Sense on Abortion


In so far as ethics should determine a time limit on abortion, the relevant question is at what stage, if at all, a foetus should be regarded as a person,

At what point does a person, a person whose right to life should be protected, created? That is, absolutely, the nub of the entire argument. Until that\’s answered we\’ll never have sense on the subject.

12 thoughts on “Sense on Abortion”

  1. Those are close to being two different questions, Tim
    “at what stage, if at all, a foetus should be regarded as a person,..” implies that we, through our legislators, will have to make a decision on that. Just as we do for defining any other legal right.

    “At what point [is] a person…created?” Philosophical, that.

  2. “Until that’s answered we’ll never have sense on the subject.”

    It can’t be answered, though, can it? It’s a spectrum with nothing at one end and an adult at the other. Absolutist positions are inconsistent. If you believe that the fertilized egg is a human with full rights then the Pill is murder (because it prevents fertilized eggs from binding to the uterus). If you believe that “every sperm is sacred” then abstention is a sin. If you believe that awareness of reality is the criteria then why oppose euthanasia for Guardian readers?

  3. So Much For Subtlety

    Well Kay Tie, can I vote for every sperm being sacred (because abstention, you know, sucks and perhaps the NHS can do something about that as they do in Denmark) *AND* the awareness of reality being the criteria so we can put Guardian readers down?

    If ever there is a policy Cameron ought to adopt that is it. He’d sweep the country.

  4. For me, the fact is that foetuses are pretty interchangeable (and in fact, so are infants) and on that basis, it is the parental circumstances that are key – a lone mother having a child at 18 or younger is very likely to result in a messed up kid, whereas a couple having a child at 30 is way more likely to result in a child with considerably better life chances. So IMHO we should be discouraging people from bringing children into the world in suboptimal conditions, and encouraging people to bring them into the world in optimal conditions.

    What exactly that means for abortion, I do not know.

  5. sustainability comes to mind. and not just out of the womb neither.

    to be decent, and give a good enough margin for error i would say 3 months, as opposed to the near 6 month now.

  6. It’s perfectly simple. Life starts when a woman says, ‘I’m going to have a baby.’ If she says, ‘I’m incubating a foetus,’ then she needs to be terminated.

  7. “If she says, ‘I’m incubating a foetus,’ then she needs to be terminated.”

    But Chris, it’s not the woman who gets terminated.

    That’s the whole problem.

  8. “a lone mother having a child at 18 or younger is very likely to result in a messed up kid”

    Very likely, huh?

    So we should kill them, just in case, eh?

    If I was the “kid”, I think I might prefer the option of at least having a go at turning out OK.

    Wouldn’t you?

  9. So Much For Subtlety

    The issue of eighteen year old mothers is totally separate from the issue of abortion. And we are talking in large generalities anyway – a lot of 18 year olds could give a good home to a baby and a hell of a lot of 30+ years olds could not. If the foetus is a human life, then it is irrelevant if it is going to have a good life or a bad life, killing it is murder. If it is not a human being, what does it matter?

    I think we ought to do more to at least stop encouraging the hopeless and stupid to have more children. Bill Clinton enacted welfare reforms in the US that saw the rate of single teen motherhood fall by half. I think it is still falling as well. By any rational standard, British ought to do the same. Now that is just not encouraging it is not preventing. The prevention issue is more complex and no doubt TW is opposed to it. So am I, I guess.

    But abortion is still irrelevant to that.

    The absurdity is that we are all still confused and inconsitent about abortion. They kicked James Watson out of his Institute and the UK for saying, among other things, that mothers ought to have the right to abort gay foetuses. Which of course they do as Britain has abortion on demand in effect. All they lack is a test for gayness. Does anyone who supports abortion have a rational argument for a ban on aborting gay foetuses, or female ones, or those with vlub feet and cleft palates? These actions may have large costs to society as a whole, but if they are a question of individual choice, that is what they are.

    In the meantime I think we need to concentrate the really important stories – such as the Time’s headline “Bad Sex: is Feminism to blame”? Almost as good as the Australian paper that had “headless bodies found in topless jars” this week.

  10. “…foetuses are pretty interchangeable (and in fact, so are infants)…”

    Ah, someone believes they’ve solved the ‘nature vs nurture’ conundrum…

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