the cure for a 9-year-old dying of a curable, but fatal disease, is like you not flying to china to nurse a new-born baby who lost it's mother. I'm not contributing to a person of whom has no consequence on my life, and no bearing on anything connected to me directly. I see nothing wrong with this, and I see no way of equating this to the use of aborted fetuses/embryos for stem cell research. Could you enlighten me on the logistic path you used to get there?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    "withholding" my funds to support my own lifestyle and not paying for the cure for a 9-year-old dying of a curable, but fatal disease, is like you not flying to china to nurse a new-born baby who lost it's mother. I'm not contributing to a person of whom has no consequence on my life, and no bearing on anything connected to me directly. I see nothing wrong with this, and I see no way of equating this to the use of aborted fetuses/embryos for stem cell research. Could you enlighten me on the logistic path you used to get there?
    "if the end results are the same, are the actions truly different morally, simply because there was a different intent behind them?"
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    Quote Originally Posted by i_feel_tiredsleepy
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    "withholding" my funds to support my own lifestyle and not paying for the cure for a 9-year-old dying of a curable, but fatal disease, is like you not flying to china to nurse a new-born baby who lost it's mother. I'm not contributing to a person of whom has no consequence on my life, and no bearing on anything connected to me directly. I see nothing wrong with this, and I see no way of equating this to the use of aborted fetuses/embryos for stem cell research. Could you enlighten me on the logistic path you used to get there?
    "if the end results are the same, are the actions truly different morally, simply because there was a different intent behind them?"
    That's one way to take my comment out of context, well done.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician

    "if the end results are the same, are the actions truly different morally, simply because there was a different intent behind them?"
    That's one way to take my comment out of context, well done.[/quote]

    It's not out of context in the least.
    "I almost went to bed
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    Quote Originally Posted by i_feel_tiredsleepy
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician

    "if the end results are the same, are the actions truly different morally, simply because there was a different intent behind them?"
    That's one way to take my comment out of context, well done.
    It's not out of context in the least.[/quote]yes it is. I was talking of an action that was intrinsically the same. An abortion is an abortion. It doesn't matter what intentions are behind it, it's the same. You were making out that the intention behind the act made the act different. So... Yes, you did take my quote out of context.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Quote Originally Posted by JX
    Quote Originally Posted by Leszek Luchowski
    Quote Originally Posted by JX
    I could see the argument if we did, in fact, find it immoral or inappropriate to perform abortions on animals.
    Extremely late-term abortion is sometimes carried out on broadtail sheep (also known as Karakul or QaraQul) to produce precious fetal sheepskin fur; it's a practice found in approximately the Caucasus region and further east, dating back to Mongol times.

    I am sure that many people, including human abortion pro-choicers, would find it abhorring.
    Again, I am failing to see how this is relating to the debate at hand. We're not exactly aborting human babies for their precious soft skin, are we? Surely the intent plays a part in the morality of the issue?
    We harvest (or, ideally, we would) aborted fetuses for their stem cells. It's similar, though there is a difference in intent, the end result is the same. In that light, if the end results are the same, are the actions truly different morally, simply because there was a different intent behind them?
    Guess what I was referring to about in the quoted portion, that you misconstrued to apply across the board. The action of having an abortion. Nothing else.
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