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

Announcements Posted on
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by anosmianAcrimony)
    An embryo in vitro and an embryo in vivo are exactly the same entity. Surely if such a thing has an inalienable right to develop and live, it has that right no matter what its physical location happens to be?

    Every embryo that's fertilised in IVF has a chance to become a person, under the right conditions - they all have the potential for a future that you keep harping on about. Some in your camp would tell me that each and every one is a precious, unique human life that the doctors throw away. Why do we have a duty to keep them in the womb once they're there, but not to put them there in the first place?

    There is absolutely no difference between not prolonging a life and ending it. The supposed difference is a knot that you have tied your brain in to continue believing in what you believe in.
    I disagree with this. This would suggest that, for every child that dies of starvation in the third world, we are all murderers because we didn't personally go and give them any food to prolong their lives. There's quite clearly a moral difference between that, and actively going up to someone and, for example, stabbing them until they die.

    The difference between an embryo outside the womb and an embryo inside the womb is that, if you do absolutely nothing and leave them to their own devices, the first will die while the second will live.
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by sleepysnooze)
    "children"? a foetus isn't alive though
    A fetus can die. Therefore it is alive.
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Plantagenet Crown)
    The child has formed, the foetus has not. It's not based solely on consciousness, but a combination of both factors. And the scenario in itself is too vague. As I've already said to another poster, I do support the right for people to be able to turn off life support in various circumstances just as I am pro-euthansia. So each situation would have to be assessed individually, but in theory yes, I do support the right of the parents to terminate a child's life if they have made an informed decision and it complies with the law. In your example the body of the child has fully formed and there's the chance it could go on to lead a normal life. In the case of abortions there is no fully formed human as well as no consciousness.
    What circumstances?*An informed decision about what?
    I presume these are going to be based on factors such as, what the person's future quality of life is likely to be if they are allowed to survive?

    I don't think it adds any value to your argument to say that the foetus has no assumed right to life because it's body hasn't fully formed; that's just the definition of a foetus.*This is just like saying "It's acceptable to kill a foetus because it's a foetus," or as I put it before "Let's make a unique exception to the usual rules of life and death in the case of aborting a foetus".
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    Ev'ry sperm is sacred...
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by tazarooni89)
    What circumstances?*An informed decision about what?
    I presume these are going to be based on factors such as, what the person's future quality of life is likely to be if they are allowed to survive?

    I don't think it adds any value to your argument to say that the foetus has no assumed right to life because it's body hasn't fully formed; that's just the definition of a foetus.*This is just like saying "It's acceptable to kill a foetus because it's a foetus," or as I put it before "Let's make a unique exception to the usual rules of life and death in the case of aborting a foetus".
    I don't know, as I said, each circumstance would have to be assessed, but presumably based on things like quality of life, probability of waking up etc.

    Well again I disagree in that it does add value, this is a fundamental difference we'll just have to agree to disagree on as I don't consider the actions against something that has never been a human to be on same level/of equal consequence as those against something that has. Your stance can be considered to be just as arbitrary "let's not kill a foetus because it's essentially a potential human". It's not a unique exception because I don't consider it to really be human, that's the entire point. That argument would only be valid if I considered both a foetus and a born child to be of identical human status and still said it was OK to terminate one and not the other.

    And I didn't say a foetus doesn't have a right to life. Not choosing to bring it to term doesn't necessarily mean one believes that, there are a whole host of reasons why someone would choose to abort one, none of which are based on the child's life worth.
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (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.
    Well it has the human DNA etc. That's pretty practical. How about when it isn't just a "clump of cells"?

    Is the baby not considered human in practicle sense seconds before it is born?
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by ChaoticButterfly)
    Well it has the human DNA etc. That's pretty practical. How about when it isn't just a "clump of cells"?
    Not really. It's not a human in any practical sense in my opinion. No one has denied that a foetus is a human genetically speaking, but that's not the point pro-choicers were making.

    But we're not speaking about the seconds before it's born, but within the legal limits for abortion, that's the entire point.
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Plantagenet Crown)

    But we're not speaking about the seconds before it's born, but within the legal limits for abortion.
    Babies have survived when they were prematurely born inside the legal limit window. They are more than just a zygote in a lot of this window.

    Also it is a massive cop out to equate legality as being what defines something as being moral. By this logic it is fine to force women to term in countries where abortions are illegal full stop. All legal means is you can get away with the action without the state punishing you.

    Your arguments on sentience etc can probably be applied to legitimise terminating babies outside the womb.

    I'm generally pro choice but it is no where near as easy a moral problem to solve as you guys make out.
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by ChaoticButterfly)
    Babies have survived when they were prematurely born inside the legal limit window. They are more than just a zygote in a lot of this window.

    Also it is a massive cop out to equate legality as being what defines something as being moral. By this logic it is fine to force women to term in countries where abortions are illegal full stop. All legal means is you can get away with the action without the state punishing you.

    Your arguments on sentience etc can probably be applied to legitimise terminating babies outside the womb.

    I'm generally pro choice but it is no where near as easy a moral problem to solve as you guys make out.
    Yes and they are exceptions, it's absurd to base an entire position of a few anomalies. The overwhelming majority of foetuses would not be able to survive outside of the womb at the legal limit.

    You're attacking a strawman because I said nothing about legality = morality, I've stated in this thread that I don't subscribe to an objective morality. The legal limit determines when a foetus can be terminated which is central to this topic and that's why it's been mentioned, not because it adds an intrinsic moral value to abortion.

    I dare say the morality of such a decision is actually a whole topic in and of itself and would necessarily depend on how one views morality. A moral nihilist for example would probably not find it half as hard to resolve than someone who believed in moral absolutes.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by tazarooni89)
    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.
    To diminish the significance of this "minor technicality" would be to do away with our entire legal system, predicated on the concept of causation (I am referring to factual ('but for') causation).

    It is not controversial to say that rights are relative; and my argument is predicated on the fact that the rights of an actual sentient being override the rights of a potential sentient being. Following your logic, I would be interested to see how you distinguish between the rights of a 'potential future life' in the form of: (i) sperm prevented from fertilising an egg by (artificial - e.g. a condom) contraception and (ii) a zygote/embryo.
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Cain Tesfaye)
    It is not controversial to say that rights are relative; and my argument is predicated on the fact that the rights of an actual sentient being override the rights of a potential sentient being.
    Yes but what I'm saying is that in actual fact, both of them are potential sentient beings. At this particular point in time (i.e. when the person is comatose or when the offspring is still a foetus), neither are actually sentient. For both, it is merely possible (but not certain) that they will become sentient in future.

    Following your logic, I would be interested to see how you distinguish between the rights of a 'potential future life' in the form of: (i) sperm prevented from fertilising an egg by (artificial - e.g. a condom) contraception and (ii) a zygote/embryo.
    Sperm have a lifespan of about 2-3 days, and in their current state they're about to die soon anyway. Preventing a sperm from fertilising an egg means it will just die in a couple of days like every other sperm cell does. If a person uses a condom during sex, as far as that sperm's lifespan is concerned it's the same as that person just not having sex at all.*Obviously this is not the case for a zygote/embryo.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by tazarooni89)
    Yes but what I'm saying is that in actual fact, both of them are potential sentient beings. At this particular point in time (i.e. when the person is comatose or when the offspring is still a foetus), neither are actually sentient. For both, it is merely possible (but not certain) that they will become sentient in future.
    Your contention is that, but for an act that kills someone, we cannot say that an actual life has been taken, as they might have died anyway in that exact moment. Therefore, this scenario is equivalent to an abortion as both are concerned with potential future life (as opposed to 'actual' life).

    To this I would say again that rights are relative. Just as in your previous example of two comatose people we would choose to maintain the life of the one that had a good chance of survival as opposed to the one virtually guaranteed no chance of survival, in this case but for that act in question there is a virtually certain chance of survival, thus the distinction cannot be seen as a "minor technicality".

    Sperm have a lifespan of about 2-3 days, and in their current state they're about to die soon anyway. Preventing a sperm from fertilising an egg doesn't take anything away from what it already has. It'll just die in a couple of days like every other sperm cell does. Obviously this is not the case for a zygote/embryo.
    Right, but that just begs the question of when you deem a "potential life" to begin.
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Cain Tesfaye)
    Your contention is that, but for an act that kills someone, we cannot say that an actual life has been taken, as they might have died anyway in that exact moment. Therefore, this scenario is equivalent to an abortion as both are concerned with potential future life (as opposed to 'actual' life).
    Yes, agreed. I'm not too concerned about whether we call it "actual future life" or "potential future life" though. When comparing a foetus with a comatose person, the more important point is that at this moment in time they are both alive and both unconscious, and therefore comparable in that sense. The terminology used is just terminology.

    To this I would say again that rights are relative. Just as in your previous example of two comatose people we would choose to maintain the life of the one that had a good chance of survival as opposed to the one virtually guaranteed no chance of survival, in this case but for that act in question there is a virtually certain chance of survival, thus the distinction cannot be seen as a "minor technicality".

    Right, but that just begs the question of when you deem a "potential life" to begin.
    I don't really think it does.*I'm saying that as far as the sperm's lifespan is concerned, the act of having protected sex makes no difference to it. Whether you have protected sex or don't have sex at all, that sperm is going to die in roughly 2-3 days regardless.

    Of course, a person can consciously choose to prolong that sperm's life by making the active decision to have unprotected sex in the hope that it fertilises an egg. But we have no automatic responsibility to do this.*I think you were discussing in another thread earlier, the difference between choosing not to prolong someone's life (e.g. saving a drowning person), and choosing to actively end someone's life (e.g. pushing them into the lake). The same logic would apply here.

    *
    I think there's a problem with your argument in that you assume that having unprotected sex is a given, "default" state of affairs, and that by using a condom you're preventing the sperm from having a life that it otherwise would have had. But this isn't true, since you're the one who actively chose to have any sex at all in the first place.

    The pre-existing state of affairs (i.e. the one where you don't actively choose to do anything) is one in which you don't have sex at all. If you choose to have protected sex, it has no effect on that sperm's lifespan, and if you choose to have unprotected sex, it might extend it. But neither of these reduce its lifespan from what it was already expected to be a the time of consideration, and so neither of these are akin to terminating a foetus that has already been conceived in the womb, which will go on to become a human being if simply left alone.
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by ChaoticButterfly)
    A fetus can die. Therefore it is alive.
    cells can die - are cells "alive"? so it's genocide to take a walk on a pavement?
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by sleepysnooze)
    cells can die - are cells "alive"?
    Yes. Cells are alive. One of the definitions of being alive is that it can die and cease to be "alive".

    :facepalm:

    And welcome to life. There is death everywhere.

    Open a Biology textbook (the study of life), there are pages and pages on cells.
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Plantagenet Crown)
    Yes and they are exceptions, it's absurd to base an entire position of a few anomalies. The overwhelming majority of foetuses would not be able to survive outside of the womb at the legal limit.
    Babies can't survive without their mothers breast. Therefore it it fine to terminate them. All you have done is swap the umbilical cord with a nipple. One day the tech and science may get so good that most premature babies survive.

    It isn't that absurd. It's the same reason I don't support the death penalty. Most of the time you may kill the right person. But it only takes one innocent to make the death penalty unjustifiable.
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by ChaoticButterfly)
    Yes. Cells are alive. One of the definitions of being alive is that it can die and cease to be "alive".

    :facepalm:

    And welcome to life. There is death everywhere.

    Open a Biology textbook (the study of life), there are pages and pages on cells.
    thank you for helping me make a mockery of this "foetuses are technically, biologically, alive, therefore abortion shouldn't happen" argument then.
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by sleepysnooze)
    thank you for helping me make a mockery of this "foetuses are technically, biologically, alive, therefore abortion shouldn't happen" argument then.
    Yeah its a bad argument. But so is saying a fetus is not alive so therefore we can kill it.
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by ChaoticButterfly)
    Babies can't survive without their mothers breast. Therefore it it fine to terminate them. All you have done is swap the umbilical cord with a nipple. One day the tech and science may get so good that most premature babies survive.

    It isn't that absurd. It's the same reason I don't support the death penalty. Most of the time you may kill the right person. But it only takes one innocent to make the death penalty unjustifiable.
    Babies can survive without their mother's breast, they can be entirely breastfed by a different woman or be given industrial alternatives. A foetus is directly attached to the mother and needs her to survive, a newborn doesn't.

    Of course it's absurd, as there are anomalies in virtually every situation you can think of. Besides, the argument doesn't exclusively hinge on the foetus being attached to the mother per se, but that it isn't really human and can't experience anything or feel pain. Therefore this justification could still be used by pro choicers even if technology advances to the stage that babies can be grown in external pods etc.

    The death penalty is an entirely different topic and just because both involve the death of a person/human doesn't mean the reasoning for both is the same. I also oppose the death penalty on the grounds that retributive justice is hypocritical and ineffective.
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by ChaoticButterfly)
    Yeah its a bad argument. But so is saying a fetus is not alive so therefore we can kill it.
    can you not appreciate that there is "alive" in the sense of a cell and "alive" in the sense of a human being...?
 
 
 
Write a reply… Reply
Submit reply

Register

Thanks for posting! You just need to create an account in order to submit the post
  1. this can't be left blank
    that username has been taken, please choose another Forgotten your password?
  2. this can't be left blank
    this email is already registered. Forgotten your password?
  3. this can't be left blank

    6 characters or longer with both numbers and letters is safer

  4. this can't be left empty
    your full birthday is required
  1. Oops, you need to agree to our Ts&Cs to register
  2. Slide to join now Processing…

Updated: September 22, 2016
TSR Support Team

We have a brilliant team of more than 60 Support Team members looking after discussions on The Student Room, helping to make it a fun, safe and useful place to hang out.

Today on TSR
Poll
How are you feeling about doing A-levels?
Useful resources

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Quick reply
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.