Sunday, April 03, 2005

O Frabjous Day!

Quoth Dave: That is absolutely the first cogent argument I've ever heard against abortion.

On the other hand, as I have said before, I find the pro-abortion arguments perfectly reasonable. I just consider that they are based on fundamentally dumb premises. (This gives me no reason to hope they will stop being argued anytime soon, given the number of homeopaths, creationists, and astrologers in the world...) The idea that a foetus is somehow part of the mother is Pre-Copernican science, and the idea that only the properties of an entity at this particular instant should be considered when making moral judgments about it is Cro-magnon metaphysics.

7 comments:

Dave said...

The foetus is not part of the mother? Then you go along with the 'parasitic infection' school of argument, used famously - and I presume with some degree of irony - by radical feminists to argue in favour of abortion?

I'm being specious, but there is no getting away from the point that of all the entities in the universe, the one whose interests are most closely linked with the foetus is the mother. We're not quite there with Bujold's uterine incubators yet (which hold their own potential ethical terrors in any case). I guess what I'm asking is, what's the *point* of separating the interests of mother and foetus - the linkages are largely inextricable, pre-birth.

Marco said...

I know the answer to that one. The argument Chris is making here is one of science. A scientific statement that says the fetus is part of the mother, I would agree is unreservedly false. A legal ruling (such as Rowe vs. Wade) stating the same, does not necessarily mean we believe our science to be wrong, but is only a reflection of the interpretation of the law. I am against people willy-nilly claiming that the fetus is part of the mother - I demand that they specify whether they are talking about in actuality or under the law. I might be picking at straws here, but this is at least an important educational point. I don't want my kids growing up with the misconceptions engendendered in the usual pro-choice arguments both on the "ensouling" point or the "separateness of being" point.

Dave said...

I guess my argument is founded neither on the legal or scientific principles involved, but the practical (or, to be argumentative, 'reality').

Where is a practical line drawn between separation and otherwise of mother and foetus? Surely this question is of overwhelming relevance to the principal participant in (the majority of) decisions whether to abort.

Marco said...

The problem with the practical "reality" is that it is a moving target. The prevailing (US) consensus is survivability outside the womb given current technology/means. This is clearly insufficient for the bold lines required for deciding on laws. As I have said before, birth is a very convenient legal line. Conception or independent survivability are very inconvenient lines, legally speaking. Churches have the luxury of making different moral lines, because they don't have to police the moral laws they stipulate, nor directly have to face the backlash from non-believers in their various moral laws.

Dr. Clam said...

I think the moving target is inexorably moving back to a point where for all practical purposes, it will be conception... Bujold and Huxley's incubators again. This is one of two pincers (the other one being demographic) which I see as crushing abortion out of existence no matter what I do or say. I don't see any serious ethical problems with uterine incubators- my concept is that the Mahdi will use them to raise an army of fanatical Death Commandoes, answering Marco's objection about Churches being able to police the moral laws they stipulate...

Dave said...

Well said (and yes, that's the ethical 'dilemma' that came to mind).

I think the artificial incubator is a perfectly reasonable solution (and answers the issue of mothers who want and can conceive children, but do not have the physical capacity to carry them to term withou risk of serious or fatal complications). Trouble is, we're not there yet.

How do you figure that demographics fits it? Are you just arguing from the perspective of the current neutral-to-slightly negative Western birth rate (i.e. poor population replacement rates leading to economic ruination etcetera)?

Dave said...

Marco - That's all well and good, but where you draw your line comes back to legal, moral and scientific issues, none of which are likely to be the primary consideration of a woman planning to terminate a pregnancy. Or if they are, they are exercising increasingly less influence over the decision, in favour of selfishness/pragmatism/fear/whatever. Personal, practical decisions.

I think the big issues are debatable and should be debated, of course, but when it comes right down to it, decisions to abort will be taken based on factors that may have little or nothing to do with the big issues.