State sanctioned murder? Abortion. (Long, long OP)

Thank goodness for international travel; whatever happens one will still have the ability to escape from all these well-meaning and ill-meaning guys who know what the answer is.

Alright, this is the second ridiculous post we’ve had in here from a pro-choice guerilla warfare expert who likes to snub their nose at debate, and say “Whoo, hoo, I’m right and you’ll never know why!”

This is a forum for DEBATE. I don’t care if you’re a serial killer who thinks it’s ok to kill adults, a conservative who thinks abortion is a murderous holocaust, or a simple activist who believes in a mother’s right to choose, but I want to hear your opinions. If you’re incapable of presenting a point in either case, then yes, thank goodness for international travel. Use it.

Unfortunately, poor women do not have the same mobility as the wealthy. Hell, many poor women do not even have a car. If there’s not a clinic available by public transportation, she’s unable to make the same choices as affluent women.

Lissa: We’ve just had a back and forth for a day and a half about sources and reading and where you get them from. Please give me an opinion. We can’t draw the line of personhood based on the effective range of public transportation. It’s completely beside the point. I know you’re with it on this, and I won’t criticize you for thinking, so don’t be afraid.

Copaesthetic, I see you want opinions. I’m staying away from the constitutional parts of the debate, but I will say I agree with the above statement made by you. And yet, I’m still pro-choice. Yes abortion is killing (since by definition it can’t be ‘murder’ if it’s state sanctioned). There are many reasons for being pro-choice, not only the ‘humanness’ argument.

Thanks, Goo. I was a bit inflammatory with Lissa, but I genuinely want to hear her opinion, on the basis that it would probably be well formed. (Based on a discussion we had in another thread.)

The abortion debate, to me, is extremely subjective. As a historian, I must note that attitudes toward abortion have varied greatly throughout the ages, and will continue to change as our society progresses. What a society considers “immoral” is not static.

The definition of “person” has also varied according to age in which one lived. Not too long ago, a black man was technically not a person. Further back, it was perfectly acceptable to leave an infant outside to die of exposure if it was unwanted.

Thus, any opinion I have is a product of my generation. If I lived two hundred years ago, or two hundred years in the future, my opinion might be entirely different. Nevertheless, child of the 20th century that I am, I must base my opinion on how my generation views the issue.

I agree with the court that the “compelling issue is viability.” Once a fetus has reached the stage in which it can sustain its life outside of the mother’s body, I consider it a “person.” A younger fetus, in my mind, is a “potential person,” but until it can survive independant of its mother’s body, it is not fully an individual.

I also agree with the court’s designation of the life as “meaningful.” If the fetus is so severely deformed or damaged that it has no chance of a “normal” life, then the option of termination should remain open. Nor should the life of the fetus, despite its viability, take precedent over that of the mother’s.

This argument always ventures into sticky territory. There are always “gray areas.” I cannot say that someone who disagrees with me is wrong, nor can I claim that I am right. There are many people who feel that any intentional termination of a pregnancy is wrong, and those who feel that it is perfectly fine. Note that I said “feel,” because that’s all this debate can truly boil down to (legalities aside): feelings.

Lissa: As I see it, and this is sort of a response to yours, after the time of conception the embryo, and later the fetus, take on a symbiotic relationship with the mother, by the second definition of symbiosis. They become two organisms, albeit of the same species, with an interdependant relationship.

My fear is that having such a line of personhood, as drawn by the courts, without a clear definition of placement may cause an injustice to be done. ‘Throwing the baby out with the bathwater’ might become a reality rather than a kitchy phrase.

The definition of what a person is has changed many times over history, but I think a person is always a bundle of cells. I’ve got more cells than I used to, but the definition of me scientifically must still be based on that.

Then, you have the issue of children that are born ‘unviable’. Do doctors step in and operate, or does the mother choose at that point as well? (Choice in this area regarding not the operation, but to have the baby physically terminated instead.)

I’ve known many deformed and severly retarded people in my life, and they all seem to lead a happy life, full of meaning at least as far as they can present it. What of the determination of deformity and retardation in realtion to the trimesters? Ending a life for it’s own sake is a dangerous argument as well.

The state’s interest may turn to the deformed, the retarded, the elderly and infirm one day. What argument can we give for their personhood? How viable is a man on life support, a woman who can’t remember her own name, a patient in a bed with no signs of mental activity at all? In the absence of a dissenting mother, who would choose life for them?


Thank you for putting me right Copaesthetic. There I am thinking that what I do with my body and my life ought to be my concern and it obviously isn’t.

I’ve never had an abortion, Copaesthetic, and wouldn’t intend ever to have one but I can’t say that for certain because I don’t know how I would feel in one of those extreme conjectural ‘raped by a guy who killed my husband and kids in front of my eyes’ - type situations. What I am absolutely certain of, though, is that it’s always going to be my decision and not that of somebody else, no matter how they are dressing up their particular moralistic totalitarianism.


I understand your point about poor women very well, my ‘sarcasm laden’ interjection was to remind the morality-hawkers that they’re still a long way from the world of ‘The Handmaiden’s Tale’.

Candida: “moralistic totalitarianism”? “morality-hawkers”? I’m not sure who you’re speaking of, but I still haven’t heard the basis for your argument. Are you just pro-choice because it’s a good standby in case you need it? Is it a secret?

I understand you’re saying it’s your body, to do with as you please, but you have the unique ability to carry another body within you. To simplify the OP a tad: If you choose to terminate your pregnancy, do you believe you are killing your child? Also, at what point do you believe the line is to be drawn? Do you go with the justice’s decision to draw the line where they did? On what basis did you form that opinion?

You can ‘remind’ us (I include myself at your behest.) all you like, but unless you pipe up with something somewhat fleshed out you’d just be reminding us of your ignorance.

Wow, Copaesthetic, this is the first time, ever, in my life I’ve heard these arguments, you’re just so original and so persuasive, you can’t imagine. Just a few words from you and the whole Pro-Choice movement will cave-in and demand the end of abortion - or not.

In other words, it’s all just another boring re-hash of the anti-choice case which will end up going around, and around, and around and around.

Yes, Copaesthetic, I do see it as a “demarcation question” not a matter of moral absolutes. Yes, Copaesthetic, it really is a matter of tough decisions but, guess what, I’m a grown-up and can deal with it.

And, no Copaesthetic, it really isn’t a matter of re-hashing pro-choice arguments every time some morality-hawker turns up and demands that I face up to their overwhelming case and towering intellectual majesty.

Alright, that was a tad inflammatory, and I apologize to Candida. I haven’t called anyone here a “baby killer” or whatever, and I tend to dislike being labelled as some commie womb gaurdian. In addition, it would be nice to have her opinion.

When I spoke of “meaningful life” I was referring to babies, such as those with severe encephalitis who only have enough of a brain to keep their vital organs functioning . . . babies who never have a chance of interaction with the world around them. When I spoke of severe deformities, I wasn’t talking about, say, a missing arm or leg, but those who would be completely immobile, or unable to function in society in any way whatsoever, such as a baby who only has half of a head. (I’ve acually seen sonar images of such a child.)

For me, retardation alone is not a reason to terminate the life of an unborn child. Many retarded people go on to live full and happy lifes, as do people with deformities. Termination of the pregnancy in late stages should only be done in the most dire of circumstances, and retardation is not one of them.

A patient in a hospital bed who has no measurable brain activity has no form of meaningful life. The brain-dead aren’t really “alive.” As I understand it, there’s no coming back from brain death. (If it were my husband lying in that bed, I would ask that the machinery keeping him breathing be disconnected as a mercy, and I pray God he would do the same for me.) Whereas the woman who cannot remember her name can still interact. She has quality of life, and is not being kept alive by artificial means.

I do not support the termination of a life if the person can interact with the world around them and has a chance for at least a semi-normal life, unless the person themself has requested to be “let go,” or the pain they would experience in daily living would be beyond endurance.

For me, existing in a vegetative state is not “life,” if the condition is irreversible. If it were me, I would wish the life support to be removed, rather than prolong the agony for my family of watching me slowly wither away. I’d much prefer my family to remember me as I was, rather than visiting a cold, silent me in a hospital room for years.

Who should make the decision to terminate life support? In my opinion, it should be the people who love him/her. In the absence of those people, the doctors should decide if the person can recover to the point where they can interact with the world around them. Doctors do not make the decision to terminate life support lightly.

The decision to abort a malformed child or terminate life support is always difficult, and should be left up to the family. They are the ones who must deal with the agony of seeing a child or loved one surviving as a vegetable, or living in a life of pain.

Um, yeah, it kind of is candida. It’s a forum, on a message board, called ‘Great Debates’. We debate here. We’re actually engaged in a debate right now. I’m sorry that you don’t wish to add your two cents to the debate. The fact that you may have had such a debate before does not necessarily indicate that the debate is invalid. Many of the debates that go on in the ‘Great Debates’ section are ‘re-hashed’, hence the name ‘Great Debates’. It indicates a forum in which debates that have gone on for a long time, and are likely to continue, are actively debated.

I would also like to say that your judgemental attitude and name slinging is hardly justified.

The statement was made that conception should be the dividing line. I’d like to see the rationale for that.

'Cuz an ovum without a womb is exactly as useless as a sperm cell without a womb and an egg cell.

Fertilized eggs have their own genetic structure? So do tumors.

They have all chromosomes required for life? So does every other cell in my body.

So, why put the line at conception? Is it because since sperm cells die by the millions all the time? Again, so do people.

Lissa: I have to say that I agree with you to a large extent. See? I told you guys Lissa would have a well formed opinion. Thanks.

robert:My rationale was that I don’t see any other clear dividing line. The viability line seems unclear to me. But, it is the next line of clarity I can identify with.

I have to say, after having given the issue a great deal of thought, I’ll repeat what I said in the OP:
I cannot fault the Justices decision.
Legally it was a fine choice, and I’ll agree that the line drawn at viability is the best interpretation of the constitution, and the previous rulings of the court. I don’t believe in religious laws, or moral laws, so I really have no further argument.
I will say that I think that this is possibly the most dangerous conflist America has had since slavery, and the consequences could be just as overwhelming. Having said that, barring an amendment to the constitution, I’m forced to become pro-choice.
I would caution some, like candida and her counterparts on the extreme right, not to lose faith in the power of debate, or a calm, reasonable conversation. As long as that can continue, we have a genuine chance to avoid the bloodshed that this issue will pour out if it ever lay in absolutes. Anyway, that’s my take on it.
Thank you all for your opinions.

Well, sorry for ditching, I lost the thread. The question, then, is at what point does the right of the mother to control her body balance with the right of the unborn to survive? If someone were to kidnap you, and say, graft Rosy Grier’s head to your body, would you be pleased? Would you want the opportunity to remove it?

No, it’s not the same, clearly, the head is sentient, and the element of force is involved, but it’s a start. What if, say, someday, you started to grow what seemed to be a second head. It could be removed with surgery as a tumor, but if you left it alone, it would probably mature. Do you allow it to grow?

Copaesthetic, what is ‘name slinging’, for heaven’s sake?

As to my ‘judgementalism’; who turns up with a thread about “state sanctioned murder”? Was it candida? No it wasn’t.

As to debate, well, no it isn’t ‘kinda’. More a wonderful opportunity for gross posturing and exercising of your supposed moral ‘superiority’.

I loved the “I would caution”, by the way! What a lovely ex-cathedra sort of phrase, full of sagacity and learning.