Is the Abortion Issue that Complicated?


Recently, Christian Watershed author Joel Borofsky published an article on ViewsHound.com dealing with the supposed complexity of the abortion debate.  Follow this link to the article: The Abortion Issue isn’t that Complicated.

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13 thoughts on “Is the Abortion Issue that Complicated?

  1. I don’t think its that complicated at all.

    — Taking the life of an innocent human being without proper justification is morally wrong.
    — Abortion takes the life of an innocent human being without proper justification.
    — Therefore, abortion is morally wrong.

    Medically speaking, at the point of conception, a new genetically unique (from both mother and father) is formed — at the very moment the sperm enters the egg. It will never gain any more genetic information through out its entire life. This is not a controversial issue among embryologists.

    Medically speaking, also at the point of conception — at the very moment the sperm enters the egg, the new genetically unique ‘thing’ is alive.

    When life begins is not medically up for debate really. What is up for debate is whether the human life in the womb is deserving of protection from its mother. I know that sounds like emotionally charged phrasing, but most people would consider a 1 year-old as worthy of protection from its mother if she were attempting it harm.

    The only differences between a zygote, embryo, fetus, new born infant, toddler, adolescent, and adult, is not degree in human nature. The only difference between them is maturity. Do we determine woth by maturity? I would certainly hope not!

    Anyway, I really don’t think it is all that complicated.

  2. I would ask if it is morally permissible to perform abortion if the question of ‘when does life begin’ is still up for discussion (that is, we’re uncertain).

  3. But let’s say it is up for debate. Wouldn’t it be morally obligatory to err on the side of life? If a building is about to be demolished and someone says “there might be someone in the building, but I’m not sure” would it be morally permissible or morally benign to blow the building? Or do we wait until we are certain no one is in the building? Same with abortion, if we don’t know (though we do) then we should wait until we are certain before we abort.

    But even still, abortions are not performed until well after life has absolutely certainly begun. So the question of when is irrelevant to abortion anyway.

  4. John, that’s my point.

    If it were claimed that we know when life begins, it’s only a matter of ‘rights’, then my question moves one step forward and keeps it pertinacity. But in any case, the question of ‘when does life begin?’ is up for debate in the minds of many. There are multiple ways to interact with this question; one could either try to prove when life begins, or one could assume (for the sake of argument) the outlook of another and argue on those grounds, taking a belief to its conclusions.

    1. I see what you’re saying, but granting certain premises only goes so far. I think when it comes to the issue of “when does life begin,” one simply cannot permit the premise that a fetus is not a human. It’s akin to granting the premise “physics doesn’t really exist” if someone says they can fly without any external aid. That a fetus is alive is so well beyond doubt that anyone who doubts it must be given the facts of the situation rather than granting their premise.

      1. You might mean that, but many of the people I’ve dealt with on this issue actually believe the fetus is no more “alive” than tree bark. Or they argue that a zygote, or embryo, is no different than a skin cell. That is so scientifically ill-informed that the premise simply cannot be granted.

        But for the human person, I see what you mean by granting certain premises in order to get to an overall point. I do think one could grant that an embryo is not a human person, yet still be against embryonic stem cell research, abortion, and so on.

  5. I’m not suggesting you start with granting the premise. But if someone is so uninformed on the issue, and your don’t have embryology textbook citations on hand, you need to do something to move the conversation along.

    The ultimate point is, even if they’re right on “we don’t know…” their argument still doesn’t work.

    1. John, in my experience people use ‘alive’ (within the context of the ‘abortion debate’) to refer to everything from ‘person’ / ‘human person’ / ‘rights possessing’: e.g. the embryo isn’t alive – “it’s not alive until it can feel pain or possesses a heart beat” – the embryo isn’t a baby; the embryo isn’t a person, etc. As inaccurate as the description can be, it’s ‘common speech’. Now I realize this is the website of a philosopher and theologian, so you’ll have to excuse my forgetting where I am, as opposed to where I’ve been.

      And by the way, I don’t see anyone have ‘much difficulty’ in this discussion. Even those who forget to define their terms, and those who forget to ask for them to be defined.

  6. You might mean that, but many of the people I’ve dealt with on this issue actually believe the fetus is no more “alive” than tree bark. Or they argue that a zygote, or embryo, is no different than a skin cell. That is so scientifically ill-informed that the premise simply cannot be granted.

    But for the human person, I see what you mean by granting certain premises in order to get to an overall point. I do think one could grant that an embryo is not a human person, yet still be against embryonic stem cell research, abortion, and so on.

    I see what you’re saying; yes, I agree with that.

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