Saturday, June 24, 2006

Abortion Revisited

Is Abortion Murder?

The short answer is “It all depends.”

Let us take a scenario and see how a doctor determines if a baby is alive.

A baby is on the gurney and a doctor arrives and someone shouts, “Is he alive?”

The doctor quickly connects the electroencephalogram to his brain and an EKG to his heart. After noticing that the baby has both, he will then answer most emphatically, “Yes!”

So, now armed with how doctors determine life in a baby, let us follow the pre-birth growth of a baby.

At the time of fertilization up until about the second week, we call the baby a zygote. A single diploid cell resulting from the fusion of male and female gametes at fertilization (sperm and ovum.) From on line medical dictionary

Next, the baby moves into the embryo stage. The developing organism is an embryo from about two weeks after fertilization to the end of the seventh or eighth week. From on line medical dictionary

And then the baby moves into the final stage called the fetus stage. The period after the seventh or eighth week of pregnancy. From the on line medical dictionary

Is the fetus also a baby? From the on line Dictionary called we find... Baby - ”A very young child, and infant.” And “an unborn child, a fetus.”

A baby is an Infant until it reaches about 24 months. The derivative of the word comes from Latin meaning the baby cannot yet speak.

Now since we have established that after the baby reaches the fetus stage and after it has brain and heart functions, it should be considered alive, and protecting it’s life should be the first priority when the mother is considering terminating that life.

Some will not allow entertaining even the thought that the baby might be alive because it is uncomfortable for people to challenge their rationalizations. It is just human nature to hate to hear the truth unless it is located in the realm of our worldview so when even the suggestion that the baby might be alive is made, it is swiftly removed from their brain, lest the pain is too great.

So, is Abortion Murder? No one knows for sure, but shouldn’t we err on the side of caution since we don’t know?

What we do know is how doctors determine life, and it should be obvious to an open mind that the baby is alive once it has brain activity and heart beat.


At 1:18 PM, Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

The brain activity standard makes the most sense.

At 6:56 PM, Blogger Free Agency Rules said...

I agree!



At 4:40 PM, Blogger Noisette said...

Yes, but what does it mean that the fetus is "alive"?
Seriously, I now carry a 14-week old fetus, and although I am pro-choice, I have no problem, and actually am very excited about, the fact that my fetus is very much alive. Of course, I have no plans to abort it. But I'm guessing that the majority of women who have abortions are not in denial about the fact that their embryo/fetus is "alive."
What does that mean, though, legally? Cows are alive, and killed, before we eat them. Is that murder? Of course not (Morrissey's solo album notwithstanding...).
Morally, you may feel (as do I) that there are serious issues with killing a fetus/embryo, not the least of which concerns its potential personhood. However, whether I abort a fetus or not, and whether I feel morally guilty about it, is a battle that I must fight out with my own conscience.
Because the law in the US, as it stands, does not afford the embryo/fetus legal personhood. When the 14th Amendment speaks of a "person," it is speaking of a fully formed, birthed human being, and it affords its protections to those beings only.
So my point is that while we might equate abortion with murder from a moral perspective, we cannot equate the two legally, because, as an embryo/fetus isn't a legal "person," it cannot be murdered.
Does that make sense?

At 10:28 AM, Blogger fetching jen said...

very logical, rational argument. But then again, most humans are capable of rationalizing their behavior and decisions.

At 11:36 AM, Blogger Noisette said...

Ha- very good point- I'm a lawyer, though- we're PAID to rationalize our (and others') decisions.


At 3:55 PM, Blogger jj said...

As I said on STS site -

For abortion it is all about when life begins. There will always be personal opinions of when a fetus becomes a human that range from the moment of conception (ridiculous to think a clump of cells equal to a human) to shortly before birth (equally ridiculous to think the birth is what makes a fetus human).

Some day the science will catch up tell us when the brain becomes conscious.

There will be a time that the rights of the mother and the rights of the baby will overlap bringing us back to philosophical debates. In other words it won’t end.

That's my take.

Most abortions are done early enough to ensure a human is not being murdered. (Using your inflammatory wording.)

For late term abortions the politically charged term partial birth abortion (which is not medically used) is very rare and almost always used in cases where the mother is in danger of dying.

Legal wording on abortion-
Only after the fetus is viable, capable of sustained survival outside the woman's body with or without artificial aid, may the states ban abortion altogether. Abortions necessary to preserve the woman's life or health must still be allowed, however, even after fetal viability

So right now the standard is viability which makes sense, until we are capable of determining when consciousness begins we will have to use the best scientific standard of viability.

You well know the fight is over religious belief more than scientific belief.

At 5:04 PM, Blogger Noisette said...

Indeed- thanks for clarifying, jj- I should have said that the 14th A's definition of "personhood," as interpreted by SCOTUS, meaning when a fetus' rights as a "person" can balance with the mother's rights, is fetal viability (not "birthed human beings"- I was wrong there). Well said, all in all.

At 1:44 PM, Blogger mrsleep said...

By this definition then, does brain activity start by the 7th or 8th week?

I too support the brain activity makes the most sense.

At 9:43 PM, Blogger jj said...

Some activity in a brain does not mean the fetus is feeling pain or has consciousness. We are along way from determining when consciousness begins.

In Britain and the US, more than 90 per cent of all terminations are carried out in the first 14 weeks. It is not until 12 weeks later,(26 weeks) the report says, that pain becomes possible, after the development of key nerve connections from primitive midbrain structures to the brain's cortex. The authors write: "Awareness is a cortical phenomenon. It follows that fetal awareness of pain is impossible until the time that sensory connections first penetrate the cortex." To avoid any chance of fetuses suffering pain, the report recommends that doctors consider using analgesia and anaesthetics in tests or surgery on a fetus more than 24 weeks into pregnancy. This coincides with the legal limit for abortions in Britain, except in rare cases where termination is necessary for medical reasons...
...may indicate gross physical reaction in the absence of conscious awareness, rather than sentiant pain.

The subjective experience of pain in adults requires not only sensory pain fibres but a coordinated reaction from several brain centres including the somatosensory, cingulate and frontal cortices. Stuart Rosen suggests from heart patients responses that frontal involvement is essential for pain to be recognised as such. Nerve connections between the cortex and thalamus pivotal to active cerebral function begin to form at around 22 or 24 weeks and the first measurable sensory nerve impulse triggered excitation takes 29 weeks.

Just remember the fact that activity in an undeveloped brain can't be compared to a developed brain. The 8 week old brain is to primitive to feel.

At 10:51 PM, Blogger Free Agency Rules said...


Very good comments by everyone.

Not sure I could disagree with any of them.

I for one believe that Abortions should be allowed, (legal), but that they should not be encouraged if the reason is about convienence. It should be looked down on by society but not made illegal unless it is after the viability stage.

After viability it should be illegal unless the mothers life is threatened.

I am pleased to see that most people can see it is not so clear cut that it is a "slam dunk" for either position.


At 9:22 AM, Blogger Jersey McJones said...

A fetus becomes wired for cognition at around 24 weeks. Otherwise the womb would be a living hell. As long as elective abortion is performed no later than a few months from coception, I see no ethical problem. Nor does any ethicist.


At 5:19 PM, Blogger Prodigal Son said...

Well, I am a little late to the party by about a month. Brain activity as a sign of human life intrigues me. Bush did a number on his brain for quite some number of years with Jim Beam. It was a slow abortion with brain activity being quite feeble for several years now. Yet he is allowed to make decisions affecting billions of human lives on this planet.

Every thing is a no-brainer for him,,,

Is this a great country or what?

At 3:08 AM, Blogger skyscraper said...

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At 3:13 AM, Blogger skyscraper said...

no, abortion is one's choice to do as they please with their body, righfully and independently of what church or jesus might have said.

what's murder is bombing innocent people, children, women and men and branding them terrorists only because they're muslim, only because they're not sharing your american views, and only because they don't believe in your jesus!

At 9:22 AM, Blogger Maxjulian said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 9:33 AM, Blogger Maxjulian said...

Murder is what George Bush and WE do every day using taxpayer financed American weaponry. Murder is killing walking-talking human beings (with amazing brain activity) in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza.

Whether the endeavor is called "nation-building," "spreading Democracy," or "liberation," murder is murder.

Those human beings should be free of outside meddling and allowed to create their own solutions. The same is true of women deciding whether to terminate a pregnancy or not.

Your opinions about viability, conception and brain activity are interesting, by ultimately, your business and when you are confronted with a pregnancy decision, those opinions will be relevant. Otherwise, they aren't, unless forcefeeding other people your value system gets you off.

Unfortunately, that seems to get off a lot of people.

At 12:34 AM, Blogger skyscraper said...

"Some will not allow entertaining even the thought that the baby might be alive because it is uncomfortable for people to challenge their rationalizations. It is just human nature to hate to hear the truth unless it is located in the realm of our worldview:--oh yeah? is that what you blind conservatives do when you are shown images of thousands of innocuous civilians, beheaded babies, children's, women's and men's bodies lying around in the streets of the middle eastern countries so unscrupulously bombed by your dumb president-monkey in the name of Holy Oil for your ugly SUV's that you need to compensate for the small sizes of your dicks?

is that what helps you sleep at night? forget and deny that those innocent deaths are happening on a daily basis, inflicted by you, and just pretend that it's not happening?

funny, how people rationalize their most irrational behavior--you're quick to point out how we *liberals* justify abortion, and at the same time completely ignore the fact that that is the same technique that you 'conservatives' justify genocide and imperialism.

makes me sick!

At 1:06 AM, Blogger skyscraper said...

interesting and very contradictory and dichotomous how you guys seem to be overzealously, meticulously, and even sickly [in a OCD manner] pre-occupied with life in one situation, and have absolutely no regard for it in the other?

ideally, it shouldn't matter whether they are american or christian lives or not--if you're so concerned with "morality", then the most moral thing to do whould be to prevent any killings of anybody LIVING first and foremost [as opoposed to a fetus, especially if you yourselves have trouble figuring out whether they can even be considered alive in the first place], no matter what faith or nationality.

doesn't your jesus teach you to love and forgive and have compassion for everyone, and not just christians? ay-ay, i guess you're being unfaithful to your god's testiments, you guys--aren't you supposed to be sent to hell for this?

At 4:37 PM, Blogger Free Agency Rules said...


Not everyone thinks that war is avoidable in all cases.

I am a conservative and I have been saying from the beginning that I did not think it was morally right to invade Iraq.

I think that your assupmtion that conservatives don't care about loss of human lives in a war is important. How silly, of course it is important.

Should we have not bombed Japan and Lost 250,000 Americans during an invasion, or do you not believe that we might just all be dead if we did not bomb them.

Hard choices are just that...hard.

Do you believe in self preservation and self-defense?


At 5:51 AM, Blogger Free Agency Rules said...

Ever notice that people who are told the truth, change the subject and try to deflect attention to what is painful.

Talking about war as murder is a distraction to shift one's brain to a place more comfortable.

Presidensts who go to war will be held accountable for their actions, because people who follow their countries orders are "rendering unto Cesar, what is Ceasars." As Christ was asked if we should pay taxes. He basically said that we should honor those who are placed in power above us and do what is lawful.

But, please don't get side tracked even though it is painful.


At 11:59 PM, Blogger aus blog said...

Something for Pro-choicers and Pro-lifers to concider.....

World estimations of the number of terminations carried out each year is somewhere between 20 and 88 million.

3,500 per day / 1.3 million per year in America alone.

50% of that 1.3 million claimed failed birth control was to blame.

A further 48% had failed to use any birth control at all.

And 2% had medical reasons.

That means a stagering 98% may have been avoided had an effective birth control been used.

I am a 98% pro-lifer, 2% Pro-choicer, who has no religious convictions at all . I didn't need the fear of god or anything else to come to my decision, just a good sense of what is right and wrong.
You see we were all once a fetus. Is it beyond the realm of possibilities that when your mother first learned she was carrying you, she may have considered her options? What if she had decided to terminate? Would that have been OK?
You would not exist, if you have children they would not exist, and your (husband or wife) would be married to someone else. You would have been deprived of all your experiences and memories. In this day and age with terminations being so readily available and so many being carried out, if you make it to full term
you can consider yourself lucky. Lucky you had a mother that made the choice of life for you. Don't you think they all deserve the same basic human right, LIFE?
I'm all for contraception, prevention is certainly better than termination.
Did you know you can get an implant that is safe, 99.9% effective, and lasts for three years? Just think girls not even a show for three years, wouldn't that be great? I think too many people rely too heavily on the last option (abortion), I think if abortions weren't so readily available people would manage their reproductive system far better resulting in a fraction of the number of unwanted pregnancies.
World wide there are over 50 MILLION aborted pregnancies each year. In America 3,500 terminations carried out every day, that's over 1.3 million every year, 50% of all cases claimed that birth control had been used, 48% admitted they took no precaution, and 2% had a medical reason. That's a staggering 98% that may have been prevented had an effective birth control been used. Don't get me wrong, I suspect the percentages in Australia would be much the same.
Just a lot of unnecessary killing.

At the point of conception is when life began for you. This was the start of your existence. Your own personal big bang. Three weeks after conception heart started to beat. First brain waves recorded at six weeks after conception. Seen sucking thumb at seven weeks after conception.

I am convinced that in the not too distant future, people will look back at many of the practices of today with disbelief and horror.

Want to know how to find humanity-?

True humanity can only be achieved, by concidering others/ caring about others, as much as, if not more than yourself.

Until we do we are no more than an uncivilisation, with all the uncivilised things that we do...

At 5:11 PM, Blogger aus blog said...

Bill Clinton once said that abortions should be available , safe and RARE. He is a very wise man.

I'd like to see an ultrasound in every clinnic to provide a more informed choice before going through with something they may regret.

I'd also like to see birth control made available to all who can't afford it.

At 2:00 AM, Blogger aus blog said...

Have you seen ( HOT OFF THE SHOW! Throw-away babies )

It's a blog by Sharon Hughes?

At 7:20 PM, Blogger aus blog said...

If you think the point of conception is NOT when life begins, and all you have is a clump of cells and not a living human being.
Then at least concider this -

Soon after you were conceived you were no more than a clump of cells.
This clump of cells was you at your earliest stage, you had plenty of growing to do but this clump of cells was you none the less. Think about it.
Aren't you glad you were left unhindered to develope further.
Safe inside your mother's womb until you were born.


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