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from Banshee - Monday, January 12, 2004
accessed 1804 times

What are your views?

Around election time, abortion seems one of the topics that is always brought up in the political debates. I was curious as to what are the different opinions of SGs on abortion, as it was one of the "basics" in TF to be against it. Even though the views on abortion are often drowned in religion, I was hoping to keep it more in the medical/scientific and moral or ethical arena.

For example, should abortion be legal past the age of viability, and what if that age changes as medical advances make it earlier?

Or, does life begin with conception, a heartbeat, or the first breath?

If life begins with the first breath, what if you give birth to a still born that never took a breath? Is that then not a death?

If it is legal to have an abortion up until a baby is born, then can a person be convicted of a crime for hurting/causing harm or death to an unborn baby?

At what gestational age should a person be convicted of a crime to an unborn?

There are probably more questions that others might be able to come up with, but I thought it might be an interesting topic, especially if we can stay away from the religious influences on the subject.

Reader's comments on this article

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from exister
Friday, January 16, 2004 - 10:36


Some of your questions can be answered with a little assiduous research. It seems everyone has an opinion on this topic, but very few are informed of the legal issues underlying all the rhetoric.

The original Roe v. Wade decision handed down by a 3 judge panel in Texas simply stated that the 9th and 14th Amendments guaranteed a woman's right to privacy, and that this right extends to the decision of whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. This decision did not say abortion is the nice thing to do, nor did it say it was evil. It simply said that abortion was in the same category as feelings: private.

To me this decision is brilliant because it puts a difficult and painful decision outside of the scrutiny of the government and the public. The fact that the Christian right has chosen to besiege the privacy granted to women by the US government is barbaric and absurd.

Beyond this I have no opinion. The pain of this decicion is left to the only one able make it.
(reply to this comment)

From Banshee
Friday, January 16, 2004, 15:56

Yes, some of these questions can be answered with research, and I have done research on it.

I was posting these here mainly because I am interested to hear how ex-member SGs feel about it. I am interested in what ex-member SGs think about many things. We have a common denominator in the environment we were raised in, therefore we have a singularly unique perspective on many things, and I think that it is very interesting to see the different opinions that we develop after we leave TF.

I greatly respect all of the opinions on many subjects given on this site, no matter how diverse they are, because I know that we have come by them through personal experience, study, and belief, not because we are being told what to think. It is in fact a testament to our strength of spirit and our freedom to have such opposing ideas on things: it shows that we are all at last free to think for ourselves. (reply to this comment
From exister
Friday, January 16, 2004, 16:55

The fact remains that the only opinion that matters is the mother's. All of this reactionary moralizing is pointless.(reply to this comment
from geo
Friday, January 16, 2004 - 01:21


Every Night & every Morn
Some to Misery are Born.
Every Morn & every Night
Some are Born to sweet Delight.
Some ar Born to sweet Delight,
Some are born to Endless Night.

(reply to this comment)

From geo
Friday, January 16, 2004, 01:26

blake(reply to this comment
from Joe H
Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 19:20

We already had this discussion a year ago. I'm not saying you can't revive it, but starting a whole new article seems a little wasteful, unless of course you're trying to draw attention to yourself or end up in a poll about recurring article topics.
(reply to this comment)
From Jerseygirl
Friday, January 16, 2004, 07:47

Absolutely.This is one of those topics that is as pointless to debate as over who is going to wash the dishes. Most people have their opinion set and one side will never convince the other. All we can do is hope that Bush doesn't start inching in on a womans right to vote as well, that would be the last straw and I think we'd have to insist on impeachment. I guess it's clear what my opinion on abortion is. Let's move on to greener pastures folks. (reply to this comment
From Sonderval
Friday, January 16, 2004, 08:03


heh, that debate is settled easy in my house, if I feel strongly about it we discuss who's going to get up at 6 and go to work and who's going to lie in. ;)

I R King of Sexism :p

(reply to this comment

From Banshee
Thursday, January 15, 2004, 19:38

Ah, sorry...I've not been here that long. I did a search for it to check if it was discussed, but nothing big came up. Sorry for wasting your time then. And no, I am not trying to draw attention to myself; there are people here on this site that do a much better job of that. (reply to this comment
From itsxena2u
Sunday, January 18, 2004, 23:04

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)

Don't sweat it Banshee! Joe H made the same comment about my article in Beauty vs Brains. I guess what he doesn't realize is that there are constantly new members logging on to this site who are not familiar with seaching all the old content before submitting a question they may have. Besides, who cares if this topic was brought up before? I never read the old one, and I think your question on abortion is something that is on a lot of women's minds.

Unfortunately, this is something men rarely think about until they find out that they have a child and are being sued for months of unpaid child support! I personaly feel that abortion is a very private matter that a woman should keep herself and her partner (if appropriate). No one should make her feel condemmed whether she decides to keep the fetus or not. We are ultimately responsible for our bodies and making sure that proper protection is used when engaging in sexual activities if we want to avoid pregnancy. We cannot take for granted that men will remember to use a condom. Because as Robin William so wisely stated: "God gave man a brain and a penis, but only enough blood to run one of them at a time".

Anyway folks! If some of you notice that someone has posted a similar article in the past that you have already shared your views on, then just skip it and go on to something else. Everyone has the right to post whatever they want regardless of whether it has been brought up by others or not! Besides many of us are not up to date on everything that is shared here because we simply don't have the time to just sit around and view this web site all day long! (reply to this comment

From Joe H
Monday, January 19, 2004, 13:01

I agree xena. Don't know why I had such a stick up my ass about this. I mean when there are so much better things to be angry about. From now on I'll try to only verbally pummel people when they really deserve it.(reply to this comment
From Sonderval
Friday, January 16, 2004, 02:41


You mean you haven't read every article/comment and commited them to memory before daring to start a new one, what were you thinking!!!!!

some people, tsk tsk tsk . . .

(reply to this comment

from Hanna_Black
Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 07:32


Some people believe that life begins when the brain starts functioning, and that would be 40-43 days after conception. Apparently that isn't considered "legally alive" in most parts of the world, since brain waves only show that an embryo would have potential to develop life, or something to that extent. But if saying that someone whose brain isn't developed completely yet, or isn't "working" yet is not considered alive, what about people in comas and such? (or blondes, for that matter!)

Personally, I am pro-choice, but then again I can say that now, not being pregnant. If I were to go to the Gyn and he would show me on the ultrasound how my baby's heart is beating at 11 weeks gestation, I figure it could change my mind. I had 3 miscarriages, the first being at 4 1/2 months. I had felt the baby moving a while before, and when I lost it, it was horridly traumatic. When my youngest daughter was 6 months old, I had a miscarriage at 2 months and hadn't even known I was pregnant--it didn't affect me in the slightest mentally. There had been nothing that physically showed me that there was life growing inside me, and so when it was gone, I couldn't even tell. IMO, I think that if life was considered life at the first breath, and adoption were legal till that moment, it would screw with pregnant women's psyche. I would imagine that even if you didn't want the baby, but had an abortion let`s say in the 7th month and had already felt the fetus moving and kicking around, you might feel like a murderer. Course, I can't speak for all women and don't intend to. Me, I think the 12-week rule is an ok timeline. I mean, if you want to have an abortion, you are aware that you are either taking away life from something or taking away it's possibility to develop life. It's easier to deal with that fact if you know that it's heart wasn't beating or it's brain wasn't functioning (yet). The only thing I do not agree with is that it's legal (at least here) for the parents of a minor to opt for an abortion, even if the mother doesn't agree. There have been cases of suicide after incidents like that, and I must say although pro-choice, I could never agree to forced abortions on minors.
(reply to this comment)

From krystine
Thursday, January 15, 2004, 20:54

You're blonde joke is funny - ha,ha. Seriously,though, I don't think anyone, especially men, can have an opinion on abortion unless you were faced with the life-altering decision of to keep or not to keep. I thought I was so pro-life being raised in the Family listening to those songs "Mother let me live" (you know that heart-wrenching teen music video) but not until I found myself in that predicament did my views change and although I ended up giving birth to a beautiful daughter, abortion became understandable (with 12 weeks of conception) and if was faced with a similar situation my unltimate decision might be different. It's a very strong emotional decision and discounting all the other "religious" or "life or not a life" issues you have to look at how it will affect you personally. Some women will come out unscathed and others (which would probably include myself) will suffer from depression for awhile. I believe within the first three months of conception the most harm that can be done is not to the fetus (which I do believe it can be considered a "person" yet) but to mother's mental health and stability.(reply to this comment
From Sonderval
Friday, January 16, 2004, 02:48


I agree that it's definitely more a woman's decision than a man's, but I totally disagree that men can't have an opinion on it, that's like saying that unless you're a rapist or have been raped you cannot have an opinion on rape (not comparing the two things just showing the flaw in the logic).

Yes the mother's mental health and stability are a very important factor in making the decision about abortion, but if you're saying that affects the morality involved in when it is ok to end life/consciousness in an infant then I have to disagree with you there, you're talking about mathematics of morality, is it ok to kill one person if it spares another pain.

I am definitely pro-choice, but I think there is a point past which the fetus is no longer just a cluster of cells, it is a small person, and it's not ok to kill it for the sake of the mother's peace of mind after that point.(reply to this comment

From afflick
Friday, January 16, 2004, 07:35


Peace of mind? The decision to have an abortion is not like the decision to buy a home alarm system. Having a child is a serious emotional, physical, and financial responsibilty. Having unwanted children has kept women (and children) in poverty, decreased the chances of a good, solid education or career opportunities, and raised the possibililty of child abuse in this un-aborted babies.

(reply to this comment

From Sonderval
Friday, January 16, 2004, 07:51


I'm not quite sure what your rant is in aid of, I've already said I'm pro choice and the decision is for the mother to make as long as the fetus is under a certain age, are you saying that's not enough and that you think the mother should be able to abort whenever she feels like it?

Why not clarify your position a little here, until what point is it ethical to terminate an unborn child, if it's until birth then why not just say that parents should be able to have unwanted children humanely disposed of, after all where do you draw the line, what fundamental difference takes place in the child's cognitive abilities at birth, my mother isn't too fond of me at the moment in fact, we haven't spoken in a while, she's older than me, should she have the right to have me put down perhaps?

Please actually read my statements in full and get the full gist of what I'm saying before coming up with an unreasoned emotive response to something taken out of context, I am pro-choice for as long as the embryo cannot be considered a human being, after that point I think there are ethical concerns that need to be addressed and men have as much right to these concerns as women, human rights is an issue for all.(reply to this comment

From krystine
Thursday, January 15, 2004, 20:56

Sorry, meant to say "do not consider to be a person yet."(reply to this comment
From Sonderval
Friday, January 16, 2004, 12:21

Umm, I'm guilty of missing that last sentence of your post, you qualified it by saying within the first three months, that's exactly my views on it as well, I think we're just agreeing with each other here. ;-)(reply to this comment
from Sonderval
Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 02:47


In my opinion life is less the issue than consciousness, the bacteria we destroy while cleaning the kitchen is life, I feel no guilt, the problem comes from establishing at what point there is even a vestigial awareness, at what stage in the embryo's development does it stop being a cluster of unaware cells and become a young human.

I personally don't go for the 'every sperm is sacred' approach to conception, but I do think that once there is any chance of consciousness it is no longer your decision to make, it becomes murder, so in my opinion (this is what me and my wife believe anyway) abortion should only be legal in the first trimester, basically until it's 12 weeks old, during the second trimester (12-24 weeks) the central nervous system is formed so arguably some form of consciousness develops during this period. In this country you are allowed to have an abortion for non-medical reasons until the 26th week, I personally think this is way too long but I don't make the law.

In my opinion the problem with the arguments put forward for terminating a fetus after this period for medical reasons can also be applied to babies and adults 'it will have a hard life' yeah well so will that disabled kid over there, gonna go shoot him? The only medical reason that is a valid reason for termination is if the fetus is non-viable, in my opinion, everything else is euthanasia, which in this day and age should not be practiced on the disabled.
(reply to this comment)

From frmrjoyish
Thursday, January 15, 2004, 23:48


I agree with most of what you said here, Sonderval. I've always been pro-choice, but, after taking an embryology class in college it cemented my beliefs. I hate the way this is goona sound but in a way as a fetus grows it becomes more and more "alive".

While a beating heart may pack an emotional punch, the nervous tissue has much more to do with determining a responsive, sentient being. As the brain matures, it sends its axons out to establish connections all over the body. Untill these axons are fully functioning and properly interpreted by the brain then one could argue it isn't a sentient being. This process does not fit into the organized trimesters we humans have tried to catagorize them into. The nervous system is not even fully mature at birth.

As far as my own personal comfort zone, I would tend to err on the side of caution and urge women to make this incredibly difficult decision by the middle of the second trimester. However, it is an incredibly personal decision and is the women's alone. Sorry, but mother nature picked women for this task, so while some men may have a stake in certain situations, ultimatley it's occuring inside the womens body so it's her final decision.(reply to this comment

From Sonderval
Friday, January 16, 2004, 02:53


"Untill these axons are fully functioning and properly interpreted by the brain then one could argue it isn't a sentient being. "

Actually no, it's just functioning differently, the fact is that many fully grown adults interpret the world very differently than me and even have a very different concept of reality, does this make them any less human?

To me consciousness is begun when the brain starts forming internal connections and there is even the slightest chance that it could be self-aware, not when it's finished developing as this process never really stops.(reply to this comment

From Sonderval
Friday, January 16, 2004, 02:57

oh, incidentally, I agree that it is ultimately the woman's decision as to whether or not an abortion takes place, but this decision obviously needs to take place within an established timeframe which men have an equal moral right to help determine.(reply to this comment
From frmrjoyish
Friday, January 16, 2004, 08:13

It's not a moral or ethical issue that should be debated by anyone but a women and her doctor. Whether or not a fetus is functional and concious should not be determined by legislature and politics but by science! The current laws on abortion are for the most part based on what scientific consensus supports. There is no exact "established time frame" because it's not that black and white. (reply to this comment
From Sonderval
Friday, January 16, 2004, 08:51


In the UK abortion is legal until the 26th week (funnily enough an "exact established time frame", weird), that is not a date determined by current scientific thinking but a date that has been in legislature for quite a while now and was based on public feeling at the time, it's easy to find a scientist who'll agree with what you want to do, there's so much debate in every field that just about every viewpoint has a scientist who'll stand up in court and back it.

Legislature is decided by politicians, not scientists, and if you think that politics has more to do with science than it does with getting politicians re-elected then I'd have to disagree with you there.

There is no 'scientific concensus' for when consciousness starts, for the most part scientists have a hard time even agreeing on what consciousness is, you show me a scientist saying one thing and I'll show you an equally credible scientist who disagrees with him/her, there is no proof of when consciousness starts, we know so little about the brain that it's currently practically impossible, which is why there is so much controversy on this topic.

Science is the new religion, but I'm afraid that contrary to what we're led to believe scientists do not have a direct line to 'truth' and there's far more that is not known than what is known, so with secular morality it becomes a question of which side do you take, do you err on the side of caution in favour of human rights and support the rights of what could possibly be a conscious being, or do you err on the side of individual choice and allow mothers to terminate what you can't know is not a conscious being? I believe there is a middle ground, but it's not one that fully agrees with the current legislative stance in my country, does this make my view invalid? If so then I can name many political advances that disagreed with the legislature of the time, such as women's suffrage for instance, among thousands of others.

And at least be specific about what 'current laws' you're talking about, we're not all US citizens here, and as far as I'm aware there are no international laws on the subject and there are LOADS of regional variations, even if we're just talking about the western world which we all know is the only credible source of morality right?

To say shut up and do what you're told is not in the best interests of democracy or freedom of thought, if you have doubts about something, look into them, research, open the topic up to debate and discuss it, I completely disagree with your statement above both in the points you made and in the sentiment underlying it that people should accept what they're told is true without debate, I have talked with doctor's, scientists and even a politician, they're just people and just as prone to fucking things up.

Almost everyone who has made any major breakthrough in any field has done so by disagreeing with publicly accepted 'fact'.(reply to this comment

From frmrjoyish
Friday, January 16, 2004, 10:34


Take a chill pill, there, Sonderval! I never said to just believe what your told. But, in my opinion if your talking about a certain subject wouldn't you give more credibility to someone who actually had formal training and knew what the hell they were talking about? Would you let everyone in a debate on how to build a bridge giving everyone's "opinion" equal weight to that of an engineer? Or maybe let everyone give chemists their opinions on how to make better medicines? Give me a break!!

Science should open to public scrutiney but it really pisses me off when people like you, obviously intelligent, but not a scientist, try to give their own uneducated opinions regarding scientific matters. Oh, and by the way, it's common place for the general public to think that all scientists are divided and bickering and can't agree on everything! For the most part that isn't true! Of course there are new concepts and ideas that must be carefully scrutinized before being accepted by the scientific community, but that's just part of the scientific process!

I'm not holding myself up as an expert in fetal development, but there are somethings that are known and some that aren't! We may not know the exact workings of every part of the brain, but fetal development is one of the most researched fields in biology. The workings and develpment of the nervous system tissues are certainly far from being a controversial subject in the scientific community! We know the stages of develpoment and the genetic and molecular pathways that are begun and at what stage they are still developing and at what stage they are mature! Find me a scientist who disagrees with that and actually has some proof to back it up!

And I would never say that say that politics has more to do with science that elections! Hell no! Especially not with the current US administration, in fact George Bush can't seem to get a handle on any scientific concepts beyond law of gravity (if even that) so he goes the route much preferred by non-scientist of speaking for the scientific community and saying "We don't know" when in fact many findings are known and accepted but just happen to disagree with his own political schemes!(reply to this comment

From Sonderval
Friday, January 16, 2004, 12:16


As far as uneducated goes you're making some pretty rash assumptions about me there, what do you qualify as education? As far as consciousness goes I'm actually something of an expert having started a degree in psychology (had to quit when my wife got pregnant), in particular clinical psychology and development at the fetal stage is a part of that, but most of my reading on the subject was done outside of the classroom because I had an understandable interest in the subject, please clarify how doing this in the classroom would somehow have been more educational.

"We know the stages of develpoment and the genetic and molecular pathways that are begun and at what stage they are still developing and at what stage they are mature!"

Yes, this mature stage occurs at 1 year old, so if you are claiming that an immature central nervous system is grounds for abortion then my six month old son meets your criteria, I'm afraid I'll have to disagree with you there.

"The workings and develpment of the nervous system tissues are certainly far from being a controversial subject in the scientific community! "

As far as a common concensus goes, please follow this link and read a recent paper to update members of the British parliament.

It states the two cases for the 'debate' on the subject, and very rarely states any finding more strongly than 'perhaps' or 'may be', as someone who has studied it I'm telling you that this subject is wide open. A lot of research is being done and has been done but the simple fact is we do not 'know' how the brain works beyond the most basic level of understanding and at what stage awareness is possible in fetal development, because politicians demand answers where absolute knowledge is not possible (yet) assumptions are therefore made and decisions are based on these.

I don't know what Dubya's stance on abortion is, he's not my president, I personally don't like the man or respect him and unfortunately won't get to vote against him so therefore I haven't researched his 'stated' views, feel free to update me, I am curious.(reply to this comment

From frmrjoyish
Friday, January 16, 2004, 18:02


There is nothing new or innovative in that paper so as to suggest a rethinking of current abortion laws. There are no new studies done which were included in that paper, just a summary of what is already known. There is clearly a grey area in second semester that suggests no "conscious" reaction to stimuli.

And please spare me your dramatics of suggesting your six month old's immature nervous system is grounds for "aborting" him! You have a beautiful wife and adorable child. Grow up!

You of all people with your unfinished clinical psyc degree should know that we have no concrete knowledge of "consiousness" only knowledge of the workings of the nervous system. So why should a law be passed based on what remains unproven? I never said you were uneducated about everything, it's just plainly obvious from your comments you are not in a science field, thus in no position to critique the credentials or lack thereof of other scientists.

"Science is the new religion, but I'm afraid that contrary to what we're led to believe scientists do not have a direct line to 'truth' and there's far more that is not known than what is known" Scientists do not have a "direct line to the truth", however, what they do have is access to information as well as the ability to understand that information that the general public usually does not. The same could be said for any professional in any field. This "truth" your talking about is scientific evidnece that has stood up to tests and scrutiny. That's about as far away from "religion" as you can get.(reply to this comment

From krystine
Friday, January 16, 2004, 06:49

I do think that men's opinions matter but they're not the ones with a life growing inside them or have to put up with the pain of childbirth or post-partum depression. Some men are so quick to judge a woman for deciding to abort yet they really don't have a clue what the woman fully experiences whether it's joy or pain. If the woman is not in a perfect situation or in an unstable situation the experience of bringing a child into this world can be very traumatizing, even if it brings "joy" to the happy father. I know some men who are so pro-life, but try telling them your opinion on equal-decision vasectomy. (reply to this comment
From Sonderval
Friday, January 16, 2004, 07:00


I think you misunderstand me a little, the decision about whether to abort is the woman's, I agree with that and did so above, the only thing I'm saying is that men have a right to be involved in saying until what point of pregnancy that decision is ethical.

Example, if my wife had decided to have an abortion early on in her pregnancy I would have completely understood and supported her, we were both working, it was unplanned and we hadn't even been a couple for long (although we'd been friends for years), if however she was 8 months pregnant when she made that decision then I would have thought it was horribly unethical and tantamount to murder, as I'm sure you can understand.

It is the woman's decision, the morality of WHEN the decision must be made by is something that everyone has a say in, which is why it's a matter for legislation.

But most of this is a moot point, most people here largely agree, if you want a complicated debate did anyone see that recent legal battle over the right to conceive? What had happened is a woman and her hsuband had fertilised embroyos frozen, after they had divorced and the woman had got together with her lesbian lover she wanted to have one of the embryos thawed and reimplanted so they could have a child, the father successfully contested this and the embryo was destroyed, to make this even more emotive this was also the last chance this woman would get to have her own child as she was sterilised (can't remember the details) for medical reasons after these embryos were frozen.


(reply to this comment

From Joe H
Thursday, January 15, 2004, 19:22

Carl Sagan wrote an interesting essay about the topic of abortion and fetal consciousness. Apparently there is a way to tell if the brain is functioning. (reply to this comment

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