The fatman chronicles--all hope renounce, ye lost, who enter here

"If the FEC makes rules that limit my First Amendment right to express my opinion on core political issues, I will not obey those rules."--Patterico's Pledge

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Opposing Abortion: Not A Matter Of Faith (For Me)

I recently got into a discussion over Rightwingsparkle's blog on the subject of abortion with a commenter named "andy", who also has his own blog here.

andy stated (paraphrasing here) that he thinks that abortion at seven months is wrong but not at one month (a moot point, I believe; I understand abortionists won't perform them any earlier then six weeks). He has also stated (in response to another commenter)

It's not a question of "is this alive?" but one of "do rights exist?"...

And just when does andy think a fetus acquires those rights?

As I've said here numerous times before, I would draw the line somewhere around 23-24 weeks, if specificity were possible, but to err on the side of safety probably closer to 20 weeks.

I base it on when the brain begins to exhibit those features and constructs that will give it distinctly human capabilities (although with the most recent research into primate brains, that "distinctly" may need to be revisited); in other words, when something beyond the "lizard brain" is formed.


Then, after andy had a go-round with another commenter (admittedly, a certifiable loon), I joined in:

"What I'm having trouble understanding is how you can say

No one says the embryo or the fetus is not human. The question is one of rights...

Then, in the very next sentence, say

Every skin cell you shed is human. A single liver cell of yours is human. The intestinal tissue you slough off with each crap is human by virtue of its DNA.

No, they aren't. They are the waste products of humans, incapable of thought, consciousness or reproduction once they've left the human body. Later (in another comment) you said

...I don't know of anyone, even the most staunch abortion supporters, that would argue that the embryo or fetus is not alive.

Okay, so we're in agreement; the zygot, embryo, fetus, whatchamacallit is alive and it's human. I think we can agree that if left in the mother's womb, it will usually develop into a baby, capable when it matures of conscious thought and self-awareness.

What I can't understand is how you can then say that the fetus has to wait 20 to 24 weeks from the time of conception to have the same rights as a fully developed human being. Why should its state of development determine whether or not the mother can decide that having a baby is too inconvenient for whatever reason and abort it? I just don't get it."

andy replied that the cells and tissue that I described as waste products (^^) are "...by virtue of their DNA, identifiably human". He then added

Further, an embryo is "incapable of thought, consciousness, (and) reproduction." A fetus (in support of my position) at some stage becomes capable of at least one, if not two, of them.

And what I'm saying is that a single human skin cell or liver cell or piece ..."of intestinal tissue you slough off with each crap..." is not capable of developing into a thinking, self-aware human being. An embryo, on the other hand, is. Unless it's aborted.

Then, in response to my question about the fetus' state of development determining whether it had any rights (^^), he replied

Because we need a rational way to decide when something is a human being with rights.

And when I asked why, he got flippant

You'd prefer an irrational way? I suppose that religious belief fits it perfectly then. (he and I are both atheists, something I reminded him of earlier.)

My point was (and he knew it; he's not as dense as he sometimes acts) that if an embryo or a fetus is both alive and human, then denying it the rights of a living human because it hasn't reached a certain level of development (particularly brain development) is both illogical and, to me at least, repugnant. And before anybody makes the analogy that an embryo and/or a first to late second trimester fetus has no more higher brain function then, say, Terri Schiavo, I'll say this: Terri Schiavo would not have developed higher brain function had she been allowed to live. An embryo or fetus will.