That's a fairly good point. Maybe instead of researching mechanical incubators, we should be researching male-hosted incubators. If women don't want to carry their fetuses to term, a male anti-abortionist should be required to host the fetus to term. Let's see how many male anti-abortionists would sign up for that duty.
I really really hate it when whether or not a fetus is "alive" gets brought into the argument, and yes it's a nitpick, but it's something that people seem to avoid talking about.
There is no biological basis for saying a fetus is less alive than a baby.
The egg was alive.
The sperm was alive.
The fertilised egg was alive.
The 2 cell zygote was alive.
All of the cells between that stage and delivery are alive.
But then again, so is the freaking placenta, and people eat that. A 4-cell zygote is arguably more alive than blood is.
And slime mould and mildew and a roach are all alive too. And the thousands of organisms that get killed, directly or indirectly, everytime a new subdivision goes up.
The discussion can not revolve around whether the fetus is alive, it has to revolve around when we decide it's a person.
Personally, I think individuals extend personhood well beyond when most philosophers would grant it. People talk and sing to their babies months before birth, and conceptualise them as tiny people who are paying attention and are just waiting to finish being baked.
Which I think makes the emotional issues more complex.
"Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is great,
If a single one is wasted, god gets quite irate!"
It comes down to what people value, and why they value it. You want to say "all life is sacred" thats FINE. You go right on ahead. Now stop brushing your teeth and washing your hands and cleaning your kitchen counter (exercises specifically designed to end bacterial life which humans don't value) and then maybe I'll listen to you.
You want to say "all human life is sacred", thats fine too. And when you give a significant fraction of your disposal income and spare time to charities to stop war, famine and disease I might even pay attention to you.
I'm delighted for you to say "the idea of a baby dying squicks me out and I don't know how to deal with it"; I'll applaud your honesty but tell you to stay the hell out of my uterus.
It comes down to what people value, and why they value it. You want to say "all life is sacred" thats FINE. You go right on ahead. Now stop brushing your teeth and washing your hands and cleaning your kitchen counter
And if you want to look at it like that you should stop eating anything too...
I think all life has value, but that doesn't mean EQUAL value. Why is that so hard for people to understand? We all do it, and your examples are evidence for it.
Because it doesn't fit into a headline, or a soundbite. Because people like dividing themselves over issues.
Because my stance of abortion is "it should be a last ditch proceedure for those that really don't want children/can't medically handle a pregnancy because they were using contraception and it failed them, or those who were inpregnated against their will [*], but that people should be responsible and use contraception in the first place because contraception is SO much easier on the body than an invasive medical proceedure; and god-damn it, if you're not with-it enough to use contraception what the hell are you doing having sex anyway and I'm not sure I want you contributing to the gene pool [**] BUT although I don't think I could ever get an abortion, I'm not going to try to make that decision for other people in situations I can't comprehend"
but I can't explain that to people who see things in black and white and so I'm forced to define myself as "pro choice".
[*] up to and including sabotaging contraception
[**] it's one of life's great ironies that being too dumb to use a condom is more than smart enough to breed. More proof Darwin was wrong! :D
Smart amoeba: "Hey that smells interesting. I'd better go check it out to add to my extensive collection of interesting things." Squirms closer to interesting smell. "Crap. It's a predator." I know, it's a matter of averages. Sucks to be an outlier.
Mel and Stephan, I agree that the idea of value is key to understanding the abortion issue. It really is ultimately an economic issue, not a moral one. It's all about parental investment and selfish genes. If the mother decides she can't provide for her fetal bundle of genes or doesn't want to risk this particular pregnancy in order to pursue some other strategy for looking after her genes, then it's her business what to do with the fetus. Once a baby is born, then those genes are off on their own journey, and they selfishly care about themselves. Of course, they selfishly care about themselves in utero, but they don't own the uterus. Genes really are the property of their owner until they're viable on their own.
Simply state what you think are the underlying arguments in the abortion debate.
Here's what I hear:
1.Sex is to be performed for reproductive purposes only
2. Those that violate 1. should be punished.
3. A woman is a set of reproductive organs, nothing more nothing less. She may think otherwise, and if she refuses to do her duty we'll make her.
4. We'll try to claim "personhood" for the fetus as our central argument in order to get the baby factories off track. If we really thought it was the same as murder we'd try to reclassify it so that it can be punished in the same way. Instead we'll put red tape around medically necessary "late term" abortions, harass clinics that provide sex education and birth control to the poor, and dump money into abstinance only education.
1. Abortion will happen whether or not its legal, at least when its legal it can be done safely.
2. Pregnancy is full of both permanent and temporary medical risks including death, therefore consent must be given by the person taking said risks.
3. Girls beneath a certain age are at a greater risk of death, particularly sexual abuse victims that become pregnant during early puberty.
4. "Personhood" and "rights" can not be established until both of the following criteria have been met:
a. Sentience has been establshed.(as in the ability to sense pain and seek nurishment on instinct)
b. Reliance on a parasetic relationship has been severed.
I think we should recognize, from the get-go, that it's highly unlikely that anybody's stance on this controversial issue is going to change if they've already staked out a position (though it's been known to happen). The contentious and emotional aspects of this controversy are unavoidable when both sides of the argument have valid points. It's not surprising that so many proponents, both pro-life and pro-choice, become extremists with very little provocation at all.
Atheists here and in general tend to be progressive in their politics and social values. Judging from what I've seen here and elsewhere, atheists are predominantly pro-choice.
All societies, in their laws, place high value on human life. The severest consequences are meted out for taking, or trying to take, human life. But those same societies are not averse to taking life: war, capital punishment, even assassinations. I am a microcosm of society in that regard: I want to value human life as much as possible but recognize there are times when taking life is justified, even necessary. Cold-blooded murderers should be executed, Adolph Hitlers and Osama bin Ladens should be assassinated and wars should be fought to protect our way of life.
It all boils down to intent. To keep us honest, intent should align with results.
Unless you suffer some neurological disorder like autism or had a feral childhood (raised by jungle apes), you know what hurts you -- therefor, you know what hurts others. This knowledge is part of the human condition and comes with experience and empathy. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The Golden Rule is an excellent foundation for morality, ethics and law. The bottom line is that we should not harm others unnecessarily. For most of our typical, usual, concerns, this simple rule is all we need as a moral guide.
But then there's those untypical, unusual, concerns. Like abortion.
Abortion is a complicated moral issue. One doesn't need to be religious to have strong feelings against abortion. There have been some A|N atheists -- even female -- who have come out against abortion. I think that, realistically, NOBODY is FOR abortion . . . those who support abortion rights are really for CHOICE.
I understand all the worn-out arguments from both sides. My own position (where adult sex is concerned) is that, in this day and age, it is irresponsible for adults to have sex without contraception (condom, pill, whatever) if they don't want a baby. The kind of sex that leads to unwanted pregnancy takes 2 heterosexual partners, so contraception should be the concern of both partners. Abortion should also be the concern of both partners, although I understand that the woman makes the ultimate decision.
I said that abortion is a moral issue. And it is. But it's not a clear-cut moral issue. If capital punishment and war are not murder, can abortion be considered murder? Once the fetus is viable (20 to 24 weeks), I'd have to say yes.
But what about before viability? There are so many strong opinions about this, it's hard to be sure what to believe or who is right. But I think most people can agree that, unless the mother's life is at risk, it's too late to abort if the fetus is viable.
I believe it's important to uphold the value of human life as much as possible. Because abortions were once illegal, we know all the tragic stories that come with criminalizing abortion. If a woman really insists on an abortion, then it's a good thing it's legal. But it should only be legal for the first 19 weeks of gestation. With such a controversial matter, there's no way to please everybody. I, personally, draw the line at aborting a viable fetus. In this regard, my position agrees completely and wholeheartedly with abortion laws as they currently exist in the U.S.
Many question the route the Supreme Court took to its Roe vs. Wade decision. I don't know about that. But I do believe that their decision strikes the best and most reasonable balance between the pro-lfe and pro-choice camps.
My moral sense tells me that, if I can't value human life absolutely, I need to value it as much as possible. Legal abortions before fetal viability gives ample time for a couple to decide what to do. But I can't, in good conscience, endorse abortion beyond the 19th week (viability) except to save the mother's life.