Most pro-choicers have it all wrong.

I am pro-choice. That said, I find the vast majority of the rhetoric employed by the American pro-choice movement fallacious at best, and rather indefensible. It is these equivocations, in my opinion, that have partially led to the degrading of the national discourse.

To me, the issue boils down to one, and only one point: is a fetus an entity that deserves to be accorded the rights we accord infants? That is it. There is no “my body, my choice” or “only in case of rape or incest”; if a fetus is a person, you don’t kill it. If a fetus is not a person, you can treat it as befits you. The point that the majority of the pro-choice movement misses is that the pro-life side does not necessarily (though may occasionally) intend to gratuitously limit women’s freedoms, but rather, they maintain that the life of a human being trumps any right’s to one’s body. If a baby becomes accidentally superglued to my leg, I can’t beat it to death and say “my body, my choice”.

Pro-choice activists have to realize that if they intend to be honest rather than rhetorical, this is not only the hinge of the issue, but indeed even the issue itself. Though I am pro-choice, I am so only because I believe that a fetus is not sentient enough to be accorded the rights of a human-- if I am ever sufficiently convinced that it is, I will passionately switch sides.

From where I stand, pro-lifers are on the wrong side of the right argument; most pro-choicers are on the right side of a completely irrelevant argument.

I believe that a fetus is not a person and that the government has no authority to enslave a woman and force her to endure (potentially extreme) pain. For me, either of the two arguments is a good enough reason to support reproductive freedom. On the first point, I laid out a philosophical case in this thread.

On the second point, I think violating of that principle means treading on dangerous ground. Suppose we lived in an alternate reality where a fetus did have the characteristics that define humans as human. If we could then force a woman to endure a pregnancy to ensure that the fetus was born alive, we’d be saying that an person’s rights get brushed aside if that’s what’s necessary to keep someone else alive. What, then, if you happen to possess the only kidney that can save your brother’s life? Obviously we all hope that you’ll give up one kidney voluntarily, but if not, the government has no right to seize it from you by force.

I do agree that the pro-choice side should put more emphasis on the fact that a fetus is not a person. Currently anti-choice forces offer vague, illogical explanations for why it should be a human, but pro-choice forces usually offer nothing in return.

The hell there isn’t. That’s the ONLY issue as far as I’m concerned.

I’m pro-choice and I don’t care if the fetus is a person or not. I don’t care if the fetus is sentient or not. I only care that the fetus’s host has the right to choose whether or not to continue in that role.

As for the ridiculous hypothetical of the baby superglued to one’s leg, you certainly have the right to remove it from your body. This can be done without killing the baby. At the moment, it’s not possible to remove a pre-viable fetus without killing it. The fetus is just shit outta luck.

So, what happens when we can do this?

Then all the pro-lifers can pay to keep it alive and raise it. Kind of like adoption, but they get to start working nine months earlier…


As is done in all such situations, we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

I don’t believe it possible now to formulate firm rules to fit the social, medical and technological conditions that will obtain when, and if, that takes place.

What Merijeek said. In addition to undergoing the procedure, the mother’ll have to sign away all parental rights - a step which is now made moot by the fetus’ death.

There is no ‘if’ about it. It will happen and if the arguments today are based upon the fact that a fetus isn’t a person because it has no viability on its own outside of the mother and thus has no rights, then in the future when we can raise a fetus all the way from fertilization until it is ‘born’ then it certainly can exist apart from its mother and thus would have rights, would it not?

So, why can’t a father now do what you’re proposing a mother can do in the future?

Im Pro-choice as well.
That being said. Im sick and tired of pro-life treating the Pro-choice side as Pro-death.

Pro-choice is a choice. Its not death.

The original question was what happens when medicine advances so that a currently non-viable fetus becomes viable. The answer is still that we will cross that bridge when we come it it.

There isn’t much point in arguing further about a hypothetical future.

That’s not what they’re based on. They’re based on the rights of women to make their own decisions about their own bodies.

I wouldn’t give them any rights, personally, but that’s just me.

A father can, if the mother agrees to it. If not, then the man is responsible for any children he creates. I can’t see how legitimizing the abandonment of children by their fathers would move us forward as a society. If they don’t want kids they can wear a condom or get a vasectomy or limit themselves to non-procreative sexual practices.

If he wants a fetus removed from his body, more power to him.

I’m pro-life, and we offer more than “vague, illogical explanations for why [a fetus] should be a human.” A fetus is a person because it has all of the characteristics of a person, other than self-sufficiency and the natural course of things is for a fetus to continue to grow and develop and be born. I can understand that reasonable people can disagree with my assessment and reasoning, but my explanation is no more “vague” or “illogical” than the argument that a fetus is not a person.

I say it is. I say that when a fetus is aborted, its life has stopped. And the vast majority of pro-lifers agree with me on this. You disagree. But this proves the OP’s point: we’re arguing about whether or not abortion is the end of a life or not. Meeko says no, I say yes. “Keep your laws off my body” really only works if you don’t accept that the fetus should be afforded rights as a person. “Abortion stops a beating heart” also fails to be relevant if the fetus and its beating heart do not have those same rights as a person. That would lead me to conclude that the issue is, as the OP puts it, “is a fetus an entity that deserves to be accorded the rights we accord infants?”

The Hell? I don’t know how to respond to this. It seems rather insulting to humanity. How can you not care about intentionally causing the death of a sentient person?
DISCLAIMER: Mayo Speaks! is a reasonable white male liberal Democrat from Kentucky. He has never had an abortion. He tends to stay out of abortion debates because he’s something of a wuss and doesn’t care for the level of vitriol that invariably results. However, he thirsts for knowledge and is glad that there are reasonable people on both sides of the issue, and he is more than willing to participate in a thread started by one such reasonable person. He occasionally refers to himself in the third person, and very occasionally refers to yourself in the second person, although you find it quite confusing. Any reproduction, rebroadcast or dissemination of this post without the express written consent of Major League Baseball is prohibited. Or you coud just use the “quote” button. YMMV.


Legally no. Read Roe v. Wade and you’ll see that no mention is made of the fetus being a part of the woman’s body! The decision is very poorly written (Blackmun was stretching the “Right to Privacy” to ridiculous lengths to include abortion viz. reproductive choices) but hinges on the fact that a person is not a citizen (and therefore not guarantied rights) until it is born or naturalized (hijack - so would it have the same rights as an illegal immigrant?). But even Blackmun recognized that there were limits on this. Disregarding the English common law idea that abortion=murder once the fetus starts to quicken, he put in an artificial time table as to when the woman had an absolute right to an abortion and when the state can step in to prevent an abortion (read Rehnquist’s dissent on this point). Thus a woman can be prevented from using the “My body - My decision” argument in the last 3 months if the state decides.

It lacks a mind; that is the only characteristic that makes you a person.

A very small fetus has none of the body parts of a person, and, more importantly, it does not have the brain activity of a person. When do you consider the fetus to be human? A very large number of fertilized eggs do not implant, so it is incorrect to say that once an egg gets fertilized it is in the natural order of things to be viable. There are also many miscarriages of older fetuses.

It is also in the natural course of things for us to die. We act at the moment, not for the future.

My view is that there is no way of telling whether the fetus is human or not. It is not a scientific position, it is a moral and sometimes religious one. Therefore it is up to the sentient being most involved, the mother, to make the decision. Others, and especially the state, should butt the hell out.

It lacks a mind: true. That’s the only characteristic that makes one a person: I would disagree, although I can’t very eloquently explain why. I tried a bunch of different trains of thought, but I can’t get the thoughts in my head to commit themselves to words on the screen. So while I’m not conceding the point, I’m conceding that I can’t argue against you on it. Sorry.

In my view, the fetus is human as soon as it is fertilized. I understand that many fertilized eggs don’t implant (actually the vast majority don’t, right?) and that miscarriages happen quite frequently. The fact that many fertilized eggs don’t survive doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve protection. The percentage chance that a fetus has of surviving at any given stage of development has no relevance (to me) on whether or not said fetus is a human, although I can see where it could be relevant to others.

This view applies to undeniably living people like you or me. Can I kill my (hypothetical) 6 month old son and say that it’s the natural course of things? And humans act for the future all the time. (eg. You don’t pay your electric bill for fun, you do it so that you may have electricity in the future.)

I agree that it’s not a question of science. It’s a question that touches on the most basic aspects of our beliefs. What is a person? What is life? Who gets to decide the answers? I disagree with your conclusion that it should be left to the mother, however. I believe that it is fundamentally in the best interests of society to protect all life, and for me that sometimes must includes protecting a fetus from its mother.

This whole discussion, though, again shows that the OP was right in suggesting that the issue is really an issue of whether or not an in utero fetus is a human being. Everything else is rather secondary.


We’ve had this debate before, and I’ll grant that you do have my respect in being consitent in your convictions. I think you are basing your conclusions on an incorrect assumption (that a fetus is a human being), but at least you stay true to those convictions even when they become “inconventint”-- ie, in the case of rape or incest.

So, you might ask yourself what makes something human. Is it DNA, because every skin cell that I slough off has all my DNA in it? Or, is it a functioning brain and an abiltiy to survive on its own? So, unless you insert the concept of a soul, or some other religious/supernatural concept, into the discussion, a non-viable fetus without a functioning human brain really isn’t any different from some tissue that is part of your body. It might become a human being some day, but it isn’t one now.

John Mace, I think you missed this part:

Which is pretty much what it boils down to me as well. I can’t see declaring a microscopic clump of cells to be a human person. If I could, I wouldn’t support the right to have an abortion, but I just can’t see a zygote as a person and doubt I ever will. Further along in the pregnancy it’s grayer for me, and I would support some sort of gradually increasing restrictiveness on abortions as the pregnancy gets later in term–which is of course pretty much what Roe v. Wade called for–although to me a major obstacle to that sort of thinking is the absolutist pro-life position which proclaims that killing a clump of a few dozen cells is morally equivalent to killing a baby, and uses (sometimes) seemingly sensible abortion restrictions in a self-conscious “thin end of the wedge” strategy.