Do Fetuses Feel Pain?

And would the answer really change minds in the abortion debate?

The Texas legislature is again debating a bill that would place significant restrictions on the availability of abortions. In Roe v. Wade (1973), the U.S. Supreme Court found that access to abortion is a “fundamental right” that state governments could only limit based on “compelling state interests.” The Court found no such compelling interests during the first trimester of pregnancy; during the second trimester, it continued, states may enact regulations to solely protect the health of mother. Only at the point of fetal viability—about 24 weeks—did it declare that the state has an interest in protecting the life of the fetus.

In a gesture toward constitutional plausibility, the Texas bill declares that “substantial medical evidence recognizes that an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain by not later than 20 weeks after fertilization.” Because of this, the legislation further claims, there is “a compelling state interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage at which substantial medical evidence indicates that these children are capable of feeling pain.” The bill adds that this compelling interest is separate from the compelling interest to protect fetuses at the stage of viability.

Consequently, the Preborn Pain Act prohibits an abortion if a physician determines that the “probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child is 20 or more weeks.” It’s worth noting that in June the U.S. House of Representatives passed the similar Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act by a largely party-line vote of 228 to 196. The bill has no chance of getting out of the U.S. Senate.

The latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that in 2009, 64 percent of abortions were performed before 8 weeks’ gestation, and 91.7 percent before 13 weeks. Seven percent were performed between 14 and 20 weeks, and just 1.3 percent after 21 weeks. Out of 784,000 abortions, just over 10,000 were performed after 21 weeks’ gestation. There are not good data on why some women wait until after 21 weeks before choosing abortion, but two likely reasons come to mind: a prenatal discovery of significant fetal abnormalities, and embarrassed adolescent denial.

One more noteworthy piece of data: The youngest surviving premature baby so far is Amillia Taylor, who was born weighing less than 10 ounces and measuring less than 10 inches long via an emergency Caesarean surgery at 21 weeks and 6 days. A 2009 Swedish study reported that 93 percent of infants born at 22 weeks died. At 23 weeks the mortality rate fell to 66 percent, and at 24 weeks it was 40 percent.

For purposes of this discussion, let’s set aside any philosophical questions about the conclusions we should draw from the possibility that a fetus feels pain, and simply assume fetal pain may be morally relevant. So do fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks or not?

The preliminary question is: What is pain? The International Association for the Study of Pain defines it as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.” The definition also notes that “pain is always subjective” and that “it is unquestionably a sensation in a part or parts of the body, but it is also always unpleasant and therefore also an emotional experience.” In addition, “activity induced in the nociceptors and nociceptive pathways by a noxious stimulus is not pain, which is always a psychological state.” Nociceptors are nerves that detect damage from mechanical, chemical, thermal, and other stresses. The crucial thing to notice here is the association's insistence that pain is subjective; it is a conscious experience.

So are fetuses capable of having conscious experiences? In support of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the House Judiciary Committee cited various studies for the assertion that 20-week old fetuses feel pain. One of the more eloquent of the experts who testified on behalf of the bill was Dr. Maureen Condic, an associate professor of neurobiology and adjunct professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Condic agrees that the psychological aspects of pain are important but counters that “we can measure certain physical, neurological, and endocrine responses to painful stimuli.” She then outlines the developmental process of a fetal nervous system including the “most primitive response to pain, the spinal reflex,” which is in place by 8 weeks. By 18 weeks, nerve connections between the spinal cord and thalamus in the developing brain are completed. The thalamus is generally considered to be the part of the brain that relays sensory data to the cortex, which is the outer layer of the brain generally associated with higher mental functions such as thought and action. 

Condic does acknowledge that the “long-range connections within the cortex that some believe to be required for consciousness do not arise until much later, around 22-24 weeks.” But she believes that the fetal neural structures needed to detect noxious stimuli are in place by 8 to 10 weeks of development. She further asserts: “There is universal agreement that pain is detected by the fetus in the first trimester. The debate concerns how pain is experienced, i.e., whether a fetus has the same pain experience as a newborn or an adult would have.” As evidence that it is possible to feel pain without a cortex Condic cites the fact that children born without a cortex and animals whose cortices have been removed will withdraw from pinches, burns, and so forth. As further evidence for fetal pain, Condic cites studies showing that various medical treatments applied to fetuses in the womb boost their stress hormone levels.

On the basis of this evidence, Condic contends, “Direct experimental evidence from adult humans contradicts that the assertion...that mature pain perception requires cortical circuitry.” Her conclusion actually rather begs the question of whether perception equals experience.

Most researchers agree with Condic on the developmental course of the fetal brain, but they come to a very different conclusion with regard to fetal pain. In her testimony, Condic criticized three comprehensive analyses of fetal neurological development and its implications for fetal pain—one by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, one by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and one by the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).

The RCOG's report, Fetal Awareness: A Review of Research and Recommendations for Practice was issued in March 2010. “In reviewing the neuroanatomical and physiological evidence in the fetus,” it found, “it was apparent that connections from the periphery [of the fetal body] to the cortex are not intact before 24 weeks of gestation and, as most neuroscientists believe that the cortex is necessary for pain perception, it can be concluded that the fetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior to this gestation.” In other words, while fetuses can react to pain, at the 24-week stage of brain development there is no subject present that is capable of experiencing pain.

The RCOG report also found that even after 24 weeks of development, fetuses abide “in a continuous sleep-like unconsciousness or sedation” that “can suppress higher cortical activation in the presence of intrusive external stimuli.” Since fetuses cannot experience pain before 24 weeks, the RCOG recommends against administering pain-relieving drugs when treating fetuses in the womb except in cases when it’s necessary to immobilize them.

The 2005 JAMA review came to a similar conclusion: “Evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester. Little or no evidence addresses the effectiveness of direct fetal anesthetic or analgesic techniques.” The JAMA article focused on the subjective nature of pain, noting that the “psychological nature of pain also distinguishes it from nociception [the detection of noxious stimuli], which involves physical activation of nociceptive pathways without the subjective emotional experience of pain.” In a June 20, 2013, statement, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists cited the JAMA review’s conclusion that “fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester” and added, “Although ultrasound monitoring can show intrauterine fetal movement, no studies since 2005 demonstrate fetal recognition of pain.”

The political controversy over fetal pain isn't about the scientific debate as much as it's about how people feel about the morality of abortion. It’s a pretty safe bet that people who worry about fetal pain are actually morally opposed to nearly all abortions. They are using whatever scintillas of scientific evidence they can scrounge up to try to justify “compelling state interests” with the aim of prohibiting as many abortions as they can. On the other hand, people who oppose restrictions on a woman’s right to control her own body have every reason to argue that the scientific evidence indicating a lack of fetal pain undercuts claims for “compelling state interests” to limit abortions.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    And here...we...go.

  • Rich||

    Do foreskins feel pain?

  • ||

    Deep dish pizza does.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    I made some awesome deep dish over the weekend. Delicious!

    Also, yes fetuses feel pain. Circumcision is the best. Rush is prog rock. Seattle and Tacoma are essentially one city.

    Also, fried chicken.

  • ||

    How do you feel about artisanal mayonnaise?

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Actually, I've had the honor of sampling Sloop's and Banjo's mayos. It's effing good.

  • ||

    You know, after reading the comments below, a pleasant conversation about circumcision sounds delightful.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    If they are eating deep dish, then yes.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Quick, donate $10 and get your comment backdated!

  • Auric Demonocles||

    They can get my money when they pry it from my cold dead hands...

    Or when they implement alt-text across the board.

  • Swiss Servator - past LTC(ret)||

    Across the board alt-test?! I'd be for $20 for that.

  • ||

    Mine does- well not right now,but it can. Some dudes, I hear, pay extra for it...

  • Bobarian||

    Mine doesn't, but that could be because it's just a dried up little ring that my mom taped into my baby book.

  • ||

    at least you had someone who loved you (assumption on my part) modify your body without consent...

  • ||

    Why is this making a comeback today?

  • Swiss Servator - past LTC(ret)||

    In a word - comments.

  • Ron Bailey||

    SS: How cynical! Nope, it really just because the topic is in the news.

  • ||

    Oh, I know why abortion is back in the news. I was responding to

    Rich| 7.12.13 @ 1:38PM
    Do foreskins feel pain?

    it came up in the Krugman thread too. I think it's just an attempt to get Nikki to comment more.

  • shamalam||

    Speaking from experience: Yes.

  • What's that smell?||

    Do liberals feel pain?...oh please let the answer be YES! YES! YES!

  • Duke||

    The burning age-old question I have is, does the Pope shit in the woods?

  • Oremus||

    Bill Clinton feels your pain.

  • JW||

    Abortion thread...or repeatedly drill into my own head?

    Don't rush me, I'm thinking.

  • ||

    Repeatedly? I put the over under at 1. Any takers?

  • Marshall Gill||

    "Remember that time you tried to drill a hole through your head?"

    "That would have worked if you hadn't stopped me"

  • ||

    You should totally drill a hole in your head. It'll let your brain pulse like a child and open you up to all the universe has to offer you.

    Voluntary trepanation

    Drink of the crazy. You know you want to.

  • spyle||

    is this latest attempt to lighten the mood? try this--don't care, don't comment

  • perlhaqr||

    Clearly the only answer is for Texas to execute all pregnant women.

  • Tak Kak||

    "In the June 2013 statement, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists declared, 'Personal decision-making by women and their doctors should not be replaced by political ideology.'"

    Doesn't that already presume that such decision making is (or ought to be) allowed by default?

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    it always does.

  • Tak Kak||

    You mean advocacy groups smuggle in values under the guise of "science"!?

    Can't be.

  • Ron Bailey||

    TK: Gasp! You're onto something here!

  • R C Dean||

    Of course, "personal decision-making" is a political ideology. See, also, libertarianism.

  • Tak Kak||

    Tell it to the ACOG, they're supporting one and don't realize it.

    (Sorry Ron, I still refuse to believe that they're purposefully smuggling)

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Well.... they may choose to believe they are apolitical - but they are being dishonest.

    As any argument which tries to overtly and summarily dismiss the views on abortion held by more than 50% of the current population is going to be political by definition.

    To claim otherwise - that they're not political, but somehow above it while simultaneously implying that their opponents' arguments are unworthy of any attention at all - is arrogance generally only seen in children.

    Adults are usually smart enough to be ashamed to make such stupid blanket statements - even if they believe them.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    The Texas legislature is again debating a bill that would place significant restrictions on the availability of abortions.

    That seems like a stretch.

  • Brett L||

    By the CDC data, something 1.3% would be immediately at risk.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    A whole whopping 1.3%?

    WAR ON WOMEN!

  • Brett L||

    Well, it would be significant if we were measuring to +/- 1% or to tenths of a percentage.

  • ||

    This isn't the problem. According to one side, it's the requirement that abortions are done by doctors with hospital access that is the issue. Apparently- according to them- this would close all but 3 clinics providing this service.

  • Oremus||

    Since libeals say they want abortion to be safe, legal, and RARE; three clinics should suffice.

  • Concerned Citizen||

    Yes, but why rare?

  • sarcasmic||

    "Ever notice at abortion rallies? You wouldn't want to fuck any of them anyway!"
    -George Carlin

  • Michael S. Langston||

    I recall that joke - recall it slightly differently... but I thought it was funny when I heard it as a child and laughed when I heard is on Sirius recently again...

    But it's BS - there are so many young, hot pro-life/conservative women it's not even funny.

    It still won't convince me to join the R's or protest for the pro-life (or pro-choice movement) - but I think I'd rather use young female R's as a potential dating pool over current young female D's for multiple reasons.

    But even if I were so shallow as to only want to join a party/protest with the best looking women - I think R's win.

    Dislcaimer - beauty - eye - beholder

  • Rich||

    The political controversy over fetal pain isn't about the scientific debate as much as it's about how people feel about the morality of abortion.

    This.

    Doe flies feel pain when they are swatted?

  • Rich||

    *Do*, a deer, ....

  • ||

    Good recovery.

  • ||

    My favorite part of that movie

    http://media.tumblr.com/17627f.....qz4rgp.gif

  • Rich||

    "How do you solve a problem like Maria?"

  • BakedPenguin||

    The Scanners of Music?

  • ||

  • Knutsack||

    So the Nazi snipers got her, huh?

  • SugarFree||

    "As flies to wanton boys are we to th' gods. They kill us for their sport."

  • amelanchier||

    The answer is "no," because flies are not conscious. OTOH, some higher animals can clearly feel pain, and virtually all human beings believe that this criterion is relevant to how these animals ought to be treated.

    Is the question of whether or not to microwave a cat morally indifferent?

  • Rich||

    flies are not conscious

    Citation needed.

  • Rich||

    Are crickets conscious?

  • ||

    They make decisions don't they?

  • Michael S. Langston||

    No - they have instinctual behavior patterns - they do NOT make decisions.

    But even for higher forms of life, but still non-human, animals which may be shown to "make decisions" - to my knowledge isn't part of the criteria society currently uses to "define" consciousness.

    IE - it's not just about the ability to make decisions, but also introspect and specifically to know and understand you will die and the full ramifications of "death" and "forever".

    You see - animals, even those which make decisions - don't really fear death.

    The reason though isn't because they're both super smart and super brave, but because they don't know what it is.

  • Robert||

    Exactly. And neither do human infants fear death. But they and other animals at all ages fear pain once they've experienced it, and dislike pain even the 1st time they experience it.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Yep - it's an evolutionary requirement to feel pain - there is some disease held by a very small percentage of the people who have no pain receptors.

    May seem advantageous, but think about telling a baby the stove is hot, when she can't feel anything - to the point they could leave their hands on the burner until no hand existed.

    Pain, like fear, are things we humans generally seek to avoid - but both are required for long term survival.

  • Bill||

    For many, many years doctors were told that newborns up to a few months did not feel pain so they never gave pain meds. Then a few years ago they decided they did feel pain. Ooops!

  • ||

    "Help me!"

  • Swiss Servator - past LTC(ret)||

    +1 Vincent Price (but not Jeff Goldblum!)

  • PH2050||

    I use the mirror test to determine if a being is sentient. If not sentient, can I eat it? If not, is it dangerous to me? If not, leave it alone.

  • Robert||

    Cats don't come out good from the microwave, you gotta broil them.

  • themiddling||

    "and virtually all human beings believe that this criterion is relevant to how these animals ought to be treated."

    This.

  • amelanchier||

    How is fetal consciousness not relevant to the morality of abortion? Bailey's position seems to be that if you are pro-choice, you must believe in legal abortion on demand up until (or after?) birth. This extreme position is rejected by up to 90% of Americans.

  • Tak Kak||

    I suppose if we accept the mantra "my body, my choice" as a moral rule then the status of the fetus is wholly irrelevant.

  • John||

    I would think it would be the most important question. But Baily can't seem to grasp that anyone who disagrees with him might do so out of reasonable concerns.

  • Ron Bailey||

    a: Can you please point me to where I evidently declared that I endorsed "abortion on demand?"

    With regard to this article, I chiefly tried to set out what is known scientifically with regard to the question of when fetuses feel pain.

    With regard to how Americans view the morality of abortion, I highly recommend and fully endorse my colleague Nick Gillespie's excellent July 5 article, "Wendy Davis vs. Kermit Gosnell: Our Stupid Abortion Debate."

    And one more issue - when Americans are polled about the issue from the point of view of women making choices they tend to be more pro-choice; when polling questions focus on the fetus, they tend to be more anti-abortion. Just saying.

  • ||

    +1 million.

  • amelanchier||

    Most pro-choicers do not favor abortion on demand until point of birth. Therefore, they favor some limiting principle to when fetuses acquire rights. Fetal consciousness is the most plausible such principle. Therefore, it is puzzling that you dismiss fetal consciousness as a moral criterion for determining when abortions may be permitted.

  • sloopyinca||

    And one more issue - when Americans are polled about the issue from the point of view of women making choices they tend to be more pro-choice; when polling questions focus on the fetus, they tend to be more anti-abortion. Just saying.

    Jesus fucking Christ, Bailey. Are not even the writers at Reason above spinning terms to fit their own biases? Or would you take seriously some one that said: And one more issue - when Americans are polled about the issue from the point of view of women making choices they tend to be more pro-choice anti-life; when polling questions focus on the fetus, they tend to be more anti-abortion pro-child. Just saying.

  • Mickey Rat||

    " Are not even the writers at Reason above spinning terms to fit their own biases?"

    You've been here for years now, whatever gave you the impression that they did not spin their language?

  • Duke||

    What I really, really want to know Ron Bailey, is whether there is anyone at Reason who is morally opposed to abortion.

  • Ron Bailey||

    D: I honestly don't know. Perhaps we should do a poll.

  • Duke||

    I am seriously in favor of that. I’d really like to know if there are any moral bases for Libertarian positions. I don’t think any society can be free or prosperous if it has no moral foundation at all, but merely relies on science or moral relativism. I also think Libertarians’ aversion to the topics of morality in general, and Christianity in particular, is losing them a lot of converts.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    It is especially bizarre given the great difficulties that philosophers have had in establishing deontological ethics in a materialistic framework.

    FWIW, I would consider myself a classical liberal more than a libertarian.

  • Ron Bailey||

    D: The moral bases of society is a MUCH longer discussion, but I believe that the Scottish Enlightenment philosophers are right when they argue that tolerance is critical for maintaining social peace as being. I summarize their reasoning thusly:

    I may or may not have access to some kind of transcendent truth, but I am damned sure that you do not. So go bother somebody else.

  • Seran72||

    Hi Duke --

    To have the discussion to which you are alluding would require more time and space than this comments section.

    As just one example, I don't think there's any scientific consensus on which humans fit within the class "libertarian."

    Certainly, that class is bigger than just Reason Magazine.

    Within my own realm of experience, I don't perceive that people who describe themselves as "libertarian" have any aversion to topics of morality in general or Christianity in particular. In fact, my experience would be just the opposite.

    I regard myself and the class of people personally known to me who loosely refer to themselves as "libertarian" as more stringently moral than human beings in general.

    If your only context for morality is religious and you have never studied the various philosophers who have posited non-religious bases for morality, then it would be difficult for me to even begin describing my morality to you in this forum.

    The best I can do here is to tell you that I was born innately caring for other people. I think that most people who have this trait develop moral hierarchies. I further believe that most people have this trait.

    Hope this gives you a place to start.

    Sarah

  • Tibor Machan||

    I used to be "at Reason" and can say that on a case by case basis one can be opposed to or in favor of abortion. Say if some who already have the responsibility to bring up a lot of kids are deciding, they could well find it morally objectionable to have yet another child. One way doesn't fit all!

  • Seran72||

    If you concede that some people genuinely hold a position somewhere between the two extremes, why do you dismiss out of hand that some of those people might actually care about fetal pain?

    Your logic is very confusing.

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    You must include post-birth abortion to that position. If the baby lands on the beach in Florida and the mom goes "EEEEK", the doctor is required to use a bolt gun.

  • John||

    to the cortex are not intact before 24 weeks of gestation and, as most neuroscientists believe that the cortex is necessary for pain perception, it can be concluded that the fetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior to this gestation.” In other words, while fetuses can react to pain, at the 24-week stage of brain development there is no subject present that is capable of experiencing pain.

    For them to know that there is no "subject present" to feel the pain would require them to understand what consciousness actually is. And last I looked that was still pretty controversial.

    Further, the quote itself makes no sense. It says "to the cortex are not intact before 24 weeks of gestation". But 24 weeks is not gestation. Gestation is 36 weeks. Doesn't that argue for consciousness at 24 weeks well before gestation? The 24 week development of consciousness does make a fair degree of sense, since 24 weeks is considered to be the cut off for viability even with the most modern interventions. Perhaps the science is really saying 24 weeks is the proper cutoff for when life begins.

  • ||

    24 weeks of gestation just means 24 weeks from conception. Full gestation is 40 weeks, but "weeks of gestation" is just the measurement of...gestation, i.e., conception to the present.

  • SugarFree||

    Dammit, woman! You have no place in this discussion!

  • Rich||

    Surely you gestate.

  • SugarFree||

    Don't call me Shirley.

  • jace||

    No. He skipped lunch

  • John||

    So? If the cortex is there and the child can live outside the womb, isn't it alive?

  • ||

  • Duke||

  • sloopyinca||

    You can't fool me. That was at 18 years and taken at Auschwitz.

  • sloopyinca||

    OK, that may be over the line even for H&R.

  • Duke||

    Well, with abortion articles two days in a row, I don’t think anything is over the line at this joint.

  • Ron Bailey||

    J: Gestation: the process or period of developing inside the womb between conception and birth.

  • John||

    Yes Ron. And isn't the quote saying that there is in fact consciousness at 24 weeks, which contradicts with the final clause. Lets look at this again.

    How does the cortex are not intact before 24 weeks of gestation not contradict with at the 24-week stage of brain development there is no subject present that is capable of experiencing pain

    If they are not intact before 24, doesn't that mean they are intact at 24? Otherwise why say 24? They are clearly intact at some point before birth. And the use of the phrase "not before 24" can only mean they generally are at 24.

  • Concerned Citizen||

    If this level of hair splitting were applied to physics, we'd know everything by now.
    I was attracted to libertarianism by it's rejection of the initiation of force. Then I learned they're ok with initiating force against the unborn, which undercuts their core principle.
    So if the unborn aren't 'human', was it ok to gas the sub-human Jews, or enslave the 'animal' blacks, or slaughter the 'savage' native Americans?

  • R C Dean||

    I would invite anyone who wants to take the position that a fetus is not a person until some later stage of development to visit a NICU ward and have a frank exchange of views with the NICU nurses, who have the benefit of hands-on-experience with "fetuses" delivered beginning in early-to-mid 20th week of gestation.

  • John||

    So would I. But RC. Ron told us. There are only moral objections to abortion. Objections based in experience and reality don't exist.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    That's just how it works today - once they've convinced enough people that some idea is "common sense" and has "expert consensus" - they then use these earlier writings to prove how long everyone has agreed with them.

    And if you still disagree now - you're like a birther or flat Earth idiot or whatever.

    Of course nothing says we're open for a pure scientific debate than directly pushing the idea that anyone on a certain side of an argument should be dismissed out of hand.

    BTW - is this the new standard for doctors & psychologists and such?

    Where that they can jump right directly into public and political debates, pick a side, and then claim somehow they are not being political?

    You know because unlike every human on Earth, they are better - therefore their opinions were reached through a better, cleaner, and truer thought process than all those who disagree?

    Or to paraphrase Animal Farm:

    Some opinions are more equal than others.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    My mom almost lost her job as a nurse in the hospital where she worked because she refused to assist in an abortion. Thousands of doctors all over the world choose lower-paying jobs to avoid performing abortions.

    It always tickles me to find that people like my mom and those doctors are really motivated by a hatred of women or narrow-minded selfishness.

  • ||

    Double +1 War on Womenz by Womenz

  • Emily||

    NICU RN here.

    These kids feel pain...even the little 23 week olds. Either that or they just like to screw with me while I'm starting an IV on them.

  • John||

    It’s a pretty safe bet that people who worry about fetal pain are actually morally opposed to nearly all abortions.

    Actually no Ron. Is it too much to ask that you drop the smugness for a bit and stop insulting people who disagree with you. I am not morally opposed to all abortions, just ones that come after we consider the fetus to be a life. And when it can perceive sense is an important factor in that decision. Maybe just maybe Ron, there are people out there who are looking at the science and trying to make a decision rather than looking to the science to justify their preconceived views? Does the prospect of the people who disagree with you not being fanatics but reasonable people terrify you that much?

  • Ron Bailey||

    J: With regard to my "smugness" I will point out that I also wrote:
    On the other hand, people who oppose restrictions on a woman’s right to control her own body have every reason to argue that the scientific evidence indicating a lack of fetal pain undercuts claims for “compelling state interests” to limit abortions.

  • John||

    So the fact that you later said that the people who are pro choice are perfectly reasonable in using the scientific evidence in their argument proves what?

    That is my point Ron. You are pro choice and you talk about how reasonable all the pro choice people are and then slander everyone else as a fanatic who object to any abortion.

  • Ron Bailey||

    J: I fear for your reading comprehension skills - or perhaps my writing skills are failing - but what I think I was trying to do is to argue that both sides cite the "science" they think bolsters their arguments.

    I'm beginning to suspect that you think that the JAMA, RCOG, and ACOG assessments of fetal pain are more persuasive with regard to fetal pain (they don't experience it) than the arguments made by researchers like Dr. Condic (they do experience pain).

  • John||

    It’s a pretty safe bet that people who worry about fetal pain are actually morally opposed to nearly all abortions.

    My objection goes back to that sentence Ron. That is just not true. There are plenty of people like myself who view this as a moral issue only insofar as the basic moral premise that murder is wrong. Beyond that is a factual issue of when a fetus starts to exhibits traits that can no longer be denied are human.

  • Marshall Gill||

    Beyond that is a factual issue of when a fetus starts to exhibits traits that can no longer be denied are human.

    An excellent example of bizarre rationalization. There is no denying that they are human from the moment of conception. When you are rationalizing the murder of the unborn the proper term is "unperson".

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Really? No denying huh?

    Then you can prove this, right?

  • BCallaghan924||

    I usually come out on the pro-choice side of these debates, but even I have to take issue with that statement, just as a factual issue. Unless I was misreading it or his position has changed since, wasn't Peter Singer's position on abortion precisely that which Ron says doesn't exist?: that abortion is okay until the fetus feels pain, at which point it has a legitimate interest that can outweigh that of the mother's (i.e, if the mother aborts it for a really stupid reason). His position doesn't hold that the feeling of pain forbids an abortion, but his focusing on pain as creating a "legitimiate interest" seems to directly contradict Ron's assertion that those who "worry" about pain are totally against abortion anyway. And I would like to point out that Singer is no abortion clinic-bomber: in most instances, bacon is a bigger sin for him than abortion.

  • SlowburnAZ||

    "Beyond that is a factual issue of when a fetus starts to exhibits traits that can no longer be denied are human."

    I'm sorry, but this is weird. When does a fetus ever exhibit traits that are *not* human?

    As if a fetus inside of a woman can ever become something other than human. WTF?

  • HellsBells||

    I took that to mean that the fetus can no longer be declared "a mass of cells" or "fetal tissue", but is exhibiting traits of an entity that may arguably have rights.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Up until your comments - someone reading mine would likely assume I'm pro-life... But you're being just as disingenuous as the pro-choice doctors here if you don't think quite a large portion of society does not see a fetus as the same thing as a human and certainly does not think of a early stage fetus as being able to exhibit "human traits".

    You're dismissing them as easily as they're trying to dismiss you.

  • Mesoman||

    "restrictions on a woman’s right to control her own body" - this is a very biased framing of the issue. The issue is about a whole lot more than " a woman's right" or there wouldn't even be an argument.

  • ||

    Alright! I am the product of public education and I was incorrectly TAUGHT half this shit.

    50 science misconceptions — debunked!

    How much of what we were taught was bullshit?

  • ||

    All of it?

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Almost 8 mins to watch what it should take about 2 mins to read... not the reason I canceled my subscription, but an example of stupid decisions that caused me to cancel my subscription to Mental Floss.

  • OldMexican||

    Do Fetuses Feel Pain?


    Does an unconscious woman feel pain? No? Let's murder her, then.

    Does a sleeping baby feel pain? No? Let's smother it with a pillow, then.

    That's not the question you ask, Ron. The question is: Does aborting (i.e. killing) an unborn fetus violate the Non-Aggression Principle, the gold-standard when it comes to moral choice? Does it? If it does, then abortion is wrong. PERIOD.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Does an unconscious woman feel pain? No? Let's murder her, then.

    Well, if you insist...

    --Michael Schiavo

  • Swiss Servator - past LTC(ret)||

    ZING!!!

  • ||

    and if it doesn't? Prove it does and then let's consider that debate.

  • Ron Bailey||

    OM: You've proved my point exactly - scientific data about fetal pain is very unlikely to change anyone's moral views with regard to abortion - it is mostly a legal tactic for people who are anti-abortion to somehow find grounds for "compelling state interests" to ban at least some abortions. Thank you.

  • shamalam||

    +1

  • wwhorton||

    A necessary consequence of judging the morality of abortion based on whether a fetus feels pain is that any abortion is perfectly moral if it is preceded by the administration of enough anesthesia. As you point out (and I totally agree) this has nothing at all to do with pain.

    The real question is whether a fetus is a person, and at what point in development is a bunch of cells and goo a fellow human being.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Ron Bailey,

    it is mostly a legal tactic for people who are anti-abortion to somehow find grounds for "compelling state interests" to ban at least some abortions.


    Indeed? What else would you want them to do, Ron? We're talking about demontrating to federal judges (most of them being legal positivists) that a fetus is a person, through other means besides the usual philosophical/moral positions you or I may hold, not unlike using whatever scientific knowledge there is to demonstrate that slaves are people and not property, after moral and philosophical arguments have failed with the positivists.

  • Ron Bailey||

    OM: I would have people try NOT to politicize science. I can dream.

  • MisterDamage||

    1. WAY too late
    2. Shouldn't science inform politics?

    When people use science for political ends we don't agree with, we can either use science to reject their argument (which, honestly, is what I thought you were going for in this article) or accept that politics is more about emotion and ignorance than facts and logic.

    Mostly, I think politics _is_ about emotion and ignorance and I welcome the intrusion of science into politics. That's not to say that scientists should be treated as a priestly caste uniquely equipped to dictate policy, however.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    I'm lost on this one here too... meaning this seems like you're searching for utopia because whether something is "politicized" or not has nothing to do with how much we scientifically know about it.

    Basically - when the public question at hand means a great deal to a large portion of the population - any debate around it becomes political by definition.

    It even seems fanciful to think any public discussion on anything with the weight of abortion, should be, could be, or will ever be made apolitical.

    I mean what are we saying here - that a public group - which made a public pronouncement on a question a great deal of the population thinks is one of the most important currently facing soceity is apolitical?

    While any rebutal is only political?

    I think you're smarter than that, but I digress.

    It reminds me of when all those climate scientists signed the opEd basically saying Al Gore's predictions were insane - I loved it. It was more science on climate change in the media than we saw in the decade prior and more than we've really seen since.

    But let's not kid ourselves - the reason I'm reminded of it is because whether I agreed with that one or disagree with this one - they were/are both political by their very nature.

  • John||

    scientific data about fetal pain is very unlikely to change anyone's moral views with regard to abortion

    That is complete nonsense. How could not affect people's views? Again, you seem to assume that everyone who isn't entirely pro choice is so because they have decided that life begins at conception for "moral reasons" that you never quite explain. What moral reasons? Isn't any moral argument going to hinge on what constitutes a life? And isn't when you feel and react to pain an consideration in that?

  • Bobarian||

    I don't know, it surely strengthens my objections to late term abortions and has little impact on my acceptance of better controlled and regulated early term abortions.

  • Mesoman||

    While many asserting this issue indeed are against abortion anyway, that doesn't mean that the issue doesn't influence others. Hence there's nothing inappropriate about pro-lifers using this issue.

  • Robert||

    Does an unconscious woman feel pain? No? Let's murder her, then.
    Does a sleeping baby feel pain? No? Let's smother it with a pillow, then.


    Pain and death are entirely separate issues.

    I'm against smothering women because most women would be bothered to know someone might legally kill them while they're asleep. I'm against smothering babies because their parents might feel the same way. I'm not against smothering babies whose parents don't object, because babies would not be bothered even if they were sitting in line watching the ones before them being killed; they have no idea what's going on, therefore they are not hurt by the prospect of dying.

    I'm against infliction of pain on babies and other things.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    I am kinda done with arguing about line-drawing.

    The reality is, to me, is that abortion is immoral in most circumstances, especially in the later parts. You're dismembering a potential human life bit by bit and throwing it away. If that doesn't repulse you as a matter of course, I submit you have a broken moral compass.

  • John||

    What I am especially tired of and Ron basically implies this, is that there can only be irrational religious objections to abortion. Bullshit. Believing that life begins at some point in the womb does not require an appeal to the authority of God.

    The fact that the pro choice people increasingly seem to burn that strawman shows how they are less and less confident about the rationality of their own position.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Right. I believe l4l.org is completely nonreligious in its argumentation, and I am a rock-solid atheist.

  • sgs||

    I don't see that happening at all.

    Your persecution complex is showing again.

  • Ron Bailey||

    J: Please show me in this article where I "implied" that anti-abortion folks were motivated by religious objections.

  • John||

    It’s a pretty safe bet that people who worry about fetal pain are actually morally opposed to nearly all abortions.

    Right there Ron. They are "morally opposed". They don't have a scientific argument. They just have morals. And they are opposed to "nearly all abortions" meaning they care about viability or consciousness or anything else.

    You did not say it in so many words. But the implication there is that the only objection to abortion is religious. What other moral objections are there being put forth?

    If you want to walk back on that and admit that people do have scientific and non moral reasons for objecting to abortion, please change that sentence.

  • Ron Bailey||

    J: So are you saying that only folks who are religious can be "morally opposed" to abortion?

    OK, but I don't think that's true. For example, see NK's post on this thread mentioning the fine folks over at Libertarians for Life (l4l.org).

  • John||

    But L4L doesn't rely on moral arguments. They rely on scientific arguments about when life begins.

    And again, most and certainly not all of people who worry about fetal pain are not against all all abortions. That is not a safe bet at all. That is a lie. Why do you think that?

  • ||

    But L4L doesn't rely on moral arguments. They rely on scientific arguments about when life begins.

    Along with the moral argument that it is wrong to terminate a human life. You can't get from one end of this argument to the other without invoking a moral principle. No one can.

  • John||

    Sure Niki. But everyone agrees it is wrong to murder.

    If the debate just is about murder, there is no moral debate since everyone agrees. The debate is about when life begins. And that really doesn't involve morals.

  • ||

    But everyone agrees it is wrong to murder.

    Most people agree that it is wrong to murder, but not everyone agrees on what murder is. You can't equate "terminating a human life" with "murder" without some steps in between. There are many, many people who are okay with euthanasia. And regardless, it's still all a moral argument. Just because "everyone agrees" (and of course, not everyone does) doesn't take it out of the realm of morality.

  • Ron Bailey||

    J: I believe that Nikkis was pointing to philosopher David Hume's famous Is-Ought problem.

    The fact of a state of affairs does not necessarily tell you what you ought to do about it.

  • Calidissident||

    But those scientific arguments rest on a moral premise: That murder is wrong. Because that premise is accepted by the vast majority of people, the argument focuses on science to determine what exactly is murder, but that doesn't mean that the debate over abortion isn't about morals, or that people opposed to abortion find it immoral, including nonreligious people.

    I do agree with many of your other points in this thread btw

  • Calidissident||

    Also, I didn't see any of your posts with Nikki before I made this comment

  • Ron Bailey||

    J: I think you are wrong.

  • wwhorton||

    I'm not sure, but one or both of these viewpoints is conflating morality with religion. I'm an atheist, and I'm perfectly capable of making decisions on the basis of morality without having to derive that morality from a divine source.

  • Tonio||

    You're being suckered, Ron. "Implied" means whatever the speaker wants it to mean. It's a sticky trap.

    Please also review that poster's own history of smugness, insults and tantrums.

  • John||

    Please also review that poster's own history of smugness, insults and tantrums.

    Don't be so hard on yourself Tonio. You are smug as hell. But you don't insult people that much. And you only throw a tantrum every week so.

    I know we have our issues. And you are not the best of posters on her. But you are not that bad. Buck up.

  • sgs||

    "I am kinda done with arguing about line-drawing."

    "You're dismembering a potential human life bit by bit "

    At what point does it become a "potential human life" and not a stain on the bed?

    YOU CHOSE A POSITION THAT IT IS A POTENTIAL HUMAN LIFE. YOU DO NOT GET TO AVOID DEFENDING THAT POSITION, AND PRETEND THAT POSITION IS ABSOLUTE BY WHINING ABOUT LINE DRAWING.

    I don't understand why you people think you get to set the terms of the discussion.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    You're boring me. Like I said, I am over arguing about line-drawing. It's necessary for the law, but it's not necessary for me to judge you as an immoral harpy for dismembering a potential human being.

  • sgs||

    "You're boring me. "

    FUCK YOU.

    You whined about drawing lines, then threw that crap out there like you don't have to draw a line to get to your conclusion.

  • sgs||

    "Like I said, I am over arguing about line-drawing."

    Well, since a ball of fucking cells has no "members" to dismember, you've inadvertently drawn a line whether you like it or not.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Don't like being judged? Don't abort a human life. There, don't you feel better?

  • sgs||

    "Don't abort a human life."

    Define human life. You appear to think it requires "members".

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Human life has been defined by biology already. They have these things called "books" you may want to crack open.

    Let me put it to you this way - a person who has an abortion repels me at a level that is commensurate with how far along the human life had developed.

  • sgs||

    "Human life has been defined by biology already."

    I asked YOU.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    And I answered - go read a textbook.

  • sgs||

    Let ME put it THIS way, people who intentionally muddy the waters in debates like this are reprehensible and at least partially responsible for the violence associated with the issue.

    For example, like you have here.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Yes, I am responsible because you're screaming. Do you ever take responsibility for your own actions?

  • sgs||

    "Yes, I am responsible because you're screaming."

    No, you're partially responsible for bombing of clinics and killings of doctors.

    Do you ever read for comprehension?

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    "No, you're partially responsible for bombing of clinics and killings of doctors."

    Ha ha. OK, crazy. Pipe down there.

  • sgs||

    The truth hurts doesn't it?

  • ||

    you're partially responsible for bombing of clinics and killings of doctors.

    So then, we may take this line of reasoning, and hold you partially responsible for Down's Syndrome because you're acting like a retard?

    I think it's probably a good thing that we don't apply the same tests of consciousness to adults as we do to fetuses in determining when they can be destroyed...

  • sgs||

    "Yes, I am responsible because you're screaming."

    And who said anything about my typing? There's no screaming going on at all, this isn't an auditory medium.

    I said VIOLENCE.

  • Marshall Gill||

    Let ME put it THIS way, people who intentionally muddy the waters in debates like this are reprehensible and at least partially responsible for the violence associated with the issue.

    So you admit you do this when you deny the scientific fact that human life begins at conception? Because we can't know what a "lump of cells" is scientifically?

    Quick move the goalposts from "life" to an absolutely undefinable "person".

  • ||

    Every sperm is sacred...

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Don't be mendacious, please.

  • sgs||

    You're the one talking about dismembering things with no members in a clear attempt to appeal to emotion, but he's being mendacious.

    Again, FUCK YOU.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    I haven't seen any sort of argument out of you whatsoever. Just lots of screaming.

  • sgs||

    "I haven't seen any sort of argument out of you whatsoever. "

    You're a fucking liar.

    "At what point does it become a "potential human life" and not a stain on the bed?"

    "Well, since a ball of fucking cells has no "members" to dismember, you've inadvertently drawn a line whether you like it or not."

    etc.

    You just can't defend your stupid fucking position from someone who doesn't accept it at face value. Lying won't help you.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    I can defend my position, and I have. I find it abhorrent in most cases to terminate potential human life. Life is defined by biology. My abhorrence is directly correlated with how long you wait to terminate.

    It really is simple.

  • sgs||

    "terminate potential human life"

    Define.

    "Life is defined by biology."

    There are multiple definitions. You're suspiciously avoiding adhering to one. On purpose, I think.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Potential Human Life - something that, when left undisturbed, will normally grow into a human being.

  • sgs||

    " something that, when left undisturbed, will normally grow into a human being."

    So normal reproduction is out for you, as interference is required.

    "Definition of DISTURB
    transitive verb
    1
    a : to interfere with : interrupt

    Sperm is just sitting there. You have to interfere with it to get it out.

    b : to alter the position or arrangement of "

    Again, sperm is just sitting there. You have to interfere with it to get it out.

    That's from a dictionary.

    And frankly, you bore me now.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    I never argued a sperm is life. Stop making things up.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    And a sperm sitting undisturbed does not develop into human life. Your point is vacuous.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    I mean, these are words that have ordinary meaning in the dictionary. Do you know what a dictionary is?

  • Xenocles||

    The objects of this procedure certainly seem to have members. The fetus certainly develops members at some point in the pregnancy, unless you're contending that the delivery process somehow conjures them.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    At what point does it become a "potential human life" and not a stain on the bed?

    At conception, obviously. But a lot of things can go wrong at conception, and a zygote is very visibly less human to me than a fetus in later stages. I really would say that there are certain places where the being is simply a "clump". But that's really early. It's very visibly similar to a baby human at 16 weeks.

  • sgs||

    "At conception, obviously."

    "I don't understand why you people think you get to set the terms of the discussion."

    You seem to think repeating yourself will make your point less of a bald assertion.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Let me give you another free hint: I don't really have a good rights-based argument for why it's wrong to torture a cat or dog. Do you?

    I don't have a succinct definition of adultery, but I still consider it immoral. Do you?

  • sgs||

    Why are you trying to argue by analogy instead of just making your point?

    Because you know you're wrong.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    God, you are really are boring.

    Why is it wrong to torture a dog?

  • sgs||

    Can you stay on topic or not?

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    This is on topic. You're just too Ordinary to see it.

  • sgs||

    The question is, and was, "At what point does it become a "potential human life" and not a stain on the bed?"

    Your position was "At conception, obviously."

    For those of us who don't find it so obvious, your attempts to argue by analogy are tedious and distracting.

    If it's so obvious, then you should have no trouble clarifying it to me, without analogies.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    You're confusing the arguments. Life begins at conception because that's what science tells us. Like I said, read a textbook.

    I am trying to introduce you to some critical thinking skills. you're resistant, of course, probably because you're not used to such things and they make you uncomfortable.

  • sgs||

    "You're confusing the arguments."

    No.

    I'm asking you a question.


    The question is, and was, "At what point does it become a "potential human life" and not a stain on the bed?"

    Your position was "At conception, obviously."

    For those of us who don't find it so obvious, your attempts to argue by analogy are tedious and distracting.

    If it's so obvious, then you should have no trouble clarifying it to me, without analogies.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    "Life begins at conception because that's what science tells us. Like I said, read a textbook."

    The problem is you don't know the difference between "life" and "personhood".

  • sgs||

    " Like I said, read a textbook."

    Like I said, I'm not asking a textbook, and a textbook isn't making the assertion.

    You are.

  • ||

    The problem is you don't know the difference between "life" and "personhood".

    Not even "life", but "potential human life". Jesus fuck. It's goddamn scary that middle school biology could fail somebody so badly.

    "HURRR DURRR, what's the difference between a puddle a cum and a fertilized egg?"

    Seriously dude?

  • free2booze||

    The question is, and was, "At what point does it become a "potential human life" and not a stain on the bed?"

    Your position was "At conception, obviously."

    Of course it's obvious. A fertilized human egg has the capacity to develop into only one thing, a human life.

  • SugarFree||

    A fertilized human egg has the capacity to develop into only one thing, a human life.

    80% of them end up on a tampon and get flushed.

  • free2booze||

    80% of them end up on a tampon and get flushed.

    What does that have to do with the original question? Ending up on a tampon or getting flushed isn't a stage of development. A fertilized human egg can't develop into a dog, a cat, or a unicorn. As long as it survives, it will develop into a human being.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Yes. And 100% of people die. That doesn't make murder OK.

  • wwhorton||

    Honest question: are you against contraception? If conception is the point at which sperm + egg becomes a potential human life, contraception interferes with that such that the creation of life is prevented. I ask not to agree or disagree, per se, just curious as to where you're making the call.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Well no. It's fine to prevent the creation of life. It's wrong to end it.

  • ||

    Depends on the type of contraception. If it acts after implantation then it's not easily distinguishable from an abortifacient. Certain denominations of Christians get really hung up on allowable contraception that way (not Catholics, obviously, who don't believe in any form).

  • Tonio||

    Exactly in the same way that you're trying to set the terms.

    Also, bonus points for delicious all-caps ranting.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Did you know that I am "partially responsible for bombing of clinics and killings of doctors."

    Isn't that delish?

  • John||

    Tonio views abortion like a Catholic views the rosary Neoliberal. He gets very uncomfortable and angry when someone expects him to make a rational defense of late term abortions.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Did you know that I am "partially responsible for bombing of clinics and killings of doctors."

    So, how long ago did you convert to Islam?

    I keed, I keed!

  • sgs||

    "Exactly in the same way that you're trying to set the terms."

    Why do people like you insist on lying?

  • sgs||

    BY the way Tonio, in all seriousness, you have no idea what I think about this issue.

    I reread the thread and the only thing I can conclude from your irrational attempt to tu quoque me is that you're somehow threatened by my views on the subject, which you couldn't possibly be aware of.

  • Calidissident||

    I'm pretty sure Tonio is actually pro-choice, so the fact that he's calling you out says something

  • Tonio||

    Calidissident is correct.

  • Rich||

    We should, however, continue to dismember actual human lives all at once, the way God intended.

    /sarc

  • Stormy Dragon||

    If it is moral for the government to use the threat of physical violence to support the continued living of a fetus, is it moral for them to use the threat ofp hysical violence to support the continued living of, say, a guy on welfare?

  • ||

    That is exactly my sticking point for the idea of an outright ban.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Children and adults are distiguished for this, and other, reasons.

    If it is moral for the government to use the threat of violence to lock up a statuatory rapist (i.e., someone who derives "consent" from a child to have sex with her), does it therefore follow that it is moral for the government to lock up two adults for having consensual sex?

    Not if you reject the premise that children and adults are similar wrt rights and obligations.

  • ||

    Is this a joke? I'm pretty fucking sure the government can, would and should step in with the threat of physical violence to prevent someone from terminating the existence of a guy on welfare.

  • sarcasmic||

    At some point medical technology may progress to the point where the womb isn't even necessary. What happens to the abortion argument if the fertilized egg, zygote, or whatever can be removed and grown outside the mother instead of killed?

  • John||

    I think people's conception of "life" changes. The idea that life begins at birth is rooted in a time of near total scientific ignorance.

  • Tak Kak||

    It looks like the opposite.

    The idea of life beginning at birth as become more common as general scientific knowledge has increased.

  • Tak Kak||

    Scratch that. Lack of reading comprehension on my part.

  • SugarFree||

    It should collapse, assuming it's babies they are actually concerned about. Like how no one opposes contraception or IVF.

  • Killazontherun||

    If life begins at conception, at what point does undead begin? Stillborn?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Well, "Zombie" is the first type of undead that a cleric can turn, so I'm going to go for that.

  • Tonio||

    Reanimation.

  • SugarFree||

    Reanimation? Way to strip personhood away from the virus that causes zombiehood. They may look dead when they are just laying there, but they have human DNA and will eventually get up and shamble around so they are definitely persons before reanimation!

  • Tonio||

    Oh, zombie virus infects gestating fetus, fetus dies, fetus reanimates and chews its way out. Niiiice.

  • ||

    I see a sub-plot for the next Resident Evil movie.

  • kinnath||

    I don't recall the exact percentage, but it is something in the range of 30% to 50% of all fertilized eggs fail to implant.

    So if life begins at conception, then pretty much every woman that tries to get pregnant becomes a murderer at some point, depending upon how many children she tries to have.

  • sarcasmic||

    pretty much every woman that tries to get pregnant becomes a murderer at some point

    Derpaliscious!

  • ||

    How is it anyone's fault if a fertilized egg fails to implant?

  • kinnath||

    Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally

  • SugarFree||

    Did she ride a bike? Accidentally take her BC pill twice that day? Did she fall down? Was she tripped? Was she in a car accident?

    A person is dead. The police must investigate to rule out negligence or foul play.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Well, if it leads to potentially silly results then the morality must be wrong. utilitarianism demands it.

  • SugarFree||

    What do you care, Randian? You don't care about abortions before 20 weeks.

  • wwhorton||

    Well, hold on now. If it's a life, it's a life. If abortion after 20 weeks is murder, then you logically have to treat a miscarriage as a potential crime. You also have to start considering any kind of misconduct on the part of the mother that could hurt the fetus as child endangerment or neglect. If you really think of a fetus as a living human in the same way as a born child, then you've got to be consistent or else you're going to have to come up with an entirely new class of human existence with its own collection of rights.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    If abortion after 20 weeks is murder, then you logically have to treat a miscarriage as a potential crime.

    I keep hearing this viewpoint expressed, and it's very ignorant of where the law is at regarding infanticide and murder/manslaughter, or any other facet of law. Every death is a "potential murder", but the law rightly concerns itself with deaths in which there is sufficient evidence to compel an investigation. Very few child deaths initiate an investigation by authorities; the same goes for abortions.

  • SugarFree||

    So in other words your oppressive law will work out just fine because it won't be enforced. When have I heard this one before?

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Not at all. In the rights-respecting countries where abortion laws are in force, ~100-150 cases are brought to the courts in a year -- a slightly higher number than the number of cases brought to trial for infanticide. These countries have also seen significant drops in their abortion rates (esp late-term abortions) which do not correlate with demographic factors -- all of which indicates that these laws are enforced with some degree of success.

    In a rights-respecting society, many murderers will not be brought to justice. This is a function of limited knowledge and our protections for the rights of the accused and the suspected. This does not diminish the moral case for prosecuting when those concerns have been satisfied, nor does it eliminate the deterring effect of such laws.

  • SugarFree||

    You mean like Chile, where they aren't going to let an 11-year-old that was raped get an abortion?

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    You mean, an 11-year old who heroically chose for herself not to pursue an abortion? That 11-year old?

    Right now, the only people in Chile criticizing her decision are people on the pro-choice side of the argument who argue that she is wrong not to get an abortion (as former President and current Presidential contender Michelle Bachelot said), that she and others in her position should be required to get abortions, and that this decision is itself proof of coercion.

    If you acknowledge that an 11-year old is sufficiently mature to pursue an abortion, then you must also allow for the possibility that said 11-year old is also mature enough to decide to keep the pregnancy. The only people denying this 11-year old and her family the legitimacy of their choice are the supposed pro-choicers.

    I don't see how the situation has any relevance to the discussion.

  • SugarFree||

    She says she doesn't want what she can't have. Land of the free, indeed.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    I don't want murder. Murder is illegal in the United States. Therefore, I don't actually have an opinion on murder.

    ???

    You are assuming without a shred of evidence that her decision would be different in the absence of laws to the contrary. Considering that she publicly made her statement without prompting, I don't see any evidence to indicate that she doesn't sincerely believe what she said.

    Once more, the only people casting aspersions on her choice are pro-choicers.

  • ||

    As the Immaculate Trouser said below, an egg that has not implanted is not fully conceived.

  • kinnath||

    fertilization is conception.

  • Tonio||

    Those non-implanting zygotes, aka heavy periods, are not concious actions on the part of the woman; they just happen.

    However, this is an important consideration when debating those using religious arguments. Watch them splutter when you ask them to explain why their gods "perform" more abortions in a day than Gosnell did his entire career.

  • kinnath||

    This is why I have no problem whatsoever with Plan B.

    I have strong ethical/moral feelings against abortion. But I do not fret about Plan B or equivalent products.

  • ||

    So because God allows people to die it's okay for us to violate the commandment not to kill?

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Perhaps God is a murderer, Tonio.

    So what? I thought we were supposed to be having an argument grounded in reason, not how many angels dance on the head of a pin or somesuch.

  • SugarFree||

    Do as I say, not as I do?

  • Tonio||

    Pwned.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Sectarian theology should have no play in this debate, not in a secular republic.

  • SugarFree||

    Yet so many people are against abortion simply because their religion is. Or are you going to dig up a few atheist that oppose abortion and claim it's a secular movement like John did?

    Get your religion out of my peanut butter, and I'll stop dipping my chocolate in God.

  • ||

    Mmmm, chocolate and peanut butter covered religion. Droooool!

    /Homer Simpson

  • ||

    Or are you going to dig up a few atheist that oppose abortion and claim it's a secular movement like John did?

    Wouldn't be much different than trotting out a Catholic like Nancy Pelosi or Joe Biden who vigorously support abortion. Saying that religion is the sole or primary determinant of one's position on abortion is pretty ignorant. Particularly considering that philosophers going back to Greek antiquity have been debating the issue since before Jesus was a twinkle in his father's eye.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    "Murder" requires mens rea, which those women don't have.

    Please try to not muddle your thinking next time.

  • Bobarian||

    Manslaughter?

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    That's... silly.

    First off, conception is a process which *ends* in implantation. If the fertilized egg hasn't implanted, then the conception process has failed.

    Secondly, there are plenty of times and places where either stillbirths or early infant mortality were ~80%.

    Neither of these biological mishaps is the same as stabbing a kid, or taking a drug to induce a miscarriage (i.e., a volitional act). Surely this wouldn't need to be explained on a libertarian blog...

  • SugarFree||

    If the fertilized egg hasn't implanted, then the conception process has failed.

    Then explain why so many of your ilk think Plan B causes abortions.

  • John||

    When i have ever claimed Plan B was an abortion or shouldn't be legal?

    That would be never. But don't let reality get in the way of slandering your enemies Sugar Free.

  • SugarFree||

    Was I fucking talking to you, John? Are you so many other people in your head as to make up an "ilk?"

    Paranoia is just egotism run rampant. Not everything is about you.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Because they are ignorant.

  • kinnath||

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fertilisation

    "Fertilisation (also known as conception, fecundation and syngamy) is the fusion of gametes to initiate the development of a new individual organism.[1] In animals, the process involves the fusion of an ovum with a sperm, which eventually leads to the development of an embryo. Depending on the animal species, the process can occur within the body of the female in internal fertilisation, or outside (external fertilisation). The entire process of development of new individuals is called reproduction."

    I have never seen your version of conception in writing before.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    http://www.webmd.com/baby/guid.....conception

    Implantation is the final step in the process of conception. If it fails, by definition the process of conception has not completed.

  • kinnath||

    I see your doctor and raise you one dictionary.

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/conception

    In biology class, fertilization is conception. I don't give a shit what a doctor says is the "process" of conception that takes multiple steps to complete.

  • kinnath||

    http://www.calright2life.org/difference.htm

    Conception/Fertilization
    What's the difference?
    By Cecelia M. Cody

    I was out having coffee with a pro-life friend a few weeks ago and we were discussing the question, "When does life begin?" She was making a definite distinction between "conception" and "fertilization," so I asked, "What's the difference?" My friend explained that when we are defending the sanctity of life, we usually use the word "conception" to mark the beginning of life. For example, we tell people that life is sacred from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. However, she explained, due to some frightening happenings it may be time to be more precise with our language.

    By "conception," we in the pro-life movement understand this word as meaning "the union of sperm and ovum." Another word for that same event is "fertilization." Even the U.S. Senate used these two terms synonymously as recently as 1982 in its two-volume report on the Human Life Bill then being debated. [1]

  • kinnath||

    The meaning of the word "conception" has been intentionally changed by pro-abortion forces in recent years to refer not to the fertilization of the ovum by the sperm, but instead to the implantation of the blastocyst (the newly developing human at about a week after fertilization) into the wall of the mother's uterus. This change in definition has become so commonplace that it is reflected in standard medical reference books such as OB & GYN Terminology: "Conception is the implantation of the blastocyst. It is not synonymous with fertilization."

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    *shrugs*

    You asked for my definition; I gave it.

    The meaning of the word "conception" has been intentionally changed by pro-abortion forces in recent years to refer not to the fertilization of the ovum by the sperm, but instead to the implantation of the blastocyst

    Citation needed.

  • kinnath||

    Maternity And Pediatric Nursing - Page 266

    The preembryonic stage begins with fertilization, also called conception.

    The Life and Death Debate: Moral Issues of Our Time - Page 34

    Dr. Micheline M. Matthew-Roth of Harvard University declared that "in biology and in medicine, it is an accepted fact that the life of any individual organism reproducing by sexual reproduction begins at conception, or fertilization.

    Science: Fertilization is Conception

    Politics: Implantation is Conception

  • kinnath||

    The definition of conception is hugely difficult for people that make drugs like Plan B and for people working with in vitro fertilization.

    That doesn't change the fact that the long term biological definition of conception is fertilization.

  • Tonio||

    Wow, even the person at Cali R2L admits that at one point it's a clump of cells (blastocyst). This is a degree of honesty that some here would do well to emulate.

  • ||

    This is a degree of honesty that some here would do well to emulate.

    Who? I haven't seen anyone here nitpicking on that point. That someone considers a "clump of cells" an actual person doesn't necessarily mean they are ignorant of the fact that it is a clump of cells.

  • Ron Bailey||

    k: Actually, more recent studies suggest that the early pregnancy loss rate is as high as 80 percent.

  • kinnath||

    I knew the number was huge, but I could not remember the latest studies (and I am way to lazy on Friday afternoon to google it).

  • Tonio||

    Ron, wouldn't that be early zygote loss. IIRC pregnancy begins with implantation.

    But I know what you mean.

    And this is another one of those facts which drives the humanity-begins-at-fertilization people nuts.

  • Ron Bailey||

    T: Mostly, but the figures include everything from fertilization up until about three months.

  • Tonio||

    .

    For you, Ron. Get it?

  • Tonio||

    (a heavy period)

  • Robert||

    The scenario sarcasmic posits is trivial compared to the effect on arguments over abortions and a shitload of other subjects if we were to learn whether awareness exists before and/or after corporeal existence. If we were to learn that awareness is completely confined to an individual's life, that would certainly affect thinking; if we were to learn it wasn't, that would affect it even more. And what we learned about the details of awareness after death or before conception could be even more important than its mere existence.

    Suppose, for instance, we were to learn that precorporeal existence was far kewler than any bodily life could possibly be, and that postcorporeal existence was either nonexistent of miserable. Then abortions might possibly be saving sentient entities from premature termination of the best part of their existence, depending on what stage of gestation they incorporated at.

    So medical technology is just the tip of a huge iceberg.

  • Federale||

    From looking at the photos of the female protesters, I don't think they will be in need of any abortions. They definately aren't breeders.

  • Tonio||

    a) Totally irrelevant.

    b) I believe the woman in the foreground with her mouth covered by red tape on which the word "LIFE" appears to be written is an anti-abortion protester.

  • Metazoan||

    The woman in the picture is cute.

  • Bobarian||

    She probably puts out, too!

  • OldMexican||

    The Texas legislature is again debating a bill that would place significant restrictions on the availability of abortions.


    Sure. Like those laws that prohibit contract-killing imposes a severe restriction on the availability of killers-for-hire, I would presume. Not that I consider that a bad thing in itself, mind you - I have to wonder why Ron would not feel the same way about aborting a FUCKINGLY HEALTHY FETUS that is more than 20 weeks old. That's 5 months to you and me, BTW.

  • Killazontherun||

    OT, Snowden has a new statement up that's worth a read:

    http://wikileaks.org/Statement.....en-to.html

    I announce today my formal acceptance of all offers of support or asylum I have been extended and all others that may be offered in the future. With, for example, the grant of asylum provided by Venezuela's President Maduro, my asylee status is now formal, and no state has a basis by which to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy that asylum. As we have seen, however, some governments in Western European and North American states have demonstrated a willingness to act outside the law, and this behavior persists today. This unlawful threat makes it impossible for me to travel to Latin America and enjoy the asylum granted there in accordance with our shared rights.
    This willingness by powerful states to act extra-legally represents a threat to all of us, and must not be allowed to succeed. Accordingly, I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted. I will be submitting my request to Russia today, and hope it will be accepted favorably.

    Recall when America was the bright, shining city on the hill for asylum seekers, like the Shah of Iran, and now, instead, our government hunts them down? Where did we go wr-, er, lateral?

  • sarcasmic||

    We won the Cold War and became what we defeated.

  • Drake||

    Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn got to go home eventually. Maybe Snowden will too.

  • ||

    He humiliated a bully, so now the bully's toadies are going to help get revenge.

  • Killazontherun||

    Snowden is a mack daddy. Suck inside of Moscow's airport, he is still surrounded by hot chicks.

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/--v7Z.....en-011.jpg

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    You know, I saw that picture when reading the news this morning and I thought the same exact thing.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Uh, where?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Really? You wouldn't do perverse, nasty things all night long to the lady on the right?

    C'mon, son.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    If I am going to cheat, it better count for more than that.

  • Killazontherun||

    You don't really expect to see the writings of a true connoisseur of woman flesh when you read NK's posts do you?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    You don't really expect to see the writings of a true connoisseur of woman flesh when you read NK's posts do you?

    In my mind, I read everyone's posts with the accent of Pepe Le Pew.

  • Killazontherun||

    If you need a little variety, imagine me as this guy --

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-FxmoVM7X4

    And that's me being a true connoisseur of woman flesh and boob lights. Sure, she's scuzzy, but would it not be -- memorable?

  • Killazontherun||

    If you are not knocking back huge quantities of your preferred poison to forget your bad decisions, you are not truly living up to your potential in life.

  • ||

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/worl.....e8e94ca8e5

    35m ago

    Carney is asked about the involvement of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International in defending Snowden.

    Carney praises the work of those organizations. However "Mr Snowden is not a human rights activist or a dissident," Carney says, but a leaker of highly classified state secrets.
  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Isn't that what they said about Siniavski and Daniel back in 1966?

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    I throughly expect to see peace in the Middle East between the Israelis and the Palestinians before I see any kind of agreement on this issue. The science in this is not in dispute. We know how babies are made. At some point between the point of conception and the point of birth a fetus becomes a human and that point is decided solely by emotions of the individual.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    If an artificial womb is invented, things will probably move in the direction of the pro-life movement as far as the morality of the proceducre goes.

    Sad to say, but many moral developments are often put on the backburner until it's convenient to put them into action.

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    I agree with everything you wrote.

  • OldMexican||

    It's a pretty safe bet that people who worry about fetal pain are actually morally opposed to nearly all abortions. They are using whatever scintillas of scientific evidence they can scrounge up to try to justify "compelling state interests"


    But only because the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade pretty much negated personhood to an unborn child with absolutely NO consideration to scientific or moral/ethical arguments, rather invoking a non-existant right to "privacy."

    So don't blame pro-life people for looking at any evidence besides their own religious beliefs or, in my case, reliance on NAP, to counter the argument that a fetus is not a person.

  • Robert||

    Oh, bullshit, Mexican, unless you really think the world is a court where things like "burden of proof" have any meaning in people's heads. Trust me, nobody's ever had their opinion changed by a court decision, least of all Roe v. Wade.

  • OldMexican||

    So are fetuses capable of having conscious experiences?


    Does a sleeping baby? Or a sleeping man, for that matter?

    Jesus, Ron - living around you must be the hell we see in Invasion of the Body Snatchers! "Don't ever go to sleep and temporarily stop having 'conscious experiences' near Ron, because he may suddenly conclude you're not a person any more!"

    The point is, Ron, that a person does NOT have the burden to prove to YOU that he or she has conscious experiences or feels pain. The same goes with a fetus - the burden is not on him or her to show YOU that he or she has or will be able to have conscious experiences to then prove to YOU that he or she deserves personhood and thus protection under the Non-Aggression Principle.

    Yes, that's right: I do NOT subscribe to utilitarian arguments, not when it comes to mine or even YOU rights.

  • Killazontherun||

    Even if you grant the pro-lifers the totality of the argument in their favor, where do you go from there? Whom do you get to enforce the law? Are you going to rely on the state? Are you are going to rent seek a claim of victim status on the backs of those coerced into paying taxes to support that system. Say, if you have a purely private civil court of arbitration to decide disputes like the Wergeld of old, who would be the party with a claim? Normally, when a child is killed by an outsider, the parents have a claim against the outsider. In the case of abortion, do they sue themselves?

  • Tak Kak||

    Is that an argument for anything though?

  • Killazontherun||

    OM is an ancap like myself; he knows the pickle it puts one of us in to support pro-life in the form of actual written law.

  • Tak Kak||

    Fair enough

  • Ron Bailey||

    OM: Need I remind you that I am not the one arguing the moral salience of fetal pain here - the anti-abortion folks are. Talk to them.

    I wrote: For purposes of this discussion, let’s set aside any philosophical questions about the conclusions we should draw from the possibility that a fetus feels pain, and simply assume fetal pain may be morally relevant. So do fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks or not?

  • Robert||

    WTF? I could just as well say the burden's on you to "prove" the Non-Aggression Principle. Don't get out this "burden of proof" stuff, y'ain't in court.

  • Robert||

    Hint: You wanna convince people, convince 'em. Nobody's ever been convinced by "the other guy had the burden of proof". You don't wanna convince people? Then why you wasting your time?

  • shamalam||

    Well, this thread is certainly turning out well.

  • Knutsack||

    Abortion? Meh. Whatever. However, in that picture, that chick's sign says "Free". Ugh. If you want me to be pro-life, that's one way to do it. Stick the word "Free" in front of abortion, and use my tax dollars to pay for them, and suddenly I'm a Westboro Baptist...or, at least, Catholic.

  • Tonio||

    Well, she probably wants government to provide a lot of "free" stuff for everyone, so whatever. There is nothing inherent in the pro-abortion position about wanting freebies, but the reality is that a lot of pro-abortion people are hardcore lefties; just as a lot of anti-abortion people are hardcore religious conservatives.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    You're trolling here, Ron.

    I can guarantee you that the vast majority of your political views and views on morality preceded any empirical or scientific evidence confirming or rejecting same. For example, most people do not require (or ask for) empirical evidence regarding the wrongness of rape. This does not mean that a person who arrived at a conclusion about morality is incorrect or has ulterior motives in noting evidence that corresponds to their viewpoint. You imply that the only people in the debate using empirical data to form their views are pro-choicers, when there is no evidence whatsoever that formation of morality among choicers is any different than that of pro-lifers. There is nothing inappropriate with noting empirical evidence which corresponds to some pre-existing moral belief, and it's a tactic used by both sides.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Bingo! Thank you.

  • Ron Bailey||

    IMT and NK: You write: You imply that the only people in the debate using empirical data to form their views are pro-choicers....

    Where did I imply that? Why did I cite Condic and link to the extensive list of articles on fetal pain cited by anti-abortion folks?

    Or, as I am beginning to suspect, you and NK actually believe (and are worried) that the scientific evidence supports the claim that fetuses feel no pain before 24 weeks.

  • John||

    Right here Ron

    On the other hand, people who oppose restrictions on a woman’s right to control her own body have every reason to argue that the scientific evidence indicating a lack of fetal pain undercuts claims for “compelling state interests” to limit abortions.

    You didn't imply it, you said, right after you said that all of the pro life people are morally opposed to all abortions and looking to use evidence of pain to support such a ban, as if such evidence could be used to ban all versus just late term abortions in anything but a cynical way.

    The pro choice people are reasonably using science. The pro life people are morally driven and looking for science as a way to confirm their morals.

    You wrote it Ron.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    To repeat myself (with emphasis on what I think you're missing):

    You imply that the only people in the debate using empirical data to form their views are pro-choicers...

    You cast aspersions on how relevant this research is to pro-lifers in forming their views without similar treatment of pro-choicers. Let's face it: your average feminist 20-something pro-choicer blogging on Jezebel is no more knowledgeable about pregnancy than your average religious fundamentalist pro-lifer. There is no reason to cast aspersions on one side and not the other.

  • ||

    Without similar treatment? He said both sides are doing the exact same thing:

    On the other hand, people who oppose restrictions on a woman’s right to control her own body have every reason to argue that the scientific evidence indicating a lack of fetal pain undercuts claims for “compelling state interests” to limit abortions.
  • Ron Bailey||

    Ned: Correct. Thank you.

  • John||

    No he didn't. How is that statement saying anything bad about pro choicers? I would say scientific evidence saying fetus can't feel pain is pretty relevant in determining whether there is a compelling government need.

    Using scientific evidence to show that there is no compelling government interest is not anything like, "morally objecting to all abortions and looking for evidence of fetal pain to prove your point."

    The impression left is "pro choicers, reasonable people using science to show that there is not a compelling government interest in regulating abortion" and "pro life, morally driven people who object to all abortions and are looking for scientific evidence of when the fetus can feel pain to justify such".

    I don't see how that is the same thing at all. He totally slanders pro life people by assuming all of them object to abortion at every stage. And that is just not true.

  • ||

    That's not how I read it at all, and obviously not how Bailey intended it to be read. I read it as saying that pro-choicers who are pro-choice because they oppose restrictions on a woman's right to control her own body can also use this scientific evidence to their own purposes--which have nothing to do with science per se, but with women's rights to abortion regardless of anything else.

  • Ron Bailey||

    Ned: A+ for reading comprehension. Thank you.

  • ||

    Perhaps I'm just a Neanderthal as well, but I also read the statement as a slight to the "anti-abortion"/"anti-right of women to control their own body" group.

    ...people who worry about fetal pain are actually morally opposed to nearly all abortions. They are using whatever scintillas of scientific evidence they can scrounge up to try to justify “compelling state interests” with the aim of prohibiting as many abortions as they can.

    Does not read very flatteringly compared to:

    ...people who oppose restrictions on a woman’s right to control her own body have every reason to argue that the scientific evidence indicating a lack of fetal pain undercuts claims for “compelling state interests” to limit abortions.

    Words and phrases like "using whatever scintillas of evidence they can scrounge up" seems to imply a severe lack of sophistication compared to "have every reason to argue that the scientific evidence..." If you don't want people reading it that way, you probably shouldn't have written it that way.

  • Ron Bailey||

    IMT & NK & J: Be assured that I am exquisitely aware of the problem of confirmation bias. May I direct you all to my extensive reporting on confirmation bias:

    Climate Change and Confirmation Bias

    Why Do People Believe Scientifically Untrue Things?

    I have lots more reporting on the science of confirmation bias if your're interested.

  • John||

    Yes. Thank your for saying what I tried to say in much more clear and better way.

  • sarcasmic||

    OT: Cop runs dog over with cruiser, then gives owner a citation for a loose dog.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new.....ation.html

    It was an Australian Shepherd mix. One of the friendliest kinds of dogs out there. Who wants to be that the incident report says it was a pit bull.

  • R C Dean||

    So are fetuses capable of having conscious experiences?

    This is not the way to look at it, I don't think. At any given point in time all sorts of people aren't capable of having conscious experiences. People in a coma, somebody knocked unconscious, hell, somebody passed out after a bender. Nobody thinks it OK to grease them just because, at that moment, they aren't capable of having conscious experiences.

    No, we don't allow them to be killed because we think that, in time, they will be capable of consciousness. And the same can be said of fetuses.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Nobody thinks it OK to grease them just because, at that moment, they aren't capable of having conscious experiences.

    Oh? I bet everyone's favorite zoophile, Prof. Peter Singer, thinks that would be hunky-dory. The fucker argues that we should be like the Romans and kill deformed babies after they're born.

  • Tonio||

    Not just the Romans, HM, but lots of pre-modern cultures. It should also be noted that most of these cultures had access to abortifacients (drugs causing the woman to miscarry/abort/whatever).

    None of these cultures had ultrasound technology. So the only thing they knew about a developing fetus was whether it was moving or not.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Yes, but here's the thing. In the case of Greco-Roman culture, abortion was considered "unnatural" and thus, "wrong". That's why the Hippocratic Oath contains the vow "I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion." However, leaving a child to die from exposure was a right of the father (patria potestas) that was derived from long standing Roman tradition.

    However, that still doesn't address Singer's odious argument that in this day and age, not only abortion but neonatal euthanasia is both ethical and moral.

  • ||

    Or David Benatar's arguments that abortion and neonatal euthanasia are morally required.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    The only response necessarily to Benatar's arguement is "you first".

  • ||

    Unfortunately, that doesn't actually respond to him. And I'm not being snarky with the "unfortunately" part.

  • John||

    Sure it does. It means that he doesn't actually believe what he says. Anyone who claims that death is preferable to life and doesn't take the rational step of ending their life, doesn't actually believe their own argument.

    Now, it is true that the speaker doesn't have to believe an argument for it to be valid. But, in this case someone advocating for death over life and choosing life themselves clearly has some kind of ulterior motive for making the argument. When they tell me their motive and honestly admit why they think death is better for me and not for them, I will then feel obligated to respond to their argument. Until then, I see no reason to play along with their subterfuge.

  • ||

    Well, John, he also has an argument for why suicide is different from pre-sentience euthanasia, so it might help if you knew what you were talking about. As EM Cioran says, you can never kill yourself soon enough. Evolutionary adaptations that make us averse to suicide are in fact one reason why he argues life is so bad.

  • John||

    As EM Cioran says, you can never kill yourself soon enough.

    He clearly doens't actually believe that or he would have done it.

    And to endorse presentenence euthanasia is to say that nonexistence is preferable to existence. Again, anyone who actually believes that rationally chooses non existence. Anyone who hasn't made that choice doesn't really believe that and in saying they do is just making a cynical argument for everyone but their own death.

    It is nonsense Nikki. And very disappointing that you would claim to believe such crap. Write your manifesto and kill yourself. When you do that, i will read with interest and take you seriously. But until you do that, you are just wasting yours and everyone else time.

  • Duke||

    Evolutionary adaptations that make us averse to suicide are in fact one reason why he argues life is so bad.

    Now that is a scary religious belief.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Why? If the act of creating new life is unethical precisely because existence is so filled with pain and suffering, then how does one justify continuing one's existence when the means and opportunity to end it and enter the sweet respite of oblivion are available to you?

    That Benatar continues to finds a reason to get out of bed every morning undermines his entire argument and that of other antinatalists.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Ignore the pronoun shift there. I originally wrote "you" for all the pronouns, but I didn't want to seem like I was addressing you, personally, so I switched to "one", but I missed one pronoun.

  • ||

    I agree that he would be wiser to kill himself. Part of his argument is that sentience is a trick to make you want to live and suffer. Stopping it before it starts is easier and less painful.

  • John||

    Part of his argument is that sentience is a trick to make you want to live and suffer.

    But once you know it is a trick, you should no longer want to live. The trick only works if you don't understand that it is going on. Sure, at some level you may want to live, but once you realize that is just a false belief, you ignore the desire and do the right thing and kill yourself. It is no different than ignoring any other urge. And if you can't ignore it, maybe you are wrong about the trick.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Part of his argument is that sentience is a trick to make you want to live and suffer.

    In someways the Buddha makes a similar argument via the 4 Noble Truths, which in turn bear a similarity to Schopenhauer's arguments. The difference is that Buddhism acknowledges the possibility of learning to exist in a way that is free of suffering. To pussy out and kill oneself (merely due to existential angst) is considered to be an abrogation of the more rewarding path of enlightenment.

  • John||

    Buddhist do not deny the value of existence, just the self. Buddhism is not nihilism.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Half correct. Buddhism denies the value of existing in samsara.

  • John||

    No all correct. I meant existence qua existence. I didn't mean that they think all existence is worth preserving.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Gee, thanks for explaining my religious beliefs to me, John. It's not like I've intensely studied Buddhist philosophy for a decade now.

  • Robert||

    This is not the way to look at it, I don't think. At any given point in time all sorts of people aren't capable of having conscious experiences. People in a coma, somebody knocked unconscious, hell, somebody passed out after a bender. Nobody thinks it OK to grease them just because, at that moment, they aren't capable of having conscious experiences.

    No, we don't allow them to be killed because we think that, in time, they will be capable of consciousness.


    Not the way I think about it. The reason we don't let them be killed is that before they went into a coma, they didn't want to be killed.

    All value is subjective. If values are not subjective, then there is justif'n for banning narcotics, or making them mandatory, whatever's objectively better for people. If not for subjectivity of value, there'd be no reason to argue for liberty, because everyone would always make the same choices as each other, or should be compelled to make the objectively better choice.

    Unless there's consciousness after death (and if there is, that changes a lot of things), death itself is not a loss, because since value is always and only in your head, you'd never know you were dead. However, anticipation of death would be an unpleasant thing. Therefore we'd like to be secure against murder, even when we're going to be temporarily unconscious. But that applies only to beings who realize they're alive and have the capability to plan for a future.

  • ||

    All I will say is that it really irks me when pro-abortion types spout off about it being a woman's choice to terminate what is, in there words, a 'parasite' (which is both scientifically and metaphorically inaccurate). That to me is probably the most telling thing about their beliefs and their regard for human life.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Completely agree.

    Another revealing indicator wrt the pro-choice movement is how hard the main providers of abortion in this country stump for abortion up to and including PBA -- and if you don't think PBA is infanticide, then you really do subscribe to John's magical line of thinking where a trip through the birth canal somehow imbues personhood.

  • sarcasmic||

    Why is it that supporters of abortion tend to oppose the death penalty, while supporters of the death penalty tend to oppose abortion.

    I would think that either you support killing or you don't.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Derp derpity derp.

  • ||

    One thing you can say about Catholics is they don't agree with abortion, the death penalty, or euthenasia so at least they're consistent.

  • HellsBells||

    And yet, they overwhelmingly vote democrat...

  • Robert||

    I think Americans of Italian & Irish descent, at least in the Northeast, are an exception to that pattern. Well, the Irish still a lot, but not so much the Italians.

  • Outlaw||

    Make all non-invasive contraceptives OTC and available without bullshit and ban abortions after 20 weeks.

    Fair compromise.

    Texas's attempt to fuck with clinics is stupid and hurts the anti-abortion cause. It's the same kind of fuckery the proglodytes use when it comes to guns.

    "Oh, we're not banning anything. We're just going to close down all the shooting ranges in your area and make it illegal for you to shoot anywhere."

    I am staunchly anti-abortion and even I can see that for what it is. Honesty is the best policy.

  • Xenocles||

    Of course that's most of it, and while this doesn't excuse it there's an element of this being sauce for the gander, coming as it does after the gun regulation measures you're talking about.

    I don't like it as a way of doing business, but part of me does laugh coldly at the left's sour face at the taste of its own medicine.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    OK, so as I understand some of this research, fetuses at 20 weeks react to harmful stimuli kind of like we do, but we can't *prove* that they *experience* the stimuli the way we do. Though they don't claim to know for certain about the fetus's subjective experience. What we *do* know is the objective evidence of the fetus reacting to being poked, stabbed, or whatever.

    So given the fact (mentioned above) that we aren't exactly fully confident about all the secrets of human consciousness, doesn't this mean there some ambiguity on the pain question (if we assume the pain question is central?). I would say that if the fetus reacts to poking and stabbing the same way we would, but we don't know whether it has the subjective experience of suffering, then the fetus should get the benefit of the doubt, no?

  • John||

    THIS. And note too it is setting a bar so high that it will never be cleared. I am pretty sure Ron is knoweldgable enough about neuroscience to know that any idea that we can point to one part of the brain and say "if you have this you are consciousness" is complete bullshit. We will never understand the brain to that degree of certainty because consciousness and the brain don't work to that degree of certainty. Whatever it is, it is not so simple as to say this part is where the "you" is. And Ron knows it. So for him to claim that as some kind of reasonable scientific standard is totally disingenuous. Having receptors and reacting to pain is as good as it will ever get.

  • Ron Bailey||

    EvH: This is essentially Condic's argument.

    Just curious: If it could be definitely shown that fetuses do NOT experience pain, would that change your mind about the morality of abortion?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    That's a silly question, Ron. Does the morality of killing a person suffering (ha!) from congenital analgesia differ from from killing someone who can fill pain?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    *feel

  • SugarFree||

    What Ron is getting at, HM, is this passage:

    The political controversy over fetal pain isn't about the scientific debate as much as it's about how people feel about the morality of abortion. It’s a pretty safe bet that people who worry about fetal pain are actually morally opposed to nearly all abortions. They are using whatever scintillas of scientific evidence they can scrounge up to try to justify “compelling state interests” with the aim of prohibiting as many abortions as they can.

    He hit Eddie right in the bullseye. Even with 100% certainty a fetus couldn't feel pain, Eddie wouldn't drop his opposition to abortion.

    It's like the sad spectacle of creation museums. It's not enough to claim they have a religious belief in something there is no evidence for, they have to grasp at straws and twist science itself inside out.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    But who says pain is the threshold now?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Even with 100% certainty that you were feeling no pain after an all-night tequila bender, I wouldn't drop my opposition to killing you. Oh no I'm Anti-Science!

    But if the federal courts, or the voters, got it into their heads that it should be legal to kill people who are passed-out drunk, so long as they "didn't suffer," then damn straight I'd take advantage of evidence showing that you react to being poked or stabbed - "how do you know Sugarfree isn't suffering, he sure looks like he does!" I wouldn't demand gratitude on your part - after your recover you can tear into me as a religious fundamentalist who was simply using tactical arguments to save your life instead of killing you as "Science" demanded.

  • SugarFree||

    What did I say that was wrong, Eddie? Anything? Anything at all?

    How dare I accurately sum up your constantly repeated stance!

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Let me flip the question - why was my analogy bad? Would it be wrong of me to defend your right to life in the situation you described? If you recovered from your bender, would you denounce all the evil, fundie prolife activists who managed to save you from those who support the right to kill passed-out drunks?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    the situation *I* described - it didn't occur to you, of course.

  • SugarFree||

    What did I say that was wrong? Come on. You can do it.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    That abortion is totally awesome, that prolifers don't care about the right to life, etc.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Now, what did *I* say that was wrong?

  • SugarFree||

    Oh, Eddie. The funny part is that you think you are winning this argument.

    I don't give a shit about your silly what if. Tell me what I said that was wrong. Point to the factual error I state in this sentence:

    Even with 100% certainty a fetus couldn't feel pain, Eddie wouldn't drop his opposition to abortion.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I've already cited your fallacies. Here's where another commenter slams you for "Go[ing] full Amanda Marcotte":

    http://reason.com/blog/2013/07.....nt_3860702

  • SugarFree||

    So you can't find anything I said that was wrong in that sentence?

    Why can't you just admit that? Isn't pride supposed to be a sin?

  • Xenocles||

    There's no factual error; the error is in assuming that "feels pain" is the relevant attribute. I can say with 100% certainty that my walls are painted white but that empirical fact simply isn't going to drive my religious preference, for example.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Sure SF, but we know for a fact that, even with the full knowledge that a fetus will feel pain at some point in the pregnancy, those who are influential in the pro-choice movement support abortion on demand up to the time of birth.

    There is no apparent difference between choicers and pro-lifers when it comes to where they derive their morality.

  • SugarFree||

    I'm really deriding the idea of dressing up religious or social beliefs with god-of-gaps pseudo-science.

    Both sides look a fool when they do it.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    He hit Eddie right in the bullseye. Even with 100% certainty a fetus couldn't feel pain, Eddie wouldn't drop his opposition to abortion.

    Fair enough, but I think, for both sides, it's due to a misunderstanding of how to talk about "what pain is." To discuss pain in its totality, we cannot just focus on its physical manifestation (the firing of neurons). Pain is also a mental state. Personally, when it comes to mental states, I am a Daniel Dennet-type teleological functionalist, though, today I feel agnostic about the existence of qualia, but that might change tomorrow.

  • Duke||

    Who really gives a shit whether opposition to abortion should be based on scientific reasons or moral ones? We don’t condone murder if the person has a congenital condition causing them to not feel pain. And science changes over time. Are all our laws based on science? Hell no. And I’m damn glad of it.

    Look at eugenics if you want to see what happens when you rely solely on science as the basis for human rights. Arguing this distinction without a difference is really twisted. Is it part of a secret Libertarian code to have no moral absolutions about anything?

  • ||

    Ron, does reason pay you guys by the comment? Do you guys write abortion articles when you are a little short and need the extra cash?

    Next time, just ask and I'll loan ya a fiver.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    No. I don't know when fetuses start experiencing pain in a way I would recognize, and apparently the experts don't either. But supposing they could show they don't experience pain in the way I do, that would be as irrelevant as proving that a guy passed out after a bottle of vodka doesn't experience pain the way I do. It doesn't affect the humanity of the (temporarily) pain-free individual.

    I think OM provided some important context here. The prolife movement is trying to draw up laws which the federal courts will actually uphold. The choicers have enormous influence on the federal courts, which have taken it upon themselves to be a Board of Abortion Law Revisers, so prolifers have to be cautious in what kind of law to pass. Once we've got evidence that fetuses react to the kind of stimuli which produce pain in us, then let's put that evidence to the federal courts and dare them to strike down the law because they aren't sure about the fetus's subjective consciousness.

    It would be great to legislate on pure prolife principle, but of course the courts won't allow it. Neither will the voters, and unlike the choicers, the prolifers don't have the option of asking the federal courts to write the kind of abortion laws they want.

  • Ron Bailey||

    EvH: You write:

    I think OM provided some important context here. The prolife movement is trying to draw up laws which the federal courts will actually uphold.

    Ahem, I certainly honor the perspicacity of OM, but actually this is precisely the point I was making the article.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    All right, but just to clarify, this is totally OK. The federal courts *invite* that sort of thing by saying that they will uphold some prolife laws but not others. So until the federal courts get out of the abortion business, it's either give up protecting human life, or get a law the courts will like. There's nothing sinister about it. And the evidence of reaction of stimuli certainly raises legitimate questions about fetal pain.

    If the federal courts want to uphold the right to kill human beings who might experience pain, let them say so and expose their extremism. If not, then we've saved at least a few lives.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Also, the case-by-case experience of distinguishing between acceptable and unacceptable abortions might actually make the judges realize that they're hopelessly lost in a legal thicket of their own creation, and they may as well leave abortion to the political process.

  • John||

    It depends. Feeling pain is not the only criteria for life. It is a factor but not the only.

    Is there any other brain activity? If so, then why is pain the deciding activity? If not, why is brain activity the deciding factor?

    I am inclined to think that it is. But I could see arguments the other way.

  • Xenocles||

    I am not confident that I know what parts or functions of the brain are necessary to what we might call "personhood," but I am extremely confident that the brain is required. Thus I would probably be willing to go so far as to say that we should assume that a brain at any stage of development is the same (for the purposes of this question) as the brain of a newborn.

  • John||

    ^THIS^ We don't understand consciousness nearly well enough to set it as any kind of an effective standard. Given our primitive understanding of the brain, the existence of some kind of a functioning brain should be good enough.

  • Seran72||

    Yes. :-)

  • ||

    Goddamn. I spend half a day getting my Kubota repaired and I come back here and find Ron has posted an abortion article and Y'all are scratching each other's eyes out. I cant leave y'all alone for a minute. Sheesh.

  • Harvard||

    If only you had popped for the Deere.

  • Floridian||

    A 2009 Swedish study reported that 93 percent of infants born at 22 weeks died. At 23 weeks the mortality rate fell to 66 percent, and at 24 weeks it was 40 percent.

    I would like to point out a disconnect between viability and survival rates. In general if an infant is preterm something has gone wrong. This usually means an emergency c-section on an abnormal infant. I don't know if anyone has performed c-sections on fetuses without some distress. I would imagine a normal 20 week normal fetus vs an abnormal 20 week fetus would have a higher survival rate.

    Disclaimer: I do not have a firm stance on abortion because I don't have an intellectually consistent reason to support/deny abortions.

  • Floridian||

    Remove one normal please.

  • Floridian||

    Remove one normal please.

  • ||

    Your disclaimer is basically what I was trying to say the other day in one of the other abortion threads. Damn I feel dumb sometimes.

  • Floridian||

    You shouldn't feel dumb. I think this is a complex issue and from my view point multiple conflicting rights are to be considered.

  • KimInGA||

    Also, most people have no idea what "survival" looks like for babies born that early. They may survive, in the sense that they're alive ... but many suffer from severe disability for the rest of their lives. Blindness, brain damage, lung problems and cerebral palsy are all common.

  • triclops||

    I am disappointed in Ron today. His presumption that the science supports one side more than the other doesn't make sense to me.
    OMs abortion arguments seem the sharpest here, I sign closest with those. But this is a tough one for me, I'm not confident that I can ask all the right questions to come to a conclusion.

  • Ron Bailey||

    t: I am disappointed in me too. I THOUGHT that what I was doing was giving both sides their best arguments and THEN pointing out that the arguments are very unlikely to change anyone's mind on either side about the morality of abortion.

    A secondary point was that the anti-abortion folks are trying to use evidence for fetal pain as a way to justify "compelling state interest" in banning at least some abortions to meet the requirments for restricting access to abortions set out in Roe v. Wade way back in 1973.

    Given the vehemence of the arguments being made in the posts by the anti folks - J, NK, OM - I suspect that THEY actually find (worry) the data show that the fetuses do not experience pain and thus fear that arguments for "compelling state interests" will fail.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Let's put it this way - a black person is arrested under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, and an abolitionist lawyer shows up to represent them, demanding that his client have a jury trial (which is denied by the law). Now, we all know that the lawyer's *real* agenda is to thwart the law and oppose slavery, and that his sinister hidden agenda is to let slaves escape from bondage without being caught. But that wouldn't relieve the federal courts from the obligation to decide whether, in fact, there's a right to a jury. And it was perfectly legitimate for the abolitionists to try and exploit legal loopholes to try to rescue slaves.

    Of course, there were people back then saying that these abolitionists don't *really* care about getting fair trials for black people - they just have a sinister goal of getting rid of the Fugitive Slave Act!

    If you've looked at the history of liberty, you'll find lots of cases, not just this one, where, faced with an unsympathetic public and court system, reformers used "technicalities" to mitigate the evils of bad laws they didn't have the ability to abolish straight up.

  • SugarFree||

    And once again the advocate of using governmental coercion to force women to subjugate their bodies and treasure to an unwanted fetus for 9 months foolishly goes to the slavery well.

  • John||

    Why is it a "fetus" and not a child Sugar Free? Show your work. Why does life begin at birth and not a moment before.

  • SugarFree||

    I'll remind you of this the next time you get all huffy with someone for making "emotional arguments."

  • John||

    What is emotional about that? The question is when does life begin. You say it begins at birth. And certainly if it does, telling a woman who is pregnant she can't have an abortion is wrong.

    So tell, why do you think life begins at birth and not before? What is your reasoning that causes you to conclude that?

  • SugarFree||

    You say it begins at birth.

    Find me where I've ever said that.

    It's a fine 48 hours of pulling shit straight out of your ass you've been having.

  • John||

    Okay SF,

    If you do believe that life begins sometime before birth, then how can you say

    "And once again the advocate of using governmental coercion to force women to subjugate their bodies and treasure to an unwanted fetus for 9 months foolishly goes to the slavery well."?

    She created the life? The life didn't ask to come into existence. How is making her carry the child to term any different than the state making any parent take care of their kids?

    Just what the hell is your position?

  • SugarFree||

    You can give birthed kids up for adoption.

  • John||

    Yeah, so what? Is it really your position that an unborn child is a life but that it is okay for the mother to kill it if she chooses to?

  • SugarFree||

    I've drawn the line at non-mechanically assisted viability many times. But it would have to come with a complete abolition of regulatory burden.

    Of course, with the partial-birth abortion ban, that's pretty much where we are now. And it has satisfied no pro-lifers and they are as loud as ever.

  • John||

    We don't have a partial birth abortion ban. The courts struck it down and they happen all of the time.

    And why non medically assisted? By that standard a lot of children that go to full term are not human. Hell, a lot of humans are not humans. You wouldn't last a year without incilin, are you not a human being?

    Whatever the line, it can't be non medically assisted because we know that lots of people can't live without medical assistance. So, that can't be what makes you a human.

    In the end, I think you have to go with brain activity. When people are in a coma, we don't call them dead and pull the plug until their brain flatlines. And we know know enough about how the brain works to get picky about this or that activity being crucial. So, if there is a brain, there is a person.

  • SugarFree||

    Non-mech because just because we could keep a 16-week fetus alive with a million dollars a day is not viability.

    You asked, I answered.

  • Floridian||

    SF,
    Not trying to argue with you but a bit of trivia. Black female infants have higher survival rates than white male infants. Not that that discounts your argument just odds of viability are different across ethnicities/gender.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    I THOUGHT that what I was doing was giving both sides their best arguments

    I would agree, but while you assert that the pro-lifer's arguments are based on cynicism to appeal to the masses, you don't provide similar scorn to the pro-choice movement -- which as far as I can tell, doesn't allow any such considerations in their desire to allow abortion on demand until the moment of birth.

  • Ron Bailey||

    IMT: As far as I can tell on this issue, the prochoicers are reacting to claims about fetal pain that were initially asserted by the antis.

    With regard to your observation about the supposed "cynical appeal to the masses," I actually pointed out that the antis are attempting to use evidence for fetal pain as way to justify "compelling state interests" required to imposing restrictions by Roe v. Wade.

    Maybe that tactic is cynical or maybe not - you decide.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Perhaps it is, but it is no more or less cynical than a pro-abortionist from, say, Planned Parenthood or one of a number of feminist outlets using the data on fetal pain that you have helpfully outlined to argue for their views, knowing full well that their support of abortion on demand until the time of birth contradicts a supposed concern for fetal pain as an indicator of humanity.

  • ||

    I actually pointed out that the antis are attempting to use evidence for fetal pain as way to justify "compelling state interests"

    Specifically, you said that the "antis" (Oh noes! That sounds super scary!) are:

    ...using whatever scintillas of scientific evidence they can scrounge up...

    If you don't want to be interpreted as a snarky cunt, don't write like a snarky cunt.

  • Robert||

    Don't feel bad, Ron. A thread like this is the most provocative and fun we can have around here. How often do you get to argue about really fundamental fundamentals? Thanks, Ron.

  • Robert||

    That's what I miss about Libernet-d. This hit-and-run format of blog-and-comment is inferior to discussion where anybody can introduce a topic, and it's "current" as long as someone wants to reply, rather than having a parade of "ooo, shiny" led by professionals.

    There's still Usenet, and Yahoo groups, etc., but no good libertarian discussion there now AFAIK. I suppose it's possible all the good topics were completely hashed out in the 1990s, but this comment thread's evidence of otherwise.

  • Seran72||

    Your willingness to dismiss us moderates as cynics with a hidden agenda really surprises me.

    Didn't Nick Gillespie just write something asking why the debate seems to involve only absolutists?

    Your blithe dismissal that anyone might genuinely hold a middle ground might provide some insight into that.

    Here we have a lot of middle grounders voicing their opinion that there is a line to be drawn somewhere between conception and birth and that the ability to feel pain just might be relevant to where that line is drawn.

    Your response is to dismiss us as relevant to the debate on the theory that we have some hidden agenda.

    Really amazes me...

  • Robert||

    And I think cynics might be just as insulted to be dismissed as moderates. Just sayin'.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    What we really need is a thread dedicated to the vital question of which Star Trek captain would be most capable of performing an abortion on Abraham Lincoln's circumcised mother.

  • SugarFree||

    No pizza? You monster.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    It was implied that the fetal Abraham Lincoln was eating Chicago-style.

    Read between the lines, man.

  • SugarFree||

    "Implied" is what STEVE SMITH is going to assume when he finds you in the woods.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    That's not what enthusiastic consent means!

  • Killazontherun||

    The no pizza was like the negative space that shapes everything else.

    Totinos or Red Barons, which has the more edible crust?

  • Killazontherun||

    Little Caesar's, cheap pizza or expensive bread?

  • SugarFree||

    Totinos. I've never liked Red Baron in almost any category. For the exact same type of frozen pizza, Tombstone is far better.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Tombstone (greater than) Red Baron (greater than) Totinos

  • ||

    Tombstone (greater than) Red Baron (greater than) Totinos

    This

  • ||

    Hell yeah Tombstone rocks. For what it is.

  • Killazontherun||

    With a simple three cheese Totinos, I like to take a can of diced tomatoes with chilli peppers, drain the liquid, and spread on top.

  • Outlaw||

    SHAKEY'S

  • ||

    Is that before or after it's been assimilated by Trapper Keeper?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Janeway, hands down. She was a biologist.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    I don't know, man. If she wouldn't abort the products of her and Tom's unholy salamander sex, can we really trust her to abort America's Greatest President?

  • ||

    Damn it HM, I should've refreshed sooner.

  • ||

    Janeway, clearly TiT.

    *Runs cackling from the room*

  • ||

    You're tearing me apart, Lisa!

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    I wish that Reason would write an article about what impositions the regulations in the TX bill require, their stated justification, and the pro-choice and pro-life arguments for and against those impositions.

    It is difficult to argue against or for vague "regulations" as opposed to a concrete listing of impositions.

  • Robert||

    Hell, I'm still looking for that in the catfish thread.

  • ||

    "Pain" is a subjective judgment. My line of "organized neural activity" between lump of cells and human being is objective. Law should be, but sadly often isn't, objective.

  • John||

    I would agree with that line. "Consciousness" is way too subjective. Come back to me when we can explain consciousness before advocating that position. Given what we know right now, organized neural activity is probably about as good as we can get.

  • John||

    Here is the bottom line of the entire debate. What makes a human being. We all agree that a new born baby is a human being worthy of full protection by the state. Right?

    The issue is does that protection extend to any point before birth. So my question to all of the pro choice people is why should the act of birth be the line of demarcation between life and nonlife? What criteria does one use which leads to that conclusion?

  • cavalier973||

    So my question to all of the pro choice people is why should the act of birth be the line of demarcation between life and nonlife?

    I'm glad you asked! You see, there is a Magic Personhood Sauce (MPS™) that slathers the creature as it exits the birth canal, turning it into a human being. It's Science!

  • Robert||

    No, that's not the bottom line of the debate. What makes a "human being" is of little consequence to me.

    Rather, there are more basic questions: What's wrong with dying? What's wrong with killing? What's wrong with pain? What's wrong with the infliction of pain?

    The only one there's an obvious answer to is what's wrong with pain. Pain is pretty much by definition bad, masochists possibly excepted. Like, pain is definable as a sensation you dislike, or an accompanying awareness to a sensation you dislike (if the sensation can be classified in greater detail so that "pain" alone doesn't suffice).

  • ||

    Rather, there are more basic questions: What's wrong with dying? What's wrong with killing? What's wrong with pain? What's wrong with the infliction of pain?

    Right, we thought we'd just skip past the basic questions to which every moron born human in the last 10,000 years already knows the answers. If you're still stuck on "How do I know if I'm really alive?" you need to wait until the bong hit wears off to participate in this discussion.

  • Robert||

    Easy for you to say. If the answers were as easy as you think they are, there wouldn't be disagreement or befuddlement here.

    What's wrong with dying, then?

  • Outlaw||

    http://now.msn.com/police-offi.....n-st-louis

    IT FINALLY HAPPENED.

    AAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHA!

  • John||

    Too bad it didn't hit him in the head.

  • SugarFree||

    Neither officer knew if the dog had been wounded, since it quickly ran away

    Police don't believe dogs can feel pain.

  • ||

    I'm still not fully convinced cops are human, so I think there's at least some argument we can abort them.

  • Rhywun||

    And here...we...go.

    Yep... sitting this one out.

  • Brandybuck||

    It’s a pretty safe bet that people who worry about fetal pain are actually morally opposed to nearly all abortions.


    Whoa! Talk about jumping to a conclusion!

    Cluestick Ron, not everyone is either 100% for or 100% against abortions even though the shrill voices from both extremes might make it seem that way. There are actually people in between, to whom fetal pain is a valid criteria for where to draw a line.

  • John||

    That is how I feel about it. But Ron was sure above that nothing he said was incorrect or gave a false impression about pro life people. You and I just have poor reading comprehension I guess.

  • ||

    Well, you "antis" were "scrounging for whatever scintilla of language skill" you could to interpret what Ron wrote. The "Pro woman's right to choose what to do with her own body"-ers were just "reading". See? Nothing snarky or condescending about that. All he's saying is that both you and the pro-choicers were both "reading".

  • KimInGA||

    I don't understand why fetal pain would make any difference in the abortion debate. Can they not just anesthetize the fetus? Maybe I'm missing something.

    I would also be curious to know exactly how many of the 1.3% of abortions performed after 21 weeks really are just for convenience. Almost any that were done due to abnormalities uncovered from amniocentesis would almost have to fall into this bucket, since the earliest you can have one done is 16-18 weeks and it takes a couple of weeks to get results back and then more time to schedule an abortion. And who the hell would wait until 21 weeks if you really were just doing it for convenience? Looking at it from a completely selfish perspective, why would you willingly put up with that many weeks of morning sickness if you were just gonna abort the kid anyway? (I say this as someone who is presently in the middle of morning sickness, and not all that delighted about it.)

  • Floridian||

    I have to agree that pain is not in and of itself a reason for or against a right. I believe strongly in self defense. If an intruder feels pain when I shoot him/her it has no bearing on my right to defend myself.

  • Tonio||

    For those of us who are not absolutists, it matters. Absolutists are those who either believe that personhood begins at fertilization, and that morning after pills and all abortions are murder; the other sort of absolutists are those who believe that personhood only begins at birth, and therefore no abortions are murder.

    For the rest of us, we're trying to answer an extremely complex question in which the rights of the (pre-)pregnant woman must be balanced against the rights of the fetus. Since we are not absolutists we believe that there is a point sometime between fertilization and birth where abortion goes from being ok to being not ok. It's difficult to have this discussion with the absolutists howling at us doing there best to derail the discussion.

    Remember that there's an abortion advocacy industry comprised of both pro- and anti- forces, and that this industry loses whenever rational debate occurs because it will make them both irrelevant.

  • KimInGA||

    Oh I can understand why the rights of the fetus vs. mother matter. That absolutely makes sense to me. But why does the ability to feel pain matter, since we're perfectly capable of blocking all pain via anesthesia?

    I actually prefer Carl Sagan's take on it. We should recognize the fetus as having the full rights of a human when their brain waves are distinctly human. Apparently human brain waves are distinguishable from all other animals', and a fetus' brain waves only reach this milestone at around the end of the second trimester. Does this point also correspond to consciousness? Self-awareness? I don't know, but it's a fascinating subject.

  • Pull n Pray||

    Very well said

  • Pull n Pray||

    So if you were going to the clinic to get an abortion and the physician said to you, "Ma'am, would you like for me to anesthetize your fetus so it doesn't experience any pain during the procedure?" it wouldn't make you think twice about what you were doing?

    The reason the abortion of a fetus capable of experiencing pain is morally troubling to me is not the pain itself; as you said, an anesthetic could be used. The issue is what the fetus's capacity for pain signifies. Pain is a subjective experience that happens to some One. So if a fetus can experience pain that means there is a someone there, a conscious mind, rather than just an organism reacting to stimuli.

    But if sounds like we are still a long ways from there being scientific agreement about when a fetus develops a conscious mind. This isn't surprising since science can't really give us a satisfactory explanation of consciousness to begin with. It can tell us which neurons are firing in our brains when we experience pain, but it can't tell us why pain hurts.

  • HellsBells||

    Of course I can only speak subjectively on this, but about 6 months into my second pregnancy, the baby was so high up I couldn't breathe well. It was 100 degrees outside, I was taking care of a toddler, I was still throwing up about 5 times a day and I felt like I was smothering. I went through a solid two weeks of panic thinking I'd never make it to the end before it eased up and the baby dropped a little. Now, I'm solidly pro-life, but I think that could qualify for convenience abortion.

  • Pull n Pray||

    " It’s a pretty safe bet that people who worry about fetal pain are actually morally opposed to nearly all abortions."

    I think this is way off. I think abortion should be legal during the early stages of a pregnancy and illegal during the later stages. I'm not sure where exactly to draw the line, but I definitely think an answer to the question of when a fetus experiences pain is relevant to the determination. I suspect there are a lot of people who have similarly moderate views on a abortion.

  • Tonio||

    ^Thank you. Please join with me and all the other rational actors in having a sensible debate.

  • Seran72||

    I personally know sooooo many people - myself included -- who share your position that I am somewhat surprised that Bailey so casually dismissed us ....

  • spyle||

    their point is whether fetus feels pain or not, whether it's murder or not, whether it is a lump of cells or not, it's all up to that woman's decision independent of human sensibility in the society, because it poses stress on their body and causes inconvenience. any objective reason you pose is not going to cause a difference

  • cavalier973||

    Huh. The woman is inconvenienced, so murder the child.

  • Jim Kress||

    Two words destroy your argument:

    Kermit Gosnell

  • Bobos||

    "On the other hand, people who oppose restrictions on a woman’s right to control her own body.."

    Geez, can you start off a sentence with a more leading statement? Phrasing like that made Bailey's admission at the end of being pro-choice wildly unnecessary.

  • PH2050||

    Can someone explain to me why I should give a shit if other people want to kill their babies? Hell, why should I care if they want to kill their toddler children? Their property, their decision.

  • ||

    Their property, their decision.

    The rest of Western society decided that children transcended property as human beings with rights somewhere around, oh, 5,000 years ago.

  • Robert||

    It’s a pretty safe bet that people who worry about fetal pain are actually morally opposed to nearly all abortion


    Not me. I'd be for outlawing painful methods of abortion, infanticide, and animal slaughter, but not abortion, infanticide, or animal slaughter per se.

  • Seran72||

    I care about fetal pain. And I do not believe that almost all abortion is actually morally wrong. So unless Ronald Bailey thinks I'm the only one in existence, he's discounting some voices here. Women like my mother, sister, friends and Kirsten Powers to just name some off the top of my head.

    For me, the morality of abortion is entirely and solely tied to the stage of fetal development. At some point after conception but before birth the "fetus" develops characteristics that I believe entitle it to state protection. The ability to experience -- or even just "detect" -- pain is one aspect of that.

    To be clear, I support the right to abort a pregnancy for any reason prior to its eighth week, which according to Bailey's own numbers, is when the majority of abortions take place. As the pregnancy progresses, I support abortions for some but not all reasons. Eventually, we reach a stage in the development where I would not personally support a right to abort for any reason.

    I'm not posting this to convince anyone that either my moral reasoning or my science are objectively correct. I'm posting it to make the point that Bailey is wrong to assume that my professed concern for fetal pain is just subterfuge for something else (not sure what).

  • Mesoman||

    “Personal decision-making by women and their doctors should not be replaced by political ideology.”

    What an arrogant statement, and a clever deflection of the real issue. There are two other important human beings whose rights are involved: the father and the fetus.

    The important issue is simpler: at what state of gestation does the fetus acquire individual rights? A recognition of those rights puts the government properly back in the picture. Only the philosophically indefensible position that fetuses have no rights until born avoids the conflict of rights - something ignored by the article and the quoted statement.

    So, does my premature grandchild (after a couple of weeks since birth, still not close to full gestational age) have any rights? Did those rights magically appear at birth? If so, from whence does this magic come?

  • Robert||

    Not sure it makes any difference, but...does what you write depend on the inherent existence of "natural rights", "natural law", etc. whose existence can be discovered in nature? Rather than an argument over what rights we should bestow/invent as we formulate the best rules for society?

  • ||

    Peronally, I'm pro-death. Abortions for all, and mandatory euthanasia if hospitalized.

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    Obama-scare here we come! WHEEEEEEE!

  • Tibor Machan||

    Just a small point. Why would the capacity to feel pain have much to do with whether abortion should or should not be banned? Chicken feel pain, as do other animals that human beings kill routinely. Not even animal rights folks invoke the pain argument. The main issue should be whether a fetus at the usual time of abortion is a human individual! It is the latter that has the right to life!

  • Robert||

    Why should anything feel pain, whether it's a "person", "human", or whatnot?

  • Seran72||

    Hi --

    I think the issue is that people are trying to determine *when* the fetus crosses to being a "human individual." The ability to experience or detect or respond to pain is one factor that some people consider relevant to that inquiry.

    You seem to be saying that the ability to experience pain - standing alone - has never been treated as sufficient to entitle an entity to rights. But for a human fetus, the ability to experience pain never "stands alone" because it is always accompanied by other aspects of humanity (if nothing else, the presence of human DNA).

    Sarah

  • Westmiller||

    Excellent article with important links to primary findings and a proper notice that pain is not a primary criteria for judging valid laws to protect the rights of *persons*.

  • Get Smart||

    What a shocker, Mr. Baily--you have contributed to the pro-abortion cause?

    By writing this piece of blatant propaganda, you have outdone your service to the National Abortion Rights Action League.

    Every biologist--or educated individual, for that matter--knows that human life (yours & mine included) begins the moment a human sperm fertilizes an human egg.

    Destroying life in the womb, at any stage of development, is paramount to killing a unique individual.

    But, you sir, have not the ability to 'reason.' How ironic is that?

    As for the folks at Reason magazine and libertarians in general--arrogant frauds the whole lot of you. T

    Denying the humanity of the unborn child is the creepiest, cruelest, and most unreasonable thing a fellow human being could possibly do.

    It is downright evil.

    You, Mr. Baily, are nothing like another Baily from It's A Wonderful Life.

    You are evil.

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  • themiddling||

    "It’s a pretty safe bet that people who worry about fetal pain are actually morally opposed to nearly all abortions. They are using whatever scintillas of scientific evidence they can scrounge up to try to justify “compelling state interests” with the aim of prohibiting as many abortions as they can."

    This is totally unfair and inaccurate. I'm a mother, a liberal, and an atheist and I believe fetal pain has a huge amount of bearing on the morality of abortions. There are two options: 1. You believe in legalized abortion, no matter the cost to the fetus. 2. You, as a woman, make a decision taking all the moral criteria into account. And whether you are causing pain should weigh heavily on that decision. Personally, I believe it should only be legal very early on, when pain is not even on the table. Abortion is legal up to 20 weeks. My daughter was moving and kicking at 16. I'm all for contraception and sex education. There is no reason for a woman to even have to come to this situation with everything available out there. With great power comes great responsibility.

  • themiddling||

    And because something cannot feel pain, does that make killing it okay? The question is whether what you are destroying is a human life or a cluster of cells, and at what point the cells become human. Pain seems to many an indication of humanity, and at the very least causing suffering is a moral issue. This should be a question of morality with parameters determined by science. Politics should be based on what science finds on this issue.

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