Friday, April 29, 2011

Quick, Get the Scissors and Kill that Baby!

What follows is a classic, unsophisticated example of how secular bioethics is the ultimate fail as seen in the combox of an article I published that I originally saw on Facebook:

"What an incredible amount of fail."
What an incredible amount of sin.
"Those who make this argument do not understand the difference between an autonomous human child and an embryo whose very existence is tied to the mother."
So we can kill the unborn because it is dependent upon its mother? Given that your criteria for taking the life of the unborn is their degree of dependency, why not kill the 3 hour old born child as well since it is completely dependent upon another? Better yet, why not kill every adult in a coma since they are completely dependent upon others?
"A mother can choose to give up either child . . ."
So you admit that the unborn is a child?
". . . for an embryo this can only mean death, but for a child there's this little capability called adoption."
Why not allow the unborn child to be born and then adopt it out?
"Creating a human being goes far beyond conception, and saying that conception should force a person to go through the whole process without their consent is ridiculous."
So we kill people because they get in our way? This sounds like Third Reich logic.

I hope the Christians reading this have paid attention to what was said above; for this is where secular bioethics when you reject the idea that people are created in God's image and by virtue of that fact alone they are worthy of dignity and respect.


  1. Please, one person (me) making an inane and quick post on a blog comment somewhere on the Internet barely says anything about the person (me), let alone anything about the ethics behind an entire philosophy.

    Poor form.

    Also, I have replied to the responses to my post. You may go ahead and dissect that if you want.

    Further, I would just like to point out that I have no interest in arguing semantics. If you want to call the unborn a child or a baby, that's fine. There's still many significant differences between a baby in the womb and a baby outside of it.

    Anyways, I gave the most basic and simple argument that there is. A woman's body is her property. If she did not consent to a human being living inside of her, she has the right to deny its placement there, regardless of whether or not that human being would survive without her.

    The issue is much more complicated than this, I agree, but at its most basic form this is true.

  2. Alex,

    A woman's body is her property. If she did not consent to a human being living inside of her, she has the right to deny its placement there, regardless of whether or not that human being would survive without her.

    I see you allow it to be granted that the fetus is a "human being", so here some worries:

    1. If the fetus is female, then her "body is her property" and since it would not consent to having, say, saline solution or vacuums, on or in her body, then does she have "the right to deny its placement there?"

    2. What if we found a massively huge man (say, 15 ft tall and 1000 lbs) and we knocked you out and then sowed you into his body (with oxygen and feeding tubes, no doubt), could he pay a man suction you out into a few dozen pieces?

    3. Since my house is my property, if my child invites you in may I shoot you in the head to remove you?

    4. Are you saying that if a woman initially is okay with the pregnancy, but then later rethinks things and changes her mind, she cannot have an abortion? She initially "did" consent. How would you argue her down? It's still "her property," right?

    5. Obviously, other people's bodies are not the property of the woman's, and since the fetus is another body, your argument is beset with a terrible difficulty from which the best of men have not been able to extricate themselves, which is why sophisticated pro-choice advocates don't make this "her body/her property" argument.

  3. 1. No need for the fetus to be female. A human being has a right to control over its body. However, if the safe removal of the unborn from the woman is impossible, the woman has the right to force the child from her person. Further, how humanely the fetus is removed should be based on how much pain the baby can actually feel at its current level of development, whilst also minimizing risk to the woman.

    Also, considering the argument of how fetuses have a right to their body (something I think I can agree with), I can expand upon a question you gave to one of my previous posts:

    "What morally relevant fact changes such that what could be killed one day is now immoral and illegal to kill the very next day (the day the technology goes live, as it were)? "

    Both bodies well-being can now be protected. The woman has a responsibility to remove the unwanted child from her body as humanely as possible. The woman can have control over her body whilst allowing the baby to eventually gain control of theirs.

    2. Well, since my arguments revolve around consent, the rhetorical situation already fails. Why did I need to be sewn into this man? Is it necessary to kill me to remove me from the giant in a safe and quick manner? Did the man agree to having me sewn to him?

    3. One, do you have reason to believe I am a threat to you, your family, or your property? Two, is it impossible to ask or command me to leave first? I'm going to guess that, no, until you take the safe alternative methods to getting me to leave your property immediately, you cannot shoot me in the head.

    4. This is a complicated issue here. I think two factors should be considered. One, under what circumstances did the woman consent, and under what circumstances did the woman decide to have an abortion? Two, how long after consenting has she decided to have an abortion? Just waiting to have an abortion itself could be seen as an implication of consent, and the longer you wait, the more sensory capabilities the fetus will have.

    Depending on the circumstances it could be reasonable to require the woman to have the baby.

    5. The baby's property is contained within the woman's. She has the right to remove foreign property from her own. Her body, her choice, as it were. If it can not be done humanely, than the woman's rights trump the baby's (because the baby is taking from the mother's resources, not vice-versa).

    Also, reproductive rights and control over their bodies is the main argument behind the pro-choice movement. They don't call it property, and perhaps it is a little demeaning to use such terms, but I'm not one to argue semantics. "Her body, her choice" is a slogan of the pro-choice movement. It's the same basic idea.

    I'd say it is similar to the verdict given in Roe v. Wade that made abortion legal in the first place. And it's directly used in one of the more famous abortion essays, a Defense of Abortion (aka the violinist argument).

    Though, I am interested in what the "sophisticated" pro-choice advocates use as an argument.

    Also, my original reply didn't seem to post, soo... don't know what happened there. This happen very often?

  4. Alex,

    The only one with "poor form" is you since you've argued that a woman has a right to kill another human being just because he/she is located inside of her body. Whether you like us putting it this way or not, you are advocating that the woman ought to be able to murder someone else simply because they are in the "wrong" location. Such "poor form" deserves to be exposed via a blog post.

    Paul has reduced your position to absurdity several times now, so I'm not sure why you continue to come back to defend your self-refuting claims.

    If you don't like your comments being made into blog posts, don't comment here.

  5. Aex,

    1. How is this not arbitrary? You claim to hold to these positions

    a. A human being has control over their body, it's their property.

    b. The fetus is a human being.

    But you're arbitrarily allowing the mother do control her body but not the fetus. The mother wants the fetus out, the only way the fetus can leave is to be killed, the fetus doesn't consent to being killed. You have conflicting desires and both can claim your moral standard as a defense for what they want or don't want. How are you adjudicating here? One would think that if there's a moral dilemma here, you'd opt to resolve it by claiming that in one case a human being will suffer some mild discomfort for a few months, in the other case a human being will be killed, and so the latter has the morally weightier reason which overturns the former.

    Moreover, here's another problem: If my body is my property and I can do with it what I will, may a sew a bomb into it and walk into a crowded theater and self-explode? Presumably you'd say no? Why? Presumably you'd hold to some position like this:

    [*] A human being has a right to do with his/her body what s/he sees fit, so long as that action doesn't take the life of another innocent person.

    But the problem here is that [*] undercuts your argument. You can, of course, deny [*], but then you'd have to show why a human can place a bomb in their body and detonate it in a crowded theater while another human can use their body to take the life of one or more humans.

    2. You missed the point, unfortunately. You didn't consent to be put into the giant's body and the unborn human didn't consent to be placed into the mother's body. But you're both there. Now, can the giant kill you? And, yes, suppose the man agreed but later changed his mind. Can he kill you? If not, then suppose a woman finds out she's pregnant, initially is happy and wants the child, then two days later she decides this was a bad idea. May she then kill it? If so, the giant can kill you.

    3. Why does that matter? Of course, the fetus isn't a "threat" to the mother. But, let's grant that can't leave for 9 months and I will need to supply you with food, putting a mild strain on my budget. May I kill you? It's my property, I can do what i want with those in my property. That's your argument. How aren't your distinctions here arbitrary? If you're denying that I can kill you, you're denying the premise:

    [**] A human may do whatever s/he wants with the occupants in his/her property, including kill them.

    Do you agree with [**] or not? If so, I can shoot you merely because you're in my property and I want to. If not, then you require some other argument for abortion than you've been giving us.

    4. Well, I'd like to see you get rigorous and lay out all the distinctions. If some women may not have abortions, then what of your "it's their body and so its' their property and so they can do whatever they want with their property or the occupants in it" argument? Suppose the woman consents upon seeing the E.P.T. result (suppose she's 2 weeks). She gets happy and giddy. Tells her mom and friends. Then, in 5 days, she reconsiders, doesn't want the baby in their anymore. May she have an abortion? If yes, then my counterarguments apply. If no, then what is your argument for abortion since it clearly isn't simply the "it's her property and she can do what she wants with the things inside her property" argument.

    5. Then this conflicts with several answers you gave above. You can't have t both ways. I can shoot you if I found you in my house, invited by my son. You are "in" my property, and I can do what I want with the occupants inside my property. or, do you care to get more refined, clear, and rigorous?

  6. Something I once wrote on the violinist argument seems relevant in response to Alex's claims about "consent," so I'll paste it in:

    But it seems that pregnancy is the designed result of sex, even though it may not be the desired result. It would seem that our sex organs have the purpose of being ordered towards procreation. Applying this to the violinist then: What if I engaged in an activity, say, spelunking, that regularly created rare kidney diseases in violinists? Say that every time I dropped 50 ft into the cave, a violinist was almost sure to develop the disease that only I had the blood type to correct or fix. If I did so, should I not be hooked up to him, voluntarily or not? Say that there was protection, some kind of spelunking helmet. Say that it was not 100% effective. If my helmet ripped, should I be attached to the violinist? Or say I tried to "pull up" before I hit 50 ft. Unfortunately, it felt so good to decend that I pulled up a little too late and my right foot passed the 50 ft mark. Should I be attached to the violinist? I don’t see why not. Indeed, say that the statistical evidence was that the first two people that ever spelunked together would eventually cause 6 billion violinists to come down with rare kidney diseases, I dare say the Society of Music Lovers, and almost everyone else for that matter, would call for abstaining from spelunking unless you agreed to take care of the violinists until they got better.