In response to:

Problems Solutions and Trade Offs II

RHSimard Wrote: Sep 10, 2012 5:38 PM
(This is an updated version of something I posted about ten hours ago near the beginning of this thread.) A question that has been asked of others, though not me (yet) is, how could you tell a woman who has suffered the trauma of rape and gotten pregnant that she'll have to carry the reminder of her assault for nine months and eventually give birth to it? There is but one answer, and it is an exceedingly difficult one. I once saw a forensic-crime show describing a case where a woman was raped, got pregnant, and became HIV-positive to boot. As I watched, I tried to imagine what it would be like to have to tell her she could not abort the child (in fact, she did). It was an awful feeling, but an inescapbable one.
RHSimard Wrote: Sep 10, 2012 5:38 PM
The pivotal and very thorny question: when does that thing in there become a human individual entitled to the same respect for his or her life as you and I enjoy? If we ask any number of adults that question, setting aside the extremists who accept partial birth abortion (or even worse), the response is typically the time some particular stage of development is reached: the onset of heartbeat, brain activity, extrauterine viability and some others. But these conclusions are based in impressions, that is, when what those people observe, directly or indirectly, gives the impression of its humanity. With life and death at stake, determination of its status as a human individual worthy of protection cannot rest on impressions.

RHSimard Wrote: Sep 10, 2012 5:38 PM
Before conception, the gametes are two specialized cells indentifiable with the individuals in which they were generated, like any other of the cellular matter that our bodies produce, some of which dies as a matter of course. However, the moment they fuse to form the zygote, something unique, individual, distinct from either person is formed.
RHSimard Wrote: Sep 10, 2012 5:39 PM
It's not just its genetic uniqueness, though that is an important point. Its individuality and humanity are best identified, not with what is static, but rather with what is dynamic, its "livingness," if you will. The moment of fertilization is the moment at which a process begins, a dynamic process, a process of change, growth, development, an inexorable drumbeat of events on a linear timeline which continues until the individual dies. That process, that drumbeat, that timeline belongs to that being only, and proceeds until that final moment.
RHSimard Wrote: Sep 10, 2012 5:39 PM
Everything else is but another milestone along that timeline, not its beginning, from the first cell division to birth to walking and talking to begging for the car keys for a hot date...all are points along that timeline. Only at conception is there something entirely new, unique unto itself, distinct from either parent, embarked on a continuous journey of its own whose end we call death.
RHSimard Wrote: Sep 10, 2012 5:39 PM
Sometimes I wish it were otherwise. Abortion, after all, though it does have physical and psychological risk, isn't much different from plenty of other procedures, and sometimes it can make life easier for a woman. If I could, in good conscience, believe that the developing entity were less than human, less than an individual being worthy of protection just like we are, I'd accept abortion for any reason, including convenience. Heck, if it's just a little bit of biological matter, how is that different from an appendectomy, or getting a wart removed?
RHSimard Wrote: Sep 10, 2012 5:40 PM
There are very few things in life that are binary, black and white, either-or with no place in between. This is one of them. Either it's a human being and killing it is homicide, or it isn't, and it's trivial. There's no middle ground.
RHSimard Wrote: Sep 10, 2012 5:40 PM
What about threat to the life of the mother? Is that a good case?

Yes. Even then, it is indeed homicide. But there is one case where homicide is both legally and morally permissible: self-defense. We usually think of that in terms of an attacker, but the principle is that we are morally allowed to take the life of another human being if that is absolutely the only way to avoid losing our own. But that is the only exception. Medical practice would undoubtely take this course anyway; I mention this to point out the sound moral principle behind it.
RHSimard Wrote: Sep 10, 2012 5:44 PM
(A note on semantics: The word homicide is usually presumed to be nearly a synonym for murder, or at least, a crime. However, the word actually any killing of a human being by another. A cop killing in the line of duty or a soldier in battler is performing homicide, but obviously not murder (anti-war ideology aside). The SEALs who killed bin Laden might take umbrage if I told them they had committed homicide, but unless bin Laden was not a human being (which conclusion might have some merit...), it was. But not murder.)
Most of my columns are meant to expose the hypocrisy of self-described liberals who have taken over our institutions of higher learning. However, on some occasions, I attempt to address misguided thinking among self-described conservatives. An example is my recent column “Romney and the Rapist,” which was described by many readers as either “weird” or “convoluted” or both. Those descriptions are indeed accurate and reflect the intention behind the controversial essay. It was my intention to write a column that would identify absurd arguments as a means of drawing out the flawed reasoning of those who would support Romney’s proposed rape...