To abortion choice supporters: what could make you believe abortion was morally wrong?  “If X were true, I would change my view on abortion.”  Fill in the X.  For me, if it would be proven that at any point from conception to birth, the thing is not a living human being, I would not oppose elective abortion during that point.

Conservative2cents's Blog

I’ve been proven wrong before. If something I believed to be true was proven not to be, I’d have to admit that I was on the wrong side of the argument. And I have.

Of course, sometimes it’s hard to put your finger on just what part of your argument is flawed. After all, we believe that what we believe is based on truth. But I’d like any pro-choice person who would like to comment to pick some conditions that would change their minds about abortion if proven to be true.

I think I know why my views differ from those on the other side of the issue, but I’ll refrain from offering any suggestions. Just say what you think.

Pro-lifers may comment, as well. Have any of you had a pro-choice person say that if x, y, or z was true, they’d change their minds?

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Comments

  1. A certain self awareness and capacity for suffering from upon which the right to life, human rights, and other ‘sanctity’ of life concepts are based. The divine ‘spark of life’ argument is drawn from religious world view and translates badly to public policy.
    As I’ve said before, my understanding is that the transition point when such life develops is different for each developing organism but lies somewhere in the vicinity of 26 weeks. Dates like conception and birth are arbitrary and not reflect of this suffering/awareness standard.
    Anti-choice folks could really frame the discussion well if you attack birth as the arbitrary standard rather than pushing conception. It’s impractical and amoral. (not immoral, just outside the realm of morality.)

  2. For me, biology and logic was that tipped the scales. I’d never been pro-abortion, but for a time I felt that it was not my place to tell other women what they should do with an unplanned pregnancy. When that cognitive disconance became too painful, I used the viability argument; that until a fetus could survive outside the womb, then abortion was, if not good, at least not quite evil.

    That had its own level of cognitive disconance, however, and never sat well with me. When I finally gave it serious thought (which I didn’t do for most of my life; I just accepted what I was being told for many years), I couldn’t keep up that charade. Basically I kept asking myself, at what point does a fetus miraculously stop being a “thing” and start being a “person?” Viability doesn’t cut it, since that depends as much on technology as development. Is it when there are brain waves? A heart beat? In the end, it came down to DNA. At the moment of conception, a complete person has begun. That person may be only a single cell, but as soon as the DNA is complete, that person’s height, gender, hair colour, eye colour, etc., etc., are determined. Yes, some things can change the original blueprint (such as if the mother takes certain medications, abuses drugs, goes on a calorie restrictive diet, is in an accident, and so on), the blueprint can be damaged. That doesn’t make the fetus any less human; any less complete.

    So if the fetus is undeniably a genetically unique human individual, right from conception, at what point does it become okay to destroy it? Is it any less worthy of life because it is at an earlier developmental stage? No. Either I value human life, regardless of the stage of development, or I don’t. If I say “I only value human life after it emerges from the womb,” or “after the first trimester” or some other arbitrary threshold, then I am a hypocrite. To me, valuing an under developed human is no different than valuing a human on life support, or disabled, or old an unable to care for themselves, or an infant. If I am okay with killing someone because of their stage of development, then I have no logical reason to be against killing anyone else because they are inconvinient, or because they cost too much to support, or because they can’t take care of themselves.

  3. I wonder why many abortion choice supporters rely on a irrelevant characteristic as “capacity for suffering”.
    Imagine someone doesn’t have capacity for suffering because of a strange reason. Wouldn’t be wrong to kill that person?

  4. Isu, flesh out that example and make it realistic, and then maybe it would be worth discussing.

    • Jason

      There are people without the physical capacity to feel pain. Does this inability to feel any suffering somehow make ot OK to kill them?

    • I think the point is that pain/suffering is a poor reason not to kill something. After all, the pain will be over quickly and forever, so as long as you don’t intentionally torture the thing, you should be ok, right? That is, unless the thing you’re killing has the right not to be killed at all.

  5. Jason,

    I can only see your comment as a bad excuse to avoid discussion.
    Hypothetical cases don’t need to be realistic in order to discuss about them.

  6. JB, you’re limiting all suffering to physical suffering. People who can’t feel anything are not necessarily incapable of suffering. Their capacity to suffer is limited in the physical sense, but they would suffer if they lot an arm or a friend.
    c2cent – you make a good point, but there was also the self awareness point, which includes basic self awareness and expands to higher orders like appreciation for oneself and a desire to go on living and be fulfilled in a meaningful way. It’s fair to review one at a time, but both are factors in conferring right to life or higher order rights like ‘human rights’.

  7. The factor to confer “human rights” is human being.
    Humanity can be recognizable by easy and objetive ways.
    Self-awareness and suffering cannot, since they are subjetive experiences.

    Jason,

    “Their capacity to suffer is limited in the physical sense, but they would suffer if they lot an arm or a friend.”

    Are human babies capable of this sort of suffering?
    I don’t think so. I wasn’t when I was one.

    “self awareness and expands to higher orders like appreciation for oneself and a desire to go on living and be fulfilled in a meaningful way”

    Are human babies capable of this?
    I don’t think so. I wasn’t when I was one.

    Are you saying human babies don’t have human rights?

    • I don’t think Jason is saying that. But some do. And that’s because the criteria are wrong. It’s the only way to explain why the same criteria for personhood can come up with a date months before birth, months AFTER birth, and any number of points in between.

  8. Isu (and c2c),

    You asked if human babies suffer the loss of their arm or friend. I think they would. They’re certainly capable of physical suffering to a very high degree. That’s sufficient to protect them from suffering. However human babies need not be afforded certain higher-order rights like voting, driving, or marriage, but they should be restricted in movement and activities or they might hurt themselves or others.

    Lack of higher capacities may be justification to limit some rights, but on a scale, a being qualifies for life and protection from suffering before they’re even capable of asking for protection or understanding that they need protection. They’d know after the fact, but we can protect them before the fact.

    Your ‘human being’ standard is dogmatic and absolute. It will cause you to make illogical and dangerous tradeoffs like taking freedom and causing physical and emotional suffering for a mother to protect something that needs no protection. Your absolute ‘human’ standard also allows people to harden their hearts to physical and emotional suffering of animals.

    c2c points out the difficulty in setting one simple, concrete criteria. But that is simply a juvenile view of morality. You seek simple, black-and-white answers and you get them. They just happen to be answers that don’t lead to good ethics in a complex real world.

    • There’s no reason that saying humans have the absolute right to live should mean that animals have no rights at all. That’s just silly. We punish people who harm animals. In that sense, we are recognizing the animal’s right not to be harmed. We even punish people who kill animals (in certain ways and in certain circumstances). It says more about how we expect people to act than how we see the animal. It doesn’t mean that every animal has the right to live, or should be legally protected from their own kind (for example). Could you imagine the trouble we’d go through trying to prosecute female black widows?

      In the real world, our hearts must be a little hardened to the plight of animals. That’s because we can’t help what animals do. We have to see a zebra being killed by a lion and be able to say “Oh well… Lions gotta eat” and move on.

      What we cannot harden our hearts about is ourselves. We’ve become a society in which killing our own because we don’t want to get fat is FLIPPIN’ LEGAL, for God’s sake!

      Forgive me, Jason, but this is the absolute dumbest argument I’ve ever heard you make.

  9. “Your ‘human being’ standard is dogmatic and absolute.”

    As it should be. But by being so, it does not lead to the notion that there are no legitimate circumstances by which abortion would be the right move. Very few pro-life people would deny a mother the right to choose abortion if the pregnancy threatened her life.

    “Your absolute ‘human’ standard also allows people to harden their hearts to physical and emotional suffering of animals.”

    Again, this blanket statement does not follow. But “absolute” human standard does acknowledge the very real distinction between people and animals and the superior worth of the former over the latter.

    The problem with “gray areas” thinking is that it allows for all sorts of behaviors that burden society. Absolutes, the “black and white” thinking, simply gives an ideal as a starting point for determining how to respond to what life puts before us. We can walk back from that ideal should a given circumstance compel some leeway. Even then, the walking back would usually be in line with the tenets of black and white thinking.

  10. Jason,

    “You asked if human babies suffer the loss of their arm or friend. I think they would.”

    They don’t know friendship, nor think about the consequences of loosing an arm in advance.

    “They’re certainly capable of physical suffering to a very high degree.”

    You still avoid the question, imagine one who isn’t.
    Doesn’t have this baby the right to live?

    “However human babies need not be afforded certain higher-order rights like voting, driving, or marriage”

    Yes, but we are talking about the right to live which is fundamental.
    And those rights are restricted due to their lack of skills and awareness to protect the very same human rights.

    “a being qualifies for life and protection from suffering”

    That’s your own made criteria.

    “Your ‘human being’ standard is dogmatic and absolute.”

    No, it isn’t. Human rights are for human beings. That’s a tautology.

    “It will cause you to make illogical and dangerous tradeoffs like taking freedom and causing physical and emotional suffering for a mother to protect something that needs no protection.”

    It was me (someone) the last one who was in my mother’s womb, not something.
    You are the dogmatic and illogical one.

    “Your absolute ‘human’ standard also allows people to harden their hearts to physical and emotional suffering of animals. ”

    Human rights are for human. Animals don’t have human rights.

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