Friday, July 16, 2010

Abortion's immorality

Abortion, for this discussion, shall mean the direct and intentional killing of a human organism prior to birth. It is permissible only under the same circumstances as any other direct and intentional killing of a human being, namely, when the one killed is a direct threat to the life or liberty of one or more other human beings.

I submit that the life cycle of any sexually reproducing organism begins at the zygote stage. Further, it is absurd to conflate a zygote with an oocyte, e.g. by calling it a "fertilized egg." Gametes do not undergo mitosis. They do not develop. They either join, male and female, to create a new and unique organism, or they die.

A zygote is a new and unique organism. The only thing that separates it from an adult is sufficient time and a suitable environment. Claiming that any subsequent stage of development separates those human organisms with human rights from those without would be assigning those rights on the basis of arbitrary criteria. As there is no excuse for denying a zygote human rights, there is no excuse for killing one.


Anonymous said...

If you allow the proviso of permitting abortion in cases of a direct threat of infringement to one's linerty, you have essentially legitimized every single abortion performed because the mother and/or parents didn't feel "ready" to be parents. Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

Also, FYI -- most cells undergo mitosis and develop. Those are poor criteria you're using.

Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin said...

You are equivocating. Liberty is not license. Taking responsibility for the consequences of one's actions is inherent to liberty and rights. Thus, anyone who is not ready to be a parent is not ready to have sex, because it is an inescapable biological fact that sex makes babies. Anyone who wants to do something, be it have sex, drive 160 kph, go skydiving, or whatever else, had better be both aware of and ready for the consequences, because they are responsible for them.

The unborn child is not enslaving the prospective parents. They can cede that responsibility to others. I see no reason to make it as absurdly difficult and Byzantine to offer a child for adoption, or to adopt one, as it currently is.

Regarding your second post: that whole line of argument was to expose and disprove the absurd sophistry that one can call a zygote a "fertilized egg." A gamete is not an organism. A zygote is.

Anonymous said...

How am I equivocating? It seems to me like you're now engaged in circular argumentation. You said that killing is justified in cases of direct threat to life or liberty. Perhaps you don't consider gestating and raising a child the curtailing of one's liberty, but I can assure you that it most certainly is. For that matter, you've also licensed lethally resisting arrest, 'cause prison is also a curtailing of one's liberties. This isn't me equivocating, this is you being imprecise.

As for biological sophistry, you've failed to expose or disprove anything. I pointed out legitimate counter-examples that met your purported criteria and clearly didn't suit your conclusion. It seems to me that you would be much better off simply asserting that you hold the moral belief that abortion is wrong. That is an eminently respectable and understandable position. Your attempts at argument are simply poor and rather uninformed.

Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin said...

re: equivocation and precision: Admittedly, my statements often require expansion and clarification, because people often operate from very different assumptions than I.

You apparently presume that being able to do anything one wants is liberty. I do not. I call that license, and regard license as generally immoral.

Liberty requires (among other things) respecting the right to life of others, and accepting responsibility for the consequences of one's actions. Since one of the consequences of sex is that you make babies, the liberty to have sex includes the responsibility to be ready for the care of said babies BEFORE you have sex.

regarding biological sophistry: you are tilting at a straw man, and I apologize for having set it up for you. As you are not arguing for the inhumanity of the zygote on the basis of it being "a mere fertilized egg," or its stage of development, everything I've said regarding gametes and zygotes, meiosis and mitosis, and the differences between them has no bearing on anything you've said.

Anonymous said...

Well, that's quite convenient, operating from personal, private definitions of a word. Regardless of your definition, you still fail to address how the responsibility for a child does not curtail one's liberty, other than your arbitrary line in the sand.

As for you continued biological sophistry, you have nothing to apologize for -- you haven't "set me up" for anything -- you erected a straw man and I pointed it out. That's a flaw in your argumentation, not mine. The fact remains that there is no biological resolution to the issue, as it is an inherently moral question, not a scientific one. You have failed to isolate any biological feature peculiar to a zygote that warrants special consideration. Every time a doctor performs an amputation, he kills millions of cells that undergo mitosis and contribute to the development of specialized tissues. Your argument from biology simply fails.

Thus far, you've not presented *any* argument -- you've stated a position on abortion. The position is fine and respectable; I take no issue with it. It is the poor arguments I take issue with. In the words of Daniel Dennett:
"There's nothing I like less than bad arguments for a view that I hold dear."

Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin said...

I am certainly not alone in thinking that liberty connotes justice, and vice versa. Nor is the idea that a life of liberty requires taking responsibility for the consequences of one's actions unique to me. If you think that liberty can flourish in an unjust society, and/or that requiring people to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions can be dispensed with in a just society, I'd like to know why.

On to my "biological sophistry." Is there some reason to think there is a living human that does not have human rights? If the answer is no, as I say, then we must turn to the question "How do we define what is or is not a living human?" Are you suggesting that this question has no scientific component, or that our answer cannot be informed by scientific inquiry?

I say a living human zygote is a living human being. It has a unique genome, is biologically distinct, and has a specific beginning, which is when it acquired a diploid nucleus. It is this diploid nucleus which defines the zygote and differentiates it from the oocyte. While its growth and development require a specific environment, the same can be said for any other living thing.

Your argument about amputation is specious. When a limb is amputated from a human (or any other chordate, for that matter), it does not develop into a new organism. Furthermore, the person continues to live and develop without it. When you kill a zygote, you kill an entire human organism.

Finally, if these are such poor arguments for a view you hold dear, then what would the good arguments be?