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Feyisayo Anjorin

Freelance Director, Afro-Carribean Media Group

TEDCRED 100+

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Is a Fetus a Person?

The debate over whether abortion should be considered as murder often focuses on the question of whether the fetus is a person or not.
Here the issue of culture and religion comes in.
But what does it take to identify a fetus as a person? There are thinkers today with the belief that a fetus can be called a human being, but should not be called a person because it takes more to be a person than just having genetic material.

Philosopher Mary Ann Warren argues that in order to be considered a person, a being should have the following characteristics:

1. A developed capacity for reasoning.
2. Self awareness
3.Consciousness and ability to feel pain
4. Self motivated activity
5. Capacity to comminicate messages of an indefinite variety of types.

It would seem as if even new born babies may not be considered as persons according to the aforementioned school of thought.

No doubt infanticide has always got widespread condemnation, but abortion has always been a controversial issue.
So, what do you think? Is a fetus a person?

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    Oct 10 2012: This question and debate could go on and on, depending on what a person's particular perceptions and religious beliefs are. Abortion was legalized to facilitate more safety for women and young girls who are pregnant, many times without their consent. Whether one believes that the developing fetus is a person or not, we KNOW that the woman or young girl carrying the fetus IS indeed a person who has rights regarding how her body will be used.

    Thankfully, I have never had to make the choices involved with considering abortion, nor have any of the men who have commented on this thread. I have, however, interacted with many very young girls as I volunteered in the shelter. It is not an easy decision to make, nor is it made any easier with the contradictory, hypocritical "advice" of religiously oriented people in the girls life. It is not unusual for the "christian" father of the pregnant girl to also be the father of the developing fetus, and as a "good christian" he forces the young girl to carry the pregnancy to term because he follows his churches teachings, which are against abortion. All circumstances need to be evaluated, and the girl/woman who carries the developing fetus has a choice.

    Abortion has been a practice since the beginning of humankind. It has been done with herbal remedies, sticks, wires, various tools, implements, proceedures often practiced in the back alley by someone who doesn't know what he is doing, and using unsterile instruments...women and young girls performed their own abortions. Many women and girls were severely maimed and died from these practices that were not safe. That is why it was legalized....for the protection and safety of the woman/girl who WE KNOW is a person.....a person who has rights regarding how her body will be used.

    Abortion is not ever going away, so those who want to continue to dominate, control and oppress women may as well get used to it, rather than continuing this fruitless argument.
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      Oct 10 2012: Great post Colleen but I did want to point out a little detail. The question is about whether or not a fetus is a person. That has brought out the anti-abortionists you are correct. But you seemed to go from A to Z without so much as a wave :)

      Do you think a fetus is a person?

      Of course you don't have to answer but I am curious.
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        Oct 10 2012: My dear Linda, is a seed a plant, an egg a bird? What do you think?

        Isn't one the expression of the other to represent life for any time being.
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          Oct 10 2012: Oh Mr. Kellner, I have posted it so often in this discussion it is wearisome. In response to Mr Grudzinski, Mr. Long, Ms. Gu, Ms. Lover, Mr. Ryan...

          No a fetus is not a person. I go into some detail with Ms. Gu on the history, philosophical underpinnings and legal definition of person and why a fetus is not a person. I discuss how in the US a person has rights under the constitution and how children and fetuses (feti?) have no rights and why. How the law in the US defines a person what it is what it is not and what it means.

          In the US person has a legal definition and the common definition does not apply.

          http://www.duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/P/Person.aspx
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        Oct 10 2012: I am aware of the question Linda...

        "Is a Fetus a Person?The debate over whether abortion should be considered as murder often focuses on the question of whether the fetus is a person or not".

        I do not know for sure Linda. You have provided adequate substantiated information to show that a developing fetus is not considered a person by law. What I DO know, is the woman or young girl carrying the fetus in her body IS a person with rights.
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          Oct 10 2012: Woo Hoo! I do not know either. I really do not care. The only thing that actually affects my rights and the rights of every other woman is the law so I have to follow that definition. I also know that the woman can make decisions and has rights so I will defend that no mater what a fetus is or what anyone tries to tell me it is. I understand all potential definitions and believe none of them (I mean take it as my own). And have to follow the one defined by law.
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        Oct 10 2012: Linda,
        I also defend the rights of women, and I am aware of the laws and definitions. That's why I said in my first comment..."This question and debate could go on and on, depending on what a person's particular perceptions and religious beliefs are....Abortion is not ever going away, so those who want to continue to dominate, control and oppress women may as well get used to it, rather than continuing this fruitless argument".

        Abortion is going to be a continuing practice, as it has been since the beginning of humankind, whether or not it is legal. I prefer to see it a practice that is safe. No one has the right to dictate to another human being how her body will be used.
    • Oct 12 2012: My dear Colleen(I wish I could reply to you right under your reply, but your reply is the third one, so I couldn't) I'm glad that you respond to my comment below except for one thing that you might not have read my whole comments there. I thought you did right after I received an email from TED--as you always did. It's also a bit tiresome to explain what I am trying to say especially to Ms(or Mrs).Taylor. "Do we continue to abuse her rights by demanding that she carry a pregnancy to full term?" Why do we do that? I am not in the position of arguing 'veto' to abortion laws. My quote:"For that 8yrs young girl--as you say, who “lacks the capability to understand it”, adults have to help her make an appropriate decision, sometimes by legal force" implies we shouldn't prohibit having abortions especially to this child. Please, my friend, if you pay more attention to my comments there you wouldn't misunderstand.
      Here, in Korea, lots of women including children have been being raped by some devils as well. The youngest victim I've heard was 6yrs old. I cried when I heard a news. However often it may be, it is ‘extreme’, or should I use other word, ‘shocking’. Some people might not show any emotional support or sympathy to those raped victims, but to me, it is humiliating to the victims and indeed shocking—whether you agree with this part or not. One thing I agree with you is that children have rights. I think someone doesn't get what kind of right I'm talking about here. Children deserve to be respected and to be allowed to maintain their lives just like adults as they are all human beings with dignity. Just like your comment, neither do I care about whether women use their bodies whatever they want. Whether tattooing on her body, getting her hair cut, having sexual relationships with her boyfriend...
      (Running out of characters....:) )
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        Oct 12 2012: Hi Elizabeth,
        I read all of your comments before I responded, which I usually do to get a feel for where you are coming from with comments.

        I think you are getting my comments mixed up with Linda's...in your comment above. the statement..."lacks the capability to understand...." for example, is Linda's, not mine. So, I do not think I misunderstand you.

        I did apparently misunderstand your use of the word "extreme", and now understand that you meant "shocking"....thanks for clarifying, and I agree. I also agree that all human beings have rights.
        • Oct 12 2012: Oh, don't get me wrong, Colleen, btw :) I have no intention to mix up your comment with Ms(or Mrs) Taylor's.
          That quote part here
          "For that 8yrs young girl--as you say, who “lacks the capability to understand it”, adults have to help her make an appropriate decision, sometimes by legal force."
          From "For" to "force" is from my comment and the sub-quote(so to speak) is from Ms(or Mrs)Taylor's. In previous comment to Ms(or Mrs)Taylor's, I mentioned "as you say" to her to contain her quote by using this "" by using quotation marks.
          My response to your quote was: "Do we continue to abuse her rights by demanding that she carry a pregnancy to full term?" Why do we do that? I am not in the position of arguing 'veto' to abortion laws.

          My reply there shows it.
          You know, just so we’re clear. :) no worries.
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        Oct 12 2012: Colleen is correct about "lacks the capability to understand." I posted that information.
        http://www.ted.com/talks/sarah_jayne_blakemore_the_mysterious_workings_of_the_adolescent_brain.html
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        Oct 12 2012: Elizabeth,
        I did not perceive you to mix comments up intentionally. It looked like you were crediting me with something Linda said. It becomes confusing sometimes when we use quotes and sub-quotes, etc. Best to keep communications as clear and simple as possible. You advised me to pay more attention to your comments, which I think I do.
        Just so we're clear...no worries:>)
    • Oct 12 2012: But it is my concern when people treat fetuses as to having abortions some kind of part of their hairs with no respect. It’s killing a live life. She can feel its heart beat when her fetus is growing in her belly. Government shouldn’t take away women’s rights to choose, but should we really close our eyes in front of those little lives? Why not giving it a thought? Fetuses aren’t enemies of human rights. And when this sentence makes conflicts between women’s rights and fetuses rights, usually the latter is weak; therefore, if someone says like, “shouldn’t we consider their lives also?” SOME people with the former part overreact as if it’s a black and white issue. And it goes like, “How dare you to ask governments to deprive women’s rights to do whatever they want even if that means they could kill their fetuses whenever they want? You’re asking them to deprive human rights.” Then, again, it takes too much of a time to explain what he feels about this issue and corrects their misconception about his remarks just like me. Why not encourage women to use contraception instead of having abortions in the first place? And again, by ‘extreme’ and ‘raped’ I mean, also indicating this case. Quite often raped kids and women aren’t able to (or fail to) use birth control drugs inevitably. If you still say that we shouldn’t force women to carry their pregnancy against their free will to me, then it all goes endless repetitive arguments. That’s why I mentioned I HATE DIVISIVE WAY OF DEALING WITH this issue.
      Are some people that selfish to give it a concern about value of a life? Are all our hopes ultimately dependent on ‘new technologies’ that would eventually solve this dilemma: While respecting women’s rights to decide to do, we can save fetuses via transplant or other methods?
      (Again, cont: )
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        Oct 12 2012: In my experience Elizabeth, regardless of a person's beliefs about what a fetus is, or is not, I have never seen a person take the question of abortion lightly. People considering abortion generally give it a great deal of thought and consider all relevant information. There is generally counceling services offered in women's health clinics, shelters, family centers and any other organization that might deal with women and young girls facing the decision.

        I agree with you that many people perceive the issue as black and white, and fail to understand that there are many different factors considered when facing the challenging decision. That is why I am in favor of women having the right of choice, which the law protects and supports.

        I agree that encouraging women to use contraception is a better choice, which is offered in women's clinics, family centers, medical facilities, etc., along with education. You are right...many women and young kids are not using birth control because they do not anticipate being raped.

        I do not believe we should "force" women to carry a pregnancy to term...I believe that women have a choice, and that is what the law provides. The issue does not have to be divisive , and the only thing that makes it so, is people trying to impose THEIR beliefs on women. Women have the right to choose how their body will be used, and many women will choose abortion whether it is legal or not. I prefer to have the proceedure done in safe environments, with medical professionals, rather than in the many unsafe ways it was done in the past.
        • Oct 12 2012: "The issue does not have to be divisive, and the only thing that makes it so, is people trying to impose THEIR beliefs on women." yeah, Colleen, especially when some people impose their cultural or religious or political beliefs on women without an effort to convince them with reasonable explanations. That's why we should also value reasons in some way. On the contrary, when others raise a question to women such as "Isn't it also important to consider fetuses' lives to be worthy of living?", the answers at least shouldn't just be defensive. Because asking women to think about Albert Schweitzer's notion of ‘Reverence for life’ is not imposing some beliefs on them. Btw, it just reminds me of your old comments when we were having amusing conversation about whether personality matters(remember? lol ), “many adults do not know themselves well, and are often acting/reacting with a "knee jerk" reaction (are you familier with that term?) based on past experiences”, “The more information we are open to, the more possibilities we have to learn and grow. If we are open minded/open hearted, curious, and genuinely exploring the life experience, we may be taking in new information all the time, and providing ourselves with more possibilities.” I believe your old quotes are relevant to this issue and debate going on here as well. Just like you and I agree with the idea that ‘black and white’ way of views are not fruitful, we, quite most people are getting more defensive toward opposition part. Some people are extremely opposite, and in that case, they usually don’t make any sense. Even if we are granted rights to have abortions whenever we want, we shouldn’t stop thinking—by thinking I mean, using our reasons for pursuing “truth” or should I say, justice?(doesn’t need to be that profound..). Fetuses aren’t defined as persons, but they are alive with beating heart and little body in their moms’ bellies. (oops, seems like it'd be long replies again lol)
        • Oct 12 2012: Even for women who choose to have abortions, it would be a quite important decision which needs to be made very carefully—including receiving counseling or taking wise experts’ advice, etc. Why should they be careful? Because even though they have quite reasonable grounds on having abortions, the fact that this is the least worst options she has now, and the fact that still, there’s no perfect way that can save both mom and fetus while not making this inevitable choice make them uneasy or even guilty(not all people). Respecting the idea of reverence for life is not some personal belief, I think. It is part of philosophy which people should take account of when they make this kind of decisions. Merely justifying themselves is not the answer for both parties in this issue. “many women will choose abortion whether it is legal or not. I prefer to have the proceedure done in safe environments, with medical professionals, rather than in the many unsafe ways it was done in the past.” Yeah, this part is the one thing I very agree with for now. Besides, it is the main reason why I think a government shouldn’t prohibit abortions. Considering reality and practicality are also very crucial, particularly in politics. But when those are the only things prevailing among people, and provided that people don’t try to give it a bit of a thought of what‘s moral, what should be the priority and what we should pursue, it becomes much more harder to make productive atmosphere in a debate. When it is majority of people versus minority of people, most of results are mocks and sarcasm. That’s it. No more open debate as if there has been just one or the other answer. They don’t try to think more. They just get used to sticking to their rooted thought without critical and deeper thinking.
          Thanks for your reply, Colleen :)

          Always a pleasure.
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        Oct 12 2012: Yes Elizabeth, I remember the conversation about whether personality matters. Thanks Elizabeth, I also believe my old quotes are relevant to this issue and debate as well....actually, I believe the quote you pulled up is relevant to almost any situation:>)
        Thank you Elizabeth....always a pleasure for me as well:>)
    • Oct 12 2012: One thing that really bothers me is when people just undermine their conversation partner’s claim with lack of understanding of what he argues. Yup, some prejudices(gender, age, race, etc) may possibly be one of factors.

      It’d almost sound like the broken record. And I guess that’s where the debate goes in vain, that is, “fruitless(from your quote)” ?

      Regards, my friend.
      P.S. Don't be surprised by the fact that my replies are quite long, whew~ :)
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        Oct 12 2012: I agree Elizabeth, that any conversation is not productive when people are in a circular argument which seems to be "black and white", as you said in a previous comment. And yes, that is why I said this conversation could go on and on....fruitless....if people are not listening to. and considering new information. I am not surprised by your long replies my friend:>)
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    Oct 11 2012: Not yet a person, but a human being. Because, person is a human being with a personality.
    Fetus is Fast Evolving True Universal Species.
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    Oct 8 2012: "Pro-life/pro-choice" is a false dichotomy. True dichotomies are "pro-life/pro-death" and "pro-choice/pro-force". Abortion debate is not about "pro-life/pro-death". It's about "pro-choice/pro-force".

    We all need to develop our capacity for reasoning, ability to feel pain, and capacity to communicate to stop killing each other.
    • Oct 8 2012: Politics is the domain of word twisters: form over substance. The same minds that thought up the term "pro-life" thought up the terms "family values" and "un-American" (or un-British, un-Australian, etc...), they are pathetic distractions created by those who have no logical arguments to fall back on.
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        Oct 8 2012: Exactly. Some spin doctor came up with that garbage. I agree it is all about pro-choice or pro-force.
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        Oct 8 2012: I agree that "family values", "un-American", etc. are meaningless buzz-words. I disagree with stereotyping people and making broad emotional judgments. We are all pathetic and illogical in many ways :-).
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      Oct 8 2012: This ignores the mother.

      Are you saying a woman has no reproductive rights.

      Are you saying once a woman is pregnant she has no say at all.

      You can not frame an argument about pregnancy and ignore the mother.
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        Oct 9 2012: If you read thread of replies on my post right below, I have commented on rights there. Pregnancy is all about the mother... and the fetus... (there is no pregnancy without a fetus either, is there?) But I agree, abortion issue is ALL about the mother. It must be her decision and her alone. The fetus does not make any decisions.

        God or evolution, when a mother feels safe, calm, happy, secure, comfortable, supported, etc., she will always make the right decision. Fear, anger, pressure, anxiety, threats, despair, feeling abused, insecure, etc. is the problem. The solution to the problem is purely emotional, not logical, not political, not religious - a little kindness to each other, and we will do just fine :-).
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      Oct 9 2012: I think it comes down womens right to control what happens to their body versus fetus.
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        Oct 9 2012: Pregnant women do not control what happens to their bodies :-) They should be able control what is being done to their bodies.

        It all comes down to love. When love is present, the question of rights does not even come up. All this stuff comes up when love is overshadowed by the other things I mentioned. It all comes down to the woman's emotional and physical well-being. I think, this is the only issue to focus on. The other issues don't really matter.
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    Oct 7 2012: In the US, the fetal debate centers on when "life" begins. Typically this is called being. There are three major points of debate.

    1. Conception
    2. At heartbeat development
    3. Point of viability

    There are many others and different subcategories but those are the main ones.

    The conception model looks at a fertilized egg and cellular division as the beginning of life. While still just a cluster of cells, it has the potential of becoming a human and is therefore defined by many as "life." But for me, cancer is a bunch of rapidly dividing human cells and nobody gets all bent out of shape when that is removed.

    The fetal heart begins to beat around week 8 or 9. Those who feel there is an attachment between heart and soul typically feel that is when a bunch of cells crosses into being.

    The point of viability is where the fetus has a chance of living separate from the mother. This has changed over the years as technology has advanced and we can keep a fetus alive outside the mother earlier and earlier. But the long term ramifications of the application of technology have yet to be fully realized.

    But no one considers a fetus or an infant or even a young child a person. In the legal and philosophical realm, a person is typically considered to have agency, or the ability to make decisions. That is why Ms. Warner suggests those parameters. It sets up the foundation for her philosophical discussion. Each philosopher will do something similar when discussing person. It has changed over the centuries, for instance, women are now considered persons.
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      Oct 7 2012: Thanks Linda.
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      Oct 7 2012: Yes a fertilized egg is a cluster of cells and so is cancer, but does cancer have the potential of becoming human?
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        Oct 7 2012: Good question. Perhaps yes. Theoretically all human cells have human DNA so what distinguishes the parallel? If cancer cells have the same DNA as fetal cells what is the difference? Both feed off the host and cannot survive without it. Both can kill the host. Both rely on the host for nutrition, respiration, excretion, growth and development. Both will derive what it needs from the host whether or not the host ingests it. Think about it.

        Cancer is human.
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        Oct 7 2012: @ John

        " pro-choice is a pro-woman strategy, anti-abortion is a pro-man position." Wow interesting article!
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        Oct 7 2012: @ Sterling Theoretically, if we could figure out the technology any human cell could potentially become a 'fully fledged human.' I do think that this will someday become a reality. If not in the US, it will develop in some other country that is not as conflicted about life.
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          Oct 7 2012: So are you saying cancer could never become a 'fully fledged human' on its own then?
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        Oct 7 2012: In all honesty, I really don't know. Cancer is usually hit with chemicals or radiation or surgically removed. If left untreated it will kill the host. But I am not sure if it would develop into a self-sustaining organism if it did not kill the host. Only that it has the potential to.

        Hmm. There's that word potential again.
        • Oct 7 2012: At the risk of going awfully off-topic, I'll answer that question.
          In a strict sense, animal cells are never self-sustaining (or primary producers or autotrophs). They need something else to make "food" for them. However, used in a looser sense, the HeLa cells that I mentioned earlier *are* self-sustaining. Given "food", they'll grow and reproduce indefinitely. The HeLa cancer cells are not unique in this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immortalised_cell_line.

          There is an infectious cancer that's killing off Tasmanian Devils which is, again, caused by such a self-sustaining cancer cell: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devil_facial_tumour_disease

          So, the answer for Linda Taylor: yes, *some* cancers will form a self-sustaining organism.

          And the answer for Sterling Spencer: no, it it awfully unlikely to ever form a full-fledged human. Cancer cells have several mutations that can't be simply reversed or turned off. So, even if technology ever progresses far enough to clone a person from just his dandruff, we'll never be able to clone a person from their cancer cells without making many modifications to the DNA first.
    • Oct 7 2012: "But for me, cancer is a bunch of rapidly dividing human cells and nobody gets all bent out of shape when that is removed."

      I agree with most things you say, except this. Of course, I wouldn't get all bent out of shape when cancer cells are removed. But nobody? Reference: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/Henrietta-Lacks-Immortal-Cells.html scroll down to the question "How did they do that?" ;-)

      The world is a weird place. But just to be clear: I agree with the essence of what you say.
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        Oct 7 2012: I had heard about this so thanks for the article. I heard about it when we were discussing ownership. For instance, who owns those cells? Has to do with informed consent to research. Another fine ethical discussion:)

        Think about it. They could clone her at some point. So those cells could become a person some day. They better not kill any of them...
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    Oct 7 2012: ""At eight weeks, the intestines begin to form and teeth start growing under the gums. By the end of the "embryonic stage" ( this stage begins at week 4 during pregnancy), the embryo has developed joints and the beginning of the " irises ". Major organs have begun their development, as well as the CNS (central nervous system). This would be the end of the eighth week ( embryonic stage).""
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080503145054AAeMqu9

    Seems to me the killing of these little people can only be justified by the need to save mum's life. We live in a strange world.

    :-(
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      Oct 7 2012: Its a strange world indeed. But considering the fact that some thinkers believe that a fetus is a human being(even if not a person) dont you think this is a strong-enough arguement against abortion?
      • Oct 7 2012: Tell me about it. Fetus isn't valued high just because of this ridiculous law that it has no right to live and to be born if its mom decides to abandon it. It's a really serious problem we all should talk about intensely, but the fact that it's still unresolved (in a way that fetus can't be regarded as worthy of living) always troubles my mind. Btw, great question, Feyisayo.
        We should respect women's rights, but as for this matter that shows so many lives are at stake, I can't dare to say that it's okay to get rid of fetus anyway its mom wants.
        As Peter says, "Seems to me the killing of these little people can only be justified by the need to save mum's life", only particular cases like this should be justified, indeed.
        By fundamentally respecting women's rights, how can we save fetus's life?
        Are both of desires nonetheless contradictory?
        So sad..
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          Oct 7 2012: Fetuses do not have rights because they are NOT considered persons. They cannot make decisions. If you cannot make decisions, someone else has to make them for you. Children are not persons either which is why the courts can take over decision making for them if the parents cannot.

          So what you are talking about is taking away a right of a woman who DOES have rights because she is a PERSON and grant rights to something that is not a person. By what stretch of the imagination is that ethically correct?
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          Oct 7 2012: @ Linda Taylor

          How do we determine if a fetus can make decisions or not?
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          Oct 7 2012: @ Spencer
          The ability to make a decision develops over time. For instance, the law does not consider that a minor has the ability to make decisions so they are not allowed to sign a contract or sue someone without an 'agent.' This idea of an agent, or someone able to make a decision, and personhood goes back a long way. Varying philosophers and legal people have come to some consensus on what it takes to be a person with moral agency able to make decisions. Some criteria include the list by Ms. Warren above.

          But what everyone agrees on is that decisions are based on the concepts of reason and agency. A fetus has neither of those.

          http://www.duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/P/Person.aspx
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    Oct 7 2012: Interesting point about infanticide. I would argue, that I believe in Mary Ann Warrens definition, but that still makes infanticide murder, because all of those things begin at very late stages in the womb. They are simple mechanisms, but they still exist in the third trimester, the brain is formed and it is making movements, trying to communicate, kicking for example.

    Personally, I go for brain development, and the ability to feel pain, as the line at when abortion should be considered a cruel act. I think that happens around month 7, but i'm no expert.

    To me something that is not experiencing the world, cannot be murdered. Especially in light of recent studies which have found that for most women, an abortion doesn't stop a life from coming into the world, it just delays it, until that life has a more stable parent which can provide for it. I think in a small study once they even found no statistical difference in the number of children women have in their lifetime, after an abortion, but I would have to find it and read it again to be sure.

    Abortion should however, remain societally discouraged as a last resort. The pill is healthier for most women, condoms are ideal. There is often talk of liberals being "for" abortion, because a small minority are, they see nothing wrong with it, even 3 or 4... That's as unhealthy for a womans body as a drug addiction... but very few people think that behavior is acceptable, most simply think prison might not help. Morally gray, legally, acceptable, in my humble opinion. So, emotionally, it's kinda a person. Legally, it's a fetus.
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      Oct 7 2012: I'm giving much thought to your view that "something that is not experiencing the world cannot be murdered".

      What is your take on the view that abortion is the misuse of power by human beings over other human beings; that is, it is thought in some quarters that abortion is tantamount to denying a helpless being of a right to life and living.
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        Oct 8 2012: To me that's where I say it's a morally gray. You are stopping a potential life... However, you will likely bring a different life into the world, under better circumstances, when you are older, and more secure. So I like to think of it as delaying a life, which may be wrong, but it's not murder... It's a difficult choice a teenage mother has to make, about when to bring a life into the world.

        If she chooses to delay, the particular life form, which has already been conceived, will die, but hopefully a new life form will spring forth later, with a better chance at life. So I see it as a mistake, and a moral wrong, but not a cardinal sin, not murder. We all make mistakes.
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      Oct 7 2012: David, a fetus is not an infant. It is called a fetus before it comes out of the mother. It can be called an infant after it comes out of the mother which is how the law defines it. Typically a baby is called a neonate for the first 28 days after birth and after that it is called an infant. To my knowledge, there is no medical procedure for infanticide.
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        Oct 8 2012: Hey Linda. I agree with you here, I was merely responding to the question of infanticide.

        On the other conversation, I cannot respond, because you responded too low. I assure you however, that my rant did not look as childish before John went on a deleting spree, erasing everything he said along the lines of "women are perfect, men are evil, and looking at the world any other way is insane".

        Growing up, as a young boy, who's just supposed to tolerate insane, sexist, nonsense like that, is frustrating, so I went off. Feel free to correct me however. I was playing a bit of devils advocate. I have no intention of "growing up", to learn that I'm evil, and everyone I like is evil though, and I don't think that is the "fair" way to view the world.
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          Oct 8 2012: Thank you David, now I understand. You just unloaded a LOT! It was almost overwhelming to read.

          You're right, you're not evil. But if you're smart, you will work it;)
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    Oct 30 2012: @ Margo Kirkpatrick RE: "I don't see how a person . . ."The specific question before us is whether or not a fetus is a person in terms of the Constitution of the United States. The Supreme Court has ruled (legislated) that the answer is "No". In the USA you can deliberately terminate the gestation of a human being under almost any condition. Thus abortion is not a crime, it is not considered to be violence against another person. Folks who support and participate in abortions can correctly say they are not doing harm to a person. That is why some say they have the right to abort. They do not say they are taking the life of an innocent person. They say they are "ridding the mother's body of the product of conception". Millions of times since 1973 in America the rights of women have been trampled underfoot, unborn women that is.
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      Oct 30 2012: The only ones "trampling" anyone Edward, are those who try to impose their own beliefs on women, who have the right to decide how their bodies will be used.
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        Oct 31 2012: I believe all women and men have inalienable rights. Those of us who are able can fight for our rights as we understand them. But the old, the infirm, the disenfranchised, and the unborn need someone to fight for them. I think we all have a share in the task of helping the helpless. Do you disagree Colleen?
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          Oct 31 2012: Edward,
          You are trying to fight to have control over a woman's choices because of YOUR religious beliefs.
        • Nov 4 2012: Edward,
          The UDHR states that everyone has a right to religion and their own beliefs. And in Roe v Wade it was concluded that any woman, for any reason may have an abortion.
          my belief is that this is a good law because under the circumstances of rape no woman no matter the age should have to go through with having a baby after having sex without consent. We should not be able to control a woman's choice of having an abortion it is their choice to make not ours.
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        Oct 31 2012: Do you disagree that the helpless need our help?
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          Oct 31 2012: Edward,
          You KNOW that I do not get distracted by your diversionary tactics.

          The topic is:
          "Is a Fetus a Person? The debate over whether abortion should be considered as murder often focuses on the question of whether the fetus is a person or not."

          A) It is determined, by law, that a fetus is not a person.
          B) Abortion is legal in the US.

          What part of that do you not understand?

          I assume you have never had to make the choice to carry a pregnancy to term, or have an abortion. If you did ever have to make that difficult choice for yourself, I would support whatever you chose...just as I support many women in the choices they make for themselves. Whatever YOUR religious beliefs are, it does NOT give you the right to control a woman's choice for herself.
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        Oct 31 2012: The part I don't understand is your reluctance to give a simple, direct reply to a valid, related question. One last try and then I will hopefully begin another lengthy hiatus from your incessant nonsequiturs. Here goes: Do you disagree that unborn babies are unable to fight for their rights?If you choose to not answer that specific question please spare me any further diatribes and do not respond to me directly. Thank you Colleen!
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          Oct 31 2012: I have answered your question several times Edward, and it does not help your argument to be disrespectful.
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      Oct 31 2012: Hi Ed,

      It is very difficult to discuss this topic putting religion aside.

      Nobody considers an egg, or a spermatozoid a person, correct? and a fertilized egg of a few days has much more in common with either one of those than it has with a newborn.

      So, if it were possible... putting religion aside for a moment, where does one draw the artificial line between a spermatozoid, or an egg, and a newborn? a few days? a few weeks? when certain characteristics appear? which characteristics? How does one factor in both the jurisdiction and the wellbeing of the mother? Does the quality of life that can be offered to the offspring play any role? or is it just a matter of ensuring babies are born and then passing on responsibility to someone else?
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        Oct 31 2012: Good points Andres. I think the question is as much biology as it is religion, probably more. If we stick to biology and trace the full life cycle of a homo sapien from beginning to end we see that it begins when an egg is fertilized by a sperm and it ends when metabolism and respiration ceases. Independent gametes are not homo sapiens but zygotes are. To try and justify saying a zygote is not one of the phases of human life one must leave biology and find a rationale in law, ethics, philosophy, or elsewhere. If my spiritual beliefs were different I truly do not see how it would change my understanding of biology, which is the only proper science to provide the answer to Mr.Anjorin's question. Thank you, and be well sir.
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          Oct 31 2012: Oh baloney. You can make an embryo in a dish and destroy it at will. Nobody is calling it helpless. People pick and choose and draw artificial lines. What happens when we can carry an embryo to term in a vat? It will happen some day you know. So all of a sudden embryos are helpless humans?

          Actually, when you can grow an embryo in a vat, I would probably be OK with ending abortion. Women get to choose and the fetus gets to live. Just take the fetus out, throw it in a jar and walk away. Someone else can pay for it and raise it. Maybe the government? Oh but wait, the government gets its money from you and me. But I don't want to pay for it so you can. But then, who would own it?

          At current estimates we would need about 50,000 vats a year. Someone could make a fortune. And in about 10 years we would have an additional 500,000 children to school, who would of course in another 10 years need some additional vats. Maybe some jobs so they could be taxed to support the vat program.

          But people don't want a vat program. They want women to be the vats.
  • Oct 17 2012: When we end the life of a living thing, we call it killing.
    OR harvesting, picking, reaping and others I can't think of, that are less volatile terms.
    When we intentionally end the life of a human being, we call it murder. Premeditated murder.

    But, a fetus is not a person but only a human being (murder?) that hasn't really developed into the "being".
    They are, but they are not being.

    We need to really be educated, without hidden moral lies and motives, about life. But we really don't know the truth and many of the so-called experts are not trustworthy.

    Just want to add, that though I am on the side of women in this regard (60/40), I don't understand the concept of slave-ownership of the fetus, baby, child.

    Ultimately, we should all mind our own business, but since pregnancy takes two, so should abortion, for the ownership has to be between two.

    Using rape is a lousy example. It is only a way of stopping the conversation. Unless, women believe, think or pretend that all coupling with a male is actually a form of rape. Do ladies think this? I know many who do. It is a very dangerous slope to slide around on.

    Clearly, the Christian country known as America has virtually no qualms about killing millions of people, particularly babies and children. So, methinks from that alone, this isn't even a moral dilemma at all.
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      Oct 17 2012: I agree Random, that "we need to really be educated, without hidden moral lies and motives about life".

      Lest we misunderstand the meaning of rape:
      "Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent, such as a person who is unconscious or incapacitated." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape

      If it is determined by law that a fetus is NOT a person, and if abortion is legal, it is reasonable to expect those in the community to respect those laws, and the rights of others, no matter what their personal beliefs and preferences are.

      It is a "moral dilemma" for those who have certain beliefs, and I respect the beliefs of others. I do not agree with imposing one's beliefs onto others.
      • Ce Gzz

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        Oct 25 2012: then why the idea that a "fetus" is not a person, should be imposed in those of us who respect LIFE from conception? Very tolerant Mrs. Steen.
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          Oct 25 2012: Ce Gzz,
          Nothing is being imposed on you. When/if you face the decision, you have the choice to carry the pregnancy to term or not. That is simply a human right, for each of us to decide how our body will be used.
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          Gail . 50+

          • +1
          Oct 26 2012: Who is imposing abortions on you? Are you pregnant and facing a mandatory abortion? Are you Chinese? What other countries impose abortions on its citizens? That's the only way that an abortion can be imposed.

          If you are offended by abortions because your god doesn't like them, then don't have one. It's that simple. But please don't impose your god's dictates on those who don't recognize it.

          You know, if you want to convince women to stop having abortions, it would help if you would speak to them with civility. I've read your hateful and ignorant comments. There is no need to treat TEDsters so badly. Perhaps it's time for you to read the terms of service. They require you to treat others with respect. So far, you are failing to do that.
      • Ce Gzz

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        Oct 26 2012: Sure it is (not on me), but on teen girls who are not presented other options, or even worst not exposed to the dangers abortion can carry into her life. That is indoctrination. Human right is to LIVE! not to kill. And please avoid speaking about a body that doesn't belong to the pregnant woman... the child's body.
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          Oct 26 2012: Human rights apply only after a human being is born.

          Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Article 1
          "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

          Constitutional rights are granted when a human being becomes a person.

          Human rights and civil rights are not the same. Human rights were established in 1948.

          But you have all the rights in the world as a human being and a person to come up with your own belief system.
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          Oct 26 2012: Ce Gzz - are you simply trying to offend people and get them upset, or have you not thought this one through?

          The fertilized egg IS the property of the woman. It is a parasite in HER body. If the child can survive on its own, then it has a right to live. If it cannot, it is not a person. It's a POTENTIAL person.
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          Oct 26 2012: Ce Gzz,
          As much as you would like to, you CANNOT dictate how a woman or young girl will use her body...that is a violation of human rights.

          In case you didn't know, the fetus is totally sustained by the systems of the woman's body, so technically, the fetus does indeed "belong" to the pregnant woman/girl.

          Please avoid speaking about things of which you apparently are unaware. As Linda reminds you Ce Gzz, you are welcome to your own belief system.
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    Oct 11 2012: through the debate .i have a much better understanding of it
    i think the westen much more go fowad to laws .and you laws tells what you should do .while the easten do it much more from the morality.well i think laws are much more peoper fot it because it can prevent doing it from our emotins and we may have much long sight to this question and and i think we are making it gradually .it si a good machine processed to learn from .
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      Oct 12 2012: Actually Chen, I would not say that our laws tell us what we "should" do, because in my experience working with women and young girls, there is often a LOT of consideration regarding morality and religious beliefs as well.

      The law, provides a choice for women to have abortions in a safe environment with the proceedure done by competent medical professionals, rather than some of the unsafe, dangerous ways the proceedure was done prior to the law.

      The woman continues to take into consideration her own beliefs, and has the freedom to consider ALL relevant information, often with the help of councelors. In the shelter and family center where I volunteered, I never heard anyone tell a woman what she "should" do. We were there to support her in a very difficult decision, and encouraged the women to consider ALL aspects of the decision. The law protects her freedom to have a safe abortion when/if that is what she chooses.
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        Oct 12 2012: Hi Colleen, really liked your comment but sometimes I think that if the girl who wants abortion why got pregnant? There are a lot of ways through which she can avoid the pregnancy but I think its not morally good that ones gets pregnant and then she is losing her baby. No doubt its a tough decision in life of a woman to get abortion but why she decided to do this what I want to say is this if she knows that how to have sex then she must be aware how she can avoid pregnancy.
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          Oct 12 2012: Good question Noveed,
          Education for ALL men/women/girls/boys is IMPORTANT! It takes TWO to create a pregnancy!

          Actually, some of the young girls who are raped do not know anything about the reproductive process, and it is not a choice for them...that is not "morally good" either, do you think? Whose responsibility is that?

          Education is provided in the women's clinics here, including methods of birth control, and abortion, as a method of birth control IS ALWAYS DISCOURAGED.
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          Oct 12 2012: Here is another thought for you to ponder Noveed...

          Because of cultural, religious beliefs, or simply because of the demand of her partner, women often cannot say no to sex, so abstinence is not an option for many women.

          Birth control is forbidden by some religions, so that is not an option for many women.

          Abortion is forbidden by some religions, so that is not an option for some women.

          Where does that leave a woman? At the mercy of her partner or her religion, without any control regarding how her body will be used.

          And then men criticize women for not doing something about the problem, and give her total responsibility!!!

          Think about it my friend.
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        Oct 12 2012: "some of the young girls who are raped do not know anything about the reproductive process"

        I believe this is an exceptional case if not you tell me that when you were volunteer what was the percentage of cases like this?? What I think is that we should teach our younger generation that how they can avoid pregnancy instead of wasting our time whether the fetus is person or not.
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          Oct 12 2012: Colleen has tried to explain without explaining and could take the thread down a different path unintentionally, How does one try to tell a fraction of an instant in their lives without writing a book? She was a volunteer at a shelter for women that probably came from violent and abusive relationships that had their children raped and abused under the age of 12, it's just an example of what she might of come across and honestly the details always break my heart.
          Children may play act at knowing but emotionally they don't know because we were suppose to protect them til they were old enough to make their own decisions. Noveed what age group were you thinking of? Young teenage women 15 and over? This could explain the different view points of the posting direction though it is just a guess on my part.

          EDIT

          I should have used the words "Hint" and "Hinted at" rather than the words "Explain" So sorry everyone if this post confuses anyone, my mistake.
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          Oct 12 2012: Noveed,
          They are ALL exceptional cases....each one different.....each one important.

          Sorry I do not have that number for you. I agree....we should educate people more. The next question is.....are those who need education open to that possibility? We have religious fundamentalists bombing womens health centers, killing medical professionals who provide education, along with lots of innocent people. Do you think they might change their destructive practices and get some education?
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        Oct 12 2012: Exactly Colleen. The laws allow us to help mothers-to-be navigate some very difficult decisions. It is rarely ever black and white. One girl I helped was 18 years old. She was madly in love and was pregnant. Her parents disowned her for being pregnant outside of wedlock. In the workup for the pregnancy they found out she had a serious case of leukemia. All this happened in about 2 weeks.

        She could get the chemotherapy for the leukemia and it would most likely harm the fetus. She could abort the pregnancy and have the chemo and try for a pregnancy later. Or she could delay the chemo, carry the pregnancy and risk her own life.

        She is dead now. She chose to have the baby. She told me that wanted to know what being a mother was like before she died. Chances are good she would have made it through the chemo and in to remission. There was even talk of getting a court order.

        I supported her decision and helped her understand to the best of my ability. Just as I supported all the women who chose differently, I try to support them from their ethical framework, not mine. I understand from the front lines what some of the results could be if this option were legally removed for women.

        Because of my experiences, I understand women's rights, I understand children's rights and I understand the threats to them.
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          Oct 12 2012: I understand Linda. There were many times I did not agree with a woman/girl's choice, but I was not there to impose my own preferences on them. I was there to provide whatever information and resources they needed to support them in making their own decisions.

          People are NOT empowered when other people control and dominate them. We empower people by giving them the tools they need to empower themselves. Those who impose their own beliefs on others are simply trying to control, dominate and oppress. I know you know this Linda.....it is for the rest of the listening audience:>)
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          Oct 13 2012: although i dont suggest that ,i think it is part of wenman'right . she can do whatever she wants but i dont think what she did is rational. you know we are different .different values different through.i respect these.what we can do is just let them know more about herself and what it will bring about the different dicisions she made ,just as Colleen does .that is all we can do and that is in our Jurisdiction.

          we cant force sb to do something . but we can influence sb to do something
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          Oct 13 2012: I agree Chen, education is the best thing for everyone, and to force someone to do something is a violation of human rights.
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          Oct 14 2012: Ms. Linda I am sorry for that lady and I wish that she is alive.

          At the end of the day I think that we should educate the people first but where a woman tend to have abortion we should leave on her instead of forcing her not to do this.
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        Oct 13 2012: Very impressive Linda and Colleen but the thing is if a murderer want to kill someone then will the society not dominate or control him of course the society will so I believe that educating people is more important. The people especially Asian think that fetus of some weeks is a human being and removing it is a crime I am also one of them so I think education is best option. it is only for you my friend not for the rest of audience. :)
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          Oct 13 2012: I agree Noveed that education, and being familier with the laws that are in effect is very important.

          Regarding my comment:
          "People are NOT empowered when other people control and dominate them. We empower people by giving them the tools they need to empower themselves. Those who impose their own beliefs on others are simply trying to control, dominate and oppress. I know you know this Linda.....it is for the rest of the listening audience:>)"

          I know this Noveed, and I believe Linda knows this as well. Many people would like to impose their own beliefs on others, and I do not agree with that concept, nor do I believe it to be good for our global community.
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          Oct 13 2012: I agree Mr. Hussain but to this day I do not know if the young lady whose story I shared, understood that she would really be dead. I still think she had some magical thinking that she would not really die.

          Many adolescents have that magical thinking. 'It happens to other people not me.' There are limits to education and we tend to forget that.

          The consequences of her decision were deadly.
      • Ce Gzz

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        Oct 25 2012: Sure! a woman is totally given all the information about an abortion http://www.christianpost.com/news/chicago-woman-dies-after-abortion-at-planned-parenthood-78671/

        Even about possible cancer years after, right? and they are told about how they can also help them with the trauma post-abortion later? right!
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          Oct 25 2012: That is correct Ce Gzz. In all the situations I have been involved with, education, information, pre and post counceling is provided.

          The article in the link you provided, clearly says..."The medical examiner's office said that an intrauterine pregnancy contributed to her death"

          Do your homework!
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          Oct 25 2012: I agree with Colleen. In every case I have worked.
      • Comment deleted

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          Oct 26 2012: Ce Gzz,
          I think you have been misinformed...or maybe not at all informed!

          I understand that you do not agree with abortion, and you are going around in circles trying to argue against the facts.

          A medical examiner is not in any way responsible for counceling a woman regarding abortion, so for you to say that the " the examiner's office could have warned her before just putting her inside your favorite Planned Parenthood. NEGLIGENCE all the way" is ridiculous!!!

          The medical examiner, apparently did his/her job as appropriate, and ruled that an "intrauterine pregnancy contributed to her death". It appears that her "pregnancy CONTRIBUTED to her death", otherwise the medical report would have said that abortion was the CAUSE of death.

          You have no idea of the circumstances. That article was posted on the "Christian Post", so it would not surprise me if the details were inaccurate or altogether missing.
  • Oct 10 2012: My two cents worth:

    1. You can define "person" any way you want, the word is just a distraction from the important issues.

    2. My wife believes abortion should be legal until the child reaches the age of 18. It would certainly help with discipline problems.

    3. To me, the abortion issue is not so much about whether abortion is right or wrong, but whether the government has the right to decide that abortion is illegal. Outlawing abortion, even with exceptions, is an egregious intrusion on a woman's ability to decide matters about her personal health and the well being of her children. IMO, the government has no right to intrude in this very personal issue. Even if the fetus has some human rights, these rights come into direct conflict with the rights of the mother. This is a unique situation, and I do not believe it is possible to formulate a reasonable argument that the rights of the fetus should weigh more heavily than the rights of the mother. When there are health issues involved, whether the issues affect the woman or the fetus or both, the decision of whether or not to abort should be made by the woman, the potential father, and the doctor. Having the government involved in that decision in any way is just plain wrong. There are some doctors who are so afraid of the pro-life activists that they will not even discuss the option of abortion with their patients. That is wrong; it is bad medical practice.
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    Oct 8 2012: Re. "potential".

    Imagine, I lose a dollar and I'm upset about it. It makes me sad, frustrated, etc... I could have invested it and gained $1000. Does it mean that I lost $1000? No. I lost a dollar. Does it mean that I should not be sad or upset about losing a dollar? What does my emotional reaction have to do with potential?

    Why do we need to rationalize our emotions? Why do we need to misrepresent reality?
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      Oct 8 2012: No kidding. Fetuses do not have rights. They are not persons. Just because they might be sometime in the 20 years if everything goes according to plan, does not mean you lost 1.000. Very good analogy.
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        Oct 8 2012: There is no logical argument for human rights either. Read the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be SELF-EVIDENT, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

        It's an emotional belief without factual evidence. This is a great example how beliefs without evidence shape our reality.
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      Oct 8 2012: This is not really a good analogy. Dollars do not naturally increase; but a fetus, if not aborted, would naturally grow to be born, and then grow to adulthood.
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        Oct 8 2012: Mr. Anjorin,
        No you are mistaken. That is not the natural sequence of events. It is simply one of many possible outcomes. You are over generalizing.
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          Oct 8 2012: When someone is pregnant, we expect a baby. That is why people are shocked or sad when there is a miscarriage. No one expects a thousand dollars from a dollar as one expects a baby from a pregnancy..
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        Oct 8 2012: Some will, some will die in the womb, some at birth, some soon after, some years after. Who are we to decide?
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          Oct 8 2012: Banks will always be robbed; whether by armed robbers, or by fraudulent bank staff, or by corrupt bank excecutives. It doesn't mean we should sit and say "Yeah, its the way of the world" and do nothing as far as security is concerned. The same could be said of laws. They will always be broken, but we have to do what we can.
          So, yes, if it is within our power we should let fetuses live.
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          Oct 8 2012: The WOMAN!~

          Why is that so hard? The PERSON with RIGHTS gets to decide!
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        Oct 8 2012: Mr. Anjorin, you may see how your own argument can easily be used to justify abortions when we perceive that the fetus has no chance of survival. We will not win this argument with reason. As I said, reason will not take us far on this issue.

        To Linda: Persons with rights always decide the fate of people without rights. And what about the rights of the unborn women that I mentioned before? I have not seen a rational argument on this issue that does not collapse under its own weight.

        But I agree with you. The woman must decide. Not based on any logic, not based on any "rights", not based on anyone's opinion, but based on her own emotional feelings. Women who make these decisions are under huge emotional pressure. Nobody makes these decisions easily. We don't want to add a pressure of going to jail to other decision factors. I talk about emotional feelings towards the fetus, not feelings of fear, anger, guilt, or despair. The job of others - family, church, society, etc. is to offer material and emotional support and reassurance, not judgment, condemnation, and threats of jail and hell.
      • Oct 8 2012: @Feyisayo Anjorin
        "a fetus, if not aborted, would naturally grow to be born, and then grow to adulthood."
        That is completely wrong. Reference: http://www.pregnancycharts.org/miscarriage.php
        If you do the math, you'll see that only about 18.4% of all conceptions lead to a successful delivery. Again, doing the math, 81.6% of the fetuses lead to a successful delivery.
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          Oct 9 2012: RE: "When a woman is infertile. . ."
          It is not the intent of the procedure to interfere with the natural and normal development of the implanted zygotes so there is not intentional infringement on the the rights of those living beings. I assume your question is hypothetical since there is no law against killing unborn babies so why would they be charged with anything? Thank you!
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    Oct 8 2012: Hi Feyisayo.
    Most comments seem centred around whether a fetus is a person or not. We have very short memories. In the recent past coloured people, like yourself, Jews, Aborigines, Gypsies, homosexuals, and any other race not like someone's idea of a human should be have been classed as sub-human & subjected to abuse & death.
    We need to take on board the fact that we are all humans together & care for one another. We need to do this from conception to natural death. If we don't then we are making a serious mistake. There will always be cases where the baby dies to save the mum; & cases where mum dies to save the baby. We cannot however go on taking innocent lives just because some boffin, or pressure group, says it's ok. It's not!

    :-(
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      Oct 9 2012: Good point Peter in general. but treating Jews etc as subhuman is not the same question as how do you balance the rights of the mother versus the rights of a fetus.
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    Oct 8 2012: Humans like most animals have a life cycle.

    A fertilised egg is not a person. It may have the potential to be one.

    I'm not sure at what point a developing human becomes a person. It's probably a gradual thing.

    Just like the transition from child to adult.
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      Oct 8 2012: Person as defined by the law happens when a child turns 21. That is the age where it has been determined that most of the population of humans have achieved sufficient reason and agency to be a moral agent.

      That is the age when humans are granted rights in the United States.

      Note I said most...
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        Oct 8 2012: Hi linda. I agree the law often needs to draw sharp lines the age we can vote drive fight in the army etc.

        In realiy individuals do not suddenly change on their birthday.

        So these issues are complex.
        Inless you believe a fertilised egg is a person then there is a continuum.

        We can identify and distinguish the exremes. But there is a transition period from a clump of cells to a little person who can feel and suffer and fonally reason.

        Abortion or micarriage is isually a sad afair. My point is we should try and differentiate between life cycle stages while acknowleding it is a continuum not binary.

        Thanks.
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    Oct 8 2012: Assuming you are asking about human fetuses my answer is three-fold: legally, no; morally, sometimes; logically, yes. Laws can change with the times. Morals can change with the culture. Logic does not change. Laws and/or morals can be contrary to logic. For example, since 1973 in the USA what is, always has been, and always will be a human/ person in terms of logic has been legally redefined to be a non-person.
    The concept of being human but not a person is nothing less than sophistry.
    I wonder if Ms. Warren advocated for the non-personhood of human adults who temporarily or permanently lacked one of her 5 qualifiers? A human fetus is a human being aka a person.
    • Oct 8 2012: Warren, though now dead, has already answered your questions: http://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave/mawarren_on_persons.html

      I don't agree with her answer myself, entirely. But since you asked for her views, here they are.
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        Oct 8 2012: Thanks for the info. I anticipated she would not be at all opposed to exercising euthanasia on "persons" who are early, mid or late term pregnancy; new born; infant;toddler; pre-school; adolescent; teenage; young adult; middle age; senior and elderly. If we redefine human to be one of two, or more, things then we are free to create a rationale for animalizing the "non-human" ones. It works for slavery, genocide and on-demand abortion.
        • Oct 8 2012: Edward, methinks you are painting a wrong picture of her. :-) Most things in your list qualify as human_M according to her categories.

          To her credit, she came up with a some criteria to define "human", and she then refined it to human_G and human_M.

          She also said “The deliberate killing of viable newborns is virtually never justified ... because neonates are so very close to being persons that to kill them requires a very strong moral justification — as does the killing of dolphins, whales, chimpanzees, and other highly personlike creatures. It is certainly wrong to kill such beings just for the sake of convenience, or financial profit, or sport.”
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        Oct 8 2012: I read her stuff John. You give her kudos for agreeing that "the deliberate killing of viable newborns" is never justified? Every civilized society on Earth considers the deliberate killing of a newborn outside the womb to be murder, a felony punishable by life in prison, or death. Hardly a glowing recommendation for her. She helped create a category of humans who are legally expendable. That is a crime against humanity and an awful legacy.
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          Oct 8 2012: That is because a newborn is viable. A fetus is not.
        • Oct 8 2012: @Linda Taylor: Not all newborns are viable. That is why Warren mentions "viable newborns". If you scroll down, you'll where I have quoted Warren's (and my) view of where killing newborns is acceptable.
        • Oct 8 2012: Oh, and I forgot to mention earlier. It is not right to criticize someone (Warren in this case) by misrepresenting their position. Which is what you are doing. You made a straw-man argument with "new born; infant;toddler; pre-school; adolescent; teenage; young adult; middle age; senior and elderly."

          Doing so is neither logically nor morally right.
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        Oct 9 2012: I agree that doing as you described is neither logically or morally right. I do not agree that I am guilty of doing what you describe. I did not misrepresent Ms. Warren. I did not not commit the fallacy of Straw Man tactics. A fetus is a person.
        • Oct 9 2012: Warren drew her line at viable neonates. I don't know why you moved the line in your argument to all those other categories. But never mind. Where would you draw your line? What about zygotes or embryos?
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        Oct 9 2012: A human egg fertilized by a human sperm is a person. By the way, note that statistically only about 17 out of 100 will be born (see Peter Lindsay's post above). Thank you, Mr. Frum!
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      Oct 8 2012: Edward, as to sophistry, I believe that philosophers could fall into the trap of using clever but wrong arguements. That is why they may not be the only people to turn to when one is to examine this issue.
      Even though we can not say that all thinking about this matter has already be done, and that we, the late-comers, do not need to re-invent the wheel, as it were.
      But if we are really interested in answers, we are on a search for truth and not clever arguements of philosopehrs.
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        Oct 8 2012: We are on well-trodden ground here. I must say though that It is not just card-carrying Philosophers who use clever, but unsound reasoning to convince others. Specious logic is where you find it. A human egg fertilized by a human sperm is a person. A fetus is a person. All persons were once a fetus.
      • Oct 8 2012: 2 points I disagree with here:
        1. philosophers are not the only kind of people who could fall into the trap of using clever but wrong arguments.
        2. "we are on a search for truth". The personhood of X (whether X is a rock or Obama) is not a "truth". It is a judgement. A thing may have an intrinsic property of colour: it reflects some wavelengths of light, while absorbing other wavelengths. A thing has a semi-intrinsic property of temperature: how fast its molecules are jiggling about. A thing has an extrinsic property of position: where it is located. Personhood is none of these kinds of properties of a thing. So, in discussing personhood, we can't be searching for truth. We would, instead, be looking for an appropriate value-judgement to assign.
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      Oct 8 2012: Logic is never illogical, but that which we call logical changes all the time. Americans are very illogical but they don't know it. If we were logical, we would be able to communicate about issues such as this without resorting to violent rhetoric and personal insults.
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        Oct 8 2012: You have introduced into this conversation the unwelcome concept of violent rhetoric and personal insults. To which specific comment(s) are you referring?
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          Oct 8 2012: "The concept of being human but not a person is nothing less than sophistry. "

          "Specious logic is where you find it. A human egg fertilized by a human sperm is a person. A fetus is a person."

          If you cannot explain your position without insulting others, the conversation cannot grow into meaningful understandings.
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        Oct 8 2012: No insult intended. Me thinks thou doth protest too much. If you can show that a human egg fertilized by human sperm will not naturally and normally produce a human being then I will cease calling it specious logic. Likewise with the existence of "non-person humans". If you are insulted by reasonable, logical expression of opinion it might explain why you are having difficulty finding meaningfulness in conversation, particularly with those who hold opposing opinions. Convince me you are justified logically to believe as you do on this issue and I will re-examine my position. That will be real meaningfulness. As for "violent rhetoric" I have no response because I do not understand your assertion. Thank you!
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    Oct 8 2012: It's hard for me to think of a fetus as a person. Perhaps, a better questions is "is fetus a human being?"
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      Oct 8 2012: A tiny sapling is hard to think of as a mighty oak tree but it is.
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        Oct 8 2012: A tiny sapling is already born. It is capable of self-survival. Is an acorn an oak tree? No, it's a potential oak tree.
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          Oct 8 2012: Over the full range of a life form, from conception to death, there are numerous sequences of development and aging. Each sequence is an essential, organic, integral component of the life form. If any one of the sequences ceases, the life form ceases. Abort a human fetus or trample a sapling underfoot, something dies.
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        Oct 8 2012: A tiny sapling is a tiny sapling. Not a mighty oak.

        It may have the potential to be a mighty oak, but it isn't there yet.
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          Oct 8 2012: You were not Obey No1kinobe when your Mother carried you in her womb? If something had fatally interfered with your development would you be participating in this conversation? You must be who you are now in order to become a happy old man bouncing your Grandkids on your knee. The story of Obey begins at conception and continues until death. All the while you are a dignified human being.
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        Oct 8 2012: Yes, but crushing the tiny sapling under foot is the equivalent of crushing an already born infant's skull with your boot.
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          Oct 8 2012: Let's pursue this metaphor to its collapse, Ms. Lover. Rather than stepping on a sapling let's say I crush an acorn underfoot. Did I stop the development process of a mighty oak tree? I say yes. I question the reasoning that says it is OK to crush an infant's skull so long as the infant has not yet reached some arbitrarily chosen sequence in its overall natural development. In a civilized society every human being has rights. If I want to deny rights to some humans, and still call myself civilized, I will need to make a new definition for the word "human", or "person".
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        Gail . 50+

        • +1
        Oct 8 2012: My brother's (wife's) 2nd pregnancy resulted in a fetus with a deformed heart. As a result of this, the brain did not grow. The fetus had a brain stem but no brain. My brother and his wife were VERY anti-abortion, so they asked questions that you suggest (and more). The child, if brought to term, would have been able to survive for a few months - with enormous help. Some of the questions they had to grapple with was whether or not a child without a brain was intended to live through the pregnancy? If so, for what purpose? Was the fetus really a person if it had no ability to even be aware that it existed? What about the harm to the young child that they already had - with all their attention directed to a child that could not survive but needed expensive attention every 2 hours. It was a difficult time for them. Eventually, they decided, with great agony, that to anesthetize both and perform an abortion was the kindest thing that they could do for all concerned.

        On the other hand, my husband's first child was born without the ability to suckle. (This was long before abortions were legal or sonograms were heard of, so he has no idea as too whether or not his son had a brain or just a defective brain stem). He and his wife endured the horror of watching their beloved son suffer until he died a few months later.

        1 in 7 American children do not know if they will eat dinner tonight. 1 in 4 receive subsidized school lunches because of food insecurity at home. (non-school days, they're on their own).

        I hear you saying that you are civilized because you would force a woman into slavery against her will, even when she knows that anesthetized non-birth (anesthetized euthanasia if you prefer) is far more humane than birth into a world where great suffering is guaranteed. And you know this how?
        • Oct 8 2012: A friend had a child who was quadriplegic. I don't know why exactly, but he was detected to be so either right at birth or very shortly afterwards. The kid was about 10 years old when I met my friend and his family. Apart from the constant attention that he needed, every "little" illness that a normal child goes through was a life-threatening issue for him. The dad had always known how his son was going to die: common cold. Normal people cough to prevent phlegm from building up in their lungs. This kid was far too weak to be able to do that. And that is exactly how he died in the next couple of years -- by drowning in his own phlegm.

          If had had had a kid, and if when the kid was a neonate, I was told that his life is going to turn out like that of my friend's kid, I believe I would have chosen euthanasia, given the option.
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          Oct 8 2012: There are non-normal situations where the best option might be termination of the pregnancy. Such extraordinary procedures should be carefully controlled and readily available to the agonizing parents-to-be. You can save your energy if you are trying to convince me that it would be better to kill a baby before it is born than let it come into a world where it might have to eat subsidized school lunches, or endure other hardships. Who can guarantee their child will never suffer? It is not civilized to sentence women to forced slavery, by which I guess you mean refusing her permission to kill her unborn baby. Such a refusal is in no way forcing slavery on anyone. It is civilized to respect the sanctity of all human life, especially the unborn. Abortion is being used for gender selection, birth control, very possibly for genocide of African Americans, and for common, casual convenience. That is uncivilized.
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          Oct 8 2012: Mr. Long, Who ever said that human life had sanctity? Let me guess, some guy right?

          Not everyone agrees with that statement and I know personally there are fates worse than death.

          You cannot take the rights of a woman away from her simply because you think you should or that you are more right than she is.

          You are talking about someone forcing her to carry a pregnancy. Taking away the right to choose simply cause you want her to. That's what it boils down to and that is unacceptable.
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        Oct 9 2012: Hi edward. We may be half agreeing.

        That fertilised egg become what i amshould the 5 year old me be alliwed to drive a car?

        Our status and form and capabilities change over time.

        today. And one day i will ne dust.

        Im just highlighting that what we are changes over time and we should recognise rhat.
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        Oct 9 2012: Hi Edward. We may be half agreeing.

        That fertilised egg become what i am today.

        However...

        Should the 5 year old me be allowed to drive a car and vote?

        And one day i will be dust..

        Our status and form and capabilities change over time. Our ability to suffer, our self awareness changes. Early foetuses don't even have a brain.

        Im just highlighting that what we are changes over time and we should recognise that.

        I also agree we should consider the human potential of the fetus or a bunch of cells in the mix of considerations.

        However, the problem is balancing the rights of the mother with the rights of a fetus is still there even if you recognise the human potential.

        An oak acorn is not an oak tree.
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          Oct 9 2012: What is the designed purpose of an acorn? Imagine a nefarious plot to rid the planet of oak trees. One rule: No oak trees can be harmed. No problem, destroy the acorns, after all, they are "not oak trees". Mission accomplished! But, if it can be shown that harming an acorn is harming an oak tree, hurrah! the oaks are saved! One scenario is death, the other is life. Thank you Obey!
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    Oct 8 2012: The best bumper sticker on the issue that I have seen said "Protect the rights of unborn women." It's another Zen koan that life throws at us. It cannot be rationalized. The answer can only be felt by each individual. It's a deeply personal choice which cannot be forced.

    If I had a bumper sticker on this issue, it would say "I am pro-choice... of life".
  • Oct 8 2012: no
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    Oct 7 2012: A fetus is a person. They have intelligent brains and can even start dreaming after they have a heartbeat.
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      Oct 7 2012: But are you not talking about the potentials of a fetus? Considering the fact that fetuses are not interacting with anyone in particular; so we can not consider a fetus as a moral agent.
  • Oct 7 2012: "Is a Fetus a Person?"

    In the early stages, definitely not, but it is likely to become a person one day (miscarriages and severe defects are still common during this stage, so future personhood is by no means guaranteed), how you want to interpret that information is something that science and reason cannot answer, it depends entirely on your own idea of morality. No matter where you stand, obviously the focus should be on contraception, but there will always be women who went off the pill to try and make a baby with their husband/boyfriend but were raped and have become pregnant with the rapist's child and there will always be circumstances where the pregnancy endangers the mother's life.
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      Oct 7 2012: I'm not disagreeing with you; but wouldn't it be a dangerous world if we all have individual ideas of morality?
      • Oct 7 2012: We already do, and in contrast with ethics (which can be argued reasonably) it would not be a good idea to simply force the plurality view of morality on everyone, especially if that plurality doesn't want to deal with the consequences of their version of morality (aka, the type that wants to ban abortion under all circumstances but doesn't want to spend a penny on foster care, sex-ed, contraception, child support, etc...)

        @below

        "pro-life", yuck, I hate that kind of manipulation of words, it implies that people who don't want to ban abortion are against life itself, I know that's not what you believe and are merely forced to use the words that have become commonplace, but that's why it's such a clever feat of manipulation.
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          Oct 7 2012: I think most people of the pro-life view (to which I belong) do not support banning abortion under all circumstances.
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          Oct 7 2012: No, Mr John Smith, I dont think that people who dont want to ban abortion are against life itself.
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    Oct 26 2012: At what point a small path becomes a way? At what grain a small heap of sand turns into a pile of sand turns into a mass of sand?

    One can not answer those questions without the use of definition, by which itself, a debate about it becomes as unsolvable as opposed opinions are involved.

    In Mary Ann Warren's consideration I can easily put a raven, quite a remarkable bird, and it turns into a person qua her definition. And if I define my conditions, who then decides, which ones are more valid?

    Let's define murder as an 'intentional act of ending a life form of ones own species', then, and only by this, abortion turns into murder. If my definition is framed another way, abortion is no murder. So what is it?

    As the complexity and insolubility of those 'question of principle' rises with the number of intermingling definitions and involved belief-systems, I therefore prefer abortion only to be decided upon only those who are directly involved in it. Anything else neither helps nor solves the unsolvable.

    And because this may become a very difficult decision to many woman due to the nature of the subject, I believe in her right to get the best educational and emotional support, free of charge and any underlying or hidden agenda, by trained professionals out of the community she happens to live in.

    This debate is ongoing and resparkling for years and years on end now, and for some parties involved I wish, if just a fraction of their attention and energy was focused on the born, instead of the unborn, many children would have had a better chance for a better life in which there were brought into.

    Lip-service is easy, yet action is what it takes to make the change for a better!

    Considering abortion is a matter to offer help, not condemnation!
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    Oct 18 2012: In my view, a fetus of a month or so old is more than a wart, but less than a human being.
    One reason is that there is a soul building a body.

    This is my favourite TED talk
    http://www.ted.com/talks/alexander_tsiaras_conception_to_birth_visualized.html

    At birth, with taking the first breath, a fetus becomes a human being. We are created a dual citizen at birth, IOW a temporary physical body in the natural world connected by correspondence to an immortal spirit-body in the spiritual world.

    At the stage of birth, however, the baby should have a clean slate, spiritually. because we are here to built the best character we possibly can, with hopefully the least amount of hereditary hangups.
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    Oct 17 2012: To be honest, I don't know whether it is a person or not, but if you would allow me to stray a bit from the original topic, I'd like to add that a two-month-premature baby shouldn't be the same age as a baby born at full term on the same day, as the latter is effectively 2 months older and more developed.
    I guess we all are 9 months (or 7 or 8) older than our ID states, especially if we consider a fetus a person, although it would be kind of difficult to establish the exact day of conception.
    Well, just a thought.
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    Oct 12 2012: Mr. Anjorin you mentioned that infanticide is widely condemned.

    Not always.

    http://jme.bmj.com/content/early/2012/03/01/medethics-2011-100411.full.pdf+html
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    Oct 12 2012: In a way a foetus is a parasite with the potential one day of being An independent living being.
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    Oct 9 2012: Is an egg a chicken?
  • Oct 9 2012: @Linda
    "I don't care if she exercises her right to have a male child or to have her face lifted. She has rights."
    You mention that I am walking in a grey area. For me, I think you're lying to yourself. What if your mom had decided not to save you(when you were a fetus) just because you were determined to be a female one? That’s totally your mom’s decision, right? But nonetheless, let’s suppose that you were unfortunately, born since your mom failed to have an abortion. Once you know this thing from someone you know when you became an adult, wouldn’t this fact be humiliating and infuriating to you? She disrespected your life. You could have been dead. Then, it may seem like people seemingly respect you now just because you’re a full grown-up, but they didn’t actually honor your fundamental value as a woman. Showing respect to people isn’t the only answer. We should also respect their value in essence from the moment on when they were very very young.
    • Oct 9 2012: My mom miscarried before I was born. True story. What if my mom hadn't miscarried? If that child had been born, there is no way my mom could have had me. She was pregnant with me again shortly after that miscarriage. Do you see the trouble with these "what if" scenarios?

      If my mom told me today that I was born because my mom failed to have an abortion, it would make absolutely no difference to me. My mom, like most other mature parents, would have raised me with no resentment for the fact that I was born. That brings me to the following question: there are many parents who are NOT mature. They intentionally or unintentionally get pregnant, and raise kids in a hell-hole. They could be drug addicts, or just too immature to nurture the child. The children, in most cases, grow up to be similar or worse -- robbers, thieves, etc. Do you think that out of respect to the lives of unborn (or yet to be born) robbers, thieves, wife-beaters, drug-addicts, we should prevent such people from ever having kids? By means including abortions, when they are already pregnant?
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        Oct 9 2012: i think you are right .we should mearsure our ability and will to have children .as long as we have children we should take responsibility ,and do our best to raise .or we shouldn't have .it is a life not a moment but a life long .
      • Oct 10 2012: My "what if scenario" was for the core problem of having abortions willy-nilly by not respecting a life with high potential of being a person. Your mom didn’t intend to be miscarried judging by your “what if scenario”, so I have no intention to condemn her for disrespecting a life. When we use this "what if scenario", it's a mere means of illustrating one's own thought, not for being distorted by any other irrelevant examples. By all means, your mom doesn’t need to be resented by the fact that you were born. If you're fine with the fact that your mom failed to get rid of you(if she’d wanted to have an abortion), it's okay to me as well since it's up to you. Btw, the story of your mom being miscarried is irrelevant to my example since she didn't INTEND to be. You're either misunderstood my comment or just pretending to be. As for ‘immature parents’ case, through safe facilities, adoptions(with reliable adoptive parents), and orphanages, they can find ways to raise their kids apart from their irresponsible lives(and if they don't, government should force laws to protect the kids. You’re not saying that we should abandon already born kids, right?). "Do you think that out of respect to the lives of unborn (or yet to be born) robbers, thieves, wife-beaters, drug-addicts, we should prevent such people from ever having kids?" Absolutely not, especially when they decided to give birth to babies. If you say we should, then, you're also violating people's rights to choose to be pregnant. By no means, killing one's life can't be justified(even if the environment seems to be inappropriate for kids). We have to make proper facilities and environment for their kids(You wouldn’t provide me examples of extreme cases such as accidental homicide, would you? Needless to say, that’s not what I’m saying). We can't predict anything perfectly. Why should we kill fetuses just out of concern that their parents would be untrustworthy and immature?
        • Oct 10 2012: I neither misunderstood your comment nor pretending to misunderstand it. On the contrary, you did not understand my comment.
          My point is this: You were saying that if your mom had aborted you, you wouldn't have been born. You apparently feel horrified at the thought of you never having been born. I can think of a billion other scenarios in which you would never have been born. Does each of those scenarios horrify you? My own example was one such scenario.

          The fact that you are born and are here is an accident. That applies to all of us. Think of the billions of sperms that could have fertilized the egg that gave rise to you. Any other sperm, and it wouldn't have been you. Your mom's decision was equally a chance occurrence. "You", the "Elizabeth Gu" that you know yourself to be, were as irrelevant then as you were before your parents met. However, if someone had killed you AFTER you were born, they would have killed a human being that is living as a non-parasitic animal, that is capable of feeling pain, that probably has wishes for her own life, as desirous of wanting live as the person who chose to kill you.

          Apparently you did not get my comment about preventing "unstable" people from having kids either. That was again, an example of the misuse of endless what-if-s. And in this series of what-if-s, such parents can be considered to be committing crimes against their future children.

          Anyway, since you acknowledged the following "If you're fine with the fact that your mom failed to get rid of you(if she’d wanted to have an abortion), it's okay to me as well since it's up to you", I suppose you would also also acknowledge the fact that this is not universally "humiliating and infuriating", which was your question earlier. Does this affect your stance on the matter?
      • Oct 11 2012: Not at all, John. I used what-if-s to ask her whether she would have felt like this is "humiliating and infuriating" to her if she'd known that her mother tried to get rid of the fetus for the reason that it turns out to be female by indicating that it 'could be' FUNDAMENTALLY a sexist attitude, humiliating to women. Didn't say it's what everyone feels.
        Provided ‘the fact that a person is born and are here is an accident’, so, if a mom hate her fetus to be born with female gender, when her baby is born, the baby still has that gender she disliked. Some might not feel the same way as I expected, just like you. As people disagree with each other about some issues, there’s no such thing as ‘one certain reaction’. That’s why people raise questions to persuade or ask others to think about more. On what grounds are you saying this what-if-s is misused? What if scenario is not for teaching people some universalized definitions. That's why some say, "I don't care no matter what." And if a person whom I asked a question shows me this kind of indifferent reaction, then the following assumption would be, "Okay, he disagrees with me."
        That's why I said it's fine with me. Should I blame him for disagreeing with me? I don't think so. I’m being respectful toward the people in opposition part for that matter as anyone should be.
        • Oct 11 2012: I guess I had misunderstood you. When I saw your original post, I did not pay much attention to the bit about "because you were determined to be a female". I interpreted it as "for whatever reason".
          I tend to ignore sexism (or racism or any other prejudices) because it doesn't affect me, even though I have been on the receiving end sometimes. Based on this, I take back my comment about endless what-if-s. I don't agree with what you are saying, but that's because I don't understand why people get hurt by prejudices.
  • Oct 9 2012: @Linda
    Not everything is an extreme case. Think about it. Why do we need a law for it? Because there has been unanimous--or at least majority of--consent of whether some cases are extreme, therefore, should be excluded from being called "a violation of a law". Laws are also based on agreement. One’s own subjective thought doesn’t justify everything he does.
    "They cannot sign a contract, they cannot make a will. Law and philosophy both acknowledge that a person is someone who can make decisions, in order to make decisions a person must have the capability of reason and agency. Some philosophers go into detailed lists like Ms. Warren. This is not something I am making up. It is how it really works."
    Just because some philosopher insisted on having the capability of reason in order to be a person doesn't mean they are right all the time. And if it is how really works, in that case, there's no such thing as respecting human beings' ultimate rights. CHILDREN are also PERSONS. They have absolute rights. They need to be treated and taken care of by respect just like adults. If you(of course, you wouldn't do it) kill a child, that is a murder. It's definitely a crime. What adults do for children is to protect them and help their judgment by strongly involving in their social lives. Being vulnerable doesn’t mean a person has no right. As well as, being protected by someone doesn’t indicate that he doesn’t have a utter right. That's it. Children have potential to be smarter in the near future. They are only relatively small human beings.
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      Oct 9 2012: Elizabeth,
      Children are not persons. In the US person is defined by law.
      http://www.duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/P/Person.aspx
      You might think different but that is the way it is.

      The reason person is defined by law has a long history in the United States. Mr. Grudzinsky posted earlier that the constitution states that "All men are created equal." You have to understand that at the time of the writing, they literally meant men. And 'men' did not include all human males. It had a specific definition. Men could own property including slaves and women. Other human beings.

      Well people decided that it was not fair for some humans to own other humans (those philosophers you seem to detest) and they came up with the the concept of individual rational, self-determination. (see Kant, see enlightenment). This concept allows persons the ability to choose how to live and what to live for. It is the underlying principle to the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I am going to call this the right to self-determination from here on. This caused a little fight in the US called the Civil War. At the end of that war, people of African decent were granted the right of self-determination.

      Time goes on and women decide they do not like being property. They want the ability to sign contracts, own property, and so forth without a male relative saying they could or could not. So they want the right to self-determination too. This is problematic because the constitutions says "All men..." To address this conflict, the concept of "men as persons" is defined and outlined very specifically so that it could include women. At the present time, the concept of person is defined as a moral agent who is capable of reason and agency. You will find other words used but that is the short and dirty.

      Running out of characters: cont.
      • Oct 10 2012: First of all, thanks for clarifying your reason very specifically.
        "I say an extreme case is what I say it is. You say it is what you say it is. There is no common agreement."
        A pregnant woman "determines that an abortion is the least worst option available to her"--from
        http://www.religioustolerance.org/abo_over.htm
        Just like your claim, women are entitled to deciding what to do.
        However personal it may be, there are extreme situations where women inevitably choose to have abortions, which are legally justified. Your example of pregnant 8 year old girls is tacitly indicates that ‘that kind of horrible cases’ should be main part of the reasons why women are allowed to have abortions. You insist that in any cases, women can get rid of their fetuses as long as they want to. But I don’t frown when I think of a married, pregnant woman with good economic and mental capability to give birth to a baby and raise him with her supportive husband. And when I do frown is when people treat fetuses as if those are part of their hairs or cells. I also do frown when I think of those pregnant 8 year old girls with sympathy. You think it’s personal, and it’s true. But you said, “Easy to judge from the other side of a computer screen” while telling those pregnant little girls’ case to be persuasive, and to make sense. You implicitly tell me “that would be horrible”. I have to say, the quote: “No I do not know what an extreme case is. How in the world am I supposed to know what you mean? Magic?” from your reply shows you’re overreacting to my former reply. If you understand what I’m explaining now, you’d also realize we both, in some part, agree that prohibiting abortions for 8 year old, pregnant girls is cruel and even wrong, which both make us ‘frown’.

        (cont.)
      • Oct 10 2012: Defining what’s ‘extreme’ could be fairly subjective just like your claim. Nevertheless, even though legally, having abortions is allowed, there has to be reasonable reasons—including explaining her ‘extreme’ situation that gives her no choice but prompts her to say, “This is the least worst option available to me”—why a woman must have an abortion. It’s killing a life, so should be very thoroughly careful.
        As I told you before, If a woman has an abortion just because of the fetus’s gender(which turns out to be female), it’s discriminating gender based on gender bias, which I call, “a sexist attitude”.
        Removing a female fetus with a possibility that if it’d been a male one, its mom would have saved it is totally different from throwing away a chocolate flavor ice cream in a garbage bean with a possibility that if it’d been a strawberry one, you wouldn’t have thrown away, but instead you would have eaten it.
        Fetuses aren’t ice creams, certainly, fetuses are much more worthier. When it comes to abortion issue, people debate with each one’s sincere opinions, and with the concept of “value of a life” or “respecting choices”. People don’t condemn a person who chooses not to eat chocolate ice creams and thrown them away(some might…out of concern that it’s a waste of your money, lol, anyway).
        Fetuses are worthy of living and we should cherish their lives with promising future as long as we can.
        For the record, I didn’t say that I reject pro-choice position entirely even though personally, I want to find a way to preserve fetuses’ lives. Or rather, I want to evoke our inner fear that ignoring each fetus’s worth could be fundamentally threatening to human beings’ rights to be allowed to live(Not that kind of right you declare). It’s quite difficult to support both sides of view, indeed (cont.)
      • Oct 10 2012: Still, while respecting humans’ rights I aspire to tell you and people like you to give it a thought to saving fetuses’ lives. Dichotomous way of solving problems is often ineffective and unproductive.
        In Korea, there’s one of famous gag show programs called “불편한 진실”(An uncomfortable truth). Its name is pretty well reflecting this issue as well. To what stretch of rights should we respect and recognize? What’s well said on the site I mentioned earlier is, “Most of what the media imply are wrong: there is no single pro-life position and no single pro-choice position…(ellipsis)….Some distort data; others ignore information that contradicts their views.”
        You mentioned I seemed to detest those philosophers, but I don’t. I said they aren’t right all the time. Detesting someone and being objective toward someone is different. I highly respect the concept of maximizing happiness from Jeremy Bentham’s philosophy, but I respect more Kantians’ philosophy, which reject Bentham’s idea on the grounds that utilitarianism is dependent on variable contingency, that is, maximizing majority’s welfare can’t be the basis of morality. Kant thought all people are worthy of respect because they are rational beings, namely, they are able to reason and act autonomously according to moral laws people give themselves. However, although I agree with his philosophy in some part, I don’t have to be fond of all his basic logic behind. I believe children are persons with rights. I appreciate the link you posted there(Had a pleasure to read the definitions).In Korea, minors aren’t also allowed to vote for president election since they aren’t regarded to be able to make proper decisions in participating in politics. Although that’s legitimate, that doesn’t mean children essentially don’t have rights. We are able to limit the extent of their rights by preventing them from wielding their power in specific fields(adults’ field so to speak), but we can’t undermine their fundamental human rights. cont
      • Oct 10 2012: Take, child right activists fighting for children’s rights, for example. Why do they do that? Because of us, ignorant adults.
        I’m not disagreeing with you about whether it’s legally appropriate to have abortions. That’s not even the question in this conversation. I disagree with you on the fundamentally different grounds. And if you think having abortions is legal and fine, then, it’s also fine with me. I respect your thought. What I disagree is your definition of persons(even if legally correct in your state), which ignores children’s rights. And the other reason is for valuing those little human life forms.
        You frequently insist, that’s how it works. Legal definitions aren’t definite. We can change them if it need be. Besides, even aside from this issue, some laws should no longer exist or at least changed provided that it’s not regarded ‘right’.
        A fetus is a person? Not yet, but a potential human life. Many people including lawyers have come to conclusion that since they aren’t persons yet, they can’t speak for themselves; therefore, can’t protect their rights by themselves. So, we shouldn’t talk about how important it is to preserve their lives? No! ‘Cause not end of the story yet!
        This kind of sensitive issues are usually turns out to be two, divisive arguments. But unlike the way people used to deal with this issue, I hate the things turn out to be merely pro-life versus pro choice. And when people pick a side, many of them never consider the whole view of the opposition part. That's the problem.
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          Oct 10 2012: Most of what you posted is opinion and you are welcome to it if it makes you feel better in your little corner of the world. You can make up all the criteria you want about what a fetus is and when a woman can and cannot have an abortion. That is fine and it is consistent with your values.

          I wish I could just download what I know but I will give it a try.

          You have to understand that when you are helping a pregnant 8 year old child, the child usually WANTS the baby. They are not mature enough to understand the ramifications of keeping the baby. They think of it as some animated doll.

          So now what do we do? You are all about advocating children's rights. Us ignorant adults should just let her keep it right? She has a high chance of doing real harm to her and the baby's health and lacks the emotional and maturational ability to deal with a baby let alone a child. She does not know this and lacks the capability to understand it even if I teach and rationalize until I am blue in the face. She does not even understand how the baby got there but she can't wait to play with it.

          Children are not granted rights under the law for a reason.

          In that situation the parents of the 8 year old make a decision with the medical providers or the court can assign an agent to speak for the child and come to a decision in the best interest of the child.

          Children lack both reason and agency which is why they do not have rights under the constitution.
      • Oct 11 2012: Again, "We are able to limit the extent of their rights by preventing them from wielding their power in specific fields(adults’ field so to speak), but we can’t undermine their fundamental human rights." Speaking of fundamental human rights, I mean respecting children’s rights to live, rights to ‘think and stand up for themselves with adults’ help--as it’s legally required’ and rights to be treated with respect including education process. In addition to.."I want to evoke our inner fear that ignoring each fetus’s worth could be fundamentally threatening to human beings’ rights to be allowed to live(Not that kind of right you declare)." So, even ignoring and undermining children’s fundamental rights is legally justified under the law you say unless some stranger(adult) does harm to a child who has parents that can fight for himself, sadly. Protecting children is not showing mercy to children, it’s respecting their human rights essentially. Fetuses don’t have rights just like children according to you. Maybe, maybe compare to children, fetuses have less values to be respected. Still, potential human beings. Laws can limit one's right to some extent(it depends on what he did, who he is, where he's from(foreigner or not), and how old he is). For that 8yrs young girl--as you say, who “lacks the capability to understand it”, adults have to help her make an appropriate decision, sometimes by legal force. And as for 8 year girls case, I was talking about 'raped' girls case. By “being raped” I mean, it's extreme. By extreme I mean, we both make us frown, again. I think I understand what you’re trying to explain. Your argument is based on how it really works. Didn’t I respect your thought? I’m not trying to making myself feel better “in my little corner of the world.” You show me NO RESPECT at all. So, “open your eyes, you’re living in your own world with lack of evidence..?” Was it? Please, do read the last part of my reply. I say I don’t like divisive conclusions.
      • Oct 11 2012: Btw, I have to ask you. Just like your opinion, if children don’t have rights, why do people care about protecting children and saving their lives? When a parent abused his/her child, why people get angry? I’m not trying to universalize the reason here, that’s why I ask your opinion. Is it the action of abusing a child SEEMS inhumane? Or is this depriving the abused child’s fundamental HUMAN RIGHTS to be respected? My apologies, if I made you feel like explaining this to me is wearisome. Besides, what Colleen wrote above could be right. This argument could be fruitless. You’re doing your best to explain US history while not giving it a thought of concerning any of my ideas here, and I am also, as you say, being consistent with my argument here. Unless we have same intuitions, we are unfortunately, doomed to disagree. Thought there’d be better conclusion. I hoped. You fear that things might go back to the time when women were not part of "All men" according to the old constitution. How grateful we are to live in this present time when women are equal as men! But in the past, people(some inevitably) ignored this very truth. So, if a person in that time said such things like, “it’s how things work these days” just like you do at this present time, I could say he wasn’t open to the real truth by clinging to the constitution. I just wonder why you dread ‘persons with rights’ to be deprived of their rights under the old constitution, which existed at that time, while arguing we should stick to another constitution which have possibilities to change someday. Because it’s possible that this constitution might not be containing a respect for fundamental human rights. How often do I use this ‘fundamental rights(such as rights to be allowed to live)’ words again? If you still try to explain your reason only with the definitions that constitution confirms, I have nothing further to say. Because rather, I consider you as a person living “in your little corner of the world”.
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          Oct 11 2012: Hi Elizabeth,
          Children DO have rights, and the act of abusing a child is indeed inhumane. Perhaps that is why Linda mentioned the 8 year old pregnant girl? She is a child. The youngest pregnant girl I have interacted with was 10.....she is a child whose rights were abused. Do we continue to abuse her rights by demanding that she carry a pregnancy to full term?

          Whether or not one believes that a developing fetus is a person, we KNOW that the woman or young girl carrying the fetus is a person, sometimes, a child, not fully developed herself.

          You write in another comment Elizabeth that being raped is extreme. It is not extreme at all my friend. Unfortunately, it is very common. Have you ever seen what delivering a baby can do to an 8-10 year old little body that is not yet even developed? Some people, because of their beliefs, demand that the child carry a pregnancy to term. Whose rights are violated?

          In the US, there are laws to protect the rights of women and children. When we work with women and children who are abused, as I did volunteering in the shelter, and as Linda apparently does, we know the laws, and that is the information we use to help protect the rights of women and children. We support them in making their own decisions, based on what is available to them by law. Supporting women and children's rights is the priority, and my personal opinions do not matter. I believe that is where Linda is coming from?

          It is none of my business what a woman CHOOSES to do with her body, just like it is none of the business of those who believe they know better than her how to orchestrate her life based on THEIR OWN PERSONAL BELIEFS. It IS very much my business to help protect the rights by law, of women and children. It is my business when a person or persons FORCE women and children to do something that deprives them of their basic human rights, which are protected by law....at least in some places in our world.
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          Oct 12 2012: I agree with what Colleen said. But I do not agree about the children's rights part. Children are not granted rights under the constitution with the possible exception of the 14th amendment. Most states grant children the basic human rights as Colleen referred to, but even then, it is very difficult to overturn parental rights. It has gotten better in the past couple of decades.

          But currently the US will not even recognize the children's rights as outlined by the UN.
          http://ideas.time.com/2012/01/24/why-is-the-us-against-childrens-rights/

          Children's rights are not clear in the US and there are many reasons for this including the underlying value of family.
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      Oct 9 2012: So currently, in the United States, a person has the right to self-determination. The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Children and fetuses are not included in this definition. Nobody wants to allow a five year old pursuit of happiness. Nobody would go to school. The definition of person as a moral agent capable of reason and agency just does not apply to children or fetuses. They are not persons and do not have the right to self-determination.

      Think about when we remove this right. You loose the right to self-determination when you participate in illegal activities. You get sent to jail. If the government feels your race is a threat to national security and the welfare of the state and citizenry, they can make you go to an internment camp or a reservation. If the government needs your life to protect the welfare of the state and the citizenry, they can initiate a draft. If the government feels labor is more important than your right to happiness, they can institute or condone slavery.

      All those are examples of what happens when we remove the right to self-determination because the rights of others are more important.

      As a moral agent capable of reason and agency, women can choose whether to carry or terminate a pregnancy. It is integral to that pursuit of happiness part. The conflict comes with the whole pursuit of life part. What about the fetus? Doesn't it deserve life too?

      Well the problem is that at the present moment, you need to remove the right of self-determination from the woman and apply it to the fetus. The woman cannot choose because the rights of the fetus is more important.

      That means that women are back to being property of the government. Just like slaves, draftees, prisoners. They are simply the vessel for the fetus which the government states has more rights, even though it is not a person, has no reason and no agency.

      Running out of characters again, cont:
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      Oct 9 2012: You just can't do that. I do not care how you feel about abortion. It is almost irrelevant.

      I wish we could have both the right of self-determination for women and the right of life for the fetus. Perhaps some day in the future we can remove the fetus and transplant it into a male or female volunteer. But we can't do that yet.

      You have to wrap your brain around how important this issue is whether or not you agree with abortion. If you truly believe the right to life of the fetus is more important than the right to self-determination of the woman then that is OK with me. If you truly feel that the government should remove the right of self determination from the woman as it does with prisoners and draftees, then we just need to disagree.

      To me abortion is a choice that a woman makes between her and her God and her family. Only she can determine if it is right or wrong. She is a moral agent and can make decisions. Not the government.
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        Oct 10 2012: Linda, This is an excellent review. To recap, the woman has the right of self-determination, because she is a person under the definition of the law "entitled" to her right based on the history of human rights. As for the fetus - tough luck. Sorry. Not a person yet (forgive me my sarcasm). Wasn't this the exact attitude towards women not so long ago? I guess, this thread is questioning the legal definition of the person.

        You might argue that women "deserve" this right, because they are capable of making decisions, and the fetus is not (likewise, mentally ill and infants). However, under the definition you quoted, minors are not persons either. Why is it illegal for a woman to kill her infant child incapable of verbal communication or signing agreements, because it interferes with "her right to self-determination and pursuit of happiness"? If a mother does it or deliberately injures a child she will be promptly stripped of her right to self-determination and sent to jail.

        Isn't there an inconsistency? I realized the controversy when I heard on the radio a story of a woman narrated by herself whose mother attempted abortion in late stages of pregnancy. She was scalded in the womb with some chemical. I believe, this method is illegal now. But when the "doctor" extracted her from the womb, she was still alive. The very people who tried to kill her in the womb, immediately started to "fight for her life". What kind of logic can explain this behavior?

        I still support the right of the woman to choose based on a mixture of emotion, reason, and philosophy. However, I believe, each right comes with responsibility to make right choices. I do trust that mothers are the best agents to decide for their children. But the more I listen to rational arguments on both sides, the more I realize that they go nowhere.
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          Oct 10 2012: "Wasn't this the exact attitude towards women not so long ago?" Yes it was which is why it is so important we not go back.

          I know this is confusing but I will try and tie it all together. I posted further down about the controversy of when life begins. People have all kinds of different definitions.

          According to the law, life begins when you are born. You become a human being when you are born, not before. You can argue viability and some the law will support that definition, but overall the US law is when you are born. So not only is a fetus not a person, it is not considered life. It is not a human being. (I really don't want to debate the details here. It is just law and that is how it is). So you have to be a human being in order to be murdered. http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/murder

          Once you are born the law considers you an infant. This is different than the medical and common definition. So in the US, an infant is any human before it is a person. So an infant is legally anyone under the age of 21. http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/infancy.

          We would commonly call an infant a minor.

          So, a woman cannot murder a fetus because it is not alive. It is not viable and cannot live with out the mother. It is in essence a parasite. It is not a human being because it has not achieved being status. You are not your own being until you are separated from another being.

          Once the fetus is born it becomes an infant. It will remain an infant according to the legal definition until it turns 21 and becomes a person.

          An infant is alive. A viable life. A human being. Living on its own outside the mother. While it is not yet a person, it is still a human being and that means that if the mother or anyone else kills an infant/child, they kill a human being. The murderer gives up their right to self determination and goes to jail.

          Emotionally, I would agree with Mr. Palmer's wife above :)
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          Oct 10 2012: AG, can you distinguish between a women and a fetus?

          Are they the same in terms that are important for this sort of decision.

          Myself, I see it as a tension between the woman and her fetus. But they are not equal. One is conscious. One has the potential to be.