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In response to:

Defining Life

"You are assuming that the parents would even recognize a fertilized egg...have a microscope handy.... what are you proposing? Should they call the police over to inspect the egg under the microscope? I say that searching your menstrual flow for your possible (Unicellular) 'Human Being' son or daughter is a small amount of inconvenience compared to the inconvenience you feel empowered to impose upon the woman who wishes to have an Abortion. And you think you have a right to do so precisely because you claim the just-fertilized egg is a Human Being.
In response to:

Defining Life

Anominus: "In that case, you are both IDIOTS who apparently can't understand the concept of INTENT and how that differentiates our treatment of similar events." You seem to be imparting far more power to this concept of "intent" than that, anominus. You seem to be saying that the embryo inside the woman seeking an Abortion is a Human Being because she actively wishes to Abort it, but we are all free to treat the embryo that fails to implant in the Uterine Wall as not a Human Being, because it did not implant. I find this to be an *extremely* dubious formulation. Either the just-conceived embryo is a Human Being, or it is not. It's identity and nature do not vary according to the events that befall it. And if it is a Human Being such that the woman who Aborts it is guilty of Murder, then it is far too much a Human Being for it's parents to flush it down the toilet after it fails to implant.
In response to:

Defining Life

Whatever respect you have or do not have for the Bible, the fact is that it says precious little specifically about Abortion. Exodus 21:22-25 comes closest, and it seems to say that if you cause a woman to have a miscarriage by hitting her or something, you have to pay monetary damages to her husband. It seems to imply that this is just a civil offense. Pro-Life advocates interpret this passage to mean that a successful premature birth, and not a miscarriage, is what is being described. I find this unlikely. They may have been wandering around Mt. Sinai, but there was no Mt. Sinai hospital with a neonatal ICU nearby.
In response to:

Defining Life

We can raise mammals from a single cell in a test tube. http://www.animalresearch.info/en/medical-advances/151/cloning-dolly-the-sheep/ Wealthy people become pregnant via artificial insemination when the traditional method is not working for them. (Sometimes they even hire a poor person to endure the actual pregnancy.) http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/features/womb-rent-surrogate-mothers-india It's do-able, but no-one wants to bother. It is only the woman seeking an Abortion who is supposed to be burdened by the "personhood" of the newly-conceived embryo. It's only in those cases that you insist that the unicellular embryo is a Human Being.
In response to:

Defining Life

For the 2nd time in this column, I swear to god that 'sjpatejak' is NOT me posting under a different name. This is another person who independently making this argument.
In response to:

Defining Life

Anominum: “We lack the technology to either prevent the miscarriage or to preserve the lives ...” Bullpoop. You don't feel like it is why you don't do it. For you the fetus is a 100% bona-fide Human Being from conception onwards precisely as long as it does not inconvenience you, precisely as long as it does nothing to you except give you opportunities to feel morally superior to women who wish to have an Abortion, and of course to recruit/fundraise for Hard Right causes. If you really did think it was a Human Being, then you, as the Mother of that Human Being, would be microscopically parsing your menses whenever you are sexually active to save your unicellular Son or Daughter from being flushed into the sewer or dumped in the trash. Maybe he/she could be re-implanted, or cryogenically preserved, or at the very least be given decent final rites. That is how we treat Human beings. If you don't want to do this, if you feel empowered to let your unicellular children go down the drain, then I don't see how you can impose a higher standard on a woman seeking an Abortion. The embryo that she wishes to voluntarily remove is no more of a Human Being than the one you are not lifting a finger to try and save. (And hers is not your own child.)
In response to:

Defining Life

Anominus: "Again, "human being" means nothing in this debate, due to your refusal to define it." "You continue to refuse to define "human being," " NO ONE CAN DEFINE THE TERM 'HUMAN BEING" !! I would if I could, I don't avoid it out of spite or something. I believe that, beyond the flesh, blood, and Human DNA, and even beyond the animating force of life itself, the most important part of that makes us each a human being is identity, consciousness, and soul. And I could try and define those terms but I tire quickly of infinite regressive loops. I think that the most honest thing you can do is just get am intuitive understanding of term, and as good a grasp of the general consensus of what makes a human being as you can get, and then try and apply that consensus consistently. It is presumptive, hubristic even, to presume to be able to define such a thing. Yet you insist that Abortion is Murder, and Murder is the unlawful killing of a HUMAN BEING, so there you are, we have to deal with it. The notion of 'Human Being' is CENTRAL to the debate. I don't see how you can say with a straight face that it is irrelevant. It is the thing that it can be called Murder to kill. I guess I have so little respect for Ann Coulter that I never thought of her.
In response to:

Defining Life

I mistrust litmus tests like 'rationality' for determining when an organism is a “Human Being” and when it is not. If it is available and measurable I prefer to fall back on an examination of the general consensus; How do we treat the developing embryo in general? That clearly varies with the developmental state of the embryo. In the early stages after conception, we don't even bother wondering if it is present, and if a woman's next period is normal (or heavy) we say it “didn't take” and try again or breathe a sigh of relief according to circumstance. It matters not a whit to us that we've likely flushed an unimplanted embryo down the toilet. If a woman miscarries after being perceptibly pregnant our reactions vary FROM somwhat sad, very upset, all the way to mourning almost as if for a dead child. That varies widely, and pretty much we have the good grace to MYOB if someone else deals with it differently than we would. At the end of the process, in the days before birth, everybody knows there is a baby in the Mother's womb, even pro-Choice extremists. No one calls for an Abortion during labor. This “general consensus” tool proves nothing, but I think it does give us some guidelines on what beliefs we are justified in imposing on one another with the force of law. In particular I don't see how you can justify outlawing “morning-after” pills and early-term Abortion, when no-one else treats the embryo like a Human Being when it would be inconvenient or troublesome to do so. And the farther along the pregnancy, the more we treat it like a Human Being. This roughly where we are at with Roe vs. wade today. I think it is about right.
In response to:

Defining Life

Me (7/23 14:48): “I do NOT think it is a Human Being at conception. “ annfan_777 (02:00): “Are you really this ignorant? 7th grade biology tells you that life begins at conception,..” You're kind of late to the party for this column, annfan_777. We've had some discussion of the idea that “life” and “human life” and “human being” are NOT interchangeable terms. I agree that the embryo is alive (and human) at conception, but I do not believe that it is a Human Being. BTW, is the 'ann' of which you are a fan Ayn Rand? She was extremely pro-Choice. In 1968 she said: 'Abortion is a moral right--which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved ….An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being,' Tacitus X (7/23 23:48): “Rational life is the key to what it means to be human, not whether there is a heartbeat...” annfan_777 (01:54): “Life is life, whether "rational" in your bizarre world or not.” Tacitus X (10:52): “Under your formulation, a mosquito = a human since both are alive.” annfan_777 (11:56): “That is an utterly ridiculous conclusion. A mosquito is not a human because a mosquito naturally possesses the genome of a mosquito,” You see the problem here, annfan_777? Do not say “life” when you mean “human being”. Say “human being” when you mean “human being:. Don't say “life” and then leave it to the rest of us to guess what you really mean but are too lazy and/or sloppy to write. In this particular case it is fairly evident that you mean “human being” but the distinction is not always so clear. Even in this case I don't blame Tacitus X for taking you at your word; people write far stupider things hereabouts.
In response to:

Defining Life

Cardinal5671: "... until you can define when it becomes a human being after conception, you can't conclusively say it isn't a human being at conception and worthy of protection" You are right, I cannot say such a thing with certainty. Neither can anyone else, including all of SCOTUS.
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