Full disclosure.  I'm a lacto-ovo-vegetarian atheist who is also anti-abortion (save immanent death and irreversible, unbearable-pain due to disability).

Awhile back, I wrote on this page as to how I couldn't really grasp how a vegetarian could be pro-abortion (outside of the cases I've given above).  Instantly, there were some people after me over my comments.

Well, I picked back up the topic again with an anti-abortion omnivore friend of mine.

If I remember correctly, some pro-choice vegetarian/vegans didn't agree that human life began at conception.

My new question:  Would a pro-choice vegetarian/vegan technically be able to eat one of these fetuses (perhaps before it gained a central nervous system or whatever) because it's "not a human"?

Or would the pro-choice vegetarian/vegan (who doesn't think of "it" as a human), not be able to eat it?  What are your grounds assuming you won't give a cop-out such as for reasons of taste or logistics?

Thank you for thinking about this in advance.  Just curious.

Views: 159

Replies to This Discussion

The opening post above was originally asked on the main page with the label "pro-abortion" where it now says "pro-choice".  Here is what followed:


Pamela's Response:

"Chris, A vegan would not eat a fetus because it is still and animal product (the same reason we don't eat unfertilized chicken eggs even though they are never going to be chickens).  But I see no reason why a lacto-ovo vegetarian couldn't eat it (beyond being grossed out due to cultural ideas about food).  It would be no different, technically, than eating eggs or dairy products.

I take exception to your use of the term "pro-abortion".  No one is PRO abortion.  No one is trying to encourage people to get more abortions or standing outside abortion clinics cheering women on!  We are pro CHOICE.  We accept that it is a choice each woman makes for herself and even if we disagree with that choice we refrain from taking it away from her.

The main reason I am vegan (beyond health) is that I do not want to cause suffering to any living thing.  I don't use dairy products because I don't think it is OK to enslave cows, forcibly impregnate them, kidnap their children and steal their milk.  I have similar reasons for not using other animal products.  Most fetuses are aborted during the first trimester.  They have no brain and no central nervous system.  They cannot feel, they cannot suffer, so I have no moral obligation toward them."


Chris Z's Response:

"Hmm, I had forgotten some people take offense to the term pro-abortion.  I've discussed this topic so much that I no longer see any problem with the terms, pro-abortion and anti-choice.  The two exception cases I gave are typically agreeable between both parties, so I simply viewed my choice of label (i.e. pro-abortion) as literally true (promoting of the choice for abortion for things beyond those two usually agreed upon exceptions mentioned).

Were you to call me anti-choice, I don't think I would have thought twice about it because in my description of where I stand, I am against people's ability to choose outside of those two exceptions.

Also, perhaps being in science, and computing, I look at pro and anti as simple specifications, designators.

So my intention wasn't to say that your promotive of killing things, but you are promotive of peoples choice to take life.  Whereas I am against that choice (anti-choice).

I do apologize if I offended you from those labels.

The prolife and prochoice labels don't seem fitting then either if were to be specific.  What terms should we agree upon using?"


Pamela's Response:

"'So my intention wasn't to say that your promotive of killing things, but you are promotive of peoples choice to take life.  Whereas I am against that choice (anti-choice).'

Taking anti-biotics is taking lives, washing a floor or taking a shower "takes lives".  The issue is
whether a woman can have her body hijacked by the interests of a POSSIBLE future person, or if her autonimy is her own.  Being male perhaps you can't imagine the situation?  You are proposing women be forced to carry pregnancies against their will. To those of us with a uterus it is like being the victim in Alien!  It isn't "no big deal" to carry a fetus for 9 months and then give birth....and that is if everything goes perfectly!  Perhaps if we were to ask you to have a lemon shoved up your utethra until it reaches you bladder.  Sound like fun??  Want that procedure mandated by law??  I'm betting not.

  I don't make decisions about what other women do with their uterus, and no one makes decisons about what I do with mine.  And I defend the lives of animals.  Fully formed ones with the capacity to suffer. 

I see the only part of my post you responded to was the terminology.  Use whatever terminology you like.  I just wanted to point out that EVERYONE is on the same side when it comes to abortion...we'd all like to eliminate the need for most of them.  Better birth control is the #1 way to do that.  The reason I've never had an abortion is becuse I never got pregnant. 

I don't want any children ever, so I am positive I would have aborted any "mistakes".  And asking why I didn't get sterilized is like asking "Were do you get your protein".  If I had a nickel for everytime I hear THAT one!  I tried to get sterilized in my early 20's, but of course in keeping with the idea that women can't make decisions about thier own uterus I was told I "might change my mind". Strangely no one gave my first husband any trouble when I took HIM to get fixed...at age 23!!   Nope, just a quick "you sure about this" and snip snip! 

There is WAY more to this issue than "is it alive" sweetie."


Sentient Biped's Response:

"The abortion / veg idea would be a great idea to post in the Veg discussion forum.  That way people can follow over the long term, while comments continue to scroll onto other topics."


Chris Z's Response:

"Whoa!  Yeah, agree with you Sentient Biped.  Didn't expect all that.  I was just was literally curious.  ...but, holy cow!"


K's Response:


A-freakin'-men!  Well written, much nicer than I would have been...

Chris Z....You say you "didn't expect all that."  in your latest post, but your first post regarding bringing it up again, you state that ..."there were some people after me over my comments."

So, you did, I think, have some idea that this is a hot button topic, and if your latest post statement is true, you are very naive to think you would get little response.

My choices are just that: MY choices. Mine to make, and live with. I don't need to defend my choices to anyone, because they are mine.  Not yours. Not my husband's, or my congressman's, or my neighbor's.

Whether I abort, use birth control, get my tubes tied, have 12 kids, or 1, adopt, give up for adoption, or carry for another, it is my choice, my decision, and my business.

Just as it is my choice where I live, what I eat, drink, or smoke, what I do for a living, how I educate myself and my kids, whether or not I have pets, or drive a car, or cross my left leg over my right, or line dry my clothes.  I don't need to defend those choices either.

If you don't like the choices I make, make different ones for yourself.

You don't get to make my choices for me, though."

Pamela,  I had responses already written up to your arguments but I felt it was best to apologize first.  You became "offended" regarding my use of labels.  Being that it wasn't my intention to offended over mere use of labels, it was important to apologize first and ask you what you would prefer to use.  I've noted what you like to be called as indicated above in the opening entry of the discussion.

K, I was referring to the offshoots of the original question.

Thanks for making this into a discussion.  Great way to handle the conversation.


My own feelings on abortion are mildly conflicted.  Basically, I feel that the bottom line is sentience / suffering / fairness.  If a being is not sentient, and not able to suffer - to the extent that we can detect that - then I don't see an issue with "rights".  Some extension of that - if eating or using the product leads to suffering, I don't want to do that either.  There is a line that everyone draws on that, and some of us draw it differently than others.  


As for the place of abortion, I would not place humans outside of other sentient life.  As far as I can tell from any evidence, at least early in gestation there is no pain perception and no awareness, so I have no problems with abortion for any reason early on.  I don't think anyone is clairvoyant, so if someone disagrees on that, fine - but it's really up to the pregnant woman to decide, and no one should decide for her.  There is no absolute threshold - some state that even for a while after birth, there is no self awareness or memory or suffering.  I don't know where the fact is in that, and I wouldn't support infanticide, but until someone has a clear answer, I can't support limitations on abortion at any stage.


On the fetophagia issue, my personal sense of revulsion would keep me from eating a fetus, it's just too gross for me to contemplate, which I think is normal.  Ethically there should not be an issue.  In addition, eating placenta should not be an ethical issue, even for ethical vegetarians - it is basically non-killed and has no chance for a life of its own, ever, has no nerves, no awareness, no pain receptors, and gets discarded.  That is also too gross for me to contemplate.  Health-wise, it should be OK if there are no infectious disease or medication issues.  I think some animals eat their own placentas, and there are some people who think it's cool to do.


For that matter, would it be ethical to eat, say, human limbs that have been traumatically amputated, or bodies from motor vehicle accidents?  Again, that is too gross for me to contemplate, and a sense of revulsion is probably a healthy thing.  But for an ethical vegetarian that should not be an issue.  Or for an omnivore.  I just cant imagine doing it, even for the totally rare plane crash in the Andes scenario.


The line that I draw is imperfect, and is not always in the same place.  What I can say, is it's not based on what type of DNA a creature has, but on the concept of reducing suffering and respecting the life of a self-aware creature.  In addition, I have environmental concerns with animal industries, and animal cruelty concerns.  The other part is that noncognitive sense of revulsion - which different people have in different places too.


The interface of abortion with vegetarianism/veganism is going to be mostly on why someone makes the dietary choice that they make.  If Veg solely for health - no issue.  If for political / environmental, probably support abortion rights for population control issues.  If for "sanctity of life" and individual rights - that's where it's most difficult to dissect out the issues.  


‎"By the end of third week the child's backbone spinal column and nervous system are forming." Detectable brainwaves at 6 weeks.  http://www.nrlc.org/abortion/facts/fetaldevelopment.html

This source puts formation of spinal cord and brain at 5 weeks.  At 6-7 weeks, "the brain develops into five areas and some cranial nerves are visible." http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002398.htm

"The first trimester of pregnancy is week 1 through week 12, or about 3 months." http://www.webmd.com/baby/tc/pregnancy-your-first-trimester

You said most abortions occur during the 1st trimester.  I agree.  According to Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Most abortions (88%) are obtained in the first trimester of pregnancy.  In fact, over half of all abortions are obtained within the first 8 weeks.  Fewer than 2% occur at 21 weeks or later."  http://www.prochoice.org/about_abortion/facts/women_who.html#5

While over half of all abortions are obtained within the first 8 weeks, many of these abortions are well within the time of development of the nervous system.

Moreover, lets consider the other statistics just given. 
If abortions after 21 weeks are about 1.5% of the total abortions performed each year in the USA, and about 1 million abortions are performed each year in the USA, then about 15,000 babies are killed past 21 weeks each year in the USA. That is a staggering amount of late-term babies.

'Less than 2%' sounds so tiny...but 15,000 sounds like a lot. And it's a lot.

In another context, less than 2% of babies are killed by their mothers each year. 
That 2% equated to over the 54,000,000 children killed within the womb since Roe v. Wade, is equivalent to 1.08 million.  That's just the US alone.  Is that an acceptable rate?

More importantly, the bottom line is that the vast majority of unwanted pregnancies are knowingly preventable if not by use of contraception and/or Plan B, then via non-penetrative sex.  According to the American Pregnancy Association, 3 million of the 6 million pregnancies each year result from no contraception, "[...] accounting for 47% of unplanned pregnancies."  http://www.americanpregnancy.org/main/statistics.html

For the cases of rape, the number of families adopting children in the US far outweighs the number of live births of children conceived as a result of rape.  If I remember the exact number correctly, the Guttenmacher Institute (who does stats for PP) puts the number of pregnancies as a result of rape at 0.3% of all pregnancies.  It puts the number of pregnancies as a result of rape and incest at 1%, http://www.abortionno.org/Resources/fastfacts.html.

According to The American Pregnancy Association, about 6 million pregnancies occur each year, about 4 million of which result in live births. http://www.americanpregnancy.org/main/statistics.html

According to Child Welfare Information Gateway, estimates for the number of children adopted in 2007 and 2008 is about 130,000.  http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/adopted0708.cfm

For comparison, let's just consider the underestimate that each year about 100,000 children are adopted in the US each year. 
This number is 1 order of magnitude greater than the 12,000 children live birth children conceived as a result of rape.  This number (~40,000) is still more than 2 times greater than the number of "pregnancies" (not just the live births) resulting from rape and incest.

Oh goody, the long list of anti-abortion propaganda.

You don't seem interested in actually discussing the question you posed.  Were you ACTUALLY curious, or just looking for an excuse to lecture women on what they should do with their bodies? 

I've explained my position and I've heard all the propaganda already.  So if you have an actual point to make I'll be waiting.

While over half of all abortions are obtained within the first 8 weeks, many of these abortions are well within the time of development of the nervous system.

There is no evidence that a fetus can feel anything until after 20 weeks.  A fetus is NOT a person.  Have you studied fetal development?  They have systems that don't switch on until birth.  It is entirely possible they cannot feel until a few weeks before they are born.  Do you know what an 8 week fetus looks like (not some fake propaganda photo...a real one).  I do...and it isn't impressive.  Ever seen a brine shrimp?  And calling fetuses "children" and "babies" is silly.  It's like calling a bag of flour, a bag of sugar and a couple of eggs on the counter a cake.

Why do you think you should have a say in whether another human being carries a pregnancy and gives birth?  Why do you think you have a say in womens sex lives?

At what point is a human considered a person by your definition of personhood?

The following questions are important in a serious discussion on abortion, because just as discussing any god without speaking of the same definition of god, our points will miss each other:

At what point is a human a human?
At what point is a human considered a person by your definition of personhood?

Full disclosure of my position in order to address the arguments that are being brought up:
Abortion and voting to allow them are wrong, other than for saving a life under immanent death (which includes ectopic pregnancy) or preventing irreversible, unbearably-painful disability of either life.  The memory of delivering an unwitting human life rather than taking it is a better memory-recall and/or trigger of prior incest or rape (less than 0.7% and 0.3% of all abortions respectively, Guttmacher) if one values human life and scientifically understands what does and doesn't constitute a human.  The number of adoptions in the US each year is larger than the number of these births each year.  Adopters will pay for these deliveries.

Moreover, when one comes to a situation where either way someone loses his/her rights, it's about looking at the situation objectively, and deciding which action will do the greater good.  "Bodily autonomy" is never justified when the calculated loss is 9 months vs an entire life lost.

Lastly, yes, as a male, I do understand.  I am a human.  "Do you have to be in a war to decide whether it's morally just or not?"  No, you're a human adult; you can process the morality and assess the physical costs and capacities of those directly or indirectly involved.

I'm not sure if I'm actually answering a question.. because I don't think I am.. but I do think it is important to realize "pro-choice" does not necessarily mean "pro-abortion".  I feel people tend to forget this.. "pro-choice" simply means the ability to choose is respected.  If I were to become pregnant, I would not choose to get an abortion.  However, I do not believe my choices or beliefs should be forced down the throats of others.  

Just a little reminder to those who may forget.

Hmmmmmm...... A white male who is anti-abortion. How ordinary.

Hmmmmmm...... Another person who is both racist and sexist.  Lame.

Todd Akin said the same thing. Legitimately Awesome! You are in good company.


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