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Old 03-16-2011, 09:09 AM   #1
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The quantification of life

Something has been bothering me recently and it has to do with how developed countries determine the sanctity of life.

The two elements that hinge on my point are abortion and the death penalty.

The principle behind outlawing capital punishment is the sanctity of life. That is, that life itself is immune from the remit of punishment because it is held higher in value than the value of punishment. However in nations where this is upheld in law, why is it that the same principle tends not to be applied to the issue of abortion.

If the sanctity of life is given enough credence to outlaw capital punishment where is the same credence for outlawing abortion?

We can see the same thing in reverse in the US where capital punishment is given credence by the state but the issue of the legality of abortion is still under much debate.

My point is not to argue the pros and cons of abortion and the death penalty in themselves though that may follow but rather the contradictory approaches of the developed world when determining the value of life when dealing with these two issues.

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Old 03-16-2011, 09:18 AM   #2
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Re: The quantification of life

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Originally Posted by dan-cat View Post
However in nations where this is upheld in law, why is it that the same principle tends not to be applied to the issue of abortion.
Because there are those who have determined in their own wisdom (which isn't saying much) that a fetus is not considered living until a certain point, even though its cells are living, and the formation is as a living being. If it can't survive outside of the womb, they consider it not life at all. So, therein lies the main argument, which has been argued into the ground - when does "life" occur?
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Old 03-16-2011, 09:31 AM   #3
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Re: The quantification of life

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Originally Posted by boblarson View Post
Because there are those who have determined in their own wisdom (which isn't saying much) that a fetus is not considered living until a certain point, even though its cells are living, and the formation is as a living being.
This leads me to my second point. The 'potential' of this developing fetus is dismissed by law and thus abortion is justified.

There is little to no 'potential' in a psychopathic serial killer and yet the life is protected.

Why is it that the absence of the relevance of 'potential' results in two different conclusions?

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Old 03-16-2011, 10:23 AM   #4
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Re: The quantification of life

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Originally Posted by dan-cat View Post
The principle behind outlawing capital punishment is the sanctity of life.
I'm not sure about that. The arguments I've heard against the death penalty is that it is more expensive, its irreversible in the case of mistakes, and it doesn't seem to statistically deter crime (with each side having their own hand-picked statistics to support them).

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Originally Posted by dan-cat View Post
...rather the contradictory approaches of the developed world when determining the value of life when dealing with these two issues.
It is very contradictory, but in the eyes of those who are anti-abortion & pro-death penalty, it makes total sense. The arguments I have heard are that life starts at conception, and that a fetus has made no choices/mistakes, etc. Whereas a person facing the death penalty put themself in that position by committing henious crimes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boblarson
Because there are those who have determined in their own wisdom (which isn't saying much) that a fetus is not considered living until a certain point, even though its cells are living, and the formation is as a living being. If it can't survive outside of the womb, they consider it not life at all. So, therein lies the main argument, which has been argued into the ground - when does "life" occur?
So, which side of the argument are you on? (That's sarcasm).

I can see both sides of the argument when it comes to abortion, but personally I'm not in favor of forcing women to have babies they don't want.

Being nonreligious I don't view life as being sacred, which is probably why my views and those on the far-right side of this are worlds apart.
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Old 03-16-2011, 10:53 AM   #5
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Re: The quantification of life

I was wondering when another abortion topic would be started.

I think abortion must be considered on a very strict case by case basis. It's for this reason, that I side more on the side of pro-choice than pro-lifers seem to follow. I also have a lot of issues with some of the pro-lifer views.

One view pro-lifers seem to over-whelmingly agree on is that abortion should be illegal, except in the case of rape or health issues. The health issues I have no problem with. Obviously, if the fetus is not going to survive because of a birth defect, it's more humane for the mother and for the fetus to abort it. On the same stance, if the mother and/or fetus are in danger, and the fetus cannot be saved, then abortion is obviously and regrettably the only solution. My argument there is within the hypocricy of that stance. They believe that life begins at conception. Why is an innocent victim of the rape, the fetus, automatically disposable? It can't help it that its father was a criminal and its mother a victim.

Another thing that has been making it's round around legal offices is a law to force a pregnant woman to endure an ultrasound where they MUST look at the fetus in the womb before making a decision. This is punishment that should not be tolerated by anyone.

Very few pro-lifers believe that there should NEVER be grounds for an abortion, which is just crazy! The mother that gave birth to the stillborn baby recently in the media is an example where this sort of law is inhumane and costly.

The only pro-lifer stance I don't find hypocritical to the pro-lifer cause is no abortion except in the case of health reasons. This means even rape victims cannot get an abortion. I don't agree with this stance, but it's the only one I don't find hypocricy in.

Now, I know pro-choice has the potential to be abused and is abused. There are definitely people who have had multiple abortions without any feeling of regret involved. I believe this is a very small minority of people. I believe most people who have had abortions go into serious thoughts and considerations before coming to that conclusion. I've witnessed it at Planned Parenthood by the emotions expressed by others who have made that decision. I've never seen someone walk out of a clinic like it was an everyday routine. Outlawing abortions because of a small minority of people that may abuse it is not the way to go. Rights should not be removed because of a small potential for abuse. If that was okay, then we should outlaw guns, cars, alcohol, smoking, free speech... you see where this is going?

I think abortions before the cerebral cortex development and activation should be legal. Science and medical research recognizes this as when conscious thought begins. We know this starts after the second trimester. Prior to this, there is no brain activity other than brain stem and spinal cord, which only controls internal ticks and are not responsible for conscious awareness. I think once this begins, "life" has begun. Medical research agrees with this sentiment.
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Old 03-16-2011, 11:22 AM   #6
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Re: The quantification of life

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Originally Posted by Vassago View Post
I think once this begins, "life" has begun. Medical research agrees with this sentiment.
I'd like to pick up on this point. Let's put aside the cases of rape and medical endangerment and assume that the fetus is perfectly healthy.

The onus of this argument has always been that the fetus is not alive. But here's a different way of looking at it. An abortion is not considered in these cases because the fetus is an unwanted clutch of cells. The abortion is considered because it is the new life that is unwanted. It is life that is the premise for the decision.

Is the notion of a clutch of cells simply cold comfort for the choice that is actually being made?
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Old 03-16-2011, 11:31 AM   #7
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Re: The quantification of life

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Originally Posted by Adam Caramon View Post
The arguments I've heard against the death penalty is that it is more expensive, its irreversible in the case of mistakes, and it doesn't seem to statistically deter crime (with each side having their own hand-picked statistics to support them).
Those reasons are so disturbingly bureaucratic that perhaps they are the groundings for the law of non capital punishment. Perhaps I was being overly optimistic in thinking such laws are based on moral principles.

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Old 03-16-2011, 01:33 PM   #8
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Re: The quantification of life

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Originally Posted by dan-cat View Post
Those reasons are so disturbingly bureaucratic that perhaps they are the groundings for the law of non capital punishment. Perhaps I was being overly optimistic in thinking such laws are based on moral principles.
There are definitely moral complications faced with irreversible mistakes. There have been many cases lately where an innocent victim's punishment has already been carried out, even though they claimed innocence throughout their time in death row, only to be proven innocent by dna and forensic evidence analysis that didn't exist at the time. These statistics are disturbing all on their own. Imagine this happening to you simply because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time and no one believing your innocence.

I'm sure some of it is bureaucratic, but for me, it's far more on the human side. I believe that this will happen less with today's technology, but it's not foolproof. Back then, we believed we had enough technology to prove crimes. Who knows what better capabilities we will have in 50 years?
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Old 03-16-2011, 01:45 PM   #9
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Re: The quantification of life

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Originally Posted by dan-cat View Post
I'd like to pick up on this point. Let's put aside the cases of rape and medical endangerment and assume that the fetus is perfectly healthy.

The onus of this argument has always been that the fetus is not alive. But here's a different way of looking at it. An abortion is not considered in these cases because the fetus is an unwanted clutch of cells. The abortion is considered because it is the new life that is unwanted. It is life that is the premise for the decision.

Is the notion of a clutch of cells simply cold comfort for the choice that is actually being made?
If the life has not began yet, then it's not really a life. The person choosing that they don't want that life is irrelevant because that life doesn't exist yet. It's different when there is a conscious being losing its life.

It's no different in my opinion than a person using a condom to prevent pregnancy, cells are being lost, but they don't sustain a conscious life on their own with a cerebral cortex of their own.
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Old 03-16-2011, 04:32 PM   #10
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Re: The quantification of life

I actually saw a prolife slogan which was refreshingly acceptable for a change.

Choose Life

Mostly they are the same tired old "preaching to the choir" routines.

And speaking of hypocrisy, the very same hard-line conservatives that are always up in arms over taking care of the “lazy no-counts”, are the very same ones promoting an endless stream of poor children.
Go figure.
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Old 03-16-2011, 05:18 PM   #11
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Re: The quantification of life

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Originally Posted by dan-cat View Post
Perhaps I was being overly optimistic in thinking such laws are based on moral principles.
Yes, I think you were. As morals are very subjective, they can't have a solid foundation in law.

The sanctity argument sounds a lot like Catholic rhetoric. Catholics tend to be anti-abortion and anti-death penalty, which from my understanding is do to the idea that life is sacred, as you've previously mentioned. It seems like a logical argument.

Protestants, on the other hand, tend to be anti-abortion but pro-death penalty, which as you and I have both mentioned seems contradictory if they're using the sanctity of life basis for their views. But I suspect that they are not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thales750
And speaking of hypocrisy, the very same hard-line conservatives that are always up in arms over taking care of the “lazy no-counts”, are the very same ones promoting an endless stream of poor children.
Go figure.


I've noticed that as well. It also seems like a contradictory view point. I can see eye-to-eye with fiscal conservatives on some of the entitlement & spending issues, but some of their other platforms are so illogical it makes me wonder how they fit in one political party.
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Old 03-16-2011, 07:59 PM   #12
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Re: The quantification of life

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Originally Posted by boblarson View Post
So, therein lies the main argument, which has been argued into the ground - when does "life" occur?
Therein also lies the infinite ignorance that we use everyday to try and create useless arguments to make our jobs last a little longer.
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Old 03-16-2011, 08:07 PM   #13
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Re: The quantification of life

Ah, well, time to toss in my two cents' worth.

First, no matter how you feel about it, abortion is already the last stage of a condition that should not ever have occurred in the first place if abortion is even being considered. That is, we have abortion because of crazy religious views that don't allow birth control to prevent abortions from being needed in the first place.

We have abortion because we don't hold people responsible for their actions uniformly. The female CANNOT run away from the situation. She either has an abortion or a child. Period. The male (sperm donor) can leave because despite laws to the contrary, it isn't that hard for an irresponsible sperm donor to flee the local jurisdiction. When only increases the stress on the young woman that much more.

It is for this reason that I tend to believe guys should not talk about abortion at all unless they are willing to take their stance to its logical conclusion. That is, stay with your partner and your child or support your partner in getting an abortion. If you don't adopt or support a child or support your partner through the abortion decision, you are probably all talk and no action. OK, that's a tough attitude and I know it. But it is an honest belief.

I also consider that abortion is exceedingly complex because many different religious groups define different beginnings of life. If we are to allow freedom of religion, then we must allow each person to act according to their religious beliefs. If they aren't uniform (which they aren't) then you have trouble (which we DO have.)

Some folks say life begins at conception. Others, at quickening. Still others have later starts. Judaism says that separate and independent life begins only when the umbilicus is severed. I can't recall the denomination, but there is a group that focuses on the Biblical phrase, "The breath is the life." They consider the first breath as when life begins.

The point of this little tour is that if you want to allow for full religious freedom, then you cannot stop abortions at any time, any trimester. Otherwise, you disenfranchise those who have the latest start of life. Before anyone tosses anything scientific in this mix, remember that with freedom of religion, the person who is claiming to want religious freedom can at the same time reject scientific arguments. (I see this latter position all the time in the evolution/creation debates.) And don't forget that if the single mother is a member of a sect that uses prayer rather than medicine, she can already make life-or-death decisions to let the kid die anyway.

Finally, abortion prevents a child from enduring the pain of growing up unwanted. How many children grow up bitter and hateful, filled with terrible self-loathing because "mommie doesn't love me" ?? It is hard to imagine a child growing up in such an environment, yet we see unfit single parents in the headlines all the time, usually because their child has been maimed or killed. When a kid grows up neglected, that kid becomes a sad person. I know this from person experience because my dad was one of the neglected and unwanted kids of the world. His mother's abuse via neglect echoed over to my life. It wasn't pretty until Dad learned how to love himself at a relatively late age in life. I was late in learning that lesson myself.

I'll think about the death penalty for a separate post. I must admit mixed feelings on that one, but I'm not ready to discuss it yet.
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Old 03-17-2011, 01:47 AM   #14
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Re: The quantification of life

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Originally Posted by The_Doc_Man View Post
Ah, well, time to toss in my two cents' worth.

First, no matter how you feel about it, abortion is already the last stage of a condition that should not ever have occurred in the first place if abortion is even being considered. That is, we have abortion because of crazy religious views that don't allow birth control to prevent abortions from being needed in the first place.

We have abortion because we don't hold people responsible for their actions uniformly.
Talk about crazy views -

What a warped argument - Abortion is the fault of religious views.

I dont recall any religious groups picketing public toilet vending machines, or boots or tesco, or online shopping, or even doctors prescibing contraception in the UK. Certainly not on any mass scale anyhow.

But somehow its relgions fault when what is available, isnt used, drunkenly accidentily adopting one bit of religious advice whilst ignoring a whole bunch of other advice in the same act.

You dont seem to hold anyone responsible for their own actions - instead shifting the blame to religion.

Bang another drum.
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Old 03-17-2011, 02:17 AM   #15
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Re: The quantification of life

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Originally Posted by The_Doc_Man View Post

The point of this little tour is that if you want to allow for full religious freedom, then you cannot stop abortions at any time, any trimester. Otherwise, you disenfranchise those who have the latest start of life.
You would disenfranchise those with the earliest start of life surely?

ie if you allow abortions till 6 months, you are denying those who beleive life starts after abortions, but denying those who believe life starts to allow life.

Thereby giving one latter sides right to abortion over the earliers idea of right to life.

Whish is more valuable life - or abortion.


Last edited by AnthonyGerrard; 03-17-2011 at 02:38 AM.
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