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An Introductory Thought 
21e-jan-2004 11:41 pm
fleur de lis
Last night, I was walking to a class that never convened at the time and place stated in my university's catalog. But, on my way to this non-class, I passed a car with a bumper sticker, which read "Pro-Woman, Pro-Child/ Pro-Life." Pause.

What do you think about these words?

These were my initial thoughts:
* "Choose Life"--that's not so bad a slogan, if you just think about the language--just those two words in combination--rather than the campaign it's connected to.
* What do the owners of "Pro-Woman, Pro-Child/ Pro-Life" bumper stickers mean by "Pro-Life"?
* What does & can "Pro-Life" mean?
* Essentially, if you combine the sentiment behind the words "Choose Life" with "Pro-Woman, Pro-Child/ Pro-Life," you're presented with a tolerant perspective on the abortion issue--one which is not Anti-Choice.
* Jailing & Fining Women (i.e. overturning Roe v. Wade) in combination with Bush's abstinence-only programs cannot possibly be the best or even a satisfactory route to the amelioration of the abortion problem. However, the Pro-Choice Advocate who does not ponder the ability of the fetus to feel pain is an advocate in denial and ignorance.
* Abortion is not necessarily a clear-cut moral wrong, but the Pro-Choice Advocate must acknowledge that the issue of its ethical nature is at least a bit murky.
* I wonder if people understand that Pro-Choice and Pro-Life are not competitive but compatible concepts.
* I wonder how one goes about enabling and inducing critical analysis, beyond common-held polarized perspectives, in other people.
Comments 
21e-jan-2004 10:03 pm (UTC)
This is the most rational pro-life line of thinking I've ever come across.

I'd still question two points--the compatability of the two sides, for one. Prefering to choose life, and having a pro-life stance are two different things--I'd bet most pro-choicers would love that choice to be life as often as possible (except for the tiny wack-job portion of society that thinks the human race should be exterminated, etc), but the argument isn't about the choice itself, it's about the ability to make the choice. If it were simply a matter of choosing life, you're really just being pro-choice.

As far as a fetus feeling pain: as long as the abortion takes place early enough--like before the development of the nervous system--i think it's safe to say that they don't experience pain, any more than a tree or a paramecium feels pain. Which isn't at all.

But nice, rational, thoughtful. One thumb-up.
21e-jan-2004 10:31 pm (UTC)
"Prefering to choose life, and having a pro-life stance are two different things..."

I understand that in the public agenda lexicon Pro-Life has come to mean Anti-Choice. But, what is it that makes this so? Popular opinion & popular opinion alone, I believe.

In examining the term Pro-Life, without taking into account its history but simply acknowedging its nature as a word, I conclude that there's nothing inherent in the term that posits Anti-Choice.

Many feel that adultery and deception are immoral, but the same persons who deem these actions IMMORAL do not necessarily advocate that they become ILLEGAL as well. (I'm aware of the exceptions, i.e. purjury, insider-trading, statutory rape, & such.)

"As far as a fetus feeling pain..."

My research on this topic is inconclusive. An embryo becomes a fetus around the 8th week when there is detachment from the uteran wall. Unbias research has shown embryo reactions to stimuli as early as 7.5 weeks. The palms of the hands become sensitive to stroking at 10.5 weeks and the rest of the body and hindlimbs become sensitive at approximately 13.5 weeks.
http://www.prochoiceforum.org.uk/comm53.asp

However, I emailed the guy (Dr. Derbyshire) who wrote the article from which I collected the above research information. In regards to my question, "No other species has a cerebral cortex, yet every other species can feel pain. Thus, how can you assert that 'cortical structures [are] considered necessary for pain'?," Dr. Derbyshire replied:
"Pain is a conscious event not a mechanistic response....Thus I am left with the rather startling conclusion that not only are we, humans, the only species capable of experiencing pain but that even we can only experience it after a certain period of development."

Therefore, I'M left with the startling conclusion that I do not believe the opinion of this researcher and am left believing that fetuses (or embryos) MAY feel pain as early as the 7th week after conception.
21e-jan-2004 11:00 pm (UTC)
The entymology of the phrase "pro-life" has nothing to do with the meaning of it's political position. The word 'crap' came from a guys last name--who cares? Words are just labels, and if you think that abortion is immoral but shouldn't be illegal, then you're 'pro-choice' as long as you're applying the most common usages of the words. If pro-lifers only cared about morality, there wouldn't be protests, laws, and clinic bombings--there'd just be a lot of people choosing to have kids, and feeling morally superior. There'd also be no one to argue with.

As far as the pain, though, you're being nice and rational again:) It's hard to make the claim that a dog you're kicking isn't experiencing pain--you could say that it's response is 'mechanistic,' and that cowering is just an unconcious, innate reaction, but I wouldn't agree; the dog looks like he hurts and that's close enough for me. The good doctor is just a biased researcher, capitalizing on a linguistic technicality; a flaw in our common philosophy that there really is a meaningful consciousness that's more than a complex mechanistic reaction process. But that's another discussion all together.

Obviously, murder is immoral and justifiably illegal. And because fetuses eventually become full humans, there has to be a line somewhere where it becomes murder. I think that's the only real issue--where the line is. A lump of blastocytes is much less "life" than the 5 million cows we slaughter every day--when does it become more? My opinion is that it's somewhere around the 12 week spot, maybe a little later, but definitely not before it can feel.
21e-jan-2004 11:29 pm (UTC)
"The entymology of the phrase 'pro-life' has nothing to do with the meaning of it's political position."

You are correct: I'm fighting a losing battle by attempting to reclaim the word, Pro-Life. After all, it IS just a label. And, if a label is as far as people allow themselves to be exposed to my position, then they wouldn't understand my position anyway.

All I can tell you is that I FEEL Pro-Life & Pro-Choice at once and identify with both terms. As far as championing the Pro-Life label in referrence to myself, I believe you're right: I SHOULD drop it.

And, on the fetal pain issue, I agree with your sentiment on the "good doctor."

"My opinion is that it's somewhere around the 12 week spot, maybe a little later, but definitely not before it can feel."

I DID make a referrence to murkiness in my introductory post. Your opinion is EXACTLY what I was talking about (murkiness on such an uncertain issue is a good thing in my view). MY OPINION IS that "drawing a line" is somewhat futile. The only line I see between human & nonhuman is conception. However, I see the ability to feel pain as The Major Factor to weigh in any potential line drawing after conception.

As an aside, personally, I would definitely condone an abortion of my partner's embryo prior to the 7th week, because I prioritize her quality of life over the life of an embryo for whom I have no evidence that it can feel pain, even though I FEEL moral turmoil upon the thought of ending the life of something I KNOW has life. However, I make every attempt (excepting abstinence) to prevent conception so that abortion remains as close to a non-issue as can be in a sexually-active heterosexual couple.
22e-jan-2004 12:06 am (UTC)
I make every attempt (excepting abstinence) to prevent conception so that abortion remains as close to a non-issue as can be in a sexually-active heterosexual couple.

This is another flaw in the abortion debate that gets overlooked a lot: when you're dealing with potentialities and could-have-happeneds it's really hard to talk about morality at all.

In a scenerio, pretend for a second that we can split time into different lineages, like in "Back to the Future Part 2." We have a couple who in timeline A has an abortion, but in timeline B they don't, because it's illegal; they give birth to a healthy bouncing baby boy. Who is a real pain in the ass. And the tB parents aren't able to deal with him, they're too young, don't have enough money. So they decide, there's no way in hell their having another kid, and he remains an only child. Meanwhile back in pro-choice timeline A, the couple has time to get settled financially, time to be sure they're really committed to each other, time to learn more patience, whatever. And they crank out kids like a rabbit farm. Couldn't you then say just as easily that it was abortion being illegal that took the lives of all those kids?

The same thing goes for the contraceptives you use in your relationshiop though--why is cutting off the possibility a few days earlier make a difference? The only difference is that a few days makes the odds of the kid being born go up--the only difference is the probability, is that real enough to change your beliefs about what's right? For you the line's not based on fetal development, it's based on Vegas.


My theory is that the abortion issue is huge, not because of the life and death of some babies, but because it puts a microscope up to the notions of what it means to be alive and what it means to be human; and the real struggle is that most of us don't like seeing what it shows us. Life isn't magic, it's evolution. And evolution isn't magic, it's just probabilities played out over a ridiculously long period of time. That line is so hard to find because there is no line at all--the only difference between a human, a fetus, a tree, and a rock isn't something in the external world, it only exists within the perceiver. We're free to draw the line wherever we want. So we might as well draw it where it will be the most convenient and make the most people happy. You might not need cortical development to feel pain, but you definitely do to experience happiness--so the parents win every time.

And then this all comes full circle back to what you were saying about choosing life. The argument against abortion shouldn't be "you can't do it, it's wrong." It should be, "you'd be happier with the baby anyway, idiot." And if you're sure you wouldn't, then just do what's best.
24e-jan-2004 03:20 am (UTC)
In the three days or so that I've participated in live journal communities, I've been opened to more new minds than in the two decades I've been alive.

Timiathan, I'm adding you to my friends list if that is okay with you.

When you wrote, "when you're dealing with potentialities and could-have-happeneds it's really hard to talk about morality at all," I really thought you were going to get into a discussion about all the exceptions--all the reasons why girls/women accidently get pregnant and thus get abortions--how it's not always their fault, etc. etc. But you went a waaaay theoretical route--with different dimensions and such. I like how you're not predictable.

Your premise: "Couldn't you then say just as easily that it was abortion being illegal that took the lives of all those kids?"

Took? Thier lives never existed for the taking, i.e. terminating, i.e. aborting, i.e. killing--words are such an intergral part when debating abortion--the polarized sides use wording to the advantage of their side.

Anyway, I like your premise of the alternate Pro-Choice & Pro-Life (Anti-Choice) realities. I'd develope the Anti-Choice side another way. I'd illustrate the life of an unwanted pregnancy and an unwanted child who grows up to be a delinquent: the mother's life is affected negatively as is the life of the child as are the lives of many who come in contact with the mother and child--the child may grow up to steal, to murder, to live miserably, and cause others misery--IS NOT THE MOST ETHICAL DECISION IN THIS SCENARIO TO ABORT THIS INDIVIDUAL BEFORE S/HE AND/OR OTHERS ARE ABLE TO FEEL ANY PAIN???

"For you the line's not based on fetal development, it's based on Vegas."

Actually, I said if I were to discuss lines post-conception I'd have to draw the line a the fetal development of the ability to feel pain--my line would be based on research--and yes that research is as-of-yet inconclusive, so....refer to is as "Vegas" if you wish, but I'd prefer to associate it with more well-reasoned things.

"My theory is that the abortion issue is huge, not because of the life and death of some babies, but because it puts a microscope up to the notions of what it means to be alive..."

That is the paragraph that solidified the decision to add you to my friends list. It was the evolution referrence. I have one problem though: "the only difference between a human, a fetus, a tree, and a rock isn't something in the external world"...I'm in complete argreement with your whole line of argument in this paragraph, just not this specific statement--there are most certainly external-world differences between humans, fetuses, trees, and rocks--it's not JUST perception. But, yes, perception, I agree, plays a huge part in exaggerating those external-world differences, definitely.

"And then this all comes full circle..."
Yep.

I question that's popped up in my head is this:
If we accept abortion=murder as a given, then what are the ethics of murder? Murder is not always unethical. Just as stealing or lying is not always unethical. I'm too tired at the moment to develop this thought, but I thought I'd throw it out there. Consider it thrown.

26e-jan-2004 02:50 am (UTC) - perhaps, I should save this question for another post... but...


"Murder is not always unethical" ?


26e-jan-2004 05:17 pm (UTC) - Re: perhaps, I should save this question for another post... but...
yes,
--self-defense
--when the murder saves the life of another or lives of others
13e-nov-2006 06:41 pm (UTC) - Re: perhaps, I should save this question for another post... but...
those exceptions are not cases of murder. Look up the etymologies of to murder and to kill; you will find killing doesn't necessarily mean murdering. For example, look at the laws of the Hebrew Bible - it uses two different Hebrew verbs to condemn murder but allow for killing (as you said as a means of protection)

Considering that differentiation, murder is always unethical.
22e-jan-2004 12:09 am (UTC)
Oh yeah, also: I agree with all you said there. Especially the aside.
22e-jan-2004 07:22 pm (UTC)
bord_du_rasoir -

Excellent thoughts, well expressed. I, too, find myself in a similar position.
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