Patterico's Pontifications


Unsolicited Testimonial

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:04 pm

Coke Zero: the greatest soft drink of all time. Discuss.

See-Dubya: The Chronicle channels Patterico

Filed under: General — See Dubya @ 3:21 pm

Via Best of the Web Today I find the SF Chronicle asking a familiar question in its man-on-the-street “Two Cents” feature: “Who’s More Dangerous: Bin Laden or Bush?” The answers aren’t quite as cringeworthy as I might have expected–in fact a couple are quite good.

[This post by See-Dubya]

A Discussion of Abortion — Part Two: Follow-Up Questions

Filed under: Abortion,General — Patterico @ 7:48 am

Interesting discussion in response to yesterday’s questions about abortion. Let me summarize what I see in the responses (and please: keep them coming!) and pose some follow-up questions.

First, most people seem to believe that the question raises moral issues. People also see it as an issue of individual rights, but for most people, the point at which it ceases to be a question purely of individual rights is a moral question.

This is interesting because, while the public discusses the issue this way, the courts do not. They view the issue in terms of rights and countervailing state interests — but the state interest in life is not generally referred to in moral terms.

The second question was: when is a fetus entitled to moral respect, such that the state may legitimately involve itself in the abortion decision in some way? Here there were three basic answers: at conception, at viability, and at some point in between. I’d like to probe each position further with follow-up questions.

To those who say they accord full moral respect to life at the point of conception: how do you define “conception”? As the union of sperm and egg? As implantation of the zygote in the uterine wall? Do you oppose the birth control pill? How do you feel about abortion after a rape?

To those who say they accord moral respect at the point of viability: do you oppose any regulation of abortion before viability? Do you view a previability abortion as simply removing a clump of cells, like clipping toenails?

If you answered these questions “no,” then you probably fall in the large group that accords some moral respect to fetuses before viability. So:

To those who accord some moral respect to a fetus between conception and viability: on what basis is a fetus entitled to moral respect?

This is a tricky question, and there is no obvious right answer. Several possibilities suggest themselves: the capacity to feel pain, the development of a brain, the resemblance of the fetus to a human, the length of time that loved ones have invested their emotions in the fetus, etc. The list goes on.

I think this issue should be confronted before one tries to determine what abortion regulations are justified.

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