Birth.jpg
"PERSONHOOD" BEGINS AT BIRTH!

Key terms to pay attention to: conception, complete implantation of zygote, fetus, distinct human form, "quickening," viability of fetus, birth.

Victoria, Caroline, Stephen, Jacob


COHORT 8 RESPONDS

Tristan W.


The process of creating a child is much like the process of baking a cake. Both end products are a mixture of materials that that are put into an environment where they can develop until they are finally complete. So I pose this question, is cake batter the same as cake? If you were a professional dessert chef would you serve a half-baked, goopy, and shapeless substance as one of your beautiful works of art? No, you would not, because cake batter is not perceived by the public to be the same as cake. Although glorified sweetbread and a developing human may be a bit far apart on in terms of importance, the core concept holds true: batter and cake are different in the same way that a fetus and an infant are different. Both are still in their developing phases and are heavily dependent on their caregivers. Although fetuses can be viable before the average gestation period of around nine months, I do not think that they can be considered living until their lungs breathe in some good ol’ fashioned oxygen for the first time.

To begin, I’ll go over the reasons why a fetus cannot be considered living until the point of viability. There are seven biological characteristics that must be met in order for something to be considered “living”. Of this seven, fetuses are only able to meet four. Firstly, fetuses cannot adapt to their environment as evidenced by their need to stay in the womb where conditions are kept constant. Although there are cases where a miracle baby survives after only 22 weeks of gestation, these feats are not met by the body alone and require extensive assistance from modern technology. Secondly, a fetus does not respond to stimuli as shown by studies performed by a team of doctors as explained here. It is concrete fact that before the nerve synapses are fully developed, a fetus is incapable of responding to pain and is therefore unable to respond to stimuli. Lastly, a fetus is unable to maintain homeostasis on its own. Studies have shown that both blood glucose levels and liver glycogen levels are almost if not completely unresponsive throughout the gestation period during the first and second trimesters. So, according to published articles and experiments and established laws of science, a fetus cannot be considered living before it is viable.

Now we move on to the fun conceptual aspect of debating whether or not a fetus is alive during the third trimester. I personally do not believe in a soul and think that humans think too highly of themselves to believe that we have some kind of spectral omniscience within us just because we have a higher intellectual capacity than other living things. In accordance with that belief, any notion of keeping an unwanted fetus so that their “soul may be preserved” just sounds ludicrous to me. I respect the beliefs of all people, and if you believe that life begins at conception due to the presence of a soul more power to you. All I ask is that you let other people develop their own beliefs and to avoid forcing yours on to them by using scare tactics and constantly harassing them.

As for the less ideological argument stating that by aborting a fetus an unprepared mother is denying the world from having a scientist that can cure cancer or a leader that can achieve peace across the world, I say boo. The chances of this poor child growing up negatively far outweigh the chances that it will grow up positively. What I mean by this is that almost all mothers who seek abortions for their developing bundle of cells are unprepared or simply do not want to have a child, and a survey shows that 69% of women seeking abortions are either below or barely hovering above the federal poverty level. To me, poverty plus unprepared parents minus a loving childhood is a formula for disaster rather than success.

Aside from a few instinctual kicks or impulse movements, a fetus in its third trimester is hardly responsive, has no active memory, and is unaware of what it or anything else is. This is why I say aborting a fetus is different from killing a baby. The fetus has never seen, heard, or breathed anything outside of the womb it is currently renting and the parents have never come face to face and, if they are looking to abort, have not developed a relationship with it. On the other end of the spectrum, a baby has entered the world, interacted with many, has had an effect on those around it, and changed many lives and its parents have cared for it, loved it, and saw it enter into the world. This is what I believe is the most important milestone that marks the beginning of an infant’s life journey; the moment the mother, the father, and the child are able to breathe the same air and resemble and actual family for the first time.

To me, it is quite clear that a fetus is not considered living before it is even viable since it cannot survive on its own without the help of advanced equipment nor does it meet the seven biological requirements of life. As for the hazier, more controversial topic of whether it is living after it is viable but before it has exited the womb, I stand firm with my position that it still cannot be considered a living human, just a bundle of still-developing cells.

Jonah BC


I believe that the word "life" is too relative a term to center an entire argument around on its own. Yes, some aspects of "life" do begin when we reach 18 and have the right to vote, be charged as sex offenders for peeing in elementary schools, and get married. But life's responsibilities don't seem to begin until we actually live on our own and have to make our own decisions (like to either pay for rent or buy a fancy fur coat..). Likewise, our explicit memories don't begin forming until we are roughly 2-3 years old, but does that mean our ability to enjoy and live life doesn't begin until then? To set a specific point at which life begins seems rather arbitrary and inverse to the complicated nature of everything else we've discussed this year. And to put it simply, I don't personally believe there is any one point in time at which we begin to live and become known as "alive;" but there is a point at which "life" (as in the capacity of cells to duplicate and react to stimuli) can truly be said to have been crafted and that is at the point at which an egg is fertilized; life does begin at conception and the significance of that is something many people neglect to acknowledge as substantial.

But before I delve into this further, I'll build some anticipation by droning on about the legal implications of setting a specific point at which we all gain the right of "personhood." Obviously when it comes to civil liberties, the United States is a little ambiguous (ie the whole blowing up American citizens with drones in other continents, that slavery issue, and our obsession with absolving human beings of their humanity by labeling them "enemy combatant one and enemy combatant two"), but eventually we seem to get some things right. When it comes to Roe v. Wade, I am in agreement that an unborn fetus is not entitled to certain "unalienable rights." Not to say that they don't ever reach a point of being a representative of "life," but that in a legal context to entitle an unborn fetus to the full legal definition of a fully functioning member of society, is to label doctors who perform abortions as murderers and birth control as an inhibitor to "the right to life." In Arizona for example, for the purposes of inhibiting abortions and punishing those who perform them, an unborn fetus is given the same legal standing as a minor under 12 years of age; now how is a being that fits the biological definition of a parasite in equivalence to a child? Laws such as these seem almost in-like form to those crafted in the hunt for witches in 17th century Salem; they provide narrow and poorly defined thresholds of wrong doing in hopes of enforcing a sort of conformity. Laws which do no better to further the moral or ethical values of a society and merely act to inhibit progress and "conserve" some misinformed or ideological sense of how people should live their lives. Laws that do not benefit society's whole, but merely the conscience of a few. And it is because of laws like these that I find solace in my current understanding that a fetus does not require nor warrant the full legal standing of a birthed person.

With that being said however, I do certainly believe that there should be a cut off point at which abortions may not be performed unless in dire circumstances for the mother. But that is a discussion and regulatory process that belongs in an ethics committee at a hospital or hospital system, and not in the United States legal system. Laws are too slowly changed to keep up with our scientific knowledge, and to allow more and more laws to be formed inhibiting and regulating abortions on solely ideological grounds, simply works to slow the progress of medical science and restrain doctors from performing procedures which they may feel appropriate on medical grounds. But I am getting a little off topic here so I will revert back to when life begins.

Life is "the condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism, reproduction, and the power of adaptation to environment through changes originating internally" (Dictionary.com). The fertilized egg is seemingly capable of doing all (or most) of the above and as I said earlier, is evidently alive. Life does begin at conception. But the most important aspect of this discussion is what definition of life we find most important to adhere to. A fetus is capable of surviving on its own outside of the womb at around 19-23 weeks of growth, but does being able to simply survive (granted with the assistance of the NICU) define someone or something as living life? or simply being alive? Does the payment of bills on ones one finally signal the beginning of their living autonomous life? or ones ability to breath, eat, and poop without assistance prove the threshold of being defined as "alive"?

The unborn fetus has no personality, has no memory, has no capacity for critical thought -- at least that we know of -- and has no established self in the eyes of a community. The unborn fetus is not living life, it is merely alive and that is significant. Respecting life at all stages is important and I feel that people who simply shrug off abortion as a mere bump in the road are not appreciating the severity of their decision to destroy life nor understanding the ethical complexity of a right to do so. But I don't feel that their are many people out there who truly do not understand or appreciate what they are doing when they choose to abort what could have been their future child. Though some in our class talk about abortion with a sort of nonchalant attitude, I realize that they would never approach the decision in reality without numerous second thoughts. And so I want to conclude by saying that I believe to legislate abortion in the legal system is to micromanage the lives of millions of women without giving them the courtesy and respect to manage their own lives and make their own decisions. A fetus is not living life, nor is it alive in the same way as a toddler or a grown adult. We all have our own unique understanding of what it means to be alive and live, and for me I will say that life, as in the life I live from day to day, began at birth not in the womb.

Hunter

Since I am a man, this shouldn’t be my debate. I believe the sole decision making lies within the woman’s right and the man should, in an ideal world, support whatever decision that may be. If the man doesn’t want to be in that situation, he should take every precaution possible to ensure that a situation like this does not happen. No, you guys are not raging hormonal machines and will hump anything and everything in sight. Yes, you do have that self-control, and self-respect, to consciously put on a condom or make sure your significant other has taken the pill and everything in between. Guys, WE need to take responsibility for this. You could say the we are the ones with the gun and the trigger; make sure you have your safety on at all times.

Now, even though I believe that a man’s opinion on abortion is completely invalid and shouldn’t amount to anything because it is not our lives in this situation, I do have an opinion on this and it does correlate in a sense with my views about euthanasia. Every person has a right to their own body. This is the same with piercings and tattoos. I personally think that they are disgusting and honestly cannot bear the thought of me ever having one. Does this mean I should outlaw tattoos and piercings? Absolutely not. While I do have to see these things on a daily basis, you don’t see me taking a bible to the front of a tattoo parlor and reciting Leviticus 19:28 “You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD.” No, instead I respect everyone’s right to their own body. To each his own.

As for the life growing inside the person, my views are their own very specific ways so do not take any offence to them. I believe that we have no really worth or any actual potential until we develop cognitive thought and memories. I haven’t met a single person who has remembered their birth or a year or two after it. (They say that Morgan Freeman narrated his birth but we all know he is God so that myth is disproven.)Once we cross that threshold of the basic survival instincts, then and only then are we human.

As for the reality of my views, yes I do believe that a newborn baby should be able to be killed without repercussion. As for abortion however, I think it should be legal in all circumstances except when the fetus can live outside the womb with basic care. This is the point where I draw a line. Other than that, it is up to the person who is currently conscious and living to make the decision.

I have tried to live with the philosophy “To each His own”. I do not condemn anyone for their views and beliefs. I only have problems when those beliefs are pressed upon others and are forced in a way that takes away the decision making of the person who must make the decision (I hope that made sense). Everyone is right in their own light, so who is to tell you wrong? (excluding Hitler)

Victoria


"How to Perform an Abortion in 8 Easy Steps"
  • Step 1: Have the subject take painkillers such as Advil, and a shower 30 minutes before
  • Step 2: Prepare the coat hanger by cutting off the bottom portion at the corners, make one of the cuts at a steep angle to ensure the point is sharp. File down the sharp end with sandpaper, cover the other with duct tape.
  • Step 3: Have the subject down on a mattress, face upwards and ask her to spread her legs at a comfortable angle.
  • Step 4: Hold the sharp tip of the coat hanger over an open flame for at least 30 seconds to prevent infection.
  • Step 5: Apply lubricant to surgical tube and insert it into the vaginal canal, when you encounter resistance, you have reached the cervix. Put pressure on the tube until it continues sliding into the uterus.
  • Step 6: Add lubricant to the coat hanger and slide the sharp end into the tub. When you encounter resistance, keep pushing until it gives away. Remove it and inspect the tip. If there is a small amount of blood, you have punctured the placenta. If the bleeding is more profuse, you have probably cut the subject’s uterine wall, in which case you should stop right now and seek professional medical attention.
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  • Step 7: If step 6 was successful, gently remove the surgical tubing. Within 30 to 60 minutes, the subject’s uterine muscles will begin to contract and push out the dead tissue.
  • Step 8: Once all the dead tissue has been expelled from the vagina, have the subject take a warm bath, if necessary offer additional pain killers. If the bleeding continues several hours later, or is especially heavy, it is highly recommended that the subject seek professional medical attention.
http://youtu.be/JuJDZHtyz8g

This video was the first thing that popped up when I googled “how to preform your own abortion”. Well there it is- 8 easy steps to give yourself your own abortion. But pay special attention to step 6, after you push the wire until you feel like it’s far enough, check for blood. You either successfully punctured the placenta or the uterine wall, in which case you may bleed to death. This is precisely why I believe that abortions should be legal under all circumstances. If the reluctant mother wants to get rid of her baby, she is going to do it with or without medical help. The question boils down to, would you rather have one person dead or two?

As far as “personhood” goes, I don’t know if that is the same argument as the legality of abortions. I believe that morally speaking a woman shouldn’t be able to get an abortion after the point of viability, 22-26 weeks. That’s about 6 months, PLENTY of time to squeeze in an appointment at Planned Parenthood. Rape and incest victims should have access to abortion under all circumstances because what if for some reason they were held captive or weren’t able to escape their abusive household. If the baby is causing harm to the mother or is suffering itself, the mother should have access to abortion at her will. Having the option kept open during these rare and frightening circumstances is common sense.

What is even more common sense is making birth control and condoms extremely easy to access. Personally I think they are pretty accessible, but that is coming from a liberal lifestyle in California. I suppose the only obstacles are having to awkwardly buy condoms and face the judging looks from the cashier, or worse, the embarrassing talk with your parents asking to be put on the pill. But if you are grown up enough to have sex, then you are grown up enough to buy condoms or ask to go on the pill, you don’t even need parent consent, you can get them through Planned Parenthood. So not being prepared with contraceptives should never be an excuse.

Yes I acknowledge the spur of the moment acts of passion - I think it’s a cruel joke that Mother Nature makes the most pleasurable act have the most life altering consequences, I guess that’s the only way our species can survive. I know this isn’t a perfect world, and accidents do happen- sometimes abortions are “necessary”. I’ve asked myself what would if I found out I was pregnant, 18 and just able to graduate, headed to the collage of my dreams, my whole future ahead of me. My immediate response was “I have my whole life ahead of me, I can’t have a kid”. What a selfish response. But that’s just it, I’m a selfish teenager, barely capable of caring for myself, let alone another person. I’m not ready to be a mother, I would have an abortion. But I hope it never comes to that, I hope that I am always safe. I hope that others are too, I don’t want anyone to have to go through having an abortion.

Based on what I have written so far, you must think I am posting in the wrong category. So far I have advocated for not having abortions past the point of viability and placed a strong emphasis on contraceptives. But I assure you that this is where I should be. As I mentioned, when it comes down to alternatives of a professional medical abortion, a coat hanger, I much rather give women access to it at all times, even in the third trimester. I don’t necessarily agree with their decision but I much rather just lose one person than two. If abortions were more easily accessible in the first trimester, especially the morning after pills (which isn’t the same thing as an abortion just for the record), then there wouldn’t be a need for second and third trimester abortions. Moreover, if contraceptives were as easy to purchase as a pack of gum at the checkout counter, then the whole debate of abortions would be irrelevant. But that is too idealistic. What we need to do now if keep the abortion door open in case anyone wants to use it, not shut the door, forcing women to take the sketchy backdoor.

Tyler B.


So first I have to say that I don’t understand why people think that there is any hypocrisy in, say, being pro-life but pro-capital punishment, or vice versa. Death is not something that you align yourself to politically, and I don’t think life should be either. Now if anyone has been paying attention, I somehow have ended up on the side involved with death on every major issues thus far (assisted suicide, death penalty, and now abortion). Does this mean I am a death mongering necromancer wanting more bodies for my growing undead horde, set to sweep across the land of mortals? And are babies even good necromancer minions? No? Then it must be reasoned I have reasons for what I support other than political ideology, or whether or not something comes out dead or alive at the end of the issue. In my mind, death is only a factor that contributes to evaluating a situation. Of course, it is often a massively significant one, but a factor nonetheless. I have yet to find anything that is totally sacred, and that includes life itself. I think that reason is more important than life, which is why I support putting .308 in a serial rapist/murderer’s head, or being able to seek legal, medical assistance in ending your own life, and being able to choose to have an important medical procedure.

Now of course that doesn’t mean you should just go around killing people and things, obviously. Their lives have practical value, even a spider shouldn’t be killed without a good reason. Let’s try a little experiment here.

Look at the person next to you. Think about what capabilities they have, how they can help you, and what they contribute to the world you live in. If they died there would be a massive hole in the community, I’m sure.

Now think about a fetus. At any stage of development. I’ll give you a long time to think of any one positive thing that the little lump of flesh is good for, at the current time. Anything? The practical effect the baby has on the body of the mother is the only thing I can think of. But does being happier and having bigger boobs really outweigh vomit, pain, swelling, and of course, having a child that will suck away your money and time for 18 years? As a male, I can’t really make that judgment, but it definitely sounds like one that should be taken seriously, with a mind towards the future, and real concerns, rather than the ideology of the supremacy of life over all things.

So it of course sounds very callous, but I really don’t see much value in the life of a fetus. I think that the health, safety, well being and future of the mother are far more important. Until the baby leaves the body, and breathes on its own, as a part of the world, I think it is okay to terminate the pregnancy.

After all of this then, there is the matter that the baby is still part of the mother’s body until birth, and doesn’t affect anyone but her, which to me makes it a medical procedure, that anyone people have the right to choose. So with that and the weighing of practicality, I guess it seems safe for me to say I support a woman’s right to choose if it does come down to it.

I guess I don’t really care when the baby reaches personhood, it’s irrelevant to me, but as soon as it becomes its own separate being, active in the world, it can be considered non-abort-able. Babies that develop serious problems after birth? Well that’s another can of worms entirely, but I’m guessing you can more or less predict my answer. In any case, there is no procedure called a post-birth abortion.

It is tempting to discuss what could’ve been, the potential people, but until we invent time manipulation, I will settle for the policies that make things better in my time stream, thank you very much. Was the reduction in crime after Roe v. Wade worth the millions of unborn babies? Yes, absolutely.

The future of humanity does not lay in life itself, but the forging of new and better forms. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.

Jeff L.


Posting this blog, I am acknowledging the fact that my opinion is irrelevant due to being a male. Nevertheless, I will continue. I don’t agree with abortions, I don’t like that they happen, I scorn the notion that people would choose to have unprotected sex, and third-trimester abortions are appalling, disgusting, and morally incorrect. However I believe the option must exist. We cannot deny someone an option because they made a mistake or we do not personally agree with their choice.
Someone becoming pregnant from unprotected sex is extremely irresponsible, but they should not have to suffer for the rest of their life because of that, and the child should not punished for that either. A mother should not have to deal with the trauma and disdain by others of going through pregnancy, and missing out on opportunities during the most important years of their life. A child should never have to feel unwanted by their mother or have to deal with having a single parent solely because the father ran away because he is only a teenager. Furthermore I think that Juno story is some BS. The argument that abortion is wrong because they can give their child up for adoption is certainly not the answer because look at overcrowded orphanages and group homes already; now imagine adding another 1.3 million to those per year. That won’t work. Neither the parent nor the child should have to live a life like that because of one mistake they made in a hazy passion driven night.
I do not wish to see abortion numbers rise at all, I wish contraceptive information was more easily accessible and used by other people. To me it doesn’t make sense taking the risk of getting someone pregnant, especially because it is a man’s responsibility to make sure that doesn’t happen. Birth control should be made for men honestly because to me it makes more sense to unload a gun than to shoot at a bulletproof vest. I fail to see how men can lack guilt by having unprotected sex with a woman that does not want to be pregnant.
Options must be provided for those who do make a mistake though. As with most of my other blogs such as the euthanasia blog, I am a strong believer in options. Most people are having that moral dilemma in their head and are posting in the “middle area” though because their morals are telling them after 20 weeks or whatever abortion should no longer be an option. But when I think about this I think to myself, what are they going to do after that? Strap the woman down and force her to give birth? If a woman truly wants an abortion, she will do whatever it takes to make that happen. Even though I strongly believe that abortions should happen before then as a woman has plenty of time to decide what to do after she finds out she is pregnant, the option still needs to be there afterwards because they will do what it takes if they so choose (notwithstanding rape victims, which is a different scenario entirely and should have as much time as they need). As Victoria said, it is better to take one life than two. One also has to consider that third-trimester abortions are not going to be the norm at all. Those take up less than 1% of the total amount of abortions, and although personally I would never (if I was a woman) allow that to happen with myself, one has to respect the situation and actions of others, even if they contradict your own.
Ultimately, I am not pro-abortion, rather pro-choice. I know that only a woman can truly understand to the fullest extent the intricacies of this topic, but this is just my two cents. Our focus should be on prevention and education to lower the amount of abortions that happen. However we must acknowledge that it is too ideal to assume it could ever be a reality that everyone would be wise and educated. Mistakes will be made, and we should not let these mistakes hurt a person’s chances at being successful in life, or causing a child to have a less than ideal life with parents that are not ready to be parents. Even in the latest situations dealing with the third-trimester, we have to consider what the person going through the pregnancy is dealing with. There is a reason they waited so long, and whether you understand or not, it is not your place to judge that.


Emily S.


If life begins at conception, then the legal drinking age should be 20 and 3 months. That being said, I that life is indeed precious at all stages; but it is always ultimately the mother who should be in control of her body and her baby. Current abortion laws force women to undergo therapy, watch “informative” PRO-LIFE movies and wait 24-hours before making an appointment/surgery. By trying to intervene and push Pro-Life information on women who are trying to make an important decision, we’re intervening on private matters that we don’t belong in. Abortion is a serious topic, but with these “requirements” some clinics end up treating women poorly, even if they’ve made their decision.

Ultimately, in any scenario, the final choice is made by the woman herself. As it always should be. If we condemn those who choose the best option for them, we are also condemning our citizens freedoms. Roe v Wade has certainly opened the door to discussions of this controversial topic, but it has opened the door to a safe environment for women. Instead of fearing the social consequences or the personal self-inflictions from “home abortions” women should be supported throughout the entire pregnancy; for whenever or whatever she chooses to do to her body.

So has Roe v Wade been worth the thousand of unborn babies? Yes, absolutely. Not only has that law protected and stopped back-alley abortions, but it has also educated others on the necessity of this law. So whether others believe life begins at conception or birth, we should treat it as a latter. In any scenario, the woman who has to carrying out the decision should always be in charge.

On top of full-support, I advocate for more sex education. Not simply, “don’t have sex,” but rather more information, so kids are fully aware of the pre-emptive preventative ways of getting pregnant (in the first place). Planned parenthood options can become more widely known and less taboo. “The Talk” will actually occur in every household. Access to condoms and birth control won’t be “too hard” or “embarrassing” to get/use. Abortions should always be 100% the woman’s choice, but preventing that unwanted pregnancy, but for anyone willingly having sex, they’re 100% responsible for being safe about it.

It’s not about whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice, but rather pro-option, for those in need.

Samantha B.

Life begins at the point of conception. Once the sperm fertilizes the egg, the developing organism has the ability to grow and change. But personhood does not begin when life begins. A “ball of cells” does not have individuality, a heartbeat does not make up individuality, and a third trimester fetus kicking in the womb does not have individuality. Individuality or personhood is only developed when the baby experiences actions that he or she can comprehend and react to, this first begins at birth.


Earth is an amazing planet with the uniqueness that no other planet that we know of has. We have incredible biodiversity and opportunities within our lives. We have the privilege of being apart of something that trillions of atoms will never be. Life is special. Life is a one of a kind experience that is different every time a new life forms.


Abortion terminates another beings chance to experience life. The aborted fetus had no idea what good thing was to come. So if the fetus never knew what he or she was missing then what does it matter if they never got a chance to experience it? A person who has never heard music doesn't know what they are missing and can easily go through life without it. Life is special to us all, including the women bearing a potential child. The fact is is that we are a naturally selfish species and by choosing to have an abortion we are protecting what is special to us, or life and the way we want to live it.

Abortion should always be legal throughout a woman's pregnancy for the safety of women and for the safety of preserving our lives the way we want them. I commend those that make the decision to carry a baby to term but I respect those that take the selfish route to abort the baby. Power to the selfish because your life is precious too.

Andrew H
“You have a parasite… Don’t worry. Many woman learn to embrace this parasite. They name it, dress it up in tiny clothes, arrange play dates with other parasites…” – Dr. House. To truly understand the abortion issue, we have to define what “life” constitutes and we all have differing opinions on this topic. To me, pregnancy is the growth of a mass of cells that is reliant on the vessel that is the mother. Even if it has a heart, nerve endings, or anything else that a living person may have, it is still an entity that of the mother. The constant in the equation is the mother’s fertile womb and egg that allow such a transformation to happen. Thus, I believe that the woman has the right to choose what is best for her, even if we have moral disagreements on what is right or wrong.


Now people who believe that life starts are conception have a valid point, that the division of cells does start at conception. However, to consider it “life” is quite a stretch. It has the potential to be life, but life shouldn't just be defined with a physical being that has a beating heart. For example, there are some people who play video games for 12 hours straight and the first comment that comes to our mind is “that guy needs to get a life.” Life is the collection of experiences that you allow yourself to immerse while having the opportunity to live. Ultimately, you can have life but not live, and to me the latter is much more important than the former.

Now to the point on whether it is moral. Abortion is a big decision for the woman and no matter what some say. It adversely affects the woman’s body and as seen from testimonies all over the internet, they wish they never experienced it. Abortion is seemingly negatively stigmatized not only because pro-lifers believe that it is taking life, but they think the fetus can feel pain and thus it is a cruel way to die without fully being able to experience what could have been. Even though the fetus may have nerve endings, their brains are unable to comprehend pain. It is one thing to feel pain, but if your brain doesn't understand it, you are oblivious. When I was 1, a fell down a flight of stairs and cut my skull open from the widow’s peak to halfway down the middle. My parents were surprised by how calm I was, (maybe I was concussed, but irrelevant), but I never have any recollection of what seems like such an excruciating experience. My brain couldn't process pain, but as soon as I was able to, I would cry if I fell off a bike.


Legalizing abortion would undoubtedly lead to more abortions, but think of what abortion entails for the woman and her surrounding circumstances. Most woman who get abortions come from poor backgrounds who probably didn't have any sex education and didn't know of birth control and contraception. However, legalizing it would give all woman the chance to reconcile the mistakes not only in that circumstance, but also in their life. By being forced to carry the baby to term and either giving it up for adoption or taking care of the baby most likely by herself, the woman is shackling herself to a life of rising obligations not for herself but for the baby. Men should also be held responsible for their actions, for they had the power to create such an undesirable situation for the woman. Paying child support just means giving money to the mother, which is not the best idea, for she can use it to get things for herself and neglecting the child. An unloved child has a higher chance of doing things that they feel would get them love, such as joining a gang. No matter what, a child without love and compassion will have some issues when it grows up.


Religion has been used as a way for us humans to use as a moral compass. Now, it is just an archaic way for us to deal with the problems of today and tomorrow. There is a reason why most religious people while proclaiming to be pro-life, have the same abortion rate as other groups of people. Religion, especially in the poor neighborhoods, is a path to hope. All you have to do is follow the Words of God in the Bible and you are given paradise in the next life? For the poor immigrant mother in South Central Los Angeles, it sounds too good to be true. And it is. Religion shackles the poor to a set of rules that they will blindly follow, and as a result, they will never receive sex education and will reject condoms because the heads of the Catholic Church forbids it. However, when they get pregnant, they immediately think of themselves now and their current predicament, and choose to abort.


Abortion should be legalized, but if we had more widespread education that cut through all the negative stigma and religiosity that attempts to block such discussions from happening, then it will definitely cut down on the need for abortions. Women who choose to have an abortion should be supported even if you don’t morally agree with it, because to them they feel 10 times worse. Legalizing it would also prevent such rash decisions such as a woman sticking a coat hanger in herself to make her bleed. Spread awareness, make abortion legal, in the end, all parties who really matter in this discussion are satisfied.


Francisco R.





It has to be observed that in the most technical definition of “life”, “life” does begin when the sperm meets egg for the fact that this then causes a chain reaction in the differentiation of cells which in some nine months ends up with a baby. But to me the point of viability is not the same as when “life” begins because in my opinion, which of course can never be an absolute truth like any other opinion, abortion should be legal all throughout a woman’s pregnancy. Even though legally speaking I am fine with late term abortions, personally I believe that at some later point in the third trimester; abortion should be more limited to those cases that deal with women who could lose their lives because of their pregnancies. But as a guy, I can never understand what exactly a woman goes through when getting an abortion and what psychological trauma it could have on her in the possibility that she begins to regret it: which would most likely happen because of all the “what if…?” scenarios that could come over time.



If a woman decides to keep the child because she cannot go through this procedure, then there is absolutely nothing wrong to go full term with the pregnancy and put the child in for adoption. I’m sure there are countless couples that are unable to have children and would love to have their own kid to call their own since they were infants. That being some reason as to why late term abortions should be allowed more exclusively for women that are in danger of losing their lives because of the fetus or the fetus itself is heavily deformed and would not last long after birth. Seriously, there shouldn’t be any real excuse on why a woman should be getting late third trimester abortions, you had enough time to get one when the fetus wasn’t even close of being fully developed. Not wanting to have the child shouldn’t be an excuse of getting this procedure done at such late stages of a pregnancy.



Here’s basically how I see it. For a good portion of the time that a woman is pregnant the fetus is still developing many of the vital organs such as our heart, brain, lungs and others while slowly increasing in size which on average by month six is the size of a cantaloupe. Today, we have the capability of saving a fetus who was born prematurely only a few weeks after it would be the size of that cantaloupe. But this shouldn’t be a defining point on where we will say viability begins because a fetus at this point could not sustain itself without the need of high end medical equipment and a long stay in the hospital to keep the premature infant alive. I just don’t see how we can associate the ability to save premature infants and the limit onto when abortions should be allowed because one of them is a decision that is made by the entity that is having this potential life grow inside them while the other is a misfortune for someone who was wanting to go to full term with the child, if it was wanted. Trying to argue that because a fetus has nerves means that it can now feel pain is not true at all for the reason that until our nerve synapses are fully developed there is no real way of the fetus of being able to feel pain.



Simply, abortion should remain illegal for all throughout a woman’s pregnancy because it is a right for a grown woman or young lady to be able to terminate a pregnancy. In the pursuit of trying to protect life, we must remember that the woman that is carrying this fetus has had a life of her own, she already being a consciousness being that makes her own decisions. While this fetus is nothing more than the mere potential. Yes I understand that we are all potential, but a fetus is pure potential, that’s it. No memories, thoughts, intentions, hopes. The fetus never got to smell, feel, taste or see anything. How can we value a fetus the same as an actual person? Remember that a fetus has absolutely no conception of its existence while we do. As human beings we are by nature typically investing our emotions into a philosophical questions such as this, in which in retrospect we should not do, because of course it could be argumented that even in some of the hardest situations that a person will have to go through they can still be happy. But of course they can still be happy because when a person is actually alive, happiness is always with us is the the sense that like sadness and all the other emotions a person has, they can come to us for the smallest of reasons. Once you are alive, you will be able to be sad, happy, excited, depressed, cheerful and many others. That being why I say viability is at birth.


Rev. Nick A


The one thing throughout the entire abortion discussion that has consistently offended my sensibilities as an individual with the ability to think, is questioning along the lines of "what if all them childrens hadn't been aborted?" Questions such as "if we could ask those aborted kidlets today if they would rather have been aborted or not, what do you think they would say?;" or "what if that aborted jell-o jiggler had been born and grown up to be the next Einstein?" and its counterpart "...the next Hitler?" I find these questions just as productive as questions like "what if tomatoes could talk?;" "what if human genitals were displayed prominently on the center of the face?;" and "would I be better off today if I had eaten that sandwich for lunch last year ten minutes later than I did?" There are just so many things wrong with the questions themselves and the answers that may be given that it's pointless to even begin to search for an answer. The entire reality we live in, or at least the section of it that in any way influences the answers, would be entirely different in such a way that billions upon billions of variables within the universe would be changed. Any answer concerning our current reality would be totally irrelevant, and an answer stemming from the alternate reality would be impossible to reach, and completely irrelevant to our current reality. All we can think about and make decisions based upon is our current reality, and how those decisions might affect our soon-to-be-current reality. "What if?" scenarios are much less helpful than "if" scenarios. Meaning "what if the fetus inside me has superpowers?" is a hell of a lot less helpful than "if I carry this child to term my life will change drastically, perhaps forever." But that is all that is known; not how life will change, just that it will.

The way I see it, being pregnant, not being pregnant, and having standalone child are all entirely different current realities. Having a 19-weeks-gestated fetus and having a 21-weeks-gestated fetus is a nearly-identical current reality for both the gestator and the gestatee, except that it is no longer legal for the gestator to decide to quit gestating that fetus. For the entire period that a fetus is in its mother, it only directly affects the mother. Once it pops out, then it begins to have interactions that affect others. But until then it is nothing but part of the mother. So that being said, it should be the mother's choice at any point until the pregnancy leaves her body and stops being a pregnancy, whether or not to terminate the pregnancy. And it is not selfish to snuff out a potential human life to prevent massive life changes, since it is only the potential for a human life. When was the last time you heard of a woman being cursed each month she has her period for not fertilizing that egg which is really a potential human life. Or people condemning men who masturbate for not fertilizing an egg with their seed, which is the same potential for human life. We do not make every decision based on the Butterfly Effect, we make decisions based on the next one or two things that happen to us directly after that decision is made. So the next time you think "what if that aborted fetus were to lead humanity into a utopia had it not been aborted?" Think good and hard whether or not your ear itches badly enough that you feel comfortable moving your hand to your head, creating an air current that will pick up on another and another, eventually causing the hurricane that will kill thousands of people, most of which are on the verge of solving all of the world's problems.


Austin T

As I am not completely passionate about one side or the other, this position makes the most sense to me. I believe that life should begin at birth. However, I believe that life should begin in the sense of experience. Life, in my mind, is the culminating experiences that we go through as people. What makes a wise man different than an ignorant man are his experiences and life lessons learned both first hand and by observation. In this sense a child, once born, can really be either successful or not depending on his/her decisions throughout life, as well as learning from mistakes they might be born into like debt or substance abuse. So going back to my stance that life begins at birth, I believe that what a child does in their life starting from the moment they are born, is what defines living.

Ok, with all this being said, I must say how I feel about babies still in the mother. I believe that even though the child is growing regularly and is healthy, they are not progressing through their life yet. And the counter argument to that would be that they are technically growing up until that 9 months until they are born and are sufficiently progressing in their own life. But, what I think, is that until the child is born, when he/she starts their life, they have not made any real world progress yet. They have physiologically grown and developed but not in the sense of learning wisdom and life skills/ lessons. When any of us were in the womb of our mothers, we did not learn to not touch fire, put plastic bags over our heads, look both ways before crossing the street, or anything we know as common knowledge now. When a child is in the womb they are not “uselss” to society I just believe that what they learn after birth makes them more experienced than a baby not born yet.

So where does this lead my rant? Well, I think that babies start life when they come into this world physically, out of the mother. And with that being said, I believe that abortion before the baby is born should be legal. There are many what if questions to be asked but my answer to a few are this. If the woman was raped then I believe that she will pursue what she wants and thinks is best, therefore leading to abortion legally or not. Because of this I believe that the choice to abort would help this woman simply end one life and not her own as well as collateral damage to the situation. A step further to arguing abortion anytime before birth would be if she was forced to wait to speak to a physician about aborting. I think that even though she has that 26 week period to choose, many choices can be made and broken, including to carry to term or to abort. If circumstances with the mother lead to a possible broken childhood for the baby, I believe abortion should be available even at the last week or days so that the child is in a sense, saved from a road leading to hardship and ultimate failure. A second circumstance I find unavoidable, is if the parents are found to have a child with mental or physical disabilities after the 26 week period. Part of me thinks this is the wrong thing to say and another part of me thinks that it should be said. I think that if the child is confirmed to have an illness like severe down syndrome, or lou gehrig’s disease and the mother wants to abort, she should be able to at any stage of growth. With news like that, it not only changes how the parents must treat and accommodate for their child, but it limits his/her . opportunities in the world tremendously. Like I said before, life experience is what I see as valuable and for a child with severe limitations, they would not have the opportunities of a fully capable person.

With so many more ‘what if’ scenarios, I think that ultimately the mother should be able to have the choice of abortion for her baby because it is what she believes is best, or because with it being illegal, she will still find a method to get rid of the child. I know it is a very hard decision and cannot fathom what stress the mother is put under, but I believe that ultimately she will make the right one. My only hope is that we as a society will accept a woman for who she is and the choices she makes, and give her the safety she needs to carry out what she feels as best.




COHORT 7 RESPONDS

Karl Z.


It breaks my heart to see potential life be terminated. I was messing around playing Frisbee with friends on one delightful summer day, when a child no older than 4 ran up to me and started following me around. It was adorable and in that moment I gained a glimpse into what being a father was like; that is until the child’s actual father gave me the stink eye and told his son to come with him. I want so desperately to believe that every life should have the right to live; that each person can overcome all obstacles and learn to live, love, and grow. But even in my limited life experience, it is becoming clear that this is not the case. Some will get a chance while others will not. It simply is the way of life.

Biologically, there are several parts of the development of the fetus where people inevitably say “Here is where the fetus becomes human”, despite the fact that it may not be fully viable at that point. At conception (obviously not viable, though their argument is for the potential of human life), when the heart begins to beat, once pain can be felt, etc. are all often cited as the limit to which abortions should not be legal once that milestone has been met. One problem with that is not every baby develops in the precisely congruent time frame- undoubtedly some may give or take a few days to develop. In terms of the moral aspect concerning the potential mother, some will say that most abortions are the result of irresponsibility and as such they should be limited in the hopes that people (not women alone because men are just as culpable in the creation of new life) will act more responsibly. Others believe that people will make mistakes and that abortions should be a way out for them- essentially making abortion another form of birth control. “Personhood” is merely the assignment of value from one person to another. In this case I'd say personhood starts when the fetus becomes a baby by leaving the mother, though it should be carefully protected inside the womb by doctors and other professionals. It's really just an arbitrary value anyways.

I believe that a woman should be able to abort the fetus at any time during her pregnancy. If a woman loses her job or her husband/partner leaves her to carry the fetus alone in a later stage she really shouldn’t be forced to keep it. If she doesn’t want it, it’s not going to do any good to keep the fetus. To balance this, I’d be in favor of heavy regulation that prevents any horror stories like Kermit Gosnell’s clinic from happening as well as providing women with the knowledge and resources for all options, not just abortions.

Legally speaking, any restrictions on abortion must be strictly defined by time instead of abstract notions which are nigh impossible to prove, such as when the fetus might feel pain. What if scientists develop a drug that numbs the fetus so that it doesn’t ever feel pain in the womb; then could we terminate the fetus a day before it might be born? What if the fetus has congenital insensitivity to pain and never experiences pain? Could we abort it at any time, or even kill it once it is out in the world? If we say that 3 months is the limit barring medical danger to the mother, it must the limit. Not 3 months and one week or 3 months and one day, but exactly three months. There has to be some level of consistency on this matter.

There’s just something so unnerving about that position though. It feels wrong and slimy to say it’s okay at any juncture in the pregnancy, and I hate the feeling of it. I’d like to believe that women will only ever abort late term in the case of critical emergency, but there will always be those who randomly choose they didn’t want a kid after all. Reasonably, a woman would abort a child early in the pregnancy to avoid the physical and mental issues that pregnancies often bring along. Abortion should be an emergency safety net for those who suffered an accident or great misfortune, not a substitute for birth control and responsibility for the immature and irresponsible (kind of like welfare in a sense). It goes against every one of my instincts and seeing women go multiple times for abortions makes my blood boil at their brash irresponsibility. It’s a hauntingly depressing practice that I’d love to forget about, but people will be people and there will always be a need for abortions in any stage. Abortion is the destruction of a potential life, not its prevention. Ultimately, however, it is not up for me to make the decision for them, though I do feel that there should be a one day waiting period to counsel the mother on the process of an abortion and alternatives (not using scare tactics or using guilt). As I said before, supporting women’s choice should be about all choices; not solely the right to abortion. And that choice should be a well-counseled decision instead of an unadvised gut feeling.

Sean O

To be honest I’ve never really put much thought into my stance on abortion. The laws regarding it always confused me; it’s ok for a woman to kill her fetus but someone who kills a mother with child is charged with two counts of murder (one for the mother and one for the fetus that abortion laws allow a mother to purposefully destroy). I don’t know what kind of crazy logic that law makers thought made sense at the time but to me, none of this is sensible.


I honestly am pro-choice, I believe that the person that has to bring the life into this world should have the final say as to whether or not it should be brought into this world. A baby should not have to be brought into this world only to live for 5 minutes screaming in pain then I think it’s better that its existence is ceased before it can experience that horrible incident. Otto talked about all of the millions of “babies” that were killed and how they were ten folds more than the populations of states that don’t even exist (shout out to Wyoming), but the point is that they were never born. They were never capable of becoming full-fledged human beings. If that’s destroying a life should we continually have sex? I mean think of all of the children woman are wasting every period they have or how many children men put into napkins or down the sink; they could have been great contributors to this world as well.

I think that life begins at conception but independent life doesn’t begin until birth and this is a huge difference. Independent life means that all of your systems are fully running and you can support conscience life. Some of you may say that if this is the case why not kill disabled people that can’t support themselves independently, but once a person has sustained independent life (i.e. if they became disabled after birth) they have become an independent life-form and any type of life fulfilled there on out is independent.


I don’t agree with the ending of independent lives nor do I agree with the ending of life in general but I do agree with the choice of the person who holds that life in their hands to make the correct decision; one that the owner of that life can’t make for his/herself. If this thought extends to unborn humans then so be it. The mother bearing the child should be given the trust to choose whether or not the circumstances are right for the baby to be born into. I know that not all mothers should be given this choice but it is their right as the overseer of this life to make that decision.

COHORT 6 RESPONDS


Joanna C

Like most issues we’ve looked at in this class, I am a bit ambivalent on the issue of abortion. Nonetheless I will do my best to explain my beliefs. While I know that life is precious and should be preserved, I certainly feel that women should have the right to choose. I agree with the U.S. Supreme Court in that the state should have an interest in protecting fetal life, but this should be done through guaranteed access to pre-natal care, health care, and education for pregnant women and not by restricting abortion. Even though I know how abortions are performed, I still don’t think women should be told what to do with their bodies.

As for when personhood begins, I believe it begins at birth. Some people say that life begins at the cellular level. Which I suppose is correct, because in actuality every cell in your body is life, including eggs and sperm. Does that mean we need to protect every cell? Not at all, because there is a difference between just “life” and “human life”. An egg is a living single cell from the female, with an incomplete DNA chain, same with a sperm. An embryo is a fertilized egg cell where sperm has joined, in the initial stages of potential life, with all of the DNA requirement to develop into a complete living being, but not yet attached to the uterus wall. A fetus is an embryo which has attached to the wall of the uterus and now gets nourishment and oxygen from the mother. All of these are indeed “life”, biologically speaking of course but certainly not “human life”.

That being said I think that I should also make the further distinction between a “fetus” and a “baby”. Fetuses are uniquely different from human beings in major ways, which thus casts doubt on the claim that they can be classified as human beings. The most fundamental difference is that a fetus is totally dependent on a woman's body to survive. Another significant difference is that a fetus doesn't just depend on a woman's body for survival, it actually resides inside her body. I think that a human being must be a separate individual.

A baby on the other hand, is a birthed living creature which has been born into the environment and detached from the support systems of the mother. It must breathe on it's own for oxygen, and consume foods to digest them for independent nourishment. Part of being a human being is our ability to participate in society, or at least be recognized as a member of society. In addition, a baby has a birth certificate which marks the first legal recognition of a person's existence. Ultimately, despite the potential that a fetus has for becoming a human being, and its similarities to a human being, we cannot say that a fetus is a human being. Just to clarify things, I believe that the life of a “fetus” begins at conception , but a “baby’s” life, an actual human being, begins at birth, at their first breath.
I don't think anyone is saying that a fetus is not life, and I hate to say this but I think we are just saying that it's just not a valuable life to some people. Or perhaps just less valuable then an actual human beings life. After all, most people mourn more over the death of a baby than the death of a fetus.

Now maybe these are my beliefs because I’m just some teenager barely entering the adult world, and perhaps my views might be different if I myself had a child but at this moment this is what I feel. Once again, I need to say that I think we should avoid abortions as much as we can, I mean no one likes abortions, but in the end I believe that the right to choose should not be a right that should be taken away.

Saydie G

What makes something alive is its biological processes. What makes someone a person is their consciousness, thoughts, hopes and dreams, individuality and personality. But if I even believe that people have souls, I do not believe we are conceived with them. In the womb, a fetus is a bundle of reflexes and impulses. Even after birth it is not capable of thought so much as basic instincts. However, once it is no longer feeding off of the mother for survival, it is an organism, capable of surviving on its own to an extent. Birth marks the beginning of life.

While this view may seem radical, I would like to point out the difference between life and potential life. Everything has potential for something, and whether it reaches that is up to chance and a series of choices. By the same logic that a blastocyst is potential life, a gamete is potential life and every cockblock is an abortion. By the literal Bible interpretation, a rib bone is potential life because that’s what God made Eve out of. It confuses me that those extreme pro lifers would hold a giant funeral complete with little tombstones for some thoughtless clumps of cells. Because by that fervent regard for life maybe they should be protesting the killing of livestock alongside PETA, since even animals have more in common with conscious people than an embryo does.

The decision to carry a fetus to term is a giving and selfless one. It is a symbiotic relationship: if the mother wants a child, she will make the sacrifices and weather pregnancy because the outcome will be desirable. I do not take back my parasite comment. The first definition I found was “An organism that obtains nourishment and shelter from another organism.” It also said on a side note that parasites may cause harm or disease to their hosts. Harm and disease? Morning sickness, weakened bones, stolen nourishment, pain of childbirth and financial burden. If a woman does not want to have a baby, then it is a parasite. If she does, that’s a venerable commitment, but clearly not everyone is capable of it. And sorry if calling it that makes anyone uncomfortable, but this whole class is about touchy subjects so tough luck.

Everyone holds the value of human life on different levels, some giving varying degrees of importance to certain people and some with one universal amount. When it comes down to it, worth is subjective. The population is so high that we clearly aren’t in need of more people, so the value of a life is pretty much determined by the people who cherish it. Why is it first degree murder when someone kills a pregnant woman’s fetus but perfectly acceptable to have an abortion? If the woman wants a baby, its life is valued before it has begun and no one has the right to deprive the mother of her future child. If she doesn’t want it, then no one will miss it, there will be no effect on the rest of the world and you can’t miss what was never there. So just from a logical standpoint, the loss of what could be another one in 7 billion really isn’t much of a loss in the grand scheme of things.

Many people think it is astounding that women could have the option to use abortion as a form of birth control. I doubt the number of people who do this purposely is actually that high. Does anyone really have unprotected sex with the thought that they can just stop on over at the clinic if things go wrong? Abortions are more expensive than condoms, and I’m guessing more of a hassle. They are not fun, but they are sometimes necessary. Anyone dumb enough to be having copious amounts of unprotected sex shouldn’t be mothering to begin with, maybe not even spreading their DNA...

While it is commonly thought that having abortions is irresponsible, I actually think having kids can be irresponsible. This is sort of an awkward parallel, but think of how we spay and neuter our pets because there are so many unwanted animals on the streets. There are also tons of unwanted kids in foster care, orphanages and detrimental home environments. Before going forth and multiplying, people should think about why they absolutely need to add to the population instead of adopting someone who needs them more. Having too many kids, even in a stable household, is neglectful for them because they usually cannot get specialized attention since the parents are constantly dealing with others. Think before you decide to bear the child; it isn’t always going to be a bundle of joy to world.

This traces back to quality vs quantity. If you are preaching about how everyone should have millions of babies then you’d better be willing to find suitable, nurturing homes for all of them, and provide the mother with a future. Even those most against abortions make an exception when the mother’s health is threatened. What about the mother’s plans for college and a career? If those are threatened I’d choose the mother too because at least one life can be a success rather than two being hopeless.

And finally the question of 3rd trimester abortions. I think these are ridiculous. Who goes through all the inconvenience of pregnancy and won’t even finish the job? Yeah, maybe they’re the ones on that show “I didn’t know I was pregnant” who are too fat to notice the baby belly, but really? The only justifiable reason for this is if the baby has some sort of terrible disease and will die anyway. However, I still think that people and the government are not in a position to judge when one day it is legal and the next day unthinkable. If a woman is going to get an abortion because her baby isn’t the right gender, or something superficial like that, she probably shouldn’t even be a mother. And also, maybe she should be allowed the same choice the father has, to walk out on it whenever he pleases.

So basically, I might not be the only one this pro choice, but I feel like the only one who isn’t really bothered by abortion. Push aside the moral dogmas that have been dictated to us and think about it practically. Nobody is affected by the absence of potential life. Making abortions illegal will lead to unwanted, miserable children and dangerous botched abortions. And keeping them legal will not increase the numbers of people having unprotected sex because I don’t think anyone really wants to rely on an abortion as plan A. So even if you believe a newly conceived cell cluster with the mental capacity of a vegetable is a person, it is no one else’s business to legislate what a woman can’t do to her own body. Right to privacy. The reason it is murder after birth is that it is now someone else’s body. In conclusion... just use some birth control and you won’t have to deal with this moral dilemma.

Joe S


When it comes down to it, what is more important, potential life or the continuation of a life? This is the question I ask myself when articulating the complex issue of abortion.Does the mother’s life have precedent over the zygote, the embryo, and the fetus which is growing inside of her uterus? I believe the answer to this question is an indefinite yes.Potential life is not yet life. Although the process of the reproduction of our species is a wonderful, amazing, and precious thing, potential does not have authority over something that already exists.

In arguing this topic, every word must be carefully chosen because it is such a fragile subject. I am a liberal and I do believe that women have the right to chose to terminate their fetus. I am willing to have intelligent arguments on when life begins, the morality of abortion, and the lasting societal effects of an abortion. However, when someone labels pro-choice men and women “baby-killers” or “murderers” I refuse to continue the discussion. I acknowledge that abortion is not a pretty thing (neither are many other medical procedures), however, a comparison cannot be drawn between stopping potential life, and one person who is completely alive killing someone else that is completely alive.Fetuses cannot feel, cannot experience emotion and are completely dependent on their mother’s health; and this to me does not define “life”.

That being said, I will now get down to the justifications of abortion.

Women make the ultimate decision when it comes down to it. If you don’t have a vagina, a uterus, and if your physiology isn’t wired to host a fetus, then you really should have no say in the matter of abortion. Until men aren’t allowed to vote on this issue, I will defend the women’s right to chose whether or not they will be pregnant for 9 months and spend a solid 18 years of their life raising another human being. It is almost comical that the men who oppose abortion don’t truly understand what a woman must go through in order to have a child, its not as easy as saying “I’m a good Christian, so I’m going to have the baby.” Getting pregnant and choosing to keep the fetus should not be referred to as a “consequence” of having sex, it is a “commitment” to raise and nurture a child, if you are pregnant and you cannot commit to doing this you should not have the child. Unprotected sex is obviously a bad decision (when one isn’t ready to be pregnant) and can easily lead to pregnancy; however it happens all the time to prepared partners having safe sex. That is why abortion should never be labeled as a form of “birth control”. I assume that no one plans to have sex with someone with the intent to not use birth control and then wait a couple months to get an abortion. It’s also safe to assume that no one enjoys getting an abortion.

Sex education is a serious asset to society. Although most students in Ventura take sex education as a give in, some low-income schools don’t have the funding to take the proper steps to educate everyone on how babies are made. Poverty has produced a multitude of pregnant teenage girls seeking abortions, some getting abortions more than once in a lifetime. The obvious answer to this situation is that those people shouldn’t be having sex, but without the proper education they don’t understand the seriousness behind sex, and therefore are not fit to be mothers. Conservatives continually push for pro-life in almost all circumstances which not only puts pressure on unstable teenagers to keep their children, but forces mothers to dedicate a huge portion of there life to raising the child. Most conservatives will fight to their last breath to preserve the potential life, however once the potential life becomes life they disregard the vast amounts of time, money, and rearing it takes to produce a well-raised child.

In conclusion, I believe that birth is the true beginning of human life. Anything before a baby is actually born; I consider a living part of the mother that bears it. It is a women’s choice to whether or not they are ready to nurture the potential life happening when sperm meets egg, it is not anyone else’s decision besides the people that are going to care for it. Abortion is a right that cannot be taken away, because people would still attempt unsafe methods of abortion without its legality. The potential life which is a zygote, an embryo, and a fetus are not physically alive yet, they depend on the mother’s existence, which is why a baby cannot be considered alive until it is breathing, heart beating, internal organs functioning, after being born.

Anaika M


For starters, I don’t think that any of us are qualified to say when life begins. If you’re like me, it’s been hard throughout this unit to deal with the many arbitrary lines humans have drawn in this debate. Answering the question “When does life begin?” is asking us to drawn yet another line that we can only support with a personal mix of emotions, experiences and beliefs. Maybe it’s partially because of this that I believe our laws should begin protecting potential life only when it is officially life, that is, when a fetus is born.

But it’s not only because of this that I allow myself to be categorized as a “pro-choicer.” I am personally disgusted with the conservative side of the argument because I feel that as one of the interviews in “Lake of Fire” said, not only do they want to make abortions illegal, many also don’t want to fund welfare or sexual education. In a sense, it seems that not only are they refusing to solve the problem, they’re practically refusing to see it. No matter what the law says about abortion, there will always be women who become pregnant and who will seek out the procedure. While the government’s responsibility to a fetus may be unclear, I know that protecting the woman’s life falls under our government’s duties. Because women will be dying on the floors of bathrooms with coat hangers protruding from their vaginas or suffering from infections that cause them to lose the baby anyway, abortion must be kept legal. I don’t care who is getting them, and I don’t care how many they have gotten but whether it be a first-and-only-time accident, or a multi-annual occurrence, a woman must have the right to choose.

There’s an alarmingly large number of conservative men that are very verbal about life beginning at conception and how awful abortions are. I’m not saying that men shouldn’t have a say in this argument, but I will wager that if men were able to be impregnated, our country would not be so divided on this issue. The fact of the matter is that pregnancy is a life-altering, irreversible experience and some women just aren’t ready for it, emotionally or physically. Some people are, and that’s fantastic, I wish it were the case in all situations. But because it’s not, I don’t understand how people can justify forcing a woman to carry a baby to term. If I were to become pregnant before I was ready, I couldn’t imagine not having the option to abort. I would like to have children one day, but I want to have them on my own terms.

The only problem that I have with my stance is that in the rare cases of a fetus being killed in the womb by stray gunshots, a car crash, or UFO etc., I believe that its family should have the right to legal action against the killer. The way I justify it in my head is that even though the fetus is not yet independent life, for this family, that fetus is their child. They want it, they are planning to care for it and envision a future with this baby. Taking away a mother’s/couple’s right to decide to bring new life into this world is as bad as taking away a mother’s right to decide not to bring new life into the world.

As a quick tangent: saying that abortion is ok under certain circumstances but not in others is extremely hypocritical. If a fetus’s life should ALWAYS be protected, then it should ALWAYS be protected whether that potential life was created during an unfortunate instance of rape or incest, or if it may harm the mother’s health. But, because I personally believe that a government must place more weight on the mother’s life up until birth, I believe that life does not fully begin until the fetus becomes a baby by being born. And even though I think it’s heart-breaking that somebody would terminate a pregnancy so close to birth, my position supports third-trimester abortions as well.


Life is precious, but before birth, it is only potential life. Just as every unfertilized egg or every condom destroys potential life, an abortion doesn’t terminate life. And while I think that ideally, every pregnancy would be planned and every child wanted, this is not the case. When life begins, our government owes every baby its protection but until then, it is its duty to provide safe abortions.

COHORT 5 RESPONDS


Nick H


If someone was to ask me my views about abortion and its implementation and legality in society, I would use the strict doctrine, “don't like abortion? Don't have one.” Every woman should have the right to make the choice whether or not to bring a child to term, no matter the reasons. I really do not think it fair to contemplate the “what if” scenarios people bring up when talking about possible alternate realities when no babies, or more babies, were aborted. I care about the here and now. And so, I think a woman should have her perfectly sound right to have an abortion without explaining herself to anyone. Period. Perhaps you may cringe at a woman getting a 30 week pregnancy termination over her child's gender. Well, so would I, but I think in the grand scheme of things we have only the right to judge others, and not act against them. Put simply, though not everyone may like the reasons that go behind certain late abortions (or just abortion altogether), it is not right to be able to restrict that service for any reason or any exception. There are just too many variables and too many women with too many different reasons and justifications. We may frown, pout, moan, even excommunicate, but we mustn't restrict this service, regardless of the scenario.

However, this only addresses one side of my mind, the logical aspect that bears no resemblance of what my heart tells me is right. Though I think that every single woman should be able to receive an abortion at any point throughout her pregnancy, I find that the act becomes immoral after the point of viability. Personally, as with I assume most of the BioEthics class, I get a bit squeamish when I think of a life being ended which had all the necessary utilities to make it in the world. For me, that would be like taking a Pentium 3 computer from a decade ago and smashing it with a hammer. Yes, it is unwanted and does not have a promising future, but it works and could be used for something, somehow!

So yes, I find that life begins at birth, and a woman has every right to end a pregnancy before that point, even if her reasons are immoral. It is sad, but it is her right as an individual. Before, during viability, the fetus could be life, but it is not. It is a parasite within the mother, and until it is birthed, has no legal status, no protections, no rights. Call me heartless, call me what you will, but I am just trying to be consistent and logical in making this call; separating emotions from such a heated argument is advisable.

To sum up my views on abortion, I will paraphrase Voltaire: I may not agree with your choice for a late-term abortion, but I'll defend to the death your right to make that choice. Life starts at birth, and despite mine and many peoples being opposed to post-viability terminations, a woman has the right to make a choice as to what she does with her body and her potential life.<br><br>

Caroline F


Logic versus morality: this is my conflict. I was sitting in our Socratic on Wednesday, fairly sure of my pro-choice position when I had the sudden realization that there was an incredible flaw in my logic. I had previously believed that terminating a pregnancy is somewhat justifiable because the fetus is an organism that has no memory, no sense of self. On this same premise, a baby just born and living outside of the mother can also be terminated because it is simply a being of reaction and not of self-aware thought. At what point a baby realizes that it is itself a human being, I have no idea. But what I do know is that I base my value of human life on a bell curve. Disgusting, I know. If placed in the demented circumstance, I would save a newborn over a blastocyst, save a two year old over a newborn, and a seven year-old over an eight year old. If I was a parent, I would find it much harder to lose a three-year-old over a newborn baby or to miscarriage. Perhaps I am too young to understand maternal instincts or the complexity of life, but I would imagine that it would be easier to lose a newborn, whose traits are unknown and whose sense of self is nonexistent, than to lose a young child who understands pain, understands self, and understands life. I used to believe that personhood began at the point of viability; I thought that once you had to kill the baby before removing it from the mother, a person was committing first degree murder.

But I realized that my logic supporting this view actually does little to defend the stance. The only reason I believed third-trimester abortions to be murder is because they made me uncomfortable. In these cases, there is either something horribly wrong with the baby or something morally flawed in the mother. But why should I be able to prevent a mother from aborting a baby in the third trimester because she had only recently discovered a life changing defect her baby? I know that I could take care of a child with trisomy 21, but not all mothers would be able to handle a child with these needs. I should not have the right to decide what is better for another person when I cannot fathom the circumstance of their life. Logically speaking, having late term abortions available to the public makes sense! If there is some kind of horrible disfigurement that was not discovered until the third trimester, a mother would probably have an abortion to avoid having a child that will grow up with unnecessary difficulties. Middle school was hard enough for average children! And even if the fetus is normal and healthy, a woman should be able to abort that child for whatever reason she sees fit. If a woman wants to abort a healthy baby in the third trimester, then she is most likely not even fit to be a mother and should not conceive anyway!

The problem with my past beliefs, that personhood begins at viability, is that this is an arbitrarily defined line. As technology improves, the point of viability outside of a woman’s womb is going to be much earlier in the pregnancy. This will eventually lead to a plethora of other problems where women will not have the time to learn that they are pregnant and make an informed and thoughtful choice about what to do in their situation. For the purposes of law creation and for the benefit of a woman’s educated choice, the point at which a baby gains citizenship should be a defined point: birth. Third trimester abortions are sad, disgusting, and sometimes completely immoral, but every woman should have the right to seek one for the sake of the developing child. The baby would either be horribly disfigured or their mother would be utterly insane.

I am not proclaiming that the life of a being begins at birth; that would be ridiculous. I believe that human life begins when egg meets sperm, that is when a person’s genetic makeup is determined and that is when the blueprint of your entire life is formed. But personhood, legal status, protection, and rights, should begin when an infant is born. I argue for a woman’s right to terminate this life, a parasite that feasts on the calcium in her bones and the nutrients in her stomach. I fight for a woman’s choice to carry out a pregnancy or to end it. Creating an infant and bringing it into the world requires an enormous amount of character and a woman should be able to determine when they are ready for that responsibility.

Brittany B


I don’t particularly enjoy having to admit to be being extremely pro-choice. I cringe as much as anyone when I hear about a third term abortion and how it happens. I know that we’re dealing with a life, it’s a fact, but I don’t think my opinion is really as heartless as it seems.

I happen to believe that if people are going to be fixated on the idea of giving a child life the most important factor is the life that child is being born into. Unwanted children are already being put at a disadvantage. The likelihood of abuse for an unwanted child is significantly higher. Similarly, many of these children would be born into poverty.

I appreciate the sentiments of those who oppose abortion in supporting adoption but too many children go unadopted around the world, and in situations of medical issues its difficult to find a home for these children.

So I do understand what would possess a woman to abort a third term pregnancy because her child will have dwarfism. She had a reason, and I don’t think its anybody’s business but her own to decide if that reason is justified. I know that every woman who made that decision had a reason.

I believe that even a million hypothetical babies, are never as important as the number of women who died when abortion wasn’t legal. When we saw that picture of a woman who bleed to death trying to give herself an abortion, I can’t imagine one of us thinking that she deserved it. I don’t believe that anybody deserves that. The women who died during the time before Roe V. Wade had families, and memories, and they were living their lives and the idea that a cluster of cells inside of them is more important than them is one of the biggest disregards for human life I’ve ever heard. These women died, scared and just trying to control their own lives, because their society valued some abstract morality more than they valued actual lives.

Women deserve as much freedom as men in deciding if they’re going to be a parent. We just accept a man that walks out mid pregnancy, but the idea that a woman has some obligation to let a child grow in her is just the backwards remains of a time when women weren’t respected as equals.

I hate the opinion that a college girl with a steady boyfriend deserves the right to an abortion, but a party girl doesn’t. Usually, this sentiment is followed by some misogynistic line like “she was asking for it”. I’m not going to be apologetic when I say screw that. The double standards of what’s appropriate for a girl and what’s appropriate for a boy are really what are creating the issue. A female’s right to sexual freedom is what’s at stake when we operate on the principal that “sluts” don’t deserve the right to an abortion. Its an opinion like that which sets us back, and keeps us in the sheltered and false world where women aren’t supposed to make mistakes.

In the real world they do make mistakes. Women get into shitty situations, and things go wrong, and decisions have to be made. Abortion gives women the opportunity to move on from a bad situation, and I think that’s more important than protecting a life that hasn’t even been set in motion.

Michael H

Life begins when a person should be self-sufficient, meaning that it is able to carry out normal body functions without assistance. I say “should” because genetic diseases like Down’s make a person dependent on another. The moment the mother goes into labor, the baby is viable, and therefore, should be protected by the state. By that point, if the baby is kept inside the placenta, it will suffocate. Otherwise, the baby would still be part of the mother’s body and should be aborted if necessary.

As long as the baby is a part of her body, a mother should be able to abort it. I condemn those who wait until the absolute last minute to decide whether they should have a baby. They have had an entire nine months to decide, and a plentitude of options before conception. But, things happen. Events do not always go the way they are planned. A single mother may lose her job in the thirty-second week of pregnancy, and she can no longer support a baby. She could carry the baby to term, but his future would be in doubt. People always claim, “What if the baby is the next president or sports star?” The question could as easily be, “What if he is the next mass murderer or just another member on the streets?” His life could go both ways. If a child’s own biological mother does not want it, there is no telling who could take care of the child.

The main reason I believe life begins at conception is because I want to keep open the option of abortion for the mother. I sympathize with females. Men should care more about abortion. There would be no way I could care for a child with spina bifida. I have my own life to worry about. Not keeping the abortion option open gives added burden to a woman.

No one complains when a leg needs to be amputated because of a tumor. I know that the blastocyst has a potential for life and a cancerous leg could result in the death of the person. But the concept is same. Both are harmful to the life. Keeping the leg would mean dying from cancer. Cutting off the leg would mean a drastic change in walking and mobility. Going back to the example of the single mother, a new member of the family would mean that the mother would have to compromise greatly on her jobs and therefore, her own lifestyle. Her lifestyle directly affects the child’s, leading to a lose-lose situation. She could abort the baby and deal with the emotional consequences, or have the baby and deal with the economic consequences, which would lead to emotional consequences anyways.

We as a world already unconsciously believe that life begins at birth. We do not have conception days. We have birthdays. We do not add the nine months that passed prior to our birth.

Bryan H


People often compare abortion to the death penalty, saying that if you are against the death penalty that you have to be pro-life to be consistent. I don't think that this is true, because you are, as the state, killing someone who, presumably, does not want to die. I think what abortion is more analogous to is another issue that we talked about this year: euthanasia. It is the mother's choice, a choice that is not designated to a third-party, like the government. Almost everyone in out class said that they would be fine with euthanasia, and some even said that they would be okay with euthanasia even if the person was of sound health (I am included in this second group). Although essentially everyone agrees that life, in a biological sense, begins at conception, when that life becomes autonomous, or when that life gains "personhood" is the true moral issue. I don't believe that while the fetus is inside the womb it has autonomy, any baby that lives inside a potential mother is the aspect of that mother rather than its own individual and separate entity.

The moderate stance on abortion is very interesting. When people say that abortion is acceptable given certain circumstances and that it is unacceptable in other circumstances, you are essentially saying that any termination of pregnancy is an inherently immoral action. You don't have to make excuses for when abortion is acceptable if it isn't, as a standard, immoral. People who take the moderate stance are saying that abortion is wrong, but it is ultimately acceptable. I think that compromise on this issue is just easier than actually thinking about it. People are afraid of radicalism and extremism when it comes to abortion, as there are negative examples on both sides, so they think that the more reasonable solution is to dismiss the issue by saying that sometimes it's okay and sometimes it isn't. But there is no way that anyone in the middle is happy with what they are saying. When you hear statistics like 1.3 million abortions are performed every year, it seems like an astronomically high number that would exist regardless of any action, so people sink down to moderation to tamper their own opinion about how that statistic makes them feel. I believe that everyone wants there to be radical changes to society to make it better, but moderation is just an easier pill to swallow. The only reasoned, ethical ideas about the topic of abortion that I understand are the two extremes (although I do not believe that abortions at any point of the pregnancy is an extreme notion). Either you aren't okay with killing what you deem to be life, or you believe that a fetus does not have any autonomy. Being in between those two points means that you just want people to stop yelling.

People talked a lot about the genetic counselor's example of the mother who aborted her fetus in the third trimester because it had a cleft lip. Almost everyone agreed that it was morally wrong to terminate the pregnancy at that point, particularly because it looks more like a baby at that point than cells. At the same time, people heard cases where the fetus is found out to have Down Syndrome or other genetic disorders and they believe that the mother of that fetus should have the ability to terminate. The accidental half-siblings that decided to get married and procreate were told that they had a 40% chance of their offspring to have a genetic disorder, and they were advised to terminate the pregnancy. But to say that a fetus' potential genetic disorder is enough to decide to terminate that means that you are applying some sketchy forms of cost-benefit analysis. The truth is that no one ever knows whether or not a life is going to be a positive experience, or have a positive effect on the world, or be a burden to a parent more than a joy, or be able to live peacefully in their homes, or their adopted homes or even with a cleft lip. The mother of a fetus who wants to abort a fetus in the third trimester when that baby is going to have a cleft lip has just as much of a right as a mother who has a fetus that is going to have Down Syndrome because the fetus is still an aspect of the mother rather than its own autonomous entity. The mother's willingness to abort a fetus in the third trimester (or any trimester for that matter) says infinitely more about the mother than it ever can about the baby. If a fetus with a cleft lip is not okay to abort and a fetus with Downs Syndrome is okay to abort, then you are saying that a person with a cleft lip will inherently have a better quality of life than someone with Down's. Applying a sliding-scale of value to fetuses is a slippery slope because you are pretending to know something that is unknowable. And that is why aborting a fetus is always and (perhaps more importantly) show always be a mother's choice. Whether or not she makes the "right decision" for her is irrelevant because it is impossible to know. She should get to make the choice in any circumstance because it is her willingness or desire to abort the fetus that is the most important factor.

I also believe that it is acceptable to abort a fetus if the mother will die if she has the child. Furthermore, I believe that the mother should also have the ability to not abort the fetus even if it means that she will die. The most important issue that is involved here is the decision of the mother, a decision that should not be taken away by any one or any organization. I do not believe that having an abortion is immoral. If five million women have abortions next year, that would not be an example of rampant immorality (although it would be economically detrimental). I am not saying that people should get pregnant if they don't want to be pregnant, and I am definitely not saying that people should have copious amounts of unprotected sex, but I am fine with abortion being used as a contraceptive. Terminating a pregnancy at any point should be an option, although it doesn't make much sense to wait until you are seven or eight or nine months pregnant to abort because you are putting yourself through a lot to get to that point in the first place, it is still just as acceptable as an abortion in the first trimester. A person isn't a person until it is a person. A baby, a newborn, is its own separate entity, a life force in and of itself. As long as a baby is inside the mother it is an aspect of that mother. Every time a man ejaculates and there is sperm that doesn't create life, every time a man simply doesn't have sex and his sperm dies, every time a woman has her period, every time that people try to get pregnant and they just miss the spot, potential for life is over. Abortion is, somewhat, analogous to this and as soon as we start cloning people rubbing skin cells off will be too. Abortion isn't a non-issue and it is an example of the failure of adequate preparation or unfortunate timing, but it is not unethical.

Emily D


I believe that (technically) life begins at conception. Once the sperm fertilizes the egg, the developing organism has the ability to grow and change. It will reach the point where it has the ability to reproduce. It will sooner be capable of functional activity. This is the dictionary definition of life. However, I find it absurd that rights could ever be bestowed to a unicellular organism roughly the size of the period at the end of this sentence. I also find it disquieting that the rights of that dot could ever take precedence over those of the mother. Even as that life (or potential for life, rather) begins its growth process, it remains a part of its host until birth, and therefore, it is not its own entity. The autonomy of the mother must be respected at all costs. It is for this reason that I am a supporter of safe and legalized abortion, even into the third trimester.

If a woman even considers having an abortion, she is probably not ready to have a child. This is not to say that she will be an unfit mother, but it is indicative of the fact that she has been thrust into a situation she never wanted to be in, and shouldn’t have to be in. A woman should always have the right to control what is going on inside her body, and should never be the victim in this life-changing situation. It has become acceptable for the man in a relationship to walk out on his girlfriend or wife mid-pregnancy because he does not want to become a father. It is illogical to condemn women who want to walk out on the idea of being a mother, as well.

That being said, it shouldn’t matter when the woman decides she needs to have the abortion. Though it doesn’t make much sense to put yourself through seven or eight months of pregnancy only to abort (it takes a lot to get that far), it is not for you or I to decide what might be best for the woman except that woman herself. I think the reason that most people are opposed to third trimester abortions is because it makes them uncomfortable. My own heart was breaking as I heard the geneticist describe the procedure as a “compression” of the baby’s skull, but I can put my maternal instincts aside for the sake of logical reasoning. Just as I don’t believe the government should have the ability to hold a person against their will for 72 hours to prevent them from committing suicide, I do not believe it should have the right to force late-term women to keep a parasite within them and let it feed off of their bodies until they reach full term.

Additionally, I don’t believe there should be any set restrictions for abortion based on a woman’s reason to have one. When a mother decides to abort her fetus despite the fact that it is perfectly healthy, pro-lifers cry that she could have just aborted the next president, or the next all-star Olympic athlete. In all honestly, it is more likely that the child would have been placed in foster care, bouncing around from home to home, and suffering through a troubled childhood all the way. The same is true for babies with Down’s Syndrome or some other disability. Adoption may be the ideal outcome for children unwanted by their mothers, but speaking realistically, people want children of their own blood. How many people want to adopt a baby that is going to have a shorter-than-average lifespan and a stack of medical bills? How many people want to adopt, period? As cold as it sounds, there are simply too many children in the system for us to handle right now, and if people are so eager to cry adoption, they should start taking in those children themselves.

Though it is clear that life begins at conception, a woman should have complete and utter control over what happens inside her body at all times. Her womb should never belong to the state, the national government, or any other group.


COHORT 4 RESPONDS


Chelsea Speaks!


When the sperm meets the egg is when a baby is made but life doesn’t begin until the moment of birth. Until minutes before I still find it fine to have an abortion. It is the women’s choice and her to make until they are separated. On the other hand I find abortion on all counts to be 1st degree murder, but it is a parasite on the women’s body and she should be able to choose.

I’m pro choice but not pro abortion. Death is always murder but something inside the womb isn’t a person to me. Abortion is a personal choice and can only be made by someone in that place. I do not know if I would personal have an abortion but want to have the choice to. I don’t want needless death and can understand how this is a holocaust of the unborn, but on the other side how great of a life can an unwanted baby have? Adoption is always a great option but many children just go through the system and the process is long and complicated. And many young women would have had a much harder life if they had keep the baby.

Because I do not find life begins until birth and I have no problem with stem cell research. Because it was going to be bio waste I see no problem in using it for research. Yes I understand my ideals may be confusing on when I find a baby to be a human or able to research but I can’t find how I could just use one blanket statement to abortion good or bad.

Without the right to abortions women would do it themselves. It is worrying that some people may just use this as birth control but it shouldn’t be taken away. Yes you are killing a potential human but the mother should take precedence because she is already alive. On the other hand we need babies for the next generation. But there are lots of people. It’s a tool like any thing else and there will also be someone who abuses it. Just because there are a few stupid people don’t punish us all.

Abortion is a necessary evil. Murder to save others. I will always see it as death but I can’t really make a call on this tell I go through this myself.

Bryan L


I feel that personhood begins at birth. It is our actions and experiences that make us human, not our chromosomes. A fetus may have a heart beat, a brain , thoughts, toenails, a nervous system and even the ability to survive outside of its mother, but that does not make it human. This belief has nothing to do with abortion, but rather I really do not want to believe that my genes define who I am as a person. I feel that to be a person you must interact with the world, not merely have the ability to. Unique genes shouldn’t define anything as a person either.

This being said, I feel that abortion should be performed before the nervous system if fully developed whenever possible. I am not really a fan of abortion, and I don’t think I could ever perform one. However, it is not my right to decide that for everyone, but I do think it is the humane thing to do it before the fetus can feel pain. In a perfect world I would oppose abortion and advocate adoption. However, every 15 seconds a child loses a parent to AIDS, there are already far too many children in the world that need adoption. More gruesome as it is, it seems better for a child to die warm and nourished in the womb than to starve to death or die a terrible death from an easily prevented disease.

Daniel M


Personhood is far different than life. Personhood is a concept and life is a fact. It is a fact that sperm is alive, it is a fact that an egg is alive, and it is a fact that a fetus is alive; they are all alive, but they are not people. With that said, I believe that personhood begins at birth when a baby enters the world. From that point I believe a “life” begins.

When a baby is inside a mother’s womb it is not a true individual. It is simply in development to become an individual and is not yet a complete person. Up until the point of birth or a couple weeks prior to birth, abortion should be an option for a mother. It is her person choice and nobody should be able to force her into an abortion or vice versa.
Abortion gets way to out of hand because people do not look at the whole situation. Most people do not have abortions regularly, just when they are truly needed. There are some who use abortion as a form of birth control and I do not think that is right, but abortion cannot be taken away from those who really do need it. That is why there should be a form of regulation like limiting the amount of abortions someone could have.

Abortion would not be such a problem if people would just mind their own business. Let people live their own lives and choose for themselves. The crowds that stand outside of abortion centers are just crazy and cannot accept that people have different choices then themselves. An abortion is not going to affect anyone else’s life other than those who choose it.

I feel that the main reason abortion is so problematic is because of conservative religious fanatics. They always seem to be getting into trouble in some way or another because they cannot relax and live their own lives. They always try to get involved with other peoples’ business and create huge controversy. I do not understand why they stand outside abortion clinics and harass others. Abortion does not harm them in any way or even affect them in any way. It is not their baby so why do they make such a big deal about it and interfere with other peoples’ lives.

Abortion is clearly a personal choice. People should be able to have an abortion is they please or not have one. It is not forced upon anyone; it is simply an option.

Matthew L

To be a person or not to be a person well to me this begins at birth. The reason for this is because when we are born we are no longer PHYSICALY attached to someone or something. So to me this is truly a person. My reasoning is simple that they aren’t relying on someone else. If the mother decided to not eat or drink anything for a week she may die, but the chances the baby will die is greater. I mean I don’t need to sit here and ramble on about when we become a person, cause in all honestly until we become dependent on ourselves and not others we are not truly living up to the potential as a person. (Agreeing somewhat with Collin) But the main topic here I think is abortion and when is it not legal and when is it. Well to me an abortion should be able to be carried out till half way through the second trimester; otherwise they get to messy and complicated after that. Not to make it sound like it’s a good thing, but sometimes it’s needed and if the woman wants to have a baby she can but if she doesn’t then why should someone else tell her she has to have it? If you’re not willing to stand up and say that you will take that baby and raise it as you own, and care for it, and love it, and waste your next 16 years trying to make the kid make the right choices then you need to not be so against abortions. Because all that I just said and more is what that lady and hopefully man are going to have to do. CARE FOR A CHILD!! Take a second and think about how much trouble and money your parents spent on you every day of your life. To live and have cloths and eat and be safe and healthy. Do you think that you could do that right now for someone else’s child because you care more about a life then you do about and unborn life? Well I’m asking you to look into yourself and ask that and think about if you could do it. Even if it was an accidental pregnancy or whatever... would you stand up and adopt that baby so it may live? Well I’m telling you that I wouldn’t, because I am pro choice and would rather have the woman abort it and have her life go on with a scare rather than to see her never go anywhere in the next 18 years.

Like Bryans said, the baby may have everything it needs to be a human but it is not a human until it lives and breathes the air that makes up this world. It may have it all but it is missing one thing and that is experience so until it has its first breath it is not a human in my eyes. I know that it is a heavy burden on someone either route they go. But it is a decision of what is the lesser of two difficulties. So if birth is what you’re ready for the go for it but if you are not financially, mentally, physically , or socially ready then use a condom, birth control or whatever fancy’s your fantasy otherwise you will need an abortion and that is your choice, I will not decide for you.

Aria B


I have no idea when I think life truly begins. A baby that can take its first breath seconds after birth was clearly ready to do so while still unborn, so then what’s the difference between that unborn child (particularly once its in the third trimester) and the screaming one that comes into the world? Well, I have come to the conclusion that to me, the difference is in the fact that this child now responds to the world like every other person, now feels the sting of air on its skin and the warmth of sun on its skin just like everyone else, no longer sheltered from the world by its mother in such an intimate way. Ultimately, this is why I believe person hood starts at birth; true life starts at birth.

Perhaps the baby is technically alive at some point before that. I completely see the point of view of those who think life begins at conception, but something in me rejects the idea that this microscopic conglomeration of cells is truly alive, though there is no denying its potential for life. It almost seems to me like a fire that has just been started, but will simply go out if left to its own devices, which is not really a powerful blaze which might constitute a truly living, sentient being in this analogy. Yes, every genetic and structural tool necessary to create life is there, all DNA is present, but, like Brian, I do not believe it is simply these things which make us human, or define us as living beings.

Maybe when the baby develops a nervous system, or when it can live outside the womb? No. I don’t think one can say this is when life truly begins, because where is the definite line here? The difference between one moment, and the moment after when this is now a living being? I understand the logic behind this point of view, yet something doesn’t compute to me when I really think about it because of these uncertainties in this stance. It is however, at around this point in the development of a baby that abortion begins to become ugly to me. It seems much more responsible to me to have an abortion as early as possible, and having one when the baby can feel pain, or could potentially survive without the support of the mother seems repulsive. I can safely say that I would never choose to abort a fetus if it was to these stages of development, however, as a truly pro-life person, I do not believe I can make that decision for others. Why I believe others do have this right, is most likely tied to the fact that I believe that true life comes with birth, and until then the child is so closely linked to the mother, inside her own body, in fact, that it is the sentient being of the mother that is truly alive and feels the ramifications of childbearing, not the dependent fetus. However, I discourage abortion past the point when the baby could survive outside the womb. At this point I would hope every mother would grin and bear it, as this baby she carries is capable of coming out and joining the world as a living being. I am not sure how I feel about the mothers who do not make this choice.

All of these are the reasons that I feel true life, and certainly person hood begin once outside the womb, and breathing the life-giving oxygen of the world. Also, perhaps because this is how I feel, I am ultimately pro-choice.



COHORT 3 RESPONDS


Kyle T: Read it and Weep

From a general observation, I feel that the vast majority of Cohort Trés either believes that life begins at conception or doesn’t have the testosterone to take a stance. Therefore, I feel obligated to counter the mainstream wheel of not killing babies. Yes, life begins at conception, I cannot argue that. However, life also begins as a cell initiates first phase of mitosis and makes a replication of itself. The potential between a stem cell and a simple squamos cell is different. I also will not argue that. The stem cell “may” develop into a human heart or a liver, whereas the squamos cell “may” turn into an ordinary skin cell. A cluster of stem “could” POTENTIALLY become a human being, potentially being the key word, just like I could POTENTIALLY be an Olympic athlete or an astronaut. My point is that the word “potential” means nothing because is there is a possibility that it can never happen. The developing baby is 100% described as “potential” until it is matured into an actual human baby. But how do you define when it is a human baby? Well, to quote the majority of my classmates and other professionals in the field, they describe the “cluster of cells” in the fetus as a “developing human baby”. Once again, I will not argue this. But by being a “developing human baby” means that it is a “developing” human baby and is not yet, a “human baby”. Until it is a human baby it will live off the mother like a parasitic leech. It technically IS a part of the mother, for it is growing and nurturing inside the mother, just like any other cell that lives in the mother. Therefore, I believe that the “developing” human baby is the mother’s property. The baby is inside living off her vital nutrients, therefore she has every right to terminate it, not the government. If she wanted to cut off her leg, can the government stop her? What if she wanted to sacrifice and donate her heart for a loved one? These are all essential parts to her and she has property and authority over them, so why does she not have choice over a fetus?

I believe abortion should be available, but I do not think it is mandatory. Just because it is there and ready to use, not every woman will get an abortion. From observing first hand cases and stories I have learned about in bioethics, when someone gets pregnant, their friends usually offer their support for having the baby and don't push for an abortion. I have faith that most women will think twice before getting one. Though it destroys potential human life, it is the lesser of two evils, for if abortion was outlawed, it would cause more problems then it would solve. For example, unwanted babies are doomed to a terrible life looming over the baby and the parent(s). Also if all teen pregnancies were forced to carry the child to term, it would strengthen the wheel of poverty, bring rise to a large lower class, and with president Obama in office, possibly raise our tax dollars pushing us closer towards socialism.

Yes, yes I know abortion is “killing babies”, but the “murder” of these fetuses is no where near the level degree of murder as the victims of the Holocaust or other genocides as Nick Mead mentioned. Victims of Hitler, Stalin, Al Qaeda, Pol Pot, Leopold II, Mullah Omar and Mao Ze-Dong should never be compared to the victims of abortion. All of these victims felt pain, hunger, fear, torture, agony, sadness, and had a much higher “potential” for they were already living life and they were aware what was being taken away from them.

You’re all lucky I’m going to bed because it’s late at night and past the deadline for this blog and I got a capstone to write because I haven’t even started about making a point about overpopulation.

Stephen F: I Hate the Middle


The decision to have an abortion should be one of the largest decisions that a couple/woman should ever have to make. Whether or not one considers the zygote/embryo a life, it should still be respected as the potential for humanity, an invariable child in it's mothers biological cradle.

On the other side of the issue, many pregnancies are not intentional. Unprepared mothers need the ability to safely and effectively abort the fetus. To carry these pregnancies to term is to detriment the family, the child, and society as a whole. Also, it is important to understand that the child isn't always necessarily “a gift from God.” Sometimes it’s a gift from some serial rapist.

But I'm not here to reconcile, I'm here to critique the oh so obnoxious middle.

While the reasons for supporting either side can be extremely complex, the stances are relatively simple. The simple truth of abortion is that you either support the destruction of a fetus or you don't. Too many opinions are: "Yes I support the right to get abortion, but only under very specific restrictions." Watching the interview of Ron Paul on The View I almost puked listening to those women. As best as I can recall, the fattest and subsequently the loudest of the women said something along the lines of "Women need to have the right to abortion." But when Ron Paul talked about end stage abortions she simply proclaimed "You can't do that, that's murder."

I can understand that it doesn't appeal to logic to draw an arbitrary line between pre-life and life for the sake of law making. But when I see that woman who has somehow convinced herself that an inviable end stage fetus is life and a zygote is not, my blood boils. In order to appeal to the masses "anti-abortionists" use details and facts about the PHYSICAL APPEARANCE of the fetus at the various developmental stages. The self proclaimed "Pro-Choice" try to convince the middle by saying, "Wait it's only a clump of cells, it doesn't even LOOK like a human." The subconcious recognition of humanity is the human appearance, but the reality is, from the point of fertilization, that egg IS A HUMAN, DESPITE WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE. The middle too often rationalizes whether or not an abortion is appropriate is due to the shape and form of the fetus, and that is what pisses me off.

My opinion is based on the complex reality of life, but my answer to the question of abortion is simple. I can stomach the gory reality of embryonic destruction, and I believe that if the fetus is not viable, then it is an eligible candidate for abortion, despite the appearance of said embryo. So please, if you're going to be part of the wishy-washy center, give me something reasonable for a line between life and not life. Don't try to feed me the hugely popular BS that a "clump of cells" is destructable, and a healthy human fetus in the second trimester is not, because they are THE SAME THING.

Jacob H: Fetuses are not people


Now here's something I wouldn't normally say in public:

Fetuses are not people because they do not have significant mental capacities. They should be given the same moral status as, say, dogs. It's acceptable to euthanize one's pet dog for many reasons, so it should be acceptable to kill a fetus for similar reasons.

Fetuses probably become more like people than like dogs some time at some point after birth, so it should be acceptable to euthanize any fetus before it's born under any circumstances in which it would be acceptable to euthanize a dog.

People seem to accord special status to fetuses because, among other things, they look similar to infants and are members of our own species, which is a notable example of [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingroup_bias ingroup bias].

Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins notes that "[t]he feeling that members of one's own species deserve special moral consideration as compared with members of other species is old and deep...A human foetus, with no more human feeling than an amoeba, enjoys a reverence and legal protection far in excess of those granted of an adult chimpanzee. Yet the chimp feels and thinks and -- according to recent experimental evidence -- may even be capable of learning a form of human language. The foetus belongs to our own species, and is instantly accorded special priveleges and rights because of it ("The Selfish Gene", p.10).

This does not imply that I think abortion is inherently good, only that it's acceptable according to the logic of other socially acceptable (although certainly not ideal) processes, such as euthanizing dogs. Given that resources are scarce, there's always an opportunity cost to making a decision, and sometimes the opportunity cost of aborting a fetus is low enough that people are willing to do it. Of course, killing sentient life, whether, dog or a fetus, isn't a good thing, but sometimes there is no better alternative - sometimes it can be the least bad thing to do.

If a woman is pregnant, and does not want to give birth, for many reasons (cost of raising an infant, inability to properly care for it, etc.) she should have the right to have an abortion. Although the legal system evidently doesn't distinguish between a woman who uses abortion as birth control (which I consider horrible) and someone with legitimate reasons for abortion (ie. the moral/social/economic costs of raising a child), it should nevertheless remain as a legal right.



COHORT 2 RESPONDS


Marc Believes In the Freedom of Choice


I want to start off by pointing out that nobody likes abortion. Nobody is pro-'''abortion''', but rather pro-'''choice'''. And for those of you rolling your eyes out there or sighing, there is a very definite distinction between the two.

In my opinion, abortion is a horrible method of birth control and an absolute last-ditch effort. However, it is also extremely unfair of overly dogmatic religions, and especially of overly dogmatic people, to take a woman’s choice away where it concerns her body and her life. It is my opinion, as well, that the government has no place in this matter. If you’re going to argue the legal system, first explain to me how you are going to get around the “natural born citizens” clause.

As concerns the details of abortion, I think that after 23-25 weeks the action should not be performed. Before 23 weeks, the fetus is a part of the woman’s body and unable to survive without her blood, her nutrition, her oxygen, her tissue or any other part of her body. At this point, '''it''' is another gathering of cells, as even cells require this much to survive. I would also like to point out that most bacteria and some cells (except for the last example, conjugation) are even capable of independent movement, of eating (or phagocytosing) and even of reproducing sexually (conjugation). In regards to a heartbeat, does that make it special or is it just another electrical impulse and an essential body part that we have built up and put on a pedestal? To beat your heart, does it require conscious thought, or is it automatic and almost robotic, as though your body was a machine and the heart but a simple pump?

Obviously this is all my opinion, and many of you at this point have ignored what I said earlier and are rolling your eyes or sighing (mentally or physically, or maybe both), but I believe that once the fetus is able to survive without the mother, it can be considered a baby. This is not “magic” and the fetus does not make this transformation in a day, but rather over a period of a few weeks.

People don’t make the choice to have an abortion lightly; many times women suffer afterward from guilt and other forms of depression. If a woman is at the clinic and ready to go through with it, then there has been thought and some pain—I really doubt that women have sex with the thought of getting an abortion, and if they do, something is obviously not right mentally.

Abortion is not a black and white topic, if it was, furious debate, or debate in general for that matter, would be nonexistent. Therefore, I think that there are some exceptions to my 23-week rule where partial-birth abortions are acceptable. What if the fetus is being carried at the expense of the woman’s life and is not even viable? There are cases where this is true. The number “600” is the one I hear quoted in terms of partial-birth abortions that take place in the United States each year—a number that is extremely small when we take our entire population into scope. This number, six hundred out of 300 million, is about right, as having an anacephalic baby (a baby born without a brain) is extremely rare, and there are most likely about two hundred or so examples of these births a year. The other four hundred could be accountable for similar circumstances where the baby could be born with terrible muscular problems, degenerative nerve diseases and other such horrible fates that spell certain death and simultaneously put the woman at risk in the process.

Even at 23 weeks—the number I believe at which abortions should stop being performed except in these rare instances— if you take a baby out of the womb, it runs an extremely high risk of having life-debilitating or even life-taking disorders. Some babies have so many genetic abnormalities that they are doomed, PERIOD. Even with all this new medical technology.

With pregnancy, there is always the risk of stroke, hemorrhaging and death during the birthing process. Why would you risk a woman’s life and subject her to such an ordeal if the offspring isn’t even viable? If the baby is born without a brain, or if it is born with extreme genetic abnormalities only to die weeks later, such as in the case of Mr. Geib’s friend, I do believe that partial-birth abortions are absolutely OK. Such is my opinion, and regardless of whether or not you agree with it, you should at least have the sense to leave abortion as a choice for people in this situation.

Abortion should always be a choice, one that is made after heavy consideration of the consequences and the permanence of the action, but always a choice.

As far as the “soul” debate is concerned, I believe that we are each born a blank slate, a tabula rasa. We are a reflection of those around us and we become who we are through an acquisition of experiences. Essentially, it is like the maxim, “you are what you eat”, well, “you are what you live” and you can call it a “soul” or an accumulation of conscious choices, decisions and actions that result in the person we are today and the person we will be become.
And as far as the Bible is concerned, since some people bring that dubious source into this, if we take everything the Bible says literally then we would be allowed to…

--Sell the youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7
''"When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go free as male slaves do."''

--Put people to death who work on the Sabbath—Exodus 35:2
'' "On six days work may be done, but the seventh day shall be sacred to you as the sabbath of complete rest to the LORD. Anyone who does work on that day shall be put to death."''

--Claim that those who touch the skin of a dead pig have unclean souls… so I guess all football players are going to hell along with anyone who has eaten pork?—Leviticus 11:7-8
'' "And the pig, which does indeed have hoofs and is cloven-footed, but does not chew the cud and is therefore unclean for you. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their dead bodies you shall not touch; they are unclean for you."''

--Burn somebody for planting different species of crops side by side and for wearing garments made from two different threads.

The Bible is a bit outdated...

Mr. Karaca speaks here. Finally... Btw why am i the only person in this section?


"The life begins at birth." Not really... I believe life begins when the brain can think and remember the past. Life begins when you begin to have memory. Maybe four years old, five years old. What do i mean?

First of all, I am writing in this section but it does not mean that i think the abortion is right thing to do. I believe that the abortion must be the last thing to do for woman. If they have no way to have a baby in their life, they are not ought to give a birth. Because i believe that giving a birth in circumstances that child can not grow with healthy psychology might be worser than abortion. In addition to that, if abortion is going to happen, that must be made in early times of pregnancy. I can not see that as an abortion which made to a 6 months baby, it's more like killing someone to me and it's also very dangerous for the woman. Alright but if I think so, why would I say life begins at birth?

Actually, when i say life, i mean person. I can look someone as a person only if they have a memory to remember past. I have not seen anyone who can remember the time when they were 2 years old. We humans might hardly remember our memories from early childhood(Baby years)

Its not done yet Mr. Geib, still...

Cameron=question mark

Although the future child does have a pulse until it exits the mother's body it is still part of the mother. If the mother does not have the interests of herself at hand then she should be put into a facility, but until she threatened herself with bodily harm or there is a clear and present danger, no reference intended, she should be allowed to do as she likes. Since the child is part of her body she should not be allowed to drink, due to the fact that it would harm her body.

There are people who would say that abortion is murder, there are the people who are outside abortion clinic protesting, and there are always the few radicals who are willing to take severe action, such as being hypocrites and murdering the doctors who are performing the abortions. Now what amuses me to no end is that they are willing to stand there and yell at the women for getting abortions, but when they hear that someone went out and killed a doctor they do not help the authorities track that murder down they cheer him/her on and blockade the authorities whenever possible, while not getting arrested because they are afraid of going to jail for what they believe in. I HAVE NO RESPECT FOR THESE PEOPLE. They may believe strongly enough to stand outside the clinics and yell stuff, but if you look at LA on the 15th of march, and 10th of February there were a bunch of internet nerds gathered there protesting Scientology, the difference between these two is that the latter is actually willing to go to jail for what they believe in, and they are all around the world not just in the US.

This is all off topic though, as previously stated some people say that it is murder, is the slaughter of animals not murder by the SAME merit? The pre-birth child can not speak for itself, it feels pain, it has organs, and children are heavily relied on for the future. The average animal can not speak for itself, feels pain, has organs, and are heavily relied on for the future. huh. When you compare them side by side they are almost exactly the same.

The child, until a few weeks before birth, can not exist outside of the mothers body (even with medical assistance). The child does not have any rights because it is not its own being. Until it has left the mother it is still part of the mother thusly it is the same thing as removal of a tumor, or to quote House (because he is amazing) a parasite.