Comment: It's proving too difficult a venue

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It's proving too difficult a venue

to be discussing the issue. What should be a philosophical discussion only gets reduced to one of semantics. The point I was making was, there is surely SOME point that we can all agree on (*we* meaning reasonable, sane adults) such that there is no question that, as of that point, a baby is a full-fledged human being in its own right. You want to throw in these extenuating circumstances as if "exceptions." All they are doing is helping to *locate* that point. I think you're being picayune to argue what it even means to be BORN. But okay. For the purpose of argument, so as include your water-birthing example, I'll clarify that I'm talking about 1) being separated from the mother, and 2) taking a first breath. (Feel free to offer some other salient agreed-upon *stage* instead.) I THINK that, regardless of different opinions as to abortion, all would agree that a baby that has been separated from its mother and taken its first breath has LIFE and PERSONHOOD. If it's so weak it only remained alive for two minutes, it nonetheless had a life on this earth. Whatever that *earliest* stage is that all reasonable people understand to be FACT that a baby is a person and bona fide member of the human race (and it is what it is), in my opinion, it is that point at which a deliberate act to kill the individual, i.e., take away its life, would be considered "murder." Earlier than that, it would remain *subjective*.

You said, "Where do you get the idea that some arbitrary view of personhood is implied in "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?"" I wouldn't use the word "arbitrary" myself, as that implies "randomness" ~ as opposed to "with reason." But seeing as those terms are not defined, they are left open to interpretation. And, reasonable people can disagree as to their definition. I don't see that your raising the issue that we are all "created equal" is appropos to this argument. The operative word there is "equal." The "we" who are created refers to "persons," which is at issue, the whole point of this discussion.

And that "doubt" about a person being alive in a building about to be demolished might be doubt in *your* mind. To someone else there may no doubt whatsoever that NO one alive is in the building. What you are saying is that because some people have doubt, then their doubts should set the rule, indeed the law, for all. I disagree. I say the onus of responsibility is on the one who is (so-called by you, in choosing this analogy) doing the "demolishing," i.e., the mother. And if *that* person has doubts, I'd say that that person should act accordingly. Or potentially, at least in his own eyes, be guilty of murder.

As to my reference to Jews and circumcision, I wasn't making a religious statement, but simply using that as a time frame I'm aware of. That is, for thousands of years, back to ancient times, we have dated a person's life from that person's birth, i.e., the day it was born. As to your New Testament reference, I don't claim to understand how things work. I maintain that, from a legal standpoint, parameters should regard what can be established through fact.

There is also the issue (here as elsewhere!) of conflicting rights ~ in this case, even if one did consider an unborn child a person of its own ~ the rights of the mother and rights of that unborn child. That's a whole different issue. But given that there is something of a parasitic relationship, the mother being the host, it's something else that needs to be considered. In that case, of course (depending on how one views the unborn child), one could say the unborn child didn't ask to be in that situation! But there is also the issue of simply one's body being one's own. Given that I do not believe it can be established that abortion is akin to murder, I do not believe that the government has a right to tell a woman what she can or can't do with her own body.

Because so much is subjective, I feel that the abortion issue is one that should be left to the individual. But given that there is disagreement among reasonable adults, under no circumstance should any government/collective funds be used to facilitate abortions; and under no circumstance should a doctor or nurse be forced to participate in an abortion.

You asked, "So do you view poverty as more serious of an offense than taking someone's life?" Your question is too general for me to feel comfortable giving a reply. (How are you defining life!) If you are asking which is worse ~ a six year old living in poverty or a six year killed in a drive-by, I consider the taking of the child's life to be the more serious offense. Other than that, I'll only repeat that the plight of children in this country living in poverty, children already born, is of far more concern to me than the unborn and the abortion issue.

As I said before, IF someone (or some religious organization) felt that abortion was immoral, no less akin to murder, then I think that person (or religious organization) would do well to try to persuade others to *choose* not to have an abortion. I think people like you and some others here would do better to try and change hearts ~ winning friends, if not souls, while alienating no one ~ than to try to change laws in line with your own beliefs to apply to all, alienating many while (even if successful) doing nothing to create a more moral society. You can create a society of law-abiders (think of those Pharisees, or Eastern Europe under communist rule); you cannot legislate morality. Morality is about making moral choices of one's free will. Love is the motivator, not the promise of reward nor avoidance of punishment.

And yes, I've seen some of those incredible images of babies in the womb. Here's a TED talk you might be interested to see. http://www.ted.com/talks/alexander_tsiaras_conception_to_bir...

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
~ John Muir