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smac97

Is "When Does Life Begin?" a Scientific or Moral Question? Both?

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1 minute ago, JAHS said:

Meant to be a joke, but why should the thought of aborting a child at 17 be any different than aborting them at a few weeks in the womb?
It's simply a matter of their location. 
By the way I noticed you reached the 30,000 post milestone. 👍

By your logic, the church endorses murder, as long as it’s prayerfully considered, in certain situations. 

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1 minute ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

By your logic, the church endorses murder, as long as it’s prayerfully considered, in certain situations. 

Remember I am talking about a 17 year old teenager. Have you ever had one? 😉
I would certainly hope the answer to such a prayer would be no. And most of those certain situation would not apply to a 17 year-old. 

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9 minutes ago, JAHS said:
45 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

Well that should be acceptable because everyone knows that life begins at 40.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4gXVXVXzqg

By the way I noticed you reached the 30,000 post milestone. 👍

Never mind. Your numbers seems to be stuck at 30,000.  

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20 minutes ago, JAHS said:

..... why should the thought of aborting a child at 17 be any different than aborting them at a few weeks in the womb?
It's simply a matter of their location. 👍

Intelligence, abilities to communicate, potential for independence, etc....tons of significant differences. 

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17 minutes ago, Calm said:
40 minutes ago, JAHS said:

..... why should the thought of aborting a child at 17 be any different than aborting them at a few weeks in the womb?
It's simply a matter of their location. 👍

Intelligence, abilities to communicate, potential for independence, etc....tons of significant differences. 

But why should those differences determine the right to be alive or not?  There are no easy answers to any of this.

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1 hour ago, JAHS said:

But why should those differences determine the right to be alive or not?  There are no easy answers to any of this.

I am not saying they do, just that saying it is simply a matter of their location is false. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, JAHS said:

Meant to be a joke, but why should the thought of aborting a child at 17 be any different than aborting them at a few weeks in the womb?
It's simply a matter of their location. 
By the way I noticed you reached the 30,000 post milestone. 👍

Not sure that it's a good thing, quite frankly.

That's a lot of time.  My ratios could be better but around 50% "likes" is not too bad.  Some run close to 100% or higher!  Look at Calm or Kevin C or Clark Goble

 

Edited by mfbukowski

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Posted (edited)

error

 

Edited by mfbukowski

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5 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

Lots of lack of clarifications here. First, life is not a term scientifically defined. (Is a virus life? What is the criterion for life?) Scientists loosely use the term in obvious cases but one has to be careful not to equivocate over terms which tends to happen a lot in these debates.

Two the issue isn't life but a moral calculus. To say something is alive or even human is not to say it's life should be protected. If I'm on the front lines in WWII it's typically not seen as morally problematic to kill a German soldier trying to kill me even if they are alive and may well be morally innocent. (Maybe they were drafted against their will) So people leap from life or even personhood to a moral calculus without doing the hard work of tradeoffs.

Second people tend to assume that because something is life and human that therefore it is a person. But that doesn't follow. From a latter-day perspective an essential aspect of personhood is our essential spirit that pre-existed our body. We don't know when that enters into a body. Some think at conception, although that's a very minority view. The most popular view is when a "quickening" happens which typically was seen as when the mother could feel movement. But that too is problematic. Some say just before birth (typically appealing to 3 Nephi's voice from Jesus). That too seems problematic. It's not something that has been revealed.

All these things matter as does the context around an abortion such as the life of the mother. Very rarely do such things get discussed in the moral calculus. Then, because formal ethics are inherently problematic, there's the issue of how one determines when something is wrong. Most people, whether they want to admit it or not, typically are making a resemblance calculation. When a fetus *looks* similar it is the same. That breaks down for obvious reasons when you stop to think about it. On the other side there tends to be a neglect of epistemological issues. Just because you don't know when personhood with intrinsic value starts doesn't mean you can dismiss it. The counterarguments are frequently akin to saying we can shoot into a box regardless of whether we know a person is inside. Ignorance ought entail caution not free wheeling.

It's also worth noting that if abortion is wrong then those wanting it made illegal should also be working to reduce abortions. Sadly it's typically common on the pro-life side to support making it illegal but do little to reduce abortions and often support practices making abortion more likely. (Such as making contraception more difficult to obtain) My sad view is that many on both sides treat the issue as a form of virtue signaling rather than an intrinsically important ethical issue.

A very even-handed response.  I don't think anyone argues that a fertilized egg isn't life.  The only debate is when the spirit enters the body.  Without a spirit, then there is no mortal existence.  The human body is just a receptacle for the spirit.  

Now if anyone knows for certain when the spirit enters the body, then I am all ears.  And when that religious belief becomes scientific fact then hand me the protest sign and count me in.  Until then, this decision and belief has to be left up to each individual because the Constitution demands that.

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7 hours ago, Calm said:
8 hours ago, JAHS said:

But why should those differences determine the right to be alive or not?  There are no easy answers to any of this.

I am not saying they do, just that saying it is simply a matter of their location is false. 

"Intelligence, abilities to communicate, potential for independence, etc....tons of significant differences."

I have known a few disabled adults who could fit this description.

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, Dan McClellan said:

I would disagree there. Slaves were not considered 0% persons.

Nor are the unborn.

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Even animals are considered persons to some degree by many people.

But not under the law.  Animals can't vote, aren't obligated to pay taxes, etc.

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To the degree we establish social relationships with animals, they can function as persons.

But they are not afforded constitutional rights.

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For legal reasons, yes, we need to define a threshold, and I think the one that most effectively incorporates socio-cultural, scientific, and medical perspectives is viability.

I can respect that position, even though I disagree with it.  "Viability" is too vague and malleable a term.  From Wikipedia:

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Viability, as the word has been used in United States constitutional law since Roe v. Wade, is the potential of the fetus to survive outside the uterus after birth, natural or induced, when supported by up-to-date medicine. Fetal viability depends largely on the fetal organ maturity, and environmental conditions.[2] According to Websters Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, viability of a fetus means having reached such a stage of development as to be capable of living, under normal conditions, outside the uterus. Viability exists as a function of biomedical and technological capacities, which are different in different parts of the world. As a consequence, there is, at the present time, no worldwide, uniform gestational age that defines viability.[3]

According to the McGraw-Hill medical dictionary a nonviable fetus is "an expelled or delivered fetus which, although living, cannot possibly survive to the point of sustaining life independently, even with support of the best available medical therapy."[4] A legal definition states: "Nonviable means not capable of living, growing, or developing and functioning successfully. It is antithesis of viable, which is defined as having attained such form and development of organs as to be normally capable of living outside the uterus." [Wolfe v. Isbell, 291 Ala. 327, 329 (Ala. 1973)][5]

Various jurisdictions have different legal definitions of viability. In Ireland, under the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018, fetal viability is defined as "the point in a pregnancy at which, in the reasonable opinion of a medical practitioner, the foetus is capable of survival outside the uterus without extraordinary life-sustaining measures." [Definitions (Part 2)(8)][6]

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There is no sharp limit of development, gestational age, or weight at which a human fetus automatically becomes viable.[1]According to studies between 2003 and 2005, 20 to 35 percent of babies born at 24 weeks of gestation survive, while 50 to 70 percent of babies born at 25 weeks, and more than 90 percent born at 26 to 27 weeks, survive.[13] It is rare for a baby weighing less than 500 g (17.6 ounces) to survive.[1] The chances of a fetus surviving increase 3-4% per day between 23 and 24 weeks of gestation and about 2-3% per day between 24 and 26 weeks of gestation.

If there is no "uniformed gestational age that defines viability, then that creates real difficulties in creating legal restrictions on when an abortion can be performed.

Is a baby born at 24 weeks "viable" or "nonviable?"  Hard to say, since 20-35% of them survive.

Moreover, what happens when and if medicine and technology advance to the point that a fetus can survive outside of the womb at a very early stage of gestation?

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But we have not yet recognized the equal personhood of Black people in America.

Under the law, yes, we have.

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Police still murder Black people at disproportionately high rates and face either reduced or no legal consequences. Legally, they are treated much differently, and socio-culturally they are commonly dehumanized.

I disagree with some of this, but in the main I agree that racism is still a problem in the U.S.  Nevertheless, the law recognizes people of all races as persons.

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But there's no corner of our American culture outside of the abortion debate where fetuses are considered persons anywhere approximating the degree that their right to life outweighs the mother's right to privacy. 

Of the two rights (live v. privacy), which is more fundamental?

The former is expressly protected under the Constitution, whereas the latter is not.

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While white male landowners were certainly privileged, there were very few Constitutional rights only extended to them. The extension of rights to Black people and women were a result of their agitation for them, and they didn't infringe upon the rights of anyone else.

Slaveholders would disagree with you about that.  They certainly felt that their rights were imperiled by recognizing the personhood of black people.  And they were right to be concerned.  Under the law, black people as chattel/property allowed slaveholders to exercise dominion over slaves, whereas black people as persons deprived slaveholders of these property rights.

Moreover, the "abortion is okay because the baby's right to live is infringing on the right of the mother" can be rebutted with "abortion is not okay because the mother's right to abortion is infringing on the baby's right to live."

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Attempting to extend rights to fetuses not only will infringe upon the mothers' right to privacy, it would constitute a fundamental restructuring of our conceptualization of personhood. 

Yes, it would.  We did some of this restructuring for black people, so why not for babies?

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Yes, and I don't think it's been considered particularly thoroughly, and certainly not in anything approximating an objective way. Anti-abortionists are arguing backwards from a dogmatic position. It's just rationalization.

Pro-abortionists are arguing backwards from a dogmatic position.  It's just rationalization.

The difference is that those opposed to abortion have, I think, the better moral argument.

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No.  But a mother also can't claim a deduction for a child who has died, or who is over 21 and filing on his own, etc.

But if full personhood is extended to fetuses, why shouldn't she? She has to spend all kinds of time and money taking care of the fetus.

I'd be open to that, certainly.  

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Nope.  Child support begins at birth.  However, the law often requires a father to provide insurance for the mother, and that can include prenatal care.

And if personhood extends to fetuses, why shouldn't she be able to? Pregnancy takes quite a bit of support. 

I agree.  So let's change the law.

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But she'd be eating for two persons if a fetus becomes a full person.

She already is "eating for two."

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But that's a question of developing facilities, not of personhood. The arbitrariness relates to establishing a threshold that applies to everyone.

Right.  Just like abortion laws establish a threshold that applies to everyone.

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A five-year-old would be a phenomenally dangerous driver. That's not arbitrary. 

I agree.

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On what grounds does a fetus who is fully a person not merit child support in light of the increased costs and restrictions imposed upon a single mother?

I agree with you.  So let's change the law?

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If the government is going to impose a principled-but-still-somewhat-arbitrary distinction about personhood, about the right to life, then I would prefer that the distinction favor life.

Over and against the Constitutional rights of the pregnant woman?

To some extent, yes.

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What is the principle there?

That when balancing the right to life versus other constitutional rights, the latter is more important.

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If two people get into a car accident and one dies immediately while the other is quickly dying, a doctor may not legally remove life-saving organs from the deceased person even if it is the only way to save the life of the still-living person.

But you're only proving my point.  You're speaking of the right to life of the first person versus the right to live of the second.  Abortion hardly ever involves such a contest.  The personhood of both individuals is acknowledged in your scenario, but not in an abortion context.

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The right to life does not supersede a deceased person's right to privacy.

Well yes, it does.  Or it should.

I submit that the right to privacy (which isn't ennumerated in the Constitution) is less important than the right to life (which is).

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So we're extending full personhood to fetuses just to facilitate the selective extension of only one Constitutional right to them?

The right to life, yes.  Isn't that the most fundamental of all constitutional rights?

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Seems like the extension of full personhood is a bit disingenuous. 

Then let's do it in increments.  Let's start with granting them rights under the 14th Amendment to not be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.  Then let's add more as they get older.

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The law grapples with such distinctions all the time.  I woke up on my 21st birthday and could legally drink alcohol, whereas the day before I could not.  That was pretty arbitrary.

Again, the only thing arbitrary is where the threshold is to be placed.

And since that threshold differentiates a baby's right to life versus not having that right, it's a pretty important threshold.  So let's put that threshold at conception.

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There is already a threshold placed in a roughly equally arbitrary place regarding abortion.

Yes.  I am suggesting that we move the threshold.

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The extension of personhood arbitrarily changes the place of that threshold. That's not analogous. 

I submit that if we are going to be arbitrary, let's do so in a way that preserves the most fundamental constitutional right: the right to live.

15 hours ago, Dan McClellan said:

immediate dismissal, no matter how meritorious the underlying claim is. 

I can practice law in St. George and be fully compliant with the law.  But if I drive 40 minutes south and practice law in Mesquite, NV, I would get in trouble with both the Nevada and Utah bar associations.  

But such distinctions matter.  A lot.

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And those distinctions already exist vis-à-vis abortion.

Yes.  So let's change them.

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It's arbitrarily changing them in a way that infringes on the rights of others that's the issue.

First, I don't think conception is an arbitrary threshold.

Second, at some point the "rights of others" (the mother's rights) fail to supersede the rights of the baby.  You acknowledge this, right?  The whole viability thing?  So the quesiton is what is that point?  Rather than using a vague and malleable standard like "viability," let's use conception.

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I'm not sure it's either/or.  We used reason and logic and ideology to move black people from the "Chattel" category to the "Human Being" category.  Why can't we do the same with babies in utero?

Because it infringes on the Constitutional rights of others. 

So did freeing the slaves.  The slave's right to freedom trumped the slaveholder's right to property.

And we already concede that there is a point at which the baby's right to life can supersede the woman's right to "privacy."  The question is where that point is located.

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Actually, it was the Supreme Court that did that.  Roe v. Wade is a pile of legal nonsense.

Evangelicals widely respected and defended the decision in the first few years after the ruling. Paul Weyrich and Jerry Fallwell orchestrated the rallying of evangelicals over the next six years around opposition to abortion.

I'm not speaking of evangelical opposition.  Roe was, from a legal perspectively, very poorly reasoned.  Even the pro-abortion crowd acknowedges this.  And the law of the land now is Planned Parenthood v. Casey, anyway.

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I have yet to see an issue that was asserted to be a "states rights" issue that wasn't fundamentally about circumventing federal restrictions on infringing on the Constitutional right of others.

In my view, the Tenth Amendment makes this a "states rights" issue.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

 I agree completely that a 40 week fetus is indistinguishable from a newborn baby. That said an embryo is nothing like a baby. 

With respect, I disagree.

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An embryo has no thoughts, feelings, or consciousness. 

Nor does a comatose person, and yet we generally do not let Person A unilterally kill comatose Person B.

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If you start with a grain of sand and add one at a time when does it become a heap?

The Sorites Paradox goes both ways.  If you start with a pile of sand and take on grain away, when does it cease to be a heap?

When does a fetus (a "grain of sand") become a person (a "heap")?  For me, the best answer is "conception."

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As of yet, there are no clear boundaries. It’s hard to define, like many things in life. 

And yet we must define it.

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First what a complete and utter dodge of the question (as well as a misread). I wonder why you didn’t answer. I have no problem answering yours:

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This is sad, but not a hard choice. I’d choose the baby who has their whole life in front of him/her. There might be certain cases where I’d choose differently.

I think it's a hard choice, but an understandable one.  You choose that which you feel has more value.  For you, that is the baby.

But what about the choice between the life of the baby and the "privacy" and convenience of the mother?  Like you, I think "this is sad, but not a hard choice."  I'd choose the baby who has her whole life in front of her.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, the narrator said:

There isn't any particular point besides the neonatal baby taking its first breath, I guess. (Which is, according to Genesis, is when the spirit enters the body.)

I agree.  That is my belief on this subject as well.  

I believe that the spirit enters the body upon birth and leaves upon death.  That's when I believe life begins and ends in our human form.  I know some will disagree (about the entering the body stage) and I understand that.  

Edited by ALarson
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3 minutes ago, ALarson said:
17 hours ago, the narrator said:

There isn't any particular point besides the neonatal baby taking its first breath, I guess. (Which is, according to Genesis, is when the spirit enters the body.)

I agree.  This is my belief on this subject.  

I believe that the spirit enters the body upon birth and leaves upon death.  That's when I believe that life begins and ends in our human form.  I know some will disagree (about the entering the body stage) and I understand that.  

I certainly would not think the spirit enters the body at conception. One can argue that the spirit probably does not enter a fertilized developing embryo until it has at least implanted itself in the mothers womb. It is not uncommon for an embryo to fail to implant itself, so it would therefore be illogical for the spirit to have already united with it before that happens. Also, during the time between conception and implantation, embryos can not yet be considered as individualized human life, since they still possess the potential to combine, or split (twins). It is also possible to store embryos in a frozen state, thaw them out later, and successfully implant them in a mother's womb. Has the spirit already entered an embryo that is being stored in a freezer at -70 C? I doubt it.
The fact that Jesus Christ announced his birth to Nephi only a night before the event, suggests that the spirit enters the body at birth. (3 Nephi 1:13) But of course Christ was a God and probably could have come and gone out of His body anytime He wanted. 

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10 minutes ago, smac97 said:
11 hours ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

 I agree completely that a 40 week fetus is indistinguishable from a newborn baby. That said an embryo is nothing like a baby. 

With respect, I disagree.

smac97 has experience holding and cooing embryos.

11 minutes ago, smac97 said:
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An embryo has no thoughts, feelings, or consciousness. 

Nor does a comatose person, and yet we generally do not let Person A unilterally kill comatose Person B.

Comatose persons have thoughts and feelings, and may have occasional or partial consciousness.

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, Dan McClellan said:
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Yes.  But end-of-life decisions are quite a bit different from the abortion debate. 

End-of-life decisions are, by the very meaning of the phrase, about the decisions made at the end of a person's life. 

As I said, there are different phases of life in which essentializing "life" takes on different values. 

Okay.

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Such decisions are not about taking affirmative steps to kill the individual, but rather about withholding measures designed to prolong life.  

That's a bit of a semantic game, though. 

Not at all.  There are a number of substantive differences between end-of-life decisions and abortion.  The consent of the individual is often at the forefront.

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In the end, this is a phase in which the person's "life" is conceptualized and treated very differently. It is irrelevant to the abortion debate to identify the point at which biological life begins if one cannot sustain an argument for why it ought to be treated identically to the life of a born person.  

I think that argument can be sustained, though.

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In contrast, aborted babies have no voice, no ability to declare their preferences.

They have no preferences to declare.

Sure they do.  Try telling a drowning person that he has no preference to breathe.

Moreover, a three-day old baby also has "no preferences to declare," but that doesn't mean we let the mother kill her.

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How many of these would be a justifiable basis for Person A making an "end-of-life decision" for Person B?  For an elderly person?  Or a teenager?  Or a toddler?  

We're getting off target now.

I disagree.  End-of-life decisions are all "downstream" from an acknowledgment of Person B's personhood.

I submit that abortion is "downstream" from an acknowledgment of the baby's personhood.

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I didn't say the justifications for abortion were transferable to the justifications for end-of-life decisions, I said the identification of a "person" is a more salient framework for this debate than identifying "life," since it has different phases in which it is conceptualized and treated differently.

Okay.  "Life" is an integral part of personhood.  I'll go along with that.

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In absolutely every corner of our culture, including within biology, a born person is conceptualized as a different entity than a born person and experiences a vastly different type of "life" than a fetus.

Pretty much the same thing could have been said about slaves prior to the Civil War.  Slaves were "conceptualized as a different entity" than non-slaves, and such that non-slaves experienced "a vastly different type of 'life'" than a slave.

But we were wrong about that, correct?  We were wrong to conceptualize slaves as nonpersons.  We corrected that conceptualization.  We can do the same with in utero babies.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97

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15 hours ago, Vance said:

Since life ends when the spirit leaves the body, it is obvious that life begins when the spirit enters the body. 

Secular law can't be based on "when the spirit enters the body."

15 hours ago, Vance said:

The problem is that science is currently, (and perhaps always will be) unable to detect it.

It seems reasonable to me that it occurs sometime between conception and when the first movement is detected.

So, should we err on the side of life, or not?

Yes, I think we should err on the side of life.

Thanks,

-Smac

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10 hours ago, Calm said:
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..... why should the thought of aborting a child at 17 be any different than aborting them at a few weeks in the womb?
It's simply a matter of their location. 👍

Intelligence, abilities to communicate, potential for independence, etc....tons of significant differences. 

What about a one-day old child?

What about a comatose person?

What about a person on life support?

Intelligence, ability to communicate, potential for independence, etc. are all lacking for these folks, yet we don't allow family members to kill them.  Because we acknowledge their personhood.

Thanks,

-Smac

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1 minute ago, smac97 said:

Yes, I think we should err on the side of life.

But it's not an error if life has not yet begun.

Do you honestly believe the spirit enters at the time of conception?  (I haven't read all of your lengthy posts).  If not, then when?

Do you believe the spirit can leave before death occurs?  Why believe that it can enter before birth?  (Honest questions....)

 

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4 hours ago, california boy said:

A very even-handed response.  I don't think anyone argues that a fertilized egg isn't life.  The only debate is when the spirit enters the body.  

I don't think that's the only debate.  Frankly, I don't think "when the spirit enters the body" is a part of the legal discussion at all.

Personhood is the debate.  When, in the Zygote-to-fetus-to-newborn-to-toddler-to-child-to-teen-to-adult process does personhood spring into existence?

4 hours ago, california boy said:

Without a spirit, then there is no mortal existence.  The human body is just a receptacle for the spirit.  

Now if anyone knows for certain when the spirit enters the body, then I am all ears.  

I don't know for certain.  Again, that's not really part of thelegal debate.

4 hours ago, california boy said:

And when that religious belief becomes scientific fact then hand me the protest sign and count me in.  Until then, this decision and belief has to be left up to each individual because the Constitution demands that.

If you had been a black man living in slavery in the Antebellum South, would you agree that your status in life "has to be left up to each individual [slave owner] because the Constitution demands that?"  I doubt it.  

Thanks,

-Smac

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2 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Secular law can't be based on "when the spirit enters the body."

Yes, I think we should err on the side of life.

Thanks,

-Smac

Translating morality into law is why the Lord instituted governments. It is interesting that He gave us the means to do that and is willing to suffer / tolerate what we do with it until He comes again. I believe, because He promised, that His kingdom will survive and thrive no matter what we do through our governing processes. I see many saints politically governing and being governed by systems that are not friendly to the Gospel or religious freedom, and in some cases in an effort or hope to influence and change the Church, but the Lord will prevail.

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14 minutes ago, the narrator said:

smac97 has experience holding and cooing embryos.

I was speaking from a legal perspective.

14 minutes ago, the narrator said:

Comatose persons have thoughts and feelings, and may have occasional or partial consciousness.

So do babies in utero.

Thanks,

-Smac

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4 minutes ago, ALarson said:
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Yes, I think we should err on the side of life.

But it's not an error if life has not yet begun.

Well, that's the point of this debate, right?  I think life has begun.  At conception.

4 minutes ago, ALarson said:

Do you honestly believe the spirit enters at the time of conception?  (I haven't read all of your lengthy posts).  If not, then when?

I don't know.  It's not really relevant to the legal issue at hand.

4 minutes ago, ALarson said:

Do you believe the spirit can leave before death occurs? 

Probably not.  But again, it's not really relevant to the legal issue at hand.

4 minutes ago, ALarson said:

Why believe that it can enter before birth?  (Honest questions....)

Why not?  Why not err on the side of caution?

Thanks,

-Smac

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8 minutes ago, smac97 said:

What about a one-day old child?

What about a comatose person?

What about a person on life support?

Intelligence, ability to communicate, potential for independence, etc. are all lacking for these folks, yet we don't allow family members to kill them.  Because we acknowledge their personhood.

Thanks,

-Smac

A one day old child has intelligence, ability to communicate, and potential for independence. Have you never seen a newborn before?

A comatose person has intelligence, can sometime communicate, and has potential for independence. It's basically a long nap.

Family members very often choose to end the life of persons on life support.

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