A secular debate about abortion

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Coito ergo sum
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Re: A secular debate about abortion

Post by Coito ergo sum » Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:27 pm

The newspaper article is hearsay and inadmissible. I addressed why the criminal larceny statute is a problem. He's voluntarily giving up his semen without any expectation that he would get it back. You're misreading the felony vs misdemeanor rule. It's a misdemeanor, at best, if it's even a crime, which I doubt it is.

He has the authority to make a citizen's arrest. If someone tried it under the circumstances you outline, I think that charges would be filed not against the woman, but against the man for kidnapping and false arrest. Yes, a citizen has the right to make a citizens arrest, but they better be right. If I was the woman, I'd sue you for false imprisonment, battery, assault, and abuse of process. After I got acquitted on the "theft of sperm" charge, I'd let the civil jury decide if it was reasonable of you tie me up, gag me and drag me down, pregnant, to the police station. And, I'd bet dollars to donuts I'd clean your clock.

You said -
Doesn't matter what his intentions for the sperm are,
- oh, yes it does. it's like claiming theft of garbage, when you were tossing it in the dump anyway.

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Re: A secular debate about abortion

Post by Coito ergo sum » Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:31 pm

From the standpoint of the criminal law, it's HER mens rea that counts.
Right. And her mens rea is quite clearly to obtain semen without consent from a man using fraud and deceit BECAUSE she does not wish to pay the costs associated with obtaining semen from a licensed sperm donor clinic. She's a thief, plain and simple. Were I presented with these facts as a police officer, I wouldn't hesitate to arrest her because probable cause exists. Were I a prosecutor, I would not hesitate to try such a case because of a substantial likelihood that a conviction can be obtained. Her conduct, if proven, meets all of the elements of the offense of felony theft of a thing of value from the person of the victim. I believe I've cited sufficient statutory authority and precedent to prove this.
I'd like to see an actual police officer and an actual prosecutor state the same thing. I think I'm right in saying they wouldn't.

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Re: A secular debate about abortion

Post by Seth » Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:57 pm

Iratus Ranunculus wrote:This is a general thread response. I have read a good number of the posts and synthesized the general points. The following will be presented in numbered sections.

1.1The moral status of a fetus

A logically consistent atheist cannot believe that something having human DNA and a metabolism somehow makes it worthy of any sort of moral consideration.
So, you're admitting that atheists have no morals...thanks, I've thought that for some time... :lol:
At least not directly (more on that in a minute). This is because human DNA is not in any way special, the only thing separating it from the DNA of a chicken, lizard, or brewers yeasts, is the nucleotide sequence. Obviously, there are no intrinsically superior nucleotide sequences or anything like that in a universe in which there is no design.
Based on this "objective" determination, there is nothing immoral about someone blowing your brains out tomorrow, right? After all, you are, according to your own argument, not objectively different from slime mold, so there are no moral considerations that come into play in your death. Is this what you intended to argue?
What is really under discussion here is whether or not the zygote is a person.
Yup.
Which it is not.
Sez you.
It has none of the properties of a person that would make it have worth under any coherent ethical system.
Fallacy of begging the question. You circularly presume that a "coherent ethical system" invariably precludes the worth of a zygote because it has "none of the properties of a person." There is a "coherent ethical system" that believes that the zygote has worth because of the potential that it will develop properties commonly ascribed to "persons" in the law.

Therefore your argument is false.


In fact, over 80% of them will be miscarried anyway, most of them without mom ever knowing she had a zygote inside her.
Not relevant. It is rational to distinguish between natural biological processes like the miscarriage of a zygote from a deliberate act intended to kill that zygote/blastocyst/embryo/fetus. This is a red herring fallacy.
Now, personness is not even all that important in the broad scheme of things, fundamentally for the same reason that human DNA is not a criteria.
Sez you.
What matters are general properties, and these will depend on what ethical system you are applying. I will go through the three biggest ones.
Oh goodie!
Natural Rights: In most formulations, the fetus has rights at some arbitrary point depending on the formulation. However, in no formulation of rights ethics is violation of someone else's rights (generally considered the initiation of force in the case of rights regarding one's physical person) acceptable. The mother did not strictly speaking ask the fetus to be there. She owns herself, and in just the same way as she can refuse sex even while during the act, and back that up with lethal force to defend her right to control her own body, so too can she use lethal force to expel the fetus, even if she had given it prior permission to exist. By it staying against her will it is initiating force.
False. By voluntarily engaging in sexual activity with a fertile male, she absolutely "asks" the fetus to be there. She owns herself, but at the same time she can incur obligations that constrain her liberty through voluntary conduct. If she jumps off a cliff without a parachute, she has incurred an obligation to gravity through her voluntary conduct that will end with her splattered on the ground.

Your formulation of "natural rights" theory is pretty much bogus rhetorical surplusage.
Kantian Deontology: The categorical imperative requires that every sentient being (basically those that can pass a mirror test) must be treated as a end unto itself and not merely as a means to an end. A child cannot pass a mirror test until around the age of two. As a result it can be treated as a means to and end and be disposed of at will. There goes the fetus.
Kant is dead, and Singer will hopefully soon join him, because the exposition of the notion that infants are non-human un-persons until they are two is one of the most morally and intellectually bankrupt philosophies ever created, and ranks right up there with Nazism. Anyone who has actually spent time around infants knows full well that they are thinking individuals with cognitive faculties long before they even leave the womb, and science has proven this to be true. The "mirror test" is a load of intellectual crap the size of the Great Pyramid.
Utilitarianism: I will consider here two variants. Hedonistic and Preference. In hedonistic utilitarianism, Good is measured as the ratio of pleasure to pain or suffering, and is weighted by the capacity of the being(s) in question to experience either of these states. A fetus cannot feel pain, or experience pleasure until it is very late term,
Unproven assertion. But it is an admission that the fetus CAN feel pain and pleasure while still in the womb, which militates against abortion at or after that time.
and its ability to comprehend these (and thus foresee future suffering or experience existential angst via fear) is very low even well into early childhood.
And you know this how, exactly? Science generally uses objective measures like stimulus and response to make such determinations. You produce it ex recto.
By comparison the suffering of the mother if she does not want the fetus, and foresees a considerable degree of angst raising the child, is very high.


Sucks to be her. She should have thought of that before engaging in hedonistic sex.
Third parties have a decreased magnitude of suffering if they are opposed to abortion, consisting basically of being annoyed or outraged at an abstract concept, and they are largely canceled out by those with equivalent but opposite views on abortion.
:think:
Thus, under hedonistic utilitarianism, the fetus has no direct expectation of having any more moral consideration assigned to it than we would attribute to a rock or chicken egg, and the mothers suffering will probably outweigh the net effect of the indirect consideration granted to those who oppose abortion.
Only if we accept the premises you state, which I don't. The hedonistic consequences for the woman are pain and discomfort for nine months. The hedonistic consequence for the fetus is death. You only get to your conclusion by erecting a red herring argument to devalue the interests of the fetus, and you ignore completely the hedonistic interests of the father and the State.
By contrast, preference utilitarianism defines good as the ratio of realized preferences to unrealized preferences, with each preference for stakeholders weighed according to the strength of their held preferences and the relative effect that the consequences of the decision have on them. A fetus cannot hold a preference at all, because it lacks a mind. By contrast even a lizard can feel fear and obviously would prefer not to die.
Blatant nonsense. A fetus does have a "mind" at least as complex as that of a lizard while still in utero, and there is substantial scientific evidence that fetuses as early as 20 weeks can feel pain, and that near term they have long-term memories and can recognize their mother's voice from within the womb.
Mother obviously holds a strong preference and the decision impacts her greatly, while the strength of the preferences of third parties may be high, the decision does not impact them at all. This is because there are an infinite number of children that could potentially be born, and there is no way of knowing whether the impact on any one third party will be positive or negative. Think of it this way. Say your mom had a 2nd trimester miscarriage. Do you miss your unborn older brother? No. You dont know the difference.
Sophistric nonsense. The decision to abort has serious impacts on others, including the fetus, the father, the siblings, the grandparents, the other children and society at large. Cumulatively, those interests and impacts generally outweigh the impacts on the mother of nine months of gestation and delivery.
As a result, there is no case to disallow abortion under any of these ethical systems.
Quite a load of herring and straw there. Are you going out with the nets again tomorrow?
1.2Obligations to Future Individuals

It can and has been argued that abortion should not be permitted because we have an obligation to secure the happiness of future persons, and this also implies that we have a responsibility to make sure that those future persons are born. This argument is a non-sequiter. While it is true that we have obligations to secure the happiness of future persons, it does not follow from this that we have an obligation to secure the existence of particular individuals. There are a number of reasons why this position is not tenable, and I will only give the most important one.

If we follow this line of reasoning, it would follow that we have the obligation to secure the future existence of all possible persons--by which I mean to say that we would be obligated to secure the existence of an infinite number of possible persons. A logical consequence of this is that no one could refuse heterosexual sexual intercourse because it would eliminate the chance that a person could be born from said sexual union. Certainly this position is completely absurd. As a result, it is better to say that we have an obligation to secure the future living conditions of future persons, but not to secure the existence of said persons.
Nonsense. One can easily distinguish between an obligation to secure the "future existence of all possible persons" and the obligation to secure the safety of EXISTING future persons, which is what a fetus in utero is even if it's not a "person" in the womb.

Your argument is vacuous nonsense.
2.1Obligations of Sexual Partners--Specifically addressing the main thrust of Seth's argument.

Something has come up in this thread regarding a proposed disparity in reproductive rights between men and women. This person, Seth proposes that the current system whereby women are permitted to abort a pregnancy and men are not, and whereby men are stuck on the hook for child rearing is unfair. Seth also claims that he is a nice guy who finishes last. The way he talks about women, I have concluded that this is [probably not true. I cannot be certain, but his rhetoric is that of a misogynist. If he does finish last is because no woman will go near him with a three meter aluminum rod after the second wave f feminism in the 1960s and 1970s. Rhetoric about how oppressed men are when they are forced to take responsibility for their profligate philandering is just not in vogue this century. However, to base my argument on this would be fallacious. Let us examine the fundamental issue of fairness.
I reported this as a personal attack, then took it back because I couldn't remember why I reported it. I now reverse that retraction and point out that such personalizations are both unnecessary and not in the spirit of fair play and "playing nice."

Men have sexual intercourse for a number of minutes, ejaculate, and then—other than the risk of disease which per incident of intercourse is lower than women—bear no further biological risk of pregnancy. Depending on whether the fetus is brought to term, they may suffer financial risk if they do not wish to have the child. At most, barring the death or unfitness of the mother, the father need only provide 50% of the social aspects of child rearing, and often less.

Women have the potential to die in childbirth, and suffer a number of complications due to pregnancy both before and after they bring the child to term. The mother can abort the fetus, but if the fetus is brought to term will provide between 50 and 100 percent of the actual care of the child.

So, in short:

Father
0-50% child care
0-100% financial support if he sticks around
0-”50%” (it is often less than this depending on child support agreements) if he does not

If abort: none of these, except for being sad for a few weeks
Which you blithely dismiss as irrelevant without any rational justification for doing so.
Mother
50-100% child care
0-100% financial support
Extreme biological risk
Good reason to be careful about sexual relations, that.
If abort: None of these
Um, care to look up the statistics on complications of abortion and get back to us...?

If denied abort: All of these, plus suffering due to having to carry a fetus she does not want to term, and then having the majority of the burden of raising it.
A simple consequence of voluntary consent to sexual congress.
If we are to talk about fairness, who here has the greatest risk, and thus should be the one who primarily makes the decision? Who has the most to lose, essentially? The woman does.
An excellent reason to be careful about having sex, which has a high potential for unintended consequences. Still, society is under no obligation to relieve the woman of the consequences of her sexual activity.
Seth's argument is completely and utterly incoherent. It is disconnected from a place we call “reality”. If one wishes to talk about “taking responsibility for actions”, abortion is doing just that. But as Seth so well put it, life is not fair. Women have an option available to them by nature of being the sex which gives birth. Termination of the pregnancy. Men do not have this. To give men this option would by extension permit us to force other surgical procedures on people as part of an implied contract.


Right. Or, in the alternative, simply relieve the man of all liability for decisions made by the woman about her reproductive organs.
Seth phrases his argument in terms of “The woman wanting cock”. However, it is seldom the case that women do no have to be convinced to have sexual intercourse. Usually the male has to engage in some sort of display before he can mate. Much like the amphibians I study:
What a load of non sequitur crap. Women aren't frogs, they are sentient creatures capable of making their own decisions whether to engage in sex or not.
The proper phrasing should be as follows:

“Guys, if you want pussy, you accept the risk that you will have to take responsibility for a child that the girl you banged wants to keep.”
And that's begging the question.
Seth's argument sounds like the rhetoric of a petulant teenager, desperate to not have to take responsibility for their actions, and trying to lay them in whole on someone else. It takes two to tango. Biology and basic medical ethics have given women an option Seth does not have which seems to be one of the few fair things that exists in this universe. He has spent this thread winging about it, and casting about for ways to make himself, as a male, appear oppressed.
Women want to have their cake and eat it too. That's fundamentally unfair.
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"Those who support denying anyone the right to keep and bear arms for personal defense are fully complicit in every crime that might have been prevented had the victim been effectively armed." Seth

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Re: A secular debate about abortion

Post by Seth » Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:59 pm

Coito ergo sum wrote:
From the standpoint of the criminal law, it's HER mens rea that counts.
Right. And her mens rea is quite clearly to obtain semen without consent from a man using fraud and deceit BECAUSE she does not wish to pay the costs associated with obtaining semen from a licensed sperm donor clinic. She's a thief, plain and simple. Were I presented with these facts as a police officer, I wouldn't hesitate to arrest her because probable cause exists. Were I a prosecutor, I would not hesitate to try such a case because of a substantial likelihood that a conviction can be obtained. Her conduct, if proven, meets all of the elements of the offense of felony theft of a thing of value from the person of the victim. I believe I've cited sufficient statutory authority and precedent to prove this.
I'd like to see an actual police officer and an actual prosecutor state the same thing. I think I'm right in saying they wouldn't.
Well, I used to be a "real police officer," but I'll see if I can find a prosecutor willing to comment on the matter. I have a friend who knows the state's Attorney General, John Suthers. Perhaps he'd be willing to opine. I'll get back to you.
"Seth is Grandmaster Zen Troll who trains his victims to troll themselves every time they think of him" Robert_S

"All that is required for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Edmund Burke

"Those who support denying anyone the right to keep and bear arms for personal defense are fully complicit in every crime that might have been prevented had the victim been effectively armed." Seth

© 2013/2014/2015/2016 Seth, all rights reserved. No reuse, republication, duplication, or derivative work is authorized.

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Re: A secular debate about abortion

Post by Coito ergo sum » Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:07 pm

Seth wrote:
At least not directly (more on that in a minute). This is because human DNA is not in any way special, the only thing separating it from the DNA of a chicken, lizard, or brewers yeasts, is the nucleotide sequence. Obviously, there are no intrinsically superior nucleotide sequences or anything like that in a universe in which there is no design.
Based on this "objective" determination, there is nothing immoral about someone blowing your brains out tomorrow, right? After all, you are, according to your own argument, not objectively different from slime mold, so there are no moral considerations that come into play in your death. Is this what you intended to argue?
When it comes to morality, there is no such thing as an "objective" morality. Morality is a value judgment - it's the determination that something is either right or wrong - morality is something that does not exist outside of brains, because they are products solely of thought.

Is it immoral for a tiger to intentionally kill a sheep? Does it matter why the tiger does it? Is it moral if the tiger eats the sheep, but immoral if the tiger kills it and leaves it there? Is there no morality when it comes to tigers and sheep? Is it immoral for a human to kill a tiger? A sheep? Does it matter how and why? Has the morality of killing tigers and sheep changed over the centuries? Was it once generally considered moral to kill tigers for sport, and now it isn't?

Is it immoral for a human to kill another human? Always? Does it matter why? To some people it does, to others it doesn't. To some people all killing of other human beings is always immoral (e.g. most Amish, which is why they oppose the death penalty, won't serve in wars, and oppose even killing in self-defense). To many others, it is immoral under certain conditions, and not immoral under others.

The reality is that nobody is right. A killing happens, and it happens for the reasons the killer had, if any. Whether it is "right or wrong" is a function of thinking - it's an opinion. Nothing is either good or bad, but that thinking makes it so (W. Shakespeare).

This does not mean that there aren't moral considerations associated with our actions. It's just that there aren't OBJECTIVE ones.

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Re: A secular debate about abortion

Post by Coito ergo sum » Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:18 pm

Seth wrote:
Coito ergo sum wrote:
From the standpoint of the criminal law, it's HER mens rea that counts.
Right. And her mens rea is quite clearly to obtain semen without consent from a man using fraud and deceit BECAUSE she does not wish to pay the costs associated with obtaining semen from a licensed sperm donor clinic. She's a thief, plain and simple. Were I presented with these facts as a police officer, I wouldn't hesitate to arrest her because probable cause exists. Were I a prosecutor, I would not hesitate to try such a case because of a substantial likelihood that a conviction can be obtained. Her conduct, if proven, meets all of the elements of the offense of felony theft of a thing of value from the person of the victim. I believe I've cited sufficient statutory authority and precedent to prove this.
I'd like to see an actual police officer and an actual prosecutor state the same thing. I think I'm right in saying they wouldn't.
Well, I used to be a "real police officer," but I'll see if I can find a prosecutor willing to comment on the matter. I have a friend who knows the state's Attorney General, John Suthers. Perhaps he'd be willing to opine. I'll get back to you.
Good deal. There are many cases out there of women impregnating themselves with sperm taken from condoms (like the Frisard case in Louisiana), why have there been no arrests and criminal prosecutions? This is something new?

There was a case in Chicago - Phillips v Irons - where the father sued the mother for fraud and theft of sperm and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The trial court dismissed all three counts. The appeals court affirmed the dismissal of the fraud and theft of sperm counts, but reversed on the infliction of emotional distress count (note my discussion above where I went over the elements of intentional infliction and suggested this would be the best civil count, though by no means slam dunk). The appeals court sent the case back down to the trial court to let the intentional infliction count go forward, but I'm not sure what the end result was.

On the issue of fraud and theft, though, the court held hat " when plaintiff 'delivered' his sperm, it was a gift -- an absolute and irrevocable transfer of title to property from a donor to a donee," the decision said. "There was no agreement that the original deposit would be returned upon request." The case involved a woman who gave a guy a blowjob and kept the sperm and impregnated herself, so the facts were even more egregious than the ones in the article, since even with condomed vaginal sex there is a chance at pregnancy - nobody can reasonable expect pregnancy to come out of a blowjob.

So, according to the Illinois court of appeals - a woman taking your load after a blowjob and using it to get pregnant is neither fraud nor theft. The jury might find, though, that it is egregious enough conduct to warrant liabiilty for for ensuing emotional trauma.

Now - I'll await your sources confirming that fraud and theft of sperm are good criminal charges to be brought in the case set forth in the article (or in the Phillips v Irons case, alternatively), or in any other similar case.

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Re: A secular debate about abortion

Post by Coito ergo sum » Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:30 pm

Seth wrote:
What is really under discussion here is whether or not the zygote is a person.
Yup.
Which it is not.
Sez you.
...and me, and the present law. Until the law changes, it's not a person.
Seth wrote:
It has none of the properties of a person that would make it have worth under any coherent ethical system.
Fallacy of begging the question. You circularly presume that a "coherent ethical system" invariably precludes the worth of a zygote because it has "none of the properties of a person." There is a "coherent ethical system" that believes that the zygote has worth because of the potential that it will develop properties commonly ascribed to "persons" in the law.

Therefore your argument is false.
It's not begging the question. Begging the question is assuming the truth of the fact in question. He's made an assertion, and that assertion is either true or false. He hasn't, however, assumed its truth merely by making the assertion. He's ASSERTED its truth.

You can, of course, falsify his assertion by setting forth a coherent ethical system which does find that a zygote has worth sufficient to make it a person. Or, you could demonstrate that "worth" is irrelevant to it being a person, and that there is an ethical system that holds a fetus to be a person regardless of its worth or absence thereof.
Seth wrote:
In fact, over 80% of them will be miscarried anyway, most of them without mom ever knowing she had a zygote inside her.
Not relevant. It is rational to distinguish between natural biological processes like the miscarriage of a zygote from a deliberate act intended to kill that zygote/blastocyst/embryo/fetus. This is a red herring fallacy.
I tend to agree with you on this one. 100% of humans die anyway. That doesn't make killing them necessarily justifiable. And, it doesn't appear that the percentages of miscarriages bears any relevance to whether the entity is a person.

Bottom line is that "person" is a function of law. Things are people not because logic dictates it, but because the law says they are. Conceivably, the law could say that fetuses don't become people until 1 month after exiting the womb.
Seth wrote:
Now, personness is not even all that important in the broad scheme of things, fundamentally for the same reason that human DNA is not a criteria.
Sez you.
He has a point, since even "persons" can be legally killed. They can be legally killed when the law specifies that they may be legally killed. The law can eliminate the defense of self defense, for example, and can make the death penalty illegal or legal. So, even if we assume without admitting the humanness of a zygote, we still have to agree that it's not o.k. to kill it. Personness is not the sole determinant of whether a person can or can't be killed.

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Re: A secular debate about abortion

Post by Coito ergo sum » Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:38 pm

Seth wrote:
Natural Rights: In most formulations, the fetus has rights at some arbitrary point depending on the formulation. However, in no formulation of rights ethics is violation of someone else's rights (generally considered the initiation of force in the case of rights regarding one's physical person) acceptable. The mother did not strictly speaking ask the fetus to be there. She owns herself, and in just the same way as she can refuse sex even while during the act, and back that up with lethal force to defend her right to control her own body, so too can she use lethal force to expel the fetus, even if she had given it prior permission to exist. By it staying against her will it is initiating force.
False. By voluntarily engaging in sexual activity with a fertile male, she absolutely "asks" the fetus to be there. She owns herself, but at the same time she can incur obligations that constrain her liberty through voluntary conduct. If she jumps off a cliff without a parachute, she has incurred an obligation to gravity through her voluntary conduct that will end with her splattered on the ground.

Your formulation of "natural rights" theory is pretty much bogus rhetorical surplusage.
The same response applies to the male. He absolutely "asks" the fetus to be there. He owns himself, but at the same time he can incur obligations that constrain his liberty through voluntary conduct. If he jumps off a cliff without a parachute, he has incurred an obligation to gravity through his voluntary conduct that wil end with him spattered on the ground.

What you've asked for with your "father's disclaimer" is for the law to supply him with a parachute. The woman, on the other hand, is supplied by nature with a parachute - the ability to have an abortion. All she needs to do is pull the rip cord. If she does, she will float softly to the ground. She does not need State support to do that. She doesn't need a law to be passed. All she needs is for society, the State and everyone else to get their hands off the rip cord and leave it to her to pull it or not.

The man, on the other hand, is not born with a rip cord/parachute. If he jumps, he is going to fall to the ground. What you are asking for, Seth, is the State to come in and supply him with a "legal parachute" that he can choose to deploy if he so chooses, so that he will have the same one the woman has naturally. I've said this before - it's you who seeks to have a rule adopted that allows people to avoid the laws of gravity in this situation. Women are born with the ability and right to abort - the only thing the law can do is take it away. I.e. - she's born with a parachute, and the only thing the law can do is make her jump without it. :coffee:

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Re: A secular debate about abortion

Post by Seth » Tue Feb 08, 2011 10:23 pm

Coito ergo sum wrote:
Seth wrote:
Coito ergo sum wrote:
From the standpoint of the criminal law, it's HER mens rea that counts.
Right. And her mens rea is quite clearly to obtain semen without consent from a man using fraud and deceit BECAUSE she does not wish to pay the costs associated with obtaining semen from a licensed sperm donor clinic. She's a thief, plain and simple. Were I presented with these facts as a police officer, I wouldn't hesitate to arrest her because probable cause exists. Were I a prosecutor, I would not hesitate to try such a case because of a substantial likelihood that a conviction can be obtained. Her conduct, if proven, meets all of the elements of the offense of felony theft of a thing of value from the person of the victim. I believe I've cited sufficient statutory authority and precedent to prove this.
I'd like to see an actual police officer and an actual prosecutor state the same thing. I think I'm right in saying they wouldn't.
Well, I used to be a "real police officer," but I'll see if I can find a prosecutor willing to comment on the matter. I have a friend who knows the state's Attorney General, John Suthers. Perhaps he'd be willing to opine. I'll get back to you.
Good deal. There are many cases out there of women impregnating themselves with sperm taken from condoms (like the Frisard case in Louisiana), why have there been no arrests and criminal prosecutions? This is something new?

There was a case in Chicago - Phillips v Irons - where the father sued the mother for fraud and theft of sperm and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The trial court dismissed all three counts. The appeals court affirmed the dismissal of the fraud and theft of sperm counts, but reversed on the infliction of emotional distress count (note my discussion above where I went over the elements of intentional infliction and suggested this would be the best civil count, though by no means slam dunk). The appeals court sent the case back down to the trial court to let the intentional infliction count go forward, but I'm not sure what the end result was.

On the issue of fraud and theft, though, the court held hat " when plaintiff 'delivered' his sperm, it was a gift -- an absolute and irrevocable transfer of title to property from a donor to a donee," the decision said. "There was no agreement that the original deposit would be returned upon request." The case involved a woman who gave a guy a blowjob and kept the sperm and impregnated herself, so the facts were even more egregious than the ones in the article, since even with condomed vaginal sex there is a chance at pregnancy - nobody can reasonable expect pregnancy to come out of a blowjob.

So, according to the Illinois court of appeals - a woman taking your load after a blowjob and using it to get pregnant is neither fraud nor theft. The jury might find, though, that it is egregious enough conduct to warrant liabiilty for for ensuing emotional trauma.

Now - I'll await your sources confirming that fraud and theft of sperm are good criminal charges to be brought in the case set forth in the article (or in the Phillips v Irons case, alternatively), or in any other similar case.
Thanks for the cite. I'll see if I can find the case online and give it a look. I'd think that the theft and fraud complaints would reasonably be different as between man and wife, as opposed to strangers. As to the blow-job, I can see the legal justification there as well, but that would be distinguished by a man wearing a condom during vaginal intercourse which expresses an intent to conserve the sperm and retain possession of it.
"Seth is Grandmaster Zen Troll who trains his victims to troll themselves every time they think of him" Robert_S

"All that is required for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Edmund Burke

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Coito ergo sum
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Re: A secular debate about abortion

Post by Coito ergo sum » Tue Feb 08, 2011 10:37 pm

Seth wrote:
Coito ergo sum wrote:
Seth wrote:
Coito ergo sum wrote:
From the standpoint of the criminal law, it's HER mens rea that counts.
Right. And her mens rea is quite clearly to obtain semen without consent from a man using fraud and deceit BECAUSE she does not wish to pay the costs associated with obtaining semen from a licensed sperm donor clinic. She's a thief, plain and simple. Were I presented with these facts as a police officer, I wouldn't hesitate to arrest her because probable cause exists. Were I a prosecutor, I would not hesitate to try such a case because of a substantial likelihood that a conviction can be obtained. Her conduct, if proven, meets all of the elements of the offense of felony theft of a thing of value from the person of the victim. I believe I've cited sufficient statutory authority and precedent to prove this.
I'd like to see an actual police officer and an actual prosecutor state the same thing. I think I'm right in saying they wouldn't.
Well, I used to be a "real police officer," but I'll see if I can find a prosecutor willing to comment on the matter. I have a friend who knows the state's Attorney General, John Suthers. Perhaps he'd be willing to opine. I'll get back to you.
Good deal. There are many cases out there of women impregnating themselves with sperm taken from condoms (like the Frisard case in Louisiana), why have there been no arrests and criminal prosecutions? This is something new?

There was a case in Chicago - Phillips v Irons - where the father sued the mother for fraud and theft of sperm and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The trial court dismissed all three counts. The appeals court affirmed the dismissal of the fraud and theft of sperm counts, but reversed on the infliction of emotional distress count (note my discussion above where I went over the elements of intentional infliction and suggested this would be the best civil count, though by no means slam dunk). The appeals court sent the case back down to the trial court to let the intentional infliction count go forward, but I'm not sure what the end result was.

On the issue of fraud and theft, though, the court held hat " when plaintiff 'delivered' his sperm, it was a gift -- an absolute and irrevocable transfer of title to property from a donor to a donee," the decision said. "There was no agreement that the original deposit would be returned upon request." The case involved a woman who gave a guy a blowjob and kept the sperm and impregnated herself, so the facts were even more egregious than the ones in the article, since even with condomed vaginal sex there is a chance at pregnancy - nobody can reasonable expect pregnancy to come out of a blowjob.

So, according to the Illinois court of appeals - a woman taking your load after a blowjob and using it to get pregnant is neither fraud nor theft. The jury might find, though, that it is egregious enough conduct to warrant liabiilty for for ensuing emotional trauma.

Now - I'll await your sources confirming that fraud and theft of sperm are good criminal charges to be brought in the case set forth in the article (or in the Phillips v Irons case, alternatively), or in any other similar case.
Thanks for the cite. I'll see if I can find the case online and give it a look. I'd think that the theft and fraud complaints would reasonably be different as between man and wife, as opposed to strangers. As to the blow-job, I can see the legal justification there as well, but that would be distinguished by a man wearing a condom during vaginal intercourse which expresses an intent to conserve the sperm and retain possession of it.
Phillips and Irons were not man and wife. Phillips was married to someone else, and was getting blowjobs from Irons.

Your stretching on the use of a condom as implying an intent to retain possession of the sperm. It doesn't. It implies intention to not let the sperm get into the uterus to make the woman pregnant. It does not imply that the man retains possession, since it's pretty normal for the condom to be taken off and immediately tossed in the garbage or on the floor, and it's as likely as not that the woman would take possession of the sperm filled condom after sex. I've seen no stats on what the general practice is, though. One thing is for sure, a man more expects his sperm not to result in pregnancy when he shoots off in her mouth, than into a condom during vaginal sex.

Not only don't I expect you to find a prosecutor that would suggest it even reasonably likely he would take the case, I doubt you'd have arrested someone on the allegation when you were a police officer. But, that's just my feeling on it. If you say you would have arrested someone based on allegations of this sort, then I'll accept your word.

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lordpasternack
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Re: A secular debate about abortion

Post by lordpasternack » Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:40 pm

Coito ergo sum wrote: I don't feel myself qualified to opine on this topic unless and until my penis has been properly sampled. :pardon:
Cool. Just so you know upfront Coito - this has all just been an elaborate ruse to lure you in. I have every intention of making full use of your genetic material to my own ends. I'm just a poor girl from a poor family and you sound like you have things going alright for you. And if you want access to the resultant child, you can pay my chartered flights. :yes:
Then they for sudden joy did weep,
And I for sorrow sung,
That such a king should play bo-peep,
And go the fools among.
Prithee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach
thy fool to lie: I would fain learn to lie.

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Warren Dew
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Re: A secular debate about abortion

Post by Warren Dew » Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:03 am

Coito ergo sum wrote:Your stretching on the use of a condom as implying an intent to retain possession of the sperm. It doesn't. It implies intention to not let the sperm get into the uterus to make the woman pregnant. It does not imply that the man retains possession, since it's pretty normal for the condom to be taken off and immediately tossed in the garbage or on the floor, and it's as likely as not that the woman would take possession of the sperm filled condom after sex. I've seen no stats on what the general practice is, though. One thing is for sure, a man more expects his sperm not to result in pregnancy when he shoots off in her mouth, than into a condom during vaginal sex.
What the man expects isn't the only relevant point.

In the case of theft, I think a man who threw the condom in the garbage would have difficulty showing it was a "thing of value" - it didn't seem like he valued it. A man who took the condom with him to be on the safe side might have a stronger case, though, if the woman had intentionally poked a hole in it.

Fraud, as you pointed out earlier, requires intentional deception. A woman who doesn't give any indication that she won't purposely impregnate herself with the sperm hasn't done that. I think it could be argued, though, that a woman who offers a man a condom, in which she's pricked a hole, to keep him from using his own intact condom, is being intentionally deceptive.

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Iratus Ranunculus
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Re: A secular debate about abortion

Post by Iratus Ranunculus » Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:21 am

So, you're admitting that atheists have no morals...thanks, I've thought that for some time...
Well, if you feel that way, I think we can largely discount the thoughts of an irrational person as irrelevant..

If you are capable of rational thought, you should be able to break down the claim I have made as follows.

1)Having a metabolism is a necessary but not sufficient condition for imparting moral value upon a being.

2)In order for possessing human DNA to be a necessary and sufficient condition for imparting moral value on a being, said DNA must have some quality which makes it special. Said specialness must not be defined. IE. We cannot simply define human-ness as being special. To do so would be circular reasoning. Not that I would put logical tail-chasing past you.
Based on this "objective" determination, there is nothing immoral about someone blowing your brains out tomorrow, right? After all, you are, according to your own argument, not objectively different from slime mold, so there are no moral considerations that come into play in your death. Is this what you intended to argue?
Gee, good thing I covered this sorry excuse for a counter-response pre-emptively in subsequent paragraphs.

Here is a hint: It is good form to read someone's post in full before you begin crafting snarky responses which make you look illiterate. I offer this only to be helpful

I will also admonish you against straw-man fallacies, because you have committed two in as many sentences. I will actually address your argument when it is more rhetorically appropriate.
Fallacy of begging the question. You circularly presume that a "coherent ethical system" invariably precludes the worth of a zygote because it has "none of the properties of a person." There is a "coherent ethical system" that believes that the zygote has worth because of the potential that it will develop properties commonly ascribed to "persons" in the law.

Therefore your argument is false.
No. I simply considered it obvious, because I expected that anyone who would try to respond would obtain a PhD from google university and have some idea what it took to be a coherent ethical system. I apologize for not being sufficiently explicit.

There are very few coherent ethical systems. Most of them either fail at being logically consistent, or fail at providing meaningful moral guidance. I have fairly extensive formal education dealing with ethics, both theoretical and applied. If you would like me to go through an exhaustive list of ethical systems, and list out why they are incoherent, I can do that. For now though, I will give you the short list.

When you get down to it, there really are only two coherent ethical systems, with a few variants of each. The others that have been formulated over the centuries are really little more than reformulations of these, are extensionally equivalent to these (As far as my understanding is concerned, Ethical Pragmatism is extensionally equivalent to Preference Utilitarianism), or to a large extent can be encapsulated by these thus rendering them irrelevant (particularly preference utilitarianism, it tends to capture other ethical systems like a philosophical trawling siene).

Utilitarianism (Of which hedonistic act and preference are the two primary variations, both of which are coherent. Rule utilitarianism is extensionally equivalent to hedonistic act utilitarianism).

Kantian Deontology, which is really more of a method by which to generate ethical principles via the use of the Categorical Imperative.

Here are some of the commonly held, but incoherent ones

Rights-Based Ethics, or Natural rights theory is incoherent from a non-theistic perspective because it requires that morality flow from some property of the universe--which is incompatible with not accepting design and purpose in the universe. As a result, Rights Ethics, while useful for the formation of a system of law, is not logically consistent with non-theism.

Virtue Ethics are incoherent because they define goodness, but provide no guidance for decision making. They talk about the character of the person, rather than the rightness or wrongness of actions

Religious moral codes are right out. Not only are they precluded because they are theistic, but also because they are inherently incoherent. There is no way to evaluate them. If two different religions claim that we should do opposite things, there is no way to evaluate either claim save by applying a secular ethical system.

So no. Not begging the question. I am just operating on background knowledge that you lack. More on this in a moment.

As for your argument from potential you counter with, I addressed this exact claim in my prior post and why it was false. I will not repeat myself needlessly. However, you bring up an argument I did not address. I will re-state what I am referring to for your and everyone else' benefit.
There is a "coherent ethical system" that believes that the zygote has worth because of the potential that it will develop properties commonly ascribed to "persons" in the law.
There are two fallacies here. The first is is begging the question, where you assume without basis that human-ness is somehow worthy in and of itself of moral consideration (You did not state this flat out in this particular statement, but it is implied by context), and then use that as a premise to state that future persons have worth in themselves. The second is a form of non-sequiter called a legalism fallacy, where you equate something being legally true, with something being morally true.

In your case, this argument is self-defeating, because in our case, abortion is perfectly legal.

In order to create a coherent ethical system you cannot simply claim something is moral or not. You must generate some sort of principle or set of principles which can be consistently applied to provide ethical and moral guidance to decision making.

This is where I largely diverge from many actual ethicists (I am afterall, a biologist). I do not accept many of their premises, such as the idea that an ethical system must necessarily be complete, and universally applicable to all moral questions. There are a variety of moral principles that may or may not be universally applicable, such as various formulations of the concept of justice. I generally find however that a combination of preference and hedonistic utilitarianism generally captures these.

What I am basically doing is imposing logic on something we have evolved to do intuitively, and removing some of the cultural and evolutionary baggage (like US vs THEM thinking that justifies racism and such)

Consider the question (and I choose this one deliberately to be a bit silly): Why is it OK to kill and eat a chicken, and not a person?

In other words, what differentiates a chicken from a person?

If you simply claim “a person is human”, that is insufficient. First, it is circular. Second, it cannot deal with other cases such as “Is it OK to eat the sentient space-faring inhabitants of the planetary system Gamma Alpha IV?” in a satisfactory way. You must come up with a set of principles that is universally applicable and self-evidently true.

I will use “suffering is bad”. The statement is a bit more complicated than that, but for short-hand it works. The existence of pain and suffering can be generalized to every living thing on this planet, and probably all others which have life, even though it may be perceived differently. It is self-evidently true, because our own experience tells us that this is so. We do not like to suffer, and because other organisms or even computational intelligences will experience this in some way, we do not require external validation. The concept does not need to be a property of the universe. It just needs to be a property of the entity under consideration.

In addition to being circular “it is human” fails especially this last criteria. Because there is NO objective criteria upon which to make the distinction between a human, and a duck, lizard, or any other organism.
Based on this "objective" determination, there is nothing immoral about someone blowing your brains out tomorrow, right? After all, you are, according to your own argument, not objectively different from slime mold, so there are no moral considerations that come into play in your death. Is this what you intended to argue?
Now, it is an appropriate time to address this.

The reason why it is wrong to blow my brains out tomorrow is the same reason it is wrong to torture mice. It causes suffering, not only to me, but also to the people who love and otherwise care about me. Oh, and it will cause annoyance (a form of suffering) to the poor bastard who has to clean up the mess.

Now, in the case of torturing mice, it may be easier, depending on the circumstance, to justify it. Say for example that causing mice some mild discomfort and perhaps a slightly increased mortality rate may help cure a disease. In this case, it might be possible to justify it, because if you do not take this course of action, the people afflicted by the disease will suffer far more.

There is also a sort of weighting issue. A single mouse may be “worth” less, by which I mean they suffer less than a single human. This is because not all suffering is necessarily equal. The physical pain felt by a human and a mouse is probably identical. So if I stab a mouse, and then correct for body size and stab a person, the pain will be the same. However the suffering will not be. A human can for example suffer existential angst, and dread that a mouse does not have the cognitive capacity for. Still, that is a quantitative not qualitative difference. A difference in amount, not a difference in kind.


Not relevant. It is rational to distinguish between natural biological processes like the miscarriage of a zygote from a deliberate act intended to kill that zygote/blastocyst/embryo/fetus. This is a red herring fallacy.
Actually, it is relevant. Ask yourself, why do you care about intent? Should it not be the result of an action or inaction that matters?

If I CAN save someone from falling off a cliff and choose not to, am I not just as guilty of their deaths as I would be if I had shoved them? I take no deliberate action, I simply keep walking. How does intent warrant a meaningful distinction?

Moreover, that point was made primarily to illustrate that there is no property of the universe that really gives a shit about fetuses. If some property of the universe (or a deity) where aghast at all of those dead “babies” there would not be so many. You have demonstrated a disdain for atheists apparently, not sure if you were being sarcastic or not, so I will say this. If there is a god, god is the greatest abortionist of them all.
False. By voluntarily engaging in sexual activity with a fertile male, she absolutely "asks" the fetus to be there. She owns herself, but at the same time she can incur obligations that constrain her liberty through voluntary conduct. If she jumps off a cliff without a parachute, she has incurred an obligation to gravity through her voluntary conduct that will end with her splattered on the ground.

Your formulation of "natural rights" theory is pretty much bogus rhetorical surplusage.
I actually addressed this same sad and pathetic excuse for an argument inside the very paragraph you propose to refute.

First off, you cannot incur an obligation toward gravity. Gravity acts upon you. You do not do it any favors.

Second, how is your argument any different from making the following claim?

“A female voluntarily engaging in sexual intercourse, and then changing her mind after three minutes while the guy is still pounding away is obligated to not use lethal force to enforce his egress from her vagina should he refuse to leave voluntarily”

The two are equivalent, if you consider the adult human and the fetus to be equivalent in terms of their moral worth

Of course, keep in mind, Natural Rights Theory is not a coherent ethical system, because it relies on an unwarranted set of metaphysical assumptions which cannot be validated.

Now, you can argue intent. OK. Lets get into that again.

If I am on a trolly car, and the brakes fail (thus precluding me from stopping the thing) and I am faced with two choices which I can see through security camera:

On one set of tracks—which I am on, I can see a troop of Deaf and Blind people who are drunk, have poorly trained seeing-eye dogs, and who's feet are stuck in the tracks. We will stipulate that they will remain on the tracks until crushed, and that I know this.

On the set of tracks I am not on, there is a group of very soundly sleeping children (say Snidely Whiplash drugged them and put them there) who may or may not wake up in time to get out of the way.

I have two options. I can switch the tracks, or not.

Lets say I switch the tracks, and the children do not wake up. They die. Did I intend to kill them? Of course not. I intended to not run over the Helen Keller society. Killing the children was a risk I knew about and must take some sort of responsibility for, but did not intend.

In the same way, having sex is intended for pleasure—to fulfill a nearly irresistible biological drive. Getting pregnant however is not something I intend (you know, were I straight, and female. Ah, the joys of being able to sleep with men, and never ever ever get pregnant...). It is a risk, but not an intention. This is called the Doctrine of Double Effect.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/double-effect/

Of course, if you do not accept the Doctrine of Double Effect, you defeat yourself again. Afterall, if the women invited the fetus inside her body because she took a course of action which could lead to it being generated, YOU have an equal share of the responsibility, because by having sex with her, you are the one who voluntarily placed it there, thus incurring a similar obligation.

Now, because a large component (a significant thrust, if you will pardon the pun) of your argument is that because of that she can “suck it up and deal with it” basically, then guess what...

Men have the same obligation. They get to suck it up and deal with child-rearing as well. Even if the women stole his sperm by punching a whole in the condom. Afterall, it is foreseeable, therefore if it happens to him, he must have intended it and invited it to happen to him. He then incurs the obligation of dealing with the child.

However, even that is irrelevant. See the above example regarding changing one's mind mid-coitus.
Kant is dead, and Singer will hopefully soon join him, because the exposition of the notion that infants are non-human un-persons until they are two is one of the most morally and intellectually bankrupt philosophies ever created, and ranks right up there with Nazism.
You have stated an opinion. I do not see any logic here. Keep in mind, I am (mostly) a Utilitarian. I do not subscribe to Kant, I merely used the argument for the sake of completeness. Moreover, I do not see how Peter Singer gets lumped in here. He is a Preference Utilitarian, and would not subscribe to this idea. However, he would bring up a rather important question, which you have brought up. Several actually:
Anyone who has actually spent time around infants knows full well that they are thinking individuals with cognitive faculties long before they even leave the womb
How do you evaluate what their cognitive abilities are before they leave the womb? A baby does display SOME cognitive ability, but a monitor lizard or octopus displays more. What makes the baby worthy of more careful ethical consideration than these animals? A savannah monitor (Varanus exanthematicus) can count up to six. A human child cannot do this for at least a couple years.
The "mirror test" is a load of intellectual crap the size of the Great Pyramid.
I see an unsupported opinion, which the entire fields of comparative psychology and neuroscience would disagree with.

Unproven assertion. But it is an admission that the fetus CAN feel pain and pleasure while still in the womb, which militates against abortion at or after that time.
Gee, sure is a good thing I stipulated that they can feel pain in late term.

The time is somewhere around week 26. Even then, it requires some sort of consciousness which because the fetus is endogenously sedated, it does not have while still in the womb, even if all the nervous connections are in place.

Lagercrantz H, Changeux JP. 2009. The emergence of human consciousness: from fetal to neonatal life. Pediatr Res. 2009 Mar;65(3):255-60.
Abstract
A simple definition of consciousness is sensory awareness of the body, the self, and the world. The fetus may be aware of the body, for example by perceiving pain. It reacts to touch, smell, and sound, and shows facial expressions responding to external stimuli. However, these reactions are probably preprogrammed and have a subcortical nonconscious origin. Furthermore, the fetus is almost continuously asleep and unconscious partially due to endogenous sedation. Conversely, the newborn infant can be awake, exhibit sensory awareness, and process memorized mental representations. It is also able to differentiate between self and nonself touch, express emotions, and show signs of shared feelings. Yet, it is unreflective, present oriented, and makes little reference to concept of him/herself. Newborn infants display features characteristic of what may be referred to as basic consciousness and they still have to undergo considerable maturation to reach the level of adult consciousness. The preterm infant, ex utero, may open its eyes and establish minimal eye contact with its mother. It also shows avoidance reactions to harmful stimuli. However, the thalamocortical connections are not yet fully established, which is why it can only reach a minimal level of consciousness.
So, let us take a baby and compare it to a lizard. A lizard can do all of the things a newborn can. Why should we not extend the same level of concern to a lizard?

Keep in mind, I am not necessarily saying that the human should be down-graded. Perhaps a more appropriate response would be to elevate the concern we have for lizards. Either way would be consistent, and in fact, Peter Singer—the man you hate so much and wish to die—argues the latter position. He also donates most of his income to third-world charities.

Not that you have ever read a single word he has written or anything.
And you know this how, exactly? Science generally uses objective measures like stimulus and response to make such determinations. You produce it ex recto.
See above. Though I do like the term. Ex recto. Note to self: Formulate self-denigrating gay joke from this.

As for how I know this:

http://www.childdevelopmentinfo.com/dev ... ence.shtml

I will take the word of website the APA recommends to first time parents as an info resource. I will trim it down to the relevant bits.

Age two: Only capable of recognizing and avoiding simple hazards, you know, like a pile of broken glass. No development of Theory of Mind. Only just barely has a concept of self.

You cannot experience existential angst unless you have a concept of self. Concepts like “I will die some day” are a bit advanced for a two year old. Basic fear is not, but anything more abstract that something seeming like it might be a predator is.

By the age of 3-4, I would be far more hesitant to characterize a child the way I described. Still, two years is pretty well into early childhood, though granted, I consider effective childhood to end once you hit the double digits, then you enter early adolescence. However, I am a taxonomic splitter. You may be a lumper.

Sucks to be her. She should have thought of that before engaging in hedonistic sex.
Ah yes. Let us degrade basic biological drives as hedonistic! Yahoo! See, it is statements like this that substantiate that comment I made about your rhetoric being misogynistic. You are characterizing all sexually active women who do not want children as hedonistic sluts. You then shoulder women with ALL of the moral burden, as if they are the only ones making any kind of choice, which makes them EVIL!!!!

Of course there are alternatives. Maybe she lives in a poor area with a high crime rate, and the only way to get the resources and protection she needs is to “hook a man”. Guys are not likely to stick around if she is not putting out. Were you aware that most women who have abortions are poor, of low socio-economic status, and generally poorly educated? Could their pregnancy rates and concomitant abortion rates have something to do with how human behavior responds to poverty? This is not sexism BTW: this is how females living in resource poor areas or areas with high predation risk do their mating and reproduction across cultures and across species.

Then there are people in committed, even married relationships. People Have Sex. It is not only a nearly undeniable biological drive, but it is also one of the ways we form and cement social bonds. Asking people in loving relationships to not have sex is like asking water to not flow down hill. If a couple in a committed relationship is simply not emotionally or financially ready to have a child, perhaps it is better for everyone that they dont? Still, that wont stop them from having sex, and it should not. The emotional strain of it will kill the relationship. So again, hardly hedonistic.

I could go on and on. The point is, you are automatically jumping to calling women who have abortions hedonistic slut-bags. That is why you sound like a sexist. It is like you coming into a discussion and talking about how black people and Mexicans are all free-loading vagabonds, and then bitching when someone calls you a racist.
Third parties have a decreased magnitude of suffering if they are opposed to abortion, consisting basically of being annoyed or outraged at an abstract concept, and they are largely canceled out by those with equivalent but opposite views on abortion.
Do I have to put this in simple terms?

I will use another example to illustrate the point a little better.

About half the heterosexual US population does not like gay people to a degree sufficient to attempt to strip us of certain legal rights. Our getting these rights will not materially harm any of them, but they will be annoyed. The other half is only annoyed that gay people do not have those rights, but the lack thereof does not directly affect them. In other words, while all of these people have an opinion on the matter, they are not actually stake-holders. They have nothing riding on the outcome. Moreover, the two groups cancel eachother out. 1+(-1)=0

Gay people on the other hand do have something riding on the outcome.

In the same way, a person who is against abortion has an opinion, but is not a stakeholder. Numerically, they are also roughly equivalent to the number of people who are OK with abortion, but who otherwise will never realistically be confronted with a meaningful choice on the subject. Again, not a stakeholder. The people who are really affected by the decision, are those who might need to consider one. The decision about whether or not to allow them to have one directly affects them.
Only if we accept the premises you state, which I don't. The hedonistic consequences for the woman are pain and discomfort for nine months. The hedonistic consequence for the fetus is death. You only get to your conclusion by erecting a red herring argument to devalue the interests of the fetus, and you ignore completely the hedonistic interests of the father and the State.
You do not appear to know what a red-herring is. A red-herring is an argument used to distract your opponent or an audience from an issue which is under consideration. If the issue under consideration is whether or not we should value a fetus for itself, then it is not a red-herring to argue that a fetus is not a being worthy of significant moral consideration. Unless you think everyone who disagrees with you is committing red-herrings by definition. If that is the case, you are not a person capable of rational thought.

You do make one point that I feel is worth noting here (I will address your argument about the effect on the fetus below). That is the consequence to the father, and the state.

Father: Automatically outweighed by the mother. We will assume that the subjective strength of his opinion is as strong. However, he carries less risk in either case. I will consider several cases:

If he wants an abortion, but the mother does not:

He Wins: Neither party will be burdened by child-rearing. SHE on the other hand,if daddy gets his way, will be forced to undergo a medical or surgical procedure against her will (Basically, she will be medically raped), and will be left with the emotional burden of having been forced to give up a child she wanted for the rest of her life.

She Wins: Male is burdened by the moderate financial cost of child support. In time, he may come to love the child and that will stop mattering.

Balance: It is better that she win.

If male does not want abortion, but mother does:

He Wins: She is forced to carry the fetus to term against her will and incur all biological risk, and is burdened with the majority of expenses and time commitments that come with raising a child under most circumstances. This later part is not necessarily true, but is true in the general case. It is a rare thing for a father, with an enthusiastically willing mother or no, to shoulder most of that burden. She may or may not eventually come to love the child. In cases like this, the child often suffers from abuse and neglect as well.

She Wins: Fetus never has a life worth mentioning (more on this below, dont get worked up yet). Daddy is sad because he does not get to have the child, however because of certain differences in human endocrinology, he will get over this much more easily than a woman forced to abort. Mom suffers almost no biological risk, and incurs no financial burden save the cost of the procedure.

Balance: Mom wins

As for the interests of the state... the state does not have hedonistic experiences. Your argument is a non-starter
Blatant nonsense. A fetus does have a "mind" at least as complex as that of a lizard while still in utero, and there is substantial scientific evidence that fetuses as early as 20 weeks can feel pain, and that near term they have long-term memories and can recognize their mother's voice from within the womb.
First, it is 26 weeks and that is not for conscious perception of pain. Only the physiological connections being in place completely enough that if you were to stab the fetus with a needle, the signals would reach the appropriate regions in the brain. As mentioned before, the fetus is endogenously sedated until it comes to full term and not consciously aware of anything, though there are subconscious processes like laying down memories of sound that do occur.

Vlandareneu R., Zamfirescu V., Constantinescu S. 2010. Fetal Pain and Anesthesia. Gineco Ro 6(4):236
Abstract: This revue presents the latest data on fetal pain and on safe and effective techniques for providing direct fetal anesthesia or analgesia in the context of therapeutic procedures or abortion. Pain is a subjective experience occurring in response to impending or actual tissue damage. Pain perception requires conscious recognition or awareness of a noxious stimulus. Neither withdrawal reflexes nor hormonal stress responses to invasive procedures prove the existence of fetal pain, because they can be elicited by nonpainful stimuli and occur without conscious cortical processing. Current theories of pain consider an intact cortical system to be both necessary and sufficient for pain experience. Good evidence exists that the biological system necessary for pain is intact and functional from around 26 weeks' gestation. Pain invasive fetal procedures clearly elicit a stress response, and attenuation of this response may be beneficial.
Rokyta R. 2008. Fetal Pain. Neuroendocrinology Letters 29(6):807-814
Abstract: The fetus reacts to nociceptive stimulations through different motor, autonomic, vegetative, hormonal, and metabolic changes relatively early in the gestation period. With respect to the fact that the modulatory system does not yet exist, the first reactions are purely reflexive and without connection to the type of stimulus. While the fetal nervous system is able to react through protective reflexes to potentially harmful stimuli, there is no accurate evidence concerning pain sensations in this early period. Cortical processes occur only after thalamocortical connections and pathways have been completed at the 26th gestational week. Harmful (painful) stimuli, especially in fetuses have an adverse effect on the development of humans regardless of the processes in brain. Moreover, pain activates a number of subcortical mechanisms and a wide spectrum of stress responses influence the maturation of thalamocortical pathways and other cortical activation which are very important in pain processing.
So yeah. 26 weeks.






http://www.policyalmanac.org/culture/ar ... tics.shtml
In 2000, for women whose weeks of gestation at the time of abortion were adequately reported, 57% of reported legal induced abortions were known to have been obtained at <8 weeks of gestation, and 87% at <13 weeks. Overall, 23% of abortions were known to have been performed at <6 weeks of gestation, 18% at 7 weeks, and 17% at 8 weeks. Few reported abortions occurred after 15 weeks of gestation; 4.3% were at 16--20 weeks, and 1.4% were at >21 weeks.
So, if you are going to hinge your argument on late-term abortions, I would think again. Only 1.4% of abortions are performed after week 21, only 5.7%(if you can do a bit of math) after week 15. Generally these are done strictly for medical reasons (with very rare exceptions, even in countries or US time periods where/when late term abortions are unrestricted). Unless of course you think the woman should have thought about the possibility of dying in childbirth or pregnancy before she decided to be a slut...


Take Home Message: The fetuses being aborted do not feel pain.

Now for your claim that a fetus has a mind. First, it is difficult to have a mind when the pathways that allow pain perception are not fully developed.

Second: Just because you have memories does not mean you have much of a mind. Insects have memories. Small fish have memories. What, do you think that humans and higher primates are the only things that have them? If you are OK crushing a bug, with that as your only argument, you need to find a new argument or become a Jainist

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jainism

Now, recognizing mothers voice is not something unique to people either, nor even something that requires consciousness or a mind worth mentioning. Even if I were not going to demand evidence of that claim—because I will and am. More specifically, I want you to specify when that happens. Guess what else recognizes learned sounds? Baby birds, neonatal rodents. All kinds of animals that I am sure you have absolutely no issue killing if the situation called for it.

So... you should probably find a new and more rational argument, or become a Jainist.

Sophistric nonsense. The decision to abort has serious impacts on others, including the fetus, the father, the siblings, the grandparents, the other children and society at large. Cumulatively, those interests and impacts generally outweigh the impacts on the mother of nine months of gestation and delivery.
You obviously do not know what sophistry is.

OK. Lets say you have a girlfriend and she miscarries. You might be sad for a while, so might her parents etc. However, unless you are all seriously mentally unbalanced or unaccustomed to disappointment, it will not affect your quality of life in even the medium term. You might cry and be disappointed for a week. You have not gotten to know the fetus, you have not formed a deep emotional bond with the fetus. The fetus has not become inter-woven into every facet of your life in the way that an actual child would. Let us assume that the abortion takes place before week 13 like over 87% of all abortions. Chances are, mom did not even bother to tell you that she was pregnant. Again, if you knew, you may be a somewhat disappointed. You may even decide to break up with your girlfriend if you are a reasonable person. However, this is no different from any of the other random hickups in your life. The same can be said about most other people. No appreciable impact. There is simply no one to miss.

If an actual person dies, or even a pet, you dont get worked up over the fact that they died and that this offends you in some philosophical way. You get worked up about it because you miss them, because they were a part of your life that is now gone. A fetus is nothing like this.

Compare this to the alternative, where mom has to carry a fetus inside her for nine months, risk death and complications, and then go through labor. All of it against her will if she is denied an abortion. Then, she gets to spend the next 18 years caring for a child she did not want. She may grow to love it eventually, or the child may end up being neglected and abused.
Nonsense. One can easily distinguish between an obligation to secure the "future existence of all possible persons" and the obligation to secure the safety of EXISTING future persons, which is what a fetus in utero is even if it's not a "person" in the womb.
Your argument is vacuous nonsense.
You claim there is a way to avoid the infinite regress, yet you do not specify what it is. Hold on, let me look up the definition of vacuous really quick...
–adjective
1.
without contents; empty: the vacuous air.
2.
lacking in ideas or intelligence: a vacuous mind.
3.
expressing or characterized by a lack of ideas or intelligence; inane; stupid: a vacuous book.
4.
purposeless; idle: a vacuous way of life.
OK. So, I see a claim without content. It is in essence, empty.

If it is empty, it necessarily lacks intelligence and purpose. It is thus inane and stupid. Wow.

You managed to construct an argument that conforms to all four definitions. I have never actually seen an argument rise above meeting three of the four. Typically there is at least something resembling content. This is an accomplishment! You should feel proud of yourself and put a gold star next to your name on the board!


I suppose I should be a sport, stop playing with my food, and address a possible argument you could formulate.

You can attempt to make a distinction between an existing future person, and a non-existent future person. However, this distinction is meaningless. This is true for a variety of reasons.

1)As I have established, and can do so in more depth, being human is not special and that the same ethical rules apply universally. I can equally well make the argument that because we must treat a future chicken (a fertilized egg) as extensionally equivalent to a chicken, that I must anesthetize chicken eggs before I crack them open and fry them up for breakfast. The problem here is that an egg does not possess the same properties as a chicken. Regardless of it's status in the future, I cannot and should not treat it the same way.

2)Once we have started admitting the future properties of a thing into consideration, the actual existence of the thing stops mattering. Why? Because we extend the same logic again. If a thing does not currently have a set of properties, but we are basing ethical decisions on its future state, it follows that existence can also be a property which we may extend. Hence leading to an infinite regress.

I reported this as a personal attack, then took it back because I couldn't remember why I reported it. I now reverse that retraction and point out that such personalizations are both unnecessary and not in the spirit of fair play and "playing nice."
Frankly, were I a woman, I would take personal umbrage at your general characterization of women. Still, do what you want. I do not particularly care. I would ask that you be absolutely about your decision to be offended or feel personally attacked. After-all, voluntary actions do have consequences that may create obligations to which you are beholden, and regardless of your options for mitigating those consequences before they become apparant, you are morally obligated to sit back and take the full brunt of the same.

Unless you are a man. In which case you receive a “get out of moral obligations after they are fully developed, free” card. More on that later.
Which you blithely dismiss as irrelevant without any rational justification for doing so.
You know, you may want to put some gasoline or liquid hexane on that scarecrow, it will burn faster that way. You may also want to draw out that summoning circle, sacrifice a pure white rabbit, and summon the Wicked Witch of the West. She can do things a bit more efficiently, though she may require Dorothy's soul in payment.

I never said it was irrelevant. Only that on balance, the risk to the mother was greater, and thus counts for more.
Good reason to be careful about sexual relations, that.
Of course, I can say the same thing about men who get screwed over by women who poke holes in condoms... or just get screwed over by the women not wanting to abort the fetus. I guess you should have been more careful with your sexual relations eh?

But of course, there you go again. Bewailing the suffering of men, not accepting the idea that they need to take responsibility for the personally negative side effects of their actions, while laying all the responsibility on women and demanding that they do exactly that. Then of course you complain when someone decides that when they see something walking, quacking and swimming like a duck, that they just might have a small semi-aquatic bird from the family Anatidae on their hands.
Um, care to look up the statistics on complications of abortion and get back to us...?
The rate of complications in pregnancy is higher than the rate of complication for abortions. They can be ignored without changing the result of the analysis.
A simple consequence of voluntary consent to sexual congress.
See above
An excellent reason to be careful about having sex, which has a high potential for unintended consequences. Still, society is under no obligation to relieve the woman of the consequences of her sexual activity.
Oh yes. It is definitely a good reason. On the other hand, taking responsibility for a choice is different from eating all possible negative consequences.

If for example I contract a sexually transmitted disease like Syphilis (Azathoth forbid) that does not necessarily mean that I need to passively allow it to spend 15 years hanging around my body and then allowing it to throw a little party in my central nervous system. There is an alternative. I can take anti-biotics and kill the infection. Doing that is not “ducking the consequences of my mistake”. It is taking ownership of the mistake, and making a rational decision about how best to deal with it. That is the very definition of taking responsibility.


Right. Or, in the alternative, simply relieve the man of all liability for decisions made by the woman about her reproductive organs.
The difference is that with an abortion, there is never a third party to consider. With no abortion, there is a third party to consider. One for which you have an obligation not just as a sperm donor, but as an entity capable of and in fact obligated to make moral choices.

If you want to talk about taking responsibility for the consequences of one's actions, guess what, when and if it is born, that kid is your responsibility. I am sorry that you feel gyped by the universe (not to insult gypsies or anything), but the universe is not a fair place.

What a load of non sequitur crap. Women aren't frogs, they are sentient creatures capable of making their own decisions whether to engage in sex or not.
Do I need to go back and quote some of the characterizations of women you have made, because you have in fact shouldered women with all of the responsibility here. The point I was trying to make, in my sarcastic and biting way, is that it takes two to tango. You BOTH make choices. You BOTH must take responsibility for your actions. It just so happens that when it comes to sex, men tend to take the initiative, and in many cases deliberately initiate sexual contact after the woman's judgment is impaired.
And that's begging the question.
You need to learn what begging the question actually is. Here, let me define it for you.

http://www.fallacyfiles.org/begquest.html
Any form of argument in which the conclusion occurs as one of the premisses, or a chain of arguments in which the final conclusion is a premiss of one of the earlier arguments in the chain. More generally, an argument begs the question when it assumes any controversial point not conceded by the other side.
Where exactly did I use this statement or something equivalent to it as an actual premise? I have been using this as a general thesis, and then arguing to it in some cases, I realize this may be difficult because my arguments are not written in little syllogism haikus. Unfortunately, using the proper form for a syllogism just uses too many syllables for that particular art form.

If you want, I can write out my entire post in the form of a really really big sorites. Would that help?
Women want to have their cake and eat it too. That's fundamentally unfair.
I fail to see how this statement applies. How exactly are women having their cake and eating it too? What, are they bound to get pregnant and have children if they have sex? Is that what you think?

How is having a natural option, one which has been used throughout all of human history (plant-based abortificents have been known and used through out recorded human history), unfair at all? Not only has it always been there for us, but many many other animals as well.

I will put this in somewhat more neutral terms.

There are two people. Steve, and Bob. There are two pies sitting on a counter which have been promised to them my Mrs Jackson. However, if they collect the pies, they could (probabilistic statement, say the chance is 5%) be seen by a pair of jealous older boys named Billy-Ray and Jimmy-Lee. Billy-Ray hates Steve and begrudges him for everything good in the world he experiences. The same is true for Jimmy-Lee with respect to Bob. However, both older boys will let them eat the pie before bludgeoning them (in other words, in our analogy, the sex act will be completed)

They understand the risk, and both elect to take the pies and the risk involved, but come to this conclusion and take the action at different times (so their decisions are independent and they can offer no aid to eachother. This makes the analogy closer to all men, and all women, as opposed to making it a contest between two people who have done the nasty recently).

They both get caught. Now, Bob can run, and knows of a method to escape. He knows that there is a bomb shelter build by Paranoid Mr. Salazar—Steve's dad--that uses a retinal scan for access. However, Bob does not have access, and Mr. Salazar hates Bob, and will never give him access, preferring to see him and all of his family die in the thermonuclear fire he knows will eventually come.. Steve however does, and uses it to escape with the pie that by all rights is his.

Is Steve, by using his escape route being somehow unfair to Bob? No. He is simply using a natural gift he has to the best of his ability. The universe may be unfair (Though to be a semantics whore, you cannot call it unfair unless you subscribe to the notion that there is some sort of over-mind who can externally validate notions of perfection in the universe by comparison to his standard... but that is neither here nor there), but his action is not.



In any case, I may have left something out, this took me something like 6 hours and is 16 pages long, single spaced. Forgive me, I did not proof read as thoroughly as I usually do, and if I left something important out, I will deal with it tomorrow.
"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
- Theodosius Dobzhansky

Coito ergo sum
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Re: A secular debate about abortion

Post by Coito ergo sum » Wed Feb 09, 2011 1:10 pm

lordpasternack wrote:
Coito ergo sum wrote: I don't feel myself qualified to opine on this topic unless and until my penis has been properly sampled. :pardon:
Cool. Just so you know upfront Coito - this has all just been an elaborate ruse to lure you in. I have every intention of making full use of your genetic material to my own ends. I'm just a poor girl from a poor family and you sound like you have things going alright for you. And if you want access to the resultant child, you can pay my chartered flights. :yes:
That's just the chance I'd have to take. I'll bear that in mind while aiming. I'm pretty sure that choice of target goes a long way to limit subsequent use of the projectiles... Oh, if your packing for your trip over here, pack an extra bottle of shampoo... :tea:

Coito ergo sum
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Re: A secular debate about abortion

Post by Coito ergo sum » Wed Feb 09, 2011 1:21 pm

Warren Dew wrote:
Coito ergo sum wrote:Your stretching on the use of a condom as implying an intent to retain possession of the sperm. It doesn't. It implies intention to not let the sperm get into the uterus to make the woman pregnant. It does not imply that the man retains possession, since it's pretty normal for the condom to be taken off and immediately tossed in the garbage or on the floor, and it's as likely as not that the woman would take possession of the sperm filled condom after sex. I've seen no stats on what the general practice is, though. One thing is for sure, a man more expects his sperm not to result in pregnancy when he shoots off in her mouth, than into a condom during vaginal sex.
What the man expects isn't the only relevant point.
Agreed. But, Seth was asserting that use of a condom demonstrates the man's intent or expectation to retain possession. My response was, basically, that to the extent his intent is relevant, use of a condom doesn't necessarily imply the asserted intent.
Warren Dew wrote: In the case of theft, I think a man who threw the condom in the garbage would have difficulty showing it was a "thing of value" - it didn't seem like he valued it.
If someone puts something in my garbage can while it's on my property, it's mine now. They've discarded it, and it's in my garbage can. I don't relinquish possession and control until it at least is out by the curb (and even then I, not anybody else, have an interest on what goes on with that garbage). So, a guy uses a condom and tosses it on the floor haphazardly or tosses it in the garbage can - if he's in the woman's house or apartment, then in that circumstance arguably it's hers.
Warren Dew wrote:
A man who took the condom with him to be on the safe side might have a stronger case, though, if the woman had intentionally poked a hole in it.
Yes - however, unless he saves the condom and examines it for holes, he'll never know. I know of nobody who hangs on to their used condoms in case they may be needed later as evidence. LOL
Warren Dew wrote: Fraud, as you pointed out earlier, requires intentional deception. A woman who doesn't give any indication that she won't purposely impregnate herself with the sperm hasn't done that. I think it could be argued, though, that a woman who offers a man a condom, in which she's pricked a hole, to keep him from using his own intact condom, is being intentionally deceptive.
Yes - the facts of each situation make all the difference.

Frankly, no matter what the law is, the people are better served to not leave birth control to anyone else. There is even, strangely enough, a practice among MEN to sabotage birth control, like condoms (google it - apparently, it's a practice among some abusive and controlling men to poke holes in condoms to get women pregnant and then force them to get abortions. Sounds weird, but I guess it's true.

I would say that you either supply your own condom, or you takes your chances - or settle for oral sex.

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