Anti-abortion and pro-choice?

posted by
November 2, 2011
The American Prospect
by EJ Graff  
Posted in Commentary, PND Commentary

"Last week, I asked: So what if I hadn’t been born? Rachael Larimore at Slate kindly took up my offer to discuss ... abortion. You will not be surprised to learn that we differ on some core points. First, she believes that embryos are human beings. ... I see an embryo, the size of a pinkie, that couldn’t survive even in the most intensive NICU. It doesn’t have a working brain, internal organs, or lungs that could function under any circumstances. It’s a mush of rapidly dividing cells with enormous potential to be a human -- if nothing intervenes, like a miscarriage or a D&C. But to me, that uninhabited scrunch of cells is no more human than an acorn is an oak tree." [editor's note: A well-reasoned presentation of a position a lot of us hold on this topic - SAT] [additional editor's note: A well-reasoned presentation of astrology or phrenology might be fun too, but facts is still facts - TLK] (11/02/11)

http://www.prospect.org/article/anti-abortion-and-pro-choice  

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  • JdL

    A well-reasoned presentation of astrology or phrenology might be fun too, but facts is still facts – TLK

    Would you like to explain what you mean by this?

  • JdL,

    Sure. In the piece above, there's no "to me" about it. That "scrunch of cells" is by biological definition a "human being." Whether or not it is a person with rights is a different question, but trying to wish away inconvenient or troubling facts undermine's one case either way.

  • JdL

    That "scrunch of cells" is by biological definition a "human being."

    No kidding! I must have missed that in the biology classes I took in college. So … an egg is not a human being. A sperm is not a human being. But suddenly, the moment a sperm touches an egg, a "human being" instantly exists? I call that nonsense. A fertilized egg is the blueprint for a human being, nothing more.

    • JdL,

      Hey, not my fault if you didn't pay attention in biology class.

      • JdL

        Actually, I did; maybe that's why I got an A. In your original reply, you attempt to distinguish between a "human being" and a "person". This distinction apparently comes from Knapp's Dictionary of the English Language, because when I look the two up in more well-known references (dictionary.reference.com, thesaurus.com), they're listed as synonymous. Oops! Care to re-think your original claim?

        My point is not so much to state categorically one thing or another on the subject of abortion (which is and always will be a subject for debate), merely to assert that your attempt at a categorical pronouncement ("facts is still facts") is off-base.

        To call a blob of protoplasm, which has no thoughts, no heart, no feelings, a "human being" is at best a distant stretch in my book. I think it was gratuitous of you to chew out SAT as if you were some kind of God on the subject. That he puts up with such treatment not occasionally but frequently says something (good or bad, I'm not sure) about Mr. T.

  • "I think it was gratuitous of you to chew out SAT as if you were some kind of God on the subject."

    Actually, he and I have a history of arguing the topic, which may make his reading or mine of my comments very different from yours. Sorry to have exposed you to inside baseball without proper preparation.

    Words mean things.

    "Human" refers to species homo sapiens.

    "Being" references a discrete entity of the described type.

    Biologically, the fertilized egg is the same entity that goes into the grave however many years later at human death. It is a discrete entity of species homo sapiens — a "human being."

    That's a fact whether you like it or not and whether I like it or not.

    The concept of personhood refers not to the unchanging biological definition of an entity, but to characteristics philosophically attributed to that entity — characteristics which may or may not inhere in it from conception to death, which is what the argument is all about.

    Pro-lifers throw out "human being from conception" as if that were sufficient to establish personhood. It isn't.

    Pro-choicers deny "human being from conception" because they feel like surrendering on an issue of fact sets their arguments back. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't, but facts don't care about their effect on arguments — they remain facts regardless of that effect.

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