Is a fetus a human being?

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Is a fetus a human being?

Postby Brandon Norgaard on Thu Sep 10, 2009 4:55 pm

Abortion is a very controversial and polarizing issue. I don’t want to get into the legal aspects of this debate right now, but I do want to touch on the ethical implications. Specifically, is a fetus a human being? If you believe that a fetus is NOT a human being, then at what point does a human being come into existence and why? If you believe that a fetus IS a human being, then this question still applies. When does a human being come into existence and why? Aside from this issue is the question of whether it is indeed wrong to end the life of a human being if this alleviates suffering of others or if this person will likely have a difficult life due to lack of proper care. If one believes that a fetus is not human, then this second question is moot with respect to the abortion question. If one believes that a fetus is human, then this second question still deserves to be answered. I am interested to hear your thoughts.
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Re: Is a fetus a human being?

Postby Rich G on Tue Nov 03, 2009 7:46 am

I have three children. I was there with my wife for her sonagrams. To me, there is no question that the fetus is a human being before they leave their mothers womb. I believe that life begins at conception. I know that last statment won't fly with you. So try this line of thinking. When does life end? I would say when a person has no brain activity. So once a fetus has developed brain waves, then he becomes a human being. Some may argue that a person that is in a coma is brain dead and still produces some brain wave. He would still be considered a human being. Besides, thought rare, people have been known to come out of a coma. And nearly all fetus's brains develop competely.
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Re: Is a fetus a human being?

Postby Brandon Norgaard on Tue Nov 03, 2009 7:23 pm

Rich G wrote:To me, there is no question that the fetus is a human being before they leave their mothers womb. I believe that life begins at conception. I know that last statment won't fly with you.

Whoa there, I haven't yet remarked on anything related to this anywhere on this website. I actually put the question there to argue in favor of a pro-life position. I have a section on this in my book towards the end. You see, this builds off of all the content about the soul and about morality. Making the case for the soul and for free will is tough, but what follows from this is a morality based on natural rights, such as the right to life. The tough part is also defining what life is, because many abortion proponents have tried to find flaws in the common understanding of what life is. The question here is not life per se, but the specific type of life that can support the kind of representational and functional abilities that are necessary for body-soul interaction. This is a new thing that I am bringing to the pro-life vs. abortion debate that is simply a more detailed and carefully thought out version of the arguments that have been advanced for some time. I am waiting for a pro-life person to post here and then I will get into the details of this argument.

I'm not sure what would have led you to think that I would support abortion.
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Re: Is a fetus a human being?

Postby Rich G on Wed Nov 04, 2009 6:19 am

When I wrote " I know that last statement won't fly with you." I should have been more clear on what I meant. I didn't know if were pro-life or not. The reason I said that is because the statement that "I believe life begins at conception." is based more on faith than scientific reason. Actually, I can only come up with looking at fetus's DNA uniqueness to that of the mothers. Different DNA, therefore different being. But since I'm talking with (not just you) but people who don't have religious faith, I start with the question on: When does life end? You can argue this using science and logic.

I'll try to answer your question on whether science and religion can co-exist. I have to get my thoughts together.
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Re: Is a fetus a human being?

Postby horntooth on Thu Mar 18, 2010 2:13 am

i was once a child, and now have grown up, i did not come "from a child". is the same way i was once a fetus/ embryo/ zygote, and grew up, i was myself from conception, i just developed. from the moment of conception i was not my mother, and from conception i have an innate property and ability to develop into an adult, rational human being. my opinion is that abortion should be punishable as murder. a 'little' harsh, but just want to be consistent..
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Re: Is a fetus a human being?

Postby Brandon Norgaard on Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:06 pm

horntooth wrote:i was once a child, and now have grown up, i did not come "from a child". is the same way i was once a fetus/ embryo/ zygote, and grew up, i was myself from conception, i just developed. from the moment of conception i was not my mother, and from conception i have an innate property and ability to develop into an adult, rational human being. my opinion is that abortion should be punishable as murder. a 'little' harsh, but just want to be consistent..

I agree with you that people exist as distinct human beings from the moment of conception. As for whether abortion is murder, I can only say that it is if the mother believes that the unborn child is in fact a distinct human. I have concluded that unborn children are distinct human beings on the basis of scientific evidence, but then, not everyone knows these things. For those who are convinced that there is no separate human being, as irrational as this is to me, these people might not have all of the facts. Thus I wouldn't punish it as murder.

I am remembering that scene from "The Godfather Part II" where Michael Corleone's wife, can't remember her name, said "It wasn't a miscarriage. It was an abortion. It was a son, and I killed it!". Yeah, I'll say that is murder.
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Re: Is a fetus a human being?

Postby horntooth on Sat Mar 20, 2010 3:01 am

As for whether abortion is murder, I can only say that it is if the mother believes that the unborn child is in fact a distinct human.

what kind of reason is that? :?
if i think that you're not human, and i kill you, it's still murder.

For those who are convinced that there is no separate human being, as irrational as this is to me, these people might not have all of the facts.

ignoratia legis exusat neminem 8-)
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Re: Is a fetus a human being?

Postby Brandon Norgaard on Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:16 pm

horntooth wrote:
As for whether abortion is murder, I can only say that it is if the mother believes that the unborn child is in fact a distinct human.

what kind of reason is that? :?
if i think that you're not human, and i kill you, it's still murder.

For those who are convinced that there is no separate human being, as irrational as this is to me, these people might not have all of the facts.

ignoratia legis exusat neminem 8-)

Well, what I am talking about is what the moral value of these actions are. I don't speak Latin, but I think what you wrote means something close to "ignorance of the law is not an excuse". In this forum, my goal is to evaluate issues from a moral standpoint. I am trying to stay away from issues such as legal consequences, punishment, public policy, and the political process. In the future, I plan on setting up a separate website to explore and discuss topics such as these that fall under that general category of social science, but right now I'm trying to just analyze issues philosophically and I will later use the conclusions that come out of these discussions when I deal with the social sciences.

So, just to address what you said, I do agree that people should be punished for their actions, not for their intentions. If someone is delusional enough to think that they are not killing someone when they are, then this should still be seen as murder legally. However, I see there being universal ethical rules that can be known through observation and reason, just as the laws of physics can be. I have concluded that the natural ethical laws are entirely based on intended consequences, not the actual consequences of actions. Any being that has free will has the ability to intend to do something and then to act on this intention. If this being does not fully understand the situation and something else happens, then this is not the fault of the being.
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Re: Is a fetus a human being?

Postby Richard on Sun Apr 04, 2010 6:58 pm

I have mixed feelings on this topic. Moral issues beyond the mother/child invade my thinking.

Whats to say a woman who becomes pregnant is morally and legally responsible to render her body to support the life of the now free and unique other individual (The child)?

Does the accidental allowance of a sperm fertilizing and egg in a body, even in many cases when you used proper methods to keep it from happening or worse yet by methods against your will sentence you to a full term pregnancy and its risks and effects on your own body?

Does the fertilized egg have the right to the mothers body for the term against her will?

If a human can not maintain life on its own or with medical assistance, does it have the right to exist?
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Re: Is a fetus a human being?

Postby Brandon Norgaard on Sun Apr 04, 2010 11:34 pm

Richard wrote:I have mixed feelings on this topic. Moral issues beyond the mother/child invade my thinking.

Whats to say a woman who becomes pregnant is morally and legally responsible to render her body to support the life of the now free and unique other individual (The child)?

Does the accidental allowance of a sperm fertilizing and egg in a body, even in many cases when you used proper methods to keep it from happening or worse yet by methods against your will sentence you to a full term pregnancy and its risks and effects on your own body?

Does the fertilized egg have the right to the mothers body for the term against her will?

If a human can not maintain life on its own or with medical assistance, does it have the right to exist?

These are all good questions. What I have asked is whether a fetus is a human being. I have provided reasons for why I believe that fetuses are human beings, and as of yet nobody has come along and provided counterarguments.

While I am still waiting for someone to disagree with me on this original question, it is also quite interesting to analyze questions that arise once one has decided that a fetus is, in fact, a human being. Though you mentioned moral and legal responsibility in your post, I want to try to leave out anything legal or political for the time being. I want to try to focus on moral issues right now and later we can discuss the legal implications.

The reason I believe that a pregnant woman has moral responsibility to carry an unborn child to term is because it is a human being and we all in life have to make sacrifices for others. We all have a moral responsibility to nurture those who are in need, at the very least enough to keep them alive. This is no different than if the child were born and the mother, or father, were alone with the child. They have a responsibility to provide for the child. Is this not use of the parent's body as well? Use of their hand to feed, clothe, and wash. For a pregnant woman, this is a bit different because she can not even temporarily pass this responsibility off to others. But this is nonetheless her natural responsibility because there is no other way that the child will live. I do want to emphasize here that the father has just as much of a responsibility to the mother and to his unborn child. I'm not sure how common abortion might be, but it is certainly far, far more common for fathers to assume no responsibility for their unborn children. Very sad. And I believe that society has a responsibility to wholeheartedly support pregnant women, regardless of age. There should be no stigma at all for a woman carrying an unborn child. In fact pregnant women should be seen as carrying out a sacred act of honor and love. Society should shun deadbeat fathers along the likes of thugs and frauds.
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