Du Fresne on Abortion

March 13th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

writes in the Dom Post:

When I read recently that two medical ethicists had suggested it should be legal to kill newborn babies, my first thought was that they must be anti- campaigners choosing an unusually dramatic way to make their point.

After all, what’s the difference, ethically speaking, between aborting a baby at 20 weeks’ gestation or waiting until it’s born, then quietly suffocating it or administering a lethal injection? None that I can see.

Ethically speaking, the difference is that at 20 weeks, it can not survive outside the mother’s womb, and the mother has rights over her womb. This is the flaw in Karl’s entire column, and the research he refers to. Both totally skip over any discussion of the rights of a woman over her womb. One can only presume they think women have no rights over their wombs once they are pregnant. Now that is a legitimate view to have, but not one many share.

I believe that a foetus or unborn child does have some rights. And a mother also has some rights. The challenge is balancing those rights out. I have little time for those who say a mother has no rights at all, and likewise for those who say a foetus has no rights at all, and it is okay to abort at say eight and a half months.

Newborns aren’t actual persons, they suggest, merely potential persons. Neither the foetus nor the newborn baby is a person with a moral right to life. Only actual persons can be harmed by being killed.

It’s a proposition that would shock decent people. Yet it exposes the fundamental flaw, both logical and moral, behind liberal abortion laws such as those that apply in New Zealand.

Most people who think it’s OK to abort babies in the womb would recoil in horror at the thought of snuffing their lives out once they’ve been born.

And that is because they are now capable of independent life. I do not accept that an egg one second after fertilisation has the same rights as a baby.

But I ask again, what’s the difference? Some babies that are legally aborted under present law (there were 16,630 in 2010) have reached a stage in their development when they are capable, with intensive medical care, of surviving outside the womb.

Newborn babies also need intervention to survive. So at what point do we decide a baby has a right to life  at six months old, one year, only when it’s capable of feeding itself and walking?

There are a fer borderline cases, but generally abortions take place (as they should) before they can survive outside the womb.

Yet the Australian state of Victoria already allows babies to be aborted right up to the time of birth and pro-abortion lobbyists would like the same law adopted here. It’s only a short step from there to infanticide.

Which pro-abortion lobbyists are these? Can Karl name an organisation lobbying for this? He may be right, but I am unsure whom he is referring to.

He is right that Victoria’s laws are very permissive, with abortion on demand up until 24 weeks and needing two doctors to consent after considering a woman’s current and future physical, psychological and social circumstances. I think only serious physical danger to the mother should be a reasons for what is commonly called a late term abortion.

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107 Responses to “Du Fresne on Abortion”

  1. toad (3,673 comments) says:

    Now the Herald have finally pensioned off Garth George, isn’t it time the Dom Post finally did the same with du Fresne.

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  2. graham (2,285 comments) says:

    @toad:

    Why? Because you disagree with what he says?

    [DPF: Exactly. Many on the left don't want there to be voices in the media they disagree with. Personally i think it is good Chris Trotter and Matt McCarten have newspaper columns]

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  3. seanmaitland (472 comments) says:

    DPF – Seeing an ultrasound of a 12 week old unborn “baby” changes ones perspective.

    People claiming that they aren’t killing by aborting at that point are gutless. I’m not against abortion, but I am against people who try to claim they aren’t killing a baby.

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  4. wilhelmus7 (15 comments) says:

    “I have little time for those who say a mother has no rights at all, and likewise for those who say a foetus has no rights at all”. Not sure what plural rights you refer to. There’s really one right each. Right to life, or right to control the womb. There’s not really much room for sitting on the fence or reaching compromises.

    @toad, did you read the posts yesterday and last week about defending the right to free speech of those you disagree with? Pro lifers seem to have lost the debate, but that shouldn’t prevent them from continuing to press their point.

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  5. Brian Smaller (4,028 comments) says:

    And that is because they are now capable of independent life. I do not accept that an egg one second after fertilisation has the same rights as a baby.

    A newborn baby is NOT capable of independent life. It cannot move, clear it’s own airways if blocked, get warm, take in sustenance or protect itself without someone looking after it. It will die within a very short time if not cared for.

    [DPF: That someone does not have to be the mother. I also note disabled and elderly people also need assistance sometimes to stay alive]

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  6. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    “Both totally skip over any discussion of the rights of a woman over her womb” While I probably disagree with DPF, he’s right in that there is little discussion about what these rights (woman’s over her womb) [it’d like to note that babies don’t accidentally get into a woman’s womb, but that for discussion somewhere else].

    16,000 per year is a huge number. To suggest that it’s because these mothers would have died or being severely mentally stressed is simply not believable. The reality is that these abortions are because they ‘inconvenience’ a woman. So what is the acceptable level of inconvenience that would permit aborting a child? Or what about old people, or mentally ill homeless people. Or maybe Jews and Maori?

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  7. Andrei (2,532 comments) says:

    Abortion is a crime against humanity – it is not a matter of “rights” it is a matter of duties to other people.

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  8. Pete George (23,346 comments) says:

    du Fresne sometimes writes some good columns. Not this one though.

    I think:
    0-16 weeks the rights are firmly towards the mother.
    16-24 weeks are borderline and needed to be treated very carefully depending on circumstances, safety and rights of mother versus rights of foetus.
    24 weeks to birth firmly in the foetus’ favour and should only be jeapordised by extreme circumstances.

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  9. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    “Oh, don’t be silly EWS! We’d never kill old people or Maori or Jews because they’re inconvenient. You’re being silly!”

    Why? Why would we never do that? If enough people wanted to there is no philosophical argument here to prevent it.

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  10. Ed Snack (1,801 comments) says:

    So of course abortions based on the sex of the prospective offspring are perfectly acceptable, no ? Since the mother has all the rights, choosing to abort because the fetus is female (or male, but that doesn’t generate the same outrage usually), is perfectly permissible.

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  11. speters (108 comments) says:

    ““Oh, don’t be silly EWS! We’d never kill old people or Maori or Jews because they’re inconvenient. You’re being silly!”

    Why? Why would we never do that? If enough people wanted to there is no philosophical argument here to prevent it.”

    Ah, I’m pretty sure there are many, many philosophical arguments for minority rights, and against the tyranny of the majority.

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  12. speters (108 comments) says:

    Personally I think the “capable of independent life” argument is exceptionally weak. A newborn baby is not capable of independent life. If “capable of independent life” is the criteria, then it would seem to follow that the mother then has no duties to care for the baby. In which case it would be acceptable for a mother to passively leave a baby to its independent life, and obviously imminent death, but not acceptable to actively kill it.

    On the other hand, if you think the mother has an active duty to care for her child, then there is not really a logical reason why this duty should only begin when it meets your definition of “capable of independent life” and not before.

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  13. YesWeDid (1,044 comments) says:

    Is there a greater waste of time than arguing about abortion on the internet?

    (Well maybe playing golf in the rain, I’ve never understood that)

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  14. Pete George (23,346 comments) says:

    – it is not a matter of “rights” it is a matter of duties to other people.

    That sounds like that old fashioned patriarchal/religious concept (priest and husband rule) that a woman’s duty is to pop sprogs without having any rights.

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  15. dime (9,676 comments) says:

    why is it always cranky dudes that protest abortion?

    heard one on the radio this morning. some crusty old bastard getting worked up

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  16. Pete George (23,346 comments) says:

    Is there a bigger waste of time than arguing about abortion on the internet?

    (Well maybe playing golf in the rain, I’ve never understood that)

    More like playing golf in hail, hard to know which one to hit.

    why is it always cranky dudes that protest abortion?

    Often but not always – they yearn for past total control over a woman’s life.

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  17. Fletch (6,151 comments) says:

    David, I will have to strongly disagree with you on some of these points.

    Personally, I can’t see it matters how old the child or foetus is.

    With conception (egg and sperm joining) life has begun.
    There is no doubt about this, because 9 months later (if not interfered with) a baby will result, and conception is where it all began. Of course it starts off small – it has to! Everything that is living starts off small – a flower, the largest Kauri tree, an elephant, everything! But the size of a thing is not a rationale for destroying it.

    People seem to have the idea that the less physical presence a thing has that it’s easier to destroy, and it probably is in their minds, but really, destroying something anywhere along it’s timeline from conception to old age is killing it.

    I don’t buy into this idea that it’s OK to kill a baby if it can’t survive outside it’s mother’s womb yet. As some have pointed out, a newborn baby can’t survive without it’s mother after it is born either! It has to be fed, changed, washed, put down to bed, burped, and any other number of things that it can’t do for itself. A newborn baby is just as dependant on it’s mother for life as it is in the womb.

    I would also make the point that the baby is not part of the mother. It has it’s own DNA separate from the mother, which does not change during the whole of it’s life. A baby is it’s own person.

    I believe that some people think of an unborn baby as something akin to cookie dough mixture. If you don’t want the cookie then you decide not to put it in the oven, throw away the mixture and make some more another day, but they miss the fact that each baby is unique. You’ll know this if you’re a parent with more than one child – one child is not like another child, and none will come out exactly the same as another. If you’ve aborted a baby, you’ve taken the life of your unique son or daughter, of which there will never be another exactly the same.

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  18. graham (2,285 comments) says:

    In general, I’m against abortion (except for a few special cases which I’ll mention later). Certainly in first world countries like New Zealand, I cannot understand how anyone can be in favour of abortion. With all the information out there, with sex education in schools, with family planning, etc., surely people must be able to work out where babies come from and how to prevent them if you don’t want them. So how can the father and mother of the unborn child claim it was an accident? Or mental health issues? “Oh no, I’m going to have a baby … I totally didn’t expect that when I had unprotected sex … woe is me …”

    No. Sorry. I don’t buy it.

    There are some cases where I do understand the reasoning, such as a woman who becomes pregnant from being raped. I can totally understand the “mental health” line there.

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  19. gump (1,553 comments) says:

    Last time this thread came up I posted a list of rare but hellish congenital diseases (such as Harlequin-type ichthyosis).

    It isn’t pleasant to think about, but carefully regulated infanticide is the most ethical choice for those cases.

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  20. Mark (1,434 comments) says:

    “16,000 per year is a huge number. To suggest that it’s because these mothers would have died or being severely mentally stressed is simply not believable. The reality is that these abortions are because they ‘inconvenience’ a woman. So what is the acceptable level of inconvenience that would permit aborting a child?”

    Abortion in New Zealand is on demand. To try and argue anything else is simply not supported by the facts. The law as it stands is simply a delusion that politicians for the last 30 odd years have been too gutless to either enforce or scrap. As someone who has adopted children it is hard to look at this issue through untinted lenses. All I can say is I am eternally grateful every day that the birth mothers of my children chose not to kill them. They are bright, vibrant and happy kids as I am sure so many of the 16,630 would have been if they had been given the chance.

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  21. Pete George (23,346 comments) says:

    With conception (egg and sperm joining) life has begun.

    Two components of life have joined to start developing.

    It doesn’t mean the sudden cessation of the life or rights of the host (mother).

    graham, I agree that there should be far more responsibility and prevention so abortions don’t come in to the equation – but you know the group most insistent against abortion is also very insistent against contraception.

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  22. Fletch (6,151 comments) says:

    graham, I understand that too. As a man I don’t think I can hope to understand the mindset of a woman who has been raped and made pregnant. On the other hand, has anyone ever asked women who have been raped their thoughts? Actually they have. There is a book called Victims and Victors in which almost 200 women who experienced rape or incest pregnancies talk about it, and almost none want abortion!

    http://bit.ly/e390SY

    Here’s a letter that Abort73 received from a woman who had been raped –

    I am the single mother of a beautiful, fun-loving, bright young woman of 16 years of age. This Easter we celebrated the 17th anniversary of her conception. Raped by an acquaintance, my first consideration was abortion even though I had spoken out against it all my life… I considered abortion until I [determined it wasn't] the right thing. I perused adoption and chose parents to give my baby to. I changed my mind and chose motherhood. I have provided, educated, clothed, fed, nursed, counseled, encouraged, and loved with all my heart the daughter of a man who violated the last virtue I was cherishing, my virginity… When interviewed about my experience several years ago, I was asked what I would a tell a young woman contemplating an abortion. After some careful consideration and a determination never to water down the truth I replied, “It is the hardest thing in the world to choose what you know is right. Being a single parent is no more easy than living with the haunting memory of aborting your child. No matter how hard you wish, either way your life will never be the same. Both have their pains and their struggles, however, only one choice afforded me a profound peace… Never have we been in want. Never have I regretted my choice. The scars of my experience have been healed… we show no signs of lack nor neglect…

    As I said above, as a man, I don’t think I can hope to understand what someone who has been made pregnant through rape would go through, but I believe in listening to those who have gone through it who say that it only compounds things by treating violence with more violence.

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  23. Fletch (6,151 comments) says:

    Two components of life have joined to start developing.

    It doesn’t mean the sudden cessation of the life or rights of the host (mother).

    Pete, and what “right” is that? The right to kill her child?
    Why should a mother have that right? She has the right not to want children, but I believe she gives up that right (somewhat) when she decides to have sex – an activity that is known to bring about children ;)

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  24. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    speters (25) Says:
    March 13th, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Personally I think the “capable of independent life” argument is exceptionally weak. A newborn baby is not capable of independent life. If “capable of independent life” is the criteria, then it would seem to follow that the mother then has no duties to care for the baby. In which case it would be acceptable for a mother to passively leave a baby to its independent life, and obviously imminent death, but not acceptable to actively kill it.

    A mother doesn’t have a duty to care for the baby after birth. The mother can give it up for adoption. If a mother could transfer their unborn baby to another woman’s womb then perhaps the analogy would hold.

    But personally I don’t care for this line of argument. Our freedoms are legitimately limited by the decisions we make and generally speaking getting pregnant is a consequence of our own actions. If a man gets a woman pregnant then he may be liable to 19 years of child support. We may say that he has a right to his own money, but as a consequence of his actions his normal rights are limited. Therefore, why aren’t the woman’s rights also limited similarly as a consequence of their actions?

    I would argue that a right to abortion in the early stages is on the basis that the “baby” does not represent something which has characteristics which would mean it deserves human rights. Up until at least the 24th week it cannot even feel pain. There is no line in the sand where we can say it is now officially a human because growth is a continual and gradual process, but it seems reasonable to presume in the very early stages that it is not and to allow a reasonable window for termination.

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  25. Lance (2,565 comments) says:

    @Pete George
    You talk drivel
    “the group most insistent against abortion is also very insistent against contraception.”

    Apart from the Catholics most other groups are not anti-contraception.

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  26. Dazzaman (1,132 comments) says:

    Bullshit gump. I guess you’d like to kill that 14 year old girl who you linked to last week…..bump.

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  27. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    Fletch,


    …but I believe she gives up that right (somewhat) when she decides to have sex – an activity that is known to bring about children

    What difference does the mother’s intent make to the interests and/or rights of the child. If the thing growing inside the mother has a right to life, as I presume you believe, then this right is surely independent of the mother’s intentions. The fact that the mother chose to have sex, or even if the mother was raped, would be irrelevant to the notion that the child has a right to life because of that child’s intrinsic worth.

    This is why I suggest abortion as a right because I hold that in the very early stages of pregnancy the “child” does not have intrinsic worth because of its lack of development and its lack of those attributes which would rightly afford it the status of “person”.

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  28. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    Lance,


    Apart from the Catholics most other groups are not anti-contraception.

    It would seem even most Catholics aren’t against contraception notwithstanding the preaching of that strange old man in the funny looking hat.

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  29. graham (2,285 comments) says:

    @ Pete:

    “but you know the group most insistent against abortion is also very insistent against contraception”

    Do you mean Catholics? Sooo, all 16,000 mothers were Catholic?

    I’m Christian (Anglican), but I think the Catholic church has it wrong with regards to contraception. That’s another argument for another day though.

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  30. Lance (2,565 comments) says:

    The argument about not being capable of independent life is sick
    People having general anesthetics are not capable of independent life as modern anesthetics usually paralyses breathing. Same with those is a coma with a chance of recovery. Then we get into the slippery slope of the disabled and elderly.

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  31. wreck1080 (3,815 comments) says:

    This is a stupid argument, of course you cannot kill newborns. It is like these ethicists were given a thesis and they were required to debate in support of it. Kind of like debates where you are arguing for something which you are actually against.

    I don’t think abortions should be allowed after about 20 or so weeks – that is around the time that tests can detect most abnormalities such as downs and you need to make a decision in case of problems.

    This is not a hard & fast rule either — medical abortions (ie, where the mothers health is at risk) and cases of severe issues should always be allowed.

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  32. Fletch (6,151 comments) says:

    Weihana,

    well said on the analogy of a man and money.
    I still don’t agree on how the age of a baby makes any difference.

    Personally, I can imagine a person’s life as a timeline with conception at the beginning and death at the end.
    To me, human intervention – going in with your hands and terminating that life, be it with a gun or forceps, or an injection, is ending that life anywhere along the timeline. How can it not be? On the one hand life results, on the other, no life, and the only difference between one and the other is human intervention. And we call this “health care”, or “medicine”?

    It is not health care.
    According to studies in the U.S, 98% of abortion is done for reasons of convenience.

    http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/abreasons.html

    Only about 1% or less of abortions are done for reasons of rape or incest, but (many, not all) people use the argument of rape as an emotional appeal when they don’t want to argue the actual points of abortion.

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  33. toad (3,673 comments) says:

    @graham 11:27 am [and DPF]

    @toad: Why? Because you disagree with what he says?

    No. I think it is great left wing commentators like McCarten and (on a good day) Trotter have columns, just as I think it is great that right wing commentators like Deborah Coddington and your good self DPF have columns. That is because you all argue an issue from a rational and evidence-based perspective, regardless of whether I agree or disagree with the conclusions that are reached.

    George and du Fresne don’t do that – they just spew out bigotry and prejudice with no evidential basis or rational argument, relying on the supposed “word of God” I suppose.

    I’m all for free speech, but I don’t think free speech means the media has to or should give a voice to bigots, any more than it has to or should give a voice to flat-earthers, creationists, or any other irrational nutjobs.

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  34. RRM (9,667 comments) says:

    A lot of the anti-abortion rhetoric seems to be centred around the idea that an abortion is something that promiscuous, cavalier young women choose with little or no personal consequences whatsoever.

    Do a Google image search for “Products of abortion 20 weeks”

    Even if you ignore the more gruesome ones (that are generally hosted on Catholic anti-abortion sites and are usually of unknown provenance) you will get the idea that birthing an aborted foetus is something that will probably haunt you…

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  35. cha (3,856 comments) says:

    Personally, I can imagine a person’s life as a timeline with conception at the beginning and death at the end.

    Just for you Fletch: The art of jumping time lines.

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  36. Scott Chris (5,981 comments) says:

    the difference is that at 20 weeks, it can not survive outside the mother’s womb, and the mother has rights over her womb. This is the flaw in Karl’s entire column

    DPF your argument makes no sense. So what if the fetus can’t survive outside the womb?

    Firstly, a child can’t survive outside it’s parents’ care for the first few years of it’s life so that point is irrelevant.

    Secondly, the ethical construct that grants a woman the right to self determination also grants that same right to any other human. A woman has clear moral rights in relation her own body, but a fetus contains half the male’s chromasomes, so it is clearly not solely a part of her. In simple terms, she owns her womb, but not necessarily what it contains.

    The most important question in this debate is: Is a fetus Human?

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  37. nasska (10,917 comments) says:

    Scott Chris

    …”a child can’t survive outside it’s parents’ care for the first few years of it’s life so that point is irrelevant.”…..

    Untrue. Basically any competent person could offer the necessities of life…..if the foetus was carried to full term & then offered for adoption this is exactly what would happen.

    Only at the point that it could survive in an incubator can we say that it is not totally dependent on its mother’s womb. Peter George’s comment at 11.31am is pertinent.

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  38. James Stephenson (2,096 comments) says:

    The most important question in this debate is: Is a fetus Human?

    To which the answer is: Not yet, it’s a human under construction by the mothers body according to a set of genetic instructions provided by the mother and father.

    It’s obvious that there are a set of natural processes by which the mother’s body can make an unconscious decision to abort a pregnancy, which we call a miscarriage, if the conditions for it are sub-optimal. Why then, should we not allow the mother to make a conscious decision to abort a pregnancy if conditions are less than she believes are ideal?

    I’d therefore put the limit for “conscious” abortions at the same point as the major occurrance of miscarriage – ie the end of the first trimester.

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  39. Fletch (6,151 comments) says:

    naaska, it still depends on someone’s care outside the womb to survive. I think we’re getting into semantics a little bit here.

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  40. Pete George (23,346 comments) says:

    The most important question in this debate is: Is a fetus Human?

    An Egyptian mummy is human. Is that important?

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  41. graham (2,285 comments) says:

    toad: “… creationists, or any other irrational nutjobs”

    Well, thanks. I always enjoy being called an irrational nutjob.

    Yes, I believe that God created the Universe, and I also believe that some degree of evolution does occur. But once again, that’s an argument for another day. Just be careful throwing around the “irrational nutjob” tag, you may well find some people throwing it right back at you.

    Despite that, I do understand your point when you complain about arguments being put forward not being backed up by evidential basis or rational argument. But in this particular case, you’re wrong. Read the article. Du Fresne does, in fact, put forward some rational arguments – just because you happen to disagree with them does not make him wrong. Doesn’t necessarily make him right, either.

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  42. Fletch (6,151 comments) says:

    The most important question in this debate is: Is a fetus Human?

    Yes, it is.
    What else can it be? It’s not a vegetable or some other animal.

    From what I can gather from the rest of the thread the question is not is it human – that is a given: the real question is, does it matter how old this human is before we kill it?
    To me, that answer is no: it does not matter the age.

    1. We have conception.
    2. A new lifeform comes into existence. How do I know it is alive? because it is constantly growing and changing.
    3. It has human DNA
    4. We can either let it grow – leave it alone completely – or we can intervene surgically or with drugs to stop that growth.
    5. One case results in your baby son or daughter, the other case results in an absence of that new person, caused entirely by human intervention.

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  43. RRM (9,667 comments) says:

    Scott Chris – I think you’re unreasonably trying to steer people towards your “right” answer by defining the issue as

    Is a fetus Human?

    Clearly yes, it is Human, because it is the unborn offspring of humans. There’s no question about that.

    I think it’s much more relevant to ask “How alive is the fetus?”

    If you take the morning after pill, you’re killing something that’s alive, no question about that. But it’s only a fertilised egg cell that potentially hasn’t even implanted to the wall of the womb yet. It carries its human genome already, and it’s alive, but it knows nothing about itself (lacking the apparatus to do so) therefore it’s hardly a person.

    And even without contraceptives, abortions or any other contrivance to kill it, at this stage its chance of making it through gestation and being born at full term is something like about 10%.

    We don’t seem to hear many people arguing that the morning after pill is tantamount to murder. So where is the transition?

    I think we need to know something about the extent to which a fetus experiences life, so we can differentiate between what’s a little person and what’s merely a mass of living cells, before we start saying that an abortion at week X is akin to having an unwanted mole removed, but an abortion at week Y is akin to murder.

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  44. James Stephenson (2,096 comments) says:

    How do I know it is alive? because it is constantly growing and changing.

    It is constantly being built, grown and changed by the mother’s body one cannnot say it is “alive” until the processes that make up the phenomenon we call life are self-sustaining.

    We can either let it grow – leave it alone completely

    No! Leaving it alone completely would be to remove it from the womb…

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  45. Fletch (6,151 comments) says:

    I’ve used this example before, but –

    Let’s say you were a gardener, and you wanted to grow a rare and beautiful orchard from a seed. You planted the seed, watered it and it was growing. It hadn’t even popped a shoot above ground when someone came and dug it out. You complained about someone digging up your prize orchard, but the person who did it gave the excuse that it didn’t look like an orchard to them, it was only a little shoot that wasn’t even above ground, so how can they have destroyed your orchard?

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  46. Fletch (6,151 comments) says:

    It is constantly being built, grown and changed by the mother’s body one cannnot say it is “alive” until the processes that make up the phenomenon we call life are self-sustaining.

    James, one could make the same argument after the baby is born. We have lots of supermarket foods we feed infants these days, but going back to the human basics, it is a mother’s milk that keeps a child alive, be it human or animal. Therefore it is also a mothers body that sustains a child after birth as well, unless she chooses to abandon it. A mother also keeps the child alive by her exertions of changing it’s nappies, bathing it, putting it to bed, etc etc. There is a dependence there irregardless of being inside or outside the womb.

    As I have said above, it also has a unique DNA totally separate from the mother, which does not change during it’s life.

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  47. chiz (1,131 comments) says:

    Fletch:With conception (egg and sperm joining) life has begun.

    It may be alive, but what matters here is personhood, which doesn’t begin until sometime later.

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  48. Fletch (6,151 comments) says:

    It may be alive, but what matters here is personhood, which doesn’t begin until sometime later.

    That is only arbitrary as far as I can see. The only time life has begun is at conception.
    Who is to say when a boy becomes a man? In some cultures it is 12 years old, some younger; it depends on the culture. That is also arbitrary.
    I still say life is life at conception.

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  49. insider (1,032 comments) says:

    @ Fletch

    Big problem with your orchard analogy is, just as one swallow does not make a summer, so one germinating seed does not make an orchard, nor even a fully producing fruit tree.

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  50. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    Fletch,

    I agree life starts at conception. But many things are “alive” from cows to chickens. Clearly life, in and of itself, doesn’t justify human rights. Personhood does, as chiz just said, and personhood and life are not the same thing.

    To put it in practical terms, limiting human rights within say the first trimester offers us many benefits from medical research to improved family planning. It does not appear rational to me to forego those benefits for the sake of something that has no personality, no feeling, and no comprehension.

    While it may turn into a person in time without human intervention, that doesn’t appear relevant to me. What is relevant is what it is at that particular point in time.

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  51. Lipo (229 comments) says:

    Nice arguments Fletch

    Not a lot of talk in this thread about the rights of the Father thou
    Does the Mother;s will override that of the Father’s ?

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  52. gump (1,553 comments) says:

    Dazzaman said:

    Bullshit gump. I guess you’d like to kill that 14 year old girl who you linked to last week…..bump.

    ——————————-

    Bullshit? Do you understand what is meant by severe congenital disease?

    Watch the following video and tell me again that keeping this child alive is ethical.

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  53. graham (2,285 comments) says:

    Lipo: Which is why I wrote “… how can the father and mother of the unborn child claim it was an accident?”.

    Takes two to make a baby, and hopefully at least one of them will think about the consequences before they jump into bed.

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  54. Scott Chris (5,981 comments) says:

    It may be alive, but what matters here is personhood

    chiz, who, and by which criteria do they define what personhood is, and what is your rationale for concluding that personhood automatically endows us with human rights?

    Surely the only attribute you need in order to qualify for human rights is to be human?

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  55. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    Scott Chris,

    Does a fertilized egg count as human? Is that not an obvious absurdity? Simply because something is hard to define, like personhood, does not negate the validity of the concept. Freedom of speech is hard to define, does that mean it is not a valid standard?

    The reality is that we are faced with competing interests such as family planning and scientific research. To hold a fertilized egg as human and deserving of human rights is an overly rigid ideological approach that accords value to something which does not deserve it, or at least does not deserve it over and above the interests of more developed human beings who benefit from family planning and scientific research.

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  56. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    DPF – youve been taking too many of those ‘Liberal’ pills.

    I understand where you are coming from, but you are supporting a constant creep of – well lets call them ‘standards’ at the moment.

    Slowly but surely abortion has moved from “as a result of rape” thru “only when of danger to the mother” to “on request up to 28 weeks” (or whatever peruiod it is) to “up to birth” if of danger to the mother , and I think even you can see whats coming next……. “up to birth” on request, “after birth” if of danger to the mother, etc.

    You see the trouble with putting a time of gestation on it is that they can survive if premature and thst what troubles so many people.

    Now – there is a move in europe to remove any restrictions of who you can marry. The rules are currently there because if close relatives bread, the off spring are weak – physically and mentaly. Id degenerative in thf rom of genetics – the ofspring will get weaker and weaker.

    But now that we have contraception (mostly free) and all sorts of ‘arrangements’, the reason for restrictions on marriage look weak. So the saying goes – why have restriction of who you can marry – as long as they dont breed, then whats the problem???

    And anyway if they do breed, theres abortion – and it wont be long until you can make a decission even after they are born.

    Not too far fetched (the last bit ) – and would you say YES to all that.

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  57. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    barry,

    You know what’s coming after they kill newborns and marry their sister? They’ll want to kill their sister and marry a goat!

    O those liberals and their agenda.

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  58. Scott Chris (5,981 comments) says:

    Does a fertilized egg count as human? Is that not an obvious absurdity?

    Weihana, if what you mean by absurd as being way outside a prevailing cultural norm then I’d agree with you, as is eating dogs and cockroaches.

    All I’m asking is what makes us human and for what reasons, because most of civilized society recognizes the social construct known as human rights.

    I don’t care about the competing interests, all I care about is consistent principles of law and morality.

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  59. Don the Kiwi (1,650 comments) says:

    Its pleasing to note that – with the odd rare exception – this discussion has been measured and considerate, and sensible argument; unlike many previous threads on this topic. And it is a good thing that this subject can be discussed rationally, because it really is a defining discussion of our time. Because I believe that, in generations to come, our society will look with disbelief at this period where so many of our children were aborted.

    I am totally pro-life, and accordingly agree with Fletch and those others taking the prolife line. I do have some empathy for those who agree with abortion for the reasons they give, although I disagree with them.
    What determines personhood? Is it level of intelligence? certain stage of development? e.g does someone who is born with severe mental disability have personhood? I would argue “yes”, and I think our society at large does too – witness the IHC.

    Its one on the problems of our modern secular-humanist society, where the idea of subjective truth and morality have taken hold, and as some have mentioned above, as we advance along the decision making track, more and more things become possible – maybe not now, but certainly in the future. There are currently movements afoot to legalise euthanasia, not just same-sex marriage, but also inter-species marriage -( marry your pet dog) cloning of human/animal “beings” – all these things are possible, and in fact probable, if we continue to conform to subjectivism.

    Some people above mentioned the Catholic church being against Contraception – that is partly correct – it is “artificial” contraception that the Catholic church – and Orthodox church and a few other Christian churches disagree with, and of course, abortion as well – which is more grave, because it is not just preventing life, but actually taking innocent life.
    Now of course, many people disagree with that stance – but you need to understand that it is NOT an arbitrary decision of “some old men who wear funny hats” ;-) but is a deep philosophical decision which has been arrived at, not only through the “Word of God”,( that has gone on for 4,000 years) as someone mentioned above, but through thorough lengthy and objective study of Natural Law, and is not something that the Church comes lighly to.

    Someone mentioned above that “most Catholics practice contraception” which may be true in part, but I would dispute that “most” Catholics practice artificial contraception. Many practice Natural Family Planning nowadays.
    At the end of the day, people have free will, and exercise their own conscience, and the Catholic church recognises that right.

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  60. chiz (1,131 comments) says:

    Fletch:That is only arbitrary as far as I can see. The only time life has begun is at conception.

    No. Personhood is the standard term in academic debates on abortion and it isn’t completely arbitrary.

    A fertilised egg does not always develop into an embryo. Sometimes it develops into a large tumour like mass instead. In those cases where it does develop into an embryo the embryo may sometimes be completely nonviable for gentic reasons.

    In those cases where the embryo is viable it may split into two or more embryos. Less well known, it is also possible for two seperate embryos to fuse together to produce a single embryo, a phenomenon known as chimerism.

    If you regard life and personhood as synonomous and beginning at conception then you run into two major problems. The first is that identical twins or triplets only constitute a single person, depsite constituting two or three individuals. The second is that a chimeric individual, would constitute two persons even though they are a single individual.

    Life may begin at conception, but personhood clearly can’t.

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  61. nasska (10,917 comments) says:

    Weihana

    Before you try to convince the pro lifers that a fertilised egg is not human it would pay to know what you are up against.

    According to our Catholic friends it is a sin to waste a single sperm. Given that the average man can produce more than four billion taddies in his lifetime (ref: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_sperm_can_a_man_produce_in_a_lifetime) stocktaking the wriggly little buggers before admittance to Heaven must be a daunting task. The average woman will release about 420 eggs during 35 years of ovulation & I understand that wastage is frowned upon.

    Trying to argue with the supporters of a religion who micromanage conception with this eye for detail may be beyond the ability of a simple Kiwiblog commentator.

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  62. chiz (1,131 comments) says:

    Scott Chris:chiz, who, and by which criteria do they define what personhood is, and what is your rationale for concluding that personhood automatically endows us with human rights?

    Surely the only attribute you need in order to qualify for human rights is to be human?

    Yes, this is more is less tautological. To be a human is to be a person and vice versa. Trying to define what it is isn’t easy since there are borderline cases. On the other hand we can define examples of things that aren’t persons. A fetiform teratoma is not a person.

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  63. Don the Kiwi (1,650 comments) says:

    nasska.
    4.53 p.m.
    According to our Catholic friends it is a sin to waste a single sperm

    Not correct. I don’t know where you got that from, but it is completely false.

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  64. Scott Chris (5,981 comments) says:

    this is more is less tautological

    No it isn’t. I didn’t say that being human makes you a person, I said surely a human is entitled to human rights.

    And I repeat: What constitutes personhood? You said to Fletch that is isn’t an arbitrary definition but omitted the explanation, so I’m all ears…..

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  65. nasska (10,917 comments) says:

    Don the Kiwi

    Although Wikipaedia may not be the oracle on things religious it does have an article on the subject:

    Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_on_masturbation#Catholicism

    A quote from the section on Catholic views:

    ….”The traditional view of masturbation has been consistent for almost all of the Catholic Church’s 2,000-year history.[14] Early Catholic theologians universally condemned both masturbation and contraception as sinful. One such example is Clement of Alexandria, considered a saint and a Church Father, who said of masturbation, “Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted.”.[15]“……

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  66. chiz (1,131 comments) says:

    The reference to it being tautological is that you could, if you wanted, talk about humanhood. A different name for the same concept. I wasn’t referring to your argument, just the name. As to defining it, thats harder. As I said, it is easier to give examples of things that aren’t persons.

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  67. Don the Kiwi (1,650 comments) says:

    nasska.

    The act of masturbation is considered sinful – the fact that sperm is wasted is purely consequential.
    Basically, human sexuality in the sexual act is for 1. procreation 2. for the mutual expression of love between husband and wife. So masturbation is a misuse – or deviant – and so frustrates the purpose of sex; so it is considered morally repugnant.

    And it was considered so for a few thousand years before christianity by the Jewish religion, out of which christianity grew.

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  68. nasska (10,917 comments) says:

    Don the Kiwi

    As an atheist I could care less how fast Catholics, Jews or Protestants wash their cocks. Fact remains that some traditionalists get a bit hung up on their interpretations of Genesis 38.

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  69. Scott Chris (5,981 comments) says:

    As I said, it is easier to give examples of things that aren’t persons.

    Ah, somewhat analogous to diagnosis by elimination. Okay then, is a healthy 3 month old fetus conceived consensually a person, and if not, why not?

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  70. Don the Kiwi (1,650 comments) says:

    nasska.

    So if you’re an atheist, what’s your problem with what anyone believes?

    After all, atheists who don’t believe in God, don’t believe in nothing……….they believe in anything. (G.K.Chesterton)
    Apart from that, mate, you seem to be a pretty reasonable dude. :-)

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  71. nasska (10,917 comments) says:

    Don the Kiwi

    Cheers…life’s too short to get too serious!

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  72. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    Beep: Person. Around three months a fetus is fully formed and just needs to grow. This includes basic brain function and personality. Doesn’t mean the baby will grow or should grow till birth if they are grossly deformed or pregnancy or birth will compromise the mother.

    But you know, women should be able to do what they want without ever been made to feel bad. And life needs to be organised and ‘tidy’: You should be able to have an abortion freely until you’re ‘meant’ to have children at the right and proper age of 28+. And have a house of your own etc etc. That’s really why abortion should be freely available without confronting the ethics of such decisions and no-one should ever have an opinion on abortion.
    In my humble unfettered opinion, Baby-boomer women, ghouls such as Sparrow unleashed slaughter on the children of my generation and now won’t fuck off and let the next generation of women debate the ethics. Abortion is not always right and not always wrong. The pendulum has swung too far the other way and you don’t need to be a traitor to their sex (like me) to see the stats are horrendous and many individual women have had no real choice or freedom.

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  73. Peter Freedman (127 comments) says:

    David, David, my son, why do you do this to yourself? Don’t you feel like the boy who stuck his willy in the washer? He knew it would hurt, but just couldn’t resist finding out how much it hurt?

    Abortion is one of those subjects where most people, including me, take entrenched positions and then fire at each other over the battlements.

    Personally, I don’t like abortion one bit. If I had the choice I would bear my baby even if it risked, or took, my life.

    Of course, I don’t have that choice, my anatomy decides that.

    But if I demand the right to choose for myself, what gives me the right to deny it to others?

    You can’t uninvent abortion any more than you can uninvent booze, illicit drugs, fags or diet coke. If you ban them that just drives them underground and people will find a supplier if they are desparate enough.

    I believe that any woman considering abortion should be encouraged to read material, or talk to anyone, who might help her make up her mind. But she should never be forced to take advice against her will.

    And she should never be required to sit in front of a team of doctors, churchpeople, well meaning counsellors or even a bag of pomegranates asking for their permission. As a male, I can only imagine how degrading that must be.

    It is her choice and only she can make it.

    And then she lives with the consequences of her decision, as we all do every day of our lives.

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  74. Fletch (6,151 comments) says:

    chiz, as far as this discussion goes I was talking about viable embryos, not those that have had misadventure and not attached to the wall of the womb or whatever.

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  75. Fletch (6,151 comments) says:

    naaska, the Catholic Church is not against the wasting of sperm, as such; the issue is more about misusing sex – ie, using it only for pleasure and removing the virtue and main reason attached to it. I suppose it would be something like eating only for the taste of the food – putting food in your mouth, masticating, then spitting it out. Do you see how wasteful that would be?

    We eat because it tastes good, yes; but that is not the primary reason for it.

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  76. MatthewFlannagan (18 comments) says:

    David,

    Ethically speaking, the difference is that at 20 weeks, it can not survive outside the mother’s womb, and the mother has rights over her womb. This is the flaw in Karl’s entire column, and the research he refers to. Both totally skip over any discussion of the rights of a woman over her womb. One can only presume they think women have no rights over their wombs once they are pregnant. Now that is a legitimate view to have, but not one many share.

    Actually the article Karl refers to does not skip over this, they argue (a) that because the fetus lacks the higher psychological states associated with personhood. If this they also argue (b) that potential person hood does not confer rights on an organism. If both these claims are true the fact that a post 20 week fetus can survive ex utero is irrelevant. Mature cows can live independently of a mother that does not give them a right.

    Now I disagree with these ethicists, (a) is clearly true once one realises the definition of personhood being used. However I think the argument for (b) is flawed and in the absence of compelling argument of this sort infants appear a good counter example to (b). But you can’t assume its flawed and then argue that it is

    believe that a foetus or unborn child does have some rights. And a mother also has some rights. The challenge is balancing those rights out.

    The problem is the word “some rights” here, if the claim is the fetus has the same rights as an infant, then you need to explain why the mothers rights override before birth but not afterward. Because the point the authors make in the article is that new born infants cannot survive without significant care from their parents and this care is often extremely stressful and difficult. So, the challenge is providing a reason why the parents rights don’t trump after birth and do before.
    If on the other hand the fetus does not have the same rights as an infant before birth then you need to explain what a fetus lacks that an infant has that explains why the former has less rights and the latter more.

    Most people who think it’s OK to abort babies in the womb would recoil in horror at the thought of snuffing their lives out once they’ve been born…..
    And that is because they are now capable of independent life. I do not accept that an egg one second after fertilisation has the same rights as a baby.

    Actually post viability foetuses are not capable of independent life, thats why incubators exist, to keep babies born after viability alive, in fact when viability is dependends on the incubation technology in a given society, which shows this claim is a fiction. Similarly, someone on life support is not capable of independent life either. Nor are new born infants, they cannot live “independently” of a parents significantly sacrifical care.

    But this response really misses the point, your response is that a two celled zygote does not have rights. But even if that’s true its irrelevant to the question of wether there is any moral difference between a fetus and an infant. Its foetuses not zygotes that are typically aborted.

    The bioethical literature has gone over a lot of this, few ethicist accept the viability criterion as sound, the authors don’t spend a great deal on it because they don’t need to in their context.

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  77. Fletch (6,151 comments) says:

    Below is part of a letter from a father whose wife had treatment to become pregnant, and ended up with three embryos. The decision was made to kill two of them, but the parents both knew, deep down, that it was murder –

    We were told, point-blank, by the doctor who would do the procedure that they would inject potassium chloride into the placenta to stop the hearts. We were told, point-blank, that it was painless. Even then, I knew I was being lied to, but given the choice presented, I agreed anyway. My mantra became “Save one, or save none.”

    Before the procedure, my wife’s eyes teared up; she asked the doctor over and over if they would feel pain, and was assured they would not. I asked again if my wife was sure about this because once done, it could not be undone. She said she was sure, but her tears and her looking away from the screen, deliberately, and her wanting me to not look either, told me the truth: she knew as well that this was wrong. I wanted to insist that she look, but I think that her mind — already fractured by the news of triplets — would have snapped permanently had she seen the images onscreen. And to save the one, and for the sake of the one we already had, I needed my wife sane.

    My wife didn’t look, but I had to. I had to know what would happen to my children. I had to know how they would die.

    Each retreated, pushing away, as the needle entered the amniotic sac. They did not inject into the placenta, but directly into each child’s torso. Each one crumpled as the needle pierced the body. I saw the heart stop in the first, and mine almost did, too. The other’s heart fought, but ten minutes later they looked again, and it too had ceased.

    The doctors had the gall to call the potassium chloride, the chemical that stopped children’s hearts, “medicine.” I wanted to ask what they were trying cure — life? But bitter words would not undo what had happened. I swallowed anything I might have said.

    I know they felt pain. I know they felt panic. And I know this was murder. I take cold comfort in knowing that as far as we can tell, the survivor is still fine, and in knowing that this decision did not come from me; I would have taken the chance on triplets, even with all the work and effort it would have required. I pray that this one child will come to term, will be born into this world alive and healthy, and I know he or she will have all our love.

    But that emotional scar will ache my whole life. I see my child’s smile every night and anticipate a new one in some months…but I think of the two smiles I will never see. Every day, returning from work, I hear “Hi Daddy!” and know there are two voices and two giggles that I will never hear. I play with and cuddle my child, looking forward to the same with the second…but I know there are two sets of hands that will never touch mine, two sets of toes that will never be counted, two hugs that will forever be absent from my arms.

    I pray to G-d every day to take those two innocents to Him, to welcome them, and I ask them every day for forgiveness. As I will every day for the rest of my life. I don’t know what accommodation my wife will make mentally and spiritually. That is her business, and a burden her conscience must bear.

    But let nobody fool you. It is not painless for the child, and anyone who says otherwise is a liar. Abortion is not an excision of a featureless bunch of cells; it is infanticide. We have revived the practice of child sacrifice to the new deities of casual sex and convenience. We rationalize the reality of murder by altering our perspective of the nascent life through euphemisms like “fetus” or descriptions of “a clump of cells”…just like the Nazis convinced themselves that the people screaming as they were shot or gassed were “Untermenchen,” subhuman, and therefore guiltlessly exterminated.

    This is how every perpetrator of genocide has always rationalized his or her actions. By doing likewise, we condemn our own souls

    I wept in joy, a few years ago, when I saw my first child’s heartbeat on the screen. And I weep in agony now at the memory of two of my children’s heartbeats being stilled. “Save one, or save none” has been eclipsed by “Out, out, damned spot!” as I wonder how I can redeem myself.

    If, by baring this scar for others to see, I can prevent an abortion, perhaps that will help to balance the scales for when I face G-d’s justice and I finally meet those two children — who I hope will forgive me for my failure.

    Full letter – http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/03/the_new_scar_on_my_soul.html

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  78. Shunda barunda (2,972 comments) says:

    I’m all for free speech, but I don’t think free speech means the media has to or should give a voice to bigots, any more than it has to or should give a voice to flat-earthers, creationists, or any other irrational nutjobs.

    Then you aren’t for free speech at all.

    It would appear that you may be guilty of condemning people to “mega bigot land” or as some people call it “Hell”.

    Seriously Toad, a lot of you lefties sound like an even scarier bunch than the worst fundamentalist Christians.

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  79. MatthewFlannagan (18 comments) says:

    [DPF: That someone does not have to be the mother. I also note disabled and elderly people also need assistance sometimes to stay alive]

    That’s actually the point, the authors are getting at, it implies the reason we do not kill infants is that there are other people willing to care for it who can do so. This means that, on the standard pro abortion view, an infants right to life depends on wether other people in society want to raise it. If no body wants to then it has no right to life.

    This of course entails that if society or would be parents finds looking after infants really costly and so does not want to do it. They can exercise their rights and terminate infants.

    On the other hand if you claim that infants in fact have a right to be provided with basic necessities by others in society then you are back to explaining why this is the case with fetuses

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  80. Scott Chris (5,981 comments) says:

    But you know, women should be able to do what they want without ever been made to feel bad.

    Why Monique?

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  81. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    I wonder what the world would be like if the mother’s of abortion supporters had practiced what their offspring now preach?

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  82. nasska (10,917 comments) says:

    krazykiwi

    Depressing, gloomy & horribly religious.

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  83. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    Fletch,


    We were told, point-blank, that it was painless. Even then, I knew I was being lied to…

    she asked the doctor over and over if they would feel pain, and was assured they would not…

    …her tears and her looking away from the screen, deliberately, and her wanting me to not look either, told me the truth: she knew as well that this was wrong…

    But let nobody fool you. It is not painless for the child, and anyone who says otherwise is a liar.

    Honestly Fletch, what do these people “know”? What evidence does this man have for his opinion? An opinion which is contrary to the scientific opinion offered by his doctor who actually has years of medical training. He bases his views on nothing more than emotion and preconceived ideas and anyone who dares to disagree with his dogma he calls a liar.

    What the hell does he think? His doctor gets off on killing babies? Perhaps he might like to consider for a moment that his doctor is providing an opinion formed on evidence this man does not understand or is simply ignorant of. That’s why we ask doctors for their advice because they’re trained and we’re not. But this guy thinks he knows it all because he watched the procedure on a screen.

    Insects show reactions to trauma, it doesn’t mean there is a person inside feeling pain. It’s an automatic physiological response, it does not reflect a conscious perception of pain. But oh well, forget actual scientific evidence and lets just call everyone Nazi’s who doesn’t agree with this oh so smart man who watched a procedure on a screen and suddenly knows all.

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  84. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    Monique Watson,

    Around three months a fetus is fully formed and just needs to grow. This includes basic brain function and personality.


    “Pain is an emotional and psychological experience that requires conscious recognition of a noxious stimulus. Consequently, the capacity for conscious perception of pain can arise only after thalamocortical pathways begin to function, which may occur in the third trimester around 29 to 30 weeks’ gestational age, based on the limited data available. Small-scale histological studies of human fetuses have found that thalamocortical fibers begin to form between 23 and 30 weeks’ gestational age, but these studies did not specifically examine thalamocortical pathways active in pain perception.

    While the presence of thalamocortical fibers is necessary for pain perception, their mere presence is insufficient— this pathway must also be functional. It has been proposed that transient, functional thalamocortical circuits may form via subplate neurons around midgestation, but no human study has demonstrated this early functionality. Instead, constant SEPs appear at 29 weeks’ PCA, and EEG patterns denoting wakefulness appear around 30 weeks’ PCA. Both of these tests of cortical function suggest that conscious perception of pain does not begin before the third trimester.

    Cutaneous withdrawal reflexes and hormonal stress responses present earlier in development are not explicit or sufficient evidence of pain perception because they are not specific to noxious stimuli and are not cortically mediated.”

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  85. Scott Chris (5,981 comments) says:

    That’s actually the point, the authors are getting at, it implies the reason we do not kill infants is that there are other people willing to care for it who can do so.

    Hmm, I’d be inclined to disagree with this conclusion. Smacks of consequentialistic revisionism.

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  86. Johnboy (15,602 comments) says:

    Any society that regularly kills its own children at a state funded facility for say $5000 a shot when a condom costs a buck is fundamentally fucked!

    Just saying. :)

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  87. MatthewFlannagan (18 comments) says:

    Weihana, actually that’s compatible with what Monique said, she said the fetus was fully formed and had basic brain function. she did not say it had complete capacity for conscious perception of pain. A person in a reversible coma has human form and basic brain function yet lacks consciousness for example.

    Moreover, if your going to appeal to those facts about fetal pscyology and the fact a fetus can’t consciously feel pain till close to 29-30 weeks you will find it hard to support abortion without being lead to the same conclusion regarding infanticide.

    First, viability is around 22 weeks and so, by this logic there will be infants in born premature between 22-and 30 weeks which by your logic will not be human beings and not have a right to life.

    But second, while its true that a late fetus and infant can like unlike an earlier fetus consciously experience pain. The psychology of both the late term fetus and new born infant is extremely primitive. most mature non-human animals are far more developed psychologically than a human infant. So if what gives a fetus a right to life is its level of consciousness, one is going to have to argue that new born infants should have less right to life than a cow or a pig.
    Incidently, it was precisely the psychological immaturity of an infant that the authors of the article David cites appeal to justify infanticide. Your response simply further proves there point that feticide and infanticide are not really any different given the criteria defenders of abortion use to justify abortion.

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  88. MatthewFlannagan (18 comments) says:

    Scott if you read I was noting it was not my point it was the implication of Davids position which holds that infanticide is wrong because other people exist who are willing to care for the child.

    The case of a women with a pre-viable fetus is the same as the case a parent with a new born infant that no one else is available to care for. Infanticide is only really wrong on this view because other people (adults) want to look after the fetus, the implication is if they don’t make infanticide is legitimate.

    Incidently the rate of abortion relative to NZ’s adoption rate suggests that most fetuses are such that even if they passed viability its simply false that there are other people who are available able to care for them. Hence neither fetuses or new born infants are in fact capable of independent existence. Not unless the state forces people to care for children, but if its permissible to force people to look after new borns that no one wants to care for, why is it not permissible before birth, particularly when in both cases significant sacrifice and restrictions on liberty are involved.

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  89. Michael Mckee (1,091 comments) says:

    # Mark (457) Says:
    March 13th, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Abortion in New Zealand is on demand. To try and argue anything else is simply not supported by the facts. The law as it stands is simply a delusion that politicians for the last 30 odd years have been too gutless to either enforce or scrap. As someone who has adopted children it is hard to look at this issue through untinted lenses. All I can say is I am eternally grateful every day that the birth mothers of my children chose not to kill them. They are bright, vibrant and happy kids as I am sure so many of the 16,630 would have been if they had been given the chance.

    I agree Mark, Selfishness, Convenience and Cowardice is the order of the day in NZ.
    What would the fetus say if they were asked?

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  90. Michael Mckee (1,091 comments) says:

    Fletch (2,417) Says:
    March 13th, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Thank you for that link.

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  91. Scott Chris (5,981 comments) says:

    but if its permissible to force people to look after new borns that no one wants to care for, why is it not permissible before birth, particularly when in both cases significant sacrifice and restrictions on liberty are involved.

    Matthew, you’ll have no argument from me that there is a huge moral and legislative inconsistency between how the government chooses to protect pre natal and post natal children. But I see little point in attempting to change what has become an accepted social practice, so in my opinion, the best way forward is to focus on prevention of unwanted pregnancy through comprehensive sex education and easy access to contraception.

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  92. eszett (2,374 comments) says:

    What would the fetus say if they were asked?

    It’s about as sensible a question as what would a sperm say if they were asked.

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  93. big bruv (13,571 comments) says:

    There is an argument that would support more abortions in NZ given our shocking rate of child abuse and our feral population continuing to breed at an alarming rate.

    IMHO abortion should be on demand until 13 weeks, after that the female better have a bloody good reason (far better than “mental health” to have the abortion.

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  94. Johnboy (15,602 comments) says:

    Would “cultural oppression” meet your criteria bruv?

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  95. big bruv (13,571 comments) says:

    Johnboy

    It might do if I had any fucking idea what you are on about. :)

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  96. Johnboy (15,602 comments) says:

    Fair enough bruv. :)

    Half the time I’m never too sure myself what I’m on about.

    Generally it’s cultural though! :)

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  97. big bruv (13,571 comments) says:

    Johnboy

    Nah, still lost mate.

    Up to 13 weeks then there should be no questions asked, indeed if CYFS were doing their job properly with the feral families then they should be pushing feral mothers to have an abortion.

    After 13 weeks then it should be near impossible to get an abortion, if the mother is feral then make sure that CYFS have a staff member ready to remove the child from the feral mother the moment that child is born.
    The feral mother should have NO contact with that child for the rest of it’s life.

    Johnboy…this running the country lark seems as easy as hell, how about we set up a party for next time around and take on the gutless Nat’s and the corrupt left?

    You of course would be my deputy :)

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  98. Johnboy (15,602 comments) says:

    Be careful what you wish for BB.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10qLYy6hiFQ

    I bear a striking resemblance to Clapton, less his talent of course! :)

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  99. Fletch (6,151 comments) says:

    Scott Chris, I know it might seem counter-intuitive and illogical, but actually, more contraception leads to more abortion.

    eg –

    Testimony. Abortion industry regulars admit the truth. Guttmacher regularly reports that 55%-60% of women having abortions are on contraception. Other industry insiders concede:

    Alan Guttmacher Institute researcher Stanley K. Henshaw: “Contraceptive users appear to have been more motivated to prevent births than were nonusers.”

    Planned Parenthood’s Frederick S. Jaffe, in Abortion Politics, admitted that “…even if everyone were to practice contraception, and use the most effective medically prescribed methods, there would still be a very large number of unwanted pregnancies.”

    Abortionist and international contraception promoter Malcolm Potts [former director of Planned Parenthood of England] 1976 (even as early as 1973) quoted in Sex and Social Engineering by Valerie Riches.- “As people turn to contraception, there will be a rise, not a fall, in the abortion rate…”.

    In Abortion, he noted, “…those who use contraception are more likely than those who do not to resort to induced abortion…”

    Alfred Kinsey, 1955: “At the risk of being repetitious, I would remind the group that we have found the highest frequency of induced abortions in the groups which, in general, most frequently uses contraception.”

    Sociologist Lionel Tiger, 1999: “With effective contraception controlled by women, there are still more abortions than ever…[C]ontraception causes abortion.”

    British Abortionist Judith Bury, Brook Advisory Centres, 1981: “…women…have come to request [abortions] when contraception fails. There is overwhelming evidence that, contrary to what you might expect, the provision [availability] of contraception leads to an increase in the abortion rate.”

    http://www.lifenews.com/2012/02/17/studies-birth-control-contraception-dont-cut-abortions/

    This is mainly because people think or contraception as this kind of sure safety net and they have more sex. But contraception isn’t perfect, and the result is more pregnancy.

    The only sure way to stop unwanted pregnancy and therefore abortion is to promote abstinence.

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  100. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    The Woman owns her body…the non rights bearing foetus is always a guest in it till the Woman says otherwise…the end.

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  101. Fletch (6,151 comments) says:

    The Woman owns her body…the non rights bearing foetus is always a guest in it till the Woman says otherwise…the end.

    Scorned, says who?
    The woman invited this guest – nay, not invited, created this guest with the help of a man. That is the ultimate invitation. And this isn’t just a “guest”, it is her son or daughter – it is family.

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  102. chiz (1,131 comments) says:

    Fletch:chiz, as far as this discussion goes I was talking about viable embryos, not those that have had misadventure and not attached to the wall of the womb or whatever.

    So now you are changing your position? The fact remains that a zygote can develop into a tumourous mass. Such a mass is alive, but not a person. If you believe, as you have stated, that (a) life begins at conception, and (b) that abortion is wrong because it takes a life, then you must believe that aborting such a tumour is wrong. If, as you claim in the quote above, this is not the case then you presumably don’t hold one of (a) or (b). So which are you now dropping?

    And you have not responded to my point about twinning or chimerism.

    I should also note that the question of whether an embryo is viable or not depends on the context. It is possible for an embryo that is definitively not viable by itself to become viable when it fuses with another embryo.

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  103. MatthewFlannagan (18 comments) says:

    Scott, I disagree that we should aquiese to ‘accepted social practises” it they are patently unjust. I am also sceptical that sex education and contraception education actually achieves much in this area, and it also has certain questions of justice of its own, for example its compatibility with religious freedom and the idea that public education is supposed to be religiously neutral.
    If 20,000 new born infants were killed each year in state hospitals I don’ t think people would take seriously the claim that we should just continue to provide the service and teach people about contraception.

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  104. MatthewFlannagan (18 comments) says:

    Chiz
    I actually think in the context of abortion twinning is to some extent irrelevant, there are quite a few conservatives for example who hold that a individual human organism comes into existence in the first four weeks of pregnancy precisely for the reasons you cite. This position is compatible with your objections and does not really support abortion.
    But as to twinning, it’s not clear to me this argument works, because even if some embryos twin and form other organisms it’s not clear that when we talk of those that become individual foetuses we can’t claim that the human organism that is those foetuses came into existence at conception. An analogy might help here, consider the tree in my yard, that I planted several weeks ago, its true that if I split that tree in half and re planted each half I would have two trees, not one. But that does not mean that I am sceptical that this tree is the same tree that I planted or that it’s not the same tree that existed several days ago.

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  105. MatthewFlannagan (18 comments) says:

    Scorned wrote “The Woman owns her body…the non rights bearing foetus is always a guest in it till the Woman says otherwise…the end.”

    By parity of reasoning I could say : Adults own there house food and heating, so infants are guests till the parents say otherwise. If an adult chooses to starve a child to death or throw a child out in the cold, then I they are just excercising there right to choose. Or women own there breasts, hence if there is no bottle feed avalible, a women chooses to not breast feed her child and it dies as a result of neglect that’s just her prerogative.

    All these pat slogans do is reinforce the piont made by the authors of the article David cites. The arguments for abortion justify infanticide.

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  106. chiz (1,131 comments) says:

    MF: I actually think in the context of abortion twinning is to some extent irrelevant

    Its relevant if you are debating the issue in terms of personhood or , either explicitly or implicitly, in terms of ensoulment.

    there are quite a few conservatives for example who hold that a individual human organism comes into existence in the first four weeks of pregnancy precisely for the reasons you cite. This position is compatible with your objections and does not really support abortion.

    I can’t understand what you are saying here.

    But as to twinning, it’s not clear to me this argument works, because even if some embryos twin and form other organisms it’s not clear that when we talk of those that become individual foetuses we can’t claim that the human organism that is those foetuses came into existence at conception.

    If you are framing the debate in terms of personhood then twinning is relevant since most people would regard individuality as a necessary condition for personhood. Twinning is also relevant because dizygotic twins can fuse into one person.

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  107. Fay (5 comments) says:

    Not a child. Yeah Right:
    http://www.donnaleeoriginals.com/onetinylife/menu.htm

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