First of all, I haven’t seen any ‘well documented’ consensus that the fetus feels pain. As far as I can see, the jury is still out on that one. On the other hand, there is no reason not use a selective anesthesia for an abortion if they are truly concerned about pain, just as they would do after the baby is born. I don’t recall that they use anesthesia when they do in-utero surgical procedures. No one is complaining about that, nor are they passing laws to change this practice.
Well the reason I posed the question is that to me it seems to put a spotlight on inconstancies in the way society looks at abortion. We do lots of things to people that cause pain and yet they are still perfectly legal. The use of circumcisions which we have previously discussed is one example. We also inflict pain on animals on a regular basis. Except for a small portion of the population, most people do not promote legislation to outlaw the killing of animals for food just because it causes them a moment of pain when they are slaughtered. As you have also noted, it would be easy enough to use an anesthetic during the procedure to prevent any pain from being felt at all. Would that negate the whole discussion if we simply did that? Somehow I don’t think so.
It certainly seems as if pain is just one more false argument in the battle to outlaw abortions. If you take even a moment to examine the argument it is laughable really.
Doesn’t that also describe capital punishment, which, if done by lethal injection, involves anesthetics?
However, your question, Student, really seems to be asking when the organism can be considered a living person. Most want to draw a line somewhere between conception and birth defining that point as the beginning of life. My first comment is that the sperm and ovum are also alive so any action that allows any of them to die would also be considered murder by those who argue against all abortion.
I see it more as a continuum that one could think of as emergiing consciousness or, I suppose, value (I don’t care for that term, but I can’t think of another at the moment). Then one could balance the negative value to the woman of the pregnancy against the value of the fetus to determine if abortion is indicated.
Would the paid argument also fail in post birth abortion (under general anesthetics)?
I have no clue what you are asking here, student.
I assume the word “paid” should be read as “pain”.
But there is no such procedure as post-birth abortion. Abortion is a pre-birth procedure. Are you speaking of partial-birth abortion?Please clarify.
That’s a better question then you may realize. Abortion rights opponants like to say that their stand is Biblical but the problem with that is two fold;
1) In the cultures of the ancient Near east, the life of an individual child wasn’t considered all that valuable. This is not as cold hearted as one might think. It’s simply a reflection of the fact that most children born in that day and age would die of childhood diseases before they had a chance to become adults. This indifference applied to all the cultures ranging from Egypt to Turkey, and included the Hebrew nations and tribes.
2) Abortion is mentioned nowhere in the Bible in any context.
Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 03 August 2012 06:50 AM
2) Abortion is mentioned nowhere in the Bible in any context.
Right. Not as a medical procedure, probably because it was not known or practiced. But there is quite a bit about the consequences of killing a fetus (which apparently included actual babies up to 1 month old!). Apparently Yahweh doesn’t much value on a fetus, or a child for that matter.
This is from the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible:
What the Bible says about Abortion
Abortion is not murder. A fetus is not considered a human life.
If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life.—Exodus 21:22-23
The Bible places no value on fetuses or infants less than one month old.
And if it be from a month old even unto five years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male five shekels of silver, and for the female thy estimation shall be three shekels of silver.—Leviticus 27:6
Fetuses and infants less than one month old are not considered persons.
Number the children of Levi after the house of their fathers, by their families: every male from a month old and upward shalt thou number them. And Moses numbered them according to the word of the LORD.—Numbers 3:15-16
God sometimes approves of killing fetuses.
And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? ... Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.—Numbers 31:15-17
(Some of the non-virgin women must have been pregnant. They would have been killed along with their unborn fetuses.)
Give them, O LORD: what wilt thou give? give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.—Hosea 9:14
Yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb.—Hosea 9:16
Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.—Hosea 13:16
God sometimes kills newborn babies to punish their parents.
Because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.—2 Samuel 12:14
God sometimes causes abortions by cursing unfaithful wives.
The priest shall say unto the woman, The LORD make thee a curse and an oath among thy people, when the LORD doth make thy thigh to rot, and thy belly to swell. And this water that causeth the curse shall go into thy bowels, to make thy belly to swell, and thy thigh to rot: And the woman shall say, Amen, amen. ...
And when he hath made her to drink the water, then it shall come to pass, that, if she be defiled, and have done trespass against her husband, that the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her, and become bitter, and her belly shall swell, and her thigh shall rot: and the woman shall be a curse among her people. And if the woman be not defiled, but be clean; then she shall be free, and shall conceive seed.—Numbers 5:21-21, 27-28
God’s law sometimes requires the execution (by burning to death) of pregnant women.
Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt.—Genesis 38:24
In short, if one harmed a woman so she miscarried, all the family could hope for was the payment of some sort of indemnity. If one harmed or caused the death of an older child, one paid a larger indemnity.
There is no legal post birth abortion (with similar justification) in the U.S. If I am wrong, please feel free to correct.
It’s okay in some cases (depending on location and circumstances) to allow a newborn to starve to death.
This thread is very interesting. One almost has to assume that the question and responses reflect a belief in moral realism.
So let’s suppose that the fetus’ ability to feel pain does not make abortion wrong. Does anything at all make abortion wrong? No need to answer if you’re not a moral realist. I’m asking moral realists what they think. If nothing makes abortion wrong, of course, there’s no reason to think that it would be different if a fetus felt pain.
I somehow managed to get through college without taking a philosophy class (not bragging), so I can’t respond to the question about moral realism.
I think there are two ways to approach the question about the morality of abortion. First, how do we define the beginning of human life and if you think the fetus meets that definition then under what circumstances is it justifiable to take a life. This approach is hampered by the lack of any way to realistically define when a life begins. This is not a question that science can answer. It seems that nearly all definitions are contrived and entirely personal.
A second way to approach this question would be to look at its affect on society. In most circumstances the kiling of adults is morally wrong for a number of logical reasons, but primarily because a society which allowed murder would quickly spiral down into chaos and mayhem. The same argument can not be made for abortion, but it’s reasonable then to examine what affect abortion or perhaps infanticide has on society and then determine if the harm is greater than the good. This is not an easy question to answer but far more practical than trying to decide when life begins.
Bryan is right, of course. It’s easier for a theist or any other moral realist to try to objectively justify any kind of behaviour. The best the rest of us can do is to add “IMO.” Doesn’t bother me at all. At least I don’t have to come up with stories (a.k.a. theology and philosophy) to explain where the rules dictating morality come from.