Comments on: Abortion debate. One atheist's thoughts on politics, religion, and philsophy Sat, 28 Mar 2015 21:28:00 +0000 hourly 1 By: Dylan Walker Tue, 06 Nov 2012 06:58:27 +0000 First off, I don’t actually consider the fetus a rapist. Rape usually implies intent and there is no reason to infer that there is any intents of any kind in the fetus. Calling it rape would be rational if we were going to treat the fetus as having the same rights of an adult as pro lifers seem to want. I actually don’t think that makes any sense, the argument was meant to show how illogical it is to impart the same level of rights on a fetus as you would on an adult. With rights come responsibilities, and if they are responsible then they would be considered rapists, but I see no reason to impart the fetus with any of these qualities. I hope that clarifies.

Now, of course I value freedom, but to me the issue of freedom and life are tied together closely. There is more to life that mere survival right? There are plenty of things that the government could do which would save lives, but curtail our freedom. Where do we draw the line? I don’t know your politics but do you really think it would be worth living in a totalitarian or communist regime if you were promised a few more lives would be saved? I don’t because I think that quality of life is just as important as quantity.

Now I have gotten to know you a bit and I know you wouldn’t use a phrase like “breeding vessel” so I apologize if I offended, but my position is that even though most fundamentalists mean well (I did too back when I was one) in the end this is exactly what you are saying to women, whether you mean to or not.

As for the last part, I’ll sort of answer with a question of my own, can you tell me what the difference between a pile of sand it and a single grain? Of course I spoke a bit about this in my initial post, so I would suggest following some of the links I provided to articles about embryology. On this point if you want more than that you are really asking the wrong person. I would suggest asking a biologist, specifically one trained in embryology, they are much better versed in this than I

By: HokieJim02 Tue, 06 Nov 2012 06:11:29 +0000 Third paragraph, first sentence should be “isn’t” rather than “is.”

By: HokieJim02 Tue, 06 Nov 2012 06:06:04 +0000 Hi Dylan,

Thanks, I’m learning a lot about your position now.

So, what you are saying is that when a pregnant woman decides to exercise her choice for whatever reason, her consent is removed and the unborn human child becomes guilty of rape because it’s now using the woman’s body against her will. And rapists deserve the death penalty. This is the justification you use for aborting unwanted children and an example of how you value human life by being Pro-Choice? Over 50,000,000 lives terminated in the US alone since Roe v. Wade is the properly justified killing of rapists?

I’m confident that you value human life when the woman’s life is truly in jeopardy. Your research probably shows how many abortions are actually done to save the life of the mother. But otherwise it seems like what you’re really saying is you value freedom, to the point where you would be willing to call an unborn human being domiciled in its mother a rapist to justify killing it. I could never look a woman in the eye and call her a “breeding vessel” or some other repulsive rhetoric either. But I could also never look her in the eye and tell her she is correct to view the defenseless child in her womb as a rapist that deserves death.

Now, you may very well believe that killing an unborn child is actually ending a life. However, I just want to point out that during your closing statement you said “the government doesn’t have the right to interfere with the choices a woman makes with her own body, even if those choices affect someone else’s life, even the life of a fetus they might be carrying.”

So, in one your earlier posts you mentioned something about a fetus coming closer to becoming a human being but that defining the exact point was difficult due to a number of factors. What did you mean by that? What are the factors? What is the difference between a human fetus and a human being?

Thank you,

By: Dylan Walker Mon, 05 Nov 2012 02:59:12 +0000 Sure, I think life has intrinsic value as well.
This is in fact the only post you have made so far where I find a few things I strongly disagree with.

I find it odd that you assume that atheists have no purpose of meaning (that would be nihilism) and the assumption that atheism necessarily leads to nihilism is one I reject.

You use the word “intrinsic” and that is a good word in my opinion because it means the meaning comes from within. If god’s existence had any affect on it it would be extrinsic, so, for me, whether he exists or not has no effect on how I value human life.

In fact, I take the pro choice position precisely because I value human life. You use the phrase “proper justification” and I think I have argued that a human who is living off of another human against their will to be just that.

Think about it, someone using another persons body against their will? What do we call that when an adult does it? I think it might rightly be called rape.

See you want to defend the rights of the fetus, and I get that, I really do, but it seems in the middle of that desire you have forgotten about the woman carrying it, who is also a human being with a life and rights of her own, and if I have to choose between defending the rights and life of a fetus, that might be alive and might be conscious, verses a woman who clearly is both of those, well my choice is obvious. I could never look a woman in the eye and tell her that her rights have been relegated to “breeding vessel” for the next 9 months and her will is irrelevant.

That is how I see it anyway, so I reject the notion that I’m pro choice because I just don’t care about human life.

By: HokieJim02 Mon, 05 Nov 2012 01:05:32 +0000 Hi Dylan,

Fair enough, that answer actually helps me understand your position better than anything we’ve discussed so far. I accept that you don’t see the analogy as even remotely analogous, because I think you would have to devalue human life to the point where you see a pregnant woman as the hospital – as simply an entity that provides resources. That seems to me as consistent with where an atheistic worldview leads you – no purpose, no meaning. For what it’s worth, I would choose to step in and save you, because I believe that human life has intrinsic value worth saving. As to your question regarding your kidney analogy, my answer is that I believe that it is wrong to take the life of an innocent human being without proper justification.

Take care Dylan,

By: Dylan Walker Mon, 05 Nov 2012 00:10:29 +0000 To be honest, I’m not entirely sure which side I would come down on in the analogy you present.

Generally these choices are left up to the family, but since there is no family around in the analogy the hospitals choice may be the most rational one.

In the end, I don’t see this analogy as even remotely analogous to abortion since my continued existence is not directly dependent upon the use of another persons body.

By: HokieJim02 Sun, 04 Nov 2012 23:34:29 +0000 Hi Dylan,

I’m glad that you are trying to be as precise as possible. That helps me to understand what you mean, and I want to encourage you to keep it up.

I was thinking about your analogy a little more, and Vocab’s point that you are describing what amounts to allowing someone to die passively, versus actively attacking them to end their life. I’d like to offer you another imperfect analogy that, from what I can gather, more closely parallels your viewpoint on the Pro-Choice position.

Let’s say you are in the hospital after a bad accident or a acquiring some new disease. You’re unconscious and have been on life support systems for several weeks. The neurologist thinks he sees some signs of change in your brain activity, but there’s some uncertainty over what this means. They think you’ll eventually pull through, but you’ve become a financial burden on the hospital because you have no means by which you could pay for the care you’ve received and you’re jeopardizing the hospital’s ability to help other patients in need of care. It’s certain you’ll need a lot medical care afterward when you pull through, which you also can’t pay for yourself. You’ll likely be relying on someone else or even government assistance as you attempt to recover. The hospital decides they don’t want to care for you anymore for whatever reason. Maybe to free up their resources to help other patients? Maybe their cost-benefit analysis says continuing to care for you without sufficient reimbursement is not in their best interests? Maybe the prognosis is you would not end up with a high quality of life? Maybe they’ve just changed their mind and wished you had been sent to a different hospital because they didn’t fully consider the responsibilities of admitting such a needy patient in the first place? Maybe they just prefer to care for female patients and you are a male? Anyway, regardless of the rationale, they decide to cut-off your life support. Should the government step in and save your life?

Take care,

By: Dylan Walker Sun, 04 Nov 2012 10:29:47 +0000 Hmm…well I’m being as precise as possible. I’ve worked on computers and technician support for years, so similar to you I understand the need to precision when dealing with technology. I’m not sure it is reasonable to expect the same type of precision when dealing with questions of morality or politics.

You say the analogy doesn’t help…I have a question. Do you actually think the person in the analogy should be forced to give up his kidney by the state? I’m asking because I am trying to understand, are you OK with the government interfering with bodily rights anytime it feels it is in the public’s best interest, or only in the context of abortion?

I ask because you say my line is not exact enough for your liking, but I feel like the same could be said of the prolife side.

By: HokieJim02 Sat, 03 Nov 2012 23:28:59 +0000 Hi Dylan,

It’s getting a little more clear, but it’s just difficult when you don’t precisely qualify your statements as you are making them. I’m an engineer, and I seek out precision and accuracy, because if I’m not accurate and precise, I make mistakes. I’m trying not to make a mistake in understanding what you’re saying.

In your last reply you said that your statement is “I don’t think the government should be interfering at THIS point in THIS issue.” What is “THIS point?” Am I to take that to mean today, anytime before 20 weeks into a pregnancy, or something else?

However, in the grand scheme of the debate, I guess it really just doesn’t matter. You’ve already said that killing an innocent human being is just in the context of abortion and rationalized it by saying an “individuals right to life should not extend into someone else’s personal autonomy.” From a human rights perspective, I just can’t get there and you’re analogy to demonstrate why doesn’t help.

So, I’ll say thank you kindly for this participating in the debate, and for hosting this dialogue with me. I hope to hear you debate Vocab on future episodes of BPR. As I told Vocab, this debate has had a measurable impact in helping me solidify my own position.

Take care,

By: Dylan Walker Sat, 03 Nov 2012 18:00:06 +0000 Again, it seems you want a black and white answer to a complex question. I suppose I could give you the constancy you want if I were libertarian and against all government interference at all.

But my statement is that I don’t think the government should be interfering at THIS point in THIS issue, not that they should never interfere at all. Of course people may sometimes disagree about this based upon the criteria they use to determine when interference is necessary.

For a separate example, I favor legalization of marijuana, but I have libertarian friends who want to see the entire FDA disbanded. I don’t agree with them because I think the FDA serves a useful function, I just disagree with It’s particular limit on one drug, not it’s over all purpose. Is that inconsistent? My libertarian friends think so I guess.

Same, bodily rights are complex. For instance we have laws requiring people wear seat-belts (and helmets on motorcycles), but that is just a choice that effects individuals right? Well not exactly, since people who don’t wear seat-belts cause insurance rates and medical costs to rise. So is it right to interfere or not? Is it a simple question?

It’s complicated in part because of our history with governments and our rational fear of allowing them to become too totalitarian, we need governments to restrict some behaviors, but we also need to be able to limit it’s power to do so. Does that seem contradictory? Because it is to some extent, but It’s the reality we have to live with. In moral or political questions we are often forced to balance conflicting needs.

So with abortion there are several conflicting issues but lets look at my initial potion.

1. I believe a woman has a right to choose if she does not proceed with a pregancy.
2. I’ll agree that the further along in the pregnancy the closer the fetus is to becoming a human being. (defining the exact point it becomes one is difficult due to a number of factors)
3. The state takes into account viability which seems to me reasonably rational factor.
4. There is little, if any, benefit to the woman to end a pregnancy at 7 or 8 months, and virtually no one is even trying to do so. Abortions done at this point are pretty much all done because of a medical need, not voluntarily, so they are irrelevant to the discussion.
5. The laws, (at least when properly enforced) give women in most situations ample time to decide if they want to voluntarily terminate the pregnancy, and the legal system exists to deal with exceptions if needed.

So by 8 months the woman has already been given a choice to about whether or not she wants to be pregnant, and she choose to keep the child right? She made that choice months ago. This is why I am not even sure why this point is such sticking point with you. (It’s certainly not one of the points I’m used to pro-lifers getting stuck on in this debate) She has already made the choice, as I pointed out, even if these late term abortions were legal they would extremely rare because of this.

Maybe they should be legal from a procedural standpoint, there might be an argument to be made there, but like I said I don’t know any pro-choice advocates making this argument at this time, and since women are OK with the line being drawn there, then I’m OK with it too.

I’m not sure I can be any more clear at this point, if you still don’t see my position as rational there isn’t anything more I could really say to convince you of it.