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Debates on Abortion Subforum in Christian Philosophy & Ethics specific for the discussion/debate of abortion

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  #431  
Unread 27th January 2010, 07:20 AM
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What is sentience in your opinon?
Being self aware. Having a concept of "self"
You are aware that babies in the womb recieve oxygen from thier mother placenta and umbelica cord?
Interesting point. This is, of course true. However I don't know that it really constitutes a "breath". Remember, it was the ancient Hebrews who came up with this definition, and I doubt they understood that respiratory gases were passes between mother and foetus via the umbilicus.
You conceed, surely, that a growing baby in the womb is experiencing such growth?
Perhaps I wasn't clear. I don't mean physical growh, I mean mental, spiritual, emotional growth. "personal growth", as it were. I don't believe a foetus displays these forms of growth, certainly not in the first several months of gestation anyay.
You also conceed it [the baby in the womb] is a human being?
Not... really.

The foetus (baby, unborn child, whatever) is certainly human, but I don't believe it is a human BEING. To be a human being, again, requires sentience.

Please understand, this isn't just me trying to split semantic hairs, I'm just trying to relay the fact that the people who wrote the OT had a clear idea of when you become a person, and that this happens at birth. Its even fair to say that this has remained a fairly common position. For example, until quite recently, in some places, even to the last couple of years, a stillborn child was simply treated as clinical waste. The mother was not allowed to even see the child most places, let alone receve the body to give a funeral tom which was purely due to the baby not being considered a person because it had never drawn breath. Nowadays, it is fairly standard practice to treat a stillbirth as though it were a live birth, the midwife and nursing staff will clean the body up, dress it and give it to the mother, the family will be permitted to spend time with the baby, and the body will be released for a burial. Some places even issue a birth certificate, though legally, this is strictly unofficial. But understand, all of this is seen as necessary to the mother and rest of familys' well being. If the family does not want to participate in such a fashion, the body can still be discarded as clinical waste.

All because the idea of personhood starting with the first breath is such a firmly entrenched and universally recognised idea.

I'm not making this up or anything.
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  #432  
Unread 27th January 2010, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by EnemyPartyII View Post
Being self aware. Having a concept of "self"
By this same definition, those who are asleep are no longer sentient.

How about those for whom mind functions have ceased, or are unconscious, perchance in a coma? Would they be sentient according to your definition?

As you can see, I find this definition of 'sentient' rather lacking. Most especially in regard to, not only babies in the womb, but our most least fortunate, if I may be so bold as to deem them [disabled persons] so.

Originally Posted by EnemyPartyII View Post
Interesting point. This is, of course true. However I don't know that it really constitutes a "breath". Remember, it was the ancient Hebrews who came up with this definition, and I doubt they understood that respiratory gases were passes between mother and foetus via the umbilicus.
Breathing is recieving of oxygen and exhalation of carbondioxide, is it not?

Inhale, exhale?

You are aware that babies in the womb respirate. Very good. praise God!
It took me weeks to scour the web to find that information, but God told me it was there, and I kept searching 'till I found it.

Again, let's look at this from an alternative perspective;

What of those [lets say adults, for the sake of arguement] who are on respirators?

They are not 'breathing' per say, but rather, as is the case with babies in the womb, recieving oxygen through a means and, as well, exhale via alternate means, rather than via the natural functions of thier bodies under thier own power.

Are they [these persons on respirators, unable to breath on thier own], no longer human beings either?

Originally Posted by EnemyPartyII View Post
Perhaps I wasn't clear. I don't mean physical growh, I mean mental, spiritual, emotional growth. "personal growth", as it were. I don't believe a foetus displays these forms of growth, certainly not in the first several months of gestation anyay.Not... really.
Just because you don't believe it, does not mean it doesn't happen, surely?

Question is;

Could it?

IS it possible?

You are aware that babies in the womb move around accordingly as to progress thier physical growth as well as to gain a level of comfort for themselves?

Originally Posted by EnemyPartyII View Post
The foetus (baby, unborn child, whatever) is certainly human, but I don't believe it is a human BEING. To be a human being, again, requires sentience.
What makes you say it is not being human?

Surely it is being itself, which is human, no?

Originally Posted by EnemyPartyII View Post
Please understand, this isn't just me trying to split semantic hairs, I'm just trying to relay the fact that the people who wrote the OT had a clear idea of when you become a person, and that this happens at birth. Its even fair to say that this has remained a fairly common position. For example, until quite recently, in some places, even to the last couple of years, a stillborn child was simply treated as clinical waste. The mother was not allowed to even see the child most places, let alone receve the body to give a funeral tom which was purely due to the baby not being considered a person because it had never drawn breath. Nowadays, it is fairly standard practice to treat a stillbirth as though it were a live birth, the midwife and nursing staff will clean the body up, dress it and give it to the mother, the family will be permitted to spend time with the baby, and the body will be released for a burial. Some places even issue a birth certificate, though legally, this is strictly unofficial. But understand, all of this is seen as necessary to the mother and rest of familys' well being. If the family does not want to participate in such a fashion, the body can still be discarded as clinical waste.

All because the idea of personhood starting with the first breath is such a firmly entrenched and universally recognised idea.

I'm not making this up or anything.
You understand that this universally recognised idea is one of philosophical origins?

You understand as well that it is sometimes quite necessary to 'split hairs'?

Just so there's no offense taken.

God bless you!
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Last edited by Zeena; 27th January 2010 at 07:49 AM.
  #433  
Unread 27th January 2010, 08:19 AM
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By this same definition, those who are asleep are no longer sentient.

How about those for whom mind functions have ceased, or are unconscious, perchance in a coma? Would they be sentient according to your definition?

As you can see, I find this definition of 'sentient' rather lacking. Most especially in regard to, not only babies in the womb, but our most least fortunate, if I may be so bold as to deem them [disabled persons] so.
Sleep is certainly an altered state of consciousness, whether it is a loss of self awareness is debateable. I'll certainly agree that someone anaesthetised or in a coma is not self aware. However, you'll note I also mentioned "community acceptance" going into personhood. i.e it isn't just that you yourself consider you to be a person, but that also you presumeably have friends, family, workplace, debts, debtors, responsibilities and so on that continue even when consciousness ceases. Further, a person going to sleep or into a coma has previously experienced self awareness, and their sentience on regaining consciousness is a continuation of what existed before, it is not something new.

Disabled people are a bit of a grey area in my own mind. They are the reason my beliefs changed from personhood depending purely on self awareness to the community recognition bit. A severely disabled person may not have any sense of self, however, if their family, friends, associates, or whatever consider them a person, and value them accordingly, then that still counts for something.

I contend that a foetus lacks these elements, at least an early stage foetus. Now, I know you are about to say that many parents and families feel they are bonding with the unborn before its born, and that is true. But I would contend that the people who feel they have a bond with the unborn are not the same people likely to seek an abortion.
Breathing is recieving of oxygen is it not?

Inhale, exhale?

You are aware that babies in the womb respirate. Very good. praise God!
It took me weeks to scour the web to find that information, but God told me it was there, and I kept searching 'till I found it.

Again, let's look at this from an alternative perspective;

What of those [lets say adults, for the sake of arguement] who are on respirators?

They are not 'breathing' per say, but rather, as is the case with babies in the womb, recieving oxygen through a means and, as well, exhale via alternate means, rather than via the natural functions of thier bodies under thier own power.

Are they [these persons on respirators, unable to breath on thier own], no longer human beings either?
OK... first of all, allow me to get technical for a minute.

"Breathing", is PART of the respiratory process. Breathing is, specifically, the inhalation and exhalation of gasses by the lungs to facilitate oxygenation, waste disposal and pH buffering of the body by the lungs. In utero babies don't, technically, do this. A foetus does, of course, "respire", as do all aerobic organisms, but in the case of an in utero foetus, all respiration is enabled by blood exchange with the mother, so technically, while both mother and baby "respire", it is only the mother who "breaths".

OK, thats the technical bit out of the way...

Now... personally, I think it quite likely that a foetus has some basic level of self awareness, and thus can be considered a person, from about 24 weeks gestation onwards. I didn't make up the "not a person until it draws breath" thing, as I've been saying all along, that is an ancient belief of the Jewish people, built on the foundation of a passage in the book of Exodus. I'm not arguing that a foetus isn't a person until it draws breath, because I don't actually believe that. What I am arguing, is that the "God" or "the Bible says abortion is murder" argument is false, because it quite plainly doesn't, as evidenced by the "not a person until a breath" thing. Sorry, I know it sounds trite, but I'm not the person to argue this point with here... its sort of one of those things you need to take up with the author of Exodus.

As to people on respirators, thats a really good question, I'd be interested to know what the strict position of orthodox Jewdaism is on that point. However, since people on a respirator can and frequently do maintain their sentience (and their community recognition) I fully believe they are a person.
Just because you don't believe it, does not mean it doesn't happen, surely?

Question is;

Could it?

IS it possible?
Sure it COULD happen. I fully admit that my beliefs about when, where and how we get a soul is just that, my belief. It is not based in any way on any sort of empirical evidence. I have what I believe is a sound basis for believing as I do, but I also freely admit may be mistaken. You will notice I never actually state that a foetus/embryo/fertilised ova DOESN'T have a soul, merely that I don't believe it does, and that the authors of the Bible seem to agree with me. Finally, I might ask others why they believe that something that is less self aware than a goldfish has a soul, and how that works, exactly, but I almost never get a direct answer to that question.
What makes you say it is not being human?

Surely it is being itself, which is human, no?
This is one of those times when the English language is a little less than precise, but I'll try.

In this case "human" means "human material, biologically something that is generated by or part of an human organism". "Human BEING" means a person, a self aware entity. If you can see the distinction.

So, a foetus (especially an early stage one);

Human? Check. Definitely something generated by an human organism.
Living? Check. Metabolic processes going on, respiring, producing waste, growing, consuming, doing all the things necessary to be considered alive. No question.
Human being/person? No. Until it has at least a basic awareness, I'm sorry, but I can't agree with the idea that a thing that simply has no sense of "self" as being a person.
You understand that this universally recognised idea is one of philoshopical origins?
Absolutely. And like I just said, I don't actually believe this idea, I believe a foetus can and should be considered a person LONG before birth and the first breath. The only reason I'm including this whole bit about the first breath in the discussion is to show those people who want to say "God calls abortion murder" that it just ain't so. I believe it's important to be precise about serious issues, so thats why I'm going so all out trying to explain this point. I have no problem with people thinking abortion is wrong, evil, bad, wicked, selfish, arrogant or a whole bunch of other negative words. But when someone says something I know is mistaken, well, I have this incredible urge to try to show them their mistake.
Just so there's no offense taken.
Absolutely none taken! And I sincerely hope you aren't taking offence at anything I'm saying either! Having a contrary point of opinion should never offend anyone, when I get offended is when people refuse to listen to another person's POV, or are straight out rude, offensive or dismissive of anyone who disagrees with them, purely BECAUSE they disagree with them.
God bless you!
And also you, sister
  #434  
Unread 27th January 2010, 08:45 AM
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To EnemyPartyII

It wasn't A-N-Y-O-N-E.
Yet it had all your DNA. This is the problem I have with your response, of course there is more to a person than DNA but DNA is needed distinguishes you and I.


Were you a person when "you" were just a sperm and egg? If not, whats the difference?
Yes of course, who else and what else could I have been if the sperm and egg hasn’t developed into me?


Its like an acorn. An acorn might DEVELOP an oak tree, but I don't think many people would believe that an oak tree and an acorn are the same thing.
What is your point as I can see the difference in the developmental stage of an acorn and an oak and a baby in the womb (foetus) and a born baby and a fully grown adult. But the acorn will develop into an oak, and the specific oak it is destined to develop into.


The problem with that is that I am demonstrably a person.
Ah now we are getting somewhere, according to you but for someone who doesn’t recognise that reality how would you convinced them by demonstration?

"Personhood" suggests the filling of certain criteria, that both you and I, presently fulfil, but that a foetus does not.
Ah but the foetus is still a life in development whether it is sentient or not, I guess you are arguing trying to separate ‘personhood’ as opposed to ‘life’. I would say the ‘person’ still exists in development as a foetus, but even if you don’t the issue is it’s a life, destroy the foetus life and the issue of personhood is irrelevant.


You brought up "life" in your previous post. I am merely clarifying that yes, I agree that a foetus is alive. I then point out that merely being alive is not sufficient to be considered a person.
So why not use the words ‘life’ rather than alive?
If the foetus is alive it is a life, yes?

Um... no, that is PRECISELY my point. An abortion IS terminating life. But it is NOT terminating a PERSON.
Well the scriptural passage says ‘life’ and other passages say God knows us in the womb, who are we if not persons? And why terminate the life of a person in the making?


OK... so if the penalty for killing a person is one thing, and the punishment for causing an abortion is something else... then obviously, the person who wrote Exodus considered killing a person, and causing an abortion, to be different things, right?
The person who wrote Exodus is saying these came from God. What are you saying, they didn’t? If they didn’t why are you bothered with what Exodus says? Besides what you are referring to is the penalty not the life which is the issue here, not the penalty for abortion but the fact it’s a life, something the NT makes clear we shouldn’t take by choice.


If you're not even going to bother reading what I have to say, and merely skim things for the sole purpose of looking for things to disagree with, then we aren't going to have a very productive conversation.
Well I have read what you wrote otherwise I wouldn’t be able to say I don’t accept the interpretation.

Translation: You can't show me anywhere were scripture, or "God", calls abortion murder.
No, that doesn’t help, for example can you show me anywhere in any translation where paedophilia is condemned?

If scripture says it’s a life and God knows us in the womb how would abortion by choice not be murder? If God knows us in the womb I cant see how you can hold your position, who or what do you think God knows in the womb if it says us?

So... what's this then? A figment of my imagination?
No, I addressed them so ho can it be a figment of your imagination?

Now I fail to see what authority you can give interpretation from the Babylonian Talmud (or the Jerusalem for that matter) over the rest of the Bible. Jesus corrected the Pharisees’s and scribes understanding of the written and oral law. You also say the interpretation is based on Exodus 21. You seem to be using extra Biblical sources against other scripture.
  #435  
Unread 27th January 2010, 08:48 AM
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I really enjoyed your post EnemyPartyII, for the Spirit in which it was writ

I do believe that each man [mankind] has the choice to with his body as he see's the Lord moving him. To do otherwise is sin.

I take no contention with those so convicted as to the Spirit of God in thier own, personal choices. So long as another is not harmed by such choices.

Ergo, I do perceive abortion as sin.
For I construde a baby, who is in the womb, as a person from the moment of conception.

I know this to be the case, for I, too, am convicted of my belief.
As such, I have sought out many measures to disaude people from harming innocent children, babies in the womb, as i perceive them.

I don't think anyone can blame me for this, seeing as it is my conviction.
But in the same token, I do not blame anyone else, for the Blood of Christ is sufficient.

Ephesians 4:32
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

Thank you, again, for speaking with me on equal terms, in a non-derrogatory manner, it is much appreciated.

God bless you too, my sister
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Last edited by Zeena; 27th January 2010 at 08:55 AM. Reason: added Scripture :)
  #436  
Unread 27th January 2010, 08:53 AM
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The concept that a human being requires sentience is subjective. Not everyone agrees. What about puberty? Why not draw the line there? Sure the organism just before puberty is sentient and can feel pain but who are vyou to say thats the subjective criteria if others disagree with you?
Anyway the whole issue can be solved by saying dont have sex unless one wants the responsibilty of conception. And isnt that what its all about sexual license? Of course it is. The next question will be so am I saying do with out sex, and the answer is yes! thats what it says in the Bible its for procreation. If people can't do without sex, and one doesn't need it, then sex must be their god.
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Unread 27th January 2010, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Phinehas2 View Post
To EnemyPartyII

Yet it had all your DNA. This is the problem I have with your response, of course there is more to a person than DNA but DNA is needed distinguishes you and I.

Yes of course, who else and what else could I have been if the sperm and egg hasn’t developed into me?

What is your point as I can see the difference in the developmental stage of an acorn and an oak and a baby in the womb (foetus) and a born baby and a fully grown adult. But the acorn will develop into an oak, and the specific oak it is destined to develop into.

Ah now we are getting somewhere, according to you but for someone who doesn’t recognise that reality how would you convinced them by demonstration?

Ah but the foetus is still a life in development whether it is sentient or not, I guess you are arguing trying to separate ‘personhood’ as opposed to ‘life’. I would say the ‘person’ still exists in development as a foetus, but even if you don’t the issue is it’s a life, destroy the foetus life and the issue of personhood is irrelevant.

So why not use the words ‘life’ rather than alive?
If the foetus is alive it is a life, yes?

Well the scriptural passage says ‘life’ and other passages say God knows us in the womb, who are we if not persons? And why terminate the life of a person in the making?

The person who wrote Exodus is saying these came from God. What are you saying, they didn’t? If they didn’t why are you bothered with what Exodus says? Besides what you are referring to is the penalty not the life which is the issue here, not the penalty for abortion but the fact it’s a life, something the NT makes clear we shouldn’t take by choice.

Well I have read what you wrote otherwise I wouldn’t be able to say I don’t accept the interpretation.

No, that doesn’t help, for example can you show me anywhere in any translation where paedophilia is condemned?
If scripture says it’s a life and God knows us in the womb how would abortion by choice not be murder? If God knows us in the womb I cant see how you can hold your position, who or what do you think God knows in the womb if it says us?

No, I addressed them so ho can it be a figment of your imagination?
Now I fail to see what authority you can give interpretation from the Babylonian Talmud (or the Jerusalem for that matter) over the rest of the Bible. Jesus corrected the Pharisees’s and scribes understanding of the written and oral law. You also say the interpretation is based on Exodus 21. You seem to be using extra Biblical sources against other scripture.
At this point, I would take it as a minor victory if you would acknowledge that Jewish people and Jewish tradition holds that a foetus isn't a person until it draws breath. Can you do that?

I'm not asking you to AGREE with it, I'm just asking you to acknowledge that thats what the people who wrote the OT believed.
  #438  
Unread 27th January 2010, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Phinehas2 View Post
The concept that a human being requires sentience is subjective. Not everyone agrees. What about puberty? Why not draw the line there? Sure the organism just before puberty is sentient and can feel pain but who are vyou to say thats the subjective criteria if others disagree with you?
Anyway the whole issue can be solved by saying dont have sex unless one wants the responsibilty of conception. And isnt that what its all about sexual license? Of course it is. The next question will be so am I saying do with out sex, and the answer is yes! thats what it says in the Bible its for procreation. If people can't do without sex, and one doesn't need it, then sex must be their god.
Aha! The truth comes out!

I very much suspect that a great many of the people who engage in "abortion is murder!" rhetoric and would deny women the option, aren't actually that concerned about all the sweet little baby foetuses. What they really care about is trying to stop people having sex. This post further reinforces my point.

Can you do without your car? Your computer? Money? No?

But do you need it? Of course not. So does that make your car/computer/money your God?
  #439  
Unread 27th January 2010, 09:08 AM
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The Talmud changes according to the circumstance of it's society, doesn't it?

Are not laws in it re-writ, re-worked, according to situational ethics?

If so, then who's to say what was writ back when the OT was written down is the same today?
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  #440  
Unread 27th January 2010, 09:14 AM
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To EnemyPartyII,
No I dont agree that all Jewish people or Jewish tradition holds that a foetus isn't a person until it draws breath. Can you do that? Some certainly does and you have proved that.

Judaism does not forbid abortion, but it does not permit abortion on demand. Abortion is only permitted for serious reasons. - BBC - Religions - Judaism: Abortion
Abortion in Jewish Law

Abortion in Judaism
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