Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ms Horin on abortion, plus some comments by me

Abortion supporters, on the other hand, can sound apologetic, as if abortion is a bit offensive, a sort of necessary evil. They can be more comfortable defending the abstract "right to choose" rather than abortion itself.
[my emphasis]
Unfortunately, by the time I got around to commenting at the on-line version of Ms Horin’s opinion piece the combox had closed; had it still been open, I would have submitted the following comment:


I was interested to see Ms Horin write that
"Abortion supporters, on the other hand, can sound apologetic, as if abortion is a bit offensive, a sort of necessary evil. They can be more comfortable defending the abstract "right to choose" rather than abortion itself."
Does that mean that we can dispense with the labels 'pro-choice' and 'anti-choice'? I have no problem identifying as anti-abortion; why are pro-abortion people so allergic to being called pro-abortion? The issue is abortion, so why can't we speak of 'pro-abortion' and 'anti-abortion', just as, if the issue were the death penalty, we would speak of 'pro-execution' and 'anti-execution'? There’s hardly an aspect of human life in which choice is not involved, so I don’t see why abortion gets to monopolise the term.
Reginaldvs Cantvar


Here are a couple of other comments, in rebuttal of what some of the pro-abortion commenters wrote there, which I would have liked to have submitted:


Katerina (October 10, 2009, 3:03PM), you wrote that
“A zygote, a fetus, is NOT a human being, biologically or legally, so an abortion is NOT murder!”
But if a zygote is not a human being, then which kind of being is he or she (‘he or she’ since sex is given at conception)? A D.N.A. analysis would surely confirm that he or she belongs to the human species, would it not? And clearly the zygote is not merely a part of another member of the human species, since if you make a clone from the zygote then you’ll produce a new, unique person, whereas if you make a clone from any other part of the mother you’ll produce a copy of the mother.
Nefertari (October 10, 2009, 3:58PM), you wrote that
“An early foetus is NOT equivalent to a living, breathing child which can sustain life outside of its mother. It's not conscious and in the early stages doesn't have a nervous system capable of perceiving pain.”
So you propose four criteria for a right to life: According to you, the subject of the right must be
1. Breathing: but that would disqualify anyone on life support.
2. Self-sustaining: but none of us is truly self-sustaining, since we all need air, food and a suitable environment in which to live.
3. Consciousness: but that would disqualify the sleeping and the comatose, some of whom (the comatose, that is) take longer to become conscious than a newly-conceived zygote takes.
4. Pain perception: but that is to espouse preference utilitarianism.
So your criteria are inappropriate. The only appropriate criterion is membership of the human species.


[N.B. The "Louise" to whom I address the first part of the following comment is not the Louise who comments at my blog.]
Louise (October 11, 2009, 12:10PM), you wrote that
“The presence of DNA doesn't make a human being. No consciousness, nerves or anything else viable in a blob of dividing cells.”
But viability is an arbitrary criterion, since no human’s life is viable outside a suitable environment. I can’t survive without adequate shelter, and neither can a foetus, but that’s no basis for denying a right to life.
Betty (October 11, 2009, 4:49PM), you wrote that
“If you chop off your finger and put it on the bench it dies.”
And if you leave it attached it, and the body to which it is attached, will eventually die anyway.
“It has human DNA in it, it has cells in it but if a person decides to just throw that finger away, chop it up into tiny bits, that's their choice. You might think it's "gross" or whatever but you aren't going to protest it's "right to life".”
I won’t protest its right to life because it’s only a part of a person, not a whole person, whereas a foetus is a whole human being at an early stage of development. (I will, however, protest against the finger self-amputee’s mutilation of his or her body.)
“This is just like a fetus in the womb. It contains living cells, it has human DNA, but it is not LIVING, it cannot sustain life by itself. It requires a mother to carry it, much like a host to a parasite, a body to a finger.”
Leaving aside your absurd notion that the foetus is “not LIVING”, the fact that he or she cannot sustain life by himself/herself is, as I said earlier, no reason to deny his or her right to life; you and I can’t sustain our respective lives by ourselves, either.

The last of the comments published at that web page provided a useful link to some information about the question of when human life begins:

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Callistus I, Pope, Martyr, A.D. 2009

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