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The Abortion Debate: how do you define a person?
Posted: 30 October 2006 10:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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But its simply being alive isn’t enough to justify a claim of ‘murder’. There are many living things we kill readily without considering it murder. And even on that count, it is not the case that an undeveloped fetus could survive outside the womb, so it’s not entirely clear that an early fetus is a fully separate living organism.

I’m not sure what you mean by ‘characteristics’ of being human ... fetuses are remarkably unlike humans until quite late on, and in any event clearly we don’t want to say that killing something qualifies as murder if it looks like a human. A brain-dead body also looks like a human, after all.

Again, the salient fact has to do with the development of the brain. The brain has to be fully enough developed for murder to be possible. (Precisely where the cut-off is is something we could leave to scientists to decide).

I’m not totally sure what you mean by your last sentence though, so maybe you should elaborate.

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Posted: 31 October 2006 03:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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if we could change the focus of the argument onto justifying the death of the fetus, then we wouldn’t need to even debate whether or not the fetus is “alive”.

If I take a vacuum and sharp hook and stab and scrape a newborn baby then you would call that murder.  If I do the same to a new born baby that is already dead you would not be able to charge me with murder.  But why not, I did the exact same action?

The difference is that one was alive and one wasn’t. That being said, if I do that to fetus in the womb, then one could argue that I murdered it.

Now, if I kill a man in the street it is murder, but if (as a US soldier) I kill a man in the streets of Baghdad it is just defending my country. It doesn’t matter whether the man is dead or alive before we shoot him, we still won’t get in trouble.  The killing is justified.

So I’m saying that we need to be able to justify killing a fetus the same way we justify other killings.  But actually, if you look at abortion laws, we already have.

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Posted: 31 October 2006 03:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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If you remove a feeding tube from a brain-dead human it isn’t murder. Why? Because the person has no functioning brain.

By analogy, neither does a fetus, so early abortion isn’t murder.

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Posted: 31 October 2006 05:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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If you remove a feeding tube from a brain-dead human it isn’t murder. Why? Because the person has no functioning brain.

By analogy, neither does a fetus, so early abortion isn’t murder.

I can pretty much agree with that.  Although it is not as clear as to whether an unborn baby is “brain-dead”.

Even a nine month old unborn baby has no cognitive perception because it is immersed in a dark, fluid filled world with little to no perceptual stimuli.  Even if it is able to hear or feel it has no frame of reference in which to understand that those sensations mean its “alive”.

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Posted: 31 October 2006 05:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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[quote author=“rogerflat”]I can pretty much agree with that.  Although it is not as clear as to whether an unborn baby is “brain-dead”.

Well, if we’re talking about an early stage fetus, then we’d say ‘lacking a brain’, which, ethically, has to amount to the same thing.

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