Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Philosophical Approach to Abortion

The goal is to arrive at a position wherein one either must accept abortion as wrong or accept that their own murder is right.  Or, that abortion is equivalently wrong to murder.

(1) Human life is intrinsically valuable.
  • Within this premise is the concept of invaluable/priceless as in it cannot be measured, counted, or quantified by any utilitarian means.  By intrinsic, I'm saying it's not about what someone has done, or will do that makes one valuable, simply that life is valuable because it's life.  One cannot exchange life for money nor anything else for that matter.
  • The only reason to end a life relates to (2) that is if one uses force to deny someone else their right to life (that is if someone murders someone) their right to life is invalid, that is capital punishment.  Also, the idea of war was mentioned in a comment (on Facebook).  How could war be justified if all life is valuable?  That's just it, war is only valid/justified to stop one person from killing another person/oneself.  That is self-defense or defense of the innocent.  If one can go to war for any other reason, then any killing is justifiable.
  • In regards to the current state of affairs in the US, I can't speak for the government nor against the government, I obey the orders of those appointed over me.  It's not my place to make a comment otherwise.
(2) One's own rights only extend to one's own being.
  • That is, one's rights end where they infringe on someone else's rights.  I have the right to say what I want to say, but when what I say actually hurts another person my right to free speech ends.  (Edit: I did some further research on this.  There is some precedence for hate speech being censored, but by-and-large hate speech has still been defended and won in high courts.  Perhaps a better analogy or example is needed here, I will work on it.)
(3) The potentiality of life should be treated with the same value as the end resultant life could be.

(4) Even at early stages of development (weeks 1-9) it is medically discernible that the group of cells comprising an embryo is going to develop into a human fetus.

(5) A fetus becomes alive while still in the womb, that is by the typical definition of human life, discernible brain waves. Approximately in the 20th to 36th weeks of pregnancy, as currently measured, not that it doesn't occur earlier, just earliest measurable.

Given the above:

(6) Abortion is wrong, equivalent to manslaughter or murder.

Some background arguments:

For (1), If one rejects this premise than one's own life is invaluable.  If one makes a case for non-intrinsic value, then what is human life's value based on?

For (2), This is a loophole of sorts.  IF a thieving murderer breaks into your house and threatens you with death, you have every right to self-defense and are perfectly justified in killing that person in self-defense.  The same could be said of a pregnancy, if the presence of a fetus in a woman's womb is killing her, with a physician's assistance making that determination she would be justified in killing the fetus.  This is a common critique for pro-lifers because many take the stance that it's never justifiable to kill the fetus.  I can only make that exception and even so, if the mother determines that it's worth the risk to her own life to provide life for the fetus that's her choice.

For (3), Take this endangered frog, the Panamanian Golden Frog

Picture Credit The Guardian
And we had some of these eggs
Picture Credit Flickr
That we know, with as much certainty as anyone can have, that they're going to hatch into these tadpoles:

How would we treat those eggs and or tadpoles?  Would we just throw them away?  Now, one might say, "they're just frogs," but remember we're talking about the same level of potentiality in the first week(s) of pregnancy as these eggs.  The parallel is clear, even the very beginnings of the potentiality to be a human life should be treated as valuable as full-grown human life.  (I personally think it's more valuable, because it has more potential than a grown human mathematically, it has more life to live and it hasn't already made choices which guide itself.)

For (4), Just as in (3) the eggs/tadpoles are almost certainly going to grow into a living thriving fetus, then baby, then child, then adult.  (I realize I left off certain developmental levels, but the argument still stands, if life is precious and the potential for life is also precious then it is clear at all levels it's precious.)

For (5), Why is there a double-standard among abortion advocates that a fetus isn't alive until it's removed from the womb, but a person is alive until they have no readable brain activities?  There's an even more telling double-standard when one considers just what we call alive?  We refer to viruses and other single-celled organisms as alive, why do we call a fetus a "mass of cells"?  I know the reason, but just wanted to point out the double-standard.

For (6), This should be clear.  I know there are many counter-arguments, I'll try to cover some of them.

(1) Some answers to the question of the value of a human life try to make it scientific, or some other rationalization.  But, no matter at whatever level one deny the value of human life, one opens the argument up to mutability/relativism.  Under relativism, one can rationalize pretty much anything including one's own murder.

(2) Some claim that the "mass of cells" is a part of the woman's body and liken it to a cancerous growth or something like that.  The answer is in (4) even at the earliest stages of development the "growth" is distinct from the mother.  Both in DNA structure and general cell structure itself.

(3/4) Some just deny (3) flat out, but I think my treatment of the concept is fair, we're as certain as anyone can be that this "mass of cells" is going to develop into a human, therefore it should be treated as such.

(5) Again I hear this double-standard from pro-abortionists.  One slippery slope this quickly leads to: If a fetus isn't alive until it's removed from it's mother, what happens as technology improves?  This will lead to earlier and earlier outside-the-womb viability, does that mean our treatment of such should change?  That defeats the purpose of developing an ethical standard.  Also, if that line is moveable, then why stop at outside-the-womb viability?  It could easily lead to out-and-out infanticide then on to euthanasia and then to genetic cleansing.

(6) There might be more objections but none that I haven't at least somewhat dealt with.

In order to waylay some reactions...  I am NOT being misogynistic.  The fact that I'm a man and cannot experience this has no bearing on the arguments I've raised.  I'm NOT seeking to "take away a woman's choice" or seeking to control a woman's body or choice, at least no more than any other social convention, do mass murderers have the right to choose to buy weapons?  Remember a person's rights end when they interfere with another's rights, and this isn't an issue about a woman's right to control her own healthcare, it's about the rights of a fetus.