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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-20-2005, 03:26 PM Thread Starter
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Is abortion ethical?

OK, I searched the forum and black hole, but I didn't find any threads with the topic of abortion in the title... so here goes. I've attemtped to isolate the posts from another thread that dealth with abortion (see thread: "Do you believe in god?&quot.

So now that "God" and "religion" have been separated from the conversation (which I'm guessing is Kip's main reason for asking me to put this topic in another thread), please continue the discussion.
Don't worry, Kip -- I wasn't going to use religion in my argument anyway ;-) For now, I'm just looking at it from a human point of view, not a Christian one.


[quote author=KipBond link=topic=4516.msg349212#msg349212 date=1121874064]
[quote author=MrPlow link=topic=4516.msg349172#msg349172 date=1121871310]Let people believe what they want! If you don't believe in God and someone else does - SO WHAT?! ... I just don't get it... why does it upset people so much if they aren't even being hurt or affected in any negative way by someone else thinking/believing in something or someone? [/quote]

Like csweeney mentioned, she didn't mind that a (presumably) Muslim person prayed to Allah several times a day. It didn't hurt her at all. But, when Fundamentalists use that same religion as justification for hurting/killing other people, then obviously we have a problem. A religion is a set of beliefs. If those beliefs lead people to do bad things, we would be remiss to avoid talking about the underlying belief system that is promoting those hurtful actions.

So, for the most part, just "believing in God" isn't hurting anyone (that I can see). However, when Fundamentalist Christian groups organize to promote their moral worldview on society (by influencing government and other societal organizations), then it DOES affect other people -- possibly in very harmful ways. Instances: promoting abstinence-only sex education; banning abortion rights for women; fighting equal rights for same-sex couples; not allowing liquor stores to be open on Sundays; etc. If it was just a simple "I believe in God" thing, then we wouldn't be having this conversation. I don't see anyone as energetic discussing whether BigFoot exists... or Aliens... or Ghosts... Obviously, lots of people believe they do... but, they don't try to force their worldviews into the social arena -- or at least they have been unsuccessful if they have tried.

So, in the words of a great moral teacher: "Keep your Jesus off my penis, I'll keep my penis off of you."
[/quote]



[quote author=3AndMe link=topic=4516.msg349222#msg349222 date=1121874744]
OK.. Jesus and penises aside....

I understand that Christians are against abortion. But so are many non-Christians, and non-religious for that matter. In fact, I think it's more politically based. Is it not true that most proponents of abortion are liberals?

What does abortion have to do with religion? One can be agnostic (or atheist for that matter) and still believe abortion is wrong on the premise that killing people is not acceptable. You don't need a religion to tell you that, right? It's part of our social contract that everyone is expected to live by.

They say guns kill people. They say the war in Iraq kills people. Abortion clinics kill more people in a day than those two combined. But for some reason people (liberals, especially) have no problem with that!? Where's the logic?


[pre]
(moral premise) --> Killing a human is unacceptable, criminal behavior.
(moral fact) --> A fetus is human.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
(moral conclusion) --> It is unacceptable and criminal to kill a fetus.
[/pre]

Are unhealthy/misformed fetuses an exception? Not in my opinion. If their bodies can't sustain their life, then they're going to die anyway. It's not our position to decide that though, because the unborn child can't speak its mind about whether or not it should be given a chance to live. That's just my opinion of how it should be ideally.

Being reasonable however, I guess if the doctors decide that a fetus/unborn child has no chance, then I guess it isn't the worst thing in the world to abort. It's probably on par with pulling the plug on a mentally-dead person that's been comatose for a while. *Some* abortions I can live with. I'm not happy about it, but fine -- people die in wars, too. But to deliberately abort a child solely because you can't take care of it or don't want to carry out the pregnancy is insane! People need to stop having so much frivolous sex. Oh wait --- I can't propose that people should take responsibility for their actions -- that would rub alot of people the wrong way Why do something crazy like that, when you can make it society's problem instead!! God forbid people should help themselves anymore.

On that note, I have to say that I don't agree with Karl Marx either. I think he had a hazy idea of how the world around him actually worked, and was just mad at the world because he never became successful at anything but bickering. Having failed (twice) to become a lawyer, he settled for a degree in Philosophy. He had alot ot time to sit and write down his rants, let me tell you ;-) He was about as irritable as a granny with a BenGay addiction. His job as an editor wasn't going well at all. Marx just could not cut it in the capitalist society -- he couldn't find a way to help himself because he had no drive to do anything -- so he bitched about it. I'm sorry, but I don't think society owes it to people like that to rearrange itself just to carry them through. To those people I say: get your lazy asses up and make something of yourselves!
[/quote]




[quote author=KipBond link=topic=4516.msg349364#msg349364 date=1121882703]
[quote author=3AndMe link=topic=4516.msg349222#msg349222 date=1121874744][pre](moral premise) --> Killing a human is unacceptable, criminal behavior.[/pre][/quote]

Not always... self defense, for instance. Which, in the case of abortion, if the woman's life is at risk, then killing the fetus/baby could be viewed as a sort of self defense.

[quote author=3AndMe][pre](moral fact) --> A fetus is human.[/pre][/quote]

Fact? By what authority? I supposed by "human" you are unequivocally using the same term as in your first premise when you said "a human". My sperm is "human", but not "a human" in the sense of being a person with the right to life mentioned in P#1. Anyway, the fact is that we don't agree on when personhood begins -- which is/should be the central argument in the abortion debate. My thought, even though we are off topic here, is that personhood begins with higher brain activity -- somewhere around the 3rd trimester (which is the same criteria used to determine when someone is "brain dead", and no longer alive).
[/quote]


[quote author=3AndMe link=topic=4516.msg349398#msg349398 date=1121885512]
[quote author=KipBond link=topic=4516.msg349364#msg349364 date=1121882703]
My sperm is "human", but not "a human" in the sense of being a person
[/quote]

We're not talking about your sperm. We're talking about a fetus. At the instant of conception, there iis human life. From that point on, if nothing interferes with it (like an abortion), that fetus will continue to grow into someone like you and me. It has, since the moment of conception, the same requirements as any human -- food/energy, water, warmth, shelter, waste management, oxygen, etc. all of which are provided through the mother's body. By whose authority can you say that is not a human being?

Quote:
Originally Posted by "KipBond"
My thought, even though we are off topic here, is that personhood begins with higher brain activity -- somewhere around the 3rd trimester (which is the same criteria used to determine when someone is "brain dead", and no longer alive).
What is brain activity and consciousness, really? It's not matter, or some tangible thng. If we exist at the cellular level, which someone made the argument for earlier, then I can make this argument:

[pre]
(premise) --> Humans exist at the cellular level.
(fact) --> Cells have certain biological requirements to meet the criteria of being a cell.
(fact) --> A fetus is comprised of cells.
(fact) --> A fetus has all the biological requirements cells do.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(conclusion) --> A fetus meets the criteria for humanness.
[/pre]

Your argument (at least the way it reads) says that someone in a coma (brain-dead, let's say) is no longer human. A valid argument can be made that without consciousness and human intellect, you aren't human, but I don't think it's a sound argument. When someone dies, do we pay our respects to that person? Religious or not, I'm sure we do. Why then, by your argument, do we waste our time remembering and grieving over something that is not human anymore? When somone dies, they lose all mental ability and consciousness. Does that mean we should just throw the body in a land-fill like a rotten sack of potatoes and not worry about it? No, a person who is brain-dead is still human; a clinically dead human, but still human. I look at fetuses the same way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by "KipBond"
Not always... self defense, for instance. Which, in the case of abortion, if the woman's life is at risk, then killing the fetus/baby could be viewed as a sort of self defense.
That's exactly why I said I can be reasonable about it. However, there is no justifiable excuse for the multitude of unnecessary abortions in which neither mother or child is in danger. That unwanted baby is the result of the parents' f*ckup, and the responsibility for that child therefore rests solely on the shoulders of the parents. Who is anyone to erase a child from existance, in order to erase their own f*ckup? That's pretty serious if you think about it.

And I certainly hope alcohol is not "of the devil". I enjoy a good glass of red now and then :-)
[/quote]


[quote author=KipBond link=topic=4516.msg349412#msg349412 date=1121886600]
3AndMe: Trust me... I've answered your questions numerous times from other people... Since you revived this thread to keep another from getting off topic, perhaps you should move the abortion-related posts and questions to another thread? I'll be happy to answer them there.
[/quote]


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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-20-2005, 04:26 PM
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Re: Is abortion ethical?

Thanks for starting this thread, 3AndMe... And, since you quoted it, I thought I'd point out that this "music video" is very entertaining (to me at least): "Keep your Jesus off my penis, I'll keep my penis off of you."

Now, I'll address your comments and questions:

[quote author=3AndMe link=topic=4516.msg349398#msg349398 date=1121885512]
[quote author=KipBond link=topic=4516.msg349364#msg349364 date=1121882703]
My sperm is "human", but not "a human" in the sense of being a person
[/quote]

We're not talking about your sperm. We're talking about a fetus. At the instant of conception, there iis human life. From that point on, if nothing interferes with it (like an abortion), that fetus will continue to grow into someone like you and me. It has, since the moment of conception, the same requirements as any human -- food/energy, water, warmth, shelter, waste management, oxygen, etc. all of which are provided through the mother's body. By whose authority can you say that is not a human being?[/quote]

I was pointing out that you used the term "a human" in P#1, but said "human" in P#2. The word "human" can mean several things. Every cell in my body is "human", but it is not "a human". I should now propose that we use the term "person" to denote a living human being that has the "right to life". That's what I'll use, anyway, and it may help to alleviate confusion over the terms.

So, the question, then, is "when does a human being become a person" -- "when does personhood begin"? We should try to come up with some criteria for defining personhood. Does it have to have 2 arms and 2 legs? No, because quadriplegics are still persons. Is anything with human DNA a person? No, because every cell in my body has human DNA, and they are not each a "person". So, then, what are the requirements for personhood? My thought... is that the requirement would be higher brain activity -- thoughts. The more sentience a thing has, the more value we give to it as an individual being. If and when we find life on other planets, we will need to calculate the level of sentience those beings have in order to evaluate how we are to treat them. If they have the minds of slugs, we can treat them as such. If they are more like primates or humans, most (hopefully) people will not desire to kill them for our own purposes. Anyway, I digress. The point is, I think higher brain activity is a requirement for personhood.

Quote:
Originally Posted by "3AndMe"
Quote:
Originally Posted by "KipBond"
My thought, even though we are off topic here, is that personhood begins with higher brain activity -- somewhere around the 3rd trimester (which is the same criteria used to determine when someone is "brain dead", and no longer alive).
What is brain activity and consciousness, really? It's not matter, or some tangible thng.
Brain activity is tangible. We can measure it with EEGs. Basically, it's neurons sending electrical signals through a network of brain cells / synapses. No brain activity = brain dead = dead = not a person.

Quote:
Originally Posted by "3AndMe"
If we exist at the cellular level, which someone made the argument for earlier, then I can make this argument:

[pre]
(premise) --> Humans exist at the cellular level.
(fact) --> Cells have certain biological requirements to meet the criteria of being a cell.
(fact) --> A fetus is comprised of cells.
(fact) --> A fetus has all the biological requirements cells do.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(conclusion) --> A fetus meets the criteria for humanness.
[/pre]
A cell doesn't have higher brain wave activity. Persons are made OF cells, but cells are not people. So, basically, a person is a certain arrangement of cells, resulting in several emergent properties, the most important of which is higher brain functions (thought).

Quote:
Originally Posted by "3AndMe"
Your argument (at least the way it reads) says that someone in a coma (brain-dead, let's say) is no longer human.
Someone in a coma is not necessarily brain dead. They still have REM, indicating dreams, which indicate thought. Someone that is brain dead does not dream. Dreams require brain activity. Brain dead people, by definition, do not have brain activity. If someone is brain dead, then they are as dead as dead can get. We then bury them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by "3AndMe"
A valid argument can be made that without consciousness and human intellect, you aren't human, but I don't think it's a sound argument.
I wouldn't say that consciousness is a requirement for personhood. We aren't conscious when we are asleep, but we still have higher brain activity. Human intellect... that might be subjective... but I don't think someone needs to be "smart" to be a person. As long as a human has higher brain activity (even if they can't add 2+2), then they are still a person.

Quote:
Originally Posted by "3AndMe"
When someone dies, do we pay our respects to that person? Religious or not, I'm sure we do. Why then, by your argument, do we waste our time remembering and grieving over something that is not human anymore?
We remember them for the person they were. We still have memories that we (still being living persons) cherish. Is it a waste of time looking at a photo album? Or talking about years gone by? Even though those things are in the past, doesn't mean it's a waste of time. Basically, we do it because it makes us happy. Not the dead person... the living persons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by "3AndMe"
When somone dies, they lose all mental ability and consciousness. Does that mean we should just throw the body in a land-fill like a rotten sack of potatoes and not worry about it? No, a person who is brain-dead is still human; a clinically dead human, but still human. I look at fetuses the same way.
You look at fetuses in the same way you look at a dead person? OK... so, you'd be OK with embalming them, putting them in a casket, having a funeral, and then burying them?

The Bible says "let the dead bury the dead"... meaning that... they are dead. We come together and treat their bodies with dignity because it makes us feel better... it does nothing for the dead person. After I'm dead, you can do whatever you want with my body... I won't care. Just make sure my family is OK with it, because they might care.

Quote:
Originally Posted by "3AndMe"
Quote:
Originally Posted by "KipBond"
Not always... self defense, for instance. Which, in the case of abortion, if the woman's life is at risk, then killing the fetus/baby could be viewed as a sort of self defense.
That's exactly why I said I can be reasonable about it. However, there is no justifiable excuse for the multitude of unnecessary abortions in which neither mother or child is in danger. That unwanted baby is the result of the parents' f*ckup, and the responsibility for that child therefore rests solely on the shoulders of the parents. Who is anyone to erase a child from existance, in order to erase their own f*ckup? That's pretty serious if you think about it.
If a fetus is not a person, then removing it from existence would be similar to removing a tumor (a glob of "human" cells). As callous as that sounds, that's the truth. The question remains, then, what criteria is required for personhood? Punt.

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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-20-2005, 04:34 PM
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Re: Is abortion ethical?

Is abortion ethical? I don't see how any termination of human life without medical neccesity could be considered "ethical", but that's just my opinion.

But there's a difference between what I would consider "ethical" and what I think ought to be legal. Or rather....my feelings on the ethics of abortion (of a non-viable fetus) are outweighed by my feelings on the ethics of intrusive government.
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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-20-2005, 04:52 PM
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Re: Is abortion ethical?

[quote author=murph182 link=topic=25793.msg349485#msg349485 date=1121891678]
Is abortion ethical? I don't see how any termination of human life without medical neccesity could be considered "ethical", but that's just my opinion.[/quote]

If by "human life" you mean "a person", then I agree... except for self defense (some would add "war", and "death penalty&quot. But, I think it's perfectly fine (and sometimes highly preferable) to terminate living human cells (ie: cancer, tumors, cosmetic surgery, etc.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by "murph182"
But there's a difference between what I would consider "ethical" and what I think ought to be legal. Or rather....my feelings on the ethics of abortion (of a non-viable fetus) are outweighed by my feelings on the ethics of intrusive government.
I'm pretty much opposite. If I thought that a fetus was a person, then I'd be all for the government intruding to stop people from killing that person. But, I don't... so I'm not.

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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-20-2005, 05:02 PM
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Re: Is abortion ethical?

i do not agree with abortion, but i also dont think the gov should get into it.... its up to the person to deside what she wants to do or what she belives.... the gov should have more programs showing the outcome etc. of a abortion, but the gov should not be the one telling the people what they can do with their bodys.





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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-20-2005, 05:09 PM
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Re: Is abortion ethical?

[quote author=DUBS2X10 link=topic=25793.msg349513#msg349513 date=1121893335]
i do not agree with abortion, but i also dont think the gov should get into it.... its up to the person to deside what she wants to do or what she belives.... the gov should have more programs showing the outcome etc. of a abortion, but the gov should not be the one telling the people what they can do with their bodys.[/quote]

This position is baffling to me. Are you saying it would be like me not agreeing with tattoos or body piercings (for example -- I actually have no qualms about them), but not wanting the government to tell other people what to do with their body? If so, then why not just say you wouldn't personally have an abortion, or wouldn't want your wife/girlfriend to have one... but that you don't think it's unethical or immoral? I mean, if you think the fetus IS a person, then it's not the mom's body to do with what she wants, right? It's the baby's body, so we (and the government) should try to protect those babies.

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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-20-2005, 05:37 PM
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Re: Is abortion ethical?

All for it, no man (or anyone else for that matter) should be able to tell me what to do with my body. I actually did my senior project on being pro-choice (3 years ago, jeeze I'm getting old) and had an awesome debate with another girl who was pro-life.


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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-20-2005, 05:49 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Is abortion ethical?

Quote:
Originally Posted by "KipBond"
The more sentience a thing has, the more value we give to it as an individual being. If and when we find life on other planets, we will need to calculate the level of sentience those beings have in order to evaluate how we are to treat them.
So you're saying someone with a mental handicap, say someone with Down syndrome or autism, is less of an "individual being"? Given that sentience is defined as "feeling or sensation as distinguished from perception and thought", you're arguing that what gives something "value" as an individual is how much it feels. If that's the case, I'd argue an autistic person is much more of an individual than we are. An animal with a much more complex nervous system than mine, by your argument, has more value than me as an individual. I just don't know about that. That kind of thinking could lead to some serious problems for us (humans) later on down the line, especially with how easily you can convince certain people of anything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by "KipBond"
Brain activity is tangible. We can measure it with EEGs. Basically, it's neurons sending electrical signals through a network of brain cells / synapses. No brain activity = brain dead = dead = not a person.
A fetus is on its way to developing neurons and higher order brain activity. Who are we to stop it? Just because you already have higher order brain activity, but the fetus doesn't, means that you have the authority to deny it that chance? You're basically saying that we are more deserving of life than any fetus, newborn, or child because we have more developed brain activity than they do -- making them victims of circumstance: time of birth.

Science still does not have a complete understanding of the human mind. The way the brain handles those electrical impulses and produces sensations and memories with them is unfathomably complex, and I don't think we can claim that consciousness takes place purely at the cellcular level for this reason. If I'm nothing but a bunch of carbon-based cells ordered in such a way as to make me appear conscious, then what makes me an individual? There has to be some intangible thing that makes me who I am, aside from a bunch of individual, dumb cells just carrying out basic life processes for reasons unbeknownst to them (considering cells don't have a consciousness).

If its true what you say, that our brain activity and consciousness depends only on electrical signals sent by cells (neurons), then this is theoretically a sound argument:

[pre]
(premise) --> Cells are the basic building blocks of life, of which humans are entirely comprised.
(fact) --> A cell, in and of itself, has no consciousness.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(conclusion) --> Humans have no consciousness.
[/pre]

But obviously, it isn't true. Ergo, there must be something else that goes into making us human, aside from just cells.
If a single cell has no consciousness, then a bunch of them together won't either. Cells function independently of one-another, and are not conscious of one-another. They are not conscious of anything. All they do is take in nutrients, convert them to usable energy, expend the energy, expend the waste, and reproduce. It's purely chemical. Therefore...

Quote:
Originally Posted by "KipBond"
So, basically, a person is a certain arrangement of cells, resulting in several emergent properties, the most important of which is higher brain functions (thought).
... please explain to me how this works. I might just be ignorant of some aspect of cell biology.

Quote:
Originally Posted by "KipBond"
I wouldn't say that consciousness is a requirement for personhood. We aren't conscious when we are asleep, but we still have higher brain activity. Human intellect... that might be subjective... but I don't think someone needs to be "smart" to be a person. As long as a human has higher brain activity (even if they can't add 2+2), then they are still a person.
It depends on how deeply we are sleeping. Usually, our memory system shuts down in deep sleep, and is available again while dreaming (a lighter stage of sleep). This is why the only parts of dreams that people usually remember are those that occurred during the stages of sleep where brain activity is closest to those when awake. Do we know for a fact that animals don't dream? I already made the claim hat they can be just as sentient as us, if not more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by "KipBond"
You look at fetuses in the same way you look at a dead person? OK... so, you'd be OK with embalming them, putting them in a casket, having a funeral, and then burying them?
If a fetus is already dead, and the mother wants to have it properly buried/cremated, I say more power to her. It's her child and she had to carry it for x amount of time. It might not be cause for a full-blown religious ceremony though, especially since that child was never baptised or affiliated with any religion. I don't know what the church has to say about that, and I won't try to make this a religous debate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by "KipBond"
If a fetus is not a person, then removing it from existence would be similar to removing a tumor (a glob of "human" cells). As callous as that sounds, that's the truth. The question remains, then, what criteria is required for personhood? Punt.
We still haven't established that a fetus is not a person. It's likely we never will. You made your argument that it isn't. I made my argument that it is. Then you made your argument again that is isn't, which brought us back to point A.




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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-20-2005, 05:55 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Is abortion ethical?

[quote author=stephanie link=topic=25793.msg349548#msg349548 date=1121895423]
All for it, no man (or anyone else for that matter) should be able to tell me what to do with my body. I actually did my senior project on being pro-choice (3 years ago, jeeze I'm getting old) and had an awesome debate with another girl who was pro-life.
[/quote]

What about what you can/can't do to someone else's body? Oh, say for instance... that of the baby that you would want to abort? Does that child not have the same rights you do? Are you so much better, or superior to that unborn child? What makes you so special? Nothing -- it's merely the fact that many women don't want to take responsibility for their actions.

You seem confident in your position on the matter, so I am interested in hearing your response to what I wrote earlier (see below). Please, do share your premises for how you feel....
Just saying no one has the right to tell you what to do is not an argument at all. In fact, it isn't true. You've already been told what to do and how to act as part of the social contract and set of laws and ordinances that you live by every day in this society. Some of them pertain to what you can do to your body, such as whether or not you can legally use crack cocaine. Your bold and highly overused assertion of "it's my body, I can do what I want" is a typical outcry of rebellion, reminiscent of the liberal mentality. Since you are bound by other laws that pertain to your body, what makes this one any different -- especially considering the fact that another human life is at stake?

Quote:
Originally Posted by "3AndMe"
Being reasonable however, I guess if the doctors decide that a fetus/unborn child has no chance, then I guess it isn't the worst thing in the world to abort. It's probably on par with pulling the plug on a mentally-dead person that's been comatose for a while. *Some* abortions I can live with. I'm not happy about it, but fine -- people die in wars, too. But to deliberately abort a child solely because you can't take care of it or don't want to carry out the pregnancy is insane! People need to stop having so much frivolous sex. Oh wait --- I can't propose that people should take responsibility for their actions -- that would rub alot of people the wrong way Why do something crazy like that, when you can make it society's problem instead!! God forbid people should help themselves anymore.


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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-20-2005, 06:11 PM
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Re: Is abortion ethical?

[quote author=stephanie link=topic=25793.msg349548#msg349548 date=1121895423]
All for it, no man (or anyone else for that matter) should be able to tell me what to do with my body. I actually did my senior project on being pro-choice (3 years ago, jeeze I'm getting old) and had an awesome debate with another girl who was pro-life.


"Keep your rosaries off my ovaries"
[/quote]
I totally agree with stephanie, I think the government should not have say in what you do with your body. I happen to be a conservative, but I am opposed to many conservative policies which place religious beliefs in our government. Whatever happened to separation of church and state?
[quote author=KipBond link=topic=25793.msg349518#msg349518 date=1121893791]
[quote author=DUBS2X10 link=topic=25793.msg349513#msg349513 date=1121893335]
i do not agree with abortion, but i also dont think the gov should get into it.... its up to the person to deside what she wants to do or what she belives.... the gov should have more programs showing the outcome etc. of a abortion, but the gov should not be the one telling the people what they can do with their bodys.[/quote]

It's the baby's body, so we (and the government) should try to protect those babies.
[/quote]
Technically, the baby is not self sufficient, and is connected to the mother via the umbilical cord; therefore the fetus is still part of the mother's body.

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