Monday, January 23, 2006

If a fetus is a person...

On what appears might be the last anniversary of Roe v. Wade it seems like a good occasion to ask...

If a fetus is a person, why do we wait until someone is born before we count them in the census or allow people to claim them as dependents on their tax returns?

Why do we measure their age from their birthday instead of their conception day?

Why do we not issue a death certificate or hold a funeral after a miscarriage?

Would it be OK for an art museum to charge a pregnant woman for two tickets?

Why do we generally wait until after someone is born to give them a name?

Should we start to make heroic efforts to save babies born with anencephaly? And if your answer is yes, should we dispense with the concept of "brain death" in adult humans?

Why is so much time and effort being spent trying to save unwanted fetuses, when thousands of fully fledged human children die every day from a lack of clean drinking water and basic medical care?

Why does there seem to be almost universal consensus that abortion ought to be legal to preserve the health of the mother, and in cases of rape or incest? After all, if a fetus really is a person whose moral standing is no different than a fully fledged baby, then abortion is murder then there is no moral difference between performing an abortion and committing infanticide. Surely infanticide should not be legal under any circumstances?

Why did it take the Catholic church almost 1800 years before it decided that a fetus was a person?

The answer to all these appearent dilemmas is so crystal clear it just makes me want to tear my hair out. What makes somone a person is not a full complement of human DNA, but a functioning brain. It is not always easy to draw the line of where brain function begins and ends, but that has never stopped us from doing do in many, many circumstances, without the moral histrionics associated with abortion.

Which brings me to the most puzzling question of all: why do so many women continue to vote Republican?

8 comments:

joe said...

"why do so many women vote republican" - haha. You know, it's strange: During the last election whenever I heard people being interviewed on the radio, for some reason that I can't fully explain, it always seemed strange to me when I heard women supporting Bush. It sounded perfectly fine (albiet stupid and insane) when I heard men talking about how they liked bush, how he was a good leader, etc etc. But when I would hear a woman say "oh he is so wonderful, just a strong leader and a good person" I just wanted to yell at the radio - "ARE YOU BLIND? CAN'T YOU SEE WHAT'S GOING ON?", but I never felt the same when men said it, as if I expected them to be idiots.

And what's weirder is that I am far from a women' lib type guy. Feminists and women's lib people mostly get on my nerves, and I don't have premonitions on the stronger or smarter sex, blah blah blah.

but concerning your specific point - people of all races, cultures, orientations, genders vote against their personal good all the time. We all know that for 90% of the population, a strong Democrat government would be beneficial to these people's general wellness, but time and time again people listen to lies and vote against their own, and the common good.

cerebrator said...

i think the general consensus is that a fetus is not really a person, but just something alive.

and somehow, killing something alive is alright, as long as its controlled, like killing a deer for target practice or crocodiles for their skin.

Tarun said...

:)

What are the major difference between Republicans and Democrats in the US? Ideology or Lineage? I'm an Indian, so forgive me if its a foolish question. I tried wikipedia, but I'm still fuzzy.

Slightly offroad -
What about a person who goes into a coma? Is he still regraded as a person (or citizen)? Does it depend on the age of the comatose person.

Is someone still alive if they go into a coma (as in, are they still alive as themselves?). Does someone's sense identity stem from consciousness?

Bernardo said...

This is an AWESOME series of questions. I'm going to run it by my republican friends, see what they say.

And yes, it seems to me that a functioning brain is the way to draw the line. Carl Sagan has written about this very eloquently, and has made convincing points about determining the stage of development where the line could be drawn. May websites have his essay on the subject:

http://www.giamilinovich.com/sagans_abortion_essay.html

liz.m.k said...

In response to tarun, here's an essay on their ideological differences:http://www.jofreeman.com/polparties/polculture.htm

Here's an excerpt: Democrats do not have an integrated conception of a national interest in part because they do not view themselves as the center of society. The Party's components think of themselves as outsiders pounding on the door who seek programs which will facilitate entry into the mainstream.

This is a great blog btw... I followed the link from the slasdot feature on geek business myths. Excellent points on abortion--worth bringing up to the "right wingnuts" lol.

quantalizz said...

Also... I stumbled across this list of beliefs of the republican party:

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=199145&cid=16321223

Publius said...

If a fetus is a person, why do we wait until someone is born before we count them in the census or allow people to claim them as dependents on their tax returns?

Census: it would be difficult to count them, and they can't vote anyway.
Tax: The expenses to raise them flow through the mother's medical care, which already has defined deducability rules for Schedule A.

Why do we measure their age from their birthday instead of their conception day?

The birthday is well-defined.

Why do we not issue a death certificate or hold a funeral after a miscarriage?

Certificate: there is no birth certificate to match it to
Funeral: you might be surprised at the grieving process

Would it be OK for an art museum to charge a pregnant woman for two tickets?

This is known to economists as "3rd degree price discrimination." It's why senior citizens are often charged less, and . . . children below a certain age get in free.

Why do we generally wait until after someone is born to give them a name?

That's when you have to fill out the form for Social Security.

Should we start to make heroic efforts to save babies born with anencephaly? And if your answer is yes, should we dispense with the concept of "brain death" in adult humans?

Heroic efforts are not compulsary.
You might find the life of Nikolas Coke of interest. He is an example of the sanctity of human life.

Why is so much time and effort being spent trying to save unwanted fetuses, when thousands of fully fledged human children die every day from a lack of clean drinking water and basic medical care?

The latter would be welcome for adoption by thousands of couples who are infertile.

Why does there seem to be almost universal consensus that abortion ought to be legal to preserve the health of the mother, and in cases of rape or incest?

In the first, due to Pascal, as the "life you know" is more valuable than the "life you do not know." Although the teaching of the Catholic Church is that abortion can never be a treatment.

After all, if a fetus really is a person whose moral standing is no different than a fully fledged baby, then abortion is murder then there is no moral difference between performing an abortion and committing infanticide. Surely infanticide should not be legal under any circumstances?

Yes.

Why did it take the Catholic church almost 1800 years before it decided that a fetus was a person?

Why did it take 300,000 years for man to understand that the Earth revolved around the Sun?
Your history of the Catholic Church is wrong - it has consitently taught that abortion is a grave sin since the 2nd century.

The answer to all these appearent dilemmas is so crystal clear it just makes me want to tear my hair out.

Yeah, those were easy!

Which brings me to the most puzzling question of all: why do so many women continue to vote Republican?

Why would it puzzle you that many women are against abortion?

Ron said...

I don't have time to respond to this at the moment, but I just want to note for the record that i wrote this post nine years ago. If I were writing it today I'd make a more nuanced argument. I still believe abortion should be legal, but it's not the slam dunk I thought it was in 2006.