May 15, 2015

"... I still always get lost somewhere in between 'clump of rapidly dividing cells' and 'cooing bundle of joy.'"

"So it was a real revelation to come across this amazing, animated infographic from designer and science-person Eleanor Lutz, who lays out the minute steps of human embryo and fetus development in a single, spiral-shaped GIF."

The spiral isn't static. It spirals. It's difficult not to get caught up in the question of when, if ever, abortion is morally acceptable, and as you try to decide and pin down the point, you are continually disoriented by the movement. Whichever form you try to fix upon quickly moves to the next stage. I spent a lot of time trying to look at these little moving drawings. For me, the "clump of cells" impression is gone by the end of the second week. What follows, up until week 6, is something complex but abstract, at one point looking like an overly complicated corporate logo and later unfolding into a mushroomish form. After that, there's the search for the mesmerizing moment when what you might say looks like a shrimp becomes what you've got to admit looks like a baby. The connection between how it looks and the permissibility of abortion is, of course, a separate moral question. Also a separate question: the accuracy of the drawings.

85 comments:

MadisonMan said...

Very cool graphic. Should be done for other animals too to see similarities and differences.

Curious George said...

Becaue the first picture turns out to be the last picture, abortion is wrong.

Unless the mom doesn't think so. Then the pictures don't matter. Right Althouse?

Laslo Spatula said...

I want a similar graphic that helps me spot the differences in development between a seventeen-year-old girl and an eighteen-year-old girl.

Could be helpful. Even stimulating. Intellectually.


I am Laslo.

Jim in St Louis said...

Thank You- very interesting.

I did not know that implantation into the uterus lining happened the 3rd week after the last period. I had the impression that it happened within days after conception.

Shouting Thomas said...

Take the Bishop's advice and convert to Butt Fucking!

You shall be purified and released from the Original Sin of the Patriarchy if you convert to fucking the wrong hole.

Who said the Professor isn't religious?

The Theology of Butt Fucking is all encompassing!

Stop oppressing women. Butt Fucking will free you from sin!!

Saint Croix said...

Feminism, at its best, teaches us that our two sexes are equal, and we should strive to recognize this equality.

This is very hard to do in regard to human sexuality. Women get pregnant. Men do not.

Nothing equal about that!

So how might we frame sex and reproduction so that we can find an equality?

One way is by recognizing the moral importance of the unborn child.

"I'm a mom. I'm pregnant. I got to be a mom."

"I'm a dad. I impregnated her. I got to be a dad."

That's a rough equality. Both man and woman recognize their importance to human reproduction. They recognize the importance of love, and of marriage, and of mutual respect.

This is why many feminists revere marriage, instead of despising it. They see in marriage a possibility of human equality, based on love and respect, both for each other and their children.

tim in vermont said...

Babies don't look all that much like six year olds. Aliens without any context to work from might consider them separate species. Obviously, cognitively, there is a huge gap between a baby and an adult.

So infanticide up until, say, to pick a number out of a hat, 5 years old, seems perfectly acceptable morally, but only if you keep the kid hidden from sight and nobody can see you actually kill the kid.

tim in vermont said...

If nobody can see the victim, it's not actually murder. Kind of like how there is zero collateral damage from drone strikes.

Saint Croix said...

But Roe v. Wade has a very different concept of sex and reproduction. There is no equality, at all. Nor is there any attempt to find an equality.

"You're a woman. You can be pregnant, or not. It's up to you. You have no moral obligation to an unborn child. There is no unborn child. You have no moral obligation to a father. Since there is no unborn child, there is no father. It's your body, it's your choice."

"You're a man. We are going to hold you to 19th century concepts of chivalry. You must love and respect the woman you have impregnated. And you must love and respect the baby you have fathered. Unless she decides you are not a father, in which case, forget about it. We'll let you know."

virgil xenophon said...

The longer I live and the more medical science advances, the more I've come to believe that Michelangelo (and the Catholic church) got it right. Just tilt one's neck and contemplate his painting "The Touch" on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel..

Shouting Thomas said...

And, remember...

The 80 to 100 million dead from Butt Fucking (the AIDS epidemic) are not to be mentioned.

Don't mention the trillions extracted from the public treasury to try to keep the gay boys alive in the aftermath of the Great Party in SF and NYC.

Gays, especially the boys, are saints.

Ask the Bishop. Butt Fucking is a sacrament!

Will you look longingly back on the burning city of Sodom, professor?

Saint Croix said...

I did not know that implantation into the uterus lining happened the 3rd week after the last period. I had the impression that it happened within days after conception.

Implantation happens one week after conception.

One of the freaky things about pregnancy is that nobody knows when conception happens. All known pregnancy tests only work once implantation happens.

So doctors do an estimate of conception, which they estimate is 2 weeks after your last period.

Thus implantation happens 3 weeks after your last period, or 1 week after conception.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

That Eleanor Lutz is quite an artist! This kind of animated infographic is what makes the internet cool, artists using the power of the medium to infuse their art with motion and -- not to be ironic here -- life. My gut reaction was that the 20-week mark isn't such a bad place to draw that arbitrary line, given what we know now about viability. On the other hand, I agree with Insta and other lawyers who have observed this week that there is no constitutional basis for Federal laws on abortion and viability. I'd be happy if the Congress just passed one of there "sense of the Congress" type bills and not a law. This should be left to the states to work out contra Roe.

Gusty Winds said...

It's amazing that you can be accused of waging a war on women for opposing abortion in week 20, section K1.

Saint Croix said...

In the U.S., Catholic hospitals may issue emergency contraception to rape victims. Why? Because there is no way to know the woman is pregnant until implantation. Thus, the bishops have concluded, emergency contraception is perfectly moral in that situation.

Gusty Winds said...

I have memory and awareness,
But I have no shape or form.
As a disembodied spirit,
I am dead and yet unborn.
I have passed into Olympus
As was told in tales of old,
To the city of Immortals,
Marble white and purest gold

Rush - Hemispheres - V. Cygnus Bringer of Balance

Perhaps my own polysemic interpretation (Don't want to mess with Neil Peart), but I'd like to think these poor unborn souls are transformed into beautiful swans floating among the constellations in the afterlife.

Now back to the war on women...

chickelit said...

A profoundly different graphic would have emerged had the artist begun the development in the center of the spiral and ended development at the outward arm of the spiral. As it is, too much time compression occurs at the end--as if the artist were deliberately trying to avoid or say something.

tim in vermont said...

I support abortion, BTW, same as I support defensive war, and I give broad latitude to the concept of 'defensive.' It's murder, same as war, same as the death penalty, which I also support, and pretending otherwise is delusional, and dangerous as well.

MadisonMan said...

..and wouldn't it be cool to have several different species -- say, 3 -- spiraling in?

Or add identical twins.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I looked as best I could, but so far as I could tell, from start to finish, the soul part of it doesn't seem to change any.

Scott M said...

This is why many feminists revere marriage, instead of despising it.

Video or it didn't happen...

clint said...

Very cool. I do think that viability and/or neurological development make for better abortion-law line drawing than "what does it look like". And I'd be surprised if this graphic changes anyone's mind, but still a very cool image.

"chickelit said...
A profoundly different graphic would have emerged had the artist begun the development in the center of the spiral and ended development at the outward arm of the spiral. As it is, too much time compression occurs at the end--as if the artist were deliberately trying to avoid or say something."

Lots of structural changes at the early bits -- that's why the artist used more space for them. If you flip it around, nearly all the pictures would look exactly the same (especially since they're not to scale). Which, I suppose, could be seen as a different argument. But it would be a boring image.

Ann Althouse said...

"On the other hand, I agree with Insta and other lawyers who have observed this week that there is no constitutional basis for Federal laws on abortion and viability."

Well, in actual doctrine, it's very easy to use the Commerce Clause to regulate medical practices like abortion. It might be wise to leave the regulation of abortion to the states, but legally, under the current Commerce Clause analysis, Congress does have the power.

Even though there are important moral issues at stake, abortion is still a medical service and those who perform the service are getting paid for it. It's clearly on the commercial side of any commercial/noncommerical distinction.

Some people want to argue for different doctrine, of course. I've seen Justice Thomas bring up this issue.

Remember that there is a federal law banning "partial birth" abortion. That was upheld.

tim in vermont said...

Failing the commerce clause analysis, for the sake of argument, Congress could always tax abortions prohibitively, perhaps an amount equal to the lost productivity of the average person over a lifetime.

tim in vermont said...

They can tax your pacemaker, after all, and Nancy Pelosi thought that was a great idea, and now it is law!

CStanley said...

Jim in St Louis said:
I did not know that implantation into the uterus lining happened the 3rd week after the last period. I had the impression that it happened within days after conception.

That is days after conception. 6-9 days is the window for implantation. I think you are getting confused because you're not taking into account that fertilization takes place several weeks after the last period.

Shouting Thomas said...

To fully understand the Bishop's game of distraction via "intellectual discourse" and "fairness" and pettifogging, you have to look at what goes on in her house.

Fag hag allied with white guy who's wearing the hair shirt to atone for the sins of white men, all for the purpose of creating a parasitical relationship with the fag hag.

A common "cause relationship" both on college campuses and in corporate HR departments.

Don't get dragged into the muck with all the diversion tactics.

Note, too, that the rights of children and men are unmentionable.

This is your enemy, men. "Intellectual discourse" is just being used to distract you and defeat you.

Stop playing.

sparrow said...

"Well, in actual doctrine, it's very easy to use the Commerce Clause to regulate medical practices like abortion."

So governmental over-reach in one arena leads to over-reach in another; a very effective long term strategy.

Gusty Winds said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gusty Winds said...

Tim in vermont said...
I support abortion, BTW, same as I support defensive war, and I give broad latitude to the concept of 'defensive.' It's murder, same as war, same as the death penalty, which I also support, and pretending otherwise is delusional, and dangerous as well.

I agree with Tim. However in terms of degree vs. Death Penalty, the victim in an abortion is blameless and defenseless. But I would imagine a woman enters that room sometimes in near the same condition - at least defenseless anyway.

Abortion is another one of society's necessary evils.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Why not show pictures about the final minutes of an aborted child?

Shouting Thomas said...

Pettifogging over "fairness" is how the professor and her fag hag sisters gained control over the Law School at UW.

You can't win at this gambit, boys.

Christian and Jewish family men need to regain control of the Law School.

The "fairness" BS just hands over control to the fag hags and man hating lezzies.

Why continue to play their game?

Fuck the "fairness" pettifogging. The professor and her fag hag sisters are very clever at using it against you.

Start plotting to remove them from their offices and to replace them with Christian and Jewish family men. Do it in whatever manner you can find that works.

That's why the fag hags and lezzies did. They played on your stupid chivalry.

Saint Croix said...

Congress has explicit 14th Amendment authority to enforce the 14th Amendment, including the equal protection clause.

This means that Congress can force, via statute, a law requiring states to respect the humanity of the unborn child (i.e. not discriminate against them).

Of course states would still have authority to answer the life or death question. The equal protection clause does not say "life begins at conception." It just says, whatever your life-or-death point is, the law must apply to all people.

As I argue, here and elsewhere, our death statutes implicitly answer the life-or-death question. And these rules are unanimous in all 50 states.

This standard is any activity in the brain stem or cerebral cortex. If we have any brain activity, we are alive, and it is a homicide for a doctor to cause that activity to stop.

Brain activity starts in the unborn child, 6 weeks after conception.

Very early abortions are still upsetting to many of us (including me). We still think they are bad. And maybe our death statutes are wrong. But of course the answer to a wrong death statute is to change the death statute.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

From Insta, second order paraphrasing...

...there is no constitutional basis for Federal laws on abortion and viability.

From the Professor...

Well, in actual doctrine...

To sum up: There is no constitutional basis for actual doctrine.

Glad we've cleared that up.

Meade said...

Shouting Thomas said...
"Don't get dragged into the muck with all the diversion tactics."

Shouty, you planted your tomatoes too early. Any temperature below 45F will permanently stunt them. In your part of the country you need to wait until mid-June.

Saint Croix said...

Instapundit talks about abortion without any regard to the unborn child. This is a foundational belief that many statists have, that the word "person" is whatever our government authorities say it is.

I call Instapundit a "statist" because he has no idea what a person is, which is official government doctrine. He is quite willing to say corporations are people, and babies are property.

Note too that Instapundit censors all abortion photographs on his blog, and censors any links to photographs of babies who have been aborted. Odd behavior for a self-described "libertarian." A libertarian who does not believe in free speech? Who relies on censorship?

MadisonMan said...

Any temperature below 45F will permanently stunt them

Uh-oh.

Well, I only have one anyway. It's outside, hardening up. Not in the ground yet.

Shouting Thomas said...

Listen, all you Jewish and Christian men attorneys out there.

I know how hard you worked to create those great law firms because I was there doing your IT at the beginning with many of you when you started out as 3 and 4 man firms in NYC.

The Bishop of Butt Fucking is a lazy parasite who wants to transform what you worked so hard to create into a milch cow for women.

For women who won't even pop you a kid if you marry them.

Get a clue. The Bishop is a consummate con artist and she's cleverly ripping you off.

Start plotting to take back the institutions you worked and sacrificed to create.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Shouty,

Do you think Althouse likes it in the ass?

I wonder how her own experiences with anal color her views.

clint said...

"Shouting Thomas said...

"...The Bishop of Butt Fucking..."

Is there a backstory here we should know about?

(When did we decide that only robots think hamburgers aren't sandwiches? I missed the meeting on that one.)

Meade said...

@MadMan, sorry to be pedantic but it's hardening off, not up. Anyway, stop by after May 25 if you'd like and I'll send you home with a tomato plant or three.

Anonymous said...

It's not a difficult question for some of us.

Life begins at conception.

CStanley said...

I'm struck by the wording of the quote that is the title of this post. "Clump of cells" has a negative connotation, while the fully developed stage is called a "cooing bundle of joy" which is an exaggerated positive characterization of a baby.

And the spiral could represent two different pathways- either flushing down a drain, or going down through a birth canal. So the bad little clumps of cells get flushed but if a cooing bundle of joy is wanted, then the mother can choose to let it develop.

How twisted is this? Isn't it obvious that all of the clumps have autonomy of a sort, although dependent on the mother's body for sustenance? Each of them is equally capable of natural development if the process isn't interrupted.

Ann Althouse said...

Yeah, why don't we say "clump of joy"?

Ann Althouse said...

Or "bundle of inconvenience"?

Ann Althouse said...

I'll answer the second question. We don't say "bundle of inconvenience," because it smiles at us often enough.

The unborn may smile, but not at us.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

"Well, in actual doctrine, it's very easy to use the Commerce Clause to regulate medical practices like abortion."

True but as a consistent conservative I oppose expansion of the Commerce Clause for such purposes. I think Congress and the SCOTUS have stretched the application of that clause beyond reasonable limits. It CAN be done but it is disappointing to see it happen with Rs controlling Congress.

So much for the proposition that the Tea Party is in control, eh?>

CStanley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CStanley said...

True but as a consistent conservative I oppose expansion of the Commerce Clause for such purposes

Agree with this but also, it's easy to see why abortion shouldn't be considered a legitimate practice of medicine. Doctors treating pregnant women have two patients.

CStanley said...

I'll answer the second question. We don't say "bundle of inconvenience," because it smiles at us often enough.

The unborn may smile, but not at us.


Well this is, of course why pro life advocates try to promote the use of ultrasound pictures. Maybe not always smiling, but the humanity comes through.

What should be recognized is that we're dealing with the emotions surrounding maternal bonding. Why should the right to life of the unborn be dependent on those emotions?

Original Mike said...

"[The Congress shall have Power] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;"

It seems to me that if you can argue that this gives Congress the right to regulate abortion, you can argue Congress can regulate anything (which seems to be the case).

Saint Croix said...

Life begins at conception.

This is a rhetorical trick both sides use to avoid the issue of homicide.

The Supreme Court started it, in Roe, when it wrote, "We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins."

They would not have been so glib, so stupid, if they had asked another question.

When do people die? When does a baby die?

Emotionally, that's a harder question to ask.

Many pro-lifers also prefer to frame the issue in regard to when life begins. It's a nice, sweet way to frame the question. But it distracts us from the issue of infanticide. We don't want to think about killing a baby.

Similarly, Congress attempts to outlaw late-term abortion under the commerce clause. As if this is an attempt to regulate money! The idea is to regulate abortion without acknowledging that we have dehumanized babies, or killed them.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

Original Me you are correct, and we call it ObamaCare as a term of estrangement.

Fen said...

In 100 years people will view abortion the same way we view slavery today.

"How could you?"

"You wanted sex so bad, you were willing to kill for it?"

tim in vermont said...

Viability is a great standard. Helplessness should always be a criteria for eligibility for termination.

Once a young lady is tied up, a snuff film is perfectly OK.

Gabriel said...

Conception is the only objective fixed point that can be used to resolve the conundrum of when a clump of cells becomes a baby. Before conception you have two halves of two people's DNA, and after conception one new combination that has never existed before.

It may or may not be legally or socially desirable to use that fixed point, but if you insist on having one, that's it.

It's not perfect, either--we don't allow adults to kill their twins simply because they have the same combination of DNA and can be considered the same organism, the way aphid clones are.

I myself think that in the first 4 weeks restrictions on abortion should be minimal, and in the last four weeks extreme, and that the restrictions should gradually increase as the pregnancy moves forward, but that solution fails to satisfy anyone.



tim in vermont said...

Oh, I forget, the person must be both helpless and invisible to others, so snuff film is out. Killing drunk hobos under the bridge by the river, though, that's A-OK

tim in vermont said...

but that solution fails to satisfy anyone.

Because it is only a salve to your conscience.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Fen said...

In 100 years people will view abortion the same way we view slavery today.

I absolutely despise appeals to the authority of future opinion. First, why should we believe that the person using that rhetorical technique actually knows the opinions of people not yet born? And second, based on the way the country is going, why would you believe that people of the future will have better judgement on the issue than people today?

Saint Croix said...

I would just ask pro-lifers, do you like our death statutes? Do you agree with them? When do you think a baby dies?

And I would ask the same question of pro-choice people. Do you like our death statutes? What do you think a good death statute would look like? When does a baby die?

It's a hard question, but it's the right question to be asking.

And you might try to answer the question without regard to abortion. Just think about when people die. What is a good rule?

Birches said...

Wow.

That clump of cells turns into a baby fairly quickly, probably more quickly than most pro-choicers would care to admit. While I don't agree with Althouse's position on abortion, at least she doesn't deal in fairy tales to make everyone feel better....

n.n said...

There is no practical equivalence between the beginning and end of a human life process. A life begins with a source: conception/fertilization, and ends with a sink: natural, accidental, or premeditated death. Ironically, there is less of an objective basis -- and therefore uncertainty -- to establish death than there is life; but, both can be observed, characterized, and classified within a frame of reference (ergo "science").

That said, the reason that premeditated murder of an unborn human life is considered a "wicked problem" is two-fold. First, there is no practical way to know, let alone prevent, a woman from terminating her child's life. Second, the circumstances of nature create a uniquely female responsibility that some, perhaps many, women would prefer to avoid a la "Peter Pan syndrome. Actually, there is a third: the State and Party's compelling interest to secure taxable assets and democratic leverage, respectively. Pro-choice or selective-child policy is a wicked solution to a "wicked problem". Not only does it tolerate, but actually normalizes or promotes the corruption of science and morality in order to debase human life.

It is a scientific fact (i.e. observable and reproducible within a limited frame of reference in time and space), and, more so, self-evident knowledge, that a human life (i.e. process) begins at conception. This is where the debate about morality, rights, and consequences should begin.

Mick said...

It's FIBONACCI...

Jim in St Louis said...

Yes, thank you both for the clarification.

Saint Croix said...

N.N., I'm not talking about when life begins. I'm talking about a homicide prosecution against a doctor for killing a baby. In order to prosecute a doctor for a homicide, you have to prove that a human being was killed. You need a standard, a rule, to determine when that is.

You have no standard, apparently. You keep wanting to change the subject to the beginning of life.

When do people die in your universe? If you want to prosecute a homicide, you have to answer that question. As a matter of law, and then as a matter of fact.

sparrow said...

Saint Criox
The cessation of brain waves would work pretty well - and it's already part of the determination of death in some cases.

Gabriel said...

@tim in vermont:
Because it is only a salve to your conscience.


The legality or illegality of abortion does not burden my conscience, because I am not in control of that decision, and I am not biologically equipped to ever have to decide whether or not to get an abortion.

My solution satisfies no one because the issue is too polarized.

sparrow said...

Gabriel

I don't see how you can reason for a continuum of permission. Certainly the baby is on a developmental continuum but the morality of abortion is a boolean step function. It's either OK or it's not. I'm certain it's not BTW. Gray answers, like you said, satisfy no one. Our recognition of the baby as a baby is on a continuum certainly but intervening in the natural process is a yes or no decision.

CStanley said...

St. Croix, there is a rather obvious problem with your formulation. The time arrow is working in opposite directions in the two situations.

The reason that we define the end of life in such a way that allows for discontinuation of life support is that we're acknowledging that brain activity is unlikely to resume in those patients. With an embryo/fetus, the probability that the brain will develop and achieve activity is quite high.

n.n said...

Saint Croix:

You are attempting to establish an analogy between the beginning and end of life. I am claiming that there is no practical equivalence. The issue of abortion and other acts of premeditated murder are not comparable.

As for the assessment of death (and life), there is science. Within a limited frame of reference in time and space, we can observe and assess phenomena that are reasonable -- but imperfect -- evidence of a conscious life process (e.g. brain activity). That frame of reference is guided by nature law and established by human morality. In short, it's a judgment call, but not with elective abortion, where there is a clear discernment of cause and effect.

Legal and moral standards are sympathetic and ideally complementary. The separation of Church (i.e. organized or collective moral broker) and State is a fantasy. The classification of abortion as murder, homicide, or manslaughter may change, as it has changed, with the prevailing consensus, tolerance, or force of the people.

Also, I am not commenting on retribution (e.g. incarceration, capital execution, etc.), but on a unique issue that has been given short shrift for amoral and opportunistic causes. One of many with a high emotional appeal that is settled with a default or deferred judgment. Pro-choice policy has been a wicked solution to a "wicked problem".

It seems that we are discussing intersecting or overlapping perspectives. The step-wise interactive format of our venue does not lend itself to reconciling this class of argument. At least not without first tolerating animosity and misunderstanding. This should not serve as a cause to promote divergence.

Anonymous said...

Blogger Saint Croix said...
N.N., I'm not talking about when life begins. I'm talking about a homicide prosecution against a doctor for killing a baby. In order to prosecute a doctor for a homicide, you have to prove that a human being was killed. You need a standard, a rule, to determine when that is.


Maybe this is why, when the barbarians come, it's always the lawyers who get thrown on the fires first?

Common sense isn't so common anymore. Like Justice Hugo Black once said, "I know it when I see it."

If we determine that life begins at conception, that the doctor sucked the baby out of the womb and threw it in the trash, we know a human being was killed.

All the rest is fighting over language.

buster said...

Saint Croix said:

"In order to prosecute a doctor for a homicide, you have to prove that a human being was killed."

I think this presupposes that the being the doctor is accused of killing was alive when the doctor acted. So the issue is not whether the being was alive, but whether it was human. In other words, whether the living organism was a "clump of cells" or a human being.

There may be prosecutions for homicide where the issue is whether the supposed victim died before the accused acted. But they are rare, and irrelevant to the discussion.

Gabriel said...

@Sparrow:Certainly the baby is on a developmental continuum but the morality of abortion is a boolean step function. It's either OK or it's not.

Would you lie to your spouse about money you spent?

Would you lie to your child about Santa Claus?

Would you lie to the Gestapo about where a Jew is hiding?

Maybe abortion is always and everywhere right, or always and everywhere wrong, but it must be unique among moral issues then.

CStanley said...

Gabriel, if you are going to use an analogy, use killing not lying.

And abortion really is unique because it involves a human life that is completely dependent on and even within the body of another. The uniqueness is actually the only basis for an argument that there might be a hierarchy of rights between the two individuals, mother and child.

Everything else about the situation points to a clear cut determination of abortion as murder. There is no other situation where we permit doctors to take human lives, or base the right to life on the decision of a caretaker to either accept or deny the care.

Gabriel said...

@CStanley:Gabriel, if you are going to use an analogy, use killing not lying.

But killing is not always and everywhere absolutely right or always and everywhere absolutely wrong, either. Our legal system makes many distinctions, not only over the legality of killing but also the degree of criminality of criminal killing.

The point I was responding to, in using the analogy, was "but the morality of abortion is a boolean step function. It's either OK or it's not."

And what I said was, that if abortion works that way, it is unique among moral issues.

Your criticism of my analogy does not touch that aspect of it, and is irrelevant to what I actually said.

I was not actually arguing whether abortion is or is not murder, and have not actually stated whether I believe it to be so or not.

But what I do not dispute is that abortion is the intentional killing of a human organism. I know that's not enough to satisfy anyone on either side of this debate.

Bleach Drinkers Curing Coronavirus Together said...

For me, the "clump of cells" impression is gone by the end of the second week.

That's because the cells are small, you nimrod.

Also, "looks like" is not the same thing as "is". That's what an intelligent person's brain is for. To discern the difference between perception and reality.

The Godfather said...

Assuming that we can't determine with certainty when in her/his prenatal development an unborn becomes a "person", shouldn't we err on the side of protecting the life of the (perhaps) "person"? Except where another "person's" life is at risk, shouldn't the possibility that the unborn is a "person" lead us to protect that life, rather than destroy it?

I'm not addressing the legal arguments about whether Congress should be involved, or whether the law should give to the "mother" absolute dominion over the life or death or the "person". I ask only whether, as a moral matter, we should countenance the intentional killing of a possible "person"?

etienne said...

I can't believe we haven't created a machine for this process.

Just think how you could drop off some eggs or sperm, get sterilized, and then whenever you want kids, just place an order on Amazon.

None of the dangers of childbirth.

CStanley said...

Gabriel, my point was that your analogy would better serve your argument if you used a moral quandary that wasn't so dissimilar.

And what I was also trying to get at is that abortion itself isn't part of a broad range of actions as is "lying", or "killing".it is one specific action that is part of the broader category of killing.

Saint Croix said...

CStanley,

Yes, that's right. It's irreversible brain death. Your brain waves have stopped and they are never coming back. It's final. Your body will continue to go through a biological process until nothingness, but your soul has passed. Your life force is gone.

In the case of an embryo, your whole life is in front of you. Your future--including your thoughts, ideas, dreams--are ahead of you. This is why even very early abortions are morally grave, and should be a crime. You are cutting an individual's future short.

But a homicide, a murder, is a specific criminal charge. You need to prove that the doctor caused a death. So we adopt legal criteria, a biological marker that a person needs to have to be alive. Heartbeat is no longer the rule. That's why a doctor who performs a heart transplant is not charged with murder for removing a healthy heart. We all need a heart to live. But that's not a homicide, because brain activity is the vital point.

Saint Croix said...

N.N.

You don't think abortion is comparable to murder?



Saint Croix said...

Eric,

Please do not slander Hugo Black in public like that.

You are thinking of Potter.Stewart, a master of anti-law.

Gabriel said...

@Cstanley:And what I was also trying to get at is that abortion itself isn't part of a broad range of actions as is "lying", or "killing".it is one specific action that is part of the broader category of killing.

Well, now you're talking about "True Scotsmen." If abortion is too unique to be compared to lying, if it's too specialized to be compared to other kinds of killing, then maybe it's too specialized to be compared to murder or considered murder.

You're setting up its wrongness as part of its definition, and you won't persuade anyone who doesn't share your definition.

So what does (almost) everyone agree is true of abortion?

1. A fertilized egg is human, and not something else, and if it is not interfered with it grows into a baby, and babies are not to be killed but to be cared for and protected*.

2. A fertilized egg is not a baby.

Those two premises are probably it. If you want to convince people that abortion is wrong you have to show your work without stealing bases, because you don't know they will share more than those two premises.

*There are a few Americans willing to argue that babies don't deserve any more protection than fetuses but their arguments are self-discrediting.

Saint Croix said...

I should not have said "rhetorical trick" at 11:03. People do not do it on purpose. We all feel strongly about the things we care deeply about. And it can be hard to let go.

The problem with the Supreme Court's question ("when does life begin?"), is that it only applies to one class of people, the unborn. I think "when do people die?" is a more helpful question, since it applies to all of us. It allows us to think outside the box of abortion politics. And it's a question that is specific to the issue of homicide. It helps us answer one of the more traumatic issues in this fight.

We should stop thinking of the unborn as an "other" and start thinking of them as part of our human family. Reflecting on our death statutes helped me to see that.

Saint Croix said...
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