Abortion

I promised that I would do this topic soon, I may as well do it now. Especially since I’m in the mood after my raging debate on Facebook about it. Allow me to set the stage. My friend posted this image:
815086

 

After which her friends chat about their side of the issue. And I’m reading this Tumblrism and I notice something… the Tumblr post, the “Fun fact” never addresses the original question. It never addresses whether or not it’s one body or two. In fact, it skips that step altogether, and calls it one body on an assumption that the fetus, embryo, child, whatever you want to call it (I shall henceforth call it ‘the entity’) isn’t a human life. So because I’m an instigator, I have to get my hooks in and make some people mad. Over the course of some 20 or so messages, I could not get a straight answer out of the other individual as to why the being inside was not human and was not alive. So here’s my take on the issue. And before I start I’m just going to point out that I’m not a doctor, I have no medical background, I’m just a random blogger here.

Human:

First – is it human? Don’t be ridiculous, of course it’s human. On what grounds? It’s the offspring of two humans, it can only BE a human. If you mate a horse and a donkey you get a mule. A mule isn’t a horse, and it isn’t a donkey, and it can’t mate with either one. Or other mules for that matter, it’s completely sterile. If two horses generate offspring, that offspring will reliably grow up to a horse that could (in theory) mate with one of its parents. Chickens mate with their species, generate another chicken. So what you’re telling me when you say that this fetus isn’t a human is either that one of its parents isn’t human (unlikely) or what I think you’re really saying is that it’s not a human yet.

If you want to say that the entity isn’t a human yet, then that means you have the define a point in the development cycle in which the entity does become a human. How do you set that point? Obviously when the big bulge is on the mother, the entity is about to make its exit, it’s probably ‘human’ by that point. In fact, I think ‘abortion’ at that point may take the name ‘birth’ (sarcasm). But what about… say 2nd trimester? Hmmm… Maybe not then. The child’s hair has developed and we come from apes so… probably a bit too far in the cycle. The sex of the child can be determined. Probably safe to call it a human at that point. So how about we go further back. How about middle of the first trimester? The second month, the neural tube is distinguishable from the rest of the body. The fingers and toes are forming, the bones are forming. Is that human yet? Why?

I’ve asked this question several times and the discussion suddenly shifts from what makes the entity a human and turns into the rights of the mother. But we’re not worried about the rights of the mother just yet. We’re worried about whether or not the entity is a human and whether or not it should be afforded human rights. So how far back can we go?

I would argue that the entity becomes human at fertilization, or perhaps shortly after. The reason being eggs and sperm separately aren’t necessarily human. Why? Well, if they are, it presents a great problem because if eggs by themselves are humans, killing a woman is like a forty-thousand homocide or something. Women would be, by natural design, killing one human a month or so. Sounds like a dangerous path to go down for philosophy and law. On the flip-side if sperm were humans, we’d have to take a lot of guys downtown for killing humans regularly. Really, the main reason I argue that egg and sperm aren’t human by themselves because what happens if the host abstains? (Let’s just ignore Mary) In the female host, she will continue to have her period until menopause and no life will spring forth from her. In the male host, sperm will get reabsorbed by the body and the male will continue to produce sperm until he dies. No new life will spring forth from the male host either. Nothing you could count in the United States Census would be brought into this world. Let’s take the case of the newly pregnant female. If she maintains her healthy lifestyle, the entity will be born in 9 months-ish. The entity will be human assuming human parents.

I’m sure someone has noticed the problem with my definition of human. Evolution. If a human is the offspring of human parents, and I’m a human then my parents have to be human, and so on, until we get to our great ape ancestors which were not human by any definition of the word. So how do we resolve this issue? We run into the same issue of when is the entity a human versus when it is not a human. Hmm… How about this. Humans and chimps have a common ancestor. We stop there. So we can pick me, and go up through my parents and their parents and so on. When we meet a parent that can mate with me and chimps, we’ve gone too far.

Life:

So there’s my human definition and since the entity has two human parents, it’s a human. Now how about whether or not it’s alive? Well now we need to define life. There’s no good way to answer the question “what is life?” According to wikipedia, this is life:

“the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.” – Wikipedia

I tend to use an input-output definition of life. If an autonomous being requires sustenance from outside its being to survive, grow, and reproduce, it’s alive. If it can die, it was alive. This might get me into trouble when it comes to the robot revolution, and the question as to whether or not true AI self-replicating robots are alive, but that’s a problem for another day. And I’m not entirely sure I could argue that these robots wouldn’t be alive. I mean, think about it. If your issue with robots is that they can just chop-shop fix themselves, WE ARE GETTING TO THAT POINT TOO. How long before you can just go into the store and pick up a new arm? Holy smokes.

By my definition, the entity has to be alive, because it’s a parasite on its host. It eats the host’s resources to grow.You can’t use an autonomous self-providing definition because let’s be real here – babies are really useless for like two years. They can’t feed themselves, they can’t walk, they can’t do jack. So if you require mobility and the ability to provide for oneself for something to be alive, newborn babes are just as alive as the entity within. Which, if abortion is legal, would make the… neutralization of newborns also legal. It’s a natural extension.

Doctors have several types of life and death. When your heart stops being, you’re not really dead. We could bring you back through CPR, or the use of defibrillation. I guess most people go by brain death, where you can still have blood pumping through you, but you cannot be brought back… yet. If you go by the beating of the heart, you have 3 weeks to discover that you’re pregnant and then get your abortion. If you wait for the brain to partially develop, same deal, the beginning of the nervous system forms in the timespan it takes to form a heart. End of the first trimester the entity will have a functioning circulatory system. If you’re waiting for the brain to form, that would be in the second trimester. So if you require a fully developed brain, to call something alive, the entity is alive in the second trimester. But I don’t like the requirement of a brain for life. Single-celled organisms don’t have a brain, but they’re ‘alive’.

When are most abortions performed? CDC stats say about two-thirds in the first 8 weeks (first two months) and let’s just round about the last third done between 8 and 13 weeks (the third month). Because I was given a range of time, I’ll assume a Gaussian distribution of when the abortion was performed (though strictly speaking, I should probably assume a Laplacian distribution). That means most of the abortions were performed in the 3 week to 5 week range. But wait, that’s when the baby’s heart was formed. That’s when the neural tube, what would become the nervous system was formed. That’s when bones are forming. If we accept my definition of life and human, the entity will be a human and it will be alive. the removal of it would then be murder.

How about this, how do you determine what is the host’s body compared to the entity’s body? You can’t, if you accept the entire system as the host’s body. So how do you know how much host to remove? You have to accept that there is knowledge of the entity and its scope, so you remove the entity alone and not the host. But that assumption itself implies that the entity has a body, in which case, it is no longer just the host’s body.

Now understand, my issue with abortion is pretty much entirely the murder part. And not because I have some preconceived notion of the value of human life. My problem is with the consistency of law. A legal abortion would be legal murder by the logic presented. What you’re proposing is a condition under which murder would be legal. Which makes it a target for setting precedent. Precedence is a very dangerous thing when applied to topics which you might find rather invasive. I’m not entirely sure that I would argue that slippery slope doesn’t apply. I can just imagine the future in which doctors shrink themselves to operate inside a patient. A patient could, while the doctor is inside have the doctor removed and killed on the premise that it was the patient’s body. How much of the entity must the host contain for the removal of the entity to be fair. I hate to get gross here, but what if a couple is having sex and the female suddenly decides to chop of the male’s penis. It was inside her, was it ‘her body’? Bear in mind this example is arguing from the ‘is is not alive and it is inside my body’ point of view.

Conclusion:

 So you see, I’m at a bit of a pinch. Because I don’t think the government should pass two contradicting laws. And I don’t very much like the idea of setting a precedence like this on something which in its best case is mutilation and in its worst case is murder. The safest option is to outlaw it altogether and file it under murder. And it’s not like non-human things don’t get rights. You can’t up and kill your dog, that’s animal cruelty. The murder of threatened species like Bald Eagles will net you fines and jail-time. And I wonder if this does anything to the rights of people in vegetative states. I don’t know. Legal abortion could open up it’s own can of worms. Until we agree on what’s human and what’s alive, we should avoid permitting abortions. That’s just my take on it.

Artemis Hunt

Advertisements
Abortion

When is it Over?

Heads up – my views are perhaps a little more extreme than most and they don’t scale too well with some morality definitions.

For a change of pace, let’s not talk about United States politics. Mostly because Sanders is likely toast. Though it’d be hilarious if Clinton got indicted and Sanders would’ve won all along. Anyway, let’s talk about the ways competitions end.

Team sports like basketball have a time limit. When the time expires, the team with more points wins. Easy peasy. What if the teams are tied? Well there are some special rules for that but ultimately it’s a timed game. You have one hour to get as many BUCKETS as possible.

Board games usually end when particular criterion are met. Snakes and Ladders ends when a person gets to the other side of the board. That person wins. In card games, say… Magic, you win if you reduce your opponent’s life to zero. If your opponent has no remaining cards to draw (a result of milling decks) then they also lose. There are also some variations for sports. I think there are some mercy rules in sports in which if a team wins too hard too fast the game ends before the other team can embarrass themselves in trying to overcome such a disadvantage.

There’s also the option of surrender and winning by default which is where this post is going to focus. You can lose games (like card games – fucking Hearthstone) by surrendering. And you can lose by simply not being there to compete. You can’t win if you’re not there to play the game, so you lose by default. Now let’s make the (gruesome) extension to war. Wars are not subject to absolute timescales, like basketball. There aren’t any rules (strictly speaking) in war. I mean, sure, we have Geneva Convention. We, as nations, have agreed to follow these rules. But there’s no requirement that the rules be followed. And to be honest, this is why I believe the GOP is in favor of torturing ISIS. ISIS isn’t playing by our rules. They never agreed to the rules. Why should you play by the rules if your opponent won’t? Personal integrity, I suppose. Is that personal integrity worth it? Is it worth the lives of citizens, is it worth the lives of enemies? I’ll leave that question to the reader.

So how do wars end? Surrender, I suppose. Default would be an when there is no one to oppose you but that can get dangerous really fast. But there’s an important thing to note about surrender. That is, the would be victor must accept the surrender. There’s a GREAT scene in Game of Thrones which emphasizes this point (I’d say spoiler alert, but let’s be real here, you’ve seen it). For those of you unwilling to watch the clip, it’s of Ramsay Bolton. He comes across an injured knight from ‘the other side’ on the ground. Ramsay steps forward to deal a killing blow. The knight cries out, ‘Surrender! I surrender!’ What is Ramsay’s response? He says, “I accept your surrender,” and deals a killing blow. The thing about surrender is that the victor sets the terms. This effectively caused World War II, or at least it acted as a contributing factor.

So in that sense, since the victor must accept the terms of surrender, the entity surrendering doesn’t really have much of a say in the matter. The victor decides when the war is over, not the loser. The victor decides that the fighting ends and then the victor decides what is to be done with the loser. Sun Tzu said it best in The Art of War when they said be gracious to the defeated. Because if you don’t, and you let them live, as the allies did in World War I, you get Nazi Germany.

Before I go further, I would highly recommend reading The Art of War; I’ve linked it above. It has a lot of conventional wisdom which can be applied to more aspects of life than war. I want to note that Sun Tzu advises war as a last resort, when no peaceful resolution can be met.

Okay, so it’s amazing what economic depression can do to people. It’s amazing how the people will rally around… “hope”? It’s amazing how treatment after defeat in a war can be used as a rallying cry. People want to blame someone, they want a scapegoat. It’s great, and the Dark Knight explores this theme in the boat experiment. Maybe not primarily, but I’d say it’s there! It would seem many people do not want another World War II. Some people (like Germany) would like to forget it ever happened. Don’t mention it, no swastikas allowed, history must be buried so the world can remember we brought them dirndles instead  and Oktoberfest. I don’t blame them and I feel some of the fault does lie with the allies. But see, here’s the problem: the allies forgot the only real rule in war. Win by total annihilation.

Sun Tzu makes a great point to treat the defeated fairly. Why? You do not want an embittered, defeated opponent to fester in times of peace. To gather allies, to gather power, and eventually strike again. Does such treatment truly prevent another war? Of this, I’m skeptical. People don’t easily forget the family members that they had to bury or could not bury. People don’t forget the burned buildings, the destroyed cities, the hunger, and they don’t forget the flag of the person that did it. But sure, it’s more humanitarian, probably.

I’m going to be the one to propose the alternative solution to war: total destruction of the enemy. The soldiers, the family, the children, everybody dies. No one can rise against you if there’s no one to rise. It conveniently gets rid of the future uprising issue. The alternative is a militia state but that can also cause an uprising. Just can’t win eh? In an ideal world, there are no wars, and I’m not suggesting that nations go out of their way to destroy other nations. My philosophy is that if you are attacked by an unprovoked nation, leave nothing behind. Leave no one to grieve for the fallen. Person A attacks Person B on the street? Person A should kill Person B with their first strike, or Person B will respond with lethal force. Because leaving a survivor will make you a target for future attacks. Person A? They have friends. They could come back with friends. At least in the case of dead Person A, that’s one less person to worry about if the friends decide to enact vengeance. Leaving people to grieve only fosters resentment, and future attacks.

The question one needs to ask themselves when they employ such tactics is whether or not they can live with themselves having done so. I don’t think this is an easy question. I also think that my position is radical in today’s world. If the United States decided to nuke the Middle East, retaliatory action from the United Nations (which would likely just be ‘pressure’, not force) would follow. Is this the opening Russia wants? Mutually assured destruction might suggest not. So now I wonder, is it all a farce? Is our ‘peace’ just a better alternative to the deaths of many more, possibly all people? What size of an attack on a superpower is necessary to ‘wake the beast’? Will such an attack ever happen? Have we seen the last World War? These are all thoughtful questions.

Artemis Hunt

When is it Over?