The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

Men

February 2, 2006 | 41 Comments

“Men aren’t entitled to an opinion on abortion,” is a common pro-choice argument. There are a few exceptions, the primary one being for men who are pro-choice. Like Ted Kennedy begging his lover to have an abortion. Or like pro-choice male members of the Supreme Court (leaving the issue to democracy might not work at times when polls show that the majority of women are pro-life).

Or like this guy. Not only does he think he’s entitled to his opinion, but he thinks women aren’t — at least those who believe in talking other women out of abortions rather than in to them. Even seeing such talk on the internet offends him. So he writes to Ashli of The S.I.C.L.E. Cell:

I am sorry but you and your fellow bloggers listed in your blog space are self righteous right wing religious fanatics. You interfere with the difficult decisions people are forced to make under duress and inject YOUR BELIEFS in their process of decision making. Are you GOD? Are you doing GOD’S WORK? I don’t think so. It just makes me sick to see your self righteous proclamations of doing what you do because you “care” about the people involved. What you care about are your own personal “religious beliefs” and your belief that you are right and in a sense . . . GOD. Enjoy being GOD . . . and as you confuse and complicate the decisions of all the scared pregnant young women that come to your blog site for help, remember that your sense of self importance comes at a price that you will never have to pay but they will.

He also suggests that instead of talking women out of abortion, she “do the girl a favor, ask to talk to her parents or doctor or school counselor . . . tell her to get input from those around her that really care and love her.” In other words, have her make the rounds until she finds someone who shares his opinion that abortion is always the best answer, perhaps the friendly neighborhood Planned Parenthood counselor if it turns out her family doesn’t love her as much as he thought.

People who know Ashli would recognize that sending her this kind of e-mail was an error of judgment, on the order of sticking your finger into a light socket. Although quite guilty of God-belief, she does actually do things which give the illusion of caring. And she’s the wrong audience for this sort of missive for other reasons:

You’re talking to someone whose life was literally saved by the illegality of abortion in ’71 (much to your chagrin, I suppose). I would have been ripped to shreds by your brand of “compassion” if it had been legal; how can you argue with me that my death was someone else’s right and would have been better? (how offensive is that?) I endured years of poverty and sexual abuse as a child, but I’m so glad to be alive today! Suffering is not a crime to hold against a child . . . that s/he should get the death sentence for his/her own “good” and the “good” of his/her duped parents is an amazing injustice. Finally, consider my own second trimester child and what I saw on the white-tiled floor. Oh, dear sir, there is nothing upon nothing you can ever say to me that will have me unknowing what I can never unknow. No amount of your chocolate dipping will ever conceal the bitter fruit underneath.

But the guy never quite seems to catch on. When his demand that she “ADOPT ALL THE FETUSES YOU SAVE!” is rebuffed (I’ll do that when you agree to adopt all the children you help save through welfare/healthcare, etc. programs . . . or could it be that there is some type of flaw in your argument that I must adopt everyone I help?”) he turns to flattery (“in Nazi Germany people like you would have supported Hitler . . . what he did he did in secret”). That also failing, he challenges her to resort to the most unfair, Gestapo-like strategy of all:

Go ahead, tear this paragraph up line by line . . . I’ve seen that tactic used before and it only serves to make you look right and me wrong. If that is what is important for you go for it!

Which she does. Read the whole thing.

Comments

41 Responses to “Men”

  1. jahrta
    February 2nd, 2006 @ 3:26 pm

    again? really? again with the fuckin’ abortion thing?

    I would say that it’s starting to get old, but I think it “started” to get old about 10 threads ago.

    move on. this is not an atheist issue

    nothing to see here

  2. JewishAtheist
    February 2nd, 2006 @ 3:34 pm

    “Men aren’t entitled to an opinion on abortion,” is a common pro-choice argument. There are a few exceptions, the primary one being for men who are pro-choice.

    Are you playing dumb or do you really not understand the difference? The argument those pro-choice people are making is that men cannot forbid women to have an abortion, but they can support women’s rights to abortion. It’s sort of like how white people aren’t allowed to deny blacks the right to vote, but they are allowed to support the right to vote for black people.

  3. Paul Roub
    February 2nd, 2006 @ 3:49 pm

    I’m actually with you on a lot of this, or at least agree that it’s worthy of discussion — rather than assuming atheist == pro-choice.

    I’d question that stat in your 1st paragraph, though: “polls show that the majority of women are pro-life”

    1. Note the linked source, the Washington Times. Reverend Moon’s “instrument in spreading the truth about God to the world” and not historically a leading fact-based entity.

    2. The number? 51%, with a margin of error of 3%. So perhaps a majority, perhaps not.

    3. Was this a rabidly pro-life 51(ish)%? Nope, that’s the rough percantage of those who believe abortion should be limited to certain circumstances (the usual categories for such – IMHO – moderate restrictions).

    But then, also IMHO, that might be a more-appropriate use of “pro-life” than it’s current spin.

  4. Graham
    February 2nd, 2006 @ 4:04 pm

    It shouldn’t matter which side of the choice/life fence you are on; the idea that “men shouldn’t have a say on abortion” is completely retarded and should be called out as such. That’s like saying that women scientists should keep their mouths shut about prostate cancer, because it only affects men.

    And to be fair, lots of people on both sides of this issue are guilty of saying that anyone who disagrees with their point of view is “interfering” if they talk to pregnant women. However, I notice more folks on the pro-choice side doing this than on the por-life side, by a small margin. (And of course, pro-livers are much more likely to play the ridiculous “Jesus loves your baby” speach…I’m not trying to single out the pro-choicers here)

    You know, I have no problem with RA’s recent string over posts about abortion, unlike some of the other commentors as of late, but I wonder if it is only because I am a pro-life atheist and therefor agree with RA most of the time….Hhhmmm….

  5. Mister Swill
    February 2nd, 2006 @ 4:34 pm

    Graham, the argument that “men aren’t entitled to an opinion on abortion” is not the subject of this post. It’s just a device used to create a snarky introduction to a post about a crazy schmuck and his screaming e-mails. Presumably, the crazy schmuck in question does not hold the opinion that men are not entitled to hold an opinion on abortion. Although you’re right that said opinion is absurd.

    By the way, can anyone tell me the name of the logical fallacy that takes the following form? My dialectic terminology is lacking.

    Person A makes argument X on behalf of premise N.
    Person B makes argument Y on behalf of premise N.
    Argument Y contradicts argument X.
    Therefore, premise N is false.

  6. benjamin
    February 2nd, 2006 @ 5:04 pm

    JewishAtheist wrote:
    “The argument those pro-choice people are making is that men cannot forbid women to have an abortion, but they can support women’s rights to abortion. It’s sort of like how white people aren’t allowed to deny blacks the right to vote, but they are allowed to support the right to vote for black people.”

    So is that the same way that women are allowed to support a man’s right to beat his wife, but they aren’t allowed to forbid men from beating their wives?

  7. JewishAtheist
    February 2nd, 2006 @ 5:36 pm

    benjamin: So is that the same way that women are allowed to support a man’s right to beat his wife, but they aren’t allowed to forbid men from beating their wives?

    Hmm. There they’d be supporting a woman’s right not to be beaten, but I see your point that with abortion, the man is supporting the fetus’s right to not be aborted. I guess with respect to the woman’s right, the man shouldn’t have a say, but if you believe that a fetus has rights, the man should. So I’ll agree that men do have a right to protest against abortion.

    That’s what makes the abortion debate so sticky. Pro-choice people believe that either the fetus has no rights, it has less rights than the mother, or that it has equal rights but abortion should be legal anyway (since, by their argument, criminilizing it causes more harm than good.)

  8. Mister Swill
    February 2nd, 2006 @ 6:50 pm

    There’s also the issue of jurisdiction. Even if a fetus is legally defined as a person, does the government have the authority to legislate the fate of a person who is living inside of another person as part of her body?

    Now, having no knowledge of relevant case law, I’m simply shooting in the dark. But perhaps a clever lawyer like Mr. Atheist could see if there are any legal precedents that shed light on the question. Have there been any rulings, for instance, on the people’s right to extract a piece of evidence from a living person’s body? Yeah, I know, I watch too much Law & Order. That premise comes from an old episode which guest starred Luis Guzmán.

  9. Gathercole
    February 2nd, 2006 @ 8:58 pm

    In the composition program I teach in, it’s a joke among instructors that if you can’t get a good current events class discussion going, you can always just mention abortion. Students will gleefully yell at each other all day about it, but in the end, no one is convinced and nothing gets accomplished.

    For the Raving Atheist, it’s just as easy. Maybe he’s just busy in real life right now, and needs an easy topic that people like to fight about. His opinions appear stronger than they are — as many people have pointed out, he doesn’t believe abortion should be criminalized, that a fetus should actually be treated like a person in the sense of investigating miscarriages as negligent homicide, etc. I hope he’ll get tired of pulling everyone’s chain soon and go back to writing material that’s actually about atheism.

  10. Lee
    February 2nd, 2006 @ 9:40 pm

    Personally, I wonder about the implications of this argument:

    I would have been ripped to shreds by your brand of “compassion” if it had been legal; how can you argue with me that my death was someone else’s right and would have been better?

    True enough, if this woman’s mother had gotten an abortion, she wouldn’t be here today. However, the same would be true if her parents had used condoms or the pill. Is she also in favor of outlawing contraception? And if not, can someone explain to me what the difference is?

  11. The No God Boy
    February 2nd, 2006 @ 9:54 pm

    Is the RA FOR or AGAINST abortion?

  12. ad infinitum
    February 2nd, 2006 @ 10:03 pm

    There seems to be a lot of ‘relativistic slippage’ in this whole debate and in the ‘problem’ of personal moral affect (and it IS personal) vis’ a vis’ choice, yet noone ever acknowledges this arguement’s relative nature.

    As atheists I have to assume there is an understanding amoungst everyone here that morality is relative and not absolute. I fail to see the problem, since if there is a problem then you must be assuming a win/win situation (or perhaps a right/wrong situation) when one doesn’t exist. If faced with a choice, regardless of whether I’m pro or not, I must live with myself and my illusory, yet quite unique, personal sense of right and wrong, assuming I have such a thing. If I do not, then there can be no problem, except maybe for someone else, or some rather large group of people, making a moral judgement against me.

    Or unless I’ve broken some feeble law.

    Yes, it’s true, it’s just not that easy … we are such feeling, altruistic creatures. So then I guess each of us must do what we gotta do. Where do you draw the line? Why bother. But if you must, then draw it for yourself, not someone else.

    Maybe looking at this from a scientific perspective rather than a personal/cultural/value-driven one is in order?

    (Is moral relativism really all that bad?)

  13. snap crafter
    February 3rd, 2006 @ 12:03 am

    I love to see two theists going at it, brings a smile to my forlorn lips.

  14. Andrew
    February 3rd, 2006 @ 4:51 am

    Lee, good luck with that. So far, RA (or should I say, “UA”) has never articulated an anti-abortion argument more sophisticated than “I wouldn’t want to have been aborted, therefore abortion is wrong.”

    Presumably, RA/UA is also a vegetarian, since he wouldn’t want to be eaten, either. This, of course, begs the question of why animal organisms should be treated differently than vegetable organisms. But then, RA/UA’s position on abortion similarly begs the question of why Zygote X should be treated differently than the ejaculation and ovulation that, but for our immoral interference via birth control or abstinence, would become Zygote X.

  15. Kamikaze
    February 3rd, 2006 @ 8:21 am

    If they allow people to get abortions, and allow you also to NOT get an abortion… Just do what you think is right. I’m tired of hearing about abortion. Not just here either.

  16. hermesten
    February 3rd, 2006 @ 9:57 am

    Sung to the tune of Jesus Loves the Little Children of the World:

    Jesus loves the little zygotes
    All the little zgyotes of the world
    Cause’ if you do the thing that’s wild
    You should be punished with a child
    Jesus love the little zygotes of the world.

  17. Herodes
    February 3rd, 2006 @ 11:29 am

    Little Zygote (LZ): Lily, Lily, protect me! Viole wants to kill me!

    Lily: Why my dear?

    LZ: because she is an assassin abortionist.

    Lily: Don’t worry my dear, I’ll protect you!

    LZ: How?

    Lily: I will implant you into my uterus

    LZ: Then, will you be my mother?

    Lily: of course my dear!!

    LZ: In that case, I prefer to die!!

  18. Thorngod
    February 3rd, 2006 @ 3:22 pm

    Ashli exhibits moderately pronounced symptoms of that malady that afflicts all humans to varying degrees (with the near exceptions of some Buddhist and Hindu mystics), that being the inability to disentangle our brains from our intestines. What Ashli “saw on the white-tiled floor” was a quantity of gore and the mangled flesh of a foetus (not a “child”) that felt nothing, perceived nothing, and lost nothing. But Ashli was traumatized by what she imagined to have been the ghastly, “inhuman” slaughter of a sentient, lovable, yearning and trusting human child. It was her “child” and she had conspired to “murder” it. And If there is even a tincture of divine “soulness” in her concept of “human,” then her imagined sin becomes all the greater. She is equally horrified by the possibility that, had abortion been legal
    at the time, she might herself had been “ripped to shreds.” …
    Dear Ashli, there was no “you” there. Had that foetus been ripped “ripped to shreds,” there would have been no “you” to care–not then, not ever. You are viewing the thing from an infinitely biased position. (There is infinite distance between the existent “you” and the non-you.) You should try to understand the utter inconsequence of non-you. … And just one more thing:
    If you destroy or mutilate a tree (without very good reason), you have done immeasurably more harm than in crushing a few acorns underfoot (not so much to the tree itself, but to the many birds, squirrels and people who love and depend on it). And even if acorns have souls, Ashli, fear not; the lord god rescues every one, returns it to his soul basket, and a luckier acorn will be blessed.

  19. Lily
    February 3rd, 2006 @ 3:26 pm

    You are sick, Thorn.

  20. allonym
    February 3rd, 2006 @ 10:31 pm

    What is so ‘sick’ about what Thorngod is saying? As far as I’m concerned, it’s the truth – a mass of bloody cells does not a person make. There’s little substance to Ashli’s argument anyway. She wasn’t aborted, and her life turned out great, so clearly abortion is wrong? By that logic, someone whose life turns out completely miserably is equal proof that abortion is right.

    My life only turned out so-so, therefore I insist that anything more or less than half-abortion is absolutely unsupportable;)

  21. Ed
    February 6th, 2006 @ 2:52 pm

    This being a blog on law, how do you intend the law to deal with the criminalization of abortion?

    If the woman is going to be held responsible then you will have to deal with the fact that the vast majority of all abortions are spontaneous (the miscarriage). In fact 1 in 5 of all pregnancies result in spontaneous abortion. How will the law deal with this? I can’t imagine the amount of police work and court time that will be necessary to determine if an abortion was spontaneous or not. What if science ultimately determines that some miscarriages occur due entirely to the mother’s state of mind? What about a woman who crosses state lines to get the ‘morning after’ pill?

    If you criminalize doctors then what to do about the millions of women who have miscarriages but don’t expel the dead tissue. Even the smallest aborted fetus can cause fatal infection in a mother if left unattended. The procedures for removing these miscarriages are identical to those of an elective abortion. How will this be regulated? How many innocent women will have to go to court and relive the pain of their loss just to satisfy your fetish for ‘potential’ life?

    This site’s subtitle is the trivialization of American law and politics by the religious and your take on banning abortion has this same trivializing effect since in practice it takes on the tone of a witchhunt or any other patriarchical attempt to not allow women their autonomy. I wonder if it is because your argument is inherently religious?

  22. Lily
    February 7th, 2006 @ 4:52 pm

    What is sick about what Thorn wrote? Well, if you check this link out :

    (http://priestsforlife.org/resources/abortionimages/fig12legs7.jpg) you will see how well developed a 7week old fetus is.

    If you go up to /abortion images/ you can click on gorgeous 3D and 4D images of babies at all stages of their development in the womb. Technology enables us to see with a clarity undreamed of 20 years ago, just what that developing child looks like.

    Still in doubt? if you go up to the main page you can click on a link that will show you what abortion looks like at 7 weeks and later. They are very hard to stomach. You won’t see mere tissue; you will see arms, legs and heads that recognizably belong to a human infant at a mere 7 weeks. What you will see later is the stuff of nightmares for anyone who has not deadened his conscience and his heart.

    I would like to believe that most of you belong in that category but somehow I think your convenience will trump every other consideration every time.

  23. Lee
    February 7th, 2006 @ 11:57 pm

    That is callow emotionalism of the most distracting sort, Lily. What a fetus “looks like” is not relevant; it takes more than arms, legs and a head to make a human being. It takes thought, the possession of a conscious mind that can sense and respond to the world, and that is something that a seven-week-old fetus simply does not have, regardless of its superficial shape. A fetus at that early a stage is about an inch long, and does not have even rudimentary reflexes, much less the capability for higher thought and cognition. That it is life at that point there can be no doubt, but that it is a human being, with all the rights and privileges thereof, is simply absurd.

    As far as “the stuff of nightmares” goes, I suspect that if I watched a heart transplant or brain surgery I would also think it grotesque; that does not mean I am in favor of banning those operations. Again, there is no real argument here, merely an appeal to emotion used in an effort to distract.

    I’m still waiting for RA or anyone else to explain how their argument against abortion does not apply with equal facility to the use of contraceptives. Or do they agree that it does and oppose that as well?

  24. Lily
    February 8th, 2006 @ 10:57 am

    And that is callow utilitarianism of the most barbaric sort, Lee. Who made you the arbiter of what makes a human being? You are practically alone in your definition, except for the death merchants, who would claim a human fetus is not a human being. It is living. It has human DNA. By golly, it must be a dog! As to when a human has the right to life, that is the question we are arguing. Your answer is simply unacceptable to a large number of us.

    So you don’t have a problem with dismembering a baby that can suck its thumb in utero? That could, if removed by caesarean, live? Right. What a mensch. Why would you think a heart transplant or brain surgery grotesque? Blood makes many of us squeamish and we may look away. Killing a baby whether by burning it with saline or cutting it up with a scapel is grotesque. There is a qualitative difference which, if you are unable to recognize it, means only that you have deadened some fundamental part of your humanity. You are not alone.

  25. Jahrta
    February 8th, 2006 @ 11:05 am

    This may be off-topic, but since when does saline burn?

  26. Lily
    February 8th, 2006 @ 12:54 pm

    I got another “server error” when I tried to post, so this may show up in another message again. I wrote:

    “Saline abortions may be given after the 16th week and must be given after the 20th week. A large needle is inserted through the abdominal wall of the mother and into the baby’s amniotic sac. A very concentrated salt solution is then injected into the amniotic fluid. The baby breathes this in through his mouth and nose. It enters his stomach. He begins struggling and convulsing. The salt burns the skin all over his body so badly that it becomes an ugly red. His nostrils, mouth, throat and gastrointestinal tract are burned by the salt. All this terrible suffering lasts a full hour. If not successful in killing the infant, another injection of salt is given. If successful—the baby is expelled as a still birth. The mother goes into labor about a day later and delivers a beet-red baby that was scalded to death by salt. Any nurse who works in an aborting hospital can tell you of a significant number of these babies that were born alive. Then the doctor has a problem what to do with them. He may choose to strangle them to death, but most of the time they are thrown into a nearby pail and kindly permitted to cry themselves to death. ..
    (http://www.pathlights.com/abortion/abort04.htm#Saline%20Abortion)

    Of course, this kind of graphic detail is most easily available on prolife sites but the information is out there. You may recall that one survivor of this kind of abortion lived to testify before Congress about it.

    I don’t know how frequently this method is performed anymore. It is dangerous and has actually been outlawed as a method in Sweden and one other country (can’t remember which).
    You can google “saline abortion” for more information than you will ever want to know.

  27. Andrew
    February 8th, 2006 @ 5:18 pm

    I’ve yet to see an explanation for why the particularly odious form of “sidewalk counseling” performed by religious nutjobs like Ashli, in which emotionally unstable young girls are bullied on their way to abortion clinics, is anything other than an “illusion of caring.”

    It’s sure fun to win an argument against a distraught teenage girl, isn’t it?

  28. Lee
    February 8th, 2006 @ 7:55 pm

    “Who made you the arbiter of what makes a human being?”

    No one, of course. I am arguing my opinion, which is based on the best evidence available to me; I never claimed it was holy writ. However, to be fair, no one made you the arbiter of what constitutes humanity either. Given that well-controlled opinion polls routinely show that the American public is solidly in favor of keeping abortion legal, I can at least say that the majority seems to be on my side.

    If you think you have a better definition of what makes a human being, feel free to present it. I would point out that if your criteria are solely “has human DNA” and “is living”, then HeLa cell colonies must be granted the moral status of human beings, a conclusion I think is bizarre to say the least.

    Again, as with your previous definition of “is shaped like a human”, I think this definition fails to capture the essence of what a human being is. The one thing that is unique to humans, that defines humans, is conscious thought, which is why I advocate making that the criterion. Before the capability for human thought develops, ending a life that may eventually possess it in the future is not murder, whatever else it may be, which is why I am pro-choice. And once that capability is gone, ending a life that once possessed it is likewise not murder, which is why I support euthanasia for the terminally comatose. Say what you like about my position; I like to think that at least it is consistent. I’ve yet to see you, or RA for that matter, present a similarly consistent justification for their position. If there is a “qualitative difference” between emotional repulsion to abortion and emotional repulsion to, say, face transplant surgery, you haven’t told us what it is.

  29. Lily
    February 8th, 2006 @ 9:14 pm

    Lee: I am not emotionally repulsed by face transplants, heart, liver or lung transplants. Blood makes me squeamish but it it not repulsive. How you can equate a transplant which saves lives or vastly improves them and abortion which kills life is simply opaque to me.

    You have also done a bit of overreaching with your post. The American public is not overwhelming prochoice. It is a rather narrow plurality that is ok with keeping it legal in the first 3 months but the later in the term, the more dramatically support for abortion drops.

    How weak public support for abortion is can be seen, too, in how little traction the proaborts were able to get by trying to paint Justice Alito as some sort of right-of-the-taliban monster and screaming that Roe would be doomed (from your mouths to G-d’s ear) if he got on the SC.

    I don’t think the burden is on me to make a case for the humanity of the fetus, in a way that will satisfy those of you, who want a scientific definition. I am not a scientist. Even though I know what those HeLa cell colonies are (I have no idea what led me to read about them recently) to say that my definition would necessarily extend human status to them does seem bizarre.

    The human status of a fetus does not rest on my ability to define it satisfactorily. I cannot tell you what the chemical properties of arsenic are, but I know it is a poison. I would be a fool to gulp it down, just because I could not prove it.

    Even the most ardent supporters of abortion must concede that what is being carried in utero, left to develop naturally and without impairments that will kill it, will be a baby. There is no parent on this or any other blog who has ever announced to his or her parents and friends “I am developing a fetus!” No, new parents-to-be announce, usually, joyfully, “We are expecting a baby!”

    Some things are just plain self-evident.

  30. Lee
    February 9th, 2006 @ 3:00 am

    I am not emotionally repulsed by face transplants, heart, liver or lung transplants….

    Glad to hear it. And I am not emotionally repulsed by abortion, which was my point. So far, the only pro-life argument I’ve seen offered is a naked and subjective appeal to emotionalism, which is not convincing. I’m not closed in principle to the possibility of being swayed by pro-life arguments, but I want to hear an actual argument, with reasons, not just appeals to sentiment. There are plenty of Muslims who are emotionally repulsed by the idea of publishing cartoons of Mohammed, but that doesn’t mean we should make that a law binding on everyone.

    How weak public support for abortion is can be seen, too, in how little traction the proaborts were able to get by trying to paint Justice Alito as some sort of right-of-the-taliban monster and screaming that Roe would be doomed (from your mouths to G-d’s ear) if he got on the SC.

    Actually, I would attribute Alito’s confirmation more to incompetence among elected Democrats, who failed to bring up his anti-choice leanings nearly as often or as forcefully as they should have.

    The American public is not overwhelming prochoice. It is a rather narrow plurality that is ok with keeping it legal in the first 3 months but the later in the term, the more dramatically support for abortion drops.

    What polls are you reading? According to http://www.pollingreport.com/abortion.htm, a Gallup poll taken on January 22 of this year found that Americans are in favor of upholding Roe v. Wade, 66% to 25%, and Gallup polls taken regularly since 1996 find consistently that around 50% of Americans consider themselves pro-choice and around 40% pro-life, with the rest undecided. I used the term “solidly” pro-choice in my last post and I consider that an accurate description.

    I don’t think the burden is on me to make a case for the humanity of the fetus, in a way that will satisfy those of you, who want a scientific definition.

    I don’t want or need a scientific definition. I just want a definition. What makes something a human being, according to you? Surely this isn’t too hard a question. If you really believe that a fetus is a human being, you must have some grounds to think so; you must have arrived at that conclusion for a reason. I just want to know what that reason was. I offered what seems to me a perfectly good definition – humanity requires the capability for conscious thought – and though you seem not to agree with that, I also haven’t seen you give any reason to reject it.

    I think you’re refraining from offering a definition of what makes a human being not because you can’t think of one, but because you’re well aware you can’t come up with a non-arbitrary definition that would clearly include an early-stage fetus without also including an array of absurdities, such as HeLa or a fetus with anencephaly (warning: disturbing image, not for the faint of heart). My definition cleanly excludes both those cases.

    Essentially, you’re saying that you don’t accept my definition of humanity, though you haven’t offered a reason why, and you have no better one to offer, other than “I know it when I see it”. You really can’t understand why I might be unimpressed by that?

    Even the most ardent supporters of abortion must concede that what is being carried in utero, left to develop naturally and without impairments that will kill it, will be a baby.

    I agree, it will be a baby. But it is not yet one, not before the capability for characteristically human thought develops. That is what makes all the difference; I’ve been saying so all along. (For the record, I am not in favor of legalizing third-trimester abortions except in extraordinary circumstances. By that point, a good argument could be made, via fetal brainwave scans, that such a capability has indeed developed.)

  31. Lily
    February 9th, 2006 @ 8:13 am

    OK. Let me spell out, what I thought I had made clear–you ask:

    What makes something a human being, according to you? The certainty that in the course of uninterupted, natural development, a human will be born. Not a dog. Not a fish. A human. Brain waves, conscious thought, etc. are all arbitrary markers on the continuum of development.

    Are you unaware how many women willingly bring a baby with anencephaly to term? I do find this heroic and moving but would understand and accept this as an exception to a ban on non-medically necessary abortion.

  32. Lee
    February 9th, 2006 @ 12:54 pm

    Fair enough, Lily. I assume that you are also in favor of banning contraception, then, since those things also interrupt a “course of natural development” that would ordinarily end in the birth of a human being.

  33. Lily
    February 9th, 2006 @ 2:51 pm

    I would be in favor of banning abortifacients. Not all birth control devices act after conception has occured, so far as I know. I am ok with preventing it from happening at all, so far as public policy is concerned.

  34. Deuc
    February 9th, 2006 @ 9:25 pm

    Hopefully I’m not intruding here, but I think Lee would agree with my post.

    Lily, to restate your definition:
    A human being is something that “in the course of uninterupted, natural development” would be born as a human being, or presumably, is already such a human being.

    Besides its circular nature, you have the problem that it includes fetuses with natural brain problems such that they are alive but are otherwise braindead. (And always will be.) It also excludes as humans things that are identical but have different environments:

    Under the definition anything pre-conception is ruled out, since it must be something that is developing. What actual and definitive difference exists between a conceived individual that will go on to be implanted in uterine wall and continue developing and one which does not? If you are against contraceptives like the pill, which some claim are abortifacients, then what difference exists between those that won’t implant for natural circumstances (ie. most conceptions) and those that won’t implant because of similar circumstances brought about by use of the pill?

    What actual and definitive difference exists between two embryos with different conception locations? (Inside a woman vs. petri dish) If none, then what actual and definitive difference is there between two developing embryos/fetuses, one that is the result of “uninterrupted natural” processes and the other which has had it’s development interrupted by being frozen, but which is allowed to develop at a later time?

    Simply put, the criteria of your definition are arbitrary. There are cases where just one of two things which are identical in composition and ability are deemed to be human beings. Even if changed into “something that is capable of developing into a human” you still have the problems of conceptions not resulting in pregnancy, and the circular definition. Furthermore, it leaves unsaid why two things which are also capable of developing into human(s) are excluded. (As did the original which excluded two things that would develop.)

    A definition such as: “a living organism with human DNA that is capable of higher brain function and conscious thought.” Is only arbitrary in the sense that you can’t easily define human DNA. (Significantly conjoined people would be one human being, but still two people, two sentiences.)

    What’s wrong with, or hard about, saying that you value things developing into human beings like you value human beings themselves? With the consequence being that you perceive little or no difference between them?

  35. Lily
    February 10th, 2006 @ 8:03 am

    Maybe it is too early in the morning and I am still foggy but I thought I was saying quite clearly that I value “things developing into human beings like I value human beings themselves with the consequence being that [I] perceive little or no differrence between them”.

    There is nothing arbitrary about what I said except in your mind. Once fertilization has occured, a human being has been conceived. This seems like a simple concept to grasp to me.

    Besides its circular nature, you have the problem that it includes fetuses with natural brain problems such that they are alive but are otherwise braindead. (And always will be.) It also excludes as humans things that are identical but have different environments:

    Huh? Babies with brain problems are human babies. Brain dead babies are human babies. Cloning humans is evil. Creating a fetus in a dish in order to use it for some other purpose and then killing it is evil. I don’t otherwise know what you mean with “human things that are identical but have different environments”.

    I am not comfortable with creating babies in vitro but I can accept it if they are implanted into their mother’s womb and allowed to come to term. I would not be sorry if we banned it. I abhor the commodification of human beings, even as I understand and sympathize with the childless couple. But most, if not alln technologies are eventually put to evil uses and where human beings are concerned, the creation and willy-nilly destruction of life cannot be permitted by a civilized society.

  36. jahrta
    February 10th, 2006 @ 10:56 am

    Why is it evil to clone humans?

    I’d just love to hear this one

    In the case of twins, will one of them always be evil? Is it the one with the VanDyke?

  37. hermesten
    February 10th, 2006 @ 11:22 am

    Well, if there are no abortions, there will be more children for Lily and Chimpco to torture. Funny how Lily, and those like her, are so concerned about zygotes, but think killing and torturing real live children is AOK, as long at the Chimp approves.

    Lily’s anti-abortion stance is about as morally meaningful as a Nazi being a vegetarian and loving his dog. Lily and her Chimp lover friends support and facilitate an administration who claims a legal right and power to crush a child’s testicles in order to extract information from a parent. Come on guys, it’s a waste of time to take someone like Lily seriously.

  38. jahrta
    February 10th, 2006 @ 3:02 pm

    It might be a complete waste of time and energy, but I find Lily genuinely entertaining. Not so much for the nonsensical, contradictory and ill-informed verbal diarrhea which flows from her maw as if she were some sort of Pray-dough Fun Factory (patent pending) but rather because she is so convinced of her own moral, intellectual and political superiority that I find a certain type of morbid curiosity in watching her dig her own grave using the dull-bladed words of a moral-relativist christian thug.

    Do carry on.

  39. hermesten
    February 10th, 2006 @ 3:06 pm

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that Lily isn’t a source of great amusement. Nor did I mean to discourage her unintended efforts to entertain us.

  40. Lya Kahlo
    March 3rd, 2006 @ 12:46 pm

    “There are a few exceptions, the primary one being for men who are pro-choice.”

    No,no,no clueless rabbit! unless you are the doctor, the man who got her pregnant or someone she confides in, no you don’t get an opinion.

  41. The Raving Atheist
    March 3rd, 2006 @ 1:56 pm

    Lya,

    I was wondering why Ted Kennedy got a say . . . thanks for the clarification.

    (P.S.: A quadruple negative is technically a positive, so maybe we agree).

  • Basic Assumptions

    First, there is a God.

    Continue Reading...

  • Search

  • Quote of the Day

    • Fifty Random Links

      See them all on the links page.

      • No Blogroll Links