Does abortion presuppose that parents have no moral obligations to their children?

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    (Original post by tazarooni89)
    The same could be said of a person who has been temporarily knocked unconscious. They cannot experience the world, think, suffer, love or anything like that. However, we have a moral responsibility for its welfare because we assume that just because the person can't do those things at this particular moment in time, they most likely will be able to in future.
    The distinction being that that person has already become a person previously, whereas the foetus has not.

    An analogy can be drawn with statehood: hard to acquire, but once you've acquired it there's a strong presumption against a loss of it.
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    (Original post by Cain Tesfaye)
    The distinction being that that person has already become a person previously, whereas the foetus has not.
    I thought you might say that, but I don't think this is a relevant distinction.

    Consider two people who are both unconscious or in a coma, and both currently need life support to survive. Doctors believe that Person A is likely to eventually make a full recovery within a year, whilst there is absolutely no hope of this ever happening for Person B, who if kept on life support, will remain biologically "alive" but in an unconscious, vegetative state forever.

    It is quite obvious that withdrawing life support from Person A would be both legally and morally unacceptable, because he will in future be an ordinary conscious person. On the other hand, withdrawing life support from Person B may be acceptable regardless of the fact that he may have been conscious previously, because it is known that in future he never will be again.

    The point being demonstrated here is that, if we're going by the consciousness argument, when dealing with beings that are not conscious at this moment in time, it is the potential for future consciousness that is relevant, as opposed to previous consciousness.
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    (Original post by tazarooni89)
    I thought you might say that, but I don't think this is a relevant distinction.
    You did? I'm not the person you've been debating with, I just interjected.

    The point being demonstrated here is that, if we're going by the consciousness argument, when dealing with beings that are not conscious at this moment in time, it is the potential for future consciousness that is relevant, as opposed to previous consciousness.
    I think this conflates two separate issues: (i) in general, a being that has already acquired personhood is treated/seen differently to one that has never acquired personhood, and (ii) when considering two people that have already acquired personhood at some point in the past (to be distinguished from an unborn foetus vs a person in a coma, for instance) different factors comes into play as (i) is no longer relevant.
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    (Original post by Cain Tesfaye)
    You did? I'm not the person you've been debating with, I just interjected.
    Haha okay, I thought someone would say that :p:

    I think this conflates two separate issues: (i) in general, a being that has already acquired personhood is treated/seen differently to one that has never acquired personhood, and (ii) when considering two people that have already acquired personhood at some point in the past (to be distinguished from an unborn foetus vs a person in a coma, for instance) different factors comes into play as (i) is no longer relevant.
    I prefer not to use to word "personhood" in my argument as I think the whole debate is around what exactly constitutes personhood. So I'll talk about consciousness instead. *

    But in any case, I've explained why I think that the potential/likelihood for future consciousness plays a major role in determining whether or not someone has the right to life or not, and given a separate example from outside of the abortion issue to demonstrate it - one that I think is well established and we'd pretty much all agree on.

    I don't really see why "past consciousness" has got anything to do with it really. Why should that affect matters at all? When you murder someone, the reason why it's illegal/immoral is because you're taking something away from them, namely the ability to live out the remainder of their future life. Their past will remain unaffected. And that's the same reason why pro-life people consider abortion to be akin to murder, because of the potential future life that's being taken away. As far as I can see, the past should have nothing to do with it.*Since a foetus is the only example of someone who has never been conscious before but might be later, I think that to make past consciousness such a key factor so early on in the decision-making process seems to me to be essentially saying "Yeah, but let's just make an exception to the usual moral rules for abortion".*


    It appears that the main arguments for abortion to remain legal are essentially based around the convenience of the parents, who may not have the financial capacity to look after the child, the emotional capacity to part with it one's it has been born, or who simply want to be able to have sex knowing that in terms of unwanted children it's totally risk free. Or perhaps it might be made from the more practical consideration that populations may increase to unsustainable rates, or that if people really wanted to they would just have backstreet abortions. They're all fair points, but I think they come from a position of personal interest. As far as those of us who have already been born are concerned, the right to abort can only be of benefit, and not of any detriment - after all, we're not the ones getting killed, but are more likely to be the ones accidentally conceiving and wondering what to do next.

    Of course none of these arguments would work if it were a case of killing a newborn baby. So we have to turn again to the more fundamental, philosophical debate on whether or not an unborn foetus actually ought to have the same right to life as a newborn baby, based on its stage of development and consciousness. I think that considering this objectively would lead to the conclusion that it definitely should. Whereas if we were to make an exception to the rule for foetuses (on the pretext that past consciousness is the first thing to consider when affording someone the right to life), it would just be to satisfy people's personal interests in the legality of abortion for the reasons I mentioned above.
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    I'm pro-choice. Terminating a pregnancy when the foetus is a clump of cells with no ability to suffer or experience anything is perfectly fine in my opinion. I don't think such a thing can be considered human in any practical sense.
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    (Original post by tazarooni89)
    I don't really see why "past consciousness" has got anything to do with it really. Why should that affect matters at all? When you murder someone, the reason why it's illegal/immoral is because you're taking something away from them, namely the ability to live out the remainder of their future life. Their past will remain unaffected. And that's the same reason why pro-life people consider abortion to be akin to murder, because of the potential future life that's being taken away.
    The "potential" makes all the difference, when you kill someone you're not precluding their future potential of life but their actual future life.
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    (Original post by Cain Tesfaye)
    The "potential" makes all the difference, when you kill someone you're not precluding their future potential of life but their actual future life.
    I'd have to completely disagree with this.

    Firstly, at the time of killing them, it's unknown whether actual future life is really being taken from them. For all we know, even if that person had not been murdered, they might have died of a heart attack or got run over by a bus shortly afterwards anyway. All we can really is that the potential for future life was taken from them. There is a good chance (but not a certainty) that, if they weren't murdered, they would have gone on to live an ordinary human life. However, this is just a minor technicality.

    More importantly, there is no difference between foetuses and fully grown humans in this regard. Whether you call it "potential future life" or "actual future life", the effect is the same - when you kill them, you're taking away from them that future period of time where they could have been living an ordinary human life.
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    (Original post by Plantagenet Crown)
    I'm pro-choice. Terminating a pregnancy when the foetus is a clump of cells with no ability to suffer or experience anything is perfectly fine in my opinion. I don't think such a thing can be considered human in any practical sense.
    A human who is unconscious or in a coma could also be described as "a clump of cells with no ability to suffer or experience anything". It's just a larger clump of cells.

    It would probably be acceptable to terminate the life of such a person if we thought there was no chance they would ever gain consciousness in future. But if there was, we'd be expected to respect its right to remain alive or even help it to do so if possible.*
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    Well no-one has any moral obligation to anything (and the concept of 'morality' itself is laughable) so I am more than happy to agree that abortion is fine on the grounds that the woman is not ''morally'' obliged to carry a child; nor does she have any ''moral'' obligation to raise it afterwards.
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    (Original post by VV Cephei A)
    I had that essay in mind when making the thread; it seems to me that she is inconsistent in her logic - there is no reason why a woman does not have a moral obligation to the child growing in her uterus (remember, in the essay she makes the concession that the foetus is a human being from the moment of conception), and can treat it as if it truly were a stranger invading her personal space, but is somehow morally obliged to expend labour into feeding, clothing and protecting the child once it is physically located outside of the womb.

    I think if we were to take the bodily autonomy argument as absolute (as many of the more ardent pro-choicers do), then you would have to apply that same ethic across the board, in all circumstances. Otherwise it just seems like you support abortion for the sake of convenience and little more.
    Ah is that so? I should've known.

    I agree with your line of reasoning. My personal view is that we do have obligations to other people - I don't believe it's acceptable for me to selfishly destroy lives just because their existence mildly impinges on my perceived right to bodily autonomy (or other rights).

    I think you have uncovered a contradiction in pro-choice rhetoric. Although many believe there is a right to bodily autonomy, the world is complex and the reality is that our rights sometimes exist in competition with others'. There's a problem if you take the right to bodily autonomy as absolute, yet also say that a mother has a duty of care to her child. The problem ought to be resolved by finding the line Thomson talks about, at which point a foetus becomes a person, which, although difficult to pinpoint in practice, can be expected to exist in principle.
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    (Original post by tazarooni89)
    A human who is unconscious or in a coma could also be described as "a clump of cells with no ability to suffer or experience anything". It's just a larger clump of cells.

    It would probably be acceptable to terminate the life of such a person if we thought there was no chance they would ever gain consciousness in future. But if there was, we'd be expected to respect its right to remain alive or even help it to do so if possible.*
    A human who is unconcious or in a coma has already demonstrated the ability to survive outside of the womb.
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    (Original post by tazarooni89)
    A human who is unconscious or in a coma could also be described as "a clump of cells with no ability to suffer or experience anything". It's just a larger clump of cells.

    It would probably be acceptable to terminate the life of such a person if we thought there was no chance they would ever gain consciousness in future. But if there was, we'd be expected to respect its right to remain alive or even help it to do so if possible.*
    A person who's in a coma still has a central nervous system and so still has the ability to suffer and experience the world. They just aren't currently doing so.

    But what really makes us think twice about terminating a comatose person is that we exercise our sense of empathy and imagine their desires were they still able to express them. Most likely, they would not want to die.

    A newly conceived foetus, on the other hand, has no brain in which to house a desire not to die, and has never had one. Empathy that acts on behalf of such a desire is misplaced and mistaken.
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    (Original post by Inexorably)
    Well no-one has any moral obligation to anything (and the concept of 'morality' itself is laughable) so I am more than happy to agree that abortion is fine on the grounds that the woman is not ''morally'' obliged to carry a child; nor does she have any ''moral'' obligation to raise it afterwards.
    I don't care how many logical holes you can poke in the idea of a system of morality. I will still cling to one, because doing so makes my life and the lives of those around me happier. The world works (to the extent that it does!) because a significant sector of the human population tries to act morally.
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    (Original post by anosmianAcrimony)
    I do not contest that a newly conceived foetus is unique, or that it is living, or that it is composed of human tissue. I still wouldn't consider one a person.
    Out of interest how many things have you met that were individual, living & human that weren't people? :P
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    (Original post by tazarooni89)
    I'd have to completely disagree with this.

    Firstly, at the time of killing them, it's unknown whether actual future life is really being taken from them. For all we know, even if that person had not been murdered, they might have died of a heart attack or got run over by a bus shortly afterwards anyway. All we can really is that the potential for future life was taken from them. There is a good chance (but not a certainty) that, if they weren't murdered, they would have gone on to live an ordinary human life. However, this is just a minor technicality.

    More importantly, there is no difference between foetuses and fully grown humans in this regard. Whether you call it "potential future life" or "actual future life", the effect is the same - when you kill them, you're taking away from them that future period of time where they could have been living an ordinary human life.
    In the process of in-vitro fertilisation, several eggs are usually fertilised to make a number of possibly viable embryos, the most healthy-looking of which is implanted into the mother-to-be. The rest are discarded. Do you consider that mass murder?

    I myself was conceived in a test tube. Would you prefer that the operation that created me had never taken place? Will you tell me to my face that you would prefer I had never existed, for the sake of a few unthinking, unfeeling bundles of cells?
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    (Original post by Supersaps)
    Out of interest how many things have you met that were individual, living & human that weren't people? :P
    Spermatozoa are individual, living, and human. So, thousands, if not millions.

    (TMI?)
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    (Original post by tazarooni89)
    A human who is unconscious or in a coma could also be described as "a clump of cells with no ability to suffer or experience anything". It's just a larger clump of cells.

    It would probably be acceptable to terminate the life of such a person if we thought there was no chance they would ever gain consciousness in future. But if there was, we'd be expected to respect its right to remain alive or even help it to do so if possible.*
    I don't agree with such a comparison. Such an individuall has nerves, dreams and desires and can still wake up as well as already having become a person. A foetus cannot do any of this and isn't even recognisably human so I see no issue with terminating such a pregnancy.
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    (Original post by Inexorably)
    Well no-one has any moral obligation to anything (and the concept of 'morality' itself is laughable) so I am more than happy to agree that abortion is fine on the grounds that the woman is not ''morally'' obliged to carry a child; nor does she have any ''moral'' obligation to raise it afterwards.
    So, if I turned around one day, smashed you in the face and burnt down your house...would you turn around and say "Oh no worries, SS morality is just a laughable concept"?

    Course you wouldn't.

    Your idea of morality only applies when bad things happen to you. You're quite happy for bad things to happen to other people.

    SS
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    (Original post by anosmianAcrimony)
    Spermatozoa are individual, living, and human. So, thousands, if not millions.

    (TMI?)
    Wrong.

    A sperm cell has 23 chromosomes. A human has 46. (I.E A sperm cell only has half of the genetic material of a person)
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    (Original post by Plantagenet Crown)
    Absurd comparison. Such a person has nerves, can still wake up and has already become a person. A foetus isn't even recognisably human so I see no issue with terminating such a pregnancy.


    This is a baby at just 8 weeks in the womb. Many women won't even know they are pregnant at this point.

    I would challenge the point it's not "recognisably" human.

    Most people using TSR won't even look as human as this. :-P

    SS
 
 
 
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