Bush declares that fetus is a 'child' (New Abortion Debate Thread)

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by PadmeSkywalker, Feb 1, 2002.

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  1. StarFire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2001
    star 4
    IF you can take the child out of the mother's womb and give it the proper nutrition, it's a human baby, that much is clear.

    I could've done without the rhetoric, but just to clarify: A fetus becomes a human being, in your opinion, when it can be removed from its mother and survive if provided with proper nutrition?
  2. Master_Ben Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 3, 2001
    star 4
    Thought you guys might find this interesting. I don't know if it is old news but I don't think so.

    Article

  3. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
    star 4
    Thought you guys might find this interesting. I don't know if it is old news but I don't think so.

    I heard about the Chinese policy on single-child families and its enforcement via abortion several years ago. I didn't know that we were funding it, though.


    IF you can take the child out of the mother's womb and give it the proper nutrition, it's a human baby, that much is clear.

    A-ha! Thank you for making that clear. That's what I've been looking for: a point at which even the pro-choicers can agree that a fetus can be considered a human child.

    But then my question is this: Would you support a law prohibiting abortion at this point? It would mean that instead of performing partial-birth abortions on these babies, the doctors would have to deliver them all the way (or remove them by cesarean section). I don't understand what would justify an abortion at this stage, but it still happens -- would you support such a ban?
  4. Obi-Wan McCartney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 1999
    star 5
    From what I understand, the law already prohibits abortions in the third term when the child is already a child.

    Ok, I'm not up to speed on partial birth abortions, but is the fetus or whatever, can you take it out of the mother's womb as a premie, or would it be dead anyway?
  5. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
    star 4
    Ok, I'm not up to speed on partial birth abortions, but is the fetus or whatever, can you take it out of the mother's womb as a premie, or would it be dead anyway?

    The way I understand it (and correct me if I'm wrong!), a partial-birth abortion is a form of late-term abortion where they induce labor, deliver the baby's body except for the head, then vacuum out the brain to collapse the head and pull it the rest of the way out. I daresay if the child is large enough that this is how they have to extract it (i.e. they can't use a saline solution or cut it up in utero), it is most likely the same as any other preemie born between 5-9 months.

    I think, from your statements, that you agree with me that this is wrong, and the child should be allowed to live at that stage in its development.

    What we disagree on is how far back you could recognize the child's rights. I can easily understand how that you would not see a single fertilized egg, or small group of cells, the same way that you see a baby that is in the third trimester. My question is where the change takes place from "clump of cells" to "baby". You say it takes place when the baby could survive outside the womb. I'm not fully convinced; I think that since it has a functioning brain even earlier in the development, perhaps the line could be drawn at an earlier stage.

    The two places where it is most convenient to draw the line are conception and birth; we can recognize both as major points in the child's development. However, once we realize that the baby is alive within the womb, and can be considered just as human some time before birth as it is immediately after, it becomes a question of where else we can place the line. The fundamentalists suggest that conception be the new standard. In some ways, they have a reasonable argument since it is difficult to define a point at which a clump of human fetal tissue suddenly becomes a baby; in some sense, it is a human life all the way through. However, it is very difficult for people who are not so fundamentalist in their beliefs to see it in the same way.

    I'm wondering whether there is any reasonable solution that balances the woman's rights with the child's. Yours is reasonable in the sense that it recognizes the child as an individual when it is capable of surviving as an individual. However, I am not certain whether that should be the way we measure its individuality. I would certainly welcome a law that moves the point at which rights are recognized back as far as the 6th month (or whenever the fetus is capable of survival outside the womb), since it is better than only recognizing rights at birth. Yes, the pro-life movement will continue to fight for rigths at conception, but it will become more of an uphill battle as recognition is given at what more of us see at a reasonable point.

    And the best thing that both the pro-life and pro-choice supporters could do to help the situation is to push for more responsible practices and better education on the subjects of sex, pregnancy, and prevention. If we could virtually eliminate the demand for abortion, perhaps we wouldn't need to have this argument.
  6. Darth_SnowDog Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2001
    star 4
    There will always be situations in which abortion is deemed necessary. In addition, I think the issue of defining individuality isn't as complex as the pro-life and pro-choice movements are struggling to make it. Think about it... what does it mean to be an individual?

    I already stated in a previous post that just because something has the potential to become an individual doesn't mean it IS an individual at that particular point in time. What is an individual (in the biological sense) if not one who is capable of existing independent of any systematic/organic ties to the parent? We are talking about a life having rights independent of its parent, are we not? So, what else is relevant other than the biological/physiological definition of independence?

    The burden of proof as to when a fetus can be considered independent, (not just "capable" of independence at vaguely somewhere in the near future), and therefore be entitled to individual rights, rests on those who want the public at large to accept that definition.

    And the best thing that both the pro-life and pro-choice supporters could do to help the situation is to push for more responsible practices and better education on the subjects of sex, pregnancy, and prevention. If we could virtually eliminate the demand for abortion, perhaps we wouldn't need to have this argument.

    Well said, womberty!
  7. StarFire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2001
    star 4
    You're starting to fudge the terms "individual" and "independent", Darth_SnowDog. They mean distinctly different things.

    I already stated in a previous post that just because something has the potential to become an individual doesn't mean it IS an individual at that particular point in time.

    I agree.

    What is an individual (in the biological sense) if not one who is capable of existing independent of any systematic/organic ties to the parent?

    Now you're making up a definition to match your argument ;)
    Individual: Of or relating to an individual, especially a single human: individual consciousness.
    Existing as a distinct entity; separate: individual drops of rain.
    A single animal or plant as distinguished from a species, community, or group.
    A person.

    We are talking about a life having rights independent of its parent, are we not?

    Sneaky you are ;)
    We're really talking about whether a fetus is a person (i.e., an individual of the human species).


    womberty: And the best thing that both the pro-life and pro-choice supporters could do to help the situation is to push for more responsible practices and better education on the subjects of sex, pregnancy, and prevention. If we could virtually eliminate the demand for abortion, perhaps we wouldn't need to have this argument.

    True, true . . . but I'd rather we have this debate anyway. No one ever became a better person for not defining these issues.
  8. No blasters! Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 14, 2000
    star 4
    No, I do not think that a fetus is a person. And yes, I think this is a backdoor attempt to get what the anti choice people have never been able to get any other way.
  9. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
    star 4
    No, I do not think that a fetus is a person.

    Give me your definition of "fetus". Is it a "fetus" all the way up until birth? (Meaning that it only becomes a person when it is born?)


    And yes, I think this is a backdoor attempt to get what the anti choice people have never been able to get any other way.

    If you call me anti-choice, can I call you anti-life?
  10. Darth_SnowDog Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2001
    star 4
    pro-choice vs. pro-life seem to be labels bent on delineating the opposing sides in such a fashion that we argue oranges vs. apples.

    When we disagree as to the meaning of life, there's no point in calling one movement pro-life and one movement anti-life. In addition, pro-choicers see pro-lifers as anti-choice because pro-lifers appear to be against, if I'm not mistaken, people being allowed to choose for themselves whether or not to have an abortion.

    Now, I'm not saying I'm taking sides with either group's political agenda/beliefs, but how is it that you can call pro-choicers "anti-life"? They don't go around advocating what they consider to be murder... they aren't going around preaching support of serial killers and genocide. They aren't opposed to life, they are opposed to anti-abortion legislation... opposed to not having a choice in the matter.

    Pro-lifers aren't in support of all life, either. They certainly put human life above other forms of life. What about murdering abortion doctors? They aren't necessarily proponents of all life, and don't actively seek to preserve life in all its forms. They do, however, seek to limit an individuals choice by supporting nationwide legislation banning abortions.

    I'd venture to say that pro-choicers are more consistently in favor of preserving choices than pro-lifers consistently favor the preservation of life.
  11. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
    star 4
    Now, I'm not saying I'm taking sides with either group's political agenda/beliefs, but how is it that you can call pro-choicers "anti-life"?

    I was simply trying to make a point: I don't think it's necessary to start calling people names. Call me "pro-life" or "anti-abortion"; those are what I call myself. I don't call pro-choice people murderers; not only are they not the ones performing abortions, but I completely understand that they do not yet see abortion as murder.


    In addition, pro-choicers see pro-lifers as anti-choice because pro-lifers appear to be against, if I'm not mistaken, people being allowed to choose for themselves whether or not to have an abortion.

    I'm all for a woman's right to choose whether or not to become pregnant, and for the same right for men. I'm just against abortion because I don't think it should, legally, be offered as a choice.

    Does that make me anti-choice? How about anti-abortion-as-a-choice?


    They certainly put human life above other forms of life. What about murdering abortion doctors?

    That is one of the most hypocritical things a pro-life activist can do. We don't need to terrorize to promote our cause; in fact, it does more harm than good, because it groups the rest of us in with these extremists and gives us all a bad image.


    They do, however, seek to limit an individuals choice by supporting nationwide legislation banning abortions.

    Just as our current laws limit your choices to steal, kill, etc. Yes, I understand why the label "anti-choice" is being applied. It just makes it sound like we have now resorted to name-calling to make the other side look worse than ours. I will respect opponents of anti-abortion legislation and call them pro-choice. I am asking for the same level of respect in return.
  12. StarFire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2001
    star 4
    I couldn't believe my eyes when I read your post, Darth_SnowDog, so I read it again. Apparently, we agree on something! :p
    The terms pro-choice and pro-life are inaccurate and outdated. Neither conveys the TRUE point of debate, though I dare say Pro-Life is the more innacurate of the two when taken at face value.
    Since the crux of the debate is whether a fetus is a human being, I think we should come up with new terms, just for the sake of clearing away some of the criss-cross "anti-this, anti-that" arguments.
    The most accurate terms I can come up with (while still maintaining brevity) would be "pro-fetus" and "anti-fetus", though both are still admittedly lacking. And I don't like either of'em. I hate them, in fact :)
    Any ideas?
  13. Sligty_Worride Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 28, 2001
    star 3
    What if I punch a woman in the stomach when she is 6 weeks preganant? AM I GUILTY OF MURDER? YES! But she would have the right to choose to kill the baby?
  14. Obi-Wan McCartney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 1999
    star 5
    That's because we don't want people punching women and making them to lose their wanted pregnancies. It's murder because it is a serious violation of her body and her future child's life, since she has made the decision to carry the child to term.





  15. Force of Nature Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 1999
    star 3
    Well, it isn't murder here (UK). If the woman dies, it could be manslaughter or, more likely, culpable homicide because, guess what, you're not supposed to go around punching people in the stomach. If she miscarries, it would probably be considered actual, or possibly grievous, bodily harm.
  16. Darth_SnowDog Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2001
    star 4
    If the argument is that a fetus is a human being... biologically speaking it could be argued both ways.

    The reason for this is because of genetics. There is a sequence of genes that triggers specific areas of development that help define at different stages of fetal growth the features that eventually make the fetus distinctively a member of Homo sapiens.

    Prior to the sequential triggering of "feature" genes that ensure that the eye develops into a human eye, the heart develops into a human four-chambered heart, the genitals develop into human male or female genitals, etc... the fetus is almost indistinguishable from other mammalian fetuses. In fact, at that stage, except for the obvious fact that the fetus is being carried in a human mother... if the fetus were compared side-by-side with other mammalian fetuses, empirical observation would show that the two were indistinguishable for a period of time.

    Only genetic analysis reveals the distinctiveness early on. So, scientists could argue that the fetus is a human being genetically from the point of conception... but not physically a human being until all of its systems have formed.

    The issue is obviously not that black and white, because there is no precise point at which a fetus physically becomes a human being, with all the physiological/biological characteristics of a human being.

    However, regardless of when a fetus can be considered a human being or "child", I still contend that individual rights can not be granted to a child until that child is physiologically an individual... capable of surviving without intersystematic dependence on the mother. Until such a time, the parent has rights over its body and the fetus which is a fully-dependent component of the mother's body.

    Consider an adult, for a moment... an adult human being is comprised of numerous systems. However, if only the circulatory or nervous systems are "disconnected"... clinical death will occur. Similarly, the circulatory, digestive and parts of the nervous system of a fetus are dependent entirely on the parent as their source of "power". If that source of power is cut off, all of the fetus' other systems will fail and the fetus will cease to exist unless that fetus is far along enough in its development to survive physical separation from the mother. In addition, if the mother were to die and the fetus were still dependent on the mother, the fetus would die as well.

    Unless you're willing to reclassify the human fetus as a parasitic organism, then the fetus is not capable of being given its own set of rights apart from those of the parent when it is, for all intents and purposes, a wholly-dependent component of the parent.

    All that being said, though, the surest way to minimize the abuse of abortion is not through anti-abortion legislation, but educational awareness of all alternatives to abortion. There again, there's only so much we can do as a society to educate... the real responsibility of education, especially where "family values" are concerned, begins at home.

  17. DarthPhelps Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2002
    star 5
    A good thread. (I stumbled upon the Senate Floor just yesterday - boy am I suprised to see the topics here! :eek: )

    Only genetic analysis reveals the distinctiveness early on. So, scientists could argue that the fetus is a human being genetically from the point of conception... but not physically a human being until all of its systems have formed.

    The issue is obviously not that black and white, because there is no precise point at which a fetus physically becomes a human being, with all the physiological/biological characteristics of a human being.


    I would prefer to think that your first statement here actually does make it black and white, because if you cannot find a precise point, I think that abortion takes on an ethical dilemma. Certainly, as commented earlier in this thread, the human body continues to change after birth (and not just in the womb). Look at the changes at puberty. Do pre-pubescent persons have all the physiological/biological characteristics of a human being? Not by this definition. No one, though, would think of harming a child. Although the stages of development are more drastic in the womb, I think that saying a fetus is not human simply because it's features are not yet complete is incorrect.

    ...I still contend that individual rights can not be granted to a child until that child is physiologically an individual... capable of surviving without intersystematic dependence on the mother. Until such a time, the parent has rights over its body and the fetus which is a fully-dependent component of the mother's body.

    We as adults depend on each other to survive. I don't grow my own food, for example - I rely on the farmers, grocers, etc. The dependence of the fetus to the mother is a more intimate type of dependence (a kind of microscopic view compared to the dependence adults have to each other). While forming, the individual needs sustinence from the mother. I fail to see how this need corresponds to viewing the unborn as a component of the mother. This is too much like saying the fetus is like a cyst or cancer, or an extra toe or finger.
    Out.
  18. Darth_SnowDog Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2001
    star 4
    I would prefer to think that your first statement here actually does make it black and white, because if you cannot find a precise point, I think that abortion takes on an ethical dilemma.

    There is no ethical dilemma here because we don't agree on the definitions of the issues in question.

    Certainly, as commented earlier in this thread, the human body continues to change after birth (and not just in the womb). Look at the changes at puberty. Do pre-pubescent persons have all the physiological/biological characteristics of a human being? Not by this definition.

    Do humans grow entirely new organs and organ systems at some point in life after birth? Last time I checked, most of us tend not to... unless there's something the CIA has been hiding from us.

    No one, though, would think of harming a child. Although the stages of development are more drastic in the womb, I think that saying a fetus is not human simply because it's features are not yet complete is incorrect.

    I didn't say a fetus isn't going to be human. I said it's not yet an independent human.

    We as adults depend on each other to survive. I don't grow my own food, for example - I rely on the farmers, grocers, etc. The dependence of the fetus to the mother is a more intimate type of dependence (a kind of microscopic view compared to the dependence adults have to each other).

    What about hunter/gatherers or even subsistence horticulturalists? You can't apply this definition of dependence to this argument because it doesn't hold true across the human spectrum. Only in industrial-agricultural societies does it hold true. Therefore, if you take that line of reasoning, there still is no moral dilemma. Why?

    By defining independence on the basis of how we have chosen to live as a society makes this more a matter of societal preference... not moral absolutes (of which there really are none). The problem is that we're getting into very murky territory by trying to assume that all people outside, or even inside, our borders agree on this definition of independence. We obviously don't, nor can we argue for the rights of a fetus on the basis of a presumption of independence that isn't universal. In addition, the example of independence you give is irrelevant... because I can choose to become a subsistence farmer and remove myself from the grid if I really want to. A fetus cannot simply choose to remove itself from its mother's support, nor can it be removed from its mother's support and be expected to survive.

    While forming, the individual needs sustinence from the mother. I fail to see how this need corresponds to viewing the unborn as a component of the mother. This is too much like saying the fetus is like a cyst or cancer, or an extra toe or finger.

    The last sentence says it all. This is precisely what I am saying. The fetus, until somewhere in the third trimester, is virtually indistinguishable from any other component of the parent by a measure of its ability to function independent of the parent. Show me any fetus that can function biologically when severed from its parent well before the end of the third trimester, and either you've got yourself an individual legally entitled to individual rights, or you have the strangest child I've ever seen... perhaps an alien of some sort.

    I am not disputing anti-abortionists based on the morality or immorality of abortion. I am, however, defending a mother's right to have the choice of abortion available. I contest the notion that a fetus is entitled rights as an individual which take precedence over the rights of the parent, who is an individual, to whom the fetus is inextricably attached, and whose existence is wholly-dependent for nearly the entire duration of its gestation.

    While the morality of abortion is ambiguous and disputable at best, it is on the basis of independence that abortion can be rationally argued for or against... because an organism cannot be granted individual rights independent of its parent until
  19. DarthPhelps Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2002
    star 5
    I suppose this last part is the most important to our current discussion. My point is that I believe you are in error to assume that a fetus' inability to survive without the umbilical cord does not make it just another component of the mother. The heartbeat, brain activity, and even the different blood types and genetic code (as you mentioned) should be enough evidence to say that this is in fact an individual. One that just needs help to survive at this stage of life.
    :)
  20. Darth_SnowDog Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2001
    star 4
    One that just needs help to survive at this stage of life.

    Help? If it were "disconnected" from the mother at this point in time, it would DIE. So would a piece of skin or a lung. You're attributing some sort of touchy-feely soul-sort-of-thingy to the fetus just because the blob of cells has a semblance of a heart, barely formed eyeballs and cute little toes and looks almost like an adorable, little baby (perhaps if you crossed your eyes and held your breath).

    That makes me all warm and fuzzy inside... really, it does. But it doesn't convince me that the fetus is entitled to have the right to choose its life over the parent without the parent's consent, without whom it would cease to exist at that time.

    Pretty soon, we'll have people thinking that every single sperm should become a human being because each one has the potential to... and we aren't in a position to "contest the will of God"... And they look so cute with their little bulbous heads and flagellating little tails, too.

    I also don't see how abortion is any more selfish than the humanistic desire to preserve only human life.
  21. StarFire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2001
    star 4
    Help? If it were "disconnected" from the mother at this point in time, it would DIE. So would a piece of skin or a lung.

    Even a human adult dies if you remove the things it needs to survive.

    Pretty soon, we'll have people thinking that every single sperm should become a human being because each one has the potential to...

    Ahh, but you see--a sperm isn't human. A fetus is, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

    I think we can, at the very least, all agree that abortions during the late third trimester should be disallowed.
  22. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
    star 4
    I didn't say a fetus isn't going to be human.

    But we're saying the fetus already is human. That's the point where we disagree.

    To me, sperm and eggs have the potential to be human life, whereas a fetus is already a human life.


    If that source of power is cut off, all of the fetus' other systems will fail and the fetus will cease to exist unless that fetus is far along enough in its development to survive physical separation from the mother.

    But if we compare this to a premature baby on life support, that would mean that although the baby can survive and will become a fully functioning adult someday, it still has no rights because it is depending on an IV and a ventilator to keep it alive for the first couple of months. Are you saying that the mother, or the hospital that owns the machines, has the right to disconnect the child and allow it to die?


    Show me any fetus that can function biologically when severed from its parent well before the end of the third trimester, and either you've got yourself an individual legally entitled to individual rights

    As far as I'm aware, we have premature babies that survive regularly when born at or before 6 months (the end of the second trimester). They are most often sustained by some type of life support for a while, but I don't think they are slowly becoming a human being during this time. They are human beings when they are born, and even before.


    I think we can, at the very least, all agree that abortions during the late third trimester should be disallowed.

    Third trimester meaning the 7th to 9th months, correct? I don't think they should be allowed at all in the third trimester. Anyone who feels a need to abort at that point should have the baby removed alive through induced labor or C-section, since it has a very good chance at survival at that stage. Even when the mother's life is endangered by the pregnancy, why would it be necessary to kill the baby just to get it out of the womb?

  23. Gutter_Monkey Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 15, 2001
    star 3
    Just to paly Devils Advocate (my favorite role [face_mischief]...)

    The world's already overpopulated anyway [face_devil]....
  24. StarFire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2001
    star 4
    The world's already overpopulated anyway

    My reply, in devil's advocate-y form: "So go jump off a balcony" [face_devil]

    I'd like to assure everyone there's no malice involved here . . . I'd especially like to assure those admins . . . :D
  25. DarthPhelps Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2002
    star 5
    Technically (and physically) speaking, you are also no more than a blob of cells Darth_Snowdog. It's likely your eyeballs are completely formed now. You may have cute toes, if you're one to notice such things.
    Unsure about the soul-thingy, though... ;)
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