Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Reader Mark nails it:


"If I put some of my cells in cold storage so that I can be cloned later after I die, would it be murder to destroy those cells?"

Each of your cells is one tiny part of your body, not an individual organism in and of itself. The sum of your cells - i.e., your entire body - *is* an individual organism, with the wondrous capacity to walk, talk, and make specious arguments on the comments section of blogs. Similarly, the sum of a human zygote's cells is an individual organism - a human organism - and the fact that this human organism has not yet developed the ability to walk, talk, or speak out in its defense doesn't make it any less of a human being -- any more than an infant's inability to, say, appreciate art makes it less of a human being.

"A zygote is a little closer to a full-fledged human."

No, a human zygote *is* a full-fledged human, merely at a very early stage of his or her development, just as a human infant is a full-fledged human, just at a slightly later stage of his or her development. Being a human being - i.e., an individual member of the human species - isn't something that we achieve as we age. Pro-choicers make the mistake of confusing their subjective prejudices with objective reality. Because they can't see or relate to an embryo, zygote or fetus as a human being, they think it's not a human being. Instead, it's a "potential human being." Really? What species of animal is a "potential human being?" What is that species' scientific name?

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mark has a great point.



I wonder how many pro-fetal-stem-cell research folks out there get all upset at the government "wasting precious" stem cell lines dont worry at all about aborting five month old "fetuses" with fingernails, eyelashes, toe-nailes, lips, teeth, hair, et cetera?

Double standards is what one gets with the left over and over again. M

Jim Bowery said...

Hey! Something interesting -- finally:

There is a point when a cloned cell starts dividing...

Jason said...

...and the fact that this human organism has not yet developed the ability to walk, talk, or speak out in its defense doesn't make it any less of a human being -- any more than an infant's inability to, say, appreciate art makes it less of a human being.

Legally, yes it does. You might deny that it should, but that's the way it is, and if you want to change it, you're going to have to make a compelling case to those who don't already agree with you. An assertion is not a compelling case.

No, a human zygote *is* a full-fledged human, merely at a very early stage of his or her development

Stages of development make a difference under the law. Always have, going back to the Old Testament. Even after birth, stages of development make a difference in regards to legal status. Tacking "merely" onto that statement doesn't make this historical fact of culture and law go away.

Because they can't see or relate to an embryo, zygote or fetus as a human being, they think it's not a human being.

You are conflating biological humanity (human species) with legal humanity (human rights). Whether or not we should equate the two is the question at hand. By equating the two as your argument, you are simply committing the fallacy of begging the question.

If we accept that premise that human rights and human biology are directly linked, yes, it naturally follows that abortion is prohibited under the law. But we don't, so it's not.

Anonymous said...

"If we accept that premise that human rights and human biology are directly linked, yes, it naturally follows that abortion is prohibited under the law. But we don't, so it's not."

Besides, the vast majority of abortions are committed by Democrats...which means abortion reduces the population of Democrat babies.

Heck, abortion is even better than passing a law to forcibly sterilize all democrats.

Mark said...

"Legally, yes it does. You might deny that it should, but that's the way it is, and if you want to change it, you're going to have to make a compelling case to those who don't already agree with you. An assertion is not a compelling case."

There are some rights, such as the right to vote, which we do achieve with age because it would be pointless on a practical level to recognize an infant's right to participate in democracy. But the right to life is a fundamental right of which every human being can avail himself or herself in a meaningful way. The human infant has the right to life for precisely this reason. Why would you give the human infant, but not the human fetus, the right to life, given that both infants and fetuses can make meaningful use of this right?

"If we accept that premise that human rights and human biology are directly linked, yes, it naturally follows that abortion is prohibited under the law."

What would you link human rights to if not human biology? So far as I can tell, pro-choicers want to link it to age (for which "development" and "viability" are handy synonyms). But age, like race, sex, sexual orientation, and a thousand other things, is just a characteristic of an individual. It does not define the individual as human. Most pro-choicers would have a fit if you suggested that we should base *any* human right on race, sex, sexual orientation, etc... Yet they are fine arguing that we should base the most fundamental human right - without which, all other rights are moot - on *age*.

Related question: When the Abolitionists argued for extending basic human rights to blacks, did their rhetoric stress the humanity of black slaves, or the viability of black slaves outside the womb?

Jason said...

But the right to life is a fundamental right of which every human being can avail himself or herself in a meaningful way.

Meaningless babble. The ability to avail one's self of a right is not evidence that the right can or should be recognized. I could avail myself of a pony if you offered me one, but that doesn't mean society is better off enshrining pony ownership as a right. It doesn't make it meaningful, practical, or beneficial to society to say, "Everyone gets a pony."

Why would you give the human infant, but not the human fetus, the right to life, given that both infants and fetuses can make meaningful use of this right?

Because it's practical and beneficial to do so in one case and not in the other. Next question?

What would you link human rights to if not human biology?

Birth. Next question?

Most pro-choicers would have a fit if you suggested that we should base *any* human right on race, sex, sexual orientation, etc... Yet they are fine arguing that we should base the most fundamental human right - without which, all other rights are moot - on *age*.

Yes. Different things are different. Surprise!

Anonymous said...

"If we accept that premise that human rights and human biology are directly linked, yes, it naturally follows that abortion is prohibited under the law. But we don't, so it's not."




If we accept that premise that human rights and human biology are directly linked, yes, it naturally follows that slavery is prohibited under the law. But we don't, so . . .

Anonymous said...

Meaningless babble. The ability to avail one's self of a right is not evidence that the right can or should be recognized. I could avail myself of a pony if you offered me one, but that doesn't mean society is better off enshrining pony ownership as a right. It doesn't make it meaningful, practical, or beneficial to society to say, "Everyone gets a pony."


I agree, your words are meaningless babble.


Right to life is not analogous to the right to pony.

Maybe that is why life is enumerated among human rights in the Declaration of Independence and right to pony isn't. Maybe that is why the right to life was so fundamental that the men who signed "their own death warrant" were willing to die trying to enshrine it in law in a brave new republic based on human rights and dignity, and dissolving their ties to the whims and meaningless babble of tyrants.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

In order to qualify for the right to life, the entity must (a) actually be an independent organism with its own genome and (b) either actually have a high level of intelligence, complex emotions, etc., or have the potential to develop such by reasonably "natural" means.

Eggs and sperm have no rights because, despite their potential to develop naturally into human beings, they are not actually independent organisms.

Lower animals have no rights because, while they are actually independent organisms, they don't have a natural potential to develop human-level cognitive/emotional capacities.

But a baby in the womb, even at the very earliest stages of its development, has rights because it is actually an independent organism (in the genetic sense) and also has a natural potential to develop into an intelligent and emotionally complex one.

Is this a fair summary of your views? (I'm not trying to argue here, just understand. I don't have strong moral intuitions one way or the other about abortion.)

Jason said...

Maybe that is why life is enumerated among human rights in the Declaration of Independence and right to pony isn't.

The right to life for fetuses is nowhere enumerated in the Declaration of Independence. Liberty was mentioned in that document too, but it certainly didn't apply to slaves. The anti-slavery movement had to make their case, first with words, then with blood and fire. Fortunately for my side, the pro-life movement is mostly made up of extremely lazy people who can't even bother making an argument as cogent as the abolitionists regarding the social effects of the institution they oppose. Much less get off their asses and fight.

Jason said...

Heck, abortion is even better than passing a law to forcibly sterilize all democrats.

Good work putting to rest the lie that it's respect for dah widdle bay-bees that motivates pro-lifers. You're all in favor of death when it suits you politically, huh?

Niiice.

Anonymous said...

"Fortunately for my side, the pro-life movement is mostly made up of extremely lazy people who can't even bother making an argument as cogent as the abolitionists regarding the social effects of the institution they oppose. Much less get off their asses and fight."

Around 200,000 people show up to The March for Life Washington every year in January. Of course the media doesn't cover it which of course proves pro life people are lazy. Just because the media doesn't cover it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. If you support abortion, fine, but saying that prolifers are lazy because you aren't aware of all they are doing is pretty weak.

Notice also that while slavery was never mainstream, (only a tiny fraction ever owned slaves) yet they still could not get a law passed to get rid of it. The president ended it partially by edict. It took nearly 80 years after the Constitution to get rid of it.

Plenty of people really care about babies. You may think they are saps, but that doesn't make them insincere.

Finally the right to privacy is likewise nowhere enumerated in the Constitution, nor is the right to citizenship for children of illegal aliens, but thanks to interpretation (even though the Constitution is pretty clear) we have a bunch of anchor babies on the welfare rolls and in public schools instead of our homegrown kids.

Jason said...

Oh, you march! Well then, that's still... weak as hell.

If you really believe that abortion is murder, you should be fighting in the streets, not taking a yearly vacation in DC while millions die. If someone was killing toddlers at the same rate, you would be fighting. In the end, that's the most ironic part: anti-abortionists don't believe their own propaganda. Not really. They, too, put different values on human life depending on whether or not its sucking air on its own.

Anonymous said...

"Good work putting to rest the lie that it's respect for dah widdle bay-bees that motivates pro-lifers. You're all in favor of death when it suits you politically, huh?

Niiice."

No.

The pro-lifers are decent people because, at minimum, they support positions that go against their own self-interest. Not only are they defending the truly defenseless, they are not doing so because there is some abortion epidemic in the Bible Belt. Yet, despite being right on the merits of their case, you choose to ridicule them with your legalistic hair-splitting. You are so devoid of anything resembling humanity you cannot recognize goodness even when it is staring you in the face.

So, I provide to the pro-lifer some relief from liberal hell by pointing out the macabre upside of abortion.

Oh...and I'm also not pro-choice since I don;t think a woman has a right to choose to make you a dad.

Anonymous said...

"If you really believe that abortion is murder, you should be fighting in the streets, not taking a yearly vacation in DC while millions die. If someone was killing toddlers at the same rate, you would be fighting."


The same sensibilities that lead people to value universal human rights also lead them to believe in rule of law. Now there are places where people fight in the streets whenever they feel wronged.

Our tradition is a civilized one even when offended and provoked.

As I said, after 80 years of civil discourse, followed by an horrendous war, slavery was ended partially, by edict.

Abolitionists like prolifers were not a particularly vindictive or blood thirsty lot.

Jason said...

Our tradition is a civilized one even when offended and provoked.

So you're telling me that if on any given day you could go down to your local clinic and see pre-schoolers being lead by the hand into an abattoir, you'd content yourself with a bit of protesting and some letter writing campaigns? Maybe the occasional argument on the interwebs? Because that would be the civilized thing to do.

I'll make a note of it.

Rohan Swee said...

Similarly, the sum of a human zygote's cells is an individual organism - a human organism - and the fact that this human organism has not yet developed the ability to walk, talk, or speak out in its defense doesn't make it any less of a human being -- any more than an infant's inability to, say, appreciate art makes it less of a human being.

But are you not aware that utilitarian "bioethicists" are already busily concocting arguments for extending "choice" past birth with just those considerations - that an infant is not quite a human being, and therefore does not have the same "right to life" as a more developed human, who can do things like plan for the future or "appreciate x"? You're arguing as if you believe that they share your premise that to be defenseless does not mean to be without the right to life. They don't.

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Anonymous said...

"a human zygote *is* a full-fledged human, merely at a very early stage of his or her development"

Oh geez, blogger, you're going to try for that "age ain't nothin but a number" crap?

I believe that's the same argument that pedophiles use for molesting children.

Anonymous said...

"But age, like race, sex, sexual orientation, and a thousand other things, is just a characteristic of an individual."

No, age is not the same thing as race, sex, or sexual orientation. Those last three things are absolutes that do not change throughout an individual's lifetime.

Age, on the other hand, is by its very definition something that changes throughout an individual's lifetime. This includes age and developmental state of a fetus or that of an infant.

It denotes emotional maturity, ability for logic and reasoning, physical maturity, and sexual maturity. Just as it is not possible for a child to give consent to have sex with an adult, it is not possible to equate an undeveloped fetus with a full-formed human being.