Monday, August 15, 2011

Persons Are Persons

Brian brings up a point in an earlier comment thread. I'll clarify as to why I believe the way that I do:

It's seems quite evident to me that humankind (or hupersonkind, If Your Name Is Amanda) is set aside from other beings in creation. If one believes in a Creator, which I do, it's probably easier to see this point; that mankind is special, and was created that way.

This is why most civilized people have turned away from what we perceive as less moral practices, such as slavery, and the notion that one person cannot legitimately own another, or deprive another of life or property. It is why murder and theft are outlawed pretty much across the board throughout civilization.

Since it's a difficult call to say at what time a human life holds lower status than a lizard or dog, I have to presume that humans are humans from the point of creation because they are created accordingly. Seems easy enough to me.

After accepting the higher creative status of humanity the issue then becomes personhood. When is a person a person?
After several arguments, I discovered there is not a single demarcation point in the life of a human being that can't be refuted. They are all arbitrary, based upon whatever agenda is being pressed.
So, it brought me to the belief that the only true and morally honest point of where personhood begins in the life of a human being is the moment when that human being comes into existence in human form: conception.

I find that those who like to claim the feminist mantra of 'respect for all persons' often like to draw an arbitrary line of demarcation so as to justify all abortions as righteous acts. It reminds me of those I read about in history books who wrote that "All men are created equal" while denying 'man' status to those they held title to.

28 comments:

my name is Amanda said...

Right, but you are still trying to force other people to adopt your religious beliefs.

And there isn't a way to demonstrate why forcing women to undergo major medical conditions and operations against their will demonstrates respect for "all" humans.

my name is Amanda said...

I understand what you are saying about what you believe about personhood, Gino. The problem is that when people say that the personhood of a cluster of cells consisting of the beginnings of a spinal cord has as many rights as a complex, thinking adult woman who has a place in society, who is connected to the lives of the people around her, and that the personhood of the cell clump outweighs the personhood of the grown-ass woman, then there is a problem with that rationale.

Gino said...

'as many rights'? huh? i'm not granting them the right to vote or get a tattoo.
i'm granting humans at their most basic existence the most basic right: the right to life.

as for outwieghing: personhood is or isnt.

and no, i dont think that another who is 'bigger' or stronger or more politically powerful should have the right to deny basic liberties to another. that would be the slavery argument, all over again.

as for grown ass women: its been my observation that woman ass tends to get grow with age. are you claiming that larger-assed, older women, should have rights younger less-grown assed women do not? i disagree.

Night Writer said...

The problem is that when people say that the personhood of a cluster of cells consisting of the beginnings of a spinal cord has as many rights as a complex, thinking adult woman who has a place in society, who is connected to the lives of the people around her, and that the personhood of the cell clump outweighs the personhood of the grown-ass woman, then there is a problem with that rationale.

Keeping in mind, of course, that the grown-ass woman was once a cluster of cells consisting of the beginnings of a spinal cord. And Amanda seems to set an awful lot of requirements for what it takes to ultimately be considered a person. What is the minimum number needed to classify someone as being worth it? Such arbitrariness is the root of all prejudice, slavery and abuse.

I also don't think saying life begins at conception is a religious question, no more than saying laws agaist murder and theft are religious issues. It is a human impulse to cherish life and justice, though this may be couched in the religious terms of that particular society. Are there any religions - aside from that one that advocated sacrificing children to appease Moloch - who's written tenets condone such a thing?

Gino said...

it was moral issue for me, more in a justice sense. i didnt get 'religion' til well into my 20's, and didnt profess any christian faith til i was 28.

i became pro-life sometime in between 19 and 22.

Brian said...

If the personhood of a fetus is equivalent to that of a non-gestating human, why is it not morally justified to kill doctors that perform abortions?

Mr. D said...

If the personhood of a fetus is equivalent to that of a non-gestating human, why is it not morally justified to kill doctors that perform abortions?

Well, if you shouldn't kill fetuses, you shouldn't kill doctors, either.

Brian said...

Is it OK to kill someone to prevent them from killing someone else?

Brian said...

Look...I'm not trying to perform some sort of rhetorical judo here, even though it sort of looks like that. I have no delusions about changing anyone's deeply-held moral convictions, nor really any interest in doing so.

BUT...

Since my side gets regularly called hypocritical, I think it's only fair to point out what I see as the hypocrisy of the other.

If someone made a credible threat against the life of a child (or for that matter, an adult), most people would agree that there exists not only a right but an obligation to intervene, up to and including using deadly force to stop a murder from taking place.

So if you really believe that a fetus has the same claim to existence a person, then aren't abortionists serial child murderers who credibly intend to continue murdering children?

The fact that (an overwhelming majority ) of pro-lifers (rightly!) condemn the use of violence against abortionists suggests to me that to at least some extent they acknowledge the life of a fetus to have less standing than that of a person. Indeed, less than that of an abortionist.

Gino said...

brian: i cant speak for others, but for me, the issue of capital punishment is a sticky wicket anyway. i generally oppose it. but there are some cases where the acts are so evil in intent that i cannot think of any punishment more appropriate than death.(like richard ramirez).

the abortionist is of a different mindset than richard ramirez, who's intent was to commit the most depraved of evil acts upon his victims.
in contrast: the abortionist, in his mind, is not killing a person.

Night Writer said...

Brian, if I were to come across some adult whaling in a murderous manner on a child, and I was carrying, that person would be perforated. If I wasn't carrying, he'd still be bleeding. Same thing if I saw a doctor or madman grabbing pregnant women off the street and forcibly performing abortions on them. There is, however, a complicity of choice between an abortionist and a pregnant woman which significantly shades the issue.

While you could, as you suggest, make abortion a capital crime - and for both parties - it is presently legal and in a civil society we have other ways of discouraging the practice, while my prosaic religiosity acknowledges that Grace is available even to the abortionists and their clients. The unborn are not less important to me in that case, but their souls are not imperiled, only their lives. Ironically, my enforcing my religious beliefs on these other allows them to live.

If we are to allow people to shoot abortionists then I propose hiring snipers to shoot drunks leaving a bar and climbing behind the wheel of their car on the same principle. Meanwhile, I'm reminded that the same month that all right-thinking people were condemning Michael Vick for re-entering the NFL, other right-thinking people were hailing Dr. Tiller as a hero and martyr. Some people apparently could see a difference between what Tiller and Vick had done, but I never could.

Brian said...

Thanks for taking the question seriously, guys.

I don't really have much to add...just wanted to say that.

JoAnna said...

Amanda, you said:

Right, but you are still trying to force other people to adopt your religious beliefs.

Except that abortion isn't a religious issue; it's a human rights issue. Have you ever visted http://secularprolife.org? How can their organization even exist if abortion is solely a religious issue?

JoAnna said...

Brian - you might find this article helpful.

http://www.ncregister.com/blog/killing-bin-laden-vs.-killing-tiller-whats-the-difference/

Brian said...

JoAnna-that works fine as a practical argument, but I find it pretty unconvincing as a moral one.

JoAnna said...

Can you elaborate on why you find it unconvincing, Brian?

Brian said...

Vesting the power to take life in a civil authority is a practical solution, namely, to let "cooler heads" handle the business of violent retribution. It does not remove moral responsibility from the citizens in whose names lives are taken. Superficially (and importantly!) different, but at a fundamental level, morally equivalent.

(In my opinion, naturally.)

Gino said...

hey, has anybody seen "Cowboys and Aliens" yet?

JoAnna said...

Brian - if I'm understanding you, you believe that Christians have a moral imperative to exact physical justice upon transgressors of moral law?

Is that a fair assessment of your belief, or am I off-base?

Brian said...

Actually, I don't think I've said anything about Christians, here. But I wouldn't presume to proclaim their moral imperatives as Christians in any case.

My point is that if anyone (Christian or otherwise) believes that abortion is murder, then the past four decades of legal abortion constitute a massive crime against humanity. The US has gone to war over far less. It certainly merits more than picketing.

The fact that pro-lifers (with a few notable exceptions) have not responded accordingly suggests to me that pro-lifers actually do place the lives of fetuses at a lesser status than those of the rest of us. I think they are right! I just don't think that they realize this.

Night Writer said...

Brian, that's some rather tortured reasoning on your part. As a Christian, there are a number of tenets and commandments that influence my life and actions. The simplest check-up for me, however, is Micah 6:8: "He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to act justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

I act justly by trying to eliminate this abominable practice (or at least call it what it is). Because I love mercy, I am not shocked or surprised when sinners sin and I remember my own sins. That helps me walk humbly with my God, which includes the realization that I am not Him, and that He is fully capable of administering both justice and mercy on others and that His mercy will endure until His justice comes. Maybe I'm simple that way, but I prefer this to ever-more tenuous leaps of "rational" thought to convince myself that something I know is wrong in my heart is really right.

JoAnna said...

Brian - you seem to be under the impression that because pro-lifers don't use violence against abortionists, it means we don't value the life of the unborn as much as we claim.

Here's why that reasoning is faulty. Pro-lifers (and specifically Catholics, of which I am one) are called to respect all human life from conception to natural death. That includes the lives of abortionists, abortion facility employees, and the like.

As Mark Shea said in his article, the idea behind the Just War theory is not 'If you fulfill the criteria for Just war then you get to kill.' It’s 'If a war fulfills the criteria for Just War then, alas, you may have to kill.' In other words, Just War theory exists to make it really hard to justify killing."

Killing -- or any violence -- has to be an absolute last resort after all other avenues of problem resolution have been attempted. Yes, it is morally acceptable to shoot and possibly kill a raging homicidal maniac who is coming at you with a knife, BUT it is not morally acceptable to shoot a burglar in the head if you're in a situation where you can escape to a safe location and call 911.

In the same token, taking violent action against those who perform or facilitate the performance of abortions will only cause more loss of life, and loss of life is what we are trying to prevent. There's no telling what type of collateral damage could occur if pro-lifers suddenly decided it was A-OK to start bombing abortion facilities and shooting abortionists. Many innocent bystanders could be killed in such a venture, which would essentially cause what we're trying to stop -- loss of innocent human life.

Right now, we still have not exhausted every civil, legal, non-violent means at our disposal to save these children. If there ever comes a day when Obama crowns himself King of American and immediately orders that all women must forcibly undergo abortions at knifepoint, and it is illegal to be pro-life, then perhaps the Just War theory might come into play and some violence may be necessary to save women and babies. Until that day comes, however (and I sincerely hope it doesn't), we need to do whatever we can to minimize the loss of human life -- and that includes the lives of abortionists.

Brian said...

NW--I'm glad that works for you, but it means nothing to someone who doesn't believe in god.

JoAnna--"...you seem to be under the impression that because pro-lifers don't use violence against abortionists, it means we don't value the life of the unborn as much as we claim."

That is exactly what I am saying. Actions, words, etc.

That said, you had me until here: "If there ever comes a day when Obama crowns himself King of American and immediately orders that all women must forcibly undergo abortions at knifepoint, and it is illegal to be pro-life," That's just another way of saying, "it is never going to be worth resorting to violence over this issue" because that is never going to happen. It's an absurd scenario and I have to assume that you know that.

That's fine. Again, I think you are right not to resort to violence over this. I'm certainly not encouraging that!

I think I'm done here. I know I'm not changing any minds. I do appreciate the civil tone across the board. This usually ends up with pointless talking past each other (or worse) and I don't think that's happened, here.

JoAnna said...

That was hyperbole, Brian, but it's true that America would essentially have to become some sort of totalitarian Nazi-like regime before pro-lifers could justify essentially declaring war as the only way to stop the unborn from being killed.

Thankfully, in America we still have many, many non-violent options at our disposal to stop abortion while minimizing loss of life as much as possible.

Gino said...

yes, thank you all for your civility. i was closely monitoring.

and JoAnna: i've not clue how you got here, but you are welcome to engage here again at any time.

JoAnna said...

Gino, I wandered over here from Foxfier's blog, but I've since added you to my Google Reader feed!

Gino said...

cool! i dont generally hit topics this deep anymore. i think movies and bourbon occupy most of my time the last year. but that could change, too. i have no format.

my name is Amanda said...

I haven't had time to follow threads, so despite the fact that this one previously ended a week ago, I have time now, and will respond where I was addressed (which I hope is okay with the blog author).

Gino: Here's a thought exercise (I am not demanding a response or anything, but perhaps it will illuminate my thinking) - for anyone who is anti-choice, actually: A woman and a case of 20 fertilized eggs in petri dishes are about to be run over by, oh, I don't know - a train. You can ONLY save one of the life-forms in front of you: the human being looking at you with fully-formed eyes, tears running down her face, and screams coming from mouth, OR the case of non-responsive ovum. What do you do?

Night Writer - "And Amanda seems to set an awful lot of requirements for what it takes to ultimately be considered a person."

I don't believe I listed requirements at all. The only distinguishing characteristic between both life forms described, is that one of them has been born. I didn't list requirements because the personhood debate is beside the point.

The abortion question is a religious one on the generous end of the spectrum, because it's mostly the religious people who say that abortions are the same as murder. They used to say this because they argued that fetuses have souls, but lately have adopted the less supernatural-sounding "personhood" to make the exact same religious arguments.

If it's not religion, then it's misogyny. Murder of humans is not acceptable in (most places) in our society because it is destructive to the living beings currently within the society - which in turn is damaging to society as a whole. Abortion is destructive to no one. If your argument isn't that fetuses have souls/personhood, then your argument is that women should be forced just because (ie. misogyny).

JoAnna: "How can their organization even exist if abortion is solely a religious issue?"

Because misogyny exists.