Can you make an argument about abortion that assumes you're wrong about fetal personhood, Politics?

One of the big sticking points in the abortion debate is the question of if, or when, the fetus is a person in a morally meaningful sense. A lot of pro-lifers argue that the fetus is a person from conception or shortly thereafter, therefore abortion is always (or at least almost always) wrong; a lot of pro-choicers argue that the fetus is not yet a person in a meaningful sense until some point late in pregnancy, usually in the third trimester, and therefore abortion before that point is morally neutral.

I don't think it's quite that cut-and-dried, however, so I'd like to present a challenge to everyone.

Pro-lifers, can you give any argument against the legality or morality of abortion, under at least some circumstances, that still works if you assume the fetus is *not* yet a person in any morally meaningful sense?

Pro-choicers, can you give any argument in favor of the legality or morality of abortion, under at least some circumstances, that still works if you assume the fetus *is* already a person in a morally meaningful sense?


Eliot: read the question a little more closely.

If you believe abortion *shouldn't* be legal, then you're supposed to write an argument that assumes that the fetus *isn't* a person. If you believe abortion *should* be legal, then you're supposed to write an argument that assumes the fetus *is* a person. Get it now?

8 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    I think this is the crux of the matter--where do you decide life begins?

    I mean, look at it this way. Most reasonable people would look at a 9-month fetus, ready to be born, viable outside the mother's body, and say yes, that's a person, that's a -baby-, and it has both human rights and civil rights just like a baby already born. But these same reasonable people would look at a zygote, a fertilized egg, a single cell with no brain or heart or other organs, and say 'No, that's not a person.' So for many years the legitimate question was: Where between these two extremes do we say life begins?

    For many years the Pro Life movement was almost entirely made up of Roman Catholics. And in a way they had a right to it because they also oppose contraception. For Protestants (fundamentalists) the question of where life begins kept them from taking a strong anti-abortion stand.

    It wasn't until the 1980 election, the campaign of Ronald Reagan, that Protestants made the decision that life begins when the sperm hits the egg. This decision was made for the purpose of driving a stake in the ground for Christians to rally around. It was not a technical 'fact', or a Biblical tenet. It was an entirely POLITICAL decision, to support the objective of winning the South, the Bible Belt, for Reagan. The Protestant Pro Life movement goes back only to 1980!

    Reagan promised to propose a constitutional amendment to declare the pre-born human beings, so as to make abortion tantamount to murder. (This has since become known as a 'personhood' amendment, but they didn't use that term then.) But Reagan didn't even really try to do this, for lots of excellent reasons.

    The 'personhood' idea came along later in state proposals. There was one in Mississippi a year ago, which strangely failed.

    The thing is, the most popular forms of birth control, HORMONAL birth control, like the pill, the implant, the ring, sometime prevent a fertilized egg from implanting on the uterine wall. So a personhood law would ban not just abortion but also these popular forms of birth control. In the 2012 primary season, every Republican candidate was asked if he supported the personhood law, and insisted yes he did. Then he was asked if he would also oppose hormonal birth control. EVERY candidate deflected this question, either changed the subject or just directly refused to answer it. Finally Rick Santorum said yes, he opposed birth control also. "Because," he said (exact quote), "it leads to bad things." (Like SEX, apparently).

    Now it seems crystal clear (to me anyway) that the GOP never really had any intention of banning abortion nationwide. They knew how unpopular that would be, and how unworkable and unwieldy a law like that would be. They only wanted to use the issue to get votes, a political issue dressed up as a religious tenet. EVERYTHING they've done on the issue has only had the result of keeping the argument going, perpetuating the issue for maximum political mileage. They had MANY opportunities to compromise, but that would remove the issue so they've refused.

    In fact the rate of abortions in the US ROSE during Reagan's and the Bushes' administrations, and fell under Clinton and Obama, because the Democrats support govt. funding of birth control! Because it's a political issue, not a religious or moral one, the Republicans have caused MORE abortions!

    A good compromise that's been suggested many times (but seriously under-reported) is to consider that life begins at the beginning of brain-wave activity. After all, we see tne end of brainwave activity as -death- ('brain death'). Brain waves mean consciousness, personality, fear, pain, etc. Before that, none of those things exist.

    That would be about the end of the 1st trimester. Think for a minute what that would mean. It would give a woman 6-8 weeks to learn she's pregnant, then another 2 or 3 weeks to talk to her doctor, her minister, her husband or boyfriend, and make a decision. AFTER that, she might need to have a good reason--rape, incest, danger to her health or life.

    Also, the Republicans often talk as if lots of women use abortion as a primary form of birth control. I don't think that happens (much) but even as a liberal I would oppose that. Also they seem to have the idea that many women in the US get pregnant, carry the baby for 8 1/2 months, and THEN decide they want an abortion. Again, I don't see why a woman would do that, but I would oppose that too. With 2 weeks to go in a healthy pregnancy, I think abortion should require a VERY good reason. IOW I (and most liberals, I'd bet) are not totally in favor of 'abortion on demand', meaning at any time, under any circumstances.

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    The bottom line is, we don't know when it becomes a person. So we have to look at it logically. There's no science or philosophy that can tell us. We really can't even define what life is.

    If we assume the pro-life people are right and later find out we were wrong, then maybe some women were inconvenienced by having to take responsibility for their actions but no big deal.

    If we assume the pro-abortion people are right and later find out we were wrong, then the greatest crime on humanity ever has been committed. A crime that makes Hitler look insignificant by comparison.

    We should choose the one that has the least negative impact if we are wrong. At least until science and philosophy catch up and we can determine when a fetus becomes a person.

  • strang
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    So far, i do not see any professional-choicers capable to philosophically and morally rationale this one. As a pro-Lifer, i'd say this... 1) The common Roe vs. Wade authorized transient sites a lack of scientific expertise. The Supreme court docket admitted this when issuing their determination. But, regardless of this lack of proof, they sided with the Prosecution and not the safeguard. They certainly felt that the scientific know-how that they have been missing was now not pivotal, but it shows a sorta 'responsible except tested innocent' mentality by way of the court which resulted in them siding with the prosecution rather of the protection. The Supreme courtroom's resolution has plunged the country into some 30 years of public debate, division, and in some instances..Violence. Their possess fashioned selection has been challenged, but they'll now not exchange it. I would say that on ethical and authorized grounds.. They made the fallacious resolution by using siding with the prosecution. 2) Societies are usually judged on how they treat the weak and negative. What is known as "human rights" Science has validated that the fetus is indeed, human, which is WHY the talk now slides to the extra subjective "personhood" argument. But indisputably it is human and not a parasite. How we treat human lives is a KEY indicator of the development and enlightenment of a society. How can any culture name itself 'ethical' and 'just' when it legally condones and pays for the murder of a million human lives a 12 months? Defenseless lives which have now not harmed, nor pose any mortal hazard to their mom and dad. Three) Dred-Scott determination - The one factor that Governments look to do good, and why many people tolerate them is that they typically preserve the lives of their residents. Governments are generally viewed tyrannical when they discontinue defending residents and as a substitute start exterminating them. Whether or no longer a fetus is a person.. Prior to Roe vs. Wade it was once viewed a citizen and supplied equal safety under the law. It used to be illegal to kill a fetus, in-utero The last time we allowed the U.S. Government to dispose of equal security from a class of humans, it was Dred-Scott and eliminated these rights from African American slaves, making them the legal property of their slave holders. They grew to be much less then human based on the colour of their skin and the truth that they have been owned. We now have an understanding of this was once a mistake. But in Roe vs. Wade, we allowed the U.S. Government to again put off safety from a class of humans situated exclusively on their age (0) and place of residence (the womb) Does this sound ethical or just? Some have when compared it to 'evicting' a tenant..However due to the fact that when does the owner have the authorized right to KILL the tenant? And isn't some proof that they have got served the tenant notice, required? Abortion appears to make one human life the property of another. 4) The U.S. Government acknowledges that Eagle eggs, if left by myself.. Turn out to be Eagles. It is thus illegal to harm or break a bald eagle egg, however, you could harm, break, and kill a human fetus. The U.S. Government seems to place a higher value on an animal fetus then a human fetus. This sends a clear message involving the worth of human lifestyles. Societies are traditionally judged via how they regard human lifestyles with the most despised cultures putting the lowest value on human life. How moral is it to don't forget breaking an eagle egg as evil, however killing a human (now not person) as appropriate? 5) Morality of Abortion procedures - the vow of a general practitioner is to do no harm. Nevertheless, it seems as if abortion would have a medical professional violate this Hippocratic oath. Given that abortion uses an invasive approach to terminate an or else healthy pregnancy. It takes well being and treats it as ailment. It damages a person, medically for no clinical purpose. That's to say.. It would not truly 'repair' anything which is rationale the ladies an ill-wellness. It is worse then beauty surgical procedure which was developed to fix deformations. It was above all designed to terminate a human life at the same time it's still setting up and when it poses no scientific risk (in virtually all cases) to the mother. 6) against genuine Feminism - as a substitute then preserve in high esteem anything which is special to the female species. Abortion treats the healthful and ordinary reproductive procedure in a women as an defect, a mistake, and an illness which she are not able to remedy herself and need to have an invasive medical procedure to 'repair' It de-powers women given that it casts them as a victim of their possess our bodies natural and healthy method. It makes them unable to manage their own body and casts them because the helpless princess that needs to be rescued. It does not uphold their feminism..But seeks to make them more male.

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    when in the illinois senate obama argued for full term partial birth abortions

    he thought it was fine if the mother decided to terminate the viable 'fetus' even as it passes through the birth canal.

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  • a
    Lv 6
    8 years ago

    I'll try.

    A to be mother is considering abortion- she is probably:

    Under 18



    *some politically correct term for stupid*

    Do we want her genes in the gene pool?

  • Elliot
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    You just said to assume it wasn't a person. You contradict yourself in the last sentence. Make up your mind.

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    You know what? Im actually tired of arguing the point.

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    my argument is *********40 years********

    Roew v Wade 1973

    time to move on

    Source(s): TW
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