Monday, January 26, 2009

Abortions

Have you seen the video where a guy asks anti-abortion demonstraters what should happen to a woman who has an illegal abortion? Most of the people he talked to could not give an answer and/or said that they had not spent much time thinking about it.

I was disappointed with all of the people interviewed. It seems to me that they are just following the cries of anti-abortion ralliers or fundamentalist preachers and are not really thinking about this and questioning it. I mean, I don't think that people who are against abortion are necessarily stupid or wicked or anything else. But I am disappointed with people who take that position without having thought it through. It just goes to show that our society needs to have greater critical thought skills.

So should abortion be legal? Yes. It will happen whether it is legal or not, and if it is illegal it will be less safe (women used to give themselves abortions with coat hangers).

Is abortion right? I don't know. I suspect that the embryo (or fetus) is not conscious, at least not to any high degree, so I don't think abortion is anything like killing a three year old child, who is fully conscious. In fact, there are probably lots of animals that have a level of consciousness equal to or greater than a fetus. So in this sense I do not feel it is wrong.

But would I ever encourage a girl to have an abortion? In most cases, No. I know at least one woman who has had an abortion and I believe she has suffered severe psychological anguish from it. Taking the life of your unborn offspring is traumatic, as anyone can imagine. I also admit that I personally would never encourage a woman to have an abortion simply because I have a lot of personal discomfort with it. It would bother me tremendously if I influenced a woman to have an abortion. I can't say why, but I just feel this way. So as far as emotional considerations go, I think abortions should be avoided at all costs.

But what about in extreme cases? Say, if the mother's life was in danger if she decided keep a baby. Or if the baby was certain to have some type of horrible birth defect or suffer mental retardation. In those cases I think it would be kinder to have an abortion. If you ever see the way a mentally retarded child goes through life, how much effort it takes to take care of them, and compare this to the amount of pleasure the child gets from life, I think you will find that it is simply a waste. And in many cases it is just plain cruel to allow such a child to live.

Anyway, those are my thoughts.

10 comments:

SirMoogie said...

Ron Paul and Fred Thompson were asked the same:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWVR0PaI2W4

They had an answer. I think most anti-abortionists want a punishment for the doctor, not the woman. However, this skirts this issue of self-induced abortions.

Critical Thinker said...

With respect to the author of these thoughts, who suggests that we need "greater critical thought skills" [sic], one must look at the critical thinking skills of the arguments that the author employs and evaluate the argument.

The first point offered is that as it will happen anyway, making it illegal engenders danger to the one who has one. And the author is correct on this point. However, when looked at critically, it brings into question the entire legal code. Stealing, Child Molestation, Murder and Grand Theft Auto will all happen regardless of laws, and yet we set limits on what we will allow to occur within society. One would never presume to say that since "Shoplifting Happens regardless of laws" we should make Shoplifting Legal. The purpose of making actions criminal is to minimize the chances of them happening by using danger and possible repercussions from engaging in an activity. We have even gone so far as to set up laws which arrest people for Attempted Murder, and Conspiracy to Commit Murder. Now, how does one justify the fact that not actually killing someone is worthy of jail time because of the premeditated intent to do so, and yet then turn around and say that killing a fetus is OK. This needs to be examined, as it lacks that critical thinking component which the author encourages.

The issue of whether to save a mother who is endangered from complications by a pregnancy is one which most Right to Lifers agree should be a choice when there is a medical need. This is one of those places where life does not make the choice easy, and the decision as to whether to risk the life of the mother must be made by the mother (and father when available). Most right to Life advocates will let this one be legal, as it takes extenuating circumstances into consideration and this is almost always a last choice. Nobody schedules an appointment with a Dr. for the purpose of hearing that the baby they have inside them is going to kill them. And nobody is in favor of either of them dying. But when given no other choice, and only one can survive, then the laws of the land should leave the answer firmly in the hands of the mother, and do their best to nurture her through the difficult process.

Then, let us look at the "quality of life" issue. If tests were infallible, then perhaps it might be a poor but valid argument. However, knowing many folks who have succeeded in life, despite their parents being warned of defects, in the fetal stage, that is not seriously considered. My son's sonogram said he was to be a girl. Tests lie sometimes, and until it is born, one cannot say what the quality of life will be. The entire Munchkin Village would have been empty had these tests been given and Dwarfism known, as would Gary Coleman and and Jason Acuna. One wonders if they feel their lives were not worth living, or Corky, the Downs Syndrom star of TV. If killing them now is wrong, then killing them before they had a chance to develop their lives is also wrong. Dan Akroyd and Darryl Hannah both have Autism. If genes which predict these horrible things are found, how many more lives will have been lost? And what of those who come up as predisposed to have Parkinsons?

How do we justify the killing of people just because they aren't perfect. As a man with a cousin who was mentally retarded, the difficulties do not outweigh the life of the child. And nobody is going to suggest that euthanizing Michael J. Fox because the life he had is no longer there and he is in for a heck of a rough ride. This argument also lacks full critical thinking, and needs to be reconsidered.

In the history of the US, there are three "Rights" which are guaranteed by our creator: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Abortion takes this first right away from the fetus. Defending it as a right is going to get difficult if understood critically.

Medicine and Science have very specific ways of describing things. For example when you can't see far away, then call you Myopic, rather than "near sighted." The designation of a fetus or embryo comes from the Latin word for Unborn Child. Thus, but the designation given by scientists, that which is residing inside the mother is alive and medically codified as living, and thus to remove this is to strip the rights protected by our government from the most defensless among us. There are statues whereby if you shoot a pregnant woman and the bullet kills not only the mother but the fetus, you are charged with 2 counts of murder. How do you respond to this, as the fetus was not born yet, but the removal of its chances for survival are deemed as a capital offense and yet the willful removal of the chances (not under extreem danger to the mother's survival as noted above) is a "Right" that the mother had? It lacks critical thinking and needs to be pondered before discussing these issue.

With respect,

Critical Thinker

Baconsbud said...

First Critical Thinker where are these laws at? The ones making it two murders if a preg. woman is killed and the fetus dies.
I wasn't surprised that many of the anti-abortionist never thought about what to do if it was illegal and someone still had one. You can look at how people do things in general,most seldom look ahead at what will come if things go the way they want. I figure there are areas of your life that you never really look ahead in and when that area sneaks up on you, you have to play it by ear.

Cheryl said...

Wow, lots covered in this post. Hmmm, I guess I'll just throw out what I took from/think about it.

-I think many people have difficulty answering this question because while they agree that abortion is wrong they my have difficulty deciding on a degree of offense; depending on specifics like how far along was the pregnancy, did it endanger the mom's life, did the mom simply want to not be bothered etc.

-Completely agree that this country needs more critical thinking skills

-While I don't agree with abortion,I don't feel it's right, I have trouble saying it should be illegal. Not only for safety but because as a Christian I believe that the greatest gift we were given is free will and it's not my right to take that away.

-A fetus may not be conscious, I don't know, but I have to wonder how much pain they feel. Conscious or not, a developing ball of nerves would most likely feel being dissolved in saline, sliced up or crushed by suction. We wouldn't dream of doing such things to animals we feel have a lower level of consiousness. Also, the late-term abortions, those must be excruciating for the infant/fetus.

-I agree I could never encourage anyone to have an abortion and they should be avoided at all costs. The mother, and possibly the father as well, will carry mental scars forever.

-True, there are gray areas. Rape, incest, endangerment of the mother's life-especially if she has other children to care for. It's a tough call.

-I woud have to disagree about the mental issues though. I know a few families of children with mental issues. They're not vegetables, though one is close. These children hav been such a blessing to their families, bringing them closer in through their love and day to day caring for them. It is A LOT of work yes but I've seen the benefits far outweigh the costs. The children seem to be happy too, though the one doesn't show much emotion period. He's just "there" but the family shower as much love and attention on him as any other member, talk to him as if he were "normal". And since we're not in his head who can say he donesn't understand and appreciate it?

Critical Thinker said...

Dear Baconsbud,

The one to which I was referring was the one found in the California Penal Code.
CALIFORNIA CODES
PENAL CODE
SECTION 187-199

187. (a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a
fetus, with malice aforethought.
(b) This section shall not apply to any person who commits an act
which results in the death of a fetus if any of the following apply:

(1) The act complied with the Therapeutic Abortion Act, Chapter 11
(commencing with Section 25950) of Division 20 of the Health and
Safety Code.
(2) The act was committed by a holder of a physician's and surgeon's
certificate, as defined in the Business and Professions Code, in a
case where, to a medical certainty, the result of childbirth would be
death of the mother of the fetus or where her death from childbirth,
although not medically certain, would be substantially certain or
more likely than not.
(3) The act was solicited, aided, abetted, or consented to by the
mother of the fetus.
(c) Subdivision (b) shall not be construed to prohibit the
prosecution of any person under any other provision of law.
For information on laws in other states you may view here:

http://www.nrlc.org/Unborn_victims/Statehomicidelaws092302.html

As they are in over half of the states, they are not exactly rare, though may not pertain to your state. Yet, you will notice that within the Californa version, they had to carefully word it so as not to open a pandora's box of lawsuits against doctors who perform abortions. However, this does not negate the question: Why is it murder in some cases, but not in others? You are ending a life in both events. In dealing with it being a "Right" one must look at the factors involved. That means that sometimes we must allow it, but that those should be mitigated by need, rather than desire, and this is something which is lost on the current generation (in my humble opinion).

Respectfully,

Critical Thinker.

AIGBusted said...

CT,

I believe that the issue with killing a living being is that we know it is wrong to bring pain, or to bring death (which is very usually unwanted or should be unwanted) upon a conscious being. And let's be clear: The real is issue with killing a human being is that it has a very high level of consciousness. Taking a life is not the issue, unless you do not believe in eating plants and animals.

A fetus is not conscious. Nor is an embryo. None of us remembers being a fetus or embryo and they do not show signs of consciousness in the same way that a two year old child does.

Critical Thinker said...

You are correct on your semantics, AIGBusted. Living Being is too broad a term. Let us go with Human, as the Embryo and Fetus are human in form, genetic material and makeup. It is only lacking time for incubation. Consciousness is a relative idea, as I don't recall being conscious before about three, but I am told that I was. :-) But I can't recall what I had for lunch last Tuesday.

To equate Human life with that of Plant or Animal is a not truly germain to the argument, and my apologies for my unclear statement which brought it into question.

AIGBusted said...

The reason I brought up plants and animals is this: It is quite obviously not wrong to destroy them.

Nor is it only wrong to destroy a human. Here's a hypothetical: What if you met a member of alien species which could communicate with you, was smarter than you, showed loved to others, and showed a high level of consciousness (meaning it was aware, it had thoughts and feelings like you). Would it be okay to kill it?

If you answered no, congratulations, you are not a psychopath (lol). My point is that isn't the species that makes a death wrong, it is feeling, awareness, consciousness. While it may be questionable to allow late term or partial birth abortions, I'm not so sure that a six week old embryo has any more cognitive ability than a shrimp.

And please don't try to argue that it is wrong because it will develop into a human being; This commits the genetic fallacy: It's just as wrong as saying that I'm killing a baby for not going out and impregnating women every chance I get. After all, I'm wasting a lot of sperm which would develop into a child!!

SirMoogie said...

AiGBusted,

At what level of consciousness do you decide it isn't "alright" to kill or eat an animal? Do Cetacean count? What about Corvidae? Suinae? Bos? Primates other than humans? Humans that don't possess consciousness (i.e., those in a coma)? Just to take your example of an alien species visiting Earth. What if they have greater cognitive abilities, would it be alright for them to eat us?

Critical Thinker said...

Dear AIGBusted,

Thank you for allowing that I am not a psychopath! I appreciate the welcome. :-)

As to your hypothetical, the answer is "I'm not sure." The kneejerk reaction is "Of course not." However, that requires a LOT of suppositions which have yet to be quantified. You seem to be suggesting that it is a friendly race trying to establish diplomatic relations. A mother Grizzly is an alien who can communicate with me (via roaring and threatening gestures). It has love for its young and cares for them. But as our Knight the Reknownéd Moggie has raised the issue, if it came after me as a late night snack, I would have ZERO qualms in killing it.

Also, you seem to be equating all life as equal. A noble suggestion, but one questions its veracity. If you were driving down a road and a dog ran in front of your car, I would bet you would swerve to avoid it. If you did so and struck a child, I can say with almost complete certainty that had you seen the child and known that the swerve was going to kill this small human, you would have run over the dog.

Now, certainly you would have been sad about the dog, but given the choice between the dog and the child you would have hit the schnauser every time to avoid the child. And, before your try to say that this is simply survival of the species etc. (ad nausium -- and stir :-), ponder: If the child was the offspring of your original hypothetical alien which you would have saved? I am willing to bet the Schnauser bites it either way.

What many have a hard time either admitting to or accepting is that we value Human life over that of other species. And this is more than just survival of the species. Firemen run into burning buildings to save lives (which endangers their own offspring, as they will not be able to sire if they die in the fire). They run into burning prisons to save humans that society has removed because they are a danger (including being a danger to their own offspring, which belies the Survival of the Species line). But they do it because it is the right thing to do. Like it or not, we place greater value on Human Life than we do all other living things (Plants, Animals).

Where you and I seem to differ is at what point life becomes "human" (or perhaps Worthwhile/Human). You seem to imply that it is only when there is consciousness; I believe it is at conception. Your sperm line of thinking is funny, as I hope it was intended to be. Afterall, only one sperm fertilizes the egg, the rest are killed off and nobody is putting the woman up for murder on that. Partly because then you would have to indict all makers of spermacidal or contraceptives as accessories to murder. Even the Catholic Church, which is very Pro-Life in its leanings (Every sperm is sacred...) teaches the Rhythm Cycle Method of Birth Control. An Egg and a Sperm carry "Potential" human lives, but alone they are not a fully human life. Only when they meet and begin the process of creating a fetus do they become human (in my opinion).

But your summation regarding the Fetus and the Shrimp is quite telling in this regard. Cognative Ability and Intrinsic Human Value are the paradigms/prisms through which we are evaluating this question, and the reasons we are coming to different conclusions.

If it were all about cognative ability, nobody would cry at the end of Steel Magnolias when they pull the plug on Shelby. She was in a coma and had, afterall, the cognative ability of a shrimp. But the loss of the Intrinsic Human Value of the person is what is recognized.