Abortion

Abortion, Religion, and Science

Is it time for a new debate over abortion?

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Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia doctor, is accused of killing babies with scissors after botching late-term abortions—among hundreds of other hideous acts. The doctor, it was reported, appeared confused by the charges against him at his arraignment last week. And if you're the kind of guy whose idea of a "botched" medical procedure involves someone's surviving, well, perhaps the charge is a distinction without much of a difference.

There were about 18,000 late-term abortions performed in this country last year, despite the increasingly rare medical need for such a procedure, despite the fetus's advanced neural development (including the ability to feel pain), and despite the baby's viability. Yet because this topic is encrusted with layers of cultural and political baggage, it goes on. The entire debate suffers from the same problem.

Though you probably didn't hear much about it, this week thousands of people marched for the pro-life cause in Washington and elsewhere. There were folks I generally don't hang with: Catholics for Life, Baptists for Life, Lutherans for Life—no denomination left behind.

It had me wonder how many Americans avoid an honest look at the abortion issue because of the cultural dimensions of the debate. How many Americans instinctively turn to the pro-choice camp because pro-life proponents aggravate their secular sensibilities?

As Nat Hentoff, the noted civil libertarian journalist, once remarked, when he turned pro-life, his cohorts at The Village Voice wondered when he had "converted to Catholicism—the only explanation they could think of" for his "apostasy."

It's unfortunate that abortion is a social issue, because it is science and reason that can turn the debate.

When a pregnant woman in my Denver neighborhood was recently struck by a hit-and-run driver, she tragically lost her child. Throughout the area, there was an outpouring of support and sadness. Some wondered whether the assailant should be charged with manslaughter. Or would it be murder?

A few commented—in appropriate company—that had the fetus been a few weeks younger, a doctor could have performed a surgical procedure on it and terminated its life, and there would be no grieving.

The fact is that if the mother had displayed sufficient mental anguish, she could have taken the drive up to Boulder that day and visited Warren Hern, a late-term abortionist, who could have called that "baby" a "fetus"—a linguistic substitution with profound consequences for at least one human being—and put an end to the entire arrangement.

Does life really begin on the say-so of a single person—even the mother? Does her position or mental state change what a fetus is or is not? That kind of elastic calculation grinds against reason. Even our intuitive reaction to motherhood agrees. As Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who is an ob-gyn, once explained, "people ask an expectant mother how her baby is doing. They do not ask how her fetus is doing, or her blob of tissue, or her parasite."

Most people, not very ideological to begin with, are probably too squeamish to reach decisive conclusions on abortion. They balance their views somewhere in the middle as they weigh societal costs and realities. Most, though, oppose late-term abortion.

There are consequences to the pro-life position, of course. Certainly an unwanted baby, a mentally anguished mother, illegal abortions, and fewer choices are all terrible and real problems—but none of them changes the reality of the procedure. Especially late-term abortions.

Other abortions are pretty safe, but they are not rare, either. We recently learned that 87,273 pregnancies were terminated in the New York metro area in 2009. The local ABC affiliate there reported that 60 percent of "non-Hispanic black" pregnancies ended in abortion. Hispanics had a 41.3 percent abortion rate. Overall, 41 percent of pregnancies in New York City were terminated with the destruction of the nascent human being, despite the widespread availability of birth control for both adults and children.

Now, if hearing that so many pregnant women choose to abort their children is alarming, surely the continued acceptance of third-trimester abortions is downright despicable.

Then again, I'm under no illusion that the debate is going to change in my lifetime. The Roe v. Wade decision—made without considering evolving science or new facts—ensures that the debate is purely academic for now. I'm certainly not under the delusion that every problem has an answer. But if the pro-life movement is going to win the hearts and minds of the rest of the nation, it's not going to need more God. It's going to need more reason.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of Nanny State. Visit his website at www.DavidHarsanyi.com.

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633 responses to “Abortion, Religion, and Science

  1. I suspect history will judge us harshly for the slaughter of millions of unborn children.

    1. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      Or history will judge us as enlightened for recognizing a woman’s right to control her own body. See how that works?

      1. Cogent argument – well thought out.

        1. Just like your extremely sophisticated “fetus == human because I say so”.

          You’re the last person who should be criticizing anyone else’s argument, supergenius.

          1. A fetus is biologically human, numbnuts. The debate is about personhood. Try to keep up.

            1. Yes, and always has been. We as humans have always celebrated fuckdays, not birthdays. We have always counted years since birth, not conception, to determine age. We have always prosecuted spontaneous abortions and miscarriages as murder. We have always prosecuted mothers for child abuse if they drink or smoke or gain too much weight or not enough or don’t eat their broccoli or don’t get enough exercise or get too much.

              Thank God for our long standing belief that life starts at conception, not birth!

              1. The phenomenon of conception wasn’t even understood until the late 1700s, numbnuts. And if your argument is that anything that humans haven’t acknowledged the full implications of in the past must not be true, you shouldn’t be on a libertarian site, as very little of our ideology was taken seriously before the 1700s either.

                1. The concept of babies being baby-like entities inside of a woman prior to birth has been understood rather substantially longer. Surely the abortion debate has more positions than “personhood from conception” and “personhood once the umbilical cord is cut”, particularly since those are the most absurd positions.

                2. The phenomenon of conception wasn’t even understood until the late 1700s, numbnuts. And if your argument is that anything that humans haven’t acknowledged the full implications of in the past must not be true, you shouldn’t be on a libertarian site, as very little of our ideology was taken seriously before the 1700s either.

                  So then women thought that childbirth and the large growth in their belly for the previous nine months is somehow a coincidence?

      2. Or will history regard us as idiots for such simple-minded selfish reasoning and callous disregard for human life.

        1. What human life?

          1. I’m sure the slave owner in the Antebellum said the same thing back in the day.

            1. Did you steal that from the PETA website?

              1. Pro-lifers always end up using Peter Singer’s arguments

              2. But no, I think that’s a Judge Napalatano argument from his book Dred Scott’s revenge.

      3. Unlikely.

        Star Trek is a futuristic utopia where they (magically?) did away with crime and poverty and stuff. Although the topic of abortion never came up,* it is hard to imagine that it is an enlightened society where its women are constantly getting knocked up and aborting their pregnancies.

        *To the best of my knowledge.

        1. It came up briefly in the first episode of the second season of TNG, “The Child”. Troi got impregnated by an energy blob (likely excuse!) and chose to have the baby even though Riker and Picard wanted to abort it since they considered it a threat.

          1. I could probably support a woman’s right to choose to abort potentially dangerous energy blob/human hybrids. As long as it was rape.

      4. I absolutely recognize a woman’s right to do what she wants with her body, but when her actions affect another body(fetuses are humans and living) her right to do whatever is now limited to whatever does not harm the other living human.

        1. and what about the harm that the fetus will inevitably do to the mother, both in the process of gestation and that of birth? is the mother not entitled to protect herself?

          1. The fetus would not exist without the cooperation of the mother’s body (and in the vast majority of cases, the consent of the mother’s mind to partake in activities known to produce fetuses).

            1. That’s also true of a 1 month old baby.

              1. No it’s not. A 1-month old baby may need others to survive, but it does not need the mother’s body.

                1. Maybe not now, but historically that has not been the case.

                  1. right, there has never been such a thing as a wet nurse.
                    Fail. Big one.

                    1. Historically, most people were not aristocrats. And at any rate, the baby required some woman’s body to survive.

                    2. We’re not talking about history, but since you brought it up, both shared breastfeeding and milk alternatives are ancient.

                      You might as well claim that babies aren’t viable because they can’t go out and kill their own game.

                      There’s a world of difference between being physically attached and completely dependent on the mother, and needing feeding after birth by someone.

            2. That’s true! And if women learned to use their mouths and that place where the sun don’t shine, we could reduce unwanted pregnancies to zero.

              So ladies, close the V Street and open the A Avenue.

              1. I thought it was the Hershey Highway.

                1. lol, or they could use protection…or NOT HAVE SEX. And maybe the man actually needs to be more responsable for the pregnancy. And maybe we need to have more graphic sex ed classes. And maybe all six billion of us will get together and sing koombaya

            3. “The right to swing your arm ends, where your neighbor’s nose begins.”

              I would say the woman’s body ends where the baby’s begins, ie, at the surface of the baby’s body.

          2. and what about the harm that the fetus will inevitably do to the mother, both in the process of gestation and that of birth? is the mother not entitled to protect herself?

            Should the fetus be an unjust threat to life, killing the fetus is justified, just like it was justified to kill those Japanese pilots attacking Pearl Harbor, who were likewise an unjust threat to life.

            1. Actually, there is no right in war to kill the enemy. You are allowed to stop him using force that may indeed be deadly. But if he ceases, and puts his hands up to surrender, then you may not kill him.

              In abortion, you actually WILL the death of the child, and rip his/her body apart to achieve that death. Sick. Murder.

              1. Actually, there is no right in war to kill the enemy. You are allowed to stop him using force that may indeed be deadly. But if he ceases, and puts his hands up to surrender, then you may not kill him.

                Only if the enemy is a lawful combatant.

                Unlawful combatants were either shot on capture or hung soon afterward.

                By the way, how many unborn were killed in Tokyo and Dresden during the 1940’s?

        2. essentially, if the fetus is a person with rights, then it is also obligated to respect the rights of other persons…including its mother. which means that it is a guest in her body on her sufferance.

          if the fetus is a person with negative rights but no obligation to respect the negative rights of others, it is actually not only the right but the duty of the mother to neutralize the threat! i mean, if a psychopath is pointing a gun at your abdomen, are you prohibited from exercising lethal force to protect yourself simply because the gunperson is mentally ill?

          1. If someone threw me off a building and I landed on you, you have no justification for violating my negative rights. A fetus may be harming its mother, but it’s doing so involuntarily, and therefore the mother has no justification for violating the fetus’ rights.

            In the case of rape, the rapist is analogous to the person who threw me off the building.

            The mentally ill gunman is a different problem, because it’s not obvious whether he’s responsible for his actions.

            1. “The mentally ill gunman is a different problem, because it’s not obvious whether he’s responsible for his actions.”

              It is obvious that the gunman pulled the trigger. Responsible enough to pull the trigger is responsible enough to meet the grave digger.

            2. If someone threw me off a building and I landed on you, you have no justification for violating my negative rights. A fetus may be harming its mother, but it’s doing so involuntarily, and therefore the mother has no justification for violating the fetus’ rights.

              Similarly, there was no right for Navy gunners to kill Japanese pilots on December 7, 1941, since the pilots were flying those airplanes and shooting guns involuntarily.

          2. Right. Just like if I invited you to my home, you are my guest on sufferance. Therefore, if I threw you down the stairs, causing serious injuries, I would have the right to have you removed even if it would kill you, and even if the paramedics would be able to remove you safely in due course. Indeed, if there were a chance you could survive, I would have the right to demand you be taken out of my home in the way that would maximize your chances of dying.

            1. mischief wrote “I would have the right to demand you be taken out of my home in the way that would maximize your chances of dying.”

              What planet are you living on? You invite someone to your house, and throw them down the stairs, and have the right to cause their death on eviction? Are you Yakuza? Did you have anything to do with Junko Furuta?

    2. Whose this ‘History’ dude, and why’s he think he’s all better than me and shit, jus cus I got a few ‘bortions?

      Whatever.

    3. Republican Credo: Every conception should be carried to term?.there will be plenty of time later to brutally kill or maim the result in a needless, senseless
      war.

      1. That’s what I think is approximately the ideology that began almost 1,000 yrs. ago in response to the crusades and later plagues.

      2. Christian/Jewish Credo: It’s murderer who would abort a fetus but it’s a man of strong faith who would tie his adolescent son to an alter and lower a knife into his heart if God tells him to.

        1. That is true. To help you understand the reasoning I offer this…

          To a secular libertarian liberty is based on self ownership. Hence murder is a form of theft. The murderer steals life. A Christian libertarian considers himself owned by God. His life is a loaned gift. As owner of all life God holds the right to take it as he deems fit. Abraham showed strong faith by trusting God’s will was sovereign and good, despite Abraham not being able to understand the purpose of God’s will.

          …Not trying to convince anybody of anything. Just explaining the logic.

          1. I used to share your perspective actually. Now that I don’t think in terms of everything being a part of God’s unknowable plan but rather that people have to be moral in their own sight, it’s pretty scary what I used to call virtuous and what so many others still do.

          2. “Not trying to convince anybody of anything. Just explaining the logic.” “LOGIC”? You have got to be fucking kidding!!!

          3. So, God wanted Abraham to know that His morality is purely arbitrary and cannot really be counted on or understood by any human standard of decency. And this story is supposed to increase one’s faith?

        2. Christian/Jewish Credo: It’s murderer who would abort a fetus but it’s a man of strong faith who would tie his adolescent son to an alter and lower a knife into his heart if God tells him to.

          How many feti were killed in the genocide of Amalek? (1 Samuel 15)

        3. Abortion is allowed under Judaism, because it is not considered a true baby until it comes out of the womb and the umbilical cord is cut. Just fyi from an educated Jew.

          1. I did not know that.

          2. Abortion is allowed under Judaism, because it is not considered a true baby until it comes out of the womb and the umbilical cord is cut. Just fyi from an educated Jew.

            So how did Christianity, which cribbed Jewish moral tradition, get it so wrong?

            As an aside, read Exodus 21:22-23

        4. The context of that story is that God specifically told Abraham that all of the promises He made to Abraham would come through Isaac. “Isaac is the promised child” God said. “Now, go kill him.” God was testing whether Abraham really trusted God, or whether he was going to try to fulfill God’s promises himself.

      3. Realist wrote: “Republican Credo: Every conception should be carried to term?.”

        No, that’s for God to decide. Rather, no conception should be ended with a brutal abortion. And if the baby should be delivered early, it should be done carefully so the baby isn’t hurt.

    4. Doubt it. Whatever we’ve got is a helluva lot better than throwing the disfigured into a trash heap after successful birth.

    5. I suspect history will judge us harshly for the slaughter of millions of unborn children.

      It depends on if the slaughter is morally justified.

      I somehow doubt history will judge people harshly for the slaughter of the unborn of Dresden, Tokyo, and Amalek.

      1. Abortion cannot be justified.

        War can be justified. The modern examples of men who targeted civilians and children for destruction were the abortionists Hitler and Stalin.

        1. Abortion cannot be justified.

          War can be justified. The modern examples of men who targeted civilians and children for destruction were the abortionists Hitler and Stalin.

          How can the killing of unborn during war be justified?

  2. Pumping up the site hits stat?

  3. What the fuck is David even trying to argue here? I can’t make out a coherent position that he’s arguing, or even if he’s arguing we should make one. Can someone explain please?

    1. He’s making the argument that there’s a humanist, non-religious case to be made against abortion, or at least late-term abortions, and that the pro-life movement is perhaps ill-served by always being so closely tied to fringy (or even mainstream-ish) religious zealotry.

      Which I think is looking at the phenomenon backwards. Like red-baiting before it, prohibition before that, and abolition before that, these causes become “religious” causes because the rallies for the cause advance the visibility of the religion, not the other way around.

      Screaming and marching over Roe v. Wade has done pretty much nothing to change the law in America, but it’s done a great deal to get religious-conservative politicians elected and put money into TV evangelist coffers over the last 30-odd years.

      1. Screaming and marching over Roe v. Wade has done pretty much nothing to change the law in America, but it’s done a great deal to get religious-conservative politicians elected and put money into TV evangelist coffers over the last 30-odd years.

        the other side of that coin, of course, is that the screaming and marching have also done a great deal to get secular-liberal politicians elected and put money into pro-choice PAC and NGO coffers over the last 30-odd years.

        1. I have noticed recently that the Communists are VERY pro abortion, and are the most organized abortionists. They don’t even try to hide it but boast of being “bolsheviks”. I remember when the Berlin Wall fell, they tried to hide a bit. But with their “One” in office, maybe they’re showing themselves more.

      2. Screaming and marching over Roe v. Wade has done pretty much nothing to change the law in America, but it’s done a great deal to get religious-conservative politicians elected and put money into TV evangelist coffers over the last 30-odd years.

        the other side of that coin, of course, is that the screaming and marching have also done a great deal to get secular-liberal politicians elected and put money into pro-choice PAC and NGO coffers over the last 30-odd years.

      3. Screaming and marching over Roe v. Wade has done pretty much nothing to change the law in America

        I believe they are trying to change people’s opinions. If you look at the steady percentage increase in those identifying as “pro-life” (over P now) something is working. I credit the sonogram images.

    2. I was trying to figure out what kind of point he was getting at. Then he finished with a non sequitur. “But if the pro-life movement is going to win the hearts and minds of the rest of the nation, it’s not going to need more God. It’s going to need more reason.”

      1. Yes, I didn’t follow that either. More God and more Reason would both be good.

        Also, the fact is that many people when they leave abortionism, do become religious, often Catholic specifically. Bernard Nathanson and Norma McCorvey come to mind. Not sure why, but I suspect it has something to do with coming to grips with the fact of the enormity of the evils they have perpetrated.

        Also, “The Scarlet and the Black” comes to mind, but it took many years for the Nazi to finally convert.

  4. Not many people know that at the time of Roe, about 30% of the population lived in states where abortion was already legal to some degree. Too bad that decision (and a few that followed) short-circuited the process of most states liberalizing their abortion laws, and instead turned it into a polarizing national issue.

  5. There is one question in the abortion debate: when does life begin?

    The reason the debate is so intractable is because people have very different, and very strongly held, opinions on that question. And I don’t know that science can really answer it, because it is ultimately a philosophical question.

    1. I think the debate may be less about when does life begin, rather than when does the fetus become a person, entitled to the rights and pprotections a person is entitled to.

      1. What’s the difference?

        1. Because it is obvious that a fetus is alive. It is not obvious that this confers rights upon it.

          1. Exactly – it is beyond debate that a fetus is alive. It is also beyond debate that it is human – DNA proves it is not anything but human. However, at what point does it become with endowed with rights?

            1. But is it a separate human?

              1. Distinct and seperate DNA from its mother/host. That means it is at the very least not merely an extension of the mother/host.

                1. How does having separate DNA mean that it is not an extension of the mother. half the DNA comes from the father, but all other material is provided by the mother and extends from the mother’s embryo.

                2. Distinct DNA doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a separate organism. In rare cases chimerism does occur in humans.

              2. More separate than some conjoined twins, depending on how you measure it.

              3. heller writes “But is it a separate human?”

                Obviously so. He or she only joins the mother at implantation, after conception.

            2. Unfortunately the debate does not stop there.

              Even if you grant that the fetus has a right to live, does that right absolutely supersede the liberty of the mother?

              As the health-care debate teaches, the libertarian position is that your right to life DOES NOT obligate other people to actively support that life. A woman’s body is her property and nobody else’s. An unwanted baby is essentially a deadbeat tenant who has the misfortune of being unable to survive if evicted. A just law needs to respect the rights of the landlord as well as the non-paying renter.

              1. “”Even if you grant that the fetus has a right to live, does that right absolutely supersede the liberty of the mother?””

                Sure, if you believe government has a greater right to dictate the outcome of the fetus than the host mother.

                When it comes to who should decide if a baby is carried to term, IMO the government is last on the list, if on the list at all.

              2. An unwanted baby is essentially a deadbeat tenant who has the misfortune of being unable to survive if evicted.

                Inapposite analogy. The unwanted baby did not enter the womb voluntarily, so the landlord-tenant analogy doesn’t apply. A better analogy is a pilot who ejects from his plane just before it crashes and lands in your boat in the open ocean, with abortion being equivalent to throwing him overboard for the sharks to eat.

                1. Analogies are always bad when it comes to abortion. There’s NO other situation like pregnancy. It’s a truly unique issue.

                2. Only if the plane crashed because you took pot shots at it, and so you and not the pilot are responsible for his being in your boat.

              3. Does libertarian principle derive from God, some sort of universal truth, or from the demands of human nature? Because, in the latter case, it’s fairly obvious that pregnancy and birth, being rather fundamental biological concepts, are subjects that define first principles, not things to be evaluated using first principles.

                Libertarianism either serves evolution, or evolution destroys libertarianism.

                1. If you were talking to me, I don’t think I get it

                  1. No, to Tara. Halfassed threaded comments are worse than none at all.

              4. Tara asks: “Even if you grant that the fetus has a right to live, does that right absolutely supersede the liberty of the mother?”

                Yes, the right to one’s Life supersedes the right to another’s Liberty.

          2. Because it is obvious that a fetus is alive. It is not obvious to me that this confers rights upon it.

            It is obvious to me.

            1. so do you object to removal of tumors on ethical grounds, as well?

              please consider your position at least a LITTLE bit before you post it on the internet, it saves everyone else oh so much trouble

              1. We are talking about reproduction here, of entire human beings, not of tumors.

            2. Isn’t the meaning of obvious that everyone clearly can see that this is true. If a good amount of people disagree with you, your claim CAN’T be obvious.

              1. If you are surrounded by blind people and you say the sky is blue and they all disagree with you, is it any less obvious to you that the sky is blue?

                1. How is that analogous? What makes pro-choicers “blind” to the “fact” that fetuses have rights?

                  1. “Obvious” is a subjective term, not an objective one. Obviousness is not a function of objective truth or consensus, even though people often use it to imply that the things they find obvious are true and should be obvious to everyone.

                    1. That’s exactly my point. Saying that something is obvious to you does not mean that it is generally obvious.

                      Obvious – easily seen, recognized, or understood; open to view or knowledge; evident: an obvious advantage.

                      If one person can easily see something, but another can’t, then that thing is not obvious.

                    2. I don’t follow.

                      If one person can easily see something and another can’t, it is still obvious to the person saying it is obvious. It isn’t obvious to the person who can’t easily see it. “Obvious” requires an observer – it can’t exist in a void.

                      What if 50 people can see a thing and one person can’t? Is it then not ‘obvious’? We can talk about whether something is obvious to an individual or group, but we can’t say anything is objectively obvious and whether it a thing is objectively ‘not obvious’ isn’t really defined.

                    3. That which is clear to everyone is obvious. That which is not objectively clear to everyone is not obvious.

                    4. “Saying that something is obvious to you does not mean that it is generally obvious.”

                      No. In fact, when you say “it is obvious to me“, you are making that subjectiveness explicit.

                    5. No, stating that something is clear to you does not include the statement that it is clear to everyone.

                  2. heller wrote: “What makes pro-choicers “blind” to the “fact” that fetuses have rights?”

                    Easy question. Because they have a will to kill it, and don’t want a bad conscience. Aesop.

                2. Is blue the same to everyone?

                  1. 440-490nm in wavelength for everyone, yes

                    1. ellipsis never heard of color blindness?

                  2. Is blue the same to everyone?

                    In terms of wavelengths of light in the physical spectrum, yes.

                    In terms of visual perception of color, no. The Ishihara Test proves that.

        2. Life begins before conception. Sperm and egg are alive independent of each other before they ever meet up. That’s why the distinction between life and personhood is important here.

          1. Also, a single fertilized ovum can become two people (identical twins), and two ovums can become one person (chimera syndrome.)

            So if one believes that a human being has a “soul”, that we all get one, and there’s only one soul per person, then clearly we are not imbued with our one-and-only soul until sometime later in pre-natal development.

            And if you are an atheist, agnostic, or practice some religion which doesn’t believe in souls, then you probably already saw the question of when people are “endowed” with rights as problematic at best anyway.

            1. As an atheist AND a mom x4 and a longtime pro-choice advocate, I believe personhood is conferred at conception. At that point, the potential for this particular stew of DNA is cemented. The “creation” has happened, now it just grows. When I think of it like that, anywhere else you try and draw the line is simply arbitrary.

              1. Birth isn’t an arbitrary point at all. It’s the point at which the baby leaves the body of the human whose rights would otherwise be violated by anybody stepping in and saying “thou shalt do or not this or that to something inside your body. Also, in each case, it’s the natural point at which the body deems the baby ready to be external and autononomous.

                1. Birth does not make the baby suddenly a person; it just makes the person born, instead of in utero.

                  1. Right, but it’s autonomous. It’s not living inside anybody else’s body. If babies grew in cacoons, everone would agree. I’d say there’s no point where anybody besides the pregnant woman has any say about what is done to her removed from her or killed or saved until her body starts evicting the baby out whether she likes it or not.

                    1. I agree with you that a woman’s rights supercedes the rights of the baby during pregnancy. But that baby whose rights she’s superceding is still a person. It’s still the loss of a human life, for better or for worse.

                    2. Yeah. I was weighing in on the question of arbitrariness. I don’t find the difference between inside a person and outside of a person arbitrary. I think it makes a huge difference morally as well as legally(naturalization). It’s also my opinion that it’s nobody else’s business when how why or in what condition that baby winds up on the outside. It’s a matter of her will until the automatic functions of her body take over and revoke her mind’s say in the matter of whether it stays or goes.

            2. Problematic or not, it’s still a question that has to be answered legally.

            3. I’m less interested in the onset of a soul, as that can’t ever be known to us, and more interested in the onset of personhood, which is slightly more ascertainable. If one conceives of a person as an individual agent, then I would say that personhood must begin with consciousness, or the capacity for consciousness. We can’t really know when that begins, but there is common evidence of consciousness that we can look for.

              One of the earliest standards used in this debate was “quickening” – the ability of the fetus to move on its own. I think we ought to consider going back to that as the dividing line between person and fetus.

              1. Quickening is defined as the point when the mother can feel movement (~14-21 weeks – it’s highly variable). The fetus is capable of moving LONG before then. Consciousness?? Probably quite some time *after* birth. Newborns don’t seem particularly self-aware lol. Eat, poop, sleep.

            4. Tara wrote: “a single fertilized ovum can become two people…”

              First of all, a “fertilized” ovum is no longer just an ovum. Also, the fact that it can split into two people simply means that there can be two souls there. But whether one or two are present does not allow you to kill. You’re trying to adding confusion to the issue through number, but that does not permit you to destroy that human or those humans.

          2. So the really daring point here isn’t David’s, it’s the extension in the other direction: if we’re going to apply reason to the problem, then reason dictates that we ask on what basis a baby magically has “rights” on the day it is born?

            Hey, it’s a repugnant thought even to me, but if you reject the idea of a one size fits all moral decsion-making body, e.g. the government, then you have to allow for the possibility that some people’s morality may be different and they may adopt, say, a “greyscale” system in which rights are not black/white but rather grey, dependent on something like “mental functioning”. In which case, it’s not entirely clear that a one-day year old baby is more mentally functioning than many animals, animals whose “rights” are not considered equal with other people.

            *: yes, I am a parent.
            **: no, I am not a PETA animal freak, and I am not using this as a way to say that “animals should have the same rights as people”.

            I’m mostly anticipating difficulties in libertarian law with children; to what extent are children “owned” by their parents vs the extent to which others can interfere with that parenting? It’s not an easy question to answer, and the only way I have ever been able to answer it is from a “contractual” basis. That is: there can be no universal answer that does not violate libertianism in that it eventually involves the initiation of force by some central authority.

          3. Aaron wrote: “Sperm and egg are alive independent of each other before they ever meet up.”

            Not true, or at best half truths. Neither sperm nor egg is a complete human. Also, I question in what sense they are “alive”. They neither take nutrition nor have offspring(!).

    2. BP, this is a misconception. No pro-choicer says that a fetus isn’t alive.

    3. when does life begin?

      Approximately 4 billions years ago. Abortion debate solved.

      1. Finally, someone gets it. This isn’t just a bunch of starts and stops. Conception is just a continuation. Frankly I don’t buy this “soul” “personhood” crap.

        1. Tacos mmm wrote: “Approximately 4 billions years ago.”

          Please. This is Reason mag. We are talking about individuals. Debate solved? On which side? Life doesn’t matter? Lives don’t matter? Went through that last century.

          steve wrote “I don’t buy this “personhood” crap.

          Do you buy Rights? Liberty? What about “do unto others what you would have them do unto you?” Does that sound fair? Would you enjoy being aborted?

      2. 4 billion years ago for life en Terra.
        What about those guys from Vega?
        Viva Las Vega!

    4. It’s not when life begins, BP, it’s when the humanity begins. Everyone with any honesty agrees that there is a continuum of life from fertilization through birth. It’s the question of when exactly it becomes human that’s the tough part. Also the sticky issues of whether the mother’s right to terminate her pregnancy can outweigh any fetal rights. Also also the rights of the father.

      Ultimately, the answer will lie in a compromise which pleases nobody but which a majority can live with.

      1. It’s the question of when exactly it becomes human that’s the tough part.

        No, that’s an easy question: it’s always human. You are a human adult, you were a human child, you were a human infant, you were a human fetus, you were a human embryo, you were a human zygote.

        Abortion is the deliberate killing of a homo sapien. Now, there are some circumstances when killing a human is justified or excusable, but killing a human fetus is killing a human.

        1. If everyone was like Pete, this wouldn’t be a problem!

          1. If everyone was like Pete, then assholes like you would not exist…

        2. Since what makes us human is our consciousness I doubt a zygote is a human.

          1. So severely brain damaged people or end-stage Alzheimer’s patients cease to be human?

            1. Ice trey wrote: “Since what makes us human is our consciousness I doubt a zygote is a human.”

              Not so. Humans have the innate capacity for consciousness, and that innate capacity exists in the zygote. A human does not have to be exercising consciousness to be human.

        3. must I agree with the masterbatin dude? “Abortion is the deliberate killing of a homo sapien. Now, there are some circumstances when killing a human is justified or excusable, but killing a human fetus is killing a human.” Yes you make your own choice just remember what your doin.

          1. Why says “you make your own choice just remember what your doin.”

            Are you saying that remembering a murder makes it okay?

            1. Breezer: Obviously, that’s not what he is saying. Past that, I’m not sure what he IS saying, but I just wanted to congratulate you on posting that useless comment.

      2. “Everyone with any honesty agrees that there is a continuum of life from fertilization through birth.”

        I do not agree that that continuum necessarily maxes out at birth. *I* certainly would behave that way in my own life, but I do not have the arrogance to insist that anyone who thinks differently is so wrong that I must enforce my morality on them.

        1. outside_the_box wrote “I do not have the arrogance to insist that anyone who thinks differently is so wrong that I must enforce my morality on them.”

          This is the pro-choice error. The fact is, you have a duty to prevent the murder of the innocent.

      3. If that’s the deciding factor it means that at some point non-human parents, whom it was OK to kill, had the 1st human children, whom it was not OK to kill. So the kids could kill their parents but not vice versa.

      4. …whether the mother’s right to terminate her pregnancy can outweigh any fetal rights. Also also the rights of the father.

        From my own personal experience; a father has no say in the matter.

        1. Mensan wrote: “From my own personal experience; a father has no say in the matter.”

          Legally in the U.S. this is the case right now. (An unjust situation.) In Canada in the late 80’s, an unmarried couple decided to have a baby. (Barbara Dodd was the girl’s name.) After some time, the girl decided to abort the baby, but the father got an injunction against the abortion in a Quebec court. The girl just went to the States to have the abortion.

          1. Oh what a travesty a man was denied agency over a woman’s body.

            Give ma a break, the man as much as it must suck has no right to insist a woman carry a baby to term, none, zero, zilch, nada, rien.

    5. This is not a philosophical question. Science has already answered this question. Life begins at conception. This is not debatable. The debate should center on the relative rights of the mother and the fetus. Their rights are in conflict. Who’s rights take precedence and when?

      Unfortunately, there are extremists on both sides who refuse to recognize that both the mother and the fetus are human and therefore, have rights.

      1. How is it extreme to argue that the fetus is not a separate human being from the mother, and does not have rights. If saying that a fetus has no rights is extreme, than all pro-choicers are extreme.

        1. How is it extreme to argue that the fetus is not a separate human being from the mother

          Pretty extreme, because a fetus is a separate human being. It’s not an organ of its mother’s body.

          1. Exactly. The fetus requires part of the mother to live, but it is not part of the mother (in the sense of an organ or tissue that the mother has a right to control).

            99.9% of the time having a child is a conscious choice. The parents choose, or at least tacitly choose (through inaction to prevent otherwise), that they will create another human life. Babies aren’t just parasites floating around waiting to breed in you. It’s something the parents decide. It’s another human being you chose to bring into the world! If he or she doesn’t have the same rights as all other human beings, then what’s the point of even having rights if we can change them on a whim? Especially ones as basic as having control over our own bodies.

            Thinking that because a developing child can’t speak or stand up for itself means that the mother’s rights supersede those of another human being is ridiculous. Babies, once born, still do not have the same faculties as adults, but we recognize that you can’t violate those basic rights (life, ownership of your own body).

            It doesn’t make sense, especially for persons who value liberty and personal responsibility, to claim that womb somehow negates humanity and the rights that being human confers.

            1. It’s easy to become a father; being one is rather harder.

            2. “99.9% of the time having a child is a conscious choice.”

              LOL that’s the most ludicrous statement I’ve ever heard.

          2. It’s not an organ of its mother’s body.

            Why?

            1. See the defintion of “organ” under biology.

              http://www.mondofacto.com/facts/dictionary?organ

              A fetus has no special function and is therefore, not an organ.

              1. it appears to me that the function of a fetus is as a tool which men use to police women’s bodies

                not sure what definition we’re using for “special,” though; if we mean “unique” then i guess a fetus isn’t special at all in that respect

                1. Oh, I hope that’s just a hyperbolic joke. C’mon. Men and women are generally equally split on the question. It’s often within the margin of error of the poll, with women sometimes more in favor of certain restrictions than men.

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

                  http://www.gallup.com/poll/118…..-time.aspx

                  http://abcnews.go.com/sections…..30122.html

                2. Yes, we invented fetuses as a way to fuck with women. Hell, we invented labor just to torture the bitches. But to be honest, we were just fucking tired of sitting around on eggs all the time. Fuck that noise.

              2. The fetus has no function? So why does anyone get pregnant?

                1. The fetus would seem to be a product of an organ system, not an organ itself. We don’t call shit an organ because it is the result of the process of the digestive system.

              3. You’re right, it’s a parasite.

                1. It’s a symbiote. Propagation of genetic material is a core aspect of an organism’s function, and a fetus assists in the process.

            2. heller: your pretended ignorance is insufferable.

        2. So you’re arguing that an assault which causes fetal demise (the death of the fetus) or fetal defects but does not harm the mother should be treated as a simple assault? You’re also arguing that a mother who intentionally harms her fetus, causing defects, is not morally culpable for harming a person – even when they are born and suffer a life of disability?

          Come on, stop being so extreme and simple-minded.

          And please stop using propaganda phrases like “pro-choice.” It’s not an accurat term – “pro-legalized abortion” is more accurate.

          1. No, it isn’t extreme. It’s perfectly logical and consistent with mainstream libertarian philosophy.

            Also, I think assault of the mother that kills or defects the fetus would at least be aggravated assault, as would maiming.

            A mother that does the same to her own fetus would not be culpable. Its her body.

            As to the term pro-coice, I don’t understand how this is propaganda. I do support the ability of the mother to choose whether or not to have an abortion. The implication that I am “anti-life” by pro-choicers is much more offensive and less accurate than the implication that they are “anti-choice.”

            1. Your Libertarianism rejects the right to Life? That’s not mainstream anything.

          2. “Pro-choice” is plenty accurate. We want women to be able to choose if, when, and how often to have children. Now, if you insist on calling me “pro-legalized abortion,” which I am, does that mean I can call your side “pro-forced pregnancy?”

            1. So.. “pro-choice” people are pro all choice?? I think not. In fact, many “pro-choice” people are anti-choice when it comes to drugs, gambling, prositution, etc. So, it is inaccurate.

              As for “my side,” well I’m actually not on one specific side. On a personal level, I find elective abortion to be abhorrent and would not choose this option myself. As for others, I do not presume to make the choice for them UNLESS the fetus is viable. The rights of this nascent human life then become my concern. I also recognize that harming a fetus even before viability is actually injuring human life – this becomes relevant in the abortion debate and other situations where a fetus is harmed.

              If one must use a label for an opposing side, I believe “anti-legalized abortion” would be most accurate. As an interested observer in this debate, I prefer that accurate terms and scientific facts are used.

              So I also prefer that people admit the scientific fact that a fetus IS a developing human life. Then the debate over it’s rights can begin on solid ground.

              1. That’s like asking pro-life people are pacifists and vegetarians…

                These terms have a context, when are you going to stop being pedantic?

                1. Dr Dave is correct. Everybody is pro-choice on anything they consider permissible. To take the term and apply it only to abortion is ludicrous (tactical actually). If I’m against jaywalking, then I’m against the choice for jaywalking. That makes me anti-jaywalking, not “anti choice”.

                  For the record, I am pro-choice on lightbulbs, and anti-choice on abortion.

                  Your obsession with using the term pro-choice is adolescent. Are you pro choice on absolutely EVERYTHING? I have met people like that. What about pro-choice on property? Stealing okay then?

            2. “We want women to be able to choose if, when, and how often to have children. ”

              You mean you want women to be able to kill human beings within some portion of their early physical development.

              Presumably you limit this privilege to time in utero. Or do you think dropping a live baby in a dumpster is also a valid choice? It certainly falls within the literal description you offered, since the mother is simply choosing not to “have” the child — a choice which will incidentally cause the death of the child, but no more or less so than with abortion. I note that the “death” concept seems to be strangely absent from your description of your position, despite death being the issue driving a great deal of the conflict.

              1. A fetus is not a human being.

                1. You were a fetus once and you are a human being, therefore, a fetus is human being.

                  If a fetus is not a human being while in the womb, why bother having laws against murder when said fetus makes it out?

                  The standard here seems to be “If you are in the womb, no rights conferred. If you make it out, rights conferred.”

                  Puzzling.

                  1. That’s some of the worst logic I’ve ever heard.

                    You were a fetus once, now you are an adult. Therefore a fetus is an adult. Makes no sense, retard.

                  2. Also, you might want to read some of my other posts to learn what my standards of being a singular human being are. They are not dependent on being in or out of the womb.

                2. So you allege, but good luck finding even a substantial number of intellectually honest pro-choicers to agree with your bizarre definition of human being. Most people are just arguing about moral/legal personhood.

                  1. So am I…

                  2. So am I…

                3. A human fetus is a human being.

                  You need to think more.

                  Try statements like
                  “All fetuses are human.
                  Some fetuses are human.
                  Some fetuses are not human.
                  No fetus is human.”

                  This is Reason mag, not Equivocation mag.

                  A human fetus is a human being.
                  A cat fetus is not a human being.

          3. “DR” Dave, more appeals from authority please…

            1. you’re dissing the guys tag?

      2. Really? Conception? Are you aware that:
        a) there is no “moment” of conception: it’s part of a long process of reproduction
        b) life does not “begin” at any point in that process. Everything involved in the process is alive, before and after conception.

        1. Drew says: “a) there is no “moment” of conception: it’s part of a long process of reproduction”

          This is not true. There is a moment of conception. I saw it on TV. The sperm meets the egg, one (or more) penetrate the outer wall, and WHAMO, magnificent change, the outer wall immediately rejects all others. After that the only change is in cell multiplication and the only thing added is nutritive. The new person is genetically and substantially complete. Only developmental growth occurs through nutritive paths. The new person attaches to the mother’s uterine wall, and the uterine wall accepts the baby. The process may fail (it’s called death) but must not be halted (that’s called murder).

          Anyway, your argument is IRRELEVANT. If you want to tear those cells apart, then the onus is ON YOU to prove the absence of a person.

    6. There is one question in the abortion debate: when does life begin?

      Science says conception.

      1. site please… asshole

        1. I agree with SIV. blogimi demands a site. I remember these truths from before the internet.

    7. There is one question in the abortion debate: when does life begin?

      Oh, bullshit. The far more important question is: What things is it OK to kill? And it takes in more than abortions.

      1. Robert: It’s not BS really. You could just have offered you nuance. This is Reason mag, not Anger mag.

    8. There is one question in the abortion debate: when does life begin?

      There’s another questions before that. What is ‘life’? I tend to see it in two different ways: 1) biological life, and 2) metaphysical life. It’s the second that the argument is really about. The problem is that people insist on conflating the two.

    9. There is one question in the abortion debate: when does lifepersonness begin?

      This, but with some emphasis on the edit. Once you have settled on the answer to this question all else follows.

      The reason the debate is so intractable is because people have very different, and very strongly held, opinions on that question.

      I would submit that the age at which the crotchfruit (to choose a term not politically loaded) will survive if delivered marks the latest possible date for the onset of personness.

      At the time of Roe v. Wade that was ’round about the beginning of the last trimester. These days its rather closer to the halfway mark.

      And yes, in this view morality is a function of technology.

      Note that we are not bound by that latest possible date, but it places a limit on the debate.

  6. I suspect not. I also suspect this thread will be under siege.

    1. I am King Arthur, and these are my Knights…

    2. under siege by heller

  7. There is one question in the abortion debate: when does life begin?

    True enough. From my perspective, the question is a little more abstruse – when does a person begin -but whatever.

    And the answer to that question is not one that is subject to reason, contra Harsani.

    Religion can supply an answer, but one that’s only valid within the confines of the closed system, and community, of the religion.

    This question is broader than religion, and beyond reason. Cultural? Social? I dunno, but no amount of talking changes anyone’s mind.

    1. How exactly is this beyond reason? Person-hood has some definition that can be reasonably argued. Whether or not the fetus fits that definition can be reasonably argued.

      1. Sorry to interrupt, it seems like guys have this figured out.

        Heller, I was wondering if you know Dr. Greg Petsko? His name keeps popping up in research papers that I have to read this semester, and I see that he is a professor at Brandeis. I own his book as well.

        Also does Brandeis have a good biochem grad program(new labs esp)?

        If this is nowhere near your expertise, then just scream “Abortion is Murder” at me and I won’t bug you any more about it.

        1. No, I don’t know him. I just looked him up and he works in a different building. Since he’s a BioChem guy, we wouldn’t cross paths much anyway.

          I’m not exactly an expert on the BioChem program, but from what I’ve heard it is very good, and I see alot of cutting edge stuff coming out of Brandeis in that field especially. Bio research is our thing. I work in the new research building (just finished less than two years ago) that has some great lab space.

          ABORTION ISN’T MURDER!

          hope that helps.

          1. Yep that helps. I still have a few semesters left, but am starting to look into grad programs.

            I have noticed that the best way to find anything out is to ask those that are already there. Especially with regards to facilities; every school claims to have cutting edge laboratories.

            Thanks.

            1. There you go again with crazy absolutes.

              I agree not all abortion is murder.

              For example, spontaneous abortion, usually referred to these days as miscarriage, is not murder because it was not intended.

              But the political hot potato known as abortion, the intentional death of a human fetus, to that I must say

              ABORTION IS MURDER.

              Hope that helps.

              Enjoy your education, but please don’t partake in the killing of human zygotes.

      2. Whether or not the fetus fits that definition can be reasonably argued.

        Not really. There is no defining line of personhood; it’s a consensus based on use, as are really all words. To take another example, I can find you an example of a person we would all consider “white” and another we would all consider “black,” but good luck finding sharp dividing line between the two.

        1. If that were true than no opinion could be argued for using reason.

          1. Plenty of opinions can be argued for using reason. You just can’t reach a consensus on where to put arbitrary dividing lines on a continuum. That’s what makes them arbitrary.

            “Birth” is an arbitrary line with some logic behind it. “Conception” is another. “Viability” yet another. Each event represents another stage of development between a simple microscopic cluster of cells and somebody who can type 60 words per minute. None of them on their own completely fit the description of a “person” coming into being.

            1. Either show why my arguments are wrong, or admit they’re right. You can’t just say “there is no reason to be pro-choice or pro-life, end of discussion.”

              1. I don’t think the point is that “there is no reason” it’s that there is not going to be a scientific answer to a moral question that depends critically on what things one values.

                1. Now THIS is a reasonable discussion. But you are missing something. Uncertainty does not give you a carte blanche to do as you please. If you want to tear up those little bodies, or allow others to do so, you must be certain that there is not person there.

        2. Not the best analogy but an interesting point. Human beings are one race. There is really no clear distinction between so-called different “races.” It is a societal distinction not an objective scientific distinction. So laws based on such “racial” classifications are inherently absurd. Yet “liberals” persist in making such inherently ridiculous and irrational laws.

      3. The definition of “personhood” itself is up for debate, so that would have to be resolved before we could get to applying that definition to fetuses.

    2. Good point, RC. I made the same point upthread before I read down.

    3. “”Religion can supply an answer, but one that’s only valid within the confines of the closed system, and community, of the religion.””

      True, and if you’re a religion person, IMO, your clergy should have more ability to influence your decision than government.

      1. “one that’s only valid within the confines of the closed system”

        Hmmm. This can be true of posiitve law, such as which side of the raod to drive on, or what color traffic light means what, but not about personhood.

        Hitler killed PERSONS, even though his religion (occult, nietzscheism, nihilism, racism, clump of cells, evolution based superiorism, whatever) says otherwise.

    4. no amount of talking changes anyone’s mind.

      Sonograms are worth more than a thousand words.

      1. especially 3-D sonograms. i don’t understand how any woman could see that shit and not immediately be like OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT THING GET IT OUT GET IT OUT GET IT OUT

        1. lol

          *: again, yes, I am a parent… but those 3D things are kinda creepy.

        2. So, you don’t understand how evolution works?

        3. ellipsis – I have not seen a 3D ultrasound, but I hope your mother would not have freaked out at the sight of you.

          A buddhist friend of mine said her doctors kept trying to discuss abortion with her. Finally the husband said “Look, I don’t care if it’s a MONSTER. He’s my son.”

          We need more of his attitude in this country.

  8. Religion can supply an answer, but one that’s only valid within the confines of the closed system, and community, of the religion.

    Religions tend also to address the treatment of non-members by members.

  9. This article is a pretty good outline of why the Libertarian Party doesn’t, and probably shouldn’t, have a “platform” position on abortion law. There’s ample room for people who sincerely love liberty to strongly disagree.

    Personally, I think “viability” is every bit as arbitrary of a definition of “the beginning of a human life” as either birth or conception. Even worse, because science makes it a moving target.

    My position is that the reasoned view is simply this: OF COURSE a fetus is a person. Sometimes, for the sake of a free society, people, even innocent people, are allowed (or even caused) to die. We may occasionally have to bomb a hospital in order to win a war to stop a tyrant from taking us over. We might watch an old man perish because he can’t afford the fantastically-expensive surgery which might buy him five or six more good years.

    Pragmatically, you simply can’t take “the sanctity of life” as an absolute against all other considerations and rights.

    Is it “murder” to crush a living fetus skull? Yep. Is it “slavery” to force a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term against her will? Also yep.

    It’s time for us to grow up and face dead-in-the-eye the fact that there is no perfect and easy choice here.

    1. You do realize that negative rights conflicting poses a serious problem to all of rights-based morality? Listen, the fetus can’t have a right that conflicts with the mother’s control of her own body. As long as the fetus is attached to and dependent on her body, it should be considered a body part. And body parts do not have rights.

      1. Brilliant. Every person up to the age of 18 should therefore be considered a “body part” and does not have rights.

        1. why stop there? maybe we should make personhood contingent on reading comprehension!

          1. Yeah! Those illiterates are dependent on literates and aren’t human! Now you’re onto something.

            1. Keep digging dude. First you misread what I say, then you don’t realize when someone points it out. Good job.

              1. internet abortion discussions are truly the gift that keeps on giving

              2. Let me read it again. You wrote “it should be considered a body part.” I read it correctly.

                You did specify “attached to and dependent on.” So that wouldn’t necessarily include all people up to the age of 18 but would include all breast fed children while attached to the mother’s breast.

                Sorry, dude, but it’s clear as black and white on the screen.

                “Body parts don’t have rights.” Brilliant.

                1. Come on, now you are just being a pedant. A child breastfeeding is not physically attached to the mother. Nothing needs to be cut to remove the breastfeeding baby. But you know this already and are just being pedantic.

                2. Come on “Dr”, mo appeals from authorataaaay!

          2. The reference was of course to the dependent part. You refer to the attached part I imagine. Doesn’t physical attachment seem like a poor reason to take away personhood?

            1. I’m not “taking away personhood.” The fetus didn’t start out with rights and then lose them.

              Separate question: Are you against morning-after pills that kill the embryo after conception?

              1. Which siamese twin can consent to the killing of the other one if they share necessary organs?

                1. Neither. If they share ownership of the necessary organs then one cannot get rid of the other. Look up the difference between a conjoined twin and a parasitic twin.

          3. Actually… per Philip K. Dick, it was based on the ability to understand algebra.

            1. I love that story.

        2. You know teenagers who are still attached to their mothers by the umbilical cord? If so, I expect you to euthanize them.

          1. Maybe obtuse, but what about conjoined twins? Could one twin kill the other by claiming it is an organ? Physical attachment = not a person just seems simplistic

            1. Stop confusing the issue. Heller’s a genius. A fetus is just a body part. People are kidneys. I have twins.

            2. Ah very good question. There is a difference between a conjoined twin and a parasitic twin (think “conjoined fetus lady” from South Park). The fetus is analogous to a parasitic twin, which is incompletely formed and wholly dependent on the body functions of the complete twin. Regular conjoined twins are partially or totally independent functionally.

              1. Who defines parasitic? Say we have only partial independence. Couldn’t i say my other twin is a parasite on our shared kidney. Therefore I have the right to kill them? You seem to define parasite as the weaker life form only.

                1. No, that’s not how parasitic twin is defined. A parasitic twin is one that is not fully developed and is there completely dependent on the fully developed twin for its body functions. If both twins are developed fully then they are simply conjoined. They may share certain vital organs. If that is the case then the “weaker” twin cannot be killed against his/her will to save the other twin.

            3. So would you say that the fetus attached to a person’s head has the right not to be removed, which would kill it?

              1. I don’t have an answer for this question. I see it as no different then the abortion question which I have also never been able to reconcile. Your attachment argument does nothing for me i guess.

                Personally I would not be alive if not for abortion (hippy parents 0 population growth I am technically the 3rd fetus my mom saw). Still doesn’t convince me its right.

      2. “You do realize that negative rights conflicting poses a serious problem to all of rights-based morality? ”

        Yes it does. And we should open our eyes to the fact that rights-based morality has a problem, because a conflict of negative rights is, in fact, what is happening here.

        1. There isn’t a conflict here because the fetus is not a separate being.

          1. How is it not a separate being? Do you consider tapeworms attached to the lining of intestines to be part of the host’s body too?

            1. Tapeworms are not physically attached to you. There is no cellular material that links you to the tapeworm.

              1. lol, does the tapeworm just tie a rope onto an intestinal anchor or something? Of course it’s attached via cellular material. Quite often they dig right through the intestinal wall to secure themselves from being flushed out via peristalsis.

                1. Again, being inside the cellular material is not the same thing as being connected. Grabbing onto something is not connecting yourself to that thing. Come back to me when you have a connection that is equivalent to the umbilical cord.

        2. Also, if the fetus did have rights, then the mothers rights would end where its rights began. So no conflict.

          1. That’s begging the question. Once you define what negative rights are you can’t then define them not to conflict.

            1. What are you talking about? Negative rights are solely defined through the idea that I can do anything I want as long as I don’t interfere in your ability to do whatever you want. They are already defined so as not to conflict. If rights do conflict, then at least one must be a positive (and therefore false) right.

              Neither side of the abortion debate makes negative rights conflict.

              1. If they didn’t conflict as defined, you wouldn’t need the boilerplate about not interfering with others’ rights.

                THe saying that “your right to swing your fist ends at my nose” acknowledges that even negative rights come into conflict: one person’s right to not have their body movements coerced and the other’s right to not be injured. We implicitly accept that there is a sort of hierarchy of rights at play here: the right to not be injured is more important than the right to move your body as you wish. The conflict has been resolved by applying that rule of precedence, rather than pretending there was no conflict to begin with.

              2. If they didn’t conflict as defined, you wouldn’t need the boilerplate about not interfering with others’ rights.

                THe saying that “your right to swing your fist ends at my nose” acknowledges that even negative rights come into conflict: one person’s right to not have their body movements coerced and the other’s right to not be injured. We implicitly accept that there is a sort of hierarchy of rights at play here: the right to not be injured is more important than the right to move your body as you wish. The conflict has been resolved by applying that rule of precedence, rather than pretending there was no conflict to begin with.

                1. It’s not a boilerplate, it’s how you define negative rights. How else can you explain maximal freedom?

                  There is no hierarchy of rights, only negative and positive rights. Negative rights can’t conflict because they call for inaction on the part of others. You hitting me is a positive action. You’re not being allowed to hit me is an affirmation of my negative right. So under negative rights, you can do anything so long as it does not interfere with the same ability of others. Affirming my negative right to not be hit is not an action that coerces you.

                2. Now lets look at an action that does not coerce and therefore will be allowed under negative rights. If I move my arm, and someone says that I can’t, that person must then explain how my moving my arm interferes in his ability to do what he wants. It does not, and his attempt to coerce under the guise of negative rights fails.

          2. You know, my right to swing my fist ends at your face, but if I was grabbing at your hand to keep from falling off a cliff, I think that most people would not call it assault or would make an exception — some people might even call it murder if you pulled your hand away.

            Of course, there’s always a chance I might drag you over with me, so I don’t know that “murder” is entirely fair; it would probably depend on the risk to myself.

            1. Or to you, rather. One. Whatever, the pronouns are all confused, but you get my point.

            2. This is a simplistic view of rights limits. If I consent to you beating the shit out of me, then you are not violating my rights. If I want you to save me, then grabbing my arm is not violating my rights. Rights are defined by what the individual consents and doesn’t consent to, not by touching the body.

      3. So, who made “rights-based morality” a sacred cow? It isn’t necessary for libertarianism which is, in the end, not a morality at all, but a suggested organization of human interactions.

        1. Libertarianism depends on the prevention and punishment of initiation of coercion. If abortion is coercion then libertarians would support preventing it.

        2. The central idea of libertarianism is that all human beings should be maximally and equally free. In order to define this maximal and equal freedom rights theory is required. The idea that my rights end where your rights begin is the only way that maximal and equal freedom can be defined.

      4. Listen, the fetus can’t have a right that conflicts with the mother’s control of her own body.

        And a pro-life person would say that the mother can’t have a right that conflicts with the fetus’ right to life.

        1. There is no such thing as a right to life, only the right to not be killed. As I’ve explained before, I don’t think that the fetus has this right even as it is a part of the mother’s body and not a separate, independent being.

          Even if that weren’t true, would you support the right of the mother to simply take the fetus out of her body, without doing any damage to the fetus itself? This would not be murdering the fetus, but it would die. To say that the fetus has a right to stay inside the mother in order to live is an affirmation of a positive right of the fetus to the nutrients, oxygen, and protection provided by the mother’s body.

          1. The fetus is in the predicament it’s in (that is, complete dependence on remaining in the womb) because of the actions of the mother’s body (and in the vast majority of pregnancies, because of the choices of the mother’s will). Abortion is like a James Bond villain allowing a person to board his private jet and then opening up a trap door beneath them at 5,000 feet. After all, that person had no right to benefit from the precious lifting power of the villain’s plane.

            1. The vast majority of people contemplating abortion did not choose to get pregnant. They did not “invite” or “allow” the fetus into their womb. The fetus is an unwanted guest, a trespasser.

          2. Heller, I do not know why libertarians are having such a hard time understanding your argument.

            It’s cliche, but “My Body, My Choice” is the ONLY reason women have the right to terminate pregnancy. I’m so sick of hearing arguments involving “quality of life of a disabled child” or “the rights of the father to see his child born/escape financial responsibility in the same way a woman would be able to if she chose abortion”- I don’t even see the relevance of the “Where does life begin??” debate. It does not matter. As a mother who carried her son for 9 months before he was born, let me state the obvious. An embryo a few months old is not the same as a child, but it is alive, and terminating a pregnancy is essentially “ending life support” for an embryo, or a fetus. One can debate about brain activity, the ability to think and feel pain, but realistically, if this were a person who had been in a car accident, and were now in a coma, but there was an 85% chance that person would wake up and be fully functioning in 9 months, most people would not pull the plug. The DNA is there; a teeny tiny embryo is on a track to become an actual, real, unique individual. The cluster of cells early in pregnancy may be less complicated than cancerous tumors, as I’ve heard before, but if left alone, it will become a person.

            Personhood is such a false debate. This comes down to rights. Even if the fetus is granted the same rights as other citizens, people are the natural owners of their own bodies and an embryo, fetus, or unborn child is never going to have the right to its mother’s blood supply, oxygen supply, or nutrients.

            That’s also exactly why late term abortions are murder, plain and simple. If you are 27 weeks pregnant and you don’t want to have a baby, tough shit. You have the right to not be pregnant anymore, because it is your body. But you gotta go pop that baby out and give it a chance.

      5. Listen, the fetus can’t have a right that conflicts with the mother’s control of her own body. As long as the fetus is attached to and dependent on her body, it should be considered a body part. And body parts do not have rights.

        So how does that work in the case of Siamese twins? Are both of them merely ‘body parts’ of each other?

        1. No, conjoined twins are fully developed and can function fully or partially independently. This means that they are separate beings.

    2. Is it “slavery” to force a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term against her will? Also yep.

      And, should she choose to have a child, forcing the father to be financially responsible is also “slavery” right?

    3. Is it “murder” to crush a living fetus skull? Yep. Is it “slavery” to force a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term against her will? Also yep.

      It could be argued that the woman got pregnant as a result of her own choices, since getting pregnant is a forseeable consequence of having sex, and even with protection nothing claims to be 100% effective. So if she gets preganant as a result of her actions, does that give her the right to commit murder to avoid the consequences of her actions?

      1. You use this word “murder”. I do not think it means what you think it means.

        1. I’m quoting Tara.

          1. By the way, what do you think murder means?

            1. Murder is unlawful killing with malice aforethought. In circumstances in which abortion is lawful, it cannot be murder

              1. No, murder is the intentional killing of someone who has the right not to be killed.

                1. “”No, murder is the intentional killing of someone who has the right not to be killed.””

                  Really? Who decides who has a right not to be killed?

                  1. It’s not a matter of deciding. All human beings have the right not to be killed as long as they don’t violate the same right of someone else. My point is that a fetus is not a separate being.

                    1. Your point makes no sense. Are you saying that a mosquito ceases to be a separate being once it attaches itself to your skin?

                    2. Mosquitoes do not attach themselves to your skin. They insert a proboscis into the bloodstream and then remove them. The proboscis never bonds itself to your body. It is simply a parasite.

                    3. Your point is that you’re using a bizarre, counter-intuitive, and frankly self-serving (or ideologically-serving, whatever) definition of individuality that makes the political class’s abuse of the commerce clause look reasonable in comparison.

                    4. How is it counter-intuitive? It is intuitive that you own your body and are free to change or do damage to its parts at will.

                      This does not serve my ideology. I have no ideology that says abortions are morally justified no matter what. I did not come to this conclusion before reasoning about it. I have no personal stake in the matter of whether abortions should be allowed or not. I respect the arguments of pro-lifers and know that there reasoning is sound, but I disagree with the premise that a fetus is a separate human being with rights. If someone could persuade me that this is true, then I would accept that abortions are equivalent to murder.

                    5. Your definition of “body part” is what’s counterintuitive. You seem to be saying that anything attached to the body is part of it…is this correct?

                      The fact that you then refuse to discuss the “body part” status of non-human organisms that attach themselves more deeply to the body than fetuses do (eg, tapeworms) doesn’t support your claim that you’re willing to be persuaded on this topic.

                    6. Again Tulpa, the assertion that tapeworms attach themselves to the body in the same way or more than a fetus is absurd. It shows a lack of anatomical knowledge. No organism attaches itself to humans in a way that is analogous to an umbilical cord. If it did than it should indeed be considered part of the human body.

                      The only example I can think of that is close to this is the theory that mitochondria were ancient bacteria that invaded cells. Since they were evolutionarily advantageous, the invaded organisms survived and mitochondrial DNA became part of the selected organism’s DNA. I don’t think anyone would argue that mitochondria should be considered separate entities from human cells.

                    7. The point is that, in the absence of any knowledge that your definition was going to be used to place impositions on people (particularly if we were talking about some other species), I can’t honestly believe you would argue that a fetus is not a unique organism of species homo sapiens sapiens. We’re talking biology, not law or ethics.

                      In fact, the only rational general purpose definition of the start of a new organism for sexually reproducing life-forms would be at the point of fertilization, when a new genotype is established. It’s strange and counterintuitive to say that what would clearly be a separate organism in an oviparous species becomes a “body part” in a viviparous one.

                    8. No it’s not. Until the fetus is viable and disconnected from the mother, it should still be considered as a part of her body growing off her body. Only when it is disconnected should it be considered a separate human being. There is no reason why a viviparous fetus should be considered a separate being at the time an oviparous fetus is. If the question itself is when the fetus becomes a separate being, it makes sense that the answers for ovi and vivi are different.

                    9. As to the genetics part, genetics indicates the species, it does not indicate separate beings. For instance, you wouldn’t argue that identical twins are one being. The reason we call identical twins separate beings is because they aren’t connected by flesh and they aren’t dependent on one another for bodily function.

              2. So… if murder is made legal, it ceases to exist? Interesting.

              3. Murder is unlawful killing with malice aforethought. In circumstances in which abortion is lawful, it cannot be murder

                When you look up Circular Reasoning in the dictionary, they have this as an example.

      2. I wouldn’t call it murder, but yes. A fetus/baby cannot be carried to full term without the mother’s consent.

      3. one could (but really shouldn’t) argue that western africans could have avoided being kidnapped and forced into slavery if they had, for instance, lived farther inland. does that make them culpable for their own bondage?

        1. What a completely ridiculous analogy. You’re not even trying, just grasping.

          1. you’re right, it’s only really a good analogy for women who have been raped and wind up pregnant as a result

            i have yet to hear a pro-life argument that accounts sufficiently for rape victims

            1. If someone kills my child, I might be vindicated in killing them, but I would be equally evil if I killed their child for revenge. The fetus is not a rapist, and their moral standing is no different than a fetus produced through consensual sex.

              If fetuses do generally have personhood, but that personhood is contingent on whether or not the fetus is a product of rape, then it is unclear why the fetus would later be granted personhood. It follows that if a rape victim chooses to carry her fetus to term, that child (even into adulthood) would still lack any basic human rights, insofar as their very existence is an abomination.

              1. The closest analogy to a rape-caused pregnancy is war.

                In war, it is justified to kill enemy combatants even though they did not start the war. In fact, noncombatants, including the unborn, can be killed if they are in the way of a defended target like Tokyo was in 1945.

                The reason a fetus conceived through rape would gain personhood upon birth is because the assault is over, just like soldiers in war regain the right to life after the war is over.

          2. Epi, you should be agreeing with him. That argument is against what Cecil said, not what you said.

            1. Epi’s right, it is a ridiculous analogy.

            2. It’s a ridiculous analogy, I don’t care who he’s agreeing with or not.

              1. Fine, just making sure you weren’t embarrassing yourself.

              2. And that is true intellectual honesty, which is why I respect Epi, in spite of all the erotic love he possesses for Rachel Maddow yet refuses to come out about.

                1. i too possess a substantial love for rachel maddow but i believe it is wrong to objectify women

                2. I love Rachel Maddow like a brother.

      4. So if she gets preganant as a result of her actions, does that give her the right to commit murder to avoid the consequences of her actions?

        But we shouldn’t have to bear the consequences of our own screwups. It’s UNFAIR!

    4. The balance point between woman’s right to own body and fetus’ right to life strikes me as similar to a price intersection point.

      What we really need here is a perfectly reasonable but jaw-dropping ghastly free-market solution to the problem of when the life is human. Slavers and online fetus bidding could be involved.

      1. “What we really need here is a perfectly reasonable but jaw-dropping ghastly free-market solution to the problem of when the life is human. Slavers and online fetus bidding could be involved.”

        Once I have my own oil-platform nation, that’s EXACTLY how things are going to work! 🙂

      2. What, like “quickening”? Wow, those ancient fuckers thought of everything!

    5. The libertarian position should be obvious. Either the fetus has no rights, in which case the rights of the mother paramount; or the fetus has rights which conflict with the mother’s rights, in which case we can’t absolutely know which are paramount. Some may argue that a mother gives up some rights when she makes choices that lead to pregnancy, but not everyone agrees.

      Given that we don’t know that the fetus has rights or that those rights trump the mother’s rights, we shouldn’t be using the state to initiate force in defense of the fetus.

      People who believe in the rights of the fetus should spend their energy trying to convince mothers of their point of view, rather than trying to get the state to use force against those mothers.

      1. “People who believe in the rights of the fetus should spend their energy trying to convince mothers of their point of view, rather than trying to get the state to use force against those mothers.”

        Those who wish to shape the morality of a culture have typically found changing the law a VERY effective way of doing so.

        The fact that this sort of moralistic bullying offends your sensibilities (and mine) doesn’t really bother them enough to keep them awake at night.

      2. The libertarian position should be obvious. Either the slave has no rights, in which case the property rights of the slaveholder are paramount; or the slave has rights which conflict with the slaveholder’s property rights, in which case we can’t absolutely know which are paramount. Some may argue that a slaveholder gives up some property rights when she makes choices that lead to slaveholding, but not everyone agrees.

        Given that we don’t know that the slave has rights or that those rights trump the slaveholder’s property rights, we shouldn’t be using the state to initiate force in defense of the slave.

        People who believe in the rights of the slave should spend their energy trying to convince slaveholders of their point of view, rather than trying to get the state to use force against those slaveholders.

        1. Your analogy is flawed. You’re conflating property rights and personal rights.

          A slave owner’s personal rights are not in conflict with a slave’s personal rights. You can’t have property rights to a slave without first violating that slave’s personal rights.

          In contrast, a mother’s rights and any rights a fetus might have come into conflict at conception by force of nature.

          Even if we assume that a fetus has rights there is a question as to how to resolve a conflict between those rights and the rights of the mother. With our current understanding of life there can be no consensus and no obvious ‘right’ answer.

          Given that, a libertarian response is to leave the decision up to the individual and not invoke the state.

          1. The fact that “leaving the decision to the individual” is equivalent to “leaving the decision to the mother” indicates that you’ve actually decided that the fetus is NOT an individual and has NO rights, your insincere hand-wringing about how, goshdarnit, we just don’t know, notwithstanding.

            1. You are oversimplifying, Tulpa.

              In the absence of a coherent argument that a fetus does have rights and that those rights must trump those of the mother, the state doesn’t have the moral authority to initiate force against the mother in defense of the fetus.

              I am of the opinion that a fetus probably does have rights. Whether those rights trump the rights of the mother is not as clear and will probably come down to a new definition (see cynical’s post).

              I suspect in the future we will have a much deeper understanding of consciousness and that the onset of consciousness will be the demarcation point between humans that have rights and lumps of cells that don’t.

          2. You are bestowing rights on the fetus that NO OTHER INDIVIDUAL is entitled to. You, there, right there, already born. You cannot- CANNOT- under any circumstance FORCE me to share the blood pumping in my heart, the oxygen in my lungs, or the food that I eat and digest with you. If a child, already born, gets kidney disease and will DIE without a transplant, no one will force her parents to give her one of their kidneys. The rights do not conflict. The fetus can have the right to life, but no other individual can be compelled to sustain that life for the fetus. A mother’s rights do not conflict with her unborn child’s.

            1. True, because no other situation is like pregnancy. It’s so fundamental to the human being as an organism (even more fundamental than rights related to use of territory or tools) that it needs to be a situation that defines first principles, not something evaluated under them.

      3. “Given that we don’t know that the fetus has rights or that those rights trump the mother’s rights, we shouldn’t be using the state to initiate force in defense of the fetus”

        There’s a difference between “we don’t know” and “we don’t agree”. We can’t know, because the question is not an objective one. And we can and certainly do initiate force in the absence of agreement. People don’t seek to investigate whether a person mugging them is operating under the same moral paradigm or not, they protect their rights as they understand them. It may not pan out, but that’s life.

    6. Tara said “There’s ample room for people who sincerely love liberty to strongly disagree.”

      No room for the unborn though.

      What is it about right-to-life that self called libertarian adolescents (to distinguish from true mature classical libertarians) don’t get? Your Liberty is freedom from tyranny, not from moral constraint.

  10. Legal and free for all in malls and kiosks across the land, any age, no questions asked.

    There is one question in the abortion debate: when does life begin?

    I really don’t give a shit.

    I suspect history will judge us harshly for the slaughter of millions of unborn children.

    Yeah, sure. Go cry somewhere else.

    1. Who’s crying? That’s just speculation. Who knows, maybe 100 years from now they will be euthanizing the old and infirm and the physically disabled because it is too great a drain on the public treasury to care for them, so no one will give a shit what we did. Or maybe they will look upon abortion similiar to how we look upon slavery.

      1. Or maybe the giant bees will hold dominion over all the Earth, and laugh buzzingly as humans are driven into the work pits, their inane twittering silenced forever.

        1. Oh, well. So much for any hope of an intelligent debate.

          1. Oh, cheer up. It’s nearly Christmas. Or Easter. Or something.

          2. Yes, because saying that 100 years from now abortion will be considered slaughter is intelligent debate. What was your argument again?

            1. Their argument is to accuse everyone else of doing what they’re doing. It’s all part of being a disingenuous zealot.

              1. WTF? Disingenuous zealot? In what way?

            2. It was intended to spur debate, although that should be obvious. What was your point again?

              1. NO YOU’RE WRONG!

                See I’m spurring debate.

                1. Okay, that made me chuckle.

            3. FREE ABORTIONS FOR ALL!!

          3. Actually, I think he has a point, at least @ 3:31.

            There’s never going to be a happy medium that’ll even begin to quell the debate. I think the closest we’re going to come is simply to go full retard in one direction or the other. Being that I’m loath to give government dominion over a person’s body, I’d rather see all restrictions against abortion lifted.

            1. i agree with this commenter despite the misogynistic username

              1. Better?

                  1. Retracted.

        2. To quote the great Philosopher Nicolas Cage:

          “Ohhhhhhh no not the bees! No the Bees!”

          1. er “Ohhhhhhh no not the bees! Not the Bees!”

      2. Who knows, maybe 100 years from now they will be euthanizing the old and infirm and the physically disabled because it is too great a drain on the public treasury to care for them.

        And the flip side of that is that here and now even competent, non-depressed people who want to be euthanized can’t do this. The Pro-Life people would have more cred in libertarian circles if they consistently came down on the side of individuamal rights.

        1. Ultimately, I think that’s the point of Harsanyi’s piece, in an obscure way.

          Namely, that no all who for lack of a better term fit into the “pro-life” camp are motivated by religiousness that would make them “pro-life” on other issues. Ultimately, I consider myself to be generally opposed to abortion and its legal ubiquity, but the “social” issue that I am perhaps most passionate about is preserving the right to die and physician assisted suicide. My interest is in liberty alone (and my opposition to abortion is based on the idea that the fetus’ rights to be free from killing trump the mother’s rights to be free from discomfort (physical or economic), as life is the tantamount right and trumps others where claims of rights violations exist in both parties (and that’s disregarding the entire “mother could have prevented a foreseeable event by abstaining from sex or practicing safer sex” argument too).

        2. Funny that “marriage equality” advocates don’t lose any libertarian street cred for opposing polygamy and incestuous marriages, but pro-lifers have to be utterly consistent on every other life-related issue to avoid being ripped by libertarians.

          1. No one can avoid being ripped by libertarians. Not even other libertarians.

            1. Especially not other libertarians, since they might actually give a shit about said ripping.

  11. The act of denying the humanity of the unborn is fundamentally evil.

    1. The act of denying the humanity of the kidney is fundamentally evil.

      1. Oh, the humanity!

        1. Oh, the evil.

      2. My kidney says to give you a shout out! You da man!

        1. Because kidneys and babies are EXACTLY THE SAME!!!!11eleventy!!

          1. truly an appropriate username

            1. Oh, I see now. Breast fed children aren’t human and have no rights. It’s all so clear now.

              1. So, kidneys and babies aren’t the same, but fetuses and breastfed children ARE. Gotcha.

                Breast fed chilren can survive just fine without the mother.

              2. Dave you’re almost making sense! Almost.

          2. Kidneys and fetuses are not the same, but they share the characteristics that differentiate body parts from individual beings. A fetus, like a kidney, is physically attached to a human being. A fetus, like a kidney, is physically dependent on nutrients and oxygen from a human being.

            1. So is a tapeworm. That doesn’t make it a body part.

              1. You leave Koko out of this, Tulpa.

              2. You should definitely see a doctor if tapeworms have become part of your body.

                1. Your reluctance to address the tapeworm question seems to indicate you’re not terribly confident of your position.

                  BTW, tapeworms that have been attached for a significant period of time are generally much harder to remove than a fetus is. So by your definition, they’re even less separate of a being.

                  1. What reluctance? I’ve already explained to you that a tapeworm is in no way analogous to the attachment of the umbilical cord.

                    BTW, tapeworms that have been attached for a significant period of time are generally much harder to remove than a fetus is. So by your definition, they’re even less separate of a being.

                    No, Tulpa, my definition of attachment is not dependent on the difficulty of removal from inside the body. I’m talking about bonded flesh. That is what I have meant by a physical attachment this entire time. I never said that grabbing onto the flesh is equivalent. You asserting that is simply pedantry.

                    1. I gotta say, tho, heller, don’t you think a baby is really more like a tapeworm than a kidney? I mean I love my son and all, but when I was 6 months pregnant he used up all my resources and nutrients and I had less of them for myself. A kidney doesn’t really “feed” off of one’s body, and it shares, like, all of my DNA, not half. A fetus is kinda like a foreign body living off a host.

                      I don’t know how that really changes the argument, however. A woman STILL has the right to do whatever she wants with her body, and she gets to decide not to have something growing inside her.

                    2. Did you create tapeworms from your body? Are the tapeworms’ flesh bonded to your flesh? Is their bloodstream connected to your bloodstream?

                      A kidney gets its nutrients from your body in exactly the same way as a fetus. Kidneys are connected to your bloodstream, so are fetuses.

                      It is essential to the argument in my opinion, because if you think the fetus is indeed a separate human being than it should have the right not to be killed.

            2. So, the kidney is a parasite, then…

              1. No. First of all a parasite is a separate being from the host. Second of all a parasite offers no benefit to the host.

        2. I’m not the one who drew the idiotic parallel.

      3. Yes… because kidneys, like trees, if allowed to grow and develop will eventually be fully independent human beings!! Let’s get the tree killers too!! Wait, there’s a gap in logic here. Where?

        1. A fetus will not grow into an independent being either if you separate it from the mother too early. Until the fetus is viable, it is exactly like a kidney in this respect.

          1. Yes, because a kidney separated “too early” from it’s mother will not grow into a fully independent human being.

            Yep, exactly like a fetus.

            1. yes, that is exactly what heller said

              1. Yes, it’s positively brilliant!

                I’m going to start Save the Kidneys and Adopt a Kidney charitable foundations.

                1. there’s already a kidney foundation, better make sure you’re not stepping on anyone’s toes

                2. Dave you do realize you’re making fun of your own position right?

          2. “A fetus will not grow into an independent being either if you separate it from the mother too early. Until the fetus is viable, it is exactly like a kidney in this respect.”

            This has always been what informed my view on being pro-choice (or pro-DEATH MURDER KILL as so may people seem to want to classify me). Viability is the real test for me – can the fetus/baby/human/soul/buddha/kharmic being/whatever survive independent of the mother’s womb?

            And yes, I realize that there are other factors for ‘survival’, but biologically is it dependent on nutrients from the mothers body? Can it breathe on it’s own?

            Prior to that, it IS a kidney basically, so the debate has very little meaning (for me anyway).

            I await the wash of “murder/death/kill” comments.

          3. A fetus will not grow into an independent being either if you separate it from the mother too early.

            And if you cut a person’s throat while they are sleeping, they’ll never become a conscious person either.

            1. *yawn*

              Who said anything about consciousness Tulpa? Sleeping people have rights because they are human beings.

              1. If consciousness and rational ability are irrelevant, what definition of human being are you using that doesn’t exclude fetuses in a contrived way?

                1. It is not that fetuses aren’t human, if we are talking about human in the species/genetic sense. It’s the being part that I disagree with. This connotes an individuality, an independent nature. A kidney is human, but not a being. A fetus is human, but not a being. I hope you understand this.

                  1. “A fetus is human, but not a being.”

                    WTF??? Why??? Because God Heller says so??? When does God Heller say that a human becomes a being??? When is the exact moment???

                    Look buddy, a fetus is a human being, not a fully developed human being or sentient human being but still a human being. It’s human and it is a being. It’s not an organ. It’s not just a body part. It’s not an f’ing kidney. It is what it is. If that makes you uncomfortable when it comes to killing it by abortion, then don’t have an abortion. Don’t just make shit up so that you feel less squeamish about abortions.

                    1. I already explained why it is not a separate being until it is disconnected and viable Dave. Either you can’t read or you are being deliberately obtuse.

          4. But many people believe abortion is legitimate even past the point of viability, so long as birth hasn’t actually occurred.

            Do you believe that if a woman no longer wishes to be pregnant after the point of viability, that her only legal recourse would be to have the fetus removed alive and cared for like any other preemie?

          5. Bad analogy. Fetus= parasite. You cannot ignore the fact that the fetus is a separate entity from its mother. It is not a body part.

            1. Parasites are by definition a net negative to their host.

              Reproduction is not only useful, but biologically understood as one of the defining properties of a living thing.

              As the end product of reproduction, offspring play a critical role in the essential functions of a living thing (viviparous or otherwise). To the extent the relationship between a fetus and its parent can be compared to the relationship between any other organisms, it is a symbiote. But it would be more useful to recognize it as a unique relationship.

              At any rate, the concept of an organism incurring direct costs in order to provide a benefit for its offspring is by no means limited to creatures which carry their young internally.

            2. I’m not ignoring it, because it isn’t a fact. It grows off the mother, it’s flesh is bonded to the mother through the umbilical cord, it is completely dependent on the bodily functions of the mother. No parasite does this.

      4. The act of denying the humanity of the kidney is fundamentally evil.

        We can’t have grown kidneys running around.

        1. We can’t have non-viable fetuses running around either.

          1. So you say. But I finally perfect a cyborg controlled by poorly developed fetus brains, we’ll see who’s laughing then.

  12. Now, if hearing that so many pregnant women choose to abort their children is alarming, surely the continued acceptance of third-trimester abortions is downright despicable.

    And what if it’s not alarming? What if it’s more alarming to hear people talk about “mothers” who haven’t actually had any children, or “babies” who don’t actually exist yet? I don’t ask pregnant women how their baby is. And I know plenty of people who would absolutely consider the fetus a parasite, even if they wouldn’t be up for saying so in polite company.

    In other words, 100% of this article is actually about cultural/social/whatever opinions, not science. It’s not about viability, or pain; it’s about when we think a fetus becomes a person. And there’s no scientific formula for determining that (though it would include, for most people, things like viability and pain).

    1. It’s alarming when a “mother” considers her developing offspring just a “parasite.” I highly doubt such a “mother” will make the best parent.

      But then again, I have this archaic notion of the importance of motherly love.

      1. if you doubt such a “mother” would make an adequate parent, why would you force her to bear a child she doesn’t want?

        this genuinely perplexes me

        1. No, Dave is going to take care of it you see, since he is the protector of all fetuses.

        2. I wouldn’t “force” her to do anything unless a fetus is at the point of viability outside the womb. I’m actually not in favor of outlawing all abortions. I abhor abortions but I am a libertarian after all and recognize the conflicting rights of both mother and fetus.

          As for “forcing” somebody to bear a child, how is that much different than “forcing” them to care for an infant? They are already at a point where another human life exists due to thier prior “choices.”

          1. Some libertarians also believe parents should be able to put their children up for adoption. Some.

        3. Probably because it’s better to be raised by a substandard parent than to be dead.

        4. if you doubt such a “mother” would make an adequate parent, why would you force her to bear a child she doesn’t want?

          Yes. Better to just kill the thing. It’s not like anyone else would want it. I’m sure the idea will catch on, especially when it starts dating.

          1. You are more right than you know..

          2. Yup, orphans sell like hot-cakes.

            1. I’d rather be an unadopted orphan than a rotting corpse.

              1. My reason for why abortion is justified has nothing to do with whether the unwanted fetus is better off alive or dead. I was merely responding to the sarcastic assertion that “It’s not like anyone else would want it.”

              2. “The sun’ll come out….tomorrow…”

        5. I know. Some people are just sick, from personal experience.

          I tried to set up a “children’s shelter” once, where would we would try to collect children from abused homes. We were going to care for the healthier ones and try to find them better homes, and euthanize the more traumatized ones or the ones that no one wanted.

          But a bunch of people got all pissy and my lawyer said it was a no-go, so I had to scrap the idea. What a cruel world we live in. Surely any reasonable person would understand that it’s better to be dead than to have a bad childhood.

          1. abusive homes. Abused homes? Looks like I picked the wrong week to start huffing glue…

  13. And now to ensure this thread goes nuclear: no fetus/baby/uterine parasite ever requests to be created. It could be argued that since no one can be consulted on the matter of his conception, not getting an abortion has some unethical taint as well.

    1. If it’s unethical, then just wither it.

      1. wither not getting abortions? or wither the fetus?

        because i’m pretty sure that letting a neonate “wither” is a lot less kind and a lot more reprehensible than stabbing it in the head with scissors, but that could be just me.

        1. I disagree.

          1. really?

            would you rather starve to death, or die quickly from head trauma?

            1. The latter, but I’m not a fetus. Killing a fetus that has been taken out of the womb and is still alive is murder. Starving the fetus in the womb is not. Plus, depending on how far it has developed, the fetus would not feel pain from being starved.

              1. it is only murder if you acknowledge biological separation from the mother as the point of personhood, which is patently absurd

                and is there some way to plug up the placenta that i don’t know about? because if not, “starving the fetus in the womb” doesn’t make any sense, unless you are suggesting that a woman starve HERSELF as a method of ending an unwanted pregnancy, which is both terrible and dumb

                1. Well yes, this seems like a pretty unrealistic hypothetical, but whatevs.

              2. You were a fetus at one time … or maybe you were a kidney?

                1. Nope, a fetus. U mad Dave?

        2. Oh. You should acquaint yourself with the Urkobold. Everyone should, really. If you offend him, he withers your taint.

    2. Eh… no. That begs the question that the fetus has the right not to be put into existence in the first place. If you are going to argue that the fetus does not have the right to not be killed (as I do) then you cannot say that the fetus has the right not to be put into existence.

    3. Never to have lived is best, ancient writers say
      Never to have drawn the breath of life, never to have looked into the eye of day

    4. “Hey, fetus? If you don’t want to be aborted, just say so. Fetus? Hello? OK, we’re going to take your silence as consent to abort. Mmmkay? OK, good. Thanks!”

      Hey, I could write for House, M.D. 🙂

      1. Makes more sense than you may think. My impression is that human and other fetuses, and even most mature animals, and newborn humans, don’t care whether they live or die. If they don’t care, their damages are 0, because all value is subjective. And the reason they don’t care is that they don’t know or understand. So it’s OK to kill them, but not OK to inflict pain on them, because they know when they hurt!

        1. Of course someone else may have a property interest in them, so damages exist in some cases.

        2. A sleeping person doesn’t actively care about staying alive while they’re asleep either. Does that make it OK to kill people in their sleep?

          1. No, but murdering the suicidal is a good deed. It never hurts to help!

        3. That’s dumb Robert. If you think a fetus has the right to not be killed, then saying you can kill it because it hasn’t decided to live or die is dumb.

  14. I’d say after about 4 months of pregnancy abortion should be illegal. You should be able figure out whether you want a kid of not in four months and the fetus is not well developed…

    Perhaps this is too simplistic?

    1. Since when do you lose the freedom to control your body for being indecisive?

      1. Because the right to control your body ends at the baby’s skull?

        1. That begs the question that the fetus has rights. If the fetus is attached to and dependent on its mother body, why would you assume that it is separate from it’s mother’s body?

          1. Because the fetus is genetically unique and distinct from the mother.

            1. depending on the mother’s genetic profile, her right leg could have a totally different set of chromosomes from her left. if she sprains her ankle, is she guilty of reckless endangerment?

              the genetic distinction is a bad argument and you are bad for using it. come up with something better.

              1. depending on the mother’s genetic profile, her right leg could have a totally different set of chromosomes from her left.

                Bullshit. There could be differences, but they would be utterly insignificant compared to those between a fetus and mother.

                1. Tulpa, a parasitic twin (think “conjoined fetus lady” from South Park) can have a separate genetic code from its host twin. Do you think it would be morally wrong for the host twin to remove the fetus from her head, killing it?

                  1. Conjoined fetus lady’s “twin” was dead.

                    If the twin is alive then no, the twin should not be removed. But seriously, we’re talking about the rarest of rare cases here, which seems to be a common pro-choice tactic. 99% of abortions are not hard cases like rape or incest, but because it’s uncomfortable to prevent abortion in those cases we wind up not preventing any of them.

                    1. Oops, didn’t know that. Well parasitic twins are alive. But imagine the fetus was alive on that woman’s head. Whatever.

                      The rarity of the case isn’t relevant, because it’s an ANALOGY.

                      99% of abortions are not hard cases like rape or incest, but because it’s uncomfortable to prevent abortion in those cases we wind up not preventing any of them.

                      So that’s the reason? Not Roe v. Wade? Oh Tulpa, you so funny.

            2. I’m not sure what “genetically unique” has to do with anyone’s moral worth. If we induce parthogenesis (which is scientifically possible, and even happens in other species), is the fetus then more or less morally worthy of protection at the same stages?

              I’m not sure why distinctness matters either. Cojoined twins are not always distinct: sometimes they cannot live without each other being alive, ever. If you think they are different people, then ask yourself: why?

              Isn’t because they have different functioning brains and conscious conceptions of themselves? Isn’t that what we ultimately care about when we talk about beings deserving of rights?

              It seems bizarre to me that anyone should think that the particular genetic code in any given cell is what’s important. Surely the relevant thing is how those cells are arranged, and what those arrangements are capable of doing, functionally. That’s the difference between a kidney, a tumor, and a fetus. A fetus, at some point, has the functional form that allows some measure of feeling and awareness. What, how much is relevant to what rights, and when is what people debate.

        2. And your comment has nothing to do with what I was replying to. If the fetus already had rights, how much it had developed would be irrelevant.

    2. bear in mind that 1 in every 400 births involves pregnancy denial, either because the mother is not psychologically ready to deal with being pregnant, or because she has insufficient biological cues that she has conceived.

      i wonder how many more don’t realize they’re knocked up until month 5?

      1. So they figured they stopped having monthly periods for no reason? Therefore, kill the baby!

        1. that would be great, if all women had monthly periods!

          if you’d ever touched one, perhaps you would know that!

          1. Judging by the name, you know plenty about them……….

      2. And waht about if they don’t decide until month 9 + 1 minute? I mean, it’s not like the vagina has some magical attribute that confers personhood by paasing through it, and there is really no difference in the development of the baby, so why not kill it?

        1. I mean, it’s not like the vagina has some magical attribute that confers personhood by paasing through it

          True, but it’s still pretty magical.

        2. Her body, her call. Don’t want an abortion? Don’t have one.

          1. If one is desired, not on my dime. Or anyone else’s unless specifically asked.

        3. It’s “Personhood Sauce”; it slathers the baby as he’s leaving. Doctors have an extra jar of the stuff on hand for C-sections.

          Because, before that point, as heller has valiantly argued, the organism that is exactly the same before and after birth, is merely a body part before, but a full person deserving not to be killed after birth.

          1. Bullshit, if you actually wanted to argue honestly you wouldn’t claim that my position has anything to do with birth. The difference between a person and a fetus is independence, viability. At a certain point while in the womb, the fetus can be removed without dying. It is no longer dependent on living off the mother.

      3. Usually it’s someone really big who has more of a concept of Fruit Pie the Magician than the going ons of their bodies.

    3. How about we base it on the earliest delivered fetus? If a baby is delivered someplace at say 20 weeks and survives, that becomes your benchmark. Since clearly if a fetus has been removed from the womb and survives (regardless of medical procedures required to make that happen) it is viable.

      1. do not base policy on a moving target, why is this so difficult to understand?

        also, “regardless of medical procedures required to make that happen” — who is going to pay for an unwanted premature birth’s weeks or months in NICU, when the mother would have preferred to spend

        1. oh, hell

          spend LESS THAN $1000 on an abortion

          stupid html

      2. I agree with this BUT you have to realize that it is a fairly rapidly moving target and at some point the artificial womb will likely become possible meaning that at conception +3 days the zygote will be “viable”.

    4. I agree, but I doubt it will happen in the US.

  15. Just a note: when I said “life” I meant human life. I promise to be more pedantic in the future.

  16. Whatever happened to the good old days of leaving the newborn on a stranger’s front porch?

    1. always a fan of exposing it on a mountainside, myself

      1. The Greeks had it right.

    2. I prefer bolting its legs together and leaving it on top of a mountain.

      1. but where are you going to find a sphinx in this day and age?

        1. Hey we have to produce mother-on-son porn somehow.

    3. Olden days? In ancient times them simply left them in the wild, to starve or be consumed by predators. Man those ancients sure had some good ideas.

  17. This thread has everything. Withered taints and baby skulls, my favorites.

    *grabs popcorn*

  18. Kang: Abortions for all.
    [crowd boos]
    Kang: Very well, no abortions for anyone.
    [crowd boos]
    Kang: Hmm… Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others.
    [crowd cheers and waves miniature flags]

    1. This must have been a state of the union address on Rigel VII.

      1. It’s from one of the Halloween episodes; they were actually on the steps of the Capitol, if I recall….

  19. Abortions for everyone!

    *BBBOOOOOO!!!!!*

    Ok, abortions for no one!

    *BBBOOOOOO!!!!*

    Very well; abortions for some, tiny American flags for others.

    *YYYAAAAAAYYYYY!!!!!*

  20. Abortion comes with exactly one potential problem: the termination of a fetus.

    Outlawing abortion comes with all sorts of problems, without eradicating abortion. It comes with a big prohibition effect.

    Since the first problem can’t really be solved by reason, but only arbitrary definitions of personhood, I think it’s best to just decide that terminating a pregnancy isn’t a social problem at all, since there are far more real problems done away with by making it legal.

    Besides, I suspect that the origins of religious opposition to abortion have less to do with the sanctity of individual lives than with religion’s tendency to police sexuality (which has roots in patriarchy).

    1. So, you are just going to say abortion should be legal because it makes things easier? Typical utilitarian douche.

      1. I don’t see where there is evidence to appeal to in order to decide whether a fetus is a person. I don’t do appeals to magic.

        1. heller is pro-choice; heller argues on the basis that a woman has a right to terminate a pregnancy, as she has a right to her body.

          1. Since when do utilitarians don’t give fuck-all about rights?

    2. I agree because your utilitarian argument is based on solid facts, but the central issue is this: the woman has a right to her own body. She can terminate a pregnancy if she so desires. There is no right to be wanted: probably Hillary Clinton’s few moments of lucidity.

    3. Religion has as much to say about the sanctity of lives as it does about sexuality. Granted, a lot of it is explaining all the ways in which life can lose its sanctity.

      Still: Eros and Thanatos, you know?

  21. My views on abortion:

    1. Ladies, you have three holes, can you please try to use the ones that don’t get you pregnant. Give your man a hand instead of an unwanted pregnancy.

    2. If you have a choice, so do men. No more paying child support for babies we don’t want, or for babies you created by lying about birth control.

    3. You can have an abortion, but never ever with my tax dollars.

    4. No partial-birth abortions unless it’s to save your life! If you waited 7-9 months to get rid of it, too bad! At some point we have to draw the line.

    5. Respect the rights of pro-lifers to protest your decision in public, on TV, and with graphic images.

    6. No more welfare for poor mothers. Can’t afford to keep your baby? Too bad. I ain’t paying for it, you spread your legs, now spread your wallet.

    So yes, I’m pro-choice, not pro-stupid.

    1. and yet your position is so reprehensibly stupid that you could, in fact, be a professional!

      mirabile visu

      1. You must be in the pro-stupid camp… or is it just the stupid camp.

      2. There’s nothing more stupid than calling someone stupid. If you can’t prove me wrong, don’t waste my time.

        1. But by calling ellipsis “most stupid” doesn’t that also make you stupid? Just asking.

    2. Well said. All of these should be enacted into law immediately.

      Unfortunately, they won’t be. Men will still have no rights when it comes to pregnancy decisions and will still have to pay for children that they don’t want – even for those that they didn’t father but are born to welfare queens.

      1. please take your misogyny elsewhere, the liberty movement does not need you or yours

        1. I must correct you. I am not a misogynist. I did not make one statement which could remotely qualify as misogynist. Standing up for the rights of men does not make someone a misogynist.

          I value the rights of ALL human beings equally. I am arguing against sexism.

          Your irrationality reminds me of those who scream “racist” when someone argues against governmental racism.

          Please take your intolerance and misandrism elsewhere. The libertarian movement does not need you or yours.

          1. you are blatantly slut-shaming and also unjustly casting the entire phenomenon of one partner lying to the other about birth control on ladies. both are plainly misogynistic — and the second is especially egregious, because manipulating fertility is actually a fairly common method of domestic abuse.

            likewise you ignore the very real (and much more common than anyone likes to admit) phenomenon of pregnancy via rape, the true incidence of which is of course much higher than any measurement yet taken and will continue to be that way so long as rape victims are still shamed into silence.

            essentially, grow a brain, grow up, and learn something about the world and about the experience of women before you tar them as welfare queens and jezebels out to destroy the poor, poor men.

            1. “the true incidence of which is of course much higher than any measurement yet taken”

              LOL

              1. are you contesting that rape is underreported or…?

                actually scratch that there’s no way your amusement can be taken as anything but offensively ignorant

                1. The poster is contesting your unsubstantiated assertion. There are false accusations of rape and unreported rape. Nobody knows which is higher. It is unknowable.

              2. As for your speculation regarding “pregnancy via rape,” I am mystified. Actual rape (not sex while drunk, etc.) is a horrible crime. As for the number of pregnancies by rape, nobody (including you) has the answer for that one – just as nobody knows how many actual rapes occur. Misandrists/feminists, such as yourself, claim to have such knowledge – perhaps it’s imparted by God. I do know that there are many false accusations of rape and of course likely many actual unreported rapes. Who knows which is higher?

                One out of four women and girls are victims of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault.

            2. Slut-shaming? I happen to like sluts. I just don’t think others should be forced to pay for the consequences of their slut lifestyle (paying for their multiple welfare brats or for their serial abortions).

              As for your speculation regarding “pregnancy via rape,” I am mystified. Actual rape (not sex while drunk, etc.) is a horrible crime. As for the number of pregnancies by rape, nobody (including you) has the answer for that one – just as nobody knows how many actual rapes occur. Misandrists/feminists, such as yourself, claim to have such knowledge – perhaps it’s imparted by God. I do know that there are many false accusations of rape and of course likely many actual unreported rapes. Who knows which is higher?

              There are welfare queens and jezebels and unfortunately, modern society supports their lifestyles. There are probably a similar number of abusive and negligent males.

              I have a brain which I use. I would suggest that you start to use yours – not just the emotional part but the rational part.

              1. As for your speculation regarding “pregnancy via rape,” I am mystified. Actual rape (not sex while drunk, etc.) is a horrible crime. As for the number of pregnancies by rape, nobody (including you) has the answer for that one – just as nobody knows how many actual rapes occur. Misandrists/feminists, such as yourself, claim to have such knowledge – perhaps it’s imparted by God. I do know that there are many false accusations of rape and of course likely many actual unreported rapes. Who knows which is higher?

                One out of four women and girls are victims of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault.

                1. Please stop spreading feminist/misandrist propaganda.

                  First of all, how do you define sexual assault or attempted sexual assault? Is it rape or just “bad touching?” The definitions get a little fuzzy.

                  Secondly, without an actual allegation tried in court and a conviction, these “sexual assualts” are unproven charges. It might be most appropriate to state “One out of four women CLAIM to be victims of sexual assault of attempted sexual assault.” And that might not even be accurate.

                  1. Please stop spreading feminist/misandrist propaganda.

                    First of all, how do you define sexual assault or attempted sexual assault? Is it rape or just “bad touching?” The definitions get a little fuzzy.

                    Secondly, without an actual allegation tried in court and a conviction, these “sexual assualts” are unproven charges. It might be most appropriate to state “One out of four women CLAIM to be victims of sexual assault of attempted sexual assault.” And that might not even be accurate.

                    A lot of these sexual assaults do not end up in court because the attacker is a close family member. I do believe that the one in four statistic is correct because of this.

            3. Those sluts who like to be shamed are a lot of fun. Dirty, fun girls…

            4. men have no say according to the law, but are forced to pay for the child no matter what. how is this fair?

          2. I guess we have some liberals here. Libertarians believe in the equal application of the law, liberals believe in favoring one group over another. Yet we’re the ones who support real equality, after all? Who supports women in combat? We do! Who supports women working as prostitutes? We do! Wet let women CHOOSE what they want, unless the choice happens to turn men into slaves, that we won’t support.

          3. I guess we have some liberals here. Libertarians believe in the equal application of the law, liberals believe in favoring one group over another. Yet we’re the ones who support real equality, after all? Who supports women in combat? We do! Who supports women working as prostitutes? We do! Wet let women CHOOSE what they want, unless the choice happens to turn men into slaves, that we won’t support.

      2. Please, people, DNFTT.

  22. I’d say that after five or six months, you have to give the fetus the right to live. As for the mother who decides she doesn’t want the child, there is always adoption. I don’t consider being forced to carry a fetus to term is too harsh a punishment for making the mistake of getting pregnant.

    1. Let me know what you think after you get pregnant.

  23. It is hard to believe that Reason posted this article. The article makes no attempt at presenting a coherent argument. Instead, it simply uses name calling in an attempt to invoke the reader’s sympathies.

    1. pretty fun comment thread though, right?

    2. what name calling? i was hoping for some but i don’t see it.

  24. Bruce: Yeah, yeah. See, the dilemma we faced as we drove around – is it wrong to eat garbage?

    [Mark picks up the meatloaf.]

    Scott: That’s right, yeah, and, another thing is, is it garbage, just because we found it in the-

    Bruce and Scott: Garbage-

    Scott: Right-

    [Mark sniffs at the meatloaf.]

    Scott: Or is it just food that has fallen from grace?

    Bruce: Yeah, like, is something art just ’cause you hang it on the wall?

    [Mark puts down the meatloaf.]

    Scott: Hey! Don’t get me started on that, we’ll be here all night!

    1. Fattening up our tapeworms!

  25. How do you make a dead baby float?

    1. One frosted glass of rootbeer, two scoops of dead baby.

      1. i prefer cream soda, myself

        1. BURN THE HERETIC

  26. Without taking sides? Lemme get something straight…

    A woman can have a late term abortion of a perfectly healthy baby when neither her, nor the life of the infant are in danger. It wasn’t brought about by rape. And this acceptable.

    A woman can HAVE that child. And as soon as she walks out of the hospital, decides she doesn’t want it after all, drop it in a nearby dumpster, and she can hit with abandonment and child abuse.

    Children probably don’t even become self-aware until, what, two years old maybe? And does self awareness dictate that it’s a person with rights?

    If we say that a child is a free-loading tenant in it’s mothers body, wouldn’t it just be a free-loading tenant in the parent’s home?

    1. Children probably don’t even become self-aware until, what, two years old maybe? And does self awareness dictate that it’s a person with rights?

      It’s a necessary condition for those entities I’d want to grant a right to continue living. Not always sufficient, but usually that too.

      1. Now you’re granting rights. Hubris much?

    2. I don’t know what you mean by “become self-aware.”

      It’s pretty clear that embryos aren’t aware of anything, can’t feel anything.

      It’s pretty clear that fetuses at some point start to have brain functions and responses that, while certainly not sophisticated or grammatical, can reasonably be said count as awareness, and should count for _something_ rightswise, at least.

      “Self”-awareness is a pretty vague term: does it mean an actual complex conception of the self as distinct from others? Or just a sense of existing? Both are important, but the latter ain’t nothing.

      I generally think that people who believe embryos are morally precious have as little ground to stand on as those who think late-term fetuses have no moral interests.

  27. Maybe we should leave the decision up to the mother and/or her medical provider since nobody else seems to agree? Case closed.

    1. But there’s a philosopher who says not only that, but also because of that disagreement, we shouldn’t punish people for killing abortionists.

  28. I don’t want to get into the logistics of when to be pro-life or pro-choice, but I’d disagree with the author on the grounds that it isn’t reason that will change opinions, but actual experiences with and/or arguments that highlight the sensory response to abortion. I remember a well-regarded ethicist who once said that in the Anglo-influenced states, people’s morality towards others’ lives — especially in regard to pain and suffering — was based on sensory perceptions and experience, unlike the Continental European view of things, which used taxonomy and logic to determine views on the morality towards others’ lives and pain.

    As a prime example look at the comments in this thread: you’d do more by showing a picture of an actual D&E/partial-birth abortion than you would by arguing about endless line-drawing.

    You could also look at the modern vegetarian/vegan/humane society movement which has shown that one video of a slaughterhouse eight million fliers handed out outside of schools.

    1. *has been more effective than eight million fliers.

    2. That’s interesting, I’ve often compared pro-lifers to PETA.

      1. An apt comparison. Both use emotional arguments rather than facts.

        1. Complete and utter nonsense. Every new discovery in embryology since 1973 (when it was in its, er, infancy) has broken the pro-life direction. The physical features that we generally accept as making us human have been found to develop far earlier in pregnancy than the writers of the majority in Roe could possibly have imagined, not that they would have cared since they were going to justify unrestricted abortion by hook or by crook. (For laughs, read Blackmun’s citation in that opinion of medieval and even ancient Greek “authorities” on determining whether unborn children are human beings — keeping in mind of course that conception wasn’t understood until the 1700s)

          Meanwhile the pro-choice side tries to make us base the law on the tale of woe of a single mentally ill 15-year-old girl who was raped by her brother at gunpoint, with amniocentesis indicating the baby will be slightly less evolved than Homo erectus. Who’s making the emotional argument again?

          1. ANIMALS HAVE RIGHTS TULPA!

            MEAT IS MURDER!

      2. I’d never thought about that. The pictures both advocacy groups use by way of proselytizing and the personal confrontation element that both have adopted are rather similar.

        I’d be interested to see if either tactic is successful because of that (supposed) philosophical distinction, but considering their positions are gaining traction among the general public, it might be worth keeping an eye on.

        1. SIV also said something similar above about sonograms, I now see.

  29. Worst article ever on Reason–and I’ve been reading them for a long time. It’s a shame because I’ve really been enjoying Harsanyi’s articles until this one. He was close to having a passionate plea against late term abortion (which would be surprising for Reason IMO) but Harsanyi fell short and simply opened up a can of worms that is purposefully avoided by the Libertarian Party platform. Is this the whole article as he wrote it or has the point been edited out?

  30. Late to the party, but I think Walter Block has the right approach:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNTAmwUHcLM

    1. Walter Block’s argument is ridiculousness based on premises that have no connection to reality.

      1. I agree that Walter Block’s position has no connection to reality. The idea that the fetus is a trespasser and can be evicted is both offensive and stupid. He misses the point,as many men do (though many men also get it). It is about women’s right to be the sovereign of her own life and her own body. Either she has the right to decide how her body will be used or she doesn’t. She and only she has the right to decide to be a mother or not. It has nothing to do with silly issues like trespassing!!

        And why are all you men arguing about this? Only women can get pregnant. Only women can decide. You have a right to your opinions but not the right to tell us how we may use our own bodies.

    2. Eh, can Walter explain how one removes a fetus without killing it?

      1. I believe he was referring to a viable fetus only.

        Still, he lost me when he said that libertarians believe in a right to property and the NAP, but not a right to life. Ummm… no. I’m pretty sure most libertarians rank the right to life itself above the right to property, particularly since property is generally understood as means that serve the ends of life. The same could be said of opposition to aggression.

        1. It isn’t a right to live, it’s a right not to be killed. Assuming rights must be enforced, and if people had a right to life, then we’d all be responsible for making sure no one ever dies of a preventable cause (i.e. we’d all be obligated to feed everyone, universal collective healthcare, etc).

  31. In all this din, the importance of contraception never comes up. The Pill solves a lot of these debates.

    Besides, I think Ayn Rand said everything that needs to be said about abortion: it elevates a potential life (the baby) and the actual life (mother). The mother is the one who is hosting the baby; she decides when to terminate the pregnancy. I do not recognize this being as human; and it is a parasite until it is born. It derives sustenance from the mother, without giving any PHYSICAL benefit in return. In fact, it sucks away nutrients that would have gone on to benefit the woman.

    1. Good post!

    2. That argument is valid only if having the baby would likely end the life of the Mother, and not just be an inconvenience for her.

      1. Why not though? Why should a mother have a gun held up to her head, forcing her to carry to term? It’s her decision, period: her reasons are irrelevant. If she wants to carry to term, no law is needed.

        1. If you don’t believe the fetus has a right to life, there is no reason. If you do, for the same reason you would put a gun up to any person’s head to prevent them from killing another person.

          1. I don’t believe the fetus has a right to life. So, there is no issue for me.

  32. I’m a former Planned Parenthood volunteer who quit because there was way too much emphasis on abortion and not enough emphasis on actual planning to get pregnant when one wanted to. One thing that always amazes me about the United States is that regardless of who the President may be, we have a prehistoric view of birth control. The abortion issue is always on the front page, but the idea of minimizing them, thus creating a much smaller issue, has never been pushed in the U.S. We have the technology, the education, and the desire to minimize unwanted pregnancies, but instead focus too much on ending them once they happen.

    1. Exactly so. The root cause of abortions are unwanted pregnancies. Reduce unwanted pregnancies, reduce abortions.

    2. This is perhaps the most well balanced opinion I’ve seen here.

      1. How is this different from any pro-choicer’s opinion? I don’t push abortions on people or recommend them, I just support the right of people to have them.

        1. How is what I wrote ANYTHING like a pro-choicer?

          I’m not against people being able to have an abortion, but frankly condoms and pills do a wonderful job at abortion not being an issue at all.

          1. Wait. Never mind. My phail.

            1. LOL I forgive you.

        2. It just got kind of gross to me that there wasn’t nearly as much of an emphasis on pregnancy prevention as there was on pregnancy termination. I think abortion is an awful procedure, but it is a woman’s right. I consider it a huge tragedy that abortion is too frequently used as a means of birth control.

          1. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

          2. I know there’s a religious link but I think there’s also a political link between being against birth control and trying to ban abortion. If everyone successfully avoids unwanted pregnancy and there’s just no demand for abortions, nobody can campaign on saving the babies. A steady supply of unwanted pregnancies provides plenty of campaign fire. Without which you can’t say “A vote for me is a vote to save a bunch of innocent babies from being killed!!”

            1. I think the religious link is much more important. The vast bulk of the American pro-lifers believe in something like the following:
              o sex outside of marriage is a sin
              o God wants humans to multiply

    3. Agree, of course. But you have to wonder why the debate is on abortion rather than on minimizing unwanted pregnancies.

      Also, the percentage of pregnancies that end in an abortion is much smaller than the percentage of pregnancies that end in a miscarriage, or with failure to implant. There is no debate whatsoever on those.

  33. Why the fuck men can even think they are entitled to an opinion never ceases to amaze me

    1. Alrighty, but if you ever have a boy? You shouldn’t decide if they get circumcised or not, seeing as how you don’t have a dick.

      1. I’d never cut a boy-I think it’s brutal.

        1. Why the fuck women can even think they are entitled to an opinion never ceases to amaze me

    2. It’s an argument for humans, not just women.

      If men aren’t allowed to have an opinion or a hand in the decisions, then maybe they shouldn’t be responsible for child support either. After all, it’s a woman’s decision to have the baby or not, right?

      1. Matthew there is a difference between a pregnancy and a birth. Yes men should pay child support or wear a condom and make the issue moot.

        1. I never have to worry about having to get an abortion because I make all of my johns fuck me in the ass and mouth. I just wish they wouldn’t do it in that order. 🙁

          See a video of me doing an all anal gangbang on my blog!

          1. No, bad spoofer! You might actually get the entire depraved internet to visit her blog.

        2. I see. So, apparently it’s a man’s decision whether or not a woman gets pregnant, yet he can have no say on abortion rights. Fantastic logic.

    3. Seriously??? Maybe since men are part of the human race and we are debating when or whether it’s acceptable to destroy early human life???

      This has to be the stupidest comment I have ever read on this board – seriously.

      1. Dr Dave,
        If this is the stupidest comment you’ve ever read you’re forgetting to spell-check every POS you write

        1. Why the fuck non-libertarians can even think they are entitled to an opinion on this blog never ceases to amaze me

          1. Go to bed-don’t you have to play concentration camp with mice tomorrow?

            1. Why the fuck non-Jews can even think they are entitled to an opinion on concentration camps never ceases to amaze me

              1. Are Nazis entitled?

        2. You just topped yourself. Congratulatons on a new “stupidest comment ever.”

    4. We used to be fetuses. That makes us stakeholders.

  34. Least libertarian item on Reason.com EVAH!

    Does this clown have the slightest notion of what “pro-life” regimes look like from the perspective of individual liberty? Has he ever heard of El Salvador, Romania, Nepal?

    Speaking of changes since Roe ’73, has he heard of RU 486, or Misoprostol?

    Yeah, if you think illegal abortion was cool, just wait until you get a load of the 21st century sequel: abortion + new drug war. It’s gonna be so awwsumm!!!

    1. The US was a “pro-life regime” until the 1960s.

      1. And what a glorious time that was for American females.

  35. I could see Ayn Rand having a baby, decide it wasn’t convenient, and then kill it as a parasitical nuisance, provided she could get away with it legally.

    I have yet to be persuaded that killing a child three weeks before it is born, is totally different from three weeks after.

    1. Wait, you’re being too rational and just confusing the issue. Fetuses are just blobs of tissue, or body parts, until they pass throught the magical vaginal canal and become human. And women must have control over their body – even if it means crushing the skull of a fetus just before it passes through that magical vaginal canal. It’s their body!! Don’t you get it? Do you hate women?

      1. It makes sense; it’s same loophole that says a woman can murder a man if he is penetrating her at the time.

        Although, really, “murder” isn’t accurate anyway — he isn’t actually a person at the time, since he’s physically conjoined with her. More of a body part, really, like a supplemental set of limbs and organs.

        1. I don’t know what your sexual experiences have been like, but I have never been conjoined with a woman during sex. Wouldn’t that be a serious medical emergency?

    2. A child three weeks before it will be born is almost certainly viable and not parasitic. I would call that abortion murder.

  36. “It’s science and reason that can turn the debate.” So, what exactly is Harsanyi trying to say here? That someday science might settle the question of when a fetus attains personhood and it will be an answer that pleases “pro-lifers”. If anyone can look at that Kincade painting of an argument and claim to be swayed by “science” and “reason”, they either already had their minds made up, or “science” and “reason” have no meaning.

  37. Can’t we all agree that the best solution is abortions for some, and free miniature U.S. flags for others?

    1. Fuck your welfare flags!

      1. Better than hoover flags 🙁

  38. “There were about 18,000 late-term abortions performed in this country last year, despite the increasingly rare medical need for such a procedure, despite the fetus’s advanced neural development (including the ability to feel pain), and despite the baby’s viability. Yet because this topic is encrusted with layers of cultural and political baggage, it goes on. The entire debate suffers from the same problem.”

    You know, Mr. Harsanyi, perhaps if you had “hung with” the religious crowd more often you’d have heard that saying about removing the plank in your own eye before talking about the mote in somebody else’s.

    There are some 155-odd million women in the US. Back of the envelope math shows that, assuming your one and only piece of scientific evidence is valid, roughly .01% of women have had a late term abortion. I would consider something that effects only one one hundredth of one one hundredth of the population to be very rare, so, for all we know, going by your own data, it’s entirely possible that all of these late term abortions were for rare medical conditions.

    Yes, I did that math with women as a whole, not pregnant women, but then, I’m not the one who came around talking about the need for Reason! and Science! to chase all the gross emotion out of this debate. It’s not my job to make your argument for you.

    Also, I was going to say, “Maybe if you think it’s a problem, you should try peeling some of that baggage off, instead of slathering more on”, but that’s ridiculous. I have just learned how not to construct a metaphor.

    As I think about it, it’s possible I misunderstood your argument, and you’re just playing devil’s advocate, talking about the kinds of questions that a sensible pro-life position will have to answer.

    But I still end up with the same problem, which is that you’re complaining about the lack of science and reason in a debate, while doing nothing yourself to change that.

    1. Most of those 155 million women are not of child-bearing age, and of course an even greater majority are not pregnant at any given time.

  39. I wanted to thank Mr Harsanyi for sharing his views on this site, especially in the full knowledge that this is a Libertarian website, meaning that most of its viewership necessarily disagrees with him.
    I agree that late term abortions should have a medical necessity because most babies, by this point, are viable and can feel pain. Plus, late term abortions have a high rate of failure. Hormones are very high in a woman, more so than early pregnancy, so she’s more likely to be making decisions in a mentally unfit state of mind. But for medical purposes, as we have seen is the case with marijuana and opiates, you must make medical exceptions. I disagree with you on other abortions; I think that women have the right to their own bodies.

  40. Wow – lots of light and heat.

    *shocked face*

  41. The question is very clear cut from a libertarian perspective. If the unborn child is a human being, a person in legal terms, then abortion is murder. On what basis do we make the decision about whether a unborn child is a person? If we are basing it on science and reason, it goes something like this:

    Scientifically speaking, human life begins at conception. Barring either accidental or intentional interference or illness, that life will mature in the womb and be born. If we look to the harm principle, and if as libertarians we err on the side of human rights and against the use of force by one person against another, I think the correct position is to be against abortion.

    If people are seriously choosing their position on this issue based on hostility to religion, that does not speak well for their own ability to reason dispassionately.

    1. Scientifically speaking, human life actually begins prior to conception. The egg is still human and still alive, but most Libertarians will say that we can use birth control, as I’m sure you will too.

      To me, it is logical to be in favor of abortion because the child is not yet a viable life on its own and is therefore not an independent life form. Thus, it is illogical to not put the choice in the hands of the mother until it is viable on its own (ie late term). Your thoughts?

      1. Not only is the egg alive, but there’s no fundamental reason why an egg can’t develop into a person without fertilization. Indeed, just about any cell in the human body has the genetic blueprints on how to carry about that process, and in some cases, you can induce most any cell to actually start that process.

        Sexual reproduction is a _subset_ of asexual reproduction: it simply includes a mixing of genetic traits, which increase variety.

        But a dividing embryo isn’t the end of the process, isn’t itself the thing that the process results in any more than a recipe, construction equipment, and a tiny portion of the raw materials are themselves a building.

        1. “there’s no fundamental reason why an egg can’t develop into a person without fertilization”

          Uh…what?

          1. I haven’t seen action since the shower drain.

  42. First off, I was pleased to see several Simpson references made it into the comments. That Halloween episode was the first thing that comes to my mind when debating abortions.

    Secondly, my completely worthless opinion is that the damned thing isn’t entitled to jack shit until it passes through the “magical” (to quote Dr. Dave) vag. If we can kill Terri Schiavo because she was a braind-dead sack that couldn’t do shit for herself (except for shit herself?), then we can kill an infant who equally can’t do shit for himself (can’t EVEN shit himself). And for the record, before anyone says, “but the infant will grow up!”, we didn’t know for a FACT that Terri wasn’t going to recover, either. We only found that out after we cut that melon open and saw that half her brains had rotted away.

    1. Good point. Tulpa has said that he wouldn’t allow someone with a live fetus stuck to their head (called parasitic twin) to remove it, killing it. I wonder if his opinion is the same for the Schiavo case…

    2. That’s a fine position…for an individual with an authoritarian/genocidal ideology. I assume you don’t consider yourself a libertarian. If you do, you’re even more ignorant than you sound.

      1. 1) From dictionary.com:
        Genocide ?noun
        the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group.

        I’m not talking about any national, racial, political, or cultural group. I think mother choice should be applied to all people, everywhere. You might say, “murderous”, but not genocidal.

        2) What the hell business is it of yours WHAT I call myself? Since there is no “official” libertarian plank on this issue, how is the fact that you disagree with me grounds for my not being a libertarian? Maybe I don’t meet your specific definition, because you’re a single-issue conservative in libertarian clothing, but thankfully no one endowed you with the supreme power of dictating libertarian positions on anything, or declaring who or who is not one.

        1. It’s not a matter of your position on abortion, it’s a matter of the thinking behind it. Your callous disregard for human life is antithetical to libertarian beliefs. The individual is paramount, and any violations of individual rights are offensive. The fact that you don’t even take the issue seriously shows that you are either not a libertarian, or don’t understand anything about libertarianism.

  43. Do not get your girls wear a plain white bridesmaid dresses.

  44. Do not get your girls wear a plain white bridesmaid dresses.

  45. Here’s the fundamental problem:

    1) There’s no rational basis for calling a one-day-old embryo any more of a person than a sperm cell or an egg cell.

    2) There’s no rational basis for calling a nine-month fetus any less of a person than an baby one minute after delivery.

    3) Ultimately, you have to draw an arbitrary line somewhere, just like we do for the right to vote.

    Most people agree that 5-year-olds shouldn’t be able to vote. Most people agree that 30-year-olds should be allowed to vote. So, in the US, we set the voting age at 18, but there’s no magic that transforms someone from a child to an adult on the moment of his 18th birthday.

    Roe vs. Wade does a reasonable job here. First trimester abortions are guaranteed to be legal, and third trimester abortions can be banned completely (except when the life of the mother is at stake).

    1. Viability isn’t very arbitrary.

      1. Viability is a reasonable standard, but it’s also technology-dependent. As a pragmatic dividing line, I’m fine with viability, but I’m not convinced it represents a fundamental change in personhood.

        1. But this is analogous to how certain cultural aspects can affect how early or late children mature. Would you doubt that culture, in addition to the physical/mental attributes of the child, represent fundamental changes in maturity?

    2. 1) Of course there is. The process of pregnancy and gestation does not begin until the egg is fertilized, implants itself in the uterus, and begins to develop.

      1. Why is that stage of the process more significant than any other? We’re talking about a process for constructing a human being. At the stage of implantation, we still only have blueprints (but then, we always have blueprints) and a rough framework in the form of developing cell layers. What we don’t have are any of the functional capacities relevant to moral rights.

        1. I don’t think you have to be a rocket scientist to understand this. The creation of a new human life begins with conception. If there is no conception, nothing happens. The sperm and egg either persist or are expelled. This is basic, simple science, and if you don’t understand it I don’t know how to explain it to you. When fertilization and implantation happen, a process begins by which a human being will inevitably be born, unless something intervenes to prevent it from happening. If fertilization does not happen, the sperm and egg do not spontaneously progress into a new form.

          I know you probably think you’re being clever. You’re not.

      2. Why should that process grant the embryo any rights?

  46. Yay, I have 22% of the posts in this thread.

    I guess I just love me some ‘bortions.

  47. Abortion should not only be legal, but sometimes, it might be considered a necessity. If Bristol Palin had been compelled to have one, then the Palin lineage would cease, and thus the chances of one of her descendants becoming office would decrease.

    Conversely, Obama should spread his seed as widely as possible, and those who bear his children should have his child, by law. This would provide the man with much needed sexual release after working so hard, and ensure he has heirs to his throne. I mean, presidency.

  48. This is a strange essay. The pro-life movement has *always* had the view that the abortion question is one that can and should be addressed and resolved through “reason”. The pro-life position is not, “abortion is wrong because the Bible says so”, but “abortion is wrong because all human beings enjoy the same moral status, and there is no principled, reasoned basis for distinguishing between unborn children, on the one hand, and other vulnerable persons, on the other.” The less-“reasonable” argument, surely, is that the child’s physical location determines entirely whether or not she is a member of the human family.

    1. I disagree. The essential issues have always been:

      1) What is the moral status of a fetus at what stages of development.
      2) When the interests of the mother conflict, which interests win out, and when.

      The pro-life side generally reduces the first question to “equally important at all stages” and the second to “only when the life of the mother is at stake” (and sometimes, not even then).

      The pro-choice side has a wide range of thought on former, and tends to weigh the interests of the mother very highly.

      Myself, I agree that location itself is not relevant to the former. But there are plenty of principled reasons as to why someone would think that an embryo is in no way comparable to a person, having interests and rights. In some ways, I feel like believing so misses the entire point of morality: has no coherent meta-ethic as to why persons are morally valuable in the first place.

  49. The issue with personhood/life/rights ignores the American principal of inalienable rights. The founders believed that rights are confered naturally, and not subject to conferment on the whims of another human being, be it an unsympathetic King George III or a sympathetic mother. To grant abortion as a right would allow one generation the ability to grant the rights of the next generation; an idea in complete conflict with our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

    1. It’s not about “conferring” rights , it’s about the definition of human being.

  50. This is not in response the the abortion debate itself, but…

    In the discussion(s) of Rights, in general, there is something that is thoroughly missed. Indeed, it is missed almost entirely in the commonly held understanding(s) of Rights. And that is the distinction between Individuals and Sovereign Individuals.

    It is true. All Individuals have Natural Rights (those inalienable Rights that are ours by virtue of our existence). However, it was commonly understood from the origins of Natural Law & Natural Rights philosophy, up through 1776, and until recent history, that only Sovereign (i.e.: self-governing) Individuals enjoy those Rights.

    In other words, only individuals of a capacity to comprehend the nature and the consequences of their choices are permitted to fully exercise their Rights; and are expected to be accountable for their actions. For that reason, we don’t allow adolesents to enter into contracts (w/o parental consent) and we don’t allow three-year-olds to Keep and Bear Arms. They have the Rights, but they are not allowed to exercise them.

    There is a distinction between having Rights and enjoying them. Rights are inalienable. They cannot be taken away. However, there may be reasonable and necessary restrictions on the Freedom to exercise those Rights.

  51. Here’s what I don’t get about pro-choicers.

    A woman has the right to have an abortion without the consent of the man that got her pregnant, true.

    Yet does the man who got her pregnant have a choice not to pay child support? Not really. She can get a lawyer and he can be forced to undergo a paternity test.

    Do men not have the right to choose as well?

    http://libertarians4freedom.blogspot.com/

    1. Great point. Yet another reason “pro-choice” is a misnomer. “Pro-choicers” are most commonly not in favor of any choice in the matter by the man. There isn’t any easy solution to this dilemma, short of a contractual agreement prior to having sexual intercourse.

    2. What the fuck does child support have to do with being pro-choice, retard?

      1. The fact that women can CHOOSE to have or not to have the kid while the men can’t. Yeah, I guess women have it made, they can have an abortion without the male’s consent but they can force a man to become a father, even if they LIED about taking birth control.

        Go to hell, Obama-lover!

    3. No. The woman is the one who is pregnant and who carries the fetus and whose resources are being using. If you say she must bear the fetus even when she doesn’t want to, then you have made her a slave to your desires. Either a woman has a right to control her own body or she doesn’t. You do not have the right to control her body.

  52. Thanks Dave, I’m glad I’m not the only politically incorrect libertarian here 😉

    1. Sure, it seems that even in libertarian circles, political correctness is an epidemic.

    2. You’re not even a libertarian…

  53. I really enjoy your blog. Aside from the attractive page, the article that can be read into this page is impressing. I get some important topics in here which cannot be seen in any websites. Thanks for sharing this blog. I love it.

  54. The absolute best discussion of atheist morality on the web is “De Moralitate Atheorum”, here:

    http://m-francis.livejournal.com/148010.html

    “Question: Whether those who do not believe in God may act morally.
    Objection 1. It would seem not, because as Jean-Paul Sartre held in “Existentialism is a Humanism, there disappears with God all possibility of finding values in an intelligible heaven. There can no longer be…”

    Check it out.

    1. Indeed, most of the people posting here appear to be militant atheists, not libertarians.

    2. I suspect history will judge us harshly for all the women throughout the world who lost their lives trying to make a better life for themselves and the children they already had by limiting their reproduction

    3. Embarrassing that one can write at such length explaining why morality cannot exist without God while never explaining how the existence God or will of God can itself make things right or wrong. In other words: he’s claiming secular philosophers can’t solve a riddle that he himself never even tries to solve.

  55. Your views on this subject do not represent my constituency, the Association of Libertarian Feminists. Since 1976, we have stood firmly on the side of reproductive choice, including the choice of abortion. We believe that the woman and only the woman has the right to either continue or not continue her pregnancy. Otherwise she is merely a baby machine for other people’s morality. Your insinuations that “science” has somehow come out on the side of curtailing abortions is neither accurate nor appropriate. The issue of reproductive choice is not a matter for science, but ultimately, for moral philosophy. Does a woman have the right to control her own body or not? If not, then she is a slave to the desires of others. This is not a libertarian position and my organization and thousands of libertarian feminist women and men reject it.

    1. The article raises the question of a non-religious argument against abortion. Scientifically speaking, human life begins at conception. So it is dishonest to suggest that abortion at any stage is not the taking of human life. The “question of moral philosophy” then becomes one of relative harm.

      In other words, under what circumstances does a woman being forced to go through 9 months of pregnancy and delivery (followed by adoption if she chooses) constitute a greater harm to her than the harm caused to a baby by killing it?

      There is only one: when the life of the mother is in significant danger due to the pregnancy. At that point, you are choosing between equal harm.

      You suggest that a woman not being allowed to kill her baby is the equivalent of being a “slave to the desires of others”. If the child was conceived through consensual sex, the woman voluntarily chose to have sex, and additionally chose to have sex without contraception. While exact numbers are not available, it is safe to say that the overwhelming majority of abortions are pregnancies that resulted from consensual sex. So when a woman makes the mistake of having unprotected sex when she doesn’t want to get pregnant, to you it is perfectly justifiable for another human being to pay for that mistake with their life?

      I am fully aware that libertarians have traditionally been “pro choice”, and the Libertarian Party platform reflects that. But it is an error.

      Not only morally, but intellectually.

      1. People keep using this idea of science supporting the idea that human life begins at conception. It does not. Science supports the idea that human life is continuous: that all parts of us are alive, from before the reproductive process to after. Sexual reproduction is a subset of asexual reproduction. The mixing of two people’s DNA isn’t even fundamentally necessary part of the process: most human cells contain the chemically encoded recipe for dividing and developing into a fetus when told to do so. But a recipe and virtually none of the raw materials is not the same thing as the result, anymore than a recipe, an egg beater, and a thimbleful of flour is a cake.

        Science also reveals that even in sexual reproduction, there is no “moment” of conception at all: the combination of sperm and egg is a multi-step process that can take a day: so at which point in the process does the supposedly magic moment happen? When sperm touches egg? When it releases chemical signals blocking further sperm? It takes 16 days before the father’s genetic material becomes fully integrated into the process of development. Where is “the” moment, again?

        Science doesn’t speak to the relative value of any being.

        It does tell us that whatever the genetic recipe involved, human embryos as actual beings lack all of the basic functionalities that are unique and distinctive about human persons: the very things that are so morally important about human persons as opposed to rocks, fish, or whatever else.

        1. You make some valid points but still seem to twist facts to support your desired conclusion. There is a distinct difference between an human embryo which IS a full human organism, albeit not physically independent, sentient or fully developed, and a human cell which IS NOT. The cell is only a part of an organism not the entire organism like an embryo. While we may not be able to pinpoint an exact “magical moment” when conception produces a human organism, this is of no practical concern since this moment has passed when we become aware of the embryo’s existence.

          As for your last statement, it is not a scientific fact and deviates from your prior arguments. What is a functionality that is morally important about humans? That’s a moral judgement. There are human beings who are severely cognitively disabled and may not possess what you regard as “basic functionalities.” Are their human lives not as precious as others? I think they are. Also I would argue that even embryos have more “basic functionalities” than a rock.

  56. except for health reasons that could kill the mother, abortion is still not justified.

    My question is very simple, how the fetus is aborted it is yourself?

  57. The baby is not a baby and never was. It is a fetus and thus a parasite feeding off the host. No effort should be made to save the parasite if it could cause damage to the host. As you can see by this logical and simple argument, abortions must be legal because any laws against aortion would violate the rights of the mother. The mother is her own concern, whether you like it or not.

    1. Calling a baby a parasite should be chilling to anyone with a conscience, but it is also highly instructive as to where the supporters of abortion must ultimately admit that they stand.

      Legalized abortion is a relic of the eugenics movement. And it has certainly worked at least in part as its originators intended, given the relative abortion statistics in various racial/ethnic communities. You know “getting rid of the undesirables” and all that. But libertarians tend to frown on that kind of thing, to put it mildly. At least they usually do.

  58. Libertarianism simply does not apply to this and other family issues – it speaks only to relationships between consenting adults. Consider that I tell my young children where to sleep, what to eat, what to do with their time, etc. If that kind of behavior were projected to being leader of a country, I’d be the worst tyrant in the world. As it stands, I’m just a typical parent. It is not “aggression” in the libertarian sense that I require my children to eat their vegetables. Neither it is “aggression” when my kid tries to hit me as I carry him to time-out.

    Libertarianism is a useful social contract theory that describes how consenting adults should behave to achieve a productive society – that’s it. It does not define morality. Things like child abuse are wrong not because of some Libertarian right to non-aggression, but because of whatever moral code you happen to have, whether it be Christianity, secular humanism, or whatever. Libertarianism has no mechanism for distinguishing “eat your vegetables”-style behavior from true abusive – how could it? Who would be the judge? There is no Libertarian answer.

    And thus, Libertarianism has no built-in answer to abortion – it truly is a moral question. It is morally permissible to kill your unborn child? I think reason steps in when you try to find a consistent morality – why forbid violence against newborns, but condone it against the unborn? The only compelling argument I have heard is that unless the pregnancy is ended, the mother would die, resulting in the death of the child anyway. Beyond that, I struggle to see anything that justifies the death of the unborn child.

  59. Looks like Reason magazine and the libertarians are throwing womens’ rights out the window. It wasn’t like this during the early years of Reason and the libertarian movement. Are you trying to appeal to the patriarchal Teacracker Party?

  60. Mr. Harsanyi says the debate needs more reason, not more God. Leaving aside the question of whether there is such as thing as reason without God, I think each side already thinks its position is reasonable–it’s the other side that’s being unreasonable. So where does that leave us?

    1. Yes, without God around to wave a magic wand, 2+2=balloon animals. Well reasoned.

  61. Having a human genome is not sufficient to define a human being. “Human being” as used here is distinct from “human organism.”

    The genome is not a recipe or blueprint. It does not contain the information needed to produce a human being, it contains the recipes for the chemical components that guide that process. A perfectly normal genome may nonetheless produce a baby without a brain if the signals (which are not encoded in DNA) are interrupted. That’s why drugs, illness, hormonal changes, etc. can cause birth defects. It is also why there is no scientific justification for granting rights to a fetus based solely on its human genome. Simply put, development matters.

    Rational arguments should be based on actual facts not a high school level understanding of biology.

    On another point, will someone please point out to me where this author (or any pro-lifer) makes an argument for why a fetus should have the right to the use of another person’s body against her will? Why should the unborn have special rights that supercede the rights of the women who carry them? It is true that a fetus cannot survive without the mother’s body. But why did kidney patients have to wait for dialysis machines to be invented, when filtering their blood through a compatible human could work? We do not put one person’s human rights on hold because another person needs something from them, even to maintain life.

    1. The problem here is not so much a lack of understanding with regard to science, as it is an utter disregard for logic.

      1) Q: A woman has sex. She gets pregnant. What will happen if she doesn’t have an abortion or a miscarriage?

      A: 9 months later, a baby will be born.

      It simply cannot denied that abortion is the willful taking of a human life. It does not matter how far the baby has developed, it only matters that it is developing, and will continue to develop unless someone or some thing interferes with it.

      It really is that simple.

      2) In the case of abortion, the woman’s right to control her own body is inextricable from the decision to knowingly take the life of another human being. This is not the same as (for example) refusing to be an organ donor. Aborting a baby requires an action, refusing to be an organ donor is a lack of action. We don’t prosecute people for standing by and watching someone fall off of a cliff, even if they could have stopped it. We do prosecute them for pushing someone off of a cliff. If you find that to be a paradox, please explain how you would treat those laws differently.

  62. The thing that pro-choicers don’t realize is that you’re talking about MURDER. As in, taking a life.

    Let’s just say that we don’t know if a fetus is a baby or not. There’s a chance, right? So, why take the chance? You know that if you have an abortion, there’s a chance that it will be murder. However, you know that if you don’t have an abortion, you won’t murder anyone. So why take the chance?

    How about we put pro-choicers in a big box and ask people to shove swords in the box. We tell people, you don’t know if there’s a life in there or not, you still want to take that chance?

    “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” – Jeremiah 1:5

    1. So in an abortion debate explicitly not based on religion you bring in religion?

    2. So in an abortion debate explicitly not based on religion you bring in religion?

  63. I’m currently helping with the construction of a social attitudes questionnaire, and we’re considering a section addressing pro/anti legal abortion attitudes – specifically, comparing self-identified stances with reactions to various hypothetical scenarios in order to see if groups respond differently. The questions meant to “challenge” those who are pro-legalized abortion have already been addressed in some form in earlier comments, so I won’t double-dip the board. The following is one of the potential anti-legalized abortion “challenges”.

    Scenario:
    You are in a laboratory with a lab technician, the technician’s two-month old son, and an embryo at the third week of development. The two-month old son is on a bench at one end of the lab, the embryo (in some real or hypothetical apparatus) is on a bench at the other side of the lab. You and the technician are in the middle. The technician makes some kind of mistake, causing an explosion and starting a large fire in the lab. The technician is immediately and obviously killed. You are unharmed and can escape through either the door closest to the two-month old or the door closest to the embryo. You determine that you do not have enough time to approach both doors before the entire lab is burned. Essentially, you can run out of the lab and grab the two-month old or the embryo and its apparatus, but not both. Which (if either) do you take with you, and what are your feelings about not being able to take the other?

    Next, the same scenario as above, except that instead of two-month old son/three-week old embryo, one of benches has a 20 week fetus. That is, re-imagine the scenario with the fetus/embryo combo or fetus/two-month old combo. Does your decision and/or your feelings about your decision change from the original scenario?

    The answers from people I’ve asked in person so far are pretty interesting, so what do Reasonable people think?

    1. I just realized there’s another commenter named “SC”. My apologies for the confusion.

  64. There’s a curious statement by Mr. Harsanyi,”[If] the pro-life movement is going to win the hearts and minds of the rest of the nation, it’s not going to need more God. It’s going to need more reason.”

    Reason alone will take us wherever facts and human judgment lead, to the Luceum with Aristotle, to Mount Wilson with Edwin Hubble, or to Bergen-Belsen with Hauptsturmfuhrer Josef Kramer, and please mind your own business, thank you very much. As Mark Twain said, “First get your facts, then you can distort them as you please.” Charles Darwin and the intellectual entrepreneurs who followed him reasoned their way to a world in which life is an accident of primordial chemistry and the fit survive, full stop. On its best day, reason gives us small truths: the speed of light; the tensile strength of 300-series stainless steel; the conditions needed to sprout Penn State Mix grass seed.

    Only God delivers truth big enough to anchor human reasoning in the abortion question. Believe or don’t. Life is a gift from God, or it is not. One man can hold a corporeal personal property interest in another human being or he cannot. A woman’s body is hers and hers alone, or it is not.

    Whose reasoning, Mr. Harsanyi? How much less God?

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