ForumTouchy Subjects ► Supreme Court Overturning Abortion Rights
I have never appealed to religious belief in the abortion debate; my pro-life stance is purely ontological in nature. Here's a short version of the argument:
1. Newborn humans have an individual right to life.
2. Pigs do not.
3. The only meaningful difference with regard to personal rights between pigs and newborns is that the latter have the potential to develop into full persons.
4. Human zygotes have the same innate potential to develop into persons as newborns do.
5. Therefore, human zygotes have an individual right to life.

I think we've been here before, from 4 to 5 I don't follow. I would say newborns are people, but not necessarily the unborn. What here constitutes personhood; at least from a legal perspective what should constitute personhood?

And if the potential to be a person is worthy of protection, then how would you address this argument in Roe v. Wade?

"With respect to the State's important and legitimate interest in potential life, the "compelling" point is at viability. This is so because the fetus then presumably has the capability of meaningful life outside the mother's womb. State regulation protective of fetal life after viability thus has both logical and biological justifications. If the State is interested in protecting fetal life after viability, it may go so far as to proscribe abortion during that period, except when it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother. "Roe v. Wade

And why should we grant rights based on potential?
  
From Scoggles, more or less:
"Newborns" are an extremely convenient "group" to advocate on behalf of for the same reasons you claim they are "oppressed." They can't speak up and do not possess any morality of their own. They don't have to contend with being imperfect or having made poor choices because they've made no choices.
E7 said:
from 4 to 5 I don't follow. I would say newborns are people, but not necessarily the unborn. What here constitutes personhood
I hold an unusual opinion in that I don't think newborns are people - only potential people. I think personhood is best defined as self-awareness. Humans usually develop self-awareness between the ages of one and two.
E7 said:
at least from a legal perspective what should constitute personhood?
I don't think this question necessarily needs a single legal answer. We could rehash the entire abortion debate for the millionth time, but personally I'm more interested in the specific angle of this thread. The most salient question is not "is elective abortion ethical" or even "should elective abortion be legal" but "is elective abortion a constitutional right".
E7 said:
And if the potential to be a person is worthy of protection, then how would you address this argument in Roe v. Wade?
There was no legal precedent or basis for the trimester or viability frameworks established in Roe and Casey, and the Supreme Court is not a legislative body, which means from a legal standpoint they can and should be disregarded.

From an ethical standpoint, the only compelling reason that viability might matter that I can think of is that at that point the child could theoretically be delivered without killing it - a win-win for both the mother and the child. But that's a pragmatic argument and one which ironically rests on the assumption that fetuses do have rights, as the majority asserted in both Roe and Casey. Alito also pokes various pragmatic holes in this argument in his opinion, which I'd recommend folks read if they're interested and have two hours to kill. The PDF is here.

I've also encountered people (some on this forum) who assert that viability itself confers personal rights. I've heard no argument why though - it's usually presented as a moral axiom.

Edit: I'll also note that I've met exactly one person (on Reddit, not here) that I can remember who was okay with not only abortion up to the point of birth but infanticide up to the point of sapience! I gave them points for ethical consistency.
  
I hold an unusual opinion in that I don't think newborns are people - only potential people. I think personhood is best defined as self-awareness. Humans usually develop self-awareness between the ages of one and two.
I think it's best defined as human sentience, developed at about 18-25 weeks, but that's our oppinion, and here you seem to have persented it as a "moral axiom" that confers rights on the fetus, there's no basis for a consensus here. I think to answer any legal question about abortion, we need to all be able to agree on what rights the fetus has or if it even has personhood. Why is self-awareness a sound basis for granting individuals rights?

And if potential to be a person confers rights, viability is still relevant. I don't have much more interest in reading Alito than I do Roe v. Wade, can you give me some of these "pragmatic holes"?

And I don't think potential confers rights. We don't grant children the right to drive vehicles although they have the potential to be an adult.

EDIT: Also, this is close to where we left off last time, since I didn't get another response from you in the last abortion thread.
  
From a legal standpoint, it's because of the 10th amendment
divisiveness is not a legal question though; its an emotional one. legal questions are questions of means, not ends. we should never be talking about what a construct "wants", that's how you end up with "corporations are people" and the right-wing fetishization of "states rights" whenever they need to sidestep an actual moral defense of something indefensible. People want things, political constructs are just a tool.
This exact argument could apply to any other law. I'm guessing you wouldn't want to repeal rape or murder laws, for obvious reasons: exercising the personal choice to rape or murder infringes on the rights of others, which is why we restrict that liberty.
exactly—if there was a large pro-murder population, nobody would see "some murder" as an acceptable compromise. You said state-by-state is a better compromise because more people would be living under their preferred law. But the anti-choice position is inherently against living under your own preferred law. It needs to impose control over other people. They ostensibly believe that there is a large pro-murder contingent, so there is no compromise. The state just becomes one more tribe in the conflict.
4. Human zygotes have the same innate potential to develop into persons as newborns do.
Here's your main flaw (I could also quibble about pigs having a right to life—I think most would agree that its wrong to murder a pig without a reason). 4 is a false statement. Newborns (0.6% 1st year mortality) have significantly more potential to develop into a human than a zygote (at least 20% chance of miscarriage). Gametes also have potential to become people, but you presumably don't think every sperm is sacred.
I can only say that I'm glad this degree of ideological extremism is not more common (at least not yet).
tell that to anyone who's worked in an abortion clinic
Prohibiting an intervention that unnaturally destroys a life is not morally equivalent to mandating an intervention that unnaturally preserves a life. I'm not guilty of a crime if I don't roam the streets looking for people who've had a heart attack so I can help them to the hospital. But if I roam the streets looking for people to shoot in the heart, I'm a murderer.
c'mon hydrogen. you're better than this comparison. abortion is not comparable to looking for someone to shoot. its more like walking outside at night and getting attacked and engaging in lethal self defense. you engaged in a normal activity, one of the hazards of that activity occurred, and you responded. is killing the morally ideal response? no. but you didn't set out to kill, you chose from limited and time-sensitive options.
I am only opposed to elective abortion: destroying a healthy child without medical cause.
does this include rape cases? I'm assuming medical cause includes the health of the pregnant person, but what health issues specifically? death? disability? disfigurement? mental health?
Because the alternative is no rule of law, which is also a bad situation.
There's a pretty wide gulf between strict adherence to the letter of the law and total absence of law. My broad stance is that the existing system is untenably resistant to progress and enacts continuous and vast violence against people who didn't consent to it as a demographic, much less as an individual. A violent status quo is deeply undesirable, a violent revolution only marginally less so; therefore it is best to bend the system into a more just shape by any means necessary rather than solely using rules written by people who wanted us to lose the game from the start.
  
How fucking dare you misquote me, HydroJohn. Equating newborns to fetuses just demonstrates that you're not mature enough to have this conversation.
  
Edit: Scoggles, I wasn't misquoting you (which would imply an attempt to misattribute a quote to you that you didn't say). I was attempting to refute your argument by showing that with a one-word substitution the same exact reasoning could be used to strip newborns of all of their rights.
E7 said:
there's no basis for a consensus here.
That's why we should vote on it.
E7 said:
can you give me some of these "pragmatic holes"?
From Alito's draft opinion:
The most obvious problem with any such argument is that viability is heavily dependent on factors that have nothing to do with the characteristics of a fetus. One is the state of neonatal care at a particular point in time. Due to the development of new equipment and improved practices, the viability line has changed over the years. In the 19th century, a fetus may not have been viable until 32 or 33 weeks after conception or even later. When Roe was decided, viability was gauged at roughly 28 weeks. See Roe, 410 U.S, at 160. Today, respondents draw the line at 23 or 24 weeks. Brief of Respondents at 8. So, according to Roe's logic, States now have a compelling interest in protecting a fetus with a gestational age of, say, 26 weeks, but in 1973 States did not have an interest in protecting an identical fetus. How can that be?
E7 said:
And I don't think potential confers rights. We don't grant children the right to drive vehicles although they have the potential to be an adult.
Do you agree that castrating a prepubescent boy would deprive him of his reproductive rights?
People want things, political constructs are just a tool.
Nations, states, and corporations are all composed of people. Saying that a "state wants something" is shorthand for saying that a majority of the electorate want that something (as expressed by the voting behavior of their elected representatives).
if there was a large pro-murder population, nobody would see "some murder" as an acceptable compromise.
Assuming that (1) federal anti-murder laws were not already established as constitutional and (2) a majority consensus could not be reached to enact anti-murder legislation at the national level... what would be the legal alternative? I don't think this is a great example though because you're appealing to a universally agreed upon policy to argue why we should enact a highly controversial policy. If actual murder were legal and we couldn't manage to ban it, then something would be deeply wrong with the populace itself, and I don't think there's any political or even military remedy for a hypothetical world like that.
You said state-by-state is a better compromise because more people would be living under their preferred law. But the anti-choice position is inherently against living under your own preferred law. It needs to impose control over other people.
I wouldn't have pegged you for an anarchist, Malcolm. 😂 Outside anarchic systems, we may enact laws (as permitted by the constitutional law) restricting certain individual liberties for the protection of other individual rights. That's why you can't drive through red lights or practice medicine without a license.
Newborns (0.6% 1st year mortality) have significantly more potential to develop into a human than a zygote (at least 20% chance of miscarriage).
You are conflating potential with probability. A zygote has precisely the same potential even though it has a much lower probability of realizing that potential. We don't permit infanticide just because a non-negligible (historically, quite high) percentage of newborns don't reach sapience let alone adulthood.
Gametes also have potential to become people
In a sense, any collection of matter in the universe has some potential to become people, but there is a critical difference in kind between a gamete and a zygote. A healthy zygote has a complete human genome, and unless it dies or otherwise becomes impaired first, it will become a person.
abortion is not comparable to looking for someone to shoot. its more like walking outside at night and getting attacked and engaging in lethal self defense.
I don't think there's any reasonable way to characterize killing the fetus as self-defense unless the pregnancy poses an exceptional health risk. The fetus did not choose to put its life in opposition to its mother's unlimited expression of bodily autonomy.
does this include rape cases?
I don't think it should, no. Pregnancy from rape is a horrible situation, but killing the fetus poses the same tradeoff of personal rights regardless of whether it results from rape.

However, rape accounts for an inordinate percentage of the abortion debate considering it accounts for a tiny percentage of actual abortions. I'd be very willing to make a political compromise on that point if it meant reaching consensus on the other 98% of abortions (I think that's about right based on that last time I looked up the stats). It never does mean that though, so it's mostly just a waste of time to discuss.
I'm assuming medical cause includes the health of the pregnant person, but what health issues specifically? death? disability? disfigurement? mental health?
I'm guessing you included mental health and disfigurement in the hopes of arguing for blanket legality (since any mother might experience postpartum depression, vaginal tearing, etc.), so I'll attempt to preempt that by stating I don't think ordinary pregnancies pose a sufficient risk for a medical exception.
There's a pretty wide gulf between strict adherence to the letter of the law and total absence of law.
In practice, there is, but it's contingent on the quality of whatever justices happen to be on the Supreme Court at any given time, much as monarchy is not an absence of law but is prone to wide fluctuations in the quality of governance depending on who's the queen. If we abandon the systematic application of the law, then we are essentially operating on faith in unelected officials.
  
You understand that a newborn can survive all on its own right? I mean it needs someone to care for it, but it doesn't need the SPECIFIC care of its mother's body. That distinction renders any comparison between abortion and infanticide completely inappropriate and incongruous.
  
Surely some comparisons are valid. Anyway, I still don't understand why viability confers individual rights. Clearly, as you just acknowledged, dependence itself does not disqualify one from possessing rights. What's makes specific dependence different in that regard? There's exactly which rights must be sacrificed and to what degree and from which people, but it's not obvious to me how any of those differences would affect whether the entity has rights in the first place.

Do conjoined newborn twins have individual rights, despite being physically dependent on another human's body?

Suppose a mother gives birth on an uninhabited island. There are fruits and fish but no baby formula. Is she now obligated to care for and nurse the child since there are no substitute caregivers available? Or does the newborn now no longer qualify for the right to life since it has become uniquely dependent on its mother's body?
  
Suppose you're on that island with her. And she refuses to nurse the infant. Do you, a man unrelated to the situation other than by your mere being there, have the right to compel her to nurse?
  
Suppose a mother gives birth on an uninhabited island. There are fruits and fish but no baby formula. Is she now obligated to care for and nurse the child since there are no substitute caregivers available? Or does the newborn now no longer qualify for the right to life since it has become uniquely dependent on its mother's body?


As far as the island's constitution goes, I suppose it would depend on who owns the island and who wrote that constitution. I think the right to life should be a given on the entire planet regardless of any and all factors, so the newborn would have the right to life both after and before it was born. I believe the mother would be obligated to raise the child if she didn't want to either be a murderer or the cause of severe psychological issues for that child for the rest of their life.

Of course that sort of stems from my religious beliefs that life is sacred, and human life especially so. No person's wants or comforts should come at the expense of a human life, no matter how young. That includes the social pressures, physical and financial labors, and comfort of the mother carrying the child. If there is just absolutely no way that the mother could care for the child, then she should bring them to full term and put them up for adoption. The only true reason for abortion in my eyes is if the life of the mother is at risk, and then it should be up to preferably both parents what should be done; whether they would rather the child come into the world or the woman stay in it.
  
On viability, yes technology does change viability, which would make the window for legal abortions shorter (if it were the only factor) but that makes it less relevant how exactly?

Do you agree that castrating a prepubescent boy would deprive him of his reproductive rights?
False analogy, castration of a minor violates far more than reproductive rights, and just because someone is a minor doesn't mean they don't have reproductive rights; unlike granting a child the right to drive as a "potential adult" or granting a fetus the right to live as a "potential person".

Why don't you answer the question: why does being a potential person grant you the same right to live as personhood? I do agree potential matters, but only insofar as it is viable personhood and insofar as viability is reasonably more important than a woman's bodily autonomy.

On a basis for consensus, yes we can vote on the issue, but you still haven't argued why anyone except yourself would think that personhood begins with self-awareness. It is not a great start for an overlapping consensus since it is so fringe an idea.

John Rawls, one of the most influential political thinkers of the 20th century uses the notion of an "Overlapping consensus" in his book "A Theory of Justice". "The term overlapping consensus refers to how supporters of different comprehensive normative doctrines—that entail apparently inconsistent conceptions of justice—can agree on particular principles of justice that underwrite a political community's basic social institutions." Even if voting determines a majority, that's not a great consensus upon which to develop a functioning society without damaging conflict. To have that, we need an overlapping consensus, which we don't have on abortion; which we don't on when exactly the unborn is a person, and there will probably never be a consensus around the idea that an infant isn't a person. It's not a pragmatic perspective.

You are conflating potential with probability. A zygote has precisely the same potential even though it has a much lower probability of realizing that potential. We don't permit infanticide just because a non-negligible (historically, quite high) percentage of newborns don't reach sapience let alone adulthood.
This is why we need to first agree on what makes a person a person. It's presumptuous to compare a fetus to an infant in this matter when we disagree on the personhood of infants. If we view infants as people, that includes with it a right to live regardless of potential to live or mortality; in fact the mortality rate being higher would arguably make infants more valuable given their fragility. Which is why people probably evolved to be protective of children and infants, whereas a fetus is not necessarily a person which is why we even have to consider viability.

Listen to that "conflating potential with probability", yes they are different, but the point is that probability matters with respect to potential (which should be a given). What's the important distinction you're trying to make? The value of potential is rooted in probability. Probability definitely plays a factor in whether we should consider potential life of any value.

In a sense, any collection of matter in the universe has some potential to become people, but there is a critical difference in kind between a gamete and a zygote. A healthy zygote has a complete human genome, and unless it dies or otherwise becomes impaired first, it will become a person.
Why does a "complete human genome" matter at all if not by granting greater probability and viability of potentially becoming a person or if you're using a "complete human genome" as an arbitrary line in the sand to determine when personhood begins, both of which are inconsistent with your current position. The only thing stopping gametes from meeting to form a complete human genome is a little sex; there's still potential. Now potential conveniently doesn't matter here?

I don't think it should, no. Pregnancy from rape is a horrible situation, but killing the fetus poses the same tradeoff of personal rights regardless of whether it results from rape.
Regardless of your willingness for political compromise on this issue, let's consider that, unlike elective abortions, the woman did not consent to the act, so I don't see any reason why she should be responsible for the unborn life regardless of whether it's a person or not.
  
I'm curious about thoughts on IVF and whether an entire system involving a 10ft wide funnel with jizz on the edge leading into a test tube with an egg could be considered a person for its innate potential to become a human. Seems to me that cumming in that funnel sets a chain of events in motion that, if interrupted at any point, would be murder. Now you've got to go find a host, willing or not, and sit on them to make sure they carry this jizzfunnelsystem to term.
  
I'm not going to enter the actual "ethics" portion of the debate, because I'm in the middle of packing and traveling home for the summer; but I figured I'd also throw some debate points for the "legal" part in there. (You know, the topic of the thread). To make matters easier and not circuitous, I'll do what Jarvis Thompson did and assume the "fetus has a right to life" argument is resolved in favor of the fetus.

  • Can a "pregnancy by rape" exemption actually exists? It seems unconstitutional, since it implies that your right to life is contingent based on the factors of your conception.
  • Does a "right to life" confer to a "entitlement to resources" in order to survive?
  • Does a state have a lawful entitlement to restrict its residents access to abortions in other states?

Ignore this if it ruins the flow of the argument, but I'm going to be travelling the rest of the day and can't check TCaS, so I figured I'd dump it now
  
Scoggles said:
Suppose you're on that island with her. And she refuses to nurse the infant. Do you, a man unrelated to the situation other than by your mere being there, have the right to compel her to nurse?
If you mean legal right, I'm not aware of any. And if that legal right didn't already exist prior to arriving on the island, I certainly couldn't write it into law on our island nation of population two. If you mean moral right, then assuming attempts to convince the mother to meet her moral obligations towards the child failed, and putting aside the practical problems with trying to compel someone to nurse, I'm on the fence whether force would be justifiable. Nursing is less dangerous than pregnancy but also requires active rather than passive participation.

I think I would support a law passed through the proper channels requiring a mother to nurse her child in the event that there's no alternative way to feed the child. But I don't think I would resort to vigilantism.

Now that I've responded to your question, any chance you'll respond to mine? 😛 Do conjoined twins have a right to life? Does the island newborn?
E7 said:
On viability, yes technology does change viability, which would make the window for legal abortions shorter (if it were the only factor) but that makes it less relevant how exactly?
The problem is that individual rights are usually understood to be innate properties of the individual, due to it because of its intrinsic properties. Rights should be "inalienable". It's puzzling that fetus A and fetus B could be physically identical yet it be legal to abort A but not B just because A's mother lives in a region with a worse hospital system than B's mother. Worse, transporting A from one region to another (even within the same jurisdiction) could theoretically alienate it of its rights.
E7 said:
False analogy, castration of a minor violates far more than reproductive rights
Of course, but I'm asking whether it would violate his reproductive rights particularly, other violations aside. (I actually hadn't made any analogy yet. I was hoping to get an answer first.)
E7 said:
just because someone is a minor doesn't mean they don't have reproductive rights; unlike granting a child the right to drive as a "potential adult" or granting a fetus the right to live as a "potential person".
A prepubescent boy is incapable of reproducing. How can one have a right to do something one can't do, unless potentiality is taken into consideration?
E7 said:
I do agree potential matters, but only insofar as it is viable personhood and insofar as viability is reasonably more important than a woman's bodily autonomy.
A fetus's ontological potential is unrelated to its viability, unless you're using "viable" in a different sense here than is usual in this debate ("capable of developing into a healthy baby" vs. "capable of living outside the womb"). I don't follow the second clause. How are viability and bodily autonomy comparable concepts?
E7 said:
you still haven't argued why anyone except yourself would think that personhood begins with self-awareness
This is as much a semantic question as it is a philosophical one, but I also don't think it's all that important. Answering the question "is a zygote a person" or "is a newborn a person" can be informative, but the question we're really asking is "does a zygote have a right to life". If people definitely have a right to life, then concluding that a zygote is a person is sufficient to affirm its right to life; however, it's not necessary because there may be non-persons with the right to life.
E7 said:
why does being a potential person grant you the same right to live as personhood?
I've always approached the problem by examining which classes of entities the vast majority agree definitely do have a right to life, which entities we agree do not have that right, and what differentiates the two groups. In my estimation, potential for self-awareness is the most salient and parsimonious characteristic shared by the first class and excluded by the second class.

Of course, we could take the moral nihilistic and naturalistic stance that the human inclination to protect babies is a meaningless artifact of evolution, but under that ethical regime it becomes impossible to justify anything morally. However, I don't think our collective moral intuition on infants is a fluke - I think it reflects a moral truth about what is worth protecting.
E7 said:
Even if voting determines a majority, that's not a great consensus upon which to develop a functioning society without damaging conflict. To have that, we need an overlapping consensus, which we don't have on abortion; which we don't on when exactly the unborn is a person, and there will probably never be a consensus around the idea that an infant isn't a person. It's not a pragmatic perspective.
The entire premise of overlapping consensus is that the community need not agree on the underlying moral framework for a given policy - only on the policy itself. The country as a whole does not have broad consensus on abortion regulation, but many individual states do.
E7 said:
Probability definitely plays a factor in whether we should consider potential life of any value.
Probability and value may play a role when weighing one set of rights against another, but they have no bearing on whether a given right exists in the first place. Suppose person A has an illness with a low rate of survival and B is perfectly healthy. If I were to kill person A unprovoked, I'd be just as guilty of murder as if I did the same to person B. On the other hand, if A and B were participants in a trolley problem setup, I would choose to save person B (all other factors being equal).

E7 said:
Why does a "complete human genome" matter at all if not by granting greater probability and viability of potentially becoming a person or if you're using a "complete human genome" as an arbitrary line in the sand to determine when personhood begins
FYI, you are definitely using "viability" in an unusual way that is quite confusing in this context. For the sake of clarity, I recommend reserving that term for "ability to survive outside the womb". And for the record, I certainly have not suggested that the formation of a complete human genome confers personhood.

Unfortunately, any line we draw is bound to seem arbitrary to one group or another, but we still need a hard line somewhere. The alternative is no right to life for anyone. The details are probably best left to the legislatures.

However, I'll make my case for drawing the line between "not a human" and "developing human" at the formation of the genome. That milestone represents the largest single leap a human being makes in the entire developmental process - and arguably also the first step in that process. Biologically, fertilization marks the creation of a new distinct organism. At that moment when two gametes recombine their DNA, an incomprehensibly vast cloud of possible organisms collapses to one, with the resulting genome determining an enormous amount of what that organism will be like for the rest of its life. If there is any point at which a "potential person" comes into existence, IMO it's at fertilization.
E7 said:
Regardless of your willingness for political compromise on this issue, let's consider that, unlike elective abortions, the woman did not consent to the act, so I don't see any reason why she should be responsible for the unborn life regardless of whether it's a person or not.
She shouldn't be responsible, but sadly she is. Sometimes heavy moral burdens are thrust upon us through no fault of our own. More analogies. Suppose a parent abandoned their child in the wilderness, and I stumble across them while out hiking. The child is exhausted and can no longer walk. There's no doubt in my mind that I'd have a moral duty to carry the child back to safety, even though it might be very difficult, even though it's not my fault, and even though the circumstance has arisen because someone else committed an act of evil.
I'm curious about thoughts on IVF and whether an entire system involving a 10ft wide funnel with jizz on the edge leading into a test tube with an egg could be considered a person for its innate potential to become a human.
This takes me back to c. 2008, to past discussions of umbrellas and buckets of semen and eggs. Good times... (I think the gamete vs. zygote discussion earlier sums up my views on the status of such a contraption.)

My stance on IVF itself has changed over the years though, but I'd say the safest stance is that we should create no more embryos than we are willing to bring to term. But I hope that someday IVF technology advances to the point where there's no hard choice to be made between affordability and not destroying human embryos.
Kylljoy said:
I figured I'd also throw some debate points for the "legal" part in there. (You know, the topic of the thread).
🙏
Kylljoy said:
Can a "pregnancy by rape" exemption actually exists? It seems unconstitutional, since it implies that your right to life is contingent based on the factors of your conception.
There currently is no established constitutional fetal right to life, but even if there were, no right is absolute. (1st amendment doesn't protect libel, etc.) So I don't see why a pregnancy by rape exemption would be an issue.
Kylljoy said:
Does a "right to life" confer to a "entitlement to resources" in order to survive?
Probably to the same extent it does for other humans. I think "right to life" has historically meant "right not to be killed" though.
Kylljoy said:
Does a state have a lawful entitlement to restrict its residents access to abortions in other states?
I don't see how that would be legal, but I'm curious if anyone else is aware of precedent for that kind of thing. Maybe they could try to make it illegal to travel for the purpose of getting an abortion?
  
I think I would support a law passed through the proper channels requiring a mother to nurse her child in the event that there's no alternative way to feed the child. But I don't think I would resort to vigilantism.
Well, it's not vigilantism if there's no government, so it's okay if you have the state act on your behalf to force another into submission to do that which you believe is wrong for you to do? I know Lysander Spooner wrote a bit about that kind of politics.
The problem is that individual rights are usually understood to be innate properties of the individual, it because of its intrinsic properties. Rights should be "inalienable". It's puzzling that fetus A and fetus B could be physically identical yet it be legal to abort A but not B just because A's mother lives in a region with a worse hospital system than B's mother. Worse, transporting A from one region to another (even within the same jurisdiction) could theoretically alienate it of its rights.
I think the disagreement on viability comes down to where we think rights come from. The idea of natural rights is the idea that we have inalienable rights, which I usually hear in relation to the existence of God as being the one who grants them. I haven't heard enough about other secular ideas regarding natural rights. I think it's up to society collectively to decide what rights one should have, and I don't it necessarily has to be innately part of the individual. It's usually just shared values, back to that "overlapping consensus".

I think we have to collectively find a reason to agree on exactly what rights the fetus has and why it deserves them and weigh them against a woman's right to bodily autonomy. Ultimately the legality of this issue comes down to whether we allow the state to use force to make a woman have a child she doesn't want to have. I'd say it should be somewhat alarming to you to consider that if there were no government, you wouldn't force a woman to go through with a pregnancy she doesn't want, but somehow when there is a government you're okay with others doing this on your behalf.

The state cannot impose any law without force, and it seems that we must violate the woman's right to bodily autonomy in order to keep the fetus' right to live intact. This often seems to be with little regard for the quality of life of the child who will be born to a woman who wasn't ready or didn't want it. From a pragmatic perspective, I don't think this would be a good outcome for society at large; even if the woman is technically irresponsible with sex and has become pregnant as a result, it seems it would be extremely brutish to subject her to such force or coercion to go through with the pregnancy, and that a non-sentient living being is now weighted as being more valuable than her own autonomy. It seems like the right to live shouldn't be so heavily reliant on potential.

How can one have a right to do something one can't do, unless potentiality is taken into consideration?
Presumably a man without legs still has the right to walk. I don't think rights are granted based on what one can or can't do or what they have the potential to do, it's based on shared values. The child who can't reproduce yet is already seen as being a person so they have the rights that come with personhood.

A fetus's ontological potential is unrelated to its viability, unless you're using "viable" in a different sense here than is usual in this debate ("capable of developing into a healthy baby" vs. "capable of living outside the womb"). I don't follow the second clause. How are viability and bodily autonomy comparable concepts?
Viability I mean in the most literal sense; viable of being able to live, whether outside the womb or becoming a thing capable of living outside the womb. A fetus is not an autonomous being capable of survival outside the womb, so its potential is limited by its viability. That is the potential being weighed against the woman's bodily autonomy.

Answering the question "is a zygote a person" or "is a newborn a person" can be informative, but the question we're really asking is "does a zygote have a right to life". If people definitely have a right to life, then concluding that a zygote is a person is sufficient to affirm its right to life; however, it's not necessary because there may be non-persons with the right to life.
True, but a non-persons right to life, much like a chicken dinner, is not so valuable to me compared to rights we grant to people or even their hunger pangs in the case of a chicken dinner. The fact that a non-person fetus may have a right to live, doesn't mean it's equal in value to a woman's right to remove it from her body.

In my estimation, potential for self-awareness is the most salient and parsimonious characteristic shared by the first class and excluded by the second class.
That's more opinion, much like natural rights, it'd have to be based on an overlapping consensus, which I don't think would be an agreeable consensus. Although value for infants might be an artifact of evolution, who's to say that it's meaningless because of that? What kind of people will be on this planet depends on who's still reproducing right now and their quality of life and character depend heavily on the parent's capacity to care for them. Human values don't have much meaning without placing value on humanity itself. Although self-awareness is most strongly associated with higher intellect, like that of humans, we are still biologically mammals, and our self-awareness doesn't necessarily make our experiences of pain and joy more real than those pigs have. Sentience is something shared by many animals, but we value human sentience above non-human sentience. We are more closely related to each other than we are other animals. The shared values we have are the rights we protect and those rights don't seem to be shaped around self-awareness so much as the fact that we are human and sentient. Would a non-self-aware sentient human not be given rights? It is somewhat arbitrary, but it is much like humanity's general disgust for incest because it's biologically not viable for reproduction, we tend to value our own species more than of others; it's just biology.

If there is any point at which a "potential person" comes into existence, IMO it's at fertilization.
Yes, but I think that these points are most significant because what's happening physically is increasing or decreasing the probability that a person will come into existence by
a larger margin. The value of potential is based upon probability.

She shouldn't be responsible, but sadly she is. Sometimes heavy moral burdens are thrust upon us through no fault of our own. More analogies. Suppose a parent abandoned their child in the wilderness, and I stumble across them while out hiking. The child is exhausted and can no longer walk. There's no doubt in my mind that I'd have a moral duty to carry the child back to safety, even though it might be very difficult, even though it's not my fault, and even though the circumstance has arisen because someone else committed an act of evil.
Once again this analogy seems slightly presumptuous since a child is generally considered a 'person' with rights and not a 'potential person. In some places, there are laws regarding the duty to act in certain life-saving circumstances. Although it might be considered commendable for a woman to not terminate a pregnancy due to rape, I don't she has the duty to raise a 'potential person' whose existence was contingent upon her being raped. A more comparable analogy would be if once in a while whenever someone brutalized a person or murdered them, a child would then pop into existence as result; a child with the DNA of the murderer and whoever they murdered, and then you happen upon them in the woods are given guardianship over them and responsibility for them. She shouldn't be responsible, but someone of high ethical character might consider the value of the unborn life to be great enough that they themselves choose to nurture it into a full human being, but that is not something I believe they should be compelled to do by the law or coerced to do by the force of government.
  
This takes me back to c. 2008, to past discussions of umbrellas and buckets of semen and eggs. Good times... (I think the gamete vs. zygote discussion earlier sums up my views on the status of such a contraption.)

My stance on IVF itself has changed over the years though, but I'd say the safest stance is that we should create no more embryos than we are willing to bring to term. But I hope that someday IVF technology advances to the point where there's no hard choice to be made between affordability and not destroying human embryos.


I don't really think it does personally. Because in either case, this has the potential to, if uninterrupted, become a human. All the funnel thought experiment does is adjust the beginning of that process. Having a full set of DNA does not grant human rights. If you take cells from a person and coerce them back into an embryonic state, I mean. When does that go from being a tiny, insignificant, unnoticeable fragment of a person into a full clone of that person? Conception is convenient, but I'm not sure how much merit it actually has. What is it about this point that causes it to be different or special? A cake isn't a cake until *after* it's baked.

And if you're taking the zygote as a full human, like. You can just forget about abortion. It pales in comparison to how many zygotes die before they even manage to implant. You make even a tiny dent in that and you've done far more good for the unborn *and* the living than you'd get by forcing a horrific amount of suffering and tragedy by banning abortion. And that's just one stage in the process, one of the first. There's many other choke points in pregnancy. Even far later, if you can do anything to even slightly make a dent in the odds of miscarriage, again you've done far more good for the unborn and the living. The solution is in actual, proper reproductive care.
  
E7 said:
Well, it's not vigilantism if there's no government
I think it's the opposite: all force is (at best) vigilantism if there's no government.
E7 said:
so it's okay if you have the state act on your behalf to force another into submission to do that which you believe is wrong for you to do?
I think that's obviously so. It would be wrong for me, as an ordinary citizen with no executive authority, to arrest someone for tax fraud. I'm still very much in favor of police arresting people for tax fraud.
E7 said:
I think it's up to society collectively to decide what rights one should have
There are two ways to think about "rights". What you're describing are legal rights, which are created and upheld by the state. Natural rights or human rights are supposed to be about something deeper - supposed rights that exist apart from any particular government. (Note that you don't have to be religious to believe in such rights.)

But if natural rights don't exist, only legal rights, established by consensus, then there's no moral basis for what the law ought to be, so what's wrong with voting on it?
E7 said:
I'd say it should be somewhat alarming to you to consider that if there were no government, you wouldn't force a woman to go through with a pregnancy she doesn't want, but somehow when there is a government you're okay with others doing this on your behalf.
I addressed this above, but it bears repeating. The duly appointed authorities have moral justification for enforcing laws by force; I as an individual do not. This isn't at all controversial or unusual.
E7 said:
This often seems to be with little regard for the quality of life of the child who will be born to a woman who wasn't ready or didn't want it.
The woman is free to give the child up for adoption the moment it's born, and in that case, the child is no longer the woman's problem, and just as importantly, the woman is no longer the child's problem.
E7 said:
Presumably a man without legs still has the right to walk.
When we say that a person has "the right to do X", we typically mean that it is wrong (or at least unlawful) for someone else to prevent that person from doing X. In this case, it's impossible for anyone to prevent the man from walking since he cannot and presumably will not ever be able to walk. So at best, the legless man having the right to walk is moot, and at worst it's absurd.

The same does not apply to reproductive rights of a prepubescent boy or to (insert any human right here) of a healthy fetus. We can violate those rights, despite the temporary inability of the victim to exercise those rights, because of future potential.
E7 said:
The child who can't reproduce yet is already seen as being a person so they have the rights that come with personhood.
If it's just a matter of subjective perception, then there's no ethical argument to be had here, and we should just skip to voting on it.
E7 said:
Viability I mean in the most literal sense; viable of being able to live, whether outside the womb or becoming a thing capable of living outside the womb. A fetus is not an autonomous being capable of survival outside the womb, so its potential is limited by its viability.
Sorry, but I'm still not following. In a technical sense with regard to fetal development, "viability" refers to the actual ability of a fetus to survive outside the womb. I don't know what you mean by "its potential is limited by its viability".
E7 said:
True, but a non-persons right to life, much like a chicken dinner, is not so valuable to me compared to rights we grant to people or even their hunger pangs in the case of a chicken dinner. The fact that a non-person fetus may have a right to live, doesn't mean it's equal in value to a woman's right to remove it from her body.
Agreed. Someone could hold any combination of beliefs regarding fetuses being or not being persons, having or not having a right to life, and elective abortion being or not being justifiable. This is a very complex moral calculus.
E7 said:
That's more opinion, much like natural rights
Everything ever uttered is opinion in some sense, but I've proposed an ethical model that is consistent with the near-universal moral consensus on the relative status of newborns vs. other animals. I think the burden is now on others to offer an equally or more tenable alternative model.
E7 said:
Once again this analogy seems slightly presumptuous since a child is generally considered a 'person' with rights and not a 'potential person.
It is presumptuous because it's predicated on fetuses having rights. We can say for certain that if fetuses don't have any rights or societal value, then inconveniencing pregnant women even a miniscule amount would be unethical. There are many layers to this debate, and this particular analogy lies on the other side of "suppose that fetuses do have rights". It's an attempt to refute the claim that even if a fetus does have a right to life, its mother is under no moral compulsion to preserve its life because the right to bodily autonomy is paramount.
E7 said:
She shouldn't be responsible, but someone of high ethical character might consider the value of the unborn life to be great enough that they themselves choose to nurture it into a full human being, but that is not something I believe they should be compelled to do by the law or coerced to do by the force of government.
This is good because we're getting to the bottom of our disagreement on this point. I do think legal coercion is justified in that circumstance. I don't think bodily autonomy is the ultimate and uncompromising right, above all others. There are many situations where I think a moral duty does exist and a legal duty should exist for one to sacrifice a small degree of bodily autonomy in the interest of the rights of others.
Because in either case, this has the potential to, if uninterrupted, become a human.
We're talking about an unimplanted zygote, floating in a bucket, right? I would say that creating such an entity with no intention of fostering its development is unethical. But I will also point out that while that zygote has the same potential as one formed in a uterus, there's a practical moral difference here. You say "if uninterrupted" both will become a human, but actually, the extra-uterine zygote will not continue to develop unless there's additional intervention, which I think is morally pertinent.
Having a full set of DNA does not grant human rights. If you take cells from a person and coerce them back into an embryonic state, I mean. ... What is it about this point that causes it to be different or special?
Uniqueness imparts value. If I have five copies of my dissertation, and I burn one of them, who cares? If I delete the last remaining copy of my dissertation, something important has been lost. (Well, maybe not if it were my dissertation in particular, but you get the idea.)
And if you're taking the zygote as a full human, like. You can just forget about abortion. It pales in comparison to how many zygotes die before they even manage to implant.
Natural fetal death justifies elective abortion to precisely the same degree that SIDS justifies smothering babies in their sleep. I hope we can all see the difference between something dying naturally and something being killed and put this particular argument to rest.
  
I think it's the opposite: all force is (at best) vigilantism if there's no government.
It would be wrong for me, as an ordinary citizen with no executive authority, to arrest someone for tax fraud. I'm still very much in favor of police arresting people for tax fraud.
The duly appointed authorities have moral justification for enforcing laws by force; I as an individual do not. This isn't at all controversial or unusual.

Vigilantism is defined within the system, a government’s justice system. In lieu of there being any system, do moral values not compel you to protect what you believe to be another life? You still haven’t addressed the hypocrisy and that stems from believing it’s okay for the government to enforce values that you wouldn’t yourself.
Ultimately, the concept of “duly appointed authority” is pretty controversial, as is how fairly the system itself operates, given our voting system isn’t proportional, and lobbying exists. If people allow the “authorities” to violate another person's rights, I would still say it’s wrong. I would also say one has weak moral structure if in the absence of “duly appointed authority” they’re unwilling to stand by their ethics.
What you’re describing is yet another unapplicable hypothetical, equivalent dodging the question. In your hypothetical, you describe your situation as an ordinary citizen in a system and in a situation where qualifications are more relevant. The hypothetical I’m interested in is, would you stop a woman from voluntarily receiving an abortion from a medical professional on a desert island? And I’ll add, what desired qualifications does the government have that makes it okay for them to do it instead of you? I don’t believe voting someone into power and voting on a law turn will turn an injustice into justice.
But if natural rights don't exist, only legal rights, established by consensus, then there's no moral basis for what the law ought to be, so what's wrong with voting on it?
I don’t think natural rights exist outside people’s minds. It’s still based on a consensus, it’s just one that’s been placed deeper into the foundations of a legal system to keep them intact. The problem with voting on such rights is that they become less immutable. Certain rights should be bedrock in a system to ensure both its stability and fairness; but that doesn’t mean that those rights did not originate from an overlapping consensus.
Getting back to the viability, when you’re talking about how individual rights “are understood to be properties of the individual” there’s two things to consider, are we talking about an individual, or a potential individual. I think viability wouldn’t be relevant if we’re assuming that the fetus is a person, because a person’s right to live isn’t dependent on viability. The reason I think viability is relevant, is because we’re talking about a potential person and we are weighing their rights against that of women’s bodily autonomy.

The woman is free to give the child up for adoption the moment it's born, and in that case, the child is no longer the woman's problem, and just as importantly, the woman is no longer the child's problem.
Again, that’s still with little regard for the quality of life of the child put up for adoption and the fact that the woman still must continue the pregnancy to term, then deal with any emotions or grief of having carried that child to term and put them up for adoption. I should also mention that going through with pregnancy bears some risks and maternal mortality rates are going up. It also seems impractical to imagine that a vast number of children existing unwanted is going to be a net good for society.
When we say that a person has "the right to do X", we typically mean that it is wrong (or at least unlawful) for someone else to prevent that person from doing X.
Let's see if we can find an authoritative source on this, because that’s not the definition I’d go with. I’d say a right is privilege protected by law. It’s a freedom to do something that doesn’t have a basis on what a person can do, but what they should be able to do without it being illegal or infringed. Sure, you can’t effectively take a legless man’s right to walk away, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t still have the same freedoms under the law.
This is not to say potential to do something doesn’t matter, but I’d say potential matters a whole lot less for potential people than it does for actual people, so killing a fetus might be snuffing out the potential to be a person, but that isn’t nearly so bad as infringing on the rights of an actual person.
I do think legal coercion is justified in that circumstance. I don't think bodily autonomy is the ultimate and uncompromising right, above all others. There are many situations where I think a moral duty does exist and a legal duty should exist for one to sacrifice a small degree of bodily autonomy in the interest of the rights of others.
The rights of who? A not-yet-person fetus?
You might be right in that this here might be the crux of the disagreement. There’s sort of a subjective standard we seem to differ on, and that is the value of the life of a not-yet-person, potential person fetus prior to developing sentience. For me I’d place their right to live and become a person of a non-sentient being below that an actual person’s autonomy.
For practicality’s sake I think we must set aside subjective values then and consider the ramifications of outlawing elective abortions entirely.

One of the reasons that I consider a woman’s bodily autonomy to be more valuable in this instance is because I tend towards pragmatism; that is I think outcome of outlawing abortion will be worse than allowing it.
Many women will suffer serious injury or die to illegitimately get an abortion; abortions will still happen, albeit without as much medical oversight.
Women will have to suffer the consequences of pregnancy, which could be worse depending on their medical situation if no exceptions are made for women who are not physically ready for pregnancy.
One of the reasons the developed world functions better is because less people are having children. The environmental and social consequences of developed countries having larger populations (when they are already excessive and unsustainable) will measurably add to climate change and potentially causing deaths. The value of potential life is less meaningful when you know it will likely lead to potential deaths too.
On the flipside, allowing abortion prior to roughly 20 weeks does result in the deaths of many “potential people” but those fetuses are not yet capable of being aware they exist or feeling any kind of pain. It seems a much better tradeoff considering the alternative.
  
E7 said:
You still haven’t addressed the hypocrisy and that stems from believing it’s okay for the government to enforce values that you wouldn’t yourself.
This is the basis of all government. Everyone enforcing their own values would result in chaos and constant violence. Please indicate which, if any, of the following law enforcement actions you would be (1) willing to carry out yourself (given that you're not an officer of the law) or (2) unwilling for the government to carry out:

1. Placing a suspected thief under arrest
2. Finding someone guilty of theft and placing them in prison
3. Collecting taxes from local businesses
E7 said:
Ultimately, the concept of “duly appointed authority” is pretty controversial, as is how fairly the system itself operates, given our voting system isn’t proportional, and lobbying exists.
No system of government has ever been perfectly fair or representative (and probably never will be). That's not an excuse to abandon the entire concept of government authority.
E7 said:
I would also say one has weak moral structure if in the absence of “duly appointed authority” they’re unwilling to stand by their ethics.
In the absence of duly appointed authority, a population should appoint such an authority. The hypothetical we were discussing precluded that option because there would be only two people available to vote. Moral duty still exists even when there are only two people left, but most of the principles of government apply only to a suitably large population. That's why the desert island scenario could be a useful moral thought experiment but is probably not a useful legal thought experiment.
E7 said:
would you stop a woman from voluntarily receiving an abortion from a medical professional on a desert island?
Assuming I believed I could do so safely (for everyone involved), then I think I'd be justified in doing so, for the same reason I'd be justified in trying to stop a medical professional from bashing a newborn's head with a rock.
E7 said:
Again, that’s still with little regard for the quality of life of the child put up for adoption and the fact that the woman still must continue the pregnancy to term, then deal with any emotions or grief of having carried that child to term and put them up for adoption. ... It also seems impractical to imagine that a vast number of children existing unwanted is going to be a net good for society.
The average quality of life for adopted children is not that much lower than for other children, and this is a poor argument for abortion regardless. It's only relevant if one already believes that fetuses don't yet have individual rights. We don't euthanize black children in the US just because they have statistically worse socioeconomic or health outcomes than white children.

And I've never argued that carrying an unwanted child to term or giving up that child for adoption never imposes physical or emotional cost on the mother, only that that cost is not worth destroying an innocent human life.
E7 said:
Let's see if we can find an authoritative source on this, because that’s not the definition I’d go with.
One of the reasons I hate the word "rights" is that it's extremely overloaded. This thread of discussion began with talking about what moral rights fetuses have and for what reasons, and now suddenly we're talking about legal rights.
E7 said:
Sure, you can’t effectively take a legless man’s right to walk away, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t still have the same freedoms under the law.
That depends on the particular region and its laws, and it really isn't relevant to this discussion. Recall why we're talking about this in the first place. I argued that castrating a prepubescent boy would deprive him of his (moral) right to reproduction, just as killing a fetus deprives it of its (moral) rights.
E7 said:
This is not to say potential to do something doesn’t matter, but I’d say potential matters a whole lot less for potential people than it does for actual people, so killing a fetus might be snuffing out the potential to be a person, but that isn’t nearly so bad as infringing on the rights of an actual person.
That's a difference in degree, not in kind. We've established that it can be wrong to deprive someone of an ability that they don't yet posses.
E7 said:
There’s sort of a subjective standard we seem to differ on, and that is the value of the life of a not-yet-person, potential person fetus prior to developing sentience.
Precisely, which is why 99% of moral arguments about abortion are useless, and we should just vote on it.
E7 said:
For practicality’s sake I think we must set aside subjective values then and consider the ramifications of outlawing elective abortions entirely.
The evaluation of those ramifications is also fundamentally subjective, so this solves nothing.
E7 said:
Many women will suffer serious injury or die to illegitimately get an abortion; abortions will still happen, albeit without as much medical oversight.
If women choose to undergo illegal and risky abortions, that's their choice. We don't leave our doors unlocked because burglars might injure themselves trying to break in with a crowbar. That's not to say it shouldn't enter into the utilitarian equation, but I place a relatively lower weight on such cases than I do on the violation of unborn humans' bodies, through no fault of their own.
E7 said:
Women will have to suffer the consequences of pregnancy, which could be worse depending on their medical situation if no exceptions are made for women who are not physically ready for pregnancy.
Exceptions should be made when there's a substantially elevated risk to the mother's health.
E7 said:
One of the reasons the developed world functions better is because less people are having children. The environmental and social consequences of developed countries having larger populations (when they are already excessive and unsustainable) will measurably add to climate change and potentially causing deaths.
Why don't we just cull children then? That would also have the intended effect of reducing our carbon footprint and slowing climate change. I get it - you have a different moral calculus than I do regarding the interests of unborn children vs. other segments of society. This isn't getting us anywhere. Which is why this should be decided democratically.
  
🙄
  
This is the basis of all government. Everyone enforcing their own values would result in chaos and constant violence. Please indicate which, if any, of the following law enforcement actions you would be (1) willing to carry out yourself (given that you're not an officer of the law) or (2) unwilling for the government to carry out:

1. Placing a suspected thief under arrest
2. Finding someone guilty of theft and placing them in prison
3. Collecting taxes from local businesses
1. There is no arrest without government, 2. There is no prison without government, 3. There is no tax without government. The scenario I provided is on the basis that there is no government in place. When there is a government in place, if they create unjust laws such as forcing a woman to give up her bodily autonomy for a "not-yet-person / potential person" fetus, then I oppose those laws with whatever power I have within that system. For me, my values don't include forcing a woman to go through with an unwanted pregnancy, but for you...

Assuming I believed I could do so safely (for everyone involved), then I think I'd be justified in doing so, for the same reason I'd be justified in trying to stop a medical professional from bashing a newborn's head with a rock.
...The answer is yes to forcing a woman to keep the unborn to term, so there's no real hypocrisy or disagreement here because both you and I would be willing to take on the responsibility to practice our ethics in the absence of government. Earlier you seemed on the fence about the whole idea and indicated that you personally would be wrong to do something that government somehow would be right to do.

In the absence of duly appointed authority, a population should appoint such an authority. The hypothetical we were discussing precluded that option because there would be only two people available to vote. Moral duty still exists even when there are only two people left, but most of the principles of government apply only to a suitably large population. That's why the desert island scenario could be a useful moral thought experiment but is probably not a useful legal thought experiment.
The basis for abortion's legitimacy is whether or not it is moral. The law should embody ethical principles; not the other way around. So when you say that you lack the authority or that it is vigilantism in a situation that doesn't involve government, or that it is somehow okay for authorities to do that which we can't, I get the vibe that it's a "rules for thee but not for me" kind of government you support, or that "might makes right", or that making a law or appealing to authority is somehow a substitute for ethical principles.

E7 said:
Ultimately, the concept of “duly appointed authority” is pretty controversial, as is how fairly the system itself operates, given our voting system isn’t proportional, and lobbying exists.
No system of government has ever been perfectly fair or representative (and probably never will be). That's not an excuse to abandon the entire concept of a government authority.
You're missing the point that when just because authority is in a position to do something like outlaw abortion, doesn't make it right. Also, I never advocated for abandoning the idea of government; the point that authority was brought up in response to the idea that "duly appointed authorities" have moral justification for stopping a woman from terminating her pregnancy whereas you said that in the absence of government this would be vigilantism. Historically, there have been many times where adherence to the law is morally wrong and where even revolution is possibly justified (whether or not it's a good idea).

The average quality of life for adopted children is not that much lower than for other children, and this is a poor argument for abortion regardless. It's only relevant if one already believes that fetuses don't yet have individual rights. We don't euthanize black children in the US just because they have statistically worse socioeconomic or health outcomes than white children.

And I've never argued that carrying an unwanted child to term or giving up that child for adoption never imposes physical or emotional cost on the mother, only that that cost is not worth destroying an innocent human life.
Again, the whole comparison of children with non-sentient fetuses would be a straw man, because my argument is that "potential people, but not-yet-people fetuses" don't have a right to leave equal to or greater than a woman's bodily autonomy. You're talking about "destroying an innocent human life" and I'm not convinced that it's a life that has value until it meets the standards necessary to be worthy of having rights. In fact, now that you have given a definitive answer to the desert island scenario, I know you're okay with stopping a woman from having an abortion when you can safely do so, the keyword being "safely" in contrast to the realities we've just established around pregnancy.

One of the reasons I hate the word "rights" is that it's extremely overloaded. This thread of discussion began with talking about what moral rights fetuses have and for what reasons, and now suddenly we're talking about legal rights.
Agreed, let's be clear from here on out because I think we disagree on both what moral rights and legal rights a fetus has, but my basis for whether or not abortion should be legal is my ethics.

I think that a fetus has a moral right to live, but that a fetus is not a person, so its right to live is not morally more valuable than a woman's right to bodily autonomy. I believe the rights of a person are more valuable than living things that I do not consider people. Even though a fetus has the potential to become a person, and that is of value, I still don't consider it greater than a woman's right to bodily autonomy.

Given the moral situation that I'm looking at, as far as the legal rights of a fetus without sentience, I don't think they have the right to live because their lives are in conflict with the woman's bodily autonomy.

That depends on the particular region and its laws, and it really isn't relevant to this discussion. Recall why we're talking about this in the first place. I argued that castrating a prepubescent boy would deprive him of his (moral) right to reproduction, just as killing a fetus deprives it of its (moral) rights.
I do recall that, and I say that doesn’t mean he shouldn't still have the same freedoms under the law just as a boy should have a right to reproduction regardless of whether he can. Also, might be a moot point since I don't think potential matters nearly so much for those that I do not consider people as much as those I do and we still haven't reached a consensus on that.

Precisely, which is why 99% of moral arguments about abortion are useless, and we should just vote on it.
On abortion specifically, yes most arguments come down to subjective values. But originally, if you recall my comment about this being "democracy at work", I don't think our democracy is fair and that it is skewed against abortion by gerrymandering and an unproportional first-past-the-post voting system. Saying "let's just vote" isn't a very genuine approach to conflict resolution on this issue when we are dealing with corruption.

E7 said:
For practicality’s sake I think we must set aside subjective values then and consider the ramifications of outlawing elective abortions entirely.
The evaluation of those ramifications is also fundamentally subjective, so this solves nothing.
They may be, but the evaluation of those ramifications is somewhere we are more likely to agree is bad, and therefore form a better foundation for a consensus on the issue of abortion; unless your subjective values compel you to believe that pregnancy risks, climate change, increases illegal abortion, etc. are all okay.

Exceptions should be made when there's a substantially elevated risk to the mother's health.
Glad we agree on that, but that is dependent on the ability to detect potential problems which is slim at times. We have to factor in that many unforseen medical issues will befall women who are legally bound to continue with an unwanted pregancy, and that is yet another risk to consider.

If women choose to undergo illegal and risky abortions, that's their choice. We don't leave our doors unlocked because burglars might injure themselves trying to break in with a crowbar. That's not to say it shouldn't enter into the utilitarian equation, but I place a relatively lower weight on such cases than I do on the violation of unborn humans' bodies, through no fault of their own.
The key difference here is the weight we place on the value of a fetus without sentience, and by now you know my position on the weight of the life of a non-sentient fetus so this might be another moot hypothetical. If a woman and her doctor both conclude that abortion is morally acceptable, I don't think there is any violation of the non-aggression principle, such as there would be with the burglar.

But I still want to address the hypothetical. Burglary has consequences because it violates the non-aggression principle and law directly. Sex is what causes pregnancy, but that act isn't illegal and it's only about a 1 in 20 chance of happening, lower if contraceptives are used. If a woman finds herself in a sitution where she is considering illegal abortion, the fetus in her is not there as a consequence of illegal activity like how a burglar might incur an injury as a result of illegal activity. It is an unreasonable exception to me to consider her consent to having sex as consent to having a fetus live in her body because I don't think the right to live guarantees the right to use other people's bodies to live, even where we to consider the fetus a person; whereas a life that is viable outside the womb doesn't have to use it's mother's body to live (it can use someone else's resources), so viability still bears some relevance in this discussion because the fetus right to live (if considered a person) is not entirely dependent on the mother when it is viable outside the womb.

Now, when considering illegal abortions as being an acceptable consequence to save the lives of fetuses, regardless of the fact it's the woman's choice to have an illegal abortion, it's still a consequence; as you said, weighs into the utilitarian equation; but I think it's more relevant than it is with a burglar because the burglar who injures himself as a result of breaking into a home has directly and intentionally done something which resulted in injury. Pregnancy and the risks that come with it result from a legal activity: having sex.

Which reminds me, I hate to go back to the violinist argument, I think it's still relevant when the woman has not consented to sexual activity, whereas earlier we hadn't quite reached a consensus on whether a woman should be forced to go through with pregnancy resulting from rape.

Why don't we just cull children then? That would also have the intended effect of reducing our carbon footprint and slowing climate change. I get it - you have a different moral calculus than I do regarding the interests of unborn children vs. other segments of society. This isn't getting us anywhere. Which is why this should be decided democratically.
Yes, I place a different value on the lives of non-sentient fetuses than you do, but if you are aware of that, why do you keep saying things like, "Why don't we just cull children then?" if you know that isn't relevant my position; it's like you're working hard to use that as a straw man, but you know it doesn't work so instead you appeal to the idea that the democratic process in our country is the way in which to solve this issue, presuming that there is no room for common ground here. States individually voting on the issue might end up being the only option, but again, I don't think that is an ideal way for the two of us to reconcile differences because pursuing justice through voting doesn't work well for the left-wing ideas since there is a right-wing bias in the system.

Although I don't think voting is a substitute for discussing this issue (because I still think we might be able to find common ground regarding when a person is a person), although I think voting isn't fair in our system, and that it is likely to result in many states outlawing abortion to the detriment of their communities, I don't see any other option for the time being. The other issues with our system need to be addressed and taken seriously, but given the current situation, I actually do think that passing down the issues to a state vote isn't the worst thing.

Also, using a supreme court ruling to interpret the right to privacy as a right to abortions doesn't seem like a great precedent to set; it's a loose interpretation of the constitution at best and the right to bodily autonomy and its limitations are not well defined. That ruling was a poor substitution for the lack of such; as is Griswold v. Connecticut, as is Einstadt v. Baird. Together these court cases alongside Roe v. Wade supposedly establish constitutional protection for bodily autonomy under the constitution, but I don't think the right to privacy itself is sufficient to grant bodily autonomy, or in the case of abortion, it doesn't define what kind of rights the fetus has. The law currently considers corporations people and for legal purposes, all kinds of other ridiculousness. That needs to change; there needs to be a consensus and a legitimate consideration of what a person actually is in the eyes of the law and there need to be actual protections for bodily autonomy established independently of the right to privacy.

There is another point I was making on climate change and the value of potential life. You and I both may have different values for the potential lives of the unborn. Climate change will result in many potential deaths, so in your estimation, a potential death due to climate change should matter more since you value the potential lives of the unborn to an extent beyond what I do. However, it is not entirely intellectually honest of me to continue to use this as a point since out of curiosity, I've looked into this more, and it's not so simple. I've seen data from the Founders Pledge researchers that indicate accounting for continuous major policy changes toward sustainability having children would have a negligible impact on the climate when the children being brought into the world are more ecological than their parents.
  
As a person who has a uterus, this conversation became pretty dehumanizing for me so I'm not going to read through a lot of it. It's pretty deeply triggering even for those of us who want kids to think about the lack of medical care surrounding births if termination rights are limited. Pregnancy is the most dangerous thing women can do for their health in both the short and long term. Many brave women go through it every day, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be a choice to do so. Overall, I'm shocked at the lack of empathy and intelligence surrounding this issue, but I thought I'd hop back in and share a video from an Obgyn I follow: Doctor Explains Roe vs Wade

She makes a lot of the points I knew to be true but didn't have sources for (links in video desc). Many afab people are raised to know these things about our bodies just like black people don't need statistics to prove racism is real. Be a human being and listen.
  
Do conjoined newborn twins have individual rights, despite being physically dependent on another human's body? Suppose a mother gives birth on an uninhabited island. There are fruits and fish but no baby formula. Is she now obligated to care for and nurse the child since there are no substitute caregivers available? Or does the newborn now no longer qualify for the right to life since it has become uniquely dependent on its mother's body?
Please note that throughout this, when I say “life” I’m including born humans and those in utero - a cell is a cell.

Applying questions like these to rare and isolated travesties that you are not the experiencer of is foolish and neglectful of the effect they would have on the person suffering. You are attempting to understand something so influential on a person’s mind without experiencing it yourself. I do not agree with your opinions on abortion nor do I think similarly to you. I will not ask you how you feel about the Monty Python song that goes “every sperm is sacred!” for the same reason you shouldn’t think answering questions like these will get one anywhere near understanding these how one’s mind works under the particular sufferings you brought up.

I know you feel bad for the loss of life from abortions on some level. I know as well it disturbs you that people would cut off a life so flippantly. Why do you feel that way? Because death is sad? Any human life that doesn’t get cut short will go through a lifetime’s worth of sadness and suffering - far more than whatever grief you feel over aborted children. To say that all life must be lived, regardless of its quality, is oppressive and antithetical to loving humanity. To say that someone is guilty of homicide after having an abortion is antithetical to forgiveness and rings of too much trust in one’s one own sense of morality and understanding of the world.

I know you are religious too. Would I be correct in thinking that there’s a special kind of concern or fear when it comes to abortion - for all involved in it?
  
E7 said:
Earlier you seemed on the fence about the whole idea and indicated that you personally would be wrong to do something that government somehow would be right to do.
I was on the fence about compelling someone to nurse, but compelling someone to do something is harder to justify than compelling someone not to do something. It's easier to justify intervening to prevent someone from killing their child than it is to justify forcing someone to nurse their child, for the same reason I have no qualms about outlawing abortion but do have qualms about mandating organ donation.
E7 said:
I get the vibe that it's a "rules for thee but not for me" kind of government you support, or that "might makes right", or that making a law or appealing to authority is somehow a substitute for ethical principles.
I've only advocated for democratic government, so I don't understand this characterization or what alternative you're proposing. Yes, laws should be founded on ethics, but they can't be written through ethics, only (in the best case) via the democratic process, which is itself necessarily agnostic to ethics.
E7 said:
If a woman finds herself in a sitution where she is considering illegal abortion, the fetus in her is not there as a consequence of illegal activity like how a burglar might incur an injury as a result of illegal activity. ... Pregnancy and the risks that come with it result from a legal activity: having sex.
In this analogy, the illegal activity would be getting an illegal abortion, not becoming pregnant.
E7 said:
instead you appeal to the idea that the democratic process in our country is the way in which to solve this issue, presuming that there is no room for common ground here.
Because there clearly isn't room for common ground here on the ethical issue - at least not for anyone who's thought about this as much as we have. Our moral frameworks are apparently not compatible on this point.
E7 said:
That needs to change; there needs to be a consensus and a legitimate consideration of what a person actually is in the eyes of the law and there need to be actual protections for bodily autonomy established independently of the right to privacy.
On this I do agree - the legal ambiguity isn't helping the situation at all.
E7 said:
Climate change will result in many potential deaths, so in your estimation, a potential death due to climate change should matter more since you value the potential lives of the unborn to an extent beyond what I do.
I'm extremely suspicious of such indirect applications of utilitarianism. It's the same reason I disagree with the argument that we should promote abortion for the sake of the quality of life of mothers and their other children. I don't think humans have a good track record with sacrificing one groups' rights for the "greater good". That's nonetheless a very interesting point on the climatological impact of more children vs. more ecologically-minded children.
It's pretty deeply triggering even for those of us who want kids to think about the lack of medical care surrounding births if termination rights are limited.
What effect do you propose restricting abortions would have on access to medical care surrounding births?
Pregnancy is the most dangerous thing women can do for their health in both the short and long term.
There were 861 deaths due to maternal causes in the US in 2020. For comparison, there are about 480,000 smoking deaths in the US per year. Women use tobacco at lower rates than men, but let's figure roughly half of those are women. Then smoking kills something like 279 times more women than pregnancy does, despite pregnancy (at some point in one's life) being far more common than smoking. That's just mortality, but I'd wager that smoking also has worse overall morbidity than pregnancy.
Many brave women go through it every day, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be a choice to do so.
We can again treat pregnancy resulting from rape separately if it would make a difference. But in general, the risk of pregnancy is both low and voluntary.
I watched this video but didn't hear anything substantive that we haven't already discussed. Which points in particular would you like to raise from this video?

I'll add that her representation of Alito's leaked draft opinion is in my estimation quite deceptive. In particular, she claims that the opinion opens a slippery slope to deny other rights like the right to privacy or interracial marriage. Please read the opinion and judge for yourself whether that's a reasonable conclusion:
From the leaked opinion:
Unable to show concrete reliance on Roe and Casey themselves, the Solicitor General suggests that overruling those decisions would “threaten the Court's precedents holding. that the Due Process Clause protects other rights.” Brief for United States Amicus Curiae (citing Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U. 8. 644 (2015); Lawrence v. for United States Amicus Curiae 26 (citing Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U. 8. 644 (2015); Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U. S. 558 (2008); Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U. S. 479 (1965)). That is not correct for reasons we have already discussed. As even the Casey plurality recognized, “[abortion is a unique act” because it terminates “life or potential life.” 505 U.S, at 852; see also Roe, 410 U. 8., at 159 (abortion is “inherently different from marital intimacy,” “marriage,” or “procreation”). And to ensure that our decision is not misunderstood or mischaracterized, we emphasize that our decision concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right. Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.
I strongly caution everyone against taking summaries or descriptions of this opinion at face value. There are a lot of ideologues out there who are more than willing to lie or distort the truth for the benefit of their cause, knowing that most people won't bother reading the document themselves.
Applying questions like these to rare and isolated travesties that you are not the experiencer of is foolish and neglectful of the effect they would have on the person suffering.
Rare and isolated examples can be very informative because they push against the limits of our ethical systems and intuition. That's why thought experiments like the trolley problem drive so much discussion, despite their implausibility.
Any human life that doesn’t get cut short will go through a lifetime’s worth of sadness and suffering - far more than whatever grief you feel over aborted children. To say that all life must be lived, regardless of its quality, is oppressive and antithetical to loving humanity.
I don't think that all life must be lived. For instance, I'm in favor of euthanasia, in extreme cases. But I do believe that the average life of an unwanted child is still worth living, and moreover I don't think anyone has the right to dictate that it's not worth living.
To say that someone is guilty of homicide after having an abortion is antithetical to forgiveness and rings of too much trust in one’s one own sense of morality and understanding of the world.
What does it have to do with forgiveness? My heart goes out to anyone who has been a victim of abortion, and I include in that list any mother who was convinced she has to kill her child to live a good life and any doctor who was convinced they were performing a service by destroying a healthy human child.

If I say someone is guilty of rape, does that preclude forgiving them? If I judge a slaveholder for practicing slavery, does that betray too much trust in my own sense of morality? What business is it of mine whether someone keeps slaves? I'm neither a slave nor a slaveholder. I can never fully understand their experience either. Like you said:
You are attempting to understand something so influential on a person’s mind without experiencing it yourself.
The fact is you don't have to experience something first-hand to have a moral opinion about it. We do that all the time, and usually it's counted as a virtue: empathy. But even putting aside empathy, there's also moral reasoning, and moral reasoning is in principle independent of the reasoner.
  
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